Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Black Archive - an update

Well - I've seen Jim Smith's (draft) of the one on The Massacre, and it's excellent - so on the basis of that alone I'll certainly be getting these. [As if there was ever any doubt!, I would.] 

I'm also in contact with Jonathan Dennis - my co-writer on  The Brakespeare Voyage - who's hard at work on #6 Ghost Light, and Andrew Hickey - who's doing #7 The Mind Robber.

They're brilliant writers and I have every confidence in their takes on these stories as being interesting, discursive, and great (although I've not seen them yet).

I also have every confidence in Philip Purser-Hallard's editorship and the other writers he's got lined up for this, and for his own volume.

So that said, how's mine doing.  Um.  Well boy do I feel like I'm going to be the weak link in the chain here here - however, I'm at 25,000 words plus on Image of the Fendahl, and hope to finish my first draft this month..

I'm not going to spoil it here with anything but hints: but if you'd like to know:-

When, and for how long,  Jupiter, was officially the sixth planet of the Solar System;

How the creator of 'Just William' devastated Mars;

How, post Image, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison both agree that Planet 5 is 'the'
place to base Evil Gods; even though before Image it was quite differently handled in fiction;

What 'Post-Gothic' Horror is and how, Image is the defining Doctor Who episode to display it, and possibly the only one (though The Daemons, and Hide; come close), and no State of Decay isn't;.

What links Image with C.S.Lewis's  Cosmic Trilogy;

How the films of 'Hammer Horror' influenced Doctor Who and what non-Hammer Horror film, could be the biggest influence on it;.

What TV academic, might have inspired Fendleman's Time Scanner?;

What happened to the Fendahl after Image, and;

A bonus completely unsupported Fan Theory(tm) explaining the Secret Name of Planet Five and
how it was in Season 15 all along!*

You'll want - to get - BLACK ARCHIVE #5 - IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL

"A fifth volume, for the fifth planet....."

*Note pending editing, some of these may or may not be in the finished work, any removed may appear here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

After Milton, On Shakespeare - On Lovecraft.

What needs my Lovecraft to secure his place,
One Gahan Wilson’s image of his face,
He showed the prejudices of his kin,   
For he was not born with such thoughts within,
But raised Dear son of Madness, heir of hate,
He still o’er aeons worked and changed his state
Saw Deep Ones’ joys as hallowed in the sea,
And Artic Old Ones worthy of  his plea,
That though their forms were strange they should engage
Our sympathy, as men, of their own age.
Like us in reason, and in hope to live,
And stranger still the Yith, his words would give,
Life better yet, than ours, before and hence,
If he had lived what further recompense?

He died before the Holocaust, before the days
Of Segregation past, before the ways
To pay both man and women, saw decree
Oh from your pedestals be proud you were not he.

    For what it matters - the world fantasy awards are fully justified in making their award look like
    what ever they like - it's their award, but I'm not sure any writer of fantasy born in 1890 to a white - at the
    time relatively parochial,  Providence family - who was mostly a self educated autodidact because of ill-ness drawing on the resources of a library mostly written in the 18th Century stood much chance of *not* being racist.  Nor do they note the increasing sympathy in his writing for the very creatures that originally he wrote of as serving as analogues for his fear of the other.  Had he not died at 47 in poverty and in pain, without knowing that his writing would still be esteemed today,  perhaps he would have written something better pleasing to his critics than the racist verse he wrote at 22, and the fears shown in his earlier works.   This is not to say he wasn't throroughly wrong and fat headed on these matters - but it is to say, hell what chance did he have?

     I also find it reported that one year after Lovecraft's death, graduates polled in the US about whether or not they should take in Jewish refugues from Europe voted 69% against, and only 4% voted in favour of taking refugues if it would involve raising immigration quotas.  To emphasise - that's graduates the supposedly better educated end of the population, of the - next generation - to him, most of whom we would regard as being racist.   And, what are we doing today about refugees for that matter?

Monday, November 09, 2015

Of interest to people who like my writing, or Doctor Who, or archives, or titles with the word 'black' in....


Launching in March 2016 from Obverse Books, The Black Archive is a series of book-length looks at single Doctor Who stories from 1963 to the present day.

The series will publish six titles each year, in simultaneous digital and print editions. Each title is a twenty to thirty thousand word study of a single televised Doctor Who story, drawing on all eras of the series’ history.

Authors confirmed for 2016 include Hugo-nominated editor, critic and podcaster L M Myles (Chicks Unravel Time, Companion Piece, the Verity! podcast), biographer and Doctor Who scholar Lance Parkin (Whoniverse, AHistory, Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore), and film critic and occasional scriptwriter James Cooray Smith (Kaldor City, various Virgin Film titles).

The series is overseen by author and editor Philip Purser-Hallard, who explains the premise of the series as follows:

‘Doctor Who is endlessly fascinating, a powerful storytelling engine about which many millions of words have been written over the years. There are certain stories, though, from all eras of the programme’s history, which are exceptionally deep and rewarding – whether because of their unusually powerful writing, rich symbolism or complex themes. Stories like The Massacre, Kinda, Ghost Light, Midnight or Vincent and the Doctor demand to be explored at greater length and in more depth than a website review or entry in an episode guide will allow.

‘With this series of critical monographs, these Doctor Who stories can receive the detailed treatment that they so eminently deserve. Our primary emphasis is on the stories as stories, rather than the behind-the-scenes history which has been covered in admirable depth elsewhere. While we aim to make an authoritative and significant contribution to the overall critical conversation about Doctor Who, we intend each of these books to be entertaining as well as of academic interest.’

