Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Spiraling Worm Reviewed on Amazon.co.uk

Always nice to get a good review, here is another one for The Spiraling Worm on Amazon.co.uk:

No seriously, this book's ace ... If you like Spooks, which again is one of my favourite TV shows, or even the Professionals... or for that matter any 'spy' type show, or even Torchwood / Dr Who, then this is for you ... Great book, great characters, great stories.

Recommended Reading: Copping Squid

My good writing friend Cody Goodfellow has released a new title from his publishing company Perilous Press. This is his first book in a very long time, Copping Squid, a collection of the short Cthulhu Mythos tales of by Michael Shea. The book is illustrated by Steve Gilberts and edited by S.T. Joshi. When Cody publishes a book he doesn't mind moving with the heavy-weights of the genre.

I've read Shea's enjoyable "Fat-Face" about shoggoths taking on human form, which has inspired many more authors to follow the same trend, myself being one of them. I'm sure the other stories will be just as good, and I know Steve Gilberts will produce fantastic art in the interior. I mean, just look at the cover. A detailed version of the Lovecraftian mermaid can be found here.

"The Burning Stars" Handouts

Anyone interested in running my Call of Cthulhu scenario "The Burning Stars" found in Terrors from Beyond, I have handouts for the scenario as a download from the Yog-Sothoth.com website here. These have correct maps and tarot cards, as well as more realistic looking handouts to the ones found in the book.

Transition to Sydney

Just a quick note to anyone who might be trying to catch me in the next week or so, that the move from Adelaide to Sydney has become a reality, and I'll be transitioning between states over the next week or so. I won't always have access to my email in that time, so I might be a week or so in getting back to you.

Monday, 4 January 2010

District 9 versus Avatar

I recently saw both these movies for the first time back-to-back, District 9 in a friend's home theatre so big it's like being in Gold Class cinema, and Avatar in a 3-D cinema. I really enjoyed both films, and Avatar was my first 3-D experience, but only one left a lasting impression on me. That film was District 9.

Avatar was great, I don't think I have ever seen anything that makes another world come to life like it did except for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. It didn't fall into the trap of having too many digital effects in every scene, a mistake George Lucas made with his Star Wars prequels. Visually the world of Pandora was great, believeable except for the floating rocks which were never explained and totally in contraction to not only the laws of physics, but the technology present elsewhere in the story. I liked the alien biology, inspired by undersea creatures on our world. The best way to sum it up is as Aliens meets Titanic (both of which I think are much better films from the same director).

My problem with Avatar is that if it wasn't a visual spectacular I would have felt I had seen it all before. Essentially the plot is the same as Dune, and while the characters are interesting and it is easy enough to empathise with their motives, I had no real contenection to them emotionally like I did, say with The Lord of the Rings, which I mentioned earlier, or the Harry Potter movies. The biggest problem however was that all the ideas in the story I've read hundreds of times before in science fiction novels. Still, really enjoyable, don't get me wrong about that, I just don't think I'll race out and watch it again anytime soon.

District 9 however had a premise that initially turned me away. If aliens can come all the way to Earth they won't be refugees, they'll conquer us as is always a flaw in movies like Independence Day and its like. However as soon as I started watching it I realised it was a farce on South Africa's Apartheid era. The slums with all its the crime and subculture was exactly how I remembered my experiences with that kind of living that I encountered in Kenya many years ago, and I found myself laughing at little elements in scenes that my friends didn't pick up on, such as the operations of the Nigerian warlords. It felt like a story Douglas Adams would have wrote if he were a white South African.
The story was overly graphically violent, which has never appealled to me in movies, although I know this is a personal taste. The story was strong and made me laugh with its mockumentary style. It was refressing to see a film shot in Johannesburg, as I'm so over watching science fiction movies set in New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC (and District 9 even makes a joke about this). The themes too were so much more poignent and original than Avatar, and the characters felt more real. What District 9 had over Avatar were ideas that I hadn't seen before, in fiction or movies, and so for me made it the much better movie for this genre.
Regardless, I'd recommend both films to those who like their sci fi and their action.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Appearing in French Again: Terreurs De L'au Dela

Yes, Chaosium has reprinted more of my work, this time my scenario "The Burning Stars" from Terrors from Beyond, which in French becomes Terreurs de l'au Dela. I have a feeling that whoever is in charge of publishing and editing is on a long holiday, because I didn't hear about this one either. Looking forward to my contributor copies of this one and the French Secrets of Kenya.

On the plus side, I am now an author who has been translated into two languages, German and French.