Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Hope is found": Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

I remember way back in 1999, as the world was gearing up to return to the Star Wars Universe for the very first prequel, the anticipation reached fever pitch. In the midst of all the excitement, one commenter had wise words to share - that no film could possibly live up to the expectation being heaped upon this movie. Star Wars is a phenomenon, and the arrival of a new movie is always an event, regardless of whether you're a fan or not. That call for caution was not only wise but also prescient. After watching The Phantom Menace, it took me a long time to realise just how much was wrong with it. The war in my heart between wanting something I loved to be great and the disappointing realisation that it wasn't lasted several years.

Now we are at a similar point. In a month's time, a new Star Wars film will hit cinemas and, once again, the anticipation and excitement is infectious. But I believe we have good reason to be excited. For a while, their was an air of caution over this new venture which has gradually transmuted into gleeful optimism. The team behind this new movie and the way they have handled it - with such enthusiasm, artistry and, yes, love and care - has already won many people over. Also, this new series of movies has one thing over the prequels, and that is the element of surprise. New characters, new worlds, new stories, and no one knows how any of it will pan out, who will live and who will die.

I am happy to say I am excited for The Force Awakens and I am confident we will not be disappointed. As one character says in the recent trailer: "Hope is not lost today, it is found . . ." 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Anything But Zombies

Very proud and excited to have a story in this great new anthology!

From the publisher's page: "For decades we’ve had vampires, werewolves, Jason, Freddy, and Michael. And now zombies have gone all Hollywood.

Out of a need to figure out what is the next classic monster, publisher and lifelong horror enthusiast Gerald Dean Rice has assembled this fresh and downright disturbing collection of short stories featuring some of the most clever and imaginative horror writers of the day including Tim Curran, Jeff Strand, Armand Rosamilia, Rebecca Besser, MontiLee Stormer, Lee Moan, Tonia Brown, Jake Bible, Faye McCray, and Jimmy Pudge. Inside, the diverse cast of contributors introduces new breeds of monsters such as sentient sex dolls, anti-zombie terrorists, suicidal cultists, the woman who can smell sin, and more. These monsters come alive within the pages, and they are blow-your-mind frightening. They are just what the horror world needs. They are Anything but Zombies!"

Sunday, August 04, 2013

A few thoughts on Doctor Who, and 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi

A few thoughts on Doctor Who, and 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi (Den of Geek Article)

Whilst Den of Geek has pretty much nailed it all on the head in the above article, I just wanted to add my own thoughts on the casting of Peter Capaldi in the iconic role of the Doctor.

First things first, now that the news is sinking in, I am very very pleased. Buzzing, in fact.

Peter Capaldi's name was linked with the role over the past few days and even Den of Geek dismissed the idea as a little bit of misdirection, and I was quite convinced it was. But as soon as I saw his hand on the live TV show I shouted out, "It IS Peter Capaldi!", and I found myself suitably thrilled and confused at the same time. Considering the ages of recent Doctors I just didn't expect to see a new Doctor being cast who was over 40, let alone over 50. (Mr Capaldi is 55). But I am soooo glad they did. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of the Doctors since the show started anew in 2005, and although it was necessary to bring the whole enterprise up-to-date by  making it better, faster, shinier, I do think a certain 'something' was missing from the show because of it. I am hoping that when we get our first full run of episodes with the 12th Doctor next year (hopefully!), we will see a little more depth to some of the stories and ideas. That's not to say that Mr Capaldi won't be able to do all the running and jumping, or that the show will skew older and forget it's family audience; I am just hoping to see a tonal shift, perhaps, a change of gear that will enable us to explore some of the fantastic ideas the show's writers put forward. Maybe this might mean a slight change of format, although I would not welocme a return to the 25 minute episodes of classic Who. As much as I enjoyed the 7th series run of "45-minute weekly blockbusters", I did feel that most of the time 45 minutes was not enough. 60 minutes would have worked much better for most of the stories in this latest run. (And I don't think 13 epidsodes at 60 minutes is asking too much as we all know we only really had one series spread over two years, am I right BBC? Hmmmmm?)

The other thing that intrigues me is the change in dynamic between the Doctor and his young female companion. Since 2005, the series and its writers have explored the Doctor's relationship with his female companion in a more overt romantic way than ever before. After all, the Doctor is an alien! But he loves Earth, and he loves humans (well, the good ones, anyway). It's been nice to explore this romantic relationship, especially between the 10th Doctor and Rose, which has led to some of the modern show's most poignant moments. But I think a return to a more paternal, or even grandfatherly, relationship will do the show no harm. Links are already being drawn between Mr Capaldi's Doctor and the First Doctor, William Hartnell, as they are about the same age as actors. I think this is exactly what the show needs, and Who knows, [see what I did there?] in a way, this may even bring the entire show full circle.

Roll on the 50th Anniversary Special and, even more importantly, the Christmas Special. This is a good time to be a Doctor Who fan.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Light years from home.
Bonded to an alien for survival.
A dark secret is about to be revealed . . .

The planet Verdana was supposed to be their new home, their new Eden. But shortly after arriving the human colonists were faced with a dilemma - join with the alaahi or perish. In the end, they chose the process of symbiosis, a physical conjoining with the native alaahi.

