Monday, 27 June 2011

New Review posted

My review of Stefan Petrucha's Blood Prophecy is now live at New Myths - go check it out

Friday, 29 April 2011

Short Film Review - The A-Team

Anyone of a certain age will have grown up watching programmes like the Six Million Dollar Man, Knight Rider and of course, the A-Team. They are cherished childhood memories. The problem is whenever Hollywood decides to revisit one of your icons and update it a feeling of dread grows within you. It did for me when I heard there was a new A-Team coming.



He backstory is updated, with the team’s framing taking place in the Iraq War rather than Vietnam. They are imprisoned separately in various security prisons, and in the case of Murdock a high security mental health unit. That is until they are broken out of prison to undertake a covert operation to…



To tell you the truth the plot is about the least important part of this movie. If you’re like me, remembering your 80s childhood self the things that are important are the characters, the silly, over-the-top, gung-ho actions and the implausible gadget-building. And they are all here.



Liam Neeson is excellent as Hannibal Smith, hamming it up to perfection and capturing that same glint in the eye George Peppard. Bradley Cooper captures Face’s vanity perfectly and Sharlto Copley is as mad as a bucket of frogs as Murdock. Even Quinton Jackson manages to almost make you forget the incredible Mr T (not quite though, that really would be asking too much).


Leave your brain at the door, you won’t need it, settle down and prepare to be entertained.

Book Review - A. Lee Martinez's Monster

Monster Dionysus (great name) hunts demons and other mythical or paranormal creatures for living. He works freelance for the Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services. He has a succubus girlfriend prone to mad jealous rages, a trans-dimensional being in the form of a cut-out paper gnome. He works his magic using runes written on post-it notes and today he is blue. At least blue means he’s invulnerable – useful when fighting yetis.



Judy Hines is a normal, and works in an all-night convenience store, the Food Plus Mart, where Yetis have decided to raid the ice cream. Unlike her co-workers, she doesn’t cower in a corner hoping they go away. She calls Animal Control Services – a call that gets re-routed when she utters the word “yeti”, resulting in Monster entering her life.



Monster arrives, and with help from Judy (and his fortuitous invincibility) the yetis are soon captured or killed. And so, despite the loss of her place of employment Judy’s life should return to normal, the memories of the big-bad mythical killing machines fading from her mind. Problem is when she gets home she finds her closet is infested with trolls. Cue another encounter with a, now purple, Monster. And things are only going to get stranger.



This is a fantastic romp of a novel. It’s ideal for any fans of Christopher Moore – it shares the same madcap sense of humour and the absurd – as well as Pratchett or Simon Green’s Nightside series. Martinez has a zany way of looking at the world and great way of expressing his weirdness.



He also has a way of telling a truly bizarre story without it breaking too far from reality as to be unreadable. Monster may be a magic-user. He may fight demons for a living. He may have a demon girlfriend and he may change colour every time he sleeps, with the accompanying and often unknown to Monster associated powers and limitations (including Purple meaning he cannot smell anything).



But at his core, Monster’s just a bloke. His attitudes and behaviour resemble your average plumber. And the reactions of the normal folk he encounters in his day job, from petrified stupor through to outright denial, are very believably real. It’s no mean feat to have such a grounded, realistic feeling in a book as out there as this.



Plot wise too Martinez excels. He builds tension as the novel at a good pace progresses to its inevitably bizarre conclusion. He develops the antagonistic relationship between the two leads without muddying the waters with unnecessary details of side characters or overly elaborate descriptions of locations or monsters (the creatures, not Monster himself).



After all anyone who lives in the modern world knows what a convenience store or an apartment looks like. And any sf or fantasy fan will just understand what you mean when you say Troll – we don’t need to have three pages of text detailing their fur colour and fang length. Close on perfect this one.

Some more film reviews (Murky Depths)

Have a new bunch of film reviews under consideration for Murky Depths. Films in questions are
- Saw: The Final Chapter (yeah I know a little late)
- Alien vs Ninja
- Prowl

Will try to get some more film watching in this weekend so I can keep up the pace...

..recovery is going well I think

A sale, a rejection and some submissions

New Myths have accepted a review from me - for Stefan Petucha's Blood Prophesy. And turned down the review for A. Lee Martinez's Monster. 50% is an acceptance rate I'll take. And I'll post the Martinez review on here soon.

Oh and I've sent in another 3 articles to them - fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Murky Depths again

Just found out another six short film reviews of mine will be appearing on the Murky Depths website soon.

These will be for -
The Bleeding
Burke & Hare
Devil's Playground
Husk
Let Me In
Little Big Soldier

You don't have to wait to visit them, go check out their site anyway - http://www.murkydepths.com/

Monday, 18 April 2011

A long pause so...an update

Okay, if you read this blog (hey, someone might) you may hvae noticed a distinct lack of any activity whatsoever in recent times. Sorry! I'm afraid I've been a little unwell of late and really haven't been in the mood to type in blog entries - or to do much of anything to be totally honest. I finally gave in to the fact I was feeling like crap and went to see someone about it.

