Black Mirror series 3, ranked.

[spoilers ahead]

[subjective personal opinion ahead]



6 (6). Hated in the Nation

Boring, predictable and overlong, this one feels like a one-sentence pitch forcibly extended into a 90 min episode. The foreshadowing is very on the nose, the twists are straighter than EU bananas. The main idea could have been executed in a number of better ways, and the inclusion of the ADIs felt somewhat silly. I’d have expected more of the episode spent on exploration of the social media-mob-like mentality, rather than hard sci-fi gimmickry and bad CGI. I can’t help but feel that this is one of those episodes than in the previous, 3-eps long series, would have stayed on the cutting room floor.


5 (3). Shut Up and Dance

None of the reminding five are bad episodes – but some are better than others. In this one, a simple – a bit too simple – idea is made decent by good directing and acting (I’m a sucker for Jerome Flynn). A nice double twist at the end redeems its lack of substance. It’s got one other thing going for it – I’m sure it made thousands of people tape-over their laptop cameras!

4 (2). Playtest

A straightforward horror. Great acting from Wyatt Russell, overshadowing everyone else. What makes this episode falter is its length – paradoxically, it would’ve been much better as a feature-length movie, with plenty of time to explore the inner horrors of Cooper’s mind. As it is, it feels a bit rushed, but still good.


3 (1). Nosedive

Classic Black Mirror, this one wouldn’t be out of place in any of the previous seasons. Let down slightly by the ending, but for 90% of its running this one is a nail-biting ride in the vein of Fifteen Million Merits or White Christmas. The design and special effects are pitch-perfect – from sleek phones that make the iPhone look like an old Nokia, to the run-down “retro-futuristic” “old” cars. And the message is one that affects everyone who’s ever done anything “rate-able” on the internet – which by now, is pretty much all of us.



2 (5). Men Against Fire

Not so much a cutting edge of satire, as a bludgeoning sledge-hammer. This is the world won and ruled by the likes of Katie Hopkins and her followers – only with better AR technology… but the chilling realization here is that the AR is not really necessary in a world where a publicist can compare real people to cockroaches and keep the job. And while every episode of this season attempts to tackle several social and technological issues at once, only a few juggle all of them as successfully as this one.


1 (4). San Junipero

A beauty of the episode, this is Brooker at his most poignant and life-affirming. You’d never guess there’s so much warmth in the man made famous for throwing insults at a TV screen. The 80s visuals are as perfect here as the future in Nosedive. And it’s a great reminder that, for all his warnings and pessimism, CB is not some tech-hating Luddite.

80 sites to advertise your book – update

I finally got around to updating my list of book advertising sites. Dead links were removed, and some more sites added. HTH!

James Calbraith

kindleThis is a list compiled from various online sources, most notably – Rachelle’s Window (go there and thank her! 🙂 she also lists Alexa rankings for the sites) and my own research. As of posting this on August 10th 2014, all the links below are working. Note that I can’t guarantee that the sites themselves are still working, that the forms lead anywhere, or that you will actually get anything for your money.

Majority of these sites advertise books when they’re free, as part of KDP Select or Smashword promo. If you want to advertise a paid book, you usually need to pay extra.

The spreadsheet behind this table is available here. If you think I’m missing something, let me know in the comments.

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De Draconibus, Part 2 – Notable Eastern Races and Ancient Progenitors

The following is an excerpt from an Appendix on Dragon Breeds and Races, Dracology Handbook Year One, Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.


Note: the Eastern Dragon lore is sketchy and unreliable. What we do know about the beasts of the Orient comes from a variety of sources, from ancient travelogues to spy reports. Since the recent war with the Qin Empire we have started improving our knowledge, but it’s a slow and difficult process.

Longs (Air Dragons)

  • Qin Long

All tame “Longs” are, to our knowledge, descended from the dragons of Qin. This ancient civilization has bred their mounts for millennia, starting from wild fresh-water races captured in the rivers of Annam.

The Qin Long are serpentine and wingless, relying only on their magic powers for flight. As such, their lifespan is shorter than that of the Western dragons, but they are better and stronger fliers.

  • Annam Rong

While the wild beasts of Annam are regarded as predecessors of the Long, the dragons currently employed by the Kingdom’s armies are descended from the Qin beasts, brought into Annam during the many invasions the Kingdom had suffered from its northern neighbour.

  • Chosun Yong

The remote and little known kingdom of Chosun reportedly breeds two major races: the flying Yong and the water-based Imugi. Judging by the name “Yong being an obvious corruption of the word “Long”, the flying dragons of Chosun must be similar to all other Oriental dragons.

  • “Ryu” or Winged Long

Vasconian and Bataavian reports tell us of a winged, shorter and more muscular breed of Long, coming from an island or a set of islands East of Qin. These reports remain unconfirmed.

