18
Apr
14

“Cold Turkey” by Carole Johnstone – A Review


cold turkey by carole johnstoneWhilst I’d be the first to admit that the TTA novella releases haven’t been quite as frequent as I would have hoped (The first was released in November 2012, the second over a year ago in March 2013), you certainly can’t fault the quality.

I reviewed the first two novellas (“Eyepennies” by Mike O’Driscoll and “Spin” by Nina Allan) when they came out, and having been a fan for a number of years of TTA’s periodical publications (Interzone for SF and fantasy and Black Static for horror) I was very pleased that they managed to match the peerless, boundary-pushing quality quality of the shorter stories I loved in the magazine.

Now we’re at novella number 3, by Carole Johstone. Carole has featured in Black Static a number of times, as well as a wide range of anthologies and collections, and I have read her stories myself several times.

And now we have a novella. Called “Cold Turkey”. With a terrifying man (?) in a top hat on the front. First impressions are, you have to admit, distinctly good.

Read on…

17
Apr
14

The Quiet Ones – A Review


the quiet ones

It feels intensely odd watching a new Hammer film. It’s the same feeling that I noted when sitting down to watch The Woman in Black. It feels like a name out of the past, a name out of another age, an old spirit — appropriately enough — risen from the grave.

But we live in strange times, and like so many of subjects of its films, Hammer is making a comeback. The (aforementioned) Woman in Black and The Resident (which I haven’t actually seen). And now, The Quiet Ones.

Now, unlike most I wasn’t blown away by The Woman in Black. I didn’t think it was terribly successful as a horror film, and although I thought more kindly of it at a later second viewing, I still think Daniel Radcliff was the wrong casting decision for the wrong reasons.

Mercifully, The Quiet Ones boasts not a single Daniel Radcliff.

Read on…

16
Apr
14

Heresy of the Week – Darwinist commissioning isn’t giving us better TV


picard star trek the next generation
Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

Which TV shows get made and which get left on the shelf (or binned) is a highly competitive affair. But in the cut-and-thrust live-or-die business, a lot of shows which could have bloomed into successes never get the chance.

Read on…

15
Apr
14

02 “The Lion and the Rose” (Game of Thrones season 4) [SPOILERS]


game of thrones the lion and the rose

Bloody hell.

Considering I was endlessly whining that the last season dragged, stretching out half a season’s story to fill ten episodes, season four hasn’t half started with a bang. The above the spoiler line is going to be short this week, because I have a lot of things to discuss.

So if you’re reading this on the home page, then beware of clicking the Read on… link. If you’ve clicked through to the article itself, be warned: here be spoilers.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers)

14
Apr
14

And we’re off!


southend civic centre

With the local elections this year being later than most due to the European Parliament elections (the vote usually occurs on the first Thursday in May), today has seen the publishing by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council of the notice of election. This marks the “official” start of the election campaign — I say official, but all parties have been laying the groundwork for months. Would-be candidates have now 10 days to get their nomination papers in — with the signatures of 10 nominators living in the ward and on the electoral roll — by 24th April.

There are eighteen seats up for election — one in each of the seventeen wards in the borough, and an extra in Westborough which Independent Martin Terry has vacated in his flight to Thorpe — of which 11 are Tory-held, 5 by the Lib Dems, 1 Labour and 1 Independent.

Most local political commentators — both enthusiastic amateurs like myself, and those sitting on the council — are expecting upheaval after this election. The Conservative majority stands at 1 presently, and they are almost certain to lose a number of seats on May 22nd. What this means for post-election Southend will depend on how the dice ultimately fall, and what alliances can be made as a result.

So there is a lot to play for; expect a lively campaign.

38 days to go.

14
Apr
14

The Borderlands – A Review


the borderlands

I’m a regular listener to the BBC’s film review show on Radio 5live, hosted by Simon Mayo and the acerbic wit of Mark Kermode. It’s a good listen for anyone with even a passing interest in film, and it’s actually what brought my attention to this very film, The Borderlands.

I’m sure I would have found it anyway, the reliable crew of my Facebook friends having discovered it also, but it’s always nice to have a signpost — and it seems only fair to recognise them.

The Borderlands is a low-budget, British horror film. It also uses the found-footage format, so beloved lately of horror. I have in the past been quite mean about it, but I do always usually qualify that by saying that done right it can be tremendously effective.

The question then is which camp The Borderlands falls into.

Read on…

12
Apr
14

Leader of Independents on Southend Council resigns!


martin terry

Sadly, Martin Terry isn’t renouncing politics, and becoming a monk.

No, this is the next step in the ongoing saga of Independent Party Group Martin’s flight to the safer climes of Thorpe ward. On Friday, he gave his written resignation into the council, and formally ceased to be a councillor representing Westborough ward. This isn’t exactly a surprise, as he had declared his intentions to do just so a few months back.

Read on…

11
Apr
14

Black Static #39 – A Review


black static #39

Do you want to know a secret? Writing the introduction to a review is my least favourite part of the whole thing. It’s rare that I won’t know what I think of a film or story, and if I don’t know starting out where I’ll finish up, the very process of writing it tends to steer me towards one.

No, it’s the introduction. The watching the wordcount as I ramble on, wondering if I’ve done so enough that I can just jump onto the meat of the matter. I’m impatient, basically. As a kid it was the oversweet luxury of desert that I craved, and that has never really gone away.

Black Static, as ever, is the best magazine in the horror business. Certainly in the UK. Probably in the world at large. It has been a part of my diet since my student days, lounging in halls on lazy afternoons when I should have been writing essays, getting lost in worlds of darkness and monsters.

I’m not much of a marketing shill, but if you are at all interested in modern horror — or explorations of the human soul — then you could do a lot worse than a subscription to Black Static. I don’t profess to like every story, but I’ve yet to read one from which I haven’t taken something away.

Is that enough of an introduction ? (Yes, that’ll do – Ed)

Read on…

10
Apr
14

Nigel Farage – Political Tease


nigel farage

When the Maria Miller expenses scandal started, it wasn’t any great insight to deduce that it would be good for UKIP. Nigel Farage and co have been pedaling their reactionary flavour of anti-politics for a while, the natural repository since the Lib Dems committed electoral suicide went into coalition with the Tories.

And equally unsurprisingly, Mr Farage himself was in Miller’s Basingstoke constituency yesterday, promising a big announcement. How exciting. What could it be?

It was, in fact, the unveiling of the UKIP candidate for Basingstoke in 2015. What, you don’t know who it was? Well there’s one very good reason for that.

It’s not Nigel Farage.

Read on…

09
Apr
14

Heresy of the Week – Anything Superman can do, Cap can do better


captain america superman

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

Marvel’s Captain America and DC’s Superman are very similar in ideals and metaphorical function within their various worlds. But whereas Superman has always been assumed the superior character (and possibly the pinacle of superheroes within the mainstream) Captain America has been lately proving himself superior in almost every way.

Read on…




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