Month: February 2014

Heresy of the Week: A new Farscape film must be true to the show’s spirit


farscape aeryn john little d

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:

The news that The Jim Henson company is considering a big screen return to the world of Farscape is exciting, but Farscape is no run-of-the-mill science-fiction property. The danger is real that a rush to remake an iconic series might see what made the series special lost in translation.

Read on…

The Lego Movie – A Review


the lego movie

Lego, as a toy, is possibly the most genius idea of the last half-century. A bold claim, perhaps, but hands up who played with coloured blocks and yellow-faced men as a kid?

Thought so.

My own childhood is a patchwork of bizarre constructions. I recall saving my pocket money, as young as six, to go down to the toy shop of a Saturday and purchase another small addition to my pool of materials. A bucket of bricks could amuse me for hours.

But as a film? I don’t know… I’m sketchy of the rules surrounding films based on toys — they certainly aren’t as inescapable as the rule that dooms all video-game-to-film ventures — but Michael Bay’s Transformers films can hardly be seen as a good omen.

(Though, actually, that’s no different to every other Michael Bay film, so perhaps it is unfair to heap the blame at Transformers’ door.)

Read on…

Sale to Infinite Science Fiction!


infinite acacia

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted one of these. But my story “Nothing Beside Remains” is going to be published in the anthology Infinite Science Fiction, from Brussels-based publisher Infinite Acacia.

This is a particularly short piece, of science-fiction, set on the dusty red plains of Mars. It has an interesting personal background and source of inspiration, which I will look forward to go into a little closer to the publication date. But for now it’s nice just to be able to revel in the prospect of my words being manifested in print.

It’s a nice feeling.

End of the “Southend Independents aren’t a Party” myth


martin terry

Well that lasted.

News broke on Friday that the leader of the Southend Independent definitely-not-a-party Group, Martin Terry, intends to resign his present council seat representing Westborough ward in order to fight for election to Thorpe ward in the May local elections.

This is not a surprise to anyone in the know. Martin Terry has been looking for a Thorpe-wards relocation for a while, and it seems like the final piece has fallen into place (permission, perhaps, from Thorpe councillor and one-man self-promotion engine Ron Woodley?).

One side effect, though, is that that it has at last broken any pretence that Southend’s independents are anything but a political party.

Read on…

Black Static #38 (Jan/Feb) – A Review


black static #38

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen an obituary in an issue of Black Static. Interzone includes brief notes on genre figures who have passed away, as part of Ansible Link. But the obituary — the glowing tribute to Joel Lane in Black Static #38, penned by Nicolas Royle, is something else.

I never met Joel, and I only read a few of his stories. They had a dark, brooding atmosphere which resonated with a distinct sense of place. He had a distinctive and powerful style of writing, focusing on very British locations, and the weird close to everyday life.

When he sadly passed away at the far-too-young age of fifty, my Facebook page was alive with people shocked, hurt and in mourning at the lost of someone key to the genre. Although I didn’t know, the shockwave which his death caused was undeniable and inescapable. A picture has emerged of a British genre stalwart taken too soon.

And as such, the idea of an issue of Black Static in tribute is very attractive indeed.

Read on…

Is Southend to be ruled by non-doms?


southend civic centre

My good friend Julian Ware-Lane blogged last week that Southend’s Conservatives had selected their leader and deputy for when current leader Nigel Holdcroft steps down at the elections in May.

There aren’t any surprises therein — except that I haven’t seen anything yet on the matter from those few Conservative councillors who actively blog — with current deputy John Lamb to replace Holdcroft, and Southchurch Councillor Anne Holland as the new deputy.

The significance really depends on the state of affairs after May. If the Conservatives cling on to control — they won’t hold their majority, but depending on which way the wind blows the Independents or Lib Dems may prop up a Tory administration — then this will be the new leader and deputy of Southend Borough Council.

Which makes it all the more interesting that, as Julian pointed out, Cllr Holland doesn’t actually live in the Borough of Southend.

Read on…

Heresy of the Week – Better to be bad than dull


after earth jaden smith

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:

Critics save a lot of ire for works which are qualitatively bad, when arguably there is a worse sin in film, books, and all creative works of entertainment: being boring.

Read on…

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia – A Review


the hauting in connecticut 2 ghosts of georgia

I saw the original film, The Haunting in Connecticut, when it came out in the cinema. It was a punt, what looked like a run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers horror film. And that was exactly what it was — and very entertaining too. The critics weren’t great fans, but it delivered what it promised — no frills, creepy entertainment, with enough recognisable tropes to be a solid part of the genre.

It was not a film which needed a sequel.

But that’s not a matter to bother film studios, so at sequel-land we have arrived, with The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. Yes, I know. Believe me, will be coming to that. I don’t recall seeing Ghosts of Georgia in the cinema — though where I live, that isn’t too surprising  — so I would guess in many places it was straight-to-DVD, which is seldom an indication of quality

Read on…

Are the Lib Dems finally getting it?


lib dem rosette

There was a period, around this time last year, when all was sunny and optimistic in the yellow-tinged world of the Liberal Democrats.

It coincided with the election of Mike Thornton in the Eastleigh by-election. For those who don’t recall, this was brought on by the conviction and imprisonment of one-time leadership candidate Chris Huhne. It also coincided with the coming to prominence of the allegations of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard — which is still going on, by the way. It was also a target seat for the Conservatives, who dearly needed a boost.

The Lib Dems poured everything — people, money — into the seat, and in the end held onto it, whilst the Tories fell to third place behind UKIP. And all of a sudden, they could do it. They could survive May 2015 because clearly their vote hasn’t disapparated like everyone supposed.

Which is a profound misreading of the situation.

Read on…

Elysium – A Review


elysium

I somehow missed Elysium during its run at the cinema, and as DVD viewing it has languished a while in the wake of a generally negative response from…well, most people.

But I’ve finally gotten around to watching Neil Blomkamp’s follow up — but not sequel — to District 9. Now, I loved District 9. It opened in the cinemas opposite James Cameron’s CGI-heavy borefest Avatar, and generally got pretty short shrift at the time. And yet whereas Avatar was one of the most patronising films I’ve ever seen, District 9 was powerful, moving and deeply, deeply relevant. It was essentially a demonstration what science-fiction should be doing on film.

It was a tough act to follow, even more for a breakout director like Blomkamp, which might go some way towards explaining the disappointment Elysium was met with.

Read on…