Wednesday, 29 February 2012

HI-Ex! 2012: Aftermath podcast

So, we heard the creators of this podcast, Robert Cudmore and Matthew McLean,  talking about this on the radio yesterday and thought that we'd invite them along to join in on some of the panel discussions.



Aftermath is a post apocalyptic audio drama set in Fife in 2016. Produced by Yap Audio Productions - www.yapaudio.co.uk 


Welcome to 2016. For the past five years the world has become an increasingly unstable place. The threat of war between China and the USA had loomed heavily over the rest of the world. Britain, now a small, insignificant and bankrupt nation, initially, as always, had sided with the USA. But relations quickly broke down beyond repair between the two nations, leaving the UK an isolated and unimportant outcast in world diplomacy.
Faced with two gigantic, power hungry enemies on either side, things go from bad to worse in the UK when an attack on the country’s power and communications leaves its citizens without electricity, television, phone or internet. After nearly a fortnight, and with nothing more than speculation available about who carried out the attack and why, looting and riots spread throughout towns and cities like wildfire.
Rumours of an emergency radio broadcast promising help, information, food and water in the centre of every city sees millions of people on the move as they try to head for safety, hoping that the crisis may be at an end.
In reality, nothing can be further from the truth. In a car park, half way up Falkland Hill in Fife, a group of people who fled from the riot stricken towns below watch out over the river Forth in horror as Edinburgh is blitzed by a missile attack from the sky. The lucky ones are killed by the blasts, but anyone else close enough is subjected to the chemicals unleashed by the explosions. A devastating chemical attack turns ordinary people into bloodthirsty savages, and Scotland as we know it, changes forever.
And now... this is the Aftermath.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Coming to Hi-Ex! 2012...


This year at Hi-Ex!, we will be bringing you something quite special that we’re sure you’ll have never seen before, but we know you’ll absolutely love.
Your kindly Hi-Ex! Team have, for the past few years, been honoured to be invited as guests to Octocon, the Irish National Sci-fi Convention in Dublin.
It was there that we first experienced John Vaughan and his awesome video vault of horror... and we loved it so much that we thought we’d spirit him across the sea  to bring his unique view on a cinema classic to these shores.
John Vaughan yesterday

Well, we say ‘classic’... John will take a famous, or should we say infamous, sci-fi film and subject it to his laser like gaze and take it apart from your not inconsiderable entertainment.
Trust us folks, you are all going to want to see this, and if you don’t you’ll be jealous of those lucky enough to get a seat in the theatre for the spectacle.
What is the movie, you say..? Well, that would be telling. But in the past, John has submitted such classics as Beastmaster and Hercules in New York to his forensic examination... who knows what he has lined up next..!

XIII El Cascador review



This is the second half of a story began in, For Maria, the previous volume, which you can read a review of here.
We’re pretty far into this Cinebook series, and we’ve reviewed enough of them for you to know the score by now. 
Van Hamme’s plotting is brilliant. In turn tense and claustrophobic and over the top widescreen, James Bond style action sequences.
Vance’s art is detailed and kinetic.
Even XIII’s sidekick, Major Jones gets more to do here than just moon about over him.
And yet again, Van Hamme proves himself the absolute master of drip feeding information to the reader, as we simultaneously uncover more truths about XIII’s past while finding even more unanswered questions.
This is a fine line to walk, and I’m not sure how long the series can go on doing this before credulity is stretched too far. But then again, it could be argued that in a spy story and world spanning and over the top as this one, credulity was never going to be something the reader should be brining to the table.
Whatever that case, this is a cracking read.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Doctor Who The Art of Death review




This is a great little story.
James Goss has written a cracking tale that really feels like it belongs in the Moffat era Who - being that it is based around a very clever, as the Doctor would have it, ‘timey whimey’ idea.
We have characters moving in different directions and at different speeds through time, with only Penelope, our narrator, remaining constant. This makes for some lovely scenes as she meets characters for the first time after they have already met her and vice-versa.
Now, I know that I have said previously, that these things benefit from being read by a Doctor, but on this occasion, I don’t think that is the case. This is very much Penelope’s story, so to have it read by Matt Smith would, I feel, have diluted her tale.
This would have been particularly true when we eventually got to the end and the secret of what was really happening was revealed. And like all good reveals, this was one that I should have seen coming.
Which brings us to Raquel Cassidy, the narrator. She is excellent here. As alluded to above, her acting is wonderful as she inhabits the main character and really makes the reader feel for her.
And as I am sure you have picked up from the rest of this review, Goss’s script is bang on. He has found the voices for the main characters with seeming ease. His Eleventh Doctor in particular is delightful. The listener can almost hear Smith’s old man/childlike enthusiasm in the lines.
This is a gem of a tale from AudioGo. You really should buy it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Cursed Earth Saga review




This is another reprinting of the classic Judge Dredd series, this time it is in a smaller, pocket book size volume more akin to Manga books than the traditional 2000AD size.
Does it work? I shall get to that presently, but first, for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give a quick review of the story.
Mega City 2 has been hit by a terrible plague, and the inhabitants are turning into crazed cannibal creatures. It is up to Judge Dredd and a crack team of Judges to deliver the vaccine before time runs out!
To do this, they have to negotiate the ravaged radioactive hellhole that is the Cursed Earth – basically everything between the East and West coasts of the United States.
(The reason for not flying is given, but frankly, it is not a good one!)
This tale, mostly written by Pat Mills with a few episodes by John Wagner, contains a lot of iconic ideas and images. Everything from the classic toy tie-in Killdozer (I had one!) to Spikes Harvey Rotten. Mills even introduces us to hints of what the caused the US to become what it is in Dredd’s day – ideas that Wagner would return to years later what he wrote Origins.