  • Himalayan Druk

A thunder-spewing race of Eastern Dragons. Whether they are related to Qin Long (to which they are similar in form), or have been bred in parallel by the Shambhallans, is uncertain.

Nagas (Water Dragons)

The Nagas are primitive dragons, little more than giant water serpents. They are notoriously difficult to tame, and rarely used as mounts. Some breeds of the Naga are multi-headed.

  • Phaya Naga

The wild Naga of Annam. Small and weak, a few are bred in the royal stables for ceremonial purposes.

  • Arakan Naga

The Kingdom of Arakan is the most successful nation to utilize the Naga in warfare. Their dragons are fierce and well-trained, and had proven a match to the Western mounts several times. The Arakan Naga can have up to seven heads, although only one is fully functional.

  • Chosun Imugi

The Imugi are the second race of the Chosun dragons that we know of. From the reports, it seems they are closely related to the Nagas of Annam and Rattanakosin, although little is confirmed.

  • Antaboga

A race of giant, salt-water Nagas living in the area of Sri Vijaya kingdom. They have vestigial wings, which led some scholars to suggest that they are a failed product of the Qin breeding program.

  • Bakunawa

Similar in general physique to the Antaboga, but without the vestigial wings, the Bakunawa inhabit the waters around the Tagalog islands.


The following is a brief list of mostly extinct races which our scholars believe to be predecessors of the modern dragons.

  • Azi Dahaka

Semi-legendary race from the highlands of Pahlava and Durrani, presumed ancestor of all domestic dragons. Known only through oral tradition and some archaeological finds. Presumably amphibian.

Worshipped by the ancient Pahlavans.

  • Mushussu

First fully land-based dragon, discovered in Mesopotamia. Tall and straight-legged, could not yet fly or breathe fire but could spit sparks and smoke.

  • Iluyanka

Bred by the Hittites, the Iluyanka was a transitory form between the land and winged dragons. Like the modern Long, it could fly without wings.

  • Typhon, Typhoeus

First of what could be known as ‘modern’ Western breeds, the Typhon had fully functioning wings and could spew flame. Earliest known specimens come from Cilicia, presumably bred from the Hittite dragons. After Rome’s conquest of Hellas, the Typhons were bred into the Ladon and Echidna breeds, from which all other Western dragons supposedly come.

  • Dvaraka

Heavily armoured, crocodilian in form. Assumed by some to be a type of the Naga, it seemed, however, to be much more comfortable on land. Relation to the Azi Dahaka is unknown. Earliest specimens found in the ancient cities of the Indus Valley.

  • Vritra

First ‘modern’ Eastern breed. Created in the stables of ancient Bharata by crossing the Phaya Nagas with the Dvaraka. The dragon breeding program was later abandoned, to be continued only in Qin. The Vritra were slim and small, but could easily fly and spewed both steam and lightning.

De Draconibus, Part 1 – Notable Western Races

The following is an excerpt from an Appendix on Dragon Breeds and Races, Dracology Handbook Year One, Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.


Metallic (Ladon’s Breed)

The Ladon’s Breed is one of the oldest and most diverse breeds of dragons in the West. Bred first on Trinacria, they were the dragons of choice for the Roman Legions until the Sun Priests came to power and banished all dragons. Having escaped destruction of the Great Cull in select hidden pockets in the Alp valleys, their breeding was picked up after the Age of Unbridled Fire by the Midgardians and the Helvetii.

  • Savoy Bronze

Known for their speed and agility, the Bronzes bred in the highland of Savoy come from the eggs secured by the Helvetii and have served a great part in the Duchy’s wars of independence. When Savoy was annexed into Breizh, the Bronzes became a desired choice for young aristocrats.

  • Black Forest Iron

A heavy-set, muscular breed, used primarily in timber industry, although almost replaced by Osning Forest Viridians

  • Mountain Silver “Wyrmkings”

A chosen breed for dragon-flying armies, the largest and strongest of all the western races. Addition of the Norse White blood made them violent and brutal, but also very powerful.

  • Imperial Gold

Only the royal families are allowed to ride the Imperial Golds. It is alleged that they are related to the dragons the Roman Emperors rode, but that is conjecture – in fact the breed is an effect of breeding the Mountain Silvers with Steppe Yellows.

Red (Y Ddraig Goch’s Breed)

According to the legend, the Ddraig Goch’s eggs have been found by Emrys Wledig under Arthur the Faer’s last fortress during the Seaxe invasions. The ancestry of the Reds is unknown; it is suggested that they either have been domesticated in the Dragon Isles separately from the Roman efforts, or are related to ancient metallics.

There are few differences between various breeds of the Reds, coming mainly from geographical separation of the Hatcheries. The Crimsons and Scarlets are generally smaller and faster than the Rubies, and Ancient Reds are almost extinct today.

  • Ancient Red
  • Eryni Ruby
  • Kernow Crimson
  • Mon Scarlet

Green (Fafnir’s Breed)

Midgard’s main indigenous breed, the Greens are not as brutal as the Whites or as fast as the Swifts, but are known for their reliability and stamina.

  • Burgund Wurm

An early breed, presumably crossed with the Horse Lord Dragons during the invasions. Cheap and relatively easy to maintain, but goes feral quickly.

  • Osning Forest Viridian

Industrial breed, strong, heavy, calm all-rounder. Currently the most numerous of the Western races.

  • Olissipo Emerald extinct

The counts of Burgundy had brought Fafnir’s breed with them to Lusitania, to carve out a piece of land for themselves. Unfortunately, almost all Emeralds have perished in the wars and what was left of their eggs was destroyed in the Great Earthquakes.

Blue (Cuelebre’s Breed)

Little is known of Cuelebre’s breed until after the cull. A few eggs have been salvaged from Vasconia to Dracaland and bred in the highland pastures of Alba, resulting in creation of the Azures – the first of the “King” races.

  • Pyreneean Sapphire

The only Blue to remain freely roaming on the Continent. A menace to farmers, but regarded with great esteem by the Vasconians, who do not try to tame or cull it.

  • Highland Azure Seakings

Before the advent of Mountain Silvers, the Highland Azures were the largest and strongest mounts in Dracaland army’s employ. They are still preferred by some because they are cheaper to feed and maintain.

  • Highland Grey Shadowclouds

Bred exclusively in the Fortress of Shadows on the Isle of Scathach, the Shadowclouds are used for spying and reconnaissance. Their scales can change colour slightly to suit the sky, and instead of dragon fear they spread dragon glamour which makes the observer turn their eyes away and forget about the dragon.

Swamp – (Tarasque’s Breed)

The Tarasques were Blue dragons brought to Provincia Nostra from the Pyrenees during the Age of Dragons. Following the rivers and marshes of Rhone and Rhein, they have eventually reached the Draca Lands. Resilient and fertile, the feral Tarasques soon spread throughout the land.

  • Fenland Celadon

Slim and serpentine, the Celadons are as fast on land as they are in the air.

  • Rhos Jade

Weak and small, bred as training and toy dragons for young riders.

(Emrys’s breed)

White (Orm Nidhoggr’s Breed)

Presumed to be remote descendants of the Echidna breed. The Seaxe and the Norsemen both rode Nidhoggr’s Breed into their many successful invasions, unstoppable until encountering the Reds.

Having accompanied the Norsemen on their oceanic expeditions, these frost-breathers were among the first Western dragons to arrive in Tyr Gorllewin.

  • Niflheimr Arctic
  • Norse White

The oldest war breed still in active use. A staple of Dracaland land army.

  • Vannin Cyan

Cross between Norse Whites and Highland Azures

  • Snaeland Snow

Born on Snaeland, this stocky, fat breed is most popular in Gorllewin

Earthy (Zmey’s Breed)

These stocky, heavy, slow dragons are kept by the Venedians in the lairs underneath their cities for defensive purposes. They are unique in that they are the only breeds able to blow both steam and flame – hence the ancient superstition that they have two heads.

  • Upland Brown
  • Giant Venedian

Ashen (Balaur’s Breed)

The ancient Balaurids were one of the most heavily affected by the Sun Priests’ cull. Only a few specimen survived to become ancestors of the current three yellow breeds. Now bred mostly for the rare colour of their scale.

  • Dacian Cinder extinct
  • Carpathian Vert

Swifts (Hleidra’s Breed)

The Jutish Swifts came with the Jutish conquerors accompanying the Seaxe. Coming from the same stock as the beast slain by Beowulf, the dragons have long outlived their masters. Small, sleek and fast, they have become a mount of choice for smugglers as well as the law enforcement.

  • Jutish Swift
  • Purple Swift

Cross between Jutish Swift and Ancient Red, popularly used by town guards and as blockade runners.

  • Chalk Swift

Cross between Jutish Swift and Norse White, preferred by the smugglers

Yellow (Echidna’s Breed)

Direct descendants of the Typhon, these breeds are as ancient as the metallic ones, and are said to have been cross-breeding with the Oriental dragons for generations.

  • Horse Lord Yellow

Brought into the West during the Barbarian Invasions, now a curiosity among collectors. More popular in the Eastern Steppes and in Varyaga.

  • Itil Zilant

A wild breed, roaming the flood plains along the Itil and other rivers of the Varyaga Khaganate. Almost impossible to tame, despite many efforts.