Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Big flowing beard, living in the far reaches of the North... erm... am army of elf helpers... or something. Okay, so that analogy might not have legs, but he has proven to be a thoroughly nice man in this story from the Northampton Chronicle, which was linked on Facebook by his daughter, comic writer and all round gorgeous person, Leah Moore.
Find the story here.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s an 'hilarious' send up of a popular television series. I’ve read a number of Master Chef send up comic strips in the past few weeks, and the idea- for what it is- is tired and, in my opinion, more or less done to death.
I say more or less, because sometimes you encounter a send up, and for one reason or another, don’t click that’s what it is. Which is what happened with Situation Vacant. It was only when listening to the extras that I realised (well, I didn't realise- I was flat out told) that this had an Apprentice riff running through it. Perhaps I don’t watch enough television?
So, what we have here is an idea I’m surprised hasn’t been thought of before. The Doctor advertises for a new assistant, and sets the four applicants a series of tasks to perform, eliminating failures along the way…
See, now I’ve written that description, I feel a bit stupid at not spotting the reference!
Of course, the Doctor holds the interview/test in a hotel where there happens to be a convention of big brained scientists also meeting, so you know things will get serious soon. And they do.
What I really liked were the characters of the four prospective candidates. Each genuinely has something that an assistant needs- courage, intelligence, common sense etc, so any one would, in an ideal world, have made a great companion. And the fact that the one we get in the end is so unexpected speaks volumes for both the quality of writing and acting throughout.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Now in a Lost style flashback, we’re going back a few episodes for the previously reviewed Deimos to the start of this particular season of Eighth Doctor adventures…
So, just imagine that sshhhooom! noise they do in Lost and read on!
Like it our hate it, but one of the most remarkable things that RTD Who has introduced to things is the Christmas special. It’s hard to believe that a series that was merely a fondly remembered childhood show for most people (and by that, I mean your normal man or woman on the street, not sci-fi fans!) is now a mainstay of Christmas Day television, up there with Eastenders and The Queen’s Speech.
And so it came to pass that the tradition has leaked over into the Big Finish range, with this Christmas set tale.
And a heart warming one it is too- full of festive cheer that will warm the cockles of your cold, miserly heart.
Well, actually, that is a lie. This is very much in the great tradition of the British TV Christmas special. You need to think Eastenders or Holby City (which gets name checked in the story) to get where this is coming from.
It’s pretty grim, to tell you the truth. But this grimness brings out the best in the actors, as we see one or two of the Doctor’s many chickens coming home to roost, along with a splendid red herring or two thrown in for good measure.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
I've dipped in and out of the previous Big Finish McCoy Whos, so only have a limited knowledge of the back story leading up to A Death In the Family. I’ve met the companion Hex on one other occasion, but the villain of the story was a new one on me. This was not a problem though, as he is introduced and explained perfectly as things unfold.
So, we begin in the usual Who fashion, with much running about and impending threat. But this is not your normal Who tale.
Episode one contains everything you’d normally expect from a four part adventure and really is plotted to the hilt by Steven Hall. It also ends on a pretty surprising cliff-hanger, which leads into the real story.
Now, obviously I can’t go into details without spoiling the plot, so I’ll try to limit my comments to things I can mention.
The writing for example. As I said of Deimos, this really is crammed full of plot.
I love my Who as much as the next man, but sometimes on TV, it can be plotted a bit… thinly. Not so here, where the producers cannot rely on visual spectacle to distract you from storytelling shortcomings. Here, if each scene doesn’t hit the mark, then things will quickly fall apart. But honestly, as a writer, I am very impressed by the standard of writing on this.
Acting next. McCoy knows his Doctor inside out and is as excellent as you would expect. Philip Oliver as Hex is also superb and gets some splendidly meaty scenes to sink his teeth into. I could go through them all and say all the cast are pretty much pitch perfect.
But I really want to single out Sophie Aldred. One of the episodes focuses on Ace and her part of the story. The performance she gives is incredible and really, it’s worth getting this story for this episode alone.
And yes, reading back on this it does sound like hyperbole, but it’s not. I really enjoyed this tale- and there have been some of the Big Finish range that have not impressed me at all- so I don’t feel bad about my rather positive review!
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Friday, 12 November 2010
ideal for making 10 year olds' tongues black and poos green!!
Thursday, 11 November 2010
The good Doctor was kind enough to take a few moments from his bust schedule to speak to us here at HiEx.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Doctor Dandridge.
