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Saturday, October 12, 2019

My Thought's On. . .



The Girl Who Could Move S**t With Her Mind
They say . . . “First impressions count”.
In this case, that maxim hits the nail on the head. How? As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I’d love it. I mean, anyone who uses that as a title for their book has to have a great sense of humor. MY kind of humor.
And I was right.
Teagan Frost is a girl on a mission. Literally. She works for a clandestine government team. A team so secret that they’ll deny any knowledge of her at the drop of a hat if she screws up. Not a good thing when you’re the only person with psychokinetic abilities in the world and a queue of drooling scientists with top security clearance are itching for you to fail so they can dissect you.
When a body turns up at the site of Teagan’s last job, murdered in such a way that it’s obvious someone with paranormal abilities must be involved, plastic fingered gloves point the blame her way and scalpels get sharpened.
Fortunately, she gets twenty-four hours to prove her innocence. But will it be enough? Teagan’s boss wants rid of her. The rest of the team hate her. A squad of black-ops goons think she’s nothing but a freak that needs locking up and experimenting on. And someone’s obviously out to ensure she fails.
Just the recipe for a nice little whodunit. One presented with an aperitif of disaster-in-the-making, with a side salad of action all the way. It’s irreverent, down and dirty, underhand, and guaranteed to please the mischief-maker in all of us.
An insanely imaginative peek into a twisted mind.




The Boys
Continuing the “first impressions count” theme. . . .
I adored this series! There you go. My thoughts in brief, expressed from the heart.
Adapted from the Dynamite comic book series of the same name, The Boys follows the life of Hughie Campbell. A mild-mannered, down-to-earth young man, Hughie is madly in love with the girl of his dreams, Robin . . . up to the moment she’s obliterated by a superhero who literally runs right through her, that is.
Hughie is traumatized, until Billy Butcher crosses his path. Butcher despises all “Supers” and wants to wipe the lot of them out. Even so, he has eyes for one in particular; Homelander, the charismatic leader of the most popular of the super heroes – The Seven, who are sponsored by the mega rich, ultra powerful Vought International corporation.
As the show goes on to reveal, the Seven aren’t all that special. In fact, most are out and out self-serving scumbags who don’t give a toss about the populace at large . . . unless it can improve their ratings, that is.
Butcher knows this, and leads his vigilantes on a desperate crusade to expose the “supers” for what they really are, while fulfilling his own personal vendetta.
What I particularly liked about this series is that it’s a great judge of human nature. If people did somehow become blessed with powers in real life, THIS is what they’d be like. Oh, they’d start off wanting to do good, but with multi-billion dollar corporations and social media gurus plotting their every move, they’d end up emotionally wrecked trash monsters.
A lot of outrageous things happen in the series. (Ass-murder being a prime example) A truly explosive moment, I guarantee. And it’s awesome. Bad behavior. Even worse language. Sexual exploitation.  One of the most timely – tongue-in-cheek- exposes I’ve seen in a long time.
Even better, there’s one hellova twist at the end that sets up series 2 quite nicely, thank you very much. And I for one can’t wait J

Friday, September 27, 2019

My Reviews Of . . .


Black City Saint
Nick Medea is an investigator of things that go bump in the night. While that might sound corny, it isn’t. Far from it! For Nick is a man with a history extending back 1600 years.
He’s the guardian of The Gate, the supernatural barrier which is the only thing standing between the world of mankind and their worst nightmare: the Wyld. The thing is, during the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s, the Gate just so happens to be anchored in Chicago, the Black City, where the temperance movement, the Mob, ethnic distrust and precincts full of cops on the take, face off against a growing instability that makes each day a trial to deal with.
An apt analogy, especially when you consider another, more insidious influence that fans the flames of unrest spreading like wildfire throughout the city: the aforementioned Wyld.
Double-dealing; betrayal; half-truths and outright deception. Nick has to deal with it all, and THAT’s from those who are supposed to be on his side! How does he juggle the turmoil created by these warring factions while averting an all-out disaster that will change both worlds forever?
Find out in this fast-paced, action packed noir fantasy that blends the gritty, down-n-dirty gangster-era of Chicago with the macabre, metaphysical terror represented by the altered reality the coming of Feirie would bring. Great stuff, and great fun.
Remember, Public Enemy No 1 isn’t always the guy holding a Tommy Gun.