But the greatest thing in this epic adventure has to be Satanus the dinosaur.
Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one: scientists figure out how to clone dinosaurs from DNA found in fossils, incubate them in eggs and when they hatch, they open an amusement park in which things go horribly wrong and the dinosaurs escape and start eating folks. Pat Mills wrote this in 1978. That’s all I’m saying…
So yes, the story is a cracking one and is held up as a classic for very good reasons.
But to come back to the question of it working at this size.

For the most part, yes it does. The reproduction of the art is crisp and clean, which is just as well as it contains some of the best art that Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon ever produced for the comic.
I found myself having to strain slightly a couple of times at the small writing, but on the whole it easy to read.
All in all, it’s a nice little volume, and I think I’m going to pass it on to my children, as I suspect this may serve as a great gateway drug into the Dreddiverse.

Monday, 20 February 2012

2000AD: Celebrating 35 Zarjaz Years!


In 1977, something amazing happened. All across the land the first issue of 2000 AD, dated 26th February, arrived in newsagents. And your world has never been the same since.
Thirty-five years on and The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic is still going strong, still packed with top-notch Thrills by some of the world’s greatest comic book artists and writers, and still bringing intense weekly bursts of Thrill-power to the starving masses.
To celebrate this milestone, this Wednesday sees the anniversary edition, Prog 1771, hits newsstands with the choice of two amazing variant covers - one by Chris Weston (The Filth, The Twelve), riffing on a classic image by Brian Bolland and showing some of the classic characters of the past 15 years. The second cover by 2000 AD legend Mick McMahon shows the alien editor, Tharg the Mighty, surrounded by his loyal editorial droids!


This week will also see 2000adonline.com give away some exclusive prizes to Squaxx Dek Thargo everywhere, including:
• copies of Kingdom: The Promised Land signed by New York Times bestselling writer Dan Abnett
• copies of dinosaurs-farmed-by-cowboys-from-the-future classic Flesh: The Dino Files signed by 2000 AD’s creator and first editor, Pat Mills
• copies of the hilarious mobster comedy Al’s Baby signed by Judge Dredd creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Thanks to Planet Replicas, we’ll also be giving one lucky Earthlet the chance to get a custom made Judge badge – featuring their own surname! These high-quality fully licensed badges are a must for budding agents of the law, and the winner will get one embossed with their own name.

And as we head toward 2000 AD’s official birthday, we have the pièce de résistance – an exclusive Mongrol figure from Ashley Woods’ threeA Toys. That’s right, we’re GIVING AWAY one of the most hotly desired piece of 2000 AD merchandise in recent years. Standing over 11-inches high and over 13-inches wide, this fully articulated 1:6 scale figure has been drooled over by fans since its release last year and you’ll get the chance to try and win this stunning figure!
Keep your glues glued to 2000adonline.com, as well as our official Twitter and Facebook feeds, as we gear up to mark 35 years of Thrill-powered awesomeness!
Happy birthday, 2000 AD – it’s going to be a zarjaz week!
Links:
2000 AD on Twitter: http://twitter.com/2000AD 2000 AD on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/2000-AD/146588986365

Thursday, 16 February 2012

UBISOFT ANNOUNCES ASSASSIN’S CREED RECOLLECTION FREE OFFER




Today, Ubisoft announced that its real-time board game title Assassin’s Creed Recollection for iPad, is now available for free for a very limited time on the App Store.

Assassin's Creed Recollection, designed and optimised to take full advantage of the large display and Multi-Touch interface of iPad, allows players to live an entirely new experience in the world of Assassin’s Creed. Fans of the franchise are able to compete in political battles in a real-time board game, with key characters and locations from the original console game franchise. They can also discover and amass a wide variety of artwork created for the Assassin’s Creed games.


Players can expect an eight to ten-hour narrative experience with 20 story missions, which takes players on an intriguing journey from Barcelona to Constantinople. For those who want to take the experience online, they can challenge their friends and other players from around the world in intense real-time battles with Game Centre, where their strategies and abilities will truly be put to the test.

The Assassin’s Creed Recollection App is available from the App Store on iPad or at:
 www.itunes.com/appstore/

For more information, head to: www.assassinscreed.com/ios/recollection

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Antares episode 1 review



This series is, I think it is safe to say, the very definition of Epic.
Antares follows on from writer/artist Leo’s previous two trilogies: Betelgeuse and Aldebaran.
Now, I should admