Sunday, August 31, 2014

Assassinations Gone Wrong

Just like with some of Blade’s assassinations in my fantasy series, The Queen’s Blade, not all real-life assassination attempts have gone according to plan – keeping in mind that a big part of any assassination plan includes not being caught – and not starting a World War!

I think it fitting to start with the assassination that unintentionally started World War I. Danilo Ilić hired six young men to assassinate Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The would-be assassins waited for the archduke’s vehicle, but, when it arrived, the first two assassins chickened out. Another of the six youngsters threw a bomb at the convertible, but it bounced off the cover and blew up the wrong car, travelling behind the archduke. The assassin tried to commit suicide, but the cyanide pill he took failed to kill him, as did the river he jumped into to drown himself, as it was only a few inches deep. A crowd pulled him out and beat him badly. Later that day, the archduke went to the hospital to visit those the bomb had wounded. Gavrilo Princip, one of the would-be assassins, who was only nineteen at the time, saw the archduke’s car outside and shot him and his wife.

Jacob Johan Anckarström, Adolf Ribbing and Claes Fredrik Horn planned the assassination of Sweden’s King Gustav III. King Gustav was warned of the assassination attempt, but still attended a masked ball as planned, thinking that his costume would hide his identity. Unfortunately for him, his royal cape made his identity obvious, and he was shot by the three masked assassins – whose masks didn’t hide their identity any better than King Gustav’s had… the next morning, they were caught and decapitated.
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In one of history’s more famous assassinations, John Wilkes Booth and co-conspirators planned to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward. Johnson’s would-be assassinator chickened out, and Seward’s assassin inflicted multiple stab wounds, but failed to kill him. Booth shot Lincoln in the middle of a play, then, instead of trying to blend into the crowd, he leapt onto the stage and shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (Thus always to tyrants.)

One of the weirdest assassinations in history – another surrounded by much rumour – was that of Grigori Rasputin aka the Mad Monk. First, someone stabbed him in the stomach so badly his entrails came out, but, amazingly, this didn’t kill the Russian mystic. Then Prince Felix Yusupov and co-conspirators poisoned him, using enough cyanide to kill at least five men. This, too, failed to kill Rasputin, so Yusupov shot him – three times. Still not dead, Rasputin grabbed the man who had shot him and, trying to strangle him, said, “You bad boy.” He eventually died when others at the scene shot him and threw him into the river.

Last, but not least, in January 2013, Oktai Enimehmedov pulled a gun on Ahmed Dogan, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader – on live television. Before the gun went off, Enimehmedov was tackled to the ground and arrested. It seems this wasn’t an actual assassination attempt, however, and the twenty-five-year-old claims he merely wanted to show Enimehmedov he wasn’t untouchable. Police said afterwards that the gun he had pulled on Dogan was only a gas pistol loaded with pepper spray and suspected the party had staged the whole thing for publicity, but not everyone agrees with this suspicion. Watch the video if you want to be gobsmacked!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Enter Your Unpublished Novel into the RobinHood Press Annual Fantasy Novel Award

While browsing the net, I came across the RobinHood Press annual fantasy novel award and decided it was worth sharing with you. This award is only for previously unpublished novels of 250 pages or more, and no first person POVs are accepted.

It appears all genres are accepted and entry seems to be free.

The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2014, and the three winners will be announced on 31 December 2014.

Interested authors can read the other rules and submission requirements here.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5 Famous Assassinations

1. Martin Luther King Jr: A civil rights activist who fought for the rights of African-Americans, King made no bones about the fact that he was anti-violence. His white supremacist opponents were involved in beatings, murders and bombings in an attempt to retain the status quo. King eventually fell victim to their actions on 4 April 1968, when he was shot. A petty criminal named James Earl Ray was convicted for the assassination, but, to this day, there are rumours that the assassination was commissioned by the government.

2. John Lennon: A former member of the popular 1960’s rock band, The Beatles, Lennon was shot dead when entering his New York home on 8 December 1980. Mark David Chapman was arrested for the assassination. At his trial, in which he ultimately pleaded guilty, he stated that it was ‘the will of God’.

3. Abraham Lincoln: The man whom many view as the greatest American President of all time was shot dead on 14 April 1865 while attending a play. John Wilkes Booth, an actor, was arrested for the crime – the assassin didn’t even try to run or hide his identity.

4. John F. Kennedy: This American President was killed by a sniper on 22 November 1963. Investigations concluded that the sniper, ex-Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone. However, many believe this to be untrue, claiming that there was actually more than one shooter.

5. Mohandas K. Gandhi: Famous for leading India’s independence from Great Britain, Gandhi was shot to death on 30 January 1948. The shooter was Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse, who believed that non-violence was the wrong approach and that Muslims were receiving preferential treatment.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Your Soul Trapped on the Internet

According to a recent Gizmodo article, some scientists believe that, when the human body dies or is dying, we will be capable of saving the mind on the internet. According to these experts, this could be possible within the next thirty years.

The technicalities aside, would this truly be you, your soul, or just a copy of what was once you? If the latter, I can see the temptation to save brilliant minds that have the capability to further the human race. Just imagine where we would be today if Tesla was still alive! However, as far as immortality goes, I doubt one’s ethereal soul could be contained within the internet. Even if it was possible, would you really want to be trapped in the internet – until the end of time as we know it?

Never mind that, what guarantees do we have that the consciousnesses held within the internet won’t develop a will of their own, create chaos and be humanity’s undoing? None whatsoever.

Would this be true immortality and would we want to be immortal when we have lost the ability to feel the wind in our hair and the sun warming our faces? As with most things, I believe natural is better. While immortality is enticing, I would prefer to remain in my natural body. What about you? Would you jump at the chance for digital immortality, or take your chances with The Beyond?

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stealth Assassination

While many assassinations are public, assassination is obviously best performed in stealth to avoid capture, which is probably why many assassins tend to be more discreet in their attempts.

For example, during the French Revolution, in 1793, Jean-Paul Marat, a radical French journalist, was assassinated while taking a bath. Under the pretence of being a journalist who wanted to interview Marat, Charlotte Corday, who supported the opposition Girondists, gained access to his private chambers, and the rest is history. Over two centuries later, al-Qaeda, a Muslim terrorist organisation, used the same pretence to get close to the Northern Alliance rebel leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. In the latter case, however, the two assassins were killed along with the target when their fake camera exploded.

Another famous example of a stealth assassination was that of Leon Trotsky in 1940. Trotsky’s rival, Josef Stalin, had him exiled, but still had the KGB track him, with the intention of assassinating him. Trotsky’s assassinator, Ramón Mercader, also posed as a journalist to obtain a private interview, even going as far as to seduce a woman with close ties to Trotsky in order to gain his trust.

Even the CIA is alleged to have carried out or supported many stealth assassinations, including a botched attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro by poisoning his cigar. Many believe the CIA also supported or had a hand in the assassinations and attempted assassination of myriad world leaders, such as Saddam Hussein. Some believe the CIA was also behind the Kennedy assassination. What do you think?