Certainly. My name is Doctor Spartacus Dandridge. Those who know me well might accurately describe me as a man of fashion, a man of letters and, of course, a man of science. I am also ghosthunter by appointment to His Majesty Edward VII. Or at least I was. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I presently find myself - sans corpus - in the year 1981.
I understand my world differs quite significantly from your own, so allow me a moment to explain. In my world, the spiritualists of Victoria’s age developed a means of harnessing the psychokinetic energy (that’s ‘PKE’ to the layman) produced by ghosts, spectres, wraiths and so on. Certain captured ghosts became regarded as valued antiques, while ectoplasm or ‘white gold’ was soon employed as a fuel alternative.
While I tragically departed this life in 1905, I understand the development of ecto-technology continued apace and the empire has prospered well into the decade in which I find myself now. The cultural specifics of the 1980s elude me at present. However, I must say expectations of attire and of conduct befitting a gentleman appear to have fled before the dawn!
The last time the readers met you, you died! How’s that working out for you? And how did you find your way back into 2000 AD?
Following several hours of intense negotiation, he finally agreed to pay me for my contributions. However, I fear I ended up somewhat short-changed. I was hoping for a biographer of quality, Mr. Wagner, Mr. Mills or perhaps that young fellow who looks like a lumberjack. Sadly, the recessionary pressures currently affecting your world forced me to make certain… allowances.
What do you think of your biographers, Worley and Pleece?
No, Warren Pleece?
Oh. Well, I read it years ago. Dreadfully long-winded…
*sigh* WARREN! PLEECE!
Oh, forgive me! This is a terrible line. Yes, Warren Pleece. Worked on several terran comics of note, I understand, including ‘Hellblazer’, ‘The Invisibles’, and ‘Life Sucks’. As a long-standing patron of the arts, it is with no small amount of pride that I have him aboard as my co-biographer. In fact, I believe he and his brother Gary are currently engaged at the ‘That’s Novel!’ exhibition at the London Print Studio. (www.londonprintstudio.org.uk)
And Mr. Worley?
As I mentioned before, one has had to make certain ‘allowances’ as part of my current arrangement with 2000 AD. Mr. Worley’s involvement unfortunately being one of them. As I have explained to Tharg on several occasions, Mr. Worley is annoyingly prone to tantrums, crying, and hurling himself across the furniture screaming ‘leave me alone’, ‘I hate you’ and so on. While such gothic outbursts may be tolerated coming from a teenage girl with an enthusiasm for the works of Ms. Stephenie Meyer, it is rather less becoming in a 36-year-old man resembling a poorly attired Liverpudlian soccer player.
Do you think they do you justice in their depiction of you?
Mr. Pleece, certainly. Worley, however, lacks a certain refinement. Incidentally, if you ever meet Mr. Patrick Mills, can you please give him my card and ask him to call me…
What kind of japes can we expect from you in 2000 AD?
Japes? On the contrary, my engagements are of the utmost seriousness! Look here, I really don’t want it to be presumed that I am here to amuse readers. I aim to bring a sense of dignity and decorum to their favourite publication. A cursory glance over recent issues of 2000 AD only emphasises my point. Any editor who allows tramps to become undercover detectives, zombies to trample the Tower of London, and overmuscled Irishmen to run amok in kilts has clearly taken leave of his senses! However, that Russian laddie has a marvellous sense of style.
Can we expect any further adventures from you?
Indeed you can. Mr. Worley is currently penning another engagement as we speak, at least he was when I left him a moment ago. He may have sneaked out again to visit his friend at some sinister dwelling he refers to only as ‘Gregg’s’.
I need a new pair of shoes. Can you give me any advice?
Avoid plimsolls at all costs. Too many young people these days are told such items are ‘hip’ and ‘practical’. They are, however, merely unnecessary. The man of affairs maintains an unhurried pace in the face of any peril. For this reason, two dozen pairs of classic brogues are a base requirement for any supernatural investigator’s wardrobe. While the brogue has, in my opinion, become somewhat ‘modernised’ since Edward’s day, the Chelsea boot affords a sublime alternative. These allow an investigator to maintain a dashing air of command, whether engaged in a particularly messy exorcism or seated in the wingback chair of his occult library.
Dr. Dandridge, thank you for your time.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
It was brilliant. The opening scene- a long silent section that ending with the hero shooting a child (albeit a dead one) in the face- certainly set the scene for the grimness that was to follow.