The Black Archive will launch with four titles in March 2016, covering Doctor Who stories from William Hartnell’s tenure as the Doctor to that of current incumbent Peter Capaldi:

 The Black Archive #1: Rose by Jon Arnold

 The Black Archive #2: The Massacre by James Cooray Smith

 The Black Archive #3: The Ambassadors of Death by L M Myles

 The Black Archive #4: Dark Water / Death in Heaven by Philip Purser-Hallard

Jon Arnold has edited fanzines including Shooty Dog Thing: 2th and Claw, and is a major contributor to Hating to Love: Re-evaluating the 52 Worst Doctor Who Stories of All Time.

James Cooray Smith is the co-author of Who’s Next: A Guide to Broadcast Doctor Who, and has contributed production notes to a number of BBC DVD releases.

L M Myles contributed to Chicks Dig Time Lords before co- editing its Hugo-nominated sequel Chicks Unravel Time, and has written Doctor Who prose and audio drama for Big Finish.

Philip Purser-Hallard holds a doctorate in English literature, specialising in science fiction, and has written prose fiction for Doctor Who spinoff ranges as well as original novels.

Further titles will follow at two-monthly intervals during 2016:

The Black Archive #5: Image of the Fendahl by Simon Bucher-Jones (May)
 The Black Archive #6: Ghost Light by Jonathan Dennis (July)

 The Black Archive #7: The Mind Robber by Andrew Hickey (September)

 The Black Archive #8: The Pirate Planet by Lance Parkin (November)

Confirmed contributors for 2017 include Doctor Who novelist Kate Orman and Magic Bullet producer Alan Stevens.

Ebook and paper editions of all titles, along with yearly subscriptions, will be available through the Obverse Books website at http://obversebooks.co.uk/. A website for the series is in development at http://blackarchive.co.uk/

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A Halloween Story

The Interview – A Halloween Story.

It wasn’t what I thought it was, I know that now.  I should have
turned the other way at the crossroads – but one blasted tree looks
very like another in fog, and my eyes aren’t (and weren’t even then)
what they had once been.

It had the signs showing though, or at least I thought it did at the
time.  The pumpkin cut just so. The red and black candles. True, there
was no inverted crucifix – but then not everyone keeps the Faith, in
these New Atheistic times. I certainly wasn’t about to criticise my
hosts on what was after all a very minor matter, very much up to the
conscience of the individual. De gustibus non est disputandum, as I’ve
said for centuries. These things are only matters of taste, whatever
the Hierophants say.

It is important though to check the signs. I know that (and I knew it
then). No one wants to intrude uninvited not even on All Hallow’s Eve.
Not even these days when so far as I can make out everyone feels they
can get away with murder, or dressing like a murderer or a murder
victim. Going where one isn’t wanted, isn’t quite as impossible as
some accounts make it seem, but it does put a damper on things – like
wading too far through blood as Macbeth, might have put it. It feels
sticky, and it puts you off even the most toothsome morsels. I have
always been a trifle – is OCD, the modern term? – about the neatness
of my evening dress.

So, anyway, I knocked – one of the classic secret knocks – and the
door was opened unto me. There were four of them waiting a father
figure, in threadbare evening dress with a plastic Transylvanian star
at his throat where his opera cape was fastened.  A mother, not quite
thin enough to pull off the lace. Two children white faced, ruby
lipped – both frenzied with sugar rush. Their fangs were of course as
plastic as his throat fastening, and absolutely none of them was dead.

Well, I ask you – what can one do – under those circumstances?  It’s
true they ushered me in straight away, so I had an invitation of
sorts, but it rapidly became clear this was a matter of mistaken
identity, if not quite false pretences.  They had hired, what I
believe is called a Vamp-o-gram to come and make some sport for the
older child’s birthday, falling as it did on this very special night.
They had not really invited *me* in at all.

I worried to begin with that a spotty student with contact lens red
eyes, would knock on the door behind me in a minute or two, but he
never did.  Perhaps he took the other turning, the one I missed, in
which case he would have been made very welcome, as long as he had the
good sense to keep his mouth almost closed.  No one could fail to be
insulted by plastic fangs.  Then again, he might have found the
entertainment not to his taste – in which case his squeamishness may
have been his undoing.  No one likes their little games to be jeered
at, or their attempts to court their betters to be mocked.  I rarely
get to see a paper, certainly never a morning edition, so I can not be
sure whether he was entirely sanguine about his experiences that
evening, but then, that’s no problem of mine.

Luckily my eyes, though weak in fog, can still hypnotise and dazzle –
and a pack of cards is often a pleasant companion in those long hours
of the night (for one can not always be eating).  Whether it was what
they expected or not, card tricks, and ghost stories seemed to suffice
to amuse the children (once I had stared long into their eyes)

I was absolutely circumspect in my visitation – far much more careful
than I would have had to have been if I had found the right House –
and I honestly found I enjoyed myself far more as a result.  I touched
not so much as a hair of the head of those delightfully bloodthirsty
children, who hung on my every account of slaughter and despoilment.

I left the father living, his eyes glazed, and his tastes turned
irrevocably to the devouring of insects and spiders – but not in any
way, harmed.

And the mother in her pretty lace, well I am – as they say – only
immortal, and I assure you she completely consented to a night-cap,
and all that that involved. She too was left entirely satisfied by the
night’s work.

Far, far better, such innocence than the sycophantic dribbling and
mutterings of yet another Dark Mass, and the tedious round of making
myself available to socially climbing Vampire Brides with those
ghastly fingernails (where they got the idea that nine inch scimitars
on the fingers are attractive, I can not imagine).

So I realised I had learned something about myself that night, and I
decided that I would be  twice damned to spend yet another All
Hallow’s in my official capacity, suffocating in the musty odour of
unhallowed tombs.

To make enquires as to how to achieve my new ambitions took a little
time, but here I am.  So, given all that I have told yout – what do
you think.  I, Vlad, Caligula, Dracul – grandson of the Impaler
implore you.  I have stated my bona fides.  May I be assured you will
employ me next year?

