Month: August 2014

Heresy of the Week – Horns could be the making of Daniel Radcliffe

daniel radcliffe horns

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 several years trying to throw off the suffocating mantle of the Harry Potter franchise’s leading role, through a wide variety of roles, Daniel Radcliffe may finally have found the one to let him stand out: the upcoming film adaptation of Joe Hill’s horror novel Horns.”

Read on…

Red herons and a blue herring

mark flewitt red heron

Like a dog with a bone (or perhaps a bird with a fish) Southend Tory Mark Flewitt is still fuming over Cory Environmental having lost the waste collection contract on Southend.

Now, Julian Ware-Lane has already pointed out some of the rambling incoherence of his latest blog on the matter — an open letter to Cory — and some of the more ridiculous pieces of nonsense, so I don’t mean to dwell on that (despite there being a gold mine of amusement in that red heron bit).

More and more Mark is sounding like a conspiracy theorist, increasingly divorced from reality. He is so desperate to be the voice of the Conservative Party in Southend, that I have to assume he doesn’t even think through his opinions enough to notice the glaring contradictions.

Read on…

01 “Deep Breath” (Doctor Who series 8) [SPOILERS]

doctor who peter capaldi

To say that I’ve been looking forward to Peter Capaldi’s debut as eccentric box-based time traveller the Doctor is a bit of an understatement. Those with a keen memory may remember that when Matt Smith announced his departure, my favoured choice was the enigmatic Iain Glen.

Despite this, I felt that Capaldi was an inspired choice, ticking many of the boxes I outlined in my plea for Glen. Older, with a sense of gravitas. Even if I was half-hoping for Malcolm Tucker in space (on which note, his first line on the show back at Christmas, morphed in my mind into “Do you know how to fly this f***king thing?”).

I was never much of a fan of Matt Smith’s tenure, if I’m honest. What seemed fresh about him at first pretty quickly felt like David Tennant on too much sugar. The series has been crying out for a lead with a shade more seriousness; a return, perhaps, to the Doctors of yesteryear.

So with the above weight of expectation on Peter Capaldi’s shoulders, how did he perform?

Read on…(and mind the spoilers)

10 “Bottom of the World” (Defiance season 2) [SPOILERS]


I sometimes wonder why Defiance’s creators chose to set their post-apocalyptic story in St Louis. I haven’t googled it (deliberately), so perhaps there is an excellent reason but I suspect it’s because of the recognisability of the arch, and a ruined Statue of Liberty being somewhat overdone since Charlton Heston first damned us all to hell.

I say recognisability; I presume it is somewhat more recognisable to viewers based in the US. For myself, across the pond, St Louis is most evocative of the musical by the same name (Yes, I know). And I can’t quite see Nolan belting out “The Trolley Song” (Yes, I know).

This is Defiance, though, and I’ve learnt not to presume rule anything out.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers)

Labour are showing Southend voters the respect they deserve

ian gilbert and julian ware-lane

With Labour candidates now in place for the 2015 election campaign in both Southend seats (Ian Gilbert well-established in Rochford & Southend East, and the newly-selected Julian Ware-Lane in Southend West), one would well expect politicians on the other side to have had their say.

The Tory blogs are, thusfar, silent. Nigel Holdcroft, to be fair, has put himself on hiatus until September; hard to begdrudge, for the holiday season (Though this parish managed to give the appearance of life, despite its writer being in a field in Devon the past week – Ed). Tony Cox, sorry “Shoebury Blogger”, has been equally silent. And Mark Flewitt clearly prefers the sound of his own incoherent ramblings to anything meaningful or relevant.

So then to the “others”, which really means the Lib Dems’ sole voice online, Neil Monnery. Neil thinks that Southend Labour have made a grave mistake, because both candidates are, er, good.

Come again?

Read on…

Interzone #253 (Jul/Aug) – A Review

interzone #253LonCon3 (the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention) finished at the start of this week. I mention this partly out of massive jealousy of anyone and everyone who was able to attend, but also because it seems to have gotten a good amount of coverage in the mainstream press.

There is also a regular part of David Lanford’s Ansible Link column entitled “How others see us”. Here, David cherry picks recent press articles about the SF genre and world.

Now, it might be a coincidence (It is a coincidence – Ed) but that section doesn’t appear in this issue. Perhaps — just perhaps — science-fiction as a genre is starting to receive more of the mainstream acceptance that it deserves.

If it is, then we can only hope that this will extend to such organs of excellence as the short story magazines providing the lifeblood of fresh and exciting SF. Which neatly leads my into my review of the latest issue of Interzone.

Heresy of the Week – Guardians of the Galaxy was basically Farscape


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:

“Guardians of the Galaxy has already cemented itself as one of the films of the year, and stands out amongst Marvel Studios already crowded film-universe for its sparkling wit and sense of fun. But if you look at it with a critical eye, it is basically a big-screen version of Farscape.”

Read on…

Returning to Silent Hill

silent hill james sunderland

I love Silent Hill. I don’t think that’s much of a secret, I’ve mentioned it more than a few times on this blog previously, but I do think that Silent Hill 2 and 3 represent the pinnacle of horror gaming. It’s not just the gameplay — which, in some aspects, is actually calculatedly attrocious —  but rather the harmonised working of atmosphere, story and character along with the immersive aspect of gaming worked to a perfect crescendo of terror.

If you don’t know what I mean, play Silent Hill 2 late at night, in the dark, with the lights off. See how long you last.

Sadly, after Silent Hill 3 the series went starkly downhill. I haven’t played Silent Hill 4: The Room (from what I hear, it gets an A for effort but an F for execution), but those following it have been decidedly lacking.

Now, though, there is apparently going to be a new Silent Hill game, called Silent Hills. And it’s going to be made by Hideo Kojima, Japanese game maker extraordinaire. Oh, and Guillermo del Toro. And it looks like it could be a return to what Silent Hill is meant to be.

Read on…

Mark Flewitt’s Southend railway delusion


Mark Flewitt is right (on this issue).

Not often you’ll see me blog those words, but the latest post on his perennially entertaining blog actually has a point. In a blog entitled “Rail disgrace…….but is here hope?” (n.b. I’m far from sure that is the precise number of periods he uses in his overextended ellipsis) Mark says:

I am determined to work with Abellio Greater Anglia in their efforts to improve but the starting point is too low at the moment and the delays suffered on this line with no cooling system, poor old carriage stock from about 1987 means passengers are fleeced financially without any real return

I pointed out on this very blog a few weeks back that Southend is a case study of the best and the worst of rail privatisation, and in my experience the Greater Anglia Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line is one of the worst examples.

So Mark has correctly, if lately, identified the problem. Prices on that line are sky high, and have marched ever upwards over the years, and yet far too little has been invested in improving the service or giving passengers value for money.

Sadly, though, Mark seems blind to both the causes of and solutions to these problems.


09 “Painted from Memory” (Defiance season 2) [SPOILERS]


I am always alarmed at how quickly broadcast TV series flit by once they get into their swing. Not as fast as I can devour series on Netflix when the mood takes me, mind — the entire of House of Cards‘ second season in less than two days is not healthy… — but nonetheless it is somewhat disconcerting to already be at the ninth episode of this season of Defiance.

Part of the reason, I suspect, for my being taken unawares is that the pace this season has been blistering. There’s been a lot going on, but it has all been intertwined enough to mean that it hasn’t felt at all cumbersome. Each character has a hand in at least one story arc, with key characters strategically placed to link them all together.

Which isn’t to say that I won’t miss it once it’s done. My major complaint when it came to season one was that at the key moments Defiance seemed to shy away from the potential it hinted at. Not so this time around; brave is the order of the day, and the result is fun, envelope-pushing SF.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers!)