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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.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Exciting News
The IX


A L.A. & European based TV/Film company contacted me today with a query regarding one of my works: The IX.
These are some of the TV series they've produced (some I've watched):








Obviously, this is only an initial query, but needless to say, I'm rather hopeful and can't wait to see what transpires?

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.