Saturday, October 24, 2015



Simon BJ

Friday, October 09, 2015


A new novel / mashup by me and Charles Dickens for £2.50 (plus tax where applicable)

Read about the authors visit to Mars in 1842.

There will be a physical book with a more pulp style cover as soon as I've sourced one...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Little Song CSi5M

And now its time to sing a song
A little song that isn’t long
And when we’ve sung
We’ve sung the sung
We’ve sung the song that isn’t long
And passed the time that wasn’t sad
The memory of it’s not even bad
Because the time that’s sad
Was not so long
Was hardly long
Was pretty short
It’s come to naught
And so’s this song.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Star Trek - warp speed analysis episode by episode...

The Series, episode by episode:


An anomaly, this early episode requires the Enterprise to have reached the edge of the galaxy.
Using our new calculation method for warp factors:  setting this at 26,000 light years from Earth, would require over a year’s travel at warp factor 9 (i =3) = 445.05 days. This seems unlikely given the reactions of the crew. 

I suggest (for reasons given below) that Scotty has already improved the Enterprise’s (i) value to between 3.8 and 3.9758 this  with constant careful vigilance, which would give a time to the Edge of the galaxy of at maximum 2 months (53.02 days), and at minimum just over 1 month (35.3 days). This agrees with Earth bases (Star bases, not bases on Earth) being ‘days’ away before the engine’s burned out.  

[The higher velocity is possible because while Stardates do not necessarily indicate time relative to the Enterprise, an event beginning ‘C’ dated at Stardate 1277.1 appears is on Kirk’s tombstone (created by Gary Mitchell) – this may refer to his taking up the Captaincy of the Enterprise. From range of 1277.1 to 1312.4 would be 35.3. To reach the galaxy edge from Earth in 35.3 days would require an i value of  3.9758. This is not impossible (lying as it does in the safe range 3 – 3.99), but it may also be that Kirk joined the ship when it was already some distance from Earth.]

Limping back with impulse engines with ‘Earth bases, years away’ it seems exceedingly unlikely that the Delta Vega ‘lithium’ cracking station is in reach, particularly if Vega has anything to do with our ‘Vega’ a star 25 light years away. However Vega to Earth would still be years at impulse (a minimum 25 by definition!) so it maybe that the engine burnout itself flung the Enterprise back into the main body of the galaxy. 

Star Trek - Physics - warp speed and star dates - part 1

Towards a fully workable warp factor and stardate theory for classic Star Trek.
The use of warp factors in the series is arbitrary and the off-screen metric given: (wpf3) = velocity in C, is insufficient at the ‘cruising speed’ of warp 6 to enable the travels generally depicted, as well as specific examples which I will cite.

Fig 1, C*wpfvelocity table.
  Warp factor
Light Yrs per
6 – cruising
9 – maximum

I propose a revised calculation C*(iwpf ) where i (intermix)  is a variable between 1 and 5.9  This variable represents the ‘intermix formula’ of the engines (Engine strain), and allows for substantially higher velocities when Scotty is ‘getting every last erg out of the engines’ (That Which Survives) or they have been retro-engineered by another race such as the Kelvans (By Any Other Name).

If i must equal 1, when wpf = 1 (a given) we can see that a value of i = 3 thereafter, will permit all the normal  ‘two or three days away’ travel shown in the series at cruising speed (wpf 6) while leaving wpfs 1-3 essentially unchanged, thus:

Fig 2, C*(iwpf ) where i = 3.
  Warp factor
Intermix = i
C = i power Wpf
Light Yrs per

6 – cruising
9 – maximum

Only warp fact 4 and above are different from the classic formulation.  The above velocities at (wpf 6) allow for passage between near solar systems in 2-3 days.

We can see how, a slightly more complex system (3 to the Power X) has been misreported as (X cubed), particularly as the first three results are the same.

Knowing that a starship’s cruising speed is warp factor 6 and a ‘normal, safe’ intermix level is 3. We can see that in 1 day a ‘standard starship’ would travel 1.997 light years.

This suggests a metric for Stardates which appear to progress at 1 = 1 day when a starship is in orbit, but to count faster over the length of the 5 year mission than 1 per 1 day.

The proposed metric is 1 stardate = 24 Earth hours, or the time spent travelling 1.997 light years at Warp, whichever is applicable. (It is likely that the rule 1 starday = 2 light years, is the general rule of thumb metric.)
Thus a change in stardate = a change in both ‘chronology’ and ‘a guide to location change between log-entrys.

Specific worked examples of i <> 3 in series.


We know of observed instances where the Enterprise has exceeded the above velocities within the warp factor range 1-9.  For instance in ‘That Which Survives’ the Enterprise travels 990.7 light years in 11.337 days (the latter figure being one on which Spock is most insistent as to accuracy). In this case the Enterprise is travelling at warp factor 8.4.

We can therefore derive the intermix value in use.  It is i = 5.0173, and the C value is
5.0173 to the power 8.4 = 765,506 C per year or 11.337 Light years per hour.

The  intermix value can therefore be ‘pushed’ up from 3 (safe) to a value of at least 5.0173 (dangerous) in emergencies, but clearly that usage is very risky (and probably sustained high-intermix, warp 8.4 would in less capable hands than Scotty’s burn out the dilithium crystals in less than 11.337 hours.

(Allowing for staying with safe intermix levels of 1-3 through warp factors 1-8.3 over 7 minutes of the Enterprise will have reduced the 990.7 light years, by 0.1 light year, taking the i needed at 8.4 down factionally to 5.017285)

It is stated in the episode that after the sabotage of the the ship's matter/antimatter fuel flows (the intermix) the warp factor of 8.8 will burn out the engines and cause a fatal explosion in precisely 14.87 minutes.