The Rook
Based on the novel by Daniel O’Malley, the Rook follows the exploits of the Checquy, a secret agency within the British government that protect the public from threats of a ‘supernatural’ kind. And to do that, they employ some pretty uncanny powers of their own.
As the title hints, the Checquy use chess-related codenames: King – Lady Farrier (Joely Richardson); Queen – Conrad Grantchester (Adrian Lester); the Rooks – the Gestalt quadruplets, Eliza, Robert and the twins Alex and Teddy (Catherine Steadman, Ronan Raftery & Jon Fletcher), and our main character, Rook Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell).
The story begins with Myfanwy regaining consciousness after a traumatic event. She’s not only lost her memory, but she’s surrounded by dead bodies. Fortunately, she seemed to be aware trouble was coming, because the ‘alternative’ her left a series of clues, in the form of a red pill/blue pill scenario, to help her make a choice.
She can either start a new life away from the shadowy world of international psychic espionage and meta-human trafficking, or regain details of her former occupation and reintegrate as a frontline operative.
To help you (and the mind-wiped version of Myfanwy) understand what’s going on, there are a series of detailed video recordings and helpful flashbacks that unravel the mystery.
Is she simply a cold-hearted killer who wants to wipe the blood from her hands, or is there more to it?
Betrayal. Steamy affairs. Questionable allegiances. It’s all there, along with a doozy of a ‘whodunit to her’ teaser that holds this ambitious project together pretty well without taking itself too seriously.
I for one, hope the second series doesn’t take too long.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

This Week's Thought's on. . .



The Book of Etta
In the Book of Etta, we follow the trials and tribulations of one of the descendants of those few women trained by the Unnamed Midwife to care for those priceless gems who can still successfully give birth to newborns one hundred years after the fall of mankind.
The thing is, Etta doesn’t want to be a midwife. Nor does she wish to bear children. She follows in the footsteps of the Unnamed Midwife herself, who traveled the wilds armed with nothing but an antique revolver and her wits.
Thus, Etta becomes a raider – and one of the most successful ones Nowhere has ever seen.
But a raider’s life is fraught with danger, as Etta discovers to her cost when she deviates from her normal routines and encounters strangers who demonstrate that – despite the calamity almost ending mankind’s reign – you still can’t trust human nature . . . or our capacity to learn from the mistakes of the past.
A superb sequel to a hauntingly poignant series, and one of the most compelling reads you’ll ever come across.




Pennyworth
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Pennyworth is the story of Alfred – The Alfred who later becomes the butler to Bruce – Batman – Wayne.
Produced by the team who brought us Gotham, you can expect a somewhat noir atmosphere to predominate. And it does. A comic book brought to life, Pennyworth is creative, gritty, and has a definite charm that engages you from the moment it starts.
In Pennyworth, Alfred is a young man, recently demobbed from the army after 10 years. As an ex SAS soldier, he possesses a maturity and approach to life that belies his youth, and in an effort to avoid the future earmarked for him by his father – that of a butler – he starts his own security company in the rough and tumble London of an alternate 1960s Britain.
Alfred runs into trouble from the get-go. For one, he bumps into Thomas Wayne, (Bruce’s dad), who is in London trying to track down his wayward sister, while engaged on some dodgy business for the American government. The two become embroiled, leading Alfred into conflict with an entity called the Raven Society. Things get complicated when he falls for Esme, an upper-class girl who his parents think are out of his league.
What follows is tremendously good fun, and although parts are deliberately outlandish and manically unhinged, creates just the right balance to keep you rooting for Alfred and his team as they navigate their way through one carefully crafted crisis after another.
Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

My Reviews Of. . .



Three Laws Lethal
It’s been a long time since I sat down to read a book, only to find myself going from cover to cover in two days.
I did exactly that with “Three Laws Lethal”, the latest offering from David Walton. And you might appreciate why. The topic of Artificial Intelligence is not only current, but it’s the subject of much controversy and conjecture.
A superb avenue, therefore, to introduce us to the driving force behind our story.
Why? Think about it. We already have cars that can park themselves and carry out all sorts of complicated maneuvers unassisted.  Some can even project images of the road ahead onto a screen or heads-up display on the windshield during conditions of reduced visibility. So, why not take that one step further?
Walton does, and uses it as the foundation on which to build his world:
It’s the very near future and self-driving cars are now a reality. As you might expect, competition is fierce, especially among the big-name car manufacturers. Two friends at college have a dream to cut in on the market by developing a state-of-the-art predictive system to beat everything else that’s available. And beat it they do . . . only, not in the way you would expect.
The road to success is beset by hazards, you see. Tragedy leads to heartbreak. Heartbreak to a fierce rivalry that festers over the years into a deep abiding hatred. And behind it all, an emerging intelligence begins to comprehend it can do more; much more, that simply follow instructions.
Yes, what happens when the real and virtual worlds collide?
Well, strap in and hang on! You’re about to find out in a story that’s so believable, you’ll never want to turn control of your safety over to a machine! And THAT’s what I particularly enjoyed about this book. I’m something of a physics geek myself. The fact that the science incorporated into the storyline already has a toehold in society makes you forget you’re reading a sci-fi novel.
Kudos to David Walton.
“Three Laws Lethal” – a story as immersive as the VR it portrays.



