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Welcome to this August 2020 edition of Hackwriters. 21 years on-line, 7700+ articles - reviews - stories - travel - share any feature you like and pass them on using the links.

*August 29th : COVID-19 Worldwide – 24,936,000 infected - 842,000 deaths and 17,315,000 recovered.
** There are 6,097,000 million infections in the US alone and 186,000 + deaths - And still many people won't wear masks. Source:

Olive Picker

In a small celebration I finally got back to the cinema to see TENET - a Christopher Nolan movie.
Ten others showed up and it was like watching an extremely cerebral Bond movie. I am pretty sure I enjoyed it, but the plot lost me half way along as I lack a degree in quantum mechanics, so I was just part of the spectacle from then on. But yey. The Cinema is open! And Robert Pattinson was amazing as second string to John David Washington. Go now before they close them again.

Seems we live in very contrarian times. Everyone is about to lose their jobs but the stock market is booming and houses selling like hot cakes. Something isn't right with this picture. Last time I looked outside not everyone is driving a Tesla. What will it all be like when the tide goes out I wonder ...?

We welcome Kamala Harris to the US Veep stakes. Wouldn't it be great if she and Biden actually won and America could be saved from Trumpism and QAnon. Kamala brings intelligence to the whole process.
Photo: The Olive Picker - Provence

Sad to announce the passing of one of our regular contributors from Ottawa who loved music and travel:
Elizabeth Schotten Merklinger

The 6th of August was the 75th anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, where 80,000 people were killed, some vaporised instantly, others dying of radiation diseases. We also remember Nagasaki on the 9th, the last city to experience an atomic bomb detonation, where it killed 70,000 people. We still live every day under the threat of atomic war and there are literally thousands of bombs stored ready by rival nations for that terrible moment when they might be used.

The US Election is just 67 days away and right now Trump is 8 percent down in the polls against Biden. Trump is going all out for the fascist vote and there do seem to be a lot of extremists with guns out there that he probably wouldn't like inviting around for dinner. Own the riots Trump, own the Police murdering African-Americans in cold blood. It's all happening on your watch pal. Take heart that Prof Allan Lichtman has predicted Biden will win. (NY Times 8.5.20) Lichtman has predicted the winner in every US election for decades. (Alright he said Gore would win and he did win the popular vote but the eventual outcome was decided by the Supreme Court - not the electorate). James Campion wants you to get out and Vote.

Events in Beirut have shocked the world this month. The blast caught on camera was truly horrific - as was the fact that Hezbollah control the port and unsafely stored 2,700 tons of unstable ammonia nitrate there which was taken from an unsafe ship in 2013 and essentially forgotten. Beirut is smashed, the port ruined and they have less than a month's worth of grain stored - the rest having gone up in smoke. Around 5000 + people have been injured and so far 200+ dead, 300,000 homeless. Lebanon has suffered enough already and this will have terrible consequences for the people there.

Reading in the NY Times this month about how Metrocard use in Manhattan is down 87% from a year ago tells you all you need to know about the future of business and all those who depend on office workers returning to work.  This week they reveal 67,000 apartments are standing empty and rent has fallen 10%. Maybe it will fall a lot further. Living in Manhattan is just not cool anymore and the murder rate has jumped to scary numbers.

In London we have problems too, exacerbated by the unwillingness of many civil servants to return to work there and elsewhere (580,000 of them actually) and essentially strangling the nation as people can’t get driving licences, passports, tax processed, or official documentation such as property searches done. Despite this, there is a home-buying boom on right now in the UK thanks to the suspension of stamp duty on house purchases till March 2021. Sales are up 4 percent on this time last year. The positive news is that the economy as a whole is beginning to revive and traffic levels are back to normal even as unemployment rose by 220,000 last week alone. Our Boris wants people to go back to the office. I wish they would, maybe then banks would feel obliged to answer the phone!

Even though the virus is pretty much under control in the UK at the moment, kids need school.  In some places in the US pods are developing where a teacher takes on a small group of kids exclusively and they don’t mix with any others.  It’s a good idea but how could you roll this out across a whole school system?  Impossible.  But we can’t have kids missing out on learning and developing social skills, not forgetting essential school meals and sports.  Without this it will drastically affect their futures.  A lot of effort has been made to make schools safe and protect teachers. Let's hope it all works for everyones' sake when they return in September.

*Russia has approved a vaccine but not tested it to Phase Three level and this can only cast doubt on its efficacy and whether or not there are side effects. By contrast the Oxford Group are testing theirs on 100,500 + people with further trials due. I'll wait for the Oxford vaccine. Seems Trump has gotten that message too.

Obviously we are learning about the virus all the time but opening up Europe to tourism so quickly seems to have been a major mistake for Spain and other holiday destinations.  No doubt all those Brits in Spain and France now will resent having to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK but it is the only sensible option.  Travel is a risk – a gamble.  And will be for another 18 months, at least until the whole world is vaccinated against Covid 19.  I dread to think how much travel insurance will be when it is safe to fly again for anyone over 65.  I fear I may never get to see friends and relatives in Africa again.

In India, the BBC reports that Modi’s government are refusing to accept that community transmission is happening, yet the infection rates are going up rapidly.  India’s infection and death rates are undercounted for political reasons and I am sure this is happening in many other countries that don’t want to admit they have lost control of the virus.  *A whistleblower in Iran has proof that 42,000 + people died there, not the official Government number of just 20,000.

Solutions?  I have none.  Where do you start?  Obviously the virus will alter our perspectives on how and where we live in future. It is already creating a demand for homes with gardens. It might make us appreciate the people who grow and harvest the food we need to survive, but I doubt it.  It could make us respect people in public service more – but that would make me an optimist and I have never been one of those.  But maybe you have the answer.  If so, speak up. Politicians need to hear good ideas right now – don’t you think?  Not streams of hate. Good constructive ideas that will help us rebuild our lives. And if getting ready to vote in America.  Do some research.  Vote for someone who will make life better, not worse, someone with intelligence and above all integrity.  That last one probably rules out fifty percent of the GOP candidates.  Sorry about that.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Stockpile happiness.

© Sam Hawksmoor - August 2020
The Sam North Novels - still available to order Amazon or Lulu
Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles. The definitive pandemic novel.

Read Girl with Cat (Blue) - 'funny, scary and full of surprises - a must read' LD

*Keeping Hackwriters archived is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
Magenta - A chilling story of kidnapping, burning and strangeness set in the wilds of Lincolnshire

** The Heaviness, also recommended & The Repercussions of Tomas D -'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'

By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
There's no safe place to hide from the pandemic

Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Can you get ahead of the virus?
a taster here The Last Ferry

Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die: Endtime will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...'
Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk

Another Place To Die

Girl with Cat (Blue) Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award

'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.

'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
Judge, 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. - Honorable Mention

J&K 4Ever - A post-apocalypse love story
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect.  A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder.  No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted.  But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge. 
 'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
Marikka MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2

Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book

Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk
Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download

The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here

'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible '

*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
The Heaviness of Genie Magee 'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity. An original Genie Magee story

Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies

'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print

Thanks to readers who have been buying this title. * Also published as Rüya by Marti Yayincilik - The Turkish publishers of TOZ & Golge

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