The engines run up to warp 13.2 before Scotty is able to begin repairs and only begin to lose power at warp factor 14.1  It is impossible at the moment to reconcile this exactly, but it is likely that the uncontrolled intermix does not remain at i = 5.017285 - 5.0173, but falls back towards 4 even as the warp factor itself builds dangerous and uncontrollably towards engine explosion. If this were not the case the Enterprise would at 14.1 i = 5.1073 overshoot the planet were Kirk, McCoy, Sulu and D'Amarto were left by roughly 15,760 light years, before disintegrating at the end of the 14.87 minutes.


In ‘By Any Other Name’ Captain Kirk advises the alien Kelvans that returning them to the Andromeda galaxy would take ‘at maximum safe warp, thousands of years’. Maximum safe warp is warp factor 9.
With i = 3, it would take 127,013 years to reach Andromeda.  While this is indeed ‘thousands’ if the Captain had this figure in mind he would surely have said ‘hundreds of thousands’.

If however we grant Scotty and his trainees (and descendants?) sufficient skill to maintain an i of 3.99 for thousands of years, we can derive a value of: 3.99 to the power 9 = 256,304 C per year or 9,754.04 years to Andromeda.

[Note wpf actor 9, intermix 3.99 is less than the velocity derived in ‘That Which Survives’, but with a lower i it is *far more sustainable* which is the main issue in reaching Andromeda – travelling half way in 1,600 years at wpf 8.3 (i = 5.0173) even if it were possible, and the evidence is that burn out would be likely in tens of days, not in thousands of years would be useless if it were to leave you stranded between galaxies with no source of dilithium.]

We can also see that if the advanced changes made by the Kelvans to the Enterprises engines are made to the intermix formula/stability of the dilithium that the journey can be reduced to 300 years (as stated in the episode) by the increase of i from 3.99 (the best sustained value known to Captain Kirk, for long haul emergencies) to 5.86 we get:-

5.86 to the power 9 = 8,148,516 C or 306.8 years to Andromeda.

[Next post episode by episode...]

Musings, interrupted.

You are, and have, the beauty
I desired, and desire still,
And always will be the -
Image that hovers in my mind at rest,
Where no image but you has ever come.
(For as you know, from arguments
At bus-stops, I now think,
That I, do not see things as pictures
In my mind.)  But still, I see
You, true, and lovelier, and real,
(And as an image,
Probably in teal).

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Nightmare Factory by Thoas Liggotti

The mausoleum wasn’t nearly large enough for so many bodies, and death was extremely uncomfortable
for them all. There were only two crypts in the place altogether, and there was only one tomb. The tomb was given to the four old grandparents because they had been dead so long, and they were so tired. They were so tired, they never got out of it. Mr Blud-Bucket was the only ghoul in the family with a job. He worked in a nightmare factory, where he crouched all day long at a bench and screwed the little skull-caps back onto the heads of the children after their heads had been filled. But a children's head skull-cap screwer is never paid very much blood, and poor Mr Blud-Bucket, however hard he worked, and however fast he screwed on the skull-caps, was never able to earn the blood that so large a family needed. There wasn’t even blood to feed them all. They had to gnaw on their own fore-arms for breakfast, swallow their own tongues for lunch, and drink blood-broth for supper. Moondays were a bit better. They all looked forward to Moondays because then, although they had exactly the same, everyone was allowed a second helping.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Providence issue 4 - a review

Robert Black has a lovely chat with the Wheatley's (Waitleys) and learns though he does not understand how their son (and his brother) was conceived.  In the process we learn a lot more about geometry, the universe, and the redeemer...and Robert takes one country road too many.

The tenderness with which Warlock Wheatley (Wizard Waitley) interacts with his daughter, perhaps redeems their incestuous union, especially when he doesn't remember it - and was acting as a syringe for the cow - with Yog Sothoth as the globes/worlds of the tree of the Kalaballa (the universe itself) forming a halo around his head as he sires his grandchildren/children.

We learn that the redeemer narrative always has 'the crazy grandfather, the white faced mother and the ugly boy'  here Willard (Wilbur) is speaking of himself, but we recall that H P Lovecraft was always told by his mother that he was ugly, and we notice that the Stella Sapienta's 'redeemer' has been a plan in motion for just about as long as H P Lovecraft has been alive in 1919.

So, I think we are going to see, as discussed in my review of #3, the middle ground between the evil cultic 'others', and the evil racist 'normative humanity' in a child born to be a cult force, raised as a racist, who yet harms no one (as Lovecraft did not). If I'm right this is an incredibly hopeful, yet difficult  path for the story - but it's so much *better* than my feared third rater's version (Robert Black meets Lovecraft who rips off his stories and adds racism) that, even though I'm only imagining the through line I'm giving this 9/10.

It deserves 9/10 in its own right for the account in the commonplace book material at the back of how Lovecraft's/Leticia's 'vision' (new horror) is a masterful creation of art, and for the section where the hideous yet always compelling figure of Willard (Wilbur) demonstrates how easily he can manipulate hypergeometry as a child plays with bricks, and Black mishears his age.

[Added if the core of the Colour Out Of Space didn't 'really' evaporate, maybe this is the source of the 'shining trapezium' at the centre of the Starry Wisdom sect in the story 'The Haunter Of The Dark' in which Robert 'Blake' - dies.  Dies I now recall, *after* the death of the Lovecraft analogy in Robert Bloch's story, 'The Feaster From The Stars'. This potential thread perhaps contradicts my thoughts above, but then - redeemers have to die...don't they?]

As I say 9/10.

Monday, August 24, 2015

SOMEWHITHER - by John C. Wright - a review part 3

I've now finished the book.

At 87% through (sorry Kindle makes page number refs hard) - an explanation in the text altered my understanding of the Cainen aeon which is the birth-origin of the hero, so lets look at that first because the author's intent there shows up some wider issues.