Stranger Things 3
As any discerning connoisseur will affirm, you can have all the right ingredients at the ready, but unless you mix them together in the right order, at the right time and in the right way, you won’t produce a Michelin star class meal.
And when it comes to producing a masterful recipe, Stranger Things 3 sets the bar.
This time around, the gang are doing their best to settle into their lives after sealing the rift between dimensions and the loss of someone close to them. A degree of normalcy returns, so much so, that life might be said to be boring.
But fear not, pesky Russian villains have infiltrated Hawkins, and they’re up to mischief. Somehow, they’ve managed to set up a huge underground base beneath the town’s new shopping mall where they’re working hard to reopen the rift. Of course, the malevolence lurking on the other side doesn’t need an invitation to resume its dastardly schemes, and in no time at all, local residents start acting strangely.
As the mind flayer consolidates its hold, you could be forgiven for thinking revenge will be the sweetest of dishes served with a garnish of dead bodies.
Not if the gang has anything to do with it!
Once they learn what is happening, they set out in their own unique ways to spoil the broth that is brewing right under their feet: A touch of mood setting here; a dash of 1980’s kitsch there; a liberal sprinkling of fast paced witty dialogue; all stirred into a sound base of cast interaction that blends everything together into a wonderfully enjoyable runaway extravaganza served with a cherry on top.
It really is great stuff, and guaranteed to please the hundreds and thousands who are bound to binge on this third serving of one of the best shows on TV at the moment.
Roll on series 4.

Friday, September 6, 2019

My Thoughts On. . .



The Robots of Gotham
Smart machines are here – whatever the laws banning the development of AI might be – and they’re here to stay. They’ve made sure of that, in the post apocalyptic future in which The Robots of Gotham is set.
Canadian businessman, Barry Simcoe, arrives in 2083 Chicago only days before the hotel in which he is staying is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the chaos that ensues, he ends up accused of murder, makes the acquaintance of a badly damaged robot called Nineteen Black Winter and, while awaiting interrogation, chips in to help an overworked, understaffed Russian medic.
It’s as this hotchpotch of events come together that Barry stumbles upon a machine conspiracy to reduce mankind to nothing more than a token species by way of a deadly plague. Obviously, he wants to do something about it. And as he begins his hopelessly inept investigation, he ends up committing himself – and his new friends – to a helter-skelter ride that rapidly spirals out of control.
How much out of control?
Trigger-happy revolutionaries; maniacal scientists; bloodthirsty tyrants; hidden robot colonies; genocidal war machines; James Bond scenarios. Barry has to face them all, and still find time to arrange a charity dinner for Chicago’s elite while maintaining the charade of total, bumbling innocence.
Never a dull moment in this compulsive, fast paced and thoroughly engaging romp through a future that could all too easily overtake us. And on a personal note, I DO hope to see Barry Simcoe again one day.
Brilliant!




Jessica Jones – Series 3
Sadly, this is the last we will see of Jessica Jones – a wonderfully gritty series ended before its time due to inter-company politics. (sigh).
Jessica is a reluctant hero; powered; outcast; looked upon by some with suspicion and other with grudging respect. Her nemesis this time around is a polymathic serial-killer. Someone without powers who, nevertheless, strives to excel at everything while daring anyone who thinks they're intelligent enough to catch him. And when his activities inadvertently catch the eye of Jessica Jones? Well, it’s gloves off and game on in a tit-for-tat game that becomes increasingly vindictive and deadly with each passing day. Ingenious stuff, and as compelling as ever.
Jessica Jones maintains the bar that Marvel failed to sustain with any of their other TV shows – except for Daredevil – with polish aplomb. A pity viewers will have to suffer the end of one of the best shows Netflix ever had.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Review Time