There were many highlights- Morgan's terrible heartbreak as he watches his dead wife through the sights of a gun and the astonishingly tense sequence where Rick was caught below a tank and feeling pity for half a corpse as it dragged itself across the grass to name but a few. It's great to see scenes from a comic come to life in such a perfect fashion, and equally as pleasurable to see scenes changed- but for the better.
Roll on the rest of the season.
And more good news follows, as The Hollywood Reporter, er, reports that it has been given a second season!
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
How long have you been writing? What got you started?
But, as I’m forever telling other would-be writers, wanting to write is not the same as writing. When I was in my early teens I wrote some absolutely rubbish short stories, and more than once I started a novel. I don’t think I got more than a few pages into any of them.
What are you working on now?
Following the sixth Quantum Prophecy novel, I’ll be laying down the plans for the final two novels in the series. I’m so looking forward to that I can barely contain myself! The seventh book ends on the mother and father of all cliff-hangers, and the eighth one... Well, I’ll just say that it wraps up the whole storyline in a way that no one is going to see coming!
In an ideal world what would you like to be doing?
What is your biggest frustration as a writer?
Therein lies a great danger, though… See, even though the author’s name is prominent on the cover, we don’t do this alone. Very few authors are so good that they can produce a perfect manuscript right out of the box: Good books need good editors to kick them into shape. But when an author’s books becomes a huge success the idea starts to form that the success is entirely theirs, that their words are sacred and should not be altered. When that happens, when the author becomes more important than the book, the quality of the finished product starts to slip.
I’ve had a lot of high points: Having one of my stories picked to appear in a school textbook, being named by a very well-known literary critic as his favourite living Irish writer, having my first story appear in 2000 AD, seeing someone on the train reading one of my books and laughing out loud at the funny parts…
But probably the biggest high point was a couple of months ago when I received an e-mail from a woman in America: she said that her son was a very reluctant reader, way behind everyone else in his grade, and they had tried everything to get him interested in books. Nothing worked, until they found the Quantum Prophecy series. He ploughed through the first book in only a couple of days, and then begged her to buy the rest of the series. Now, she said, her son is a voracious reader, his grades have shot up, he’s paying much more interest in school – he’s now top of his class – and, even better, he’s turned from a sullen, sulky loner into a bright, out-going young man who is “a lot more pleasant to be around!”
Did your education help or hinder the work you do now?
I do often wonder how my life would have turned out had I stayed in school and then gone to college (not because I have any regrets, but because I’m a writer and my job is to wonder about everything all the time).
What is your writing work regime if you have one?
I generally get up at about ten, and work through until my wife gets home at six in the evening. Then I work from eleven that night until about four the next morning (and I get a lot more work done in those five hour at night than in the eight hours of the day – mostly because the phone doesn’t ring!). At the weekends, I generally do about eight or nine hours each day.
It all depends, though, on what stage I’m at in a book. For each book, I generally spend about six months in “pre-production”: working out the plot, designing the characters, pulling together all the necessary research, and so on.
When the first draft is done, I set the book aside for a week or two, then I come back to it with a fresh eye and start marking all the parts that need to be fixed. I can get pretty ruthless at this stage, cutting out huge chunks of text (there’s probably over 150,000 words of New Heroes stuff that’ll never see the light of day!). The second draft is where I fix all the broken parts. Then I go over it one more time and do some minor tweaking for the third draft.
My wife, my family, my friends, my cats… Plus there’s my far-too-big (but, paradoxically, still not big enough) collection of CDs, movies, comics and books. I don’t read as much as I probably should – when I’m reading I feel guilty for not writing, even though deep down I know that reading is just as important as writing for a job like mine.I’m a keen but not very talented computer graphic artist: for the Quantum Prophecy books I create graphics of all the major characters (you can find most of them on the website). I’ve had no training and rarely know what I’m doing, but it’s a lot of fun and a good distraction when I’m working on a plot (sometimes the only way to solve a tricky plot problem is to push it to the back of the brain and let your subconscious work it out).
My Fake Word Generator has also been quite handy. It strings together random digrams and trigrams (common two- and three-letter combinations) to form words that aren’t real but often sound like they are. I used that a lot when writing Razorjack: Double-Crossing to create alien-sounding names.
Where can people find out more about you?
Visit my websites at www.michaelowencarroll.com and www.quantumprophecy.com – all you need to know about me and my books can be found there!