The undying creatures of that aeon, whose world is a nightmare of perpetual immortal, rape, breeding,  war  etc - where the still living bodies of ones adversaries have to be buried so as to 'make room, make room' are the outcome both of eating the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and the fruit of the tree of life.  I was wrong in my theory it was just the later.

Unfortunately while the description of the world is graphic and effective - I can't believe in it, either in or outside of a biblical perspective. [I could have believed in it if the entities had no intelligence, hence my theory, but with it I can't accept the premise that there is no possible gain from co-operation.]

Non-biblically, I'm unconvinced by the author's 'given' that there's no reason for co-operation among immortals, and hence never an end to the every being for itself melee.

An obvious good resulting from mutal co-operation for instance is *not being raped* the most logical result I think would happen from an immortal set up 'as given', would be armies of women co-operating to bury the (rapist) men, and an immortal lesbian sisterhood ruling.  [I think it may be telling that immortal women have no 'agency' in the author's Cainan aeon.]

Another obvious good - where offspring are immortal competitiors for whom you feel no affection is, after several generations of working that out - is contraception.

Now Wright as a Catholic of course hates this and considers it sinful, but that's not going to dissuade a race of sinful immortals, whose alternative is continual attempted murder/ enforced perpetual solitary confinement. [It's not clear what happens to an immortal buried beyond the compression point of flesh, as their mass and structure doesn't obey conservation of mass laws, but being crushed under the earth forever isn't very nice either.]

In short, this bit of the book fails for me because the consequences of a set of given rules are what the author wants rather than what I think logically can be shown to evolve from the rules he has set in place. This impacts belief. 

Biblically, my problem is - if you're writing a book that takes as its premise that the biblical account is at least mainly true (although the book doesn't imply a short geological age for the flood, nor explicitly does it have a worldwide flood- as it has chinese geomancers surviving it in their lands by deflecting it with dragon energies (reportedly)) - I think you have to cleave to the 'fundementalist'/biblical as much as possible, so when God drives Adam and Eve from the garden in Genesis and sets the angels with swords there to defend it (He only does this in one aeon incidently, ours) - he leaves a humanity which is - if not immortal -  biblically very long lived.  Long before it would fill the world sufficiently to approach the continuous warfare conditions of the Cainen aeon, it's discovered co-operation 'making nice things' (another obvious co-operative good, nice things > shelter and clothes) and set up the foundations of babel - so what stops that Cainen aeon running parallel to that only with immortals? [Co-operation being discovered long before the all vs all collapse point] Only so far as I can see authorial fiat.

This happens also as we head on, with the books' use of vampires (Those Who Quaff Blood Like Wine).  Wright wants to set the rule that the cross works [automatically] as a dynamic symbol of christ's power not of the belief of the wielder - this is let me stress absolutely fine as a given in a  vampire using novel, vampires are often glossed as having an origin in sin, and I can see why Wright doesn't want to go down the 'faith as energy' route [which for instance in Doctor Who sees vampires defeated by faith in the Russian Revolution, or the Doctor's faith in his companions] but there needs to be consistency both thematically for 'vampires are like demons' and for similar issues 'what you believe vs it's God's power/action' Wright's vampires however aren't vampires, they're people from an alchemic aeon who have replaced their blood in part with alchemic silver (?) and lost the part of the soul that makes moral judgements - this in itself is nice invention, but as a backstory, how does it justify the automatic curse of the cross upon them?  Is alchemy or soul-lessness inherently cross invoking, if its not trad vampireism?  We don't know.  Equally in the final battle of the book, Foster Hidden who it is revealed is a worshipper of Odin invokes Odin, and is seemingly as a result empowered in combat. Is that his faith?  Is that God choosing to empower a believer in a false god, because even though Odin is not a real God, the cause and the faith are good (but if so how is that not 'the faith' of the user).  Or is it Odin, but if so what does this do for the 'biblically true' backstory.  If X happens because God ? chooses that it should, how can you tell that your belief that God ? is God Y(the one you've been taught of) is true rather than God Z (Odin)? If a 'real' in the book God can empower an Odin worshipper, how do we know the only 'real' God in the book isn't Odin?  'empowering the Christ worshipper with the cross'.  Once opened this can of worms wiggles both ways.

The first book ends in a rush of quasi-actions and quasi-moral questions that seem only partly thought through (or to be fair, perhaps only partly addressed in this volume - others may follow.)  Is it always right to keep your word to monsters?  Does it matter if you keep your word to one monster and thus be responsible for its killing if you do not defeat it, when your facing a Dark Tower filled with lots of monsters and there's a whole world of ones like the one you've made the promise too?  [Does it particularly matter because you may have given that monster special superpowers when you got it to devour another different monster for you?]

And now we also come to two underlying threads/beliefs in the text which may make this a troubling book for many.  One is Mr Wright's position on abortion - he's against it (which as a Catholic may be expected, and respected) but he seems to regard it as 'so obviously' the telling sin of our world that its practically our *multiversal identifier*  "the world where they kill their children".  Leaving aside whether or not there *are* sins, or whether this *is* one - while I would be willing to read a book in which the angels sorrowfully consider this our problem and/or the actual ethics of the position were addressed, the ball is startlingly fumbled by placing the criticism in the mouths of the masters and lackies of the Dark Tower.  Reading a book in which our table manners are criticised by cannibals may be interesting and make a sly point - but it can also generate disbelief.  I don't find it believable that (if abortion is evil as a given) it would not be used by the Dark Tower rulers to remove predicted malcontents [it could be argued that if they aren't allowed to be born the evil yet working astrology can't predict that they ought to be killed...but the evil yet working astrology has the rules the author sets for it, and it could as easily work from a moment of conception, which moment could itself be predicted when it resulted from lower nature.]  What benefit do they have not to sin; would not the Evil Power pulling their strings want them to be Evil in that respect also?

The other thing is 'female agency' and 'depiction' - all the things done by woman to advance the plot (and being fair there are many) are off stage and rendered secondary by the decision to run a male main character as the sole narrator.  The infatuation of the main character with the heroine isn't checked / amended by circumstances in the first book - I was rather hoping he might see a better prospect and companion and equal in the Monkey-masked thief, but as this book ends it is looking as if the infatuation is being foregrounded as the correct and obvious way to find a lover/mate/wife and indeed to interact with girls/women in general.  I am not sure of this.

[A further aside, both Mr Wright and I have written novels with a Captain No-One in, why not buy my (and co-writer Jonathan Dennis novel) - see page aside! and compare the two.  This is not a co-incidence as we both have Captain Nemo as a source!]

Final summary.  As the first book in a series I mark this as 6/10.  I'd probably read the next book, but I would be doing so in part in hope that some of my issues with arbetary worldbuilding in this would be addressed.  I'd rate it historically as a good 'second' level SF/fantasy - Philip Jose Farmer's world of tiers, rather than his Riverworld.  If it were Hugo nominated in 2016 on its own merits, I'd judge it against its peers but I would be surprised it had been considered Hugo level.  As part of a slate I would probably No Award it.

[Tidied up a bit, clarificationary text in square brackets.]

Friday, August 21, 2015

A brief history of the File 770 Film Club / Kickstarter projects

Film makerFilmCommentAuthor
Mike Leigh'sSpiderman
I’d watch that. Alison Steadman as Aunt May, Timothy Spall as Uncle Ben (who isn’t dead). The whole film is set in the suburban house in South London. Peter Parker doesn’t appear as such but the two characters talk to him or call up to his room or take phone calls from him. On the radio we here occasional news reports about Spiderman fighting Doctor Octopus at Canary Wharf - 'Camestros Felapon
Tommy Wiseau'sBlack WidowRay Radlein
John Walter's Wonder Woman
I could go for either Divine or Mink Stole as the star - Microtherion
Michael Bay's SandmanJack Lint
Zack Snyder'sSupermanJamoche
Wernor Herzog'sSquirrel Girlestelle28
Woody Allen'sMs Marvelco -starring Woody Allen as Love Interest - estelle28, "shudders" - Jamocheestelle28
Miranda July'sBatman vs Superman
Which would consist of one very long dinner conversation that would consist mostly of keeping the cat off the dinner table - Will. ('I would pay money ton watch this' Kyra)
Larry Clark's The RunawaysNigel
Lars Von Trier'sCaptain Marvel
…I hate you. Like, a lot. Lord what a terrifying notion - MaxL
Wes Anderson'sThe Punisher
This, however, couldn’t be worse than the Punisher movies that actually exist, so…MaxL    'I desperately want to see this movie.' - Gully Foyle
Francis Ford Coppela'sThe Wonder TwinsRed Wombat
Peter Greenaway'sHulkNigel
Andrei Tarkovsky'sShe-HulkNigel
Ingmar Bergman's DeadpoolNigel
Ridley Scott'sDeadpoolJon Metzler
Guy Richie'sMausNigel
Terrance Mallick'sGuardians Of The Galaxyestelle28
Merchant Ivory'sAkiraNigel
Alan Bennett'sPunisher War Journal
Starring Julie Walters as a middle aged civil servant who has runaway from her job for reason that aren’t revealed until the end of the film. She is sitting in a tea-shop in Harrogate and the only reading material she has is a copy of The Punisher. She reads parts of it aloud and comments on the events in the book and tells anecdotes about her life.
Camestros Felapton
Michael Apted's X-Men First Class Camestros Felapton
Stanley Kubrick'sHulk 2 - Hulk vs DeadpoolEd
Uwe Boll'sThe SpiritThe winner takes on Ray Dennis Steckler’s Batman.
Richard Brandt
Ulli Lommel'sThe League of Extraordinary GentlemenThe winner takes on Ray Dennis Steckler’s Batman.
Richard Brandt
Ray Dennis Steckler'sBatmanRichard Brandt
Gus Van Sant'sJosh's Trank's Fantastic FourShot-for-shot remakeKyra
Woody Allen'sKickAssCpaca
David Cronenburg'sFantastic FourThink about it.Cpaca
David Cronenburg'sPlastic ManThink about it.Cpaca
Kevin's Costner'sThe Incredible Hulkstarring Costner as Dr Bruce BannerPaul Weimer
Douglas Sirk's LoboBruce Anthers
Nora Ephron'sThe PunisherCpaca
Mel Brooks'WatchmenCpaca
M. Night Shyamalan'sThunderboltssnowcrash
Uwe Boll'sThe Authority
Uh, this was already made, but it was called Man of Steel for some reason - MaxL
Tyler Perry'sStormsnowcrash
Reginald Hudlin's Black Pantherwait...snowcrash
Spike Lee'sSense and Sensibility(first mutation of meme from 'Superhero films - SBJ)All the Great and Powerful
Godfrey Reggio’s
I would watch this - GregBruce Baugh
David Fincher’sDamage ControlBruce Baugh
Ken Russell’s
Bruce Baugh
Busby Berkeley’s
Doom Patrol: The Musical
(First thought was John Hughes, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I would watch the hell out of a Doom Patrol /Breakfast Club mash up.) Busby Berkeley’s Doom Patrol would be awesome - The line “The kid is green, Chief, green! From his greasy Beatle haircut to his pointed Italian shoes! You’ve been with this freak farm so long you don’t know a norm from a goof-o!” would be an entire production number - Kurt Busiek
Jean-Luc Godard'sIron Man
Iron Man is a metaphor for capitalism.  The movie is nothing more than footage of on-set arguments between Godard and Robert Downey Jr. about how there is nothing actually resembling a superhero scene in this script, interspersed with black-and-white title cards, shortly before Downey quit in protest.
Baz Luhrmann’s 
The Dark KnightIphinome
Baz Luhrmann’s Swamp ThingKurt Busiek
Michael Moore'sMr AMark Hopper
Mel Brooks'Judge Dredd
What was the original question? Movies I’d pay to have made? That sounds amazing - Kathodus
Errol Morris'PREZI would watch this - GregMark Hopper
Ken Burn'sMARVEL's Civil WarWhile I'm on documentariesMark Hopper
Savage Steve Holland'sLegion of SuperheroesKurt Busiek
Lisa Frank'sMad MaxPerhaps bending the meme too far, but I wanted to think of the craziest thing I could:
Nora Ephron'sSin City
appearing in a double bill with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Dune” … oh, wait a minute…
The Other Nigel
Mel Gibson'sLuciferVertigo ComicsCpaca
David Cronenbergs' 
Squirrel GirlA woman is, without her knowledge, injected with an experimental serum when visiting a hospital. At first it gives here stomach aches, then she starts to give birth to small naked squirrels. The squirrels crawl into the vents of her apartment to attack other tenants.Hampus Eckerman
David Lynch'sSquirrel Girl
Exactly the same plot but there is a dark shadowy corner in the hospital that people vanish into.
Camestros Felapton
David Lynch’s‘Michael Bay’s Astro City‘
Not actually a film of Astro City by Michael Bay but a nightmarish film in which such a film is contained in the same dark shadowy corner from David Lynch’s Squirrel Girl. 'I think this wins' - Greg
Camestros Felapton
Charlie Chaplin’s Daredevil. 
The Little tramp finds himself in Hell’s Kitchen New York. He keeps accidentally knocking over Wilson Fisk with a ladder.
Camerstros Felapton
Herchel Gordon Lewis'PromethiaRay Radlein
Russ Meyer'sA Distant SoilRay Radlein
Zalman King'sPunisher's War ZoneRay Radlein
Martin Scorsese'sBluefellas
Martin Scorsese’s Bluefellas. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a smurf.
Clint Eastwood'sAquamanWill R
Coen Brothers’s Dick Tracy. 
John Goodman is Dick Tracy.
Camestros Felapton
Blake Edwards’s Attack on Titan (live action version). The opening credits are animated though, with a Henry Mancini score.
Camestros Felapton
Albert Broccoli Presents Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
 “The name’s Smiley, George Smiley” [cue theme music…]
Camestros Felapton
Lars Von Trier'sWonder WomanWanderfound
Sylvester Stallone'sY-The Last Mansnowcrash
Katheryn Bigelow'sTransmetropolitansnowcrash
Tarsem Singh'sSaga
actually I’d watch the heck out of this – wouldn’t make a lick of sense, but it would be pretty…)
Stanley Kubrick'sPower Puff Girlsif only for the masked orgy scenesCpaca
Blake Edwards’s BatmanHampus Eckerman
Mel Brooks'Swamp ThingHampus Eckerman
Spike Lee'sSailor MoonCamestros Felapton
Akira Kurosawa'sHoward The DuckHampus Eckerman
Akira Kurosawa'sFour Turtles
Wait, is this films we would or wouldn’t watch?
Alfred Hitchcock'sThe BurbsSBJ
Coen Brothers’s Big Trouble In Little China
need to remind myself that the Coen Brother’s Big Trouble in Little China isn’t an actual thing. Just edit out Kurt Russell and edit in the Dude - Camestros                                                                          The Coen Brother’s “Big Trouble In Little China” (2016)
Soundtrack album
1. Heart full of Hope (Young Chinese Dogs)
2 To Be Such A Man (Wei Li)
3 Street Brawl Polka (trad.)
4 I Love You Green Eyed Girl (Wei Li)
5. Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas)
6. Here Come The Storms (John Carpenter)
7. Devils Cup (Young Chinese Dogs)
8. Lo Pan’s Lament (The Dixie Chicks)
9 Men Of Iron (Surfjan Stevens)
10. The Coupe de Villes (John Carpenter) (SBJ)
David Cronenbergs' The Importance Of Being Earnest
The scene with the baby in the hand bag is harrowing but powerful drama)
Quentin Tarantino's An American In ParisSBJ
Fritz Lang'sSuperman The MovieSBJ
Wim Wender'sCrisis On Infinite Earths
Wenders artfully captures the feeling of infinity.
Camestros Felapton
Jane Campion'sCable and the New Mutants
Holly Hunter is Cable.
Camestros Felapton
Sam Peckinpah'sAstro-BoyCamestros Felapton
Alfred Hitchcock'sThe LoraxCamestros Felapton
M. Night Shyamalan'sScott McCloud's Understanding ComicsCamestros Felapton
Leni Riefenstahl'sSupermanMrc
Walt Disney'sV for Vendetta
‘Effie’ as Princess, V as Prince, the deathcell song is my favourate since Frozen - SBJ
Cadbury Moose
Mel Brooks'AlienCadbury Moose
Jim Henson'sDeadpoolOneiros
Georges Méliès’s 
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
a boy who lives in a railway station befriends a long forgotten Martin Scorsese and they then fly to the moon.
Camestros Felapton
George Pal's2001 a space OdysseyLorcan Nagle
Robert Altman'sAvengersNigel
Alan Moore'sSuckerpunchfrom film to comics Camestros Felapton
Tim Burton'sPlanetary
Tim Burton’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical of Planetary. Obvs Johnny Depp plays Elijah Snow, Helena Bonham Carter plays Jakita Wagner and Angela Lansbury in an Oscar winning turn as The Drummer.
Tim Burton'sLovecraftBio-picSBJ
Gareth Edward'sThe Muppets Take ManhattenSBJ
Jean-Pierre Jeunet'sJudge DreddThis one I'd really like to seeLorcan Nagle
Ron Howard'sSpeed RacerJames Garner as Racer XSimon Bisson
Sergio Leone'sMy Neighbour TotoroCadbury Moose
Sam Peckinpah'sWizard Of OzCadbury Moose
Pedro Almodovar’s Wonder WomanGinger
Guillermo del Toro’s Incredible HulkGinger
Joseph L. Mankiewicz'sTeen TitansWith Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm. An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established group of Superheroes……..it’s “All About Terra” in this tale from the Teen Titans..SBJ
Alexander Korda'sThe Legion Of SuperheroesSBJ
David Cronenbergs' Ant ManNiall McAuley 
Roman Polanski’s X-Men Origins WolverineNiall McAuley 
Ron Howard'sBatman /SupermanNiall McAuley 
Ang Lee'sDark CrystalLive action, CGI-assisted in places.Abi Sutherland
Christopher Guest'sWatchmenJane Dark
Hayao Miyazaki’s TerminatorYou know this would have a moment where bishoujo Sarah Connor takes to the skies, soaring above the burning Urban wreckage - lunarGJane Dark
Sergei Eisenstein’s The Sound Of MusicCadbury Moose
Andy Warhol'sThe Walking DeadSomething he made or a description of him - SBJCamestros Felapton
Werner Hertzog'sFitz the CatCamestros Felapton
George Lucas'XKCDCamestros Felapton
Doris Wishman'sFantastic FourLunarG
Ealing Comedy'sThe Batman RisesSBJ
Ealing Comedy'sReservour DogsNo I'm Mr Lavender'SBJ
Aaron Sorkin’s Young FrankesteinStoic Cynic
Micahel Bay'sThe Care Bear MovieStoic Cynic
Kenneth Banagh'sPowerpuff GirlsThe Mojo Jojo soliloquies would be AWESOME!Stoic Cynic
Jerrry Bruckheimer’s La Jettewhich I first saw at a Worldcon, btwRob Thornton
Ingmar Bergman's A HamiltonCombining the superhero movies and the high culture talk, there is the Swedish superhero movie that never wasJohan P
Nick Park'sTronI would totally pay to see that - Cassy B That needs a Kickstarter campaign - Ed Actually, it would be great if Aardman Animation could do something along the lines of the lego tie in movies.Cadbury Moose
Garrison Keillor'sWatchmen(It turns out that Guy Noir has been wearing a very weird mask this whole time, but nobody said anything..,) [Radio Play]RedWombat
Ed Wood Jr'sThe MartianWanderfound
Ed Wood Jr'sOne Bright Star To Guide ThemHampus Eckerman
Tommy Wiseau’s One Bright Star To Guide ThemOneiros
Bert I Gordon'sGodzillaHampus Eckerman
Michael Bay's One Bright Star To Guide ThemNigel
Eli Roth'sBetty and VeronicaRichard Brandt
Terrance Mallick'sBig Boys' Don't Crysnowcrash
Tyler Perry'sOne Bright Star To Guide ThemMatt Y
Quentin Tarantino's On A Spiritual PlaneBruce Baugh
Studio GhiblisThe Parliament of Birds and BeastsHampus Eckerman
Louis Malle's My Dinner With Totorothis would be a thing of beauty - AmoxtliOneiros
Wim Wender'sFury Roadwith Rudiger Vogler as Max.Amoxtli
Vittorio de Sica’s The Hunger GamesAmoxtli
Stuart Gorden'sTotalledHampus Eckerman
Andy Warhol'sStarship TroopersStuart  Schwartz
Ken Russell’sThe Last UnicornHampus Eckerman
Woody Allen'sThe Female ManDouble featureSeth Eckerman
Joss Whedon'sTarnsmen of GoreDouble featureSeth Eckerman
Michael Bay's The Left Hand Of DarknessPeace is My Middle Name
Wes Anderson'sHellraiserstarring Bill Murray, Angelica Huston and Owen WilsonScott Frazer
Stuart Gorden'sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory"The Nightmare Factory" - Thomas Ligotti scriptsSBJ
Merchant Ivory'sDemon[Jason Shiga’s] DemonRay Radlein
The Wachowski'sAmerican SplendorRay Radlein
Sam Peckinpah'sCastle WaitingOh, I've wanted an adaption of this for so long, sob! - SBJRay Radlein
David Cronenberg'sAmerican Elf- is this the same as what we call 'Elf' in the UK - SBJRay Radlein
The Farley Brother'sOur Cancer YearRay Radlein
Judd Aptow'sFrom HellRay Radlein
Seth MacFarlane'sMausRay Radlein
Chris Colombus'sBarefoot GenCamestros Felapton
John Landis'LogicomixCamestros Felapton
Dave Lean'sTransformersJohn Mills *is* Optimum PrimeCamestros Felapton
Bryan Forbe'sLeague Of Extraordinary GentlemenCamestros Felapton
Buster Keaton'sElektraCamestros Felapton
David Attenborough'sGandhiCamestros Felapton
Richard Attenborough'sLife On EarthCamestros Felapton
Merchant Ivory'sMiraclemanBruce Arthurs
Sam Peckinpah'sThe Muppets Take ManhattenCpaca
Terry Gilliam'sLord Of The Ring's“We were somewhere around Mordor on the edge of the swamp when the drugs began to take hold. ”Cpaca
Michel Crichton'sDeadpoolStrring Marcel MarceuRev Bob
Ralph Bakshi'sCaptain Carrot and The Amazing Zoo CrewSBJ
Oliver Stone'sHoward The DuckNigel
Oliver Stone'sWho Framed Roger RabbitNo really who was it -SBJ
Nicholas Winding Refn'sThe TickM.C. Simon Milligan
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s DiabolikM.C. Simon Milligan
Michel Bay'sThe Desert PeachPeace is My Middle Name & M.C. Simon Milligan seperately.
Big Lebowski in Little China