The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The long anticipated fall of mankind is the subject matter of this first book in the “Road to Nowhere” series. And like any tragedy waiting to happen, it takes people by surprise. Before the world realizes what they’re dealing with, it’s already too late and we’re facing a mass extinction event.
The thing that really makes an impact with this story is that no one knows why! And that’s a poignantly powerful statement to make . . . and a humbling one too, because let’s face it; the majority of humanity doesn’t give two hoots about what we’re doing to the planet or our environment. Not until it affects them personally, that is. And in the Unnamed Midwife, it does, with bells on!
All the scant survivors do know is that whatever the pandemic was, it hit suddenly; it hit hard; and very few were able to endure. Of those that did, men were in the majority, for the plague proved especially virulent among pregnant women and newborns. In the aftermath, pregnancy becomes a death sentence. A dilemma for any female old enough to bear children in a society that spirals into chaos and hormone-riddled rape gangs.
Told from the perspective of a nurse – and one of the few females to survive – the Unnamed Midwife details her personal journey from successful career woman into an existence fuelled by isolation and fear of discovery. Part story – part extract from her journal, its a haunting, gripping indictment of inhuman nature at its bases level, and sums up what would most likely happen if such a thing ever happened.
Powerful stuff. And a compelling read.


Chernobyl
This mini-series is lesson in how to present fictional drama.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of Chernobyl. The date of April 26th 1986 will be etched on the minds of many as the day one of the worst man-made catastrophes ever unfurled.
The TV mini-series dramatizes the story of that event, and is based – for the most part – on the recollections of those living in Pripyat at the time by Belarusian Nobel Laureate, Svetlana Alexievich in her book, “Voices from Chernobyl”.
I’ve got to say, I was really impressed by this series. It’s a powerful, deeply disturbing account of how a tragic accident rapidly declined from bad to worse. And why? In a nutshell, the political ethos of the time in the Soviet Union was that the “party line” came first . . . or else!
That “line” allowed former shoe factory managers to dictate policy on issues they simply weren’t prepared or qualified to handle, leading to hundreds of needless deaths. That brutal reality was portrayed by a strong cast and superb directing where the brooding menace of the regime almost overshadowed the tragedy as it unfurled: The refusal to accept the facts; disbelief of those qualified to make accurate assessments; the negligence involved in sending countless heroes – the firemen, miners and soldiers tasked to contain the outbreak – to their deaths as they battled to contain a force they didn’t understand.
Gripping, compelling, and infuriating, to say the least. And a poignant reminder to us all as to how fragile we are, and how little we understand the powers we play with.



Friday, August 16, 2019

This Week's Thoughts On. . .


Dead Moon
You’d be forgiven for thinking that with the kind of life Samantha Moon has led, not much would take her by surprise anymore?
You’d be wrong!
Still immortal, yet free of the presence of Elizabeth – the dark master that empowered her when she first became a vampire – Sam is adjusting well to her new condition and the freedom this brings to spend much more time with her family . . . if having a telepathic daughter and Light Warrior son can be construed as normal . . . Ah, if only things could stay that way.
Why? She’s suddenly struck by a strong premonition of foreboding while watching TV when a young zombie woman suddenly turns to face her from within the show, and reaches out to her, begging for help.
But even in the topsy-turvy paranormal world of Samantha Moon, there’s no such thing as zombies . . . Right?
Thus begins an adventure that forces Sam to realize she might be rid of her dark master, but so are a whole host of other supernatural entities. And those dark masters are celebrating their freedom by fomenting something. Something awful. Something evil. Massing together, they’re forming unholy alliances that simply shouldn’t be considered, for such alliances will spell the end of mankind.
Unless Samantha Moon lends a hand.
Enjoy yourself. You just know it’s going to be fun!


The OA – Series 2

This time out, OA finds herself in a new dimension in a different version of herself; a rich and successful version where she never suffered the accident that blinded her as a child. An excellent start, you might think. However, the rose tinted spectacles of new expectations quickly become clouded when she realizes she isn’t safe. Her adversary, Hap, is there too. His version is a prominent psychiatrist heading a successful psychiatric hospital where he lures unwilling victims to continue his abusive experiments.
You might guess what happens. . .
Even so, it’s not plain sailing for anybody. OA also crosses paths with Karim Washington, a private detective tasked with finding missing teenager, Michelle Vu, who goes missing inside an eerie old house in another part of the neighborhood.
What’s the link? Find out for yourselves in a multilayered tale that expands on the original series in a skilful and redolent way, blending the two together so provocatively that you’re held spellbound throughout because a part of you – deep down inside – relates to what’s happening on a subliminal level.
Quality viewing. I look forward to series 3 with anticipation.