But now there are whispers amongst the colonists. The alaahi are not the benevolent beings they made themselves out to be. Before long a dark secret is about to be revealed, and young Jena must make a terrible choice . . .

If you haven't read Symbiosis yet (now with a brand spanking new cover), download your Kindle copy for free. But hurry, it won't be free for much longer.
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Monday, June 10, 2013

FREE THIS WEEK: Science Fiction Mystery 'The Vanished Race'

THE VANISHED RACE, a science-fiction mystery thriller, is free all this week on Kindle. The Free Promotion ends on Friday. Please tell your friends. Please tell your enemies. Please tell anyone who will listen.
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Joe and Susie Maxwell are heading across the moors to collect their daughter. Unfortunately, Joe forgot to fill up on petrol, despite his wife's advice to the contrary. To make matters worse, a strange cloud lies between them and their destination. Will they make it to their daughter before the petrol runs out? Or will they fall prey to the terrible things inside the cloud . . .?

DISTANCE TO EMPTY is an edge-of-your-seat tale of terror, a devastating thrill-ride into the unknown . . .

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why J.J. Abrams is a Great Choice to Direct Star Wars Episode 7

Now that the speculation is over and a director has finally been appointed for the forthcoming Star Wars sequel (Episode VII to give it its current correct title), our collective thoughts now turn to what we can expect from this new chapter in the Star Wars cinematic universe.


This is what we know:
1) Episode VII is the first film in a planned new trilogy.
2) This proposed trilogy has three different screenwriters in place - Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) for Episode 7, Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark) for 8, and Simon Kinberg (X-Men, Sherlock Holmes, Jumper) for 9.
3) There will be more Star Wars movies outside of the proposed trilogy - Kathleen Kennedy has suggested that Disney want 2-3 SW films per year, similar in structure to the Marvel/Disney strategy of standalone movies building up to tent-pole event movies every three years or so.
4) The trilogy will be based on "an original story" so all those speculators out there talking about this being a lazy retread of some expanded universe novels, think again. To be fair to Lucas, he's always made a point of ensuring the movies were 'special' in this respect. So, in short, we're going to get some "All New Stuff". This is good.
5) The use of the title Episode VII clearly suggests that the emerging trilogy is set after the events of Return of the Jedi, and this is where the greatest speculation and interest lies. How soon after those events this story takes place is still unknown, and more information in this respect would give us more of an idea of what to expect from the new trilogy.

[SOME THOUGHTS: In my humble opinion, what made the Star Wars saga great in the first place was its characters - Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Yoda, etc. But by the end of Episode VI, Yoda, Kenobi and Vader were dead. To create a movie 'reboot' without these major influential characters is a massive risk. Is the Skywalker story arc over? Although I would dearly love to see new adventures with Luke, Han and Leia, without the threat of Darth Vader (arguably SF cinema's greatest villain) and the unique wizardly wisdom of Yoda and Obi Wan, it might all seem a bit . . . meh. Perhaps using 'Episode VII' is a little stifling, creatively speaking. What Star Wars needs, more than anything, is fresh ideas, fresh perspective and a return to all those things that made it great in the first place. Personally, I couldn't give a womp rat's butt if the new movie wasn't subtitled Episode VII. I would be just as happy to see a new movie that's either a standalone adventure or a trilogy-starter, as long as it delivers a great story with great characters and, most importantly of all, a return to the true spirit of Star Wars that has been sorely missing from recent iterations in the franchise.]

And finally . . .
6) J.J. Abrams is directing the first instalment. This is great news. Of all the directors reportedly up for the job, Abrams has the best track record of them all, especially when it comes to sci-fi and spectacle. His Star Trek reboot in 2009 is arguably one of the greatest reboots of any franchise ever, and a cracking piece of cinema to boot (it's one of my personal favourite movies of the past ten years). Bold, energetic and engaging, he took the Star Trek franchise and gave it a heavy dose of "Star Wars action" (Abrams' own words, paraphrased), making it relevant again to modern audiences. And cool, too. And, famously, Abrams wasn't even a fan of Trek. But he has always been a fan of Star Wars. So what exactly will he bring to this most beloved of movie sagas?

I think Abrams has the talent, the clout, and the vision to make Star Wars cool again. Let's face it, Star Wars has always been cool, the world just needs a reminder of just how cool it can be. I think Abrams will have some surprises in store for fans (see the secrecy over the new Star Trek Into Darkness film and you can see what we're in for). Lets also face a home truth, here: Star Wars - and by association, Lucas - has had one hell of a mauling over the past fifteen years. Fans (largely) hated the prequels, and they were less than enthused with the Clone Wars TV series. [They also hated the fourth Indiana Jones movie, too, but that's a whole 'nother discussion for a 'nother time.] Basically, whatever comes next has to be an improvement on past entries. Cynics out there will continue to poo-poo this new chapter in the Star Wars saga, but despite all the negativity, true fans are still hugely excited at the prospect of a new Star Wars film, and I foresee that in two years' time, the whole world will be going Star Wars crazy again, and as someone who was there back in 1977, I just hope it's because we have a great new Star Wars movie to go see. I do believe, as the saying goes, the Force is strong with this one . . .