Month: June 2014

02 “In My Secret Life” (Defiance season 2) [SPOILERS]



Defiance has always had a strange sort of development speed. In the last season, some of the episodes were gripping expansions of the overarching story, whereas others were more episodic. This is part of the reason that I think its potential was never fully achieved, though it had moments which undoubtedly shone.

The first episode of the second season then (without wanting any above-the-line spoilers) mimicked it. There was a lot of hints of things to come, but it was still very much getting back into the swing. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I do hope it gets into the full swing of the story unfulfilled at the end of the last season.

Read on…

Black Static #40 – A Review

black static #40

A friend of mine recently expressed an interest in short stories. Seeing as it was my introduction to the modern short story, Black Static was the natural choice. And it was this freshly finished issue which I proffered.

Thirty issues have gone by since my first issue , and a lot has changed. But the fiction hasn’t. My first real introduction to the cutting edge of modern horror was through those pages, and every two months the stories still snap with fresh ideas and new names.

The reason for this little spiel is this: you should buy Black Static. You should buy its SF sister magazine Interzone, too. I subscribe, which takes away the pressure of remembering to buy them every two months, and you should consider that too. If you love horror, you’ll love this. If you don’t love horror — well, maybe this will change your mind.

The other purpose of this little introduction is to point out that I don’t currently hold in my hands the current issue — so form an orderly queue to point out corrections please!

Read on..

James Duddridge is wrong to oppose new council housing for Southend

james duddridge

Regular readers will know that I’ve highlighted plenty of stupid things that James Duddridge has said or done in the last year or so. From his aspirations for irresponsibly expanded gambling in Southend, to his bizarre decision to run a “Halifax customers only” constituency surgery, it is safe to say that his judgement hasn’t been fantastic.

And, as Labour’s Cllr Ian Gilbert commented, since the change in administration on the council, he seems to have a lot more to say about what the council is doing. The combination of the two is probably going to lead to predictable results, including this little gem:

In response to the council’s decision announced yesterday, to launch the biggest new council house building programme Southend has seen in decades, James Duddridge is dead set against it.

Read on…

Labour delivering for Southend — new social housing to be built!

echo housing story

It has been a point of some personal annoyance with myself, that the press coverage of Southend Borough Council’s joint administration — the first non-Conservative administration in the town for fourteen years has been dominated thusfar by Martin Terry’s non-announcements. Now, though, we have one of the first hard policy announcements: the building of the first new housing in the borough in some twenty years.

This was something that Labour campaigned heavily on, and in opposition Victoria’s Cllr David Norman led a review of potential sites for housebuilding. David is, of course, now the portfolio holder for Adult Social Care & Housing, and it is entirely because of the hard work that he put in that the administration can move so quickly on this.

Read on…

Heresy of the Week – Softly softly gets fantasy into the mainstream

game of thrones white walker
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:

After years of lingering in the side streets, with the astounding success of Game of Thrones fantasy fiction seems to have finally broken through into the mainstream — through a strategy of introducing fantastical elements so gradually that many viewers don’t notice.

Read on…

Southend Conservatives knifed by national party over “spy cars”

southend spy car

You have to, on some level, feel for Southend Conservatives. Not only have they been roundly rejected by the Southend electorate, lost control of the council for the first time in fourteen years, but they do keep getting kicked by their national counterparts.

The efforts of James Duddridge to single-handedly alienate every Conservative activist and voter in his half of the borough are laudable, but you can’t fault the work of the  national party as a whole who seem intent on taking their local policy positions apart from the top downwards.

From Duddridge’s declaration that the sea wall was clearly a terrible idea — conveniently coming just after Tory councillors had lost their seats over it — to the recent decision by Eric Pickles to ban the use of so-called “spy cars” to enforce parking regulations, you wonder if there will be anything left of the local Conservative platform at all.

Read on…

01 “The Opposite of Hallelujah” (Defiance season 2) [SPOILERS]


Last year, Defiance was one of those shows which I hadn’t expected a great deal from. A Syfy — still the stupidest rebranding exercise in recent history — produced show made by the creator of Farscape (of which my opinion is a matter of public record) with music by Bear McCreary.

It wasn’t perfect, with a tendency to misstep pretty hard just when it seemed to be getting into its stride, but the story of a world post-alien terraforming accident, and a wild-west-style town in that new world was an engaging one. That potential, that edge of boldness, was exactly the sort of show which TV science-fiction needed.

Though the first season didn’t end on the high that I would have hoped, there is enough going into the second season to be positive and hopeful about.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

UKIP councillor to stay in Southend (but doesn’t want to be scrutinised)

lawrence davies ukip

A few weeks back I blogged about one of UKIP’s five new councillors on Southend Borough Council. Lawrence Davies, representing Kursaal ward, had said in April that he would be moving back to Cambridge this August. This, as I said at the time, was a matter of concern because it would either leave Kursaal with an absentee councillor, or the Southend taxpayer a £14,000 bill for a by-election.

Cllr Davies has, now, responded by way of the local paper, to clarify that he isn’t, in fact, going to be leaving Southend. Which is fair enough. But he also seems to have taken offence at the question ever having been asked in the first place.

Read on…

Thin skins in local government

martin terry

What a difference a few weeks make, eh?

Prior to the local elections this May, Southend Independent Party Group leader Martin Terry was one of the loudest voices shouting about the lack of scrutiny, and the undemocratic way in which the ruling Tories ran Southend. He wasn’t wrong, exactly, though arguably a little prone to hyperbole.

One would expect, then, Martin to be encouraging alternative points of view now that he sits at the cabinet table. He would surely welcome honest, forthright and democractic scrutiny of himself, as a part of a healthy local government.

Except, the new portfolio holder for Public Protection, Waste and Transport seems to have developed a rather thin skin of late.

Read on…

Oculus – A Review


I wouldn’t say that mirrors are particularly overused in horror films, though they have certainly featured. I recall a pretty run-of-the-mill film with Kiefer Sutherland a few years back, imaginatively titled “Mirrors”. This offering does a little better, lumping for the generalist “Oculus”. It wins bonus points, though, by not going for the tired cliche of “a mirror, darkly”, or any variations thereupon.

Actually, my first thought upon seeing the trailer for Oculus was of The Quiet Ones. Which isn’t a particularly auspicious start for a film. But there is entertainment in even a bad horror film, so off we popped to the cinema.

Read on…