Friday, August 2, 2019

This Weeks Thoughts On. . .



Necropolis PD
The fine folks over at Black gate Fantasy provided the inspiration to try this story out. And I’m sooo pleased they did, because it’s an absolute gem.
Jacob Green can see dead people. Lots of them . . . everywhere!
How come?
A good deed at the scene of a car accident turns bad. Very bad. So much so, that it’s not the victim of the crash who is in dire need of help. And when Jacob pursues the offender into a disused tunnel under a bridge, he finds out to his cost that the tunnel isn’t disused at all. It’s a conduit leading to an in-between place where those who have passed on live out their unlives as they did before they died: A place called Necropolis.
Of course, not only should it be impossible for Necropolis to exist, but its denizens can’t possibly allow Jacob to leave now he knows of its existence.
Things look bleak until one of the undead winds up murdered. And because of his unique perspective, Jacob is pressed into service as a detective to help solve the case.
That’s when things start getting really complicated, and Jacob spirals from one disaster to another, somehow only just managing to keep his head above water . . . and all the time, he’s watching and waiting for the first opportunity to escape.
How does he fare?
Find out, in this action packed, roister-doister tale that sits easily on the eye and dark humor funny bone (Think of a blend of RIPD and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and you’ll be on the right track).
A great story and superb debut novel from an author I shall gladly read again.



Good Omens

Having read the book, a cunning and exceedingly funny conspiracy by two of the most humorous guys on (and off) the planet (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) I had high expectations for the TV adaptation.
Ouch! (Yes I know . . . I’m an idiot!)
True to form, cutting satire, wit, and a heady imagination don’t translate well from print to screen. A shame, because the story – based on “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” – expounds the story of the birth of the son of Satan and the coming of the end times. A terribly important even, I’m sure you’ll agree, and one that would concern all right-minded people.
The thing is, it concerns the two representatives of heaven and hell left on Earth since the times of the Garden of Eden even more. Aziraphale – the angel, and Crowley, the serpent who tempted Eve – have become quite accustomed to living amongst humans. And even though they’re supposed to be polar opposites reporting back to their respective “HQs” in preparation for an eventual Armageddon, they’ve become firm friends; cutting corners here, slipping the odd false report in there; taking credit for mankind’s perverseness or ingenuity when the mood takes them.
As such, when the antichrist is born and the end times loom, they go out of their way to put the proverbial spanner in the works. Their solution? Swap several children born at the same time so the antichrist grows up as a normal child in an average family in a quaint English town.
The result?
What follows is pure magical mayhem as the monumental balls-up is unearthed and Crowley and Aziraphale struggle to put things right against an increasing avalanche of woe. Also, credit where credit’s due: David Tennant and Michael Sheen do incredibly well portraying our two main protagonists, Crowley and Aziraphale in a cast comprised of swings and roundabouts. Some characters are superb, hitting the mark exactly. Others? – Oh dear!
But the thing that really spoiled it for me was the “back voice.” In the book, the authors address YOU, the reader, with witty expose and details that draw you in. Here’s an example:

“It wasn't a dark and stormy night.
It should have been, but that's the weather for you. For every mad scientist who's had a convenient thunderstorm just on the night his Great Work is finished and lying on the slab, there have been dozens who've sat around aimlessly under the peaceful stars while Igor clocks up the overtime.
But don't let the fog (with rain later, temperatures dropping to around forty five degrees) give anyone a false sense of security. Just because it's a mild night doesn't mean that dark forces aren't abroad. They're abroad all the time. They're everywhere.
They always are. That's the whole point.
Two of them lurked in the ruined graveyard. Two shadowy figures, one hunched and squat, the other lean and menacing, both of them Olympic grade lurkers. If Bruce Springsteen had ever recorded “Born to Lurk,” these two would have been on the album cover. They had been lurking in the fog for an hour now, but they had been pacing themselves and could lurk for the rest of the night if necessary, with still enough sullen menace left for a final burst of lurking around dawn.”

This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the book and helps set the scene of two demons waiting for Crowley to arrive with the antichrist babe. When you read it in context, you can’t help but smile at the images conjured in your mind. It’s pithy; it’s punchy; and certainly puts you in the mood for what follows. When I watched this part on the TV, however, I cringed. It totally ruined the atmosphere of what I’d originally imagined and to me, was a nails across a chalkboard moment that broke the magic . . . as do a minority of the characters.
But there you go. THAT’s why reading + imagination are often far superior to a screen production.
(For an in-depth review - see my latest article over at Amazing Stories). 


Saturday, July 20, 2019

My Thoughts On. . .



Artesans of Albia – Circle of Conspiracy
Though Lord Rykan is dead, his legacy of rebellion lives on. A legacy that not only threatens the safety of King Elias and Hierarch Aeyron, but the world itself.
But who would dare such an outlandish scheme? And why? Even worse, how might Colonel Sullyan’s own family be implicated?
One thing’s for sure, the poison of treachery runs deep on both sides of the veil, and it will be costly indeed to excise it forever.
The Circle of Conspiracy, a well-paced and delightful romp through the world of artesans that grants you a deeper insight into one of the best, well thought-out magical systems I’ve seen in years. (It really is that good). Not only does the story involve you from beginning to end, but its great fun and well worth the effort of reading all three books in one go.





Orange is the New Black: Seasons 1 - 6
Some might not be aware, but Orange is the New Black is based on the real life experiences and subsequent memoir of Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, who spent 13 months at FCI Danbury.

The TV series revolves around Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary – a women’s minimum-security prison – after being convicted of transporting a suitcase full of drug money 10 years previously for her then girlfriend, Alex Vause, an international drug smuggler.
Because the offense had been committed 10 years previously, Piper had settled down and moved on with her life. She was now law-abiding and due to get married to her fiancé in the near future.
The series sets out to show how Piper’s circumstances are turned upside down by her incarceration, especially as she is reunited with her former lover, Vause, who involved her in crime in the first place.
Along the way, we see how Piper – along with all the other inmates – struggle with the inherent problems of trying to balance petty rules with the underground code existing behind bars. Each series brings something new, with flashbacks helping you see how each main character ended up in jail, and especially what makes them tick.
To provoke contention, the series incorporated added tension from the collapse of the prison and its takeover by the Management & Correction Corporation (MCC). Standards drop, allowing the introduction of new guards. Some are clearly not up to scratch, while others are psychologically unhinged, creating a melting pot of simmering discontent. That discontent comes to a head when a prisoner is killed, and series 4 ends in the instigation of a full-blown riot.
Series 5 continues with the revolt itself. Some prisoners attempt to negotiate better conditions and seek justice for the dead inmate and her family. Others pursue their own interests and behave like animals. A few tuck themselves away, trying to avoid conflict on all sides.
Unfortunately, the guard who incited the riot in the first place is critically wounded by an inmate. This ultimately leads to disaster, for SWAT teams storm the building and drag the women away. Season 5 ends with them being driven away in buses to new destinations.
The consequences of the riot are shown in season 6. Chapman – along with a number of her fellow inmates – are transported to Litchfield Maximum Security. Investigators are looking who to blame, and the girls have to tread very carefully to avoid the “life” or 10 year sentences being dished out with liberal abandon and no real effort to discover exactly what went on.
There you go – a brief synopsis all in one breath. The thing is, I don’t think any amount of writing would do this series justice (get it?) J I’d seen it advertised for some time and ignored it, only to give it a go on a whim.
Guess what? I took to it almost immediately, as it not only concentrates on how prison life will change even the most decent of people, but also how various forms of corruption, funding cuts, privatization, guard brutality and discrimination can make a bad situation much, much worse. And the kick-in-the-teeth? We all know this happens!
A poignant, moral reminder to us all.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

This Week's Review Of...


The Power That Preserves
In the Power that Preserves, Stephen Donaldson brings the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever to an end.
Lord Foul has mastered the Illearth Stone, altering the course of nature. The Land has been seized in the grip of a devastating winter that leeches all life away. Everything will die and the Arch of Time will fall. . .
. . .Unless Thomas Covenant accepts the Land and its predicament is real.
Sick to the back teeth of being used, by Foul; by the Creator; by the Lords and everyone he comes across, Covenant chooses another way and embraces the paradox he represents in one of the best face-offs between good and evil ever written.
A truly stunning conclusion to one of the best adventures ever written.


Lucifer – Series 4
For those of you who have already seen the show, Lucifer has the premise of the devil walking the earth while helping a detective solve murders. Rather odd, on the face of it, but as fans will know, there’s an odd link between Lucifer and Chloe, and the two are drawn together by forces beyond their control.
Based loosely on the character introduced by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg in DC’s The Sandman comic series, Lucifer has built an overwhelmingly loyal fanbase that helped save the show when Fox said they were going to cancel it at the end of series 3.
The ruckus they caused came to the attention of Netflix, who took the show on and – I have to say – kept a successful recipe bubbling nicely, even adding a spot of spice to it in some places. Lucifer series 4 is crisp, dark, sexy and brimming with superbly handled special effects. It’s irreverent, gory, fun, and downright entertaining.
This season concentrates on the deeper aspects of each main character, and of course, lets us see how Chloe handles the truth now she knows Lucifer really is THE devil. To ensure the calm waters of plain sailing aren’t allowed to make things too rosy, we have the addition of two new characters: Eve – yes, the woman who took the fruit from the tree in Eden and Lucifer's first girlfriend; and Father Kinley, a priest devoted to hunting the devil and preventing the fulfillment of a prophecy spelling the end of the world.
As I mentioned, Netflix ties things together rather nicely, even relating back to a prophecy mentioned in series 1 that adds a touch of ‘rightness’ to the developing plotline. And well it should, for it is intimated its fulfillment might cast a pall of doubt over Lucifer and Chloe’s relationship.
And THAT’s what it’s all about! Will they . . . won’t they?
Ah, you’ll see. And unlike the hordes in hell, you’ll be begging for more. 


Saturday, June 22, 2019

My Thought's On. . .



The Illearth War

Following on from Lord Foul’s Bane, the Illearth War finds our unwilling hero summoned back to the Land for a second time. But forty years have passed in the Land, and things have rapidly gone from bad to worse. Covenant must not only face the consequences of some of his previous actions, but he’s now expected to help the Lords fight Lord Foul’s army, a horde so vast, so powerful, that it will crush everything in existence. The only way to avoid utter ruination lies along a course beset with extreme peril. But who will be willing to pay the ultimate price? 

Yet again, Covenant refuses to rise to the occasion as others would want.

The Illearth War. Another outstanding example of how to write fantasy.



Avengers: Endgame

Those of you who follow my blog will remember how impressed I was by Avengers – Infinity War, a film of stupendous scale, special effects and a mind-blowing climax that added a wealth of credibility to what was once a fading pedigree.

While – in my opinion – Endgame isn’t quite as good, it maintained sufficient momentum to hang on in there . . . just!

Endgame lets us see how the remaining Avengers are coping in the aftermath of a cosmic-sized ass kicking: Tony Stark is stuck on a failing spacecraft waiting to die; Steve Rogers is doing his best to help Black Widow and other members of the team come to terms with their loss; Thor is drowning his sorrows in New Asgard; Bruce Banner seems to have transitioned well enough, now co-existing with his alter ego and doing what he can to get by.
They’re itching for payback. But how can they do that against a seemingly omnipotent Thanos who – true to his word – is now sitting back and living the easy life after reducing the population of the galaxy by one half.

The answer to that question starts to unravel with the arrival of Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) who has taken an age to answer Nick Fury’s summons because of the vast distance she’s had to travel. But now she’s here?
Let’s just say, her presence was handled rather astutely – and wisely so. After all, when you include the presence of the ultimate superhero, bad guys/girls, even ones as powerful as Thanos, don’t get to last very long. And once Captain Marvel did her job and helped a motley crew of survivors get their revenge, of sorts, she leaves on another mission, thereby making way for a credible twist...
...and that’s where thing could have gone drastically wrong!

I won’t say what that twist is here in case you’ve not seen the film yet. Needless to say, the impact of Infinity Wars was heightened because of the Avengers defeat and subsequent carnage. And if they’d managed to undo all the damage inflicted upon them by the first film, then, shame on Marvel.
So they reached a compromise; one that just about squeezes through as passable, despite the sugar rush poignancy of final farewells in the nick of time.

Again, I apologize for not going into detail. I never like my reviews to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film yet.

Overall, it was an extravagant, entertaining, and visually stunning film that didn’t live up to the benchmark set by its predecessor. And while it was fun to watch, I felt it a great shame we didn’t get to see more of Captain Marvel. But if we had, it would have been a very different and much shorter adventure.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Review Time


Lord Foul’s Bane

As engaging now as it was when I first read it forty – YES, 40 years ago – Lord Foul’s Bane set the benchmark for high fantasy.

Thomas Covenant is a man who had everything a man could wish for: a loving wife; a delightful son; fame and fortune . . . and loses it all when he falls victim to a terrible infection. Abandoned to a life of seclusion and strict discipline, Covenant becomes a pariah in his hometown, only to find himself suddenly snatched away to a world that can’t possibly exist; a place where the very air brings healing, miraculously curing his disease.

But such things cannot be. They are a delusion and a deadly temptation to someone who can’t afford to relax. Ever! And when the people of this magical land place all their hopes on his presence among them, he rebels, refusing to become their savior.

Thus begins the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, one of the most complex, involved fantasy epics you will ever read. Even better, it’ll be the start of a love-hate relationship, for Thomas Covenant is an anti-hero you’ll willingly slap into the middle of next week.

Try it – you’ll soon see what I mean.




Alita – Battle Angel
Based on an iconic manga Battle Angel series, Alita tells the story of a distant future – about five hundred years from now – where the Earth is still recovering from an interplanetary war known as “The Fall”. A disembodied teenage-looking cyborg is found in a giant scrapheap. Through an amazing set of high intensity action sequences, she sets out to discover more about the world about her; who she is; fall in love; and as the plot line develops, fight for justice.
But it’s not all plain sailing. Alita has a knack for finding trouble. And when she does, her instinctive combat skills are frightening to behold. But there’s a reason for that. As events unfold, others who hope to exploit her talents are drawn like moths to a flame.
I’d love to delve into certain aspects of the story, but doing so might give the game away for those who might not have seen it yet. It’s an ambitious, visually spectacular and enthralling production that enraptures you from the start and makes you believe what you see could actually be real.
While many have complained that it lacks the original depth of the manga series, that’s understandable. A lot has been crammed into a single film, and in my humble opinion, they did it rather well. I never read the comics, so I've not been influenced by comparisons. So, regarding the film itself . . . I loved it from the very beginning and think it’s one of Robert Rodriguez’s best films for years.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

My Thoughts On...



Moon Master

Vampire she may be, but if there’s one thing Samantha Moon cannot abide, it’s someone who hurts kids. When that “someone” happens to be a centuries old warlock – the Red Rider – with an affinity for dining on those youngsters who display magical talent, well, Samantha Moon takes umbrage and starts collecting information with the intention of doing something about it.

It’s when the Red Rider progresses to attacking 10 year old children that Samantha Moon goes nuclear. Determined to stop him once and for all, she sets off on the hunt of an unlifetime. As she does so, Samantha comes to appreciate that to achieve her heart’s desire she must do something none of the undead has been capable of before: mastering the art of traversing the higher dimensions. And it’s only when she begins to appreciate how seemingly impossible that is she realizes what’s truly at stake.

Yet all is not as it seems. Samantha is being manipulated, and the cost of achieving victory over the Red Rider will have implications she simply hasn’t considered . . .
. . . Not just for her, but for the whole of creation!

How far would YOU go to do the right thing?




Love, Death & Robots


In Love, Death and Robots, you get a serving of short animated stories centered on the theme of sci-fi, fantasy and horror. And boy, variety certainly is the spice of life . . . and love – death and Robots – as the title suggests. The recipe is varied too, from full-on space battles and carnage-wreaking robots, to sexually explicit mind-fxxxs that really strike a chord and make you think. There’s a tribute to the “Butterfly Effect”, cleverly disguised in slapstick comedy as to how history would have been affected if Hitler had died before coming to power, (ingenious). You even have a super-advanced form of yogurt that takes over the world. Excellent stuff!

But how to sum it all up without giving anything away?

Think of a selection of mezzes. Some are short, sweet and nasty. Others are daring, energetic and satirical. Several are poignant, thoughtful and heart-rending. Don’t get me wrong, I found some of the dishes a little bland, but as each dish rarely passes the 15 minute marker, you can put up with them while looking forward to the next course.

For me, Sonnie’s Edge, Beyond the Aquila Rift, The Witness and Lucky 13 stood out above the others. I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites among a diverse, violent and often humorous smorgasbord that portrays a dark and demented view of the world as seen through the eyes of those who have peeked through the veil and realize how tenuous reality is.

Great entertainment. I can’t wait for the second coming.