Result is I was diagnosed with severe depressive disorder - clinical depression in old money. It's fun let me tell you. (Yes, I'm lying) So I was put on pills to alleviate the symptoms. First citalopram and then fluoxetine. Neither of which seemed to do me much positive good and both of which came with a whole host of side effects that made me feel crappier.

I'm now off meds and trying to deal with things (unless doc advises I go on other meds - we'll see). I'm hoping to find enough strength to start getting my life back - and hopefully developing some new coping strategies for the things that bother me as they're not going away. My issues are private - I'm not going to bore you by oversharing. Suffice to say most of them are nothing new, it's just that the ways I used to cope in the past stopped working when I was ill at the start of the year.

So I'm on the hunt for new ways of dealing. (Wish me luck.)

Yesterday my wife told me to write a review. (A film review - I've not read a book this year.) So I did. It took a while, probably four times as long as they normally take. But I completed it. And submitted it (to Murky Depths).

Now I'm in the waiting period - to see if I can still pass muster. And I'm intent on writing another after this post. Typing words into this blog is meaning I'm actually typing. And I need to type to write reviews, so when the blank page proved a little too intimidating as I tried to write tonight's review (another film review) I thought I'd blog a little, hoping it would be easier and provide a simple way in.

It seems to be working. Now all I have to do is try to ensure I maintain the momentum I've gained with this blog entry.

So I'm going to just pass on some writing news - I do have some for pieces written before my recent mind-wobble started.

Murky Depths (http://www.murkydepths.com/) has a number (reasonably high number too - about 20) of recently newly published reviews of mine on their site. Just click on the link above and scroll down to find a link to the reviews menus on the left of the screen (or you can use their drop down menus at the top if you have IE). I would list the new ones but there really are too many.

Eschatology Journal (http://eschatologyjournal.org/) has published one of my stories (Again written last year) on their site. The story, "Chicken", can be found at the following URL http://eschatologyjournal.org/2011/03/23/chicken-by-i-e-lester

And they also published a story written by my wife, under her Carey Lester pseudonym. It's her first sale. "The Dance" can be found at http://eschatologyjournal.org/2011/04/09/the-dance-by-carey-lester/

They even managed the wonderful coincidence of posting it on my wife's birthday - an extra little bonus present for her - in addition to her waking up in a Venetian Palazzo (we hired an apartment there for the week). Finally I've just received news that New Myths (http://www.newmyths.com/) should be posting another of my reviews on their site (for Tim Waggoner's Dead Streets) in the next couple of days. And they want more from me - so I think I may have to try reading something. Maybe the new Lavie Tidhar novella from PS Publishing. I like his stuff. Yeah, that could re-ignite my reading desire.

Anyway - to reviewing...

Monday, 31 January 2011

Review - Tim Waggoner - Nekropolis (nossa morte)

Long ago mankind was constantly warring against Demonkind. Then mankind started inventing things, thing that gave them a definite advantage over the vampires, demons, werewolves, ghouls and other paranormal creatures.

Rather than just wait for the inevitable, the demons decided running away was better than being dead and so left the dimension, setting up Nekropolis, a vast artificial realm ruled over by the Darklords.

Matt Richter is a cop from Cleveland, or rather he was. Two years prior to the start of this tale Matt had followed a suspect through a portal and ended up in Nekropolis surrounded by all the monsters he could ever have imagined. Not long afterwards he ended up dead. Still around, but dead - in short a zombie, although self-willed and with all of his cop instincts intact.

Devona Kanti is a vampire, daughter of a Darklord and keeper of his collection. One of the items, the Dawnstone, in the collection is missing, a powerful artefact that could kill her father. Devona hires Matt, despite his protestations of not being a detective, to track down the thief and return the Dawnstone before her father realises it is gone.

This book feels like the first in a series. It certainly has that world-building vibe going. Right from the off throws everything at you, one comedic twist on a horror trope after another. It's relentless. From its opening zombie cop vs. lycanthrope encounter, through a Wild Hunt, a yearly demon festival that feels a bit like Mardi Gras, darkly fantastic, and sometimes icky, takes on every day things like TV and internet, cyborg vampires, evil mages and so on.

I would normally have thought that so much scene-setting in a book of 400 pages would have left scant space for an actual story, but not here. All the while he's building his backdrops he telling a pretty decent noir detective tale that in many ways feels like a transplanted Bladerunner. It's impressive.

It's comical. It's endearing, odd for a story about zombies and vampires. It's suspenseful. It's damn good fun; that's what it is.

Matt Richter is a wonderful lead character. Waggoner plays his character straight. He may be a zombie but he's still a down to earth Cleveland cop with a strong sense of what's right and wrong. And much more importantly he's not superhuman - in many ways being a zombie has made him subhuman. His reflexes are slowed, his perceptions dulled and fate has placed him in a world of powerful beings.

He serves to ground us. In effect he's one of us in a totally alien world. He's the story's every man, determined to fight his corner. Add to that a need to maintain his decaying body and you just can't help rooting for the guy.

