Last Word

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Cloud Atlas, Skyfall and the McDonald’sization of Storytelling

It’s sometimes said we get the politicians we deserve, and the same can be extended to many other areas of life. If we get a cinema filled with hollow franchise films it’s because that’s what we, collectively as the audience, flock to see. It’s the fast food, know-what-you’re-getting (even if it is flavourless, lukewarm, bland, and full-of-empty-calories) mentality. The tragic acceptance that what works for McDonalds can work for the creative arts. It is plain to see in the relative success and failure of Skyfall verses Cloud Atlas…

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Cloud Atlas Shrugged – or let the Skyfall

If you want to be able to go and see intelligent, creative, original SF and fantasy movies stop going to see franchise pictures. They are killing cinema. I stopped seeing 95% of these things long ago. It saves me time. It saves me money. It save me disappointment. And it gives me space to watch something much more interesting instead.

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Exploring Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall

In June we went to Cornwall, to Daphne du Maurier territory, so here are some photos relating to all things du Maurier from our short holiday.   One day in 1936 the young Daphne du Maurier was out riding on Bodmin Moor with her friend Foy Quiller-Couch. They became lost, but eventually found their way to the Jamaica Inn. While recovering from their ordeal Daphne and Foy heard tales of long ago smuggling adventures and du Maurier was inspired to write her fourth novel. The book became the basis of a 1939 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Charles Laughton...

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Interview – Jonathan Oliver, editor-in-chief at Solaris Books

Jonathan Oliver is one of the UK’s top genre editors. He is also a novelist, short story author and creator of shared-worlds. Recently I interviewed him by email. * Gary Dalkin: You are editor-in-chief of three imprints – Solaris, Ravenstone and Abaddon Books – all published by Rebellion Publishing Ltd. What is your background and how did you end up in your current position? Perhaps for readers who are not familiar with Rebellion you could outline the idea behind each of your imprints? Jonathan Oliver: My background is in academic publishing. I worked for Taylor & Francis for almost 7...

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Review – The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown

The Kings of Eternity is a novel with one foot happily in the mainstream and one in genre. As such it is a book which may baffle those who don’t ‘get it’; a novel written unapologetically for those of us who have grown-up with genre fiction but who also read and appreciate writing sometimes classified as ‘literary fiction’. Not that such a distinction holds much water, is rather a false dichotomy; genre being delineated by content, ‘literary fiction’ being assumed by some as involving the automatic inoculation of superior qualities in any material they do not define as ‘genre’. Eric...

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Review – The Fictional Man by Al Ewing

Niles Golan is an ex-pat Brit in Hollywood. Never grown-up, he narrates his life with an internal monologue transforming his everyday inadequacies into triumphs. Niles is his own fictional creation: to himself, a genius novelist akin to the young Thomas Pynchon; to everyone else, the hack who writes the popular Kurt Power adventures novels. His ambition is to launch a movie franchise, but to get the chance he has to pitch a remake of his teenage-self’s favourite film. This should be a dream, except everyone at the studio is clueless and Golan realises that his once beloved movie is horribly...

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They Do Things Differently There

The original version of the article was written for Amazing Stories and published as ‘Doctor Who and the Strange Victorians’. The starting point was the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special, ‘The Snowmen’, in which a young woman, the Doctor’s new companion, falls down a metaphorical rabbit hole in Victorian London. As Doctor Who approached its 50th birthday (celebrated in 2013) executive producer and writer Steven Moffat appeared to be transforming the programme into a meta-fictional game played with materials drawn from its own past, as opposed to anything engaging with actual history. Don’t worry if you neither know nor care...

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Falling Over by James Everington – review

Falling Over was the first book I read by James Everington, and this is a revised version of a review I wrote for Amazing Stories last year. Since then I have interviewed the author and reviewed his first two self-published books, The Shelter (a novella) and The Other Room (a story collection), again for Amazing Stories. On his website James Everington says that his main influences are writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson and Robert Aickman, and that he enjoys ‘the unexplained, the psychological, and the ambiguous’. Falling Over (published by the UK’s Infinity Plus and available as both a paperback and ebook...

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The Man Who Haunted Himself – Blu-ray review

The Man Who Haunted Himself is, as the title suggests both a ghost and a doppelgänger story, and as such is a rather unique tale of the uncanny, unfolding perhaps much as one might imagine a feature-length, British Twilight Zone. The film starts with business man Harold Pelham (Roger Moore) leaving his London office and driving west out of the city, but then…something happens to him. He starts to speed, driving ever more recklessly. There are shots of another, sportier, car, superimposed over his staid family saloon. The scene resolves with a devastating crash and next thing, Pelham is in hospital, doctors...

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The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – review

The Prisoner of Heaven is, according to the forward, ‘part of a cycle of novels set in the universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, of which The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game are the first two installments. Although each work within the cycle presents an independent, self-contained tale, they are all connected through characters and storylines, creating thematic and narrative links. Each individual installment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series can be read in any order, enabling the reader to explore the labyrinth of stories along different paths which, when woven together, lead to the heart of the narrative.’ The Prisoner...