Okay - an old idea, now revisited - reviews

A while ago I began posting reviews of books that had, for one reason or another, never been sold. It seemed to go well, I gained a couple of blog followers and got generally good comments.

Well the time I feel has come to revisit this idea in a slightly changd format. I was lucky enough to encounter a horror/dark fiction ezine called nossa morte when it launched in 2007. I sold to their very first issue. In fact I sold to every single issue they did - at least one review in each with three in one issue.

They are defunct sadly - been that way for more than a year now and the site is no longer on the net. So I thought I should recycle the reviews I wrote for them and post them here. Tonight I will (shortly) be posting the review for Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis, a sublimely brilliant comic dark fantasy.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

19 Days - some boasts, some general

Okay, it's been a while since my last post. I could claim one excuse or another for not posting to this blog more often. And in reality the reasons I would give are not just excuses but true.

I mentioned in an earlier post my mother dying over Christmas. This has left a lot of processing - sorting out her house, funerals, cancelling paper deliveries, chaning utilities etc. And then there's the emptying of her house...

On top of all this there is the flu that has been plaguing my life since Christmas Day, one week of feeling really ill then lurking in the background with occasional ickiness repeats.

And then there's the fact I've been trying to concentrate on writing a novel, which isn't going too badly - up to 14,500 words and an aim to get over 80,000 by the end of March - yeah I know it's tight but I need to set deadlines so I will get on with it.

But some things have been happening I wanted to post. Firstly there's some news on my reviews being released/posted.

Murky Depths issue 15 is now out in the big wide world and contains four of my film reviews for the following DVD releases.

Black Death
Inception
14 Blades
Road Train

And there's a whole bunch more on their website just gone live
David Moles - Seven Cities Of Gold
Army of The Dead
Defendor
Exam
It's A Wonderful Afterlife
Legion

Anyway, here's their website - http://www.murkydepths.com/. Go check them out and not just for my reviews. The zine itself is wonderful. Well worth picking up - latest issue, especially as it contains the first episode of a comic serial written by Lavie Tidhar and starring Adolf Hitler.

Also had a few writing rejections, three to be exact, this week. Will be getting arond to resubmitting those in a few minutes...

Will be writing more reviews and more on the novel this week. Need to get some up to Murky Depths for their next issue - if Terry thinks they are good enough to feature.

And I have a couple more short stories to write up - handwrote the first drafts last week. Fingers crossed

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

New Story Sale - Oddly Not Mine

After putting up with me and my writing attempts over the last four years my wife wrote a short story (to be fair she has planned out a novel and written the first few chapters but this is her first short).

Anyway, it surprised me by being a little surreal. It was good though, so I submitted it to Eschatology Journal for her - the market that accepted my short story Chicken last week.

And today they accepted it. So on the 12th of May this year her story, entitled "The Dance" willl be published on their site. Wow, eh. I feel really chuffed, I have to say

Anyway if you want to go check their site out, obviously without the story live yet but still well worth a visit, here's the link - http://eschatologyjournal.org/

Oh, and her pen name is Carey Lester.

I'm freaked and very chuffed. I may have said that before

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Chicken (story)

My story Chicken will be posted to Eschatology on April 6th

New Story Sale

Just received the email that my short story Chicken (1000 words) will be appearing in online zine Eschatology Journal this spring. More details to follow

In the meantime, here's the web address - http://eschatologyjournal.org/

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Things happen - death at Christmas

It's been a while since my last blog. Not far off two months. I've been twittering a bit - easier to do as the iPhone lives in my pocket 24-7 and I've written a review or two (ok, maybe 20) but in truth my time on this PC has been limited.

And the reason has been my mother. At the end of October she was taken into hospital after a fall and diagnosed with an infection (which had caused the dizziness that meant she fell). Well we thought that that was all but it was soon clear that her faculties were very impaired.

She didn't recover them when the fever was cured and she was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's. They tell me that the infection increased the speed of onset - I'm not a doctor but I trust they know what they're doing.

So we set about loooking for nursing care for her and visited a number of homes that could provide the level of care she needed. We even thought we'd found one - out by King's Lynn - and were going to visit it this week to confirm it was suitable.

And then we got THE phonecall. At 6:30am on Christmas Morning. There are not many phone calls you are going to get at that time and on that day - not unless you have relatives overseas which we do not.

My mother's health had taken a serious decline and she had passed away at 4am Christmas Morning.

It was an odd feeling. Not so much one of shock as we had been preparing for it since she was taken into hospital but strange. Okay, there's the expected mourning stuff I guess although I've never been one for manic histrionics or much visible emotional display - stiff-upper-lipped Englishman I guess.

But there's something odd. My father died three years earlier so my mother's passing leaves me parentless. We were never a close family (we got on ok I guess but it was never like the best friends almost relationships I've seen in some parent-child bonds even into adulthood). But being without parents is strange. The world's changed.

Guess it's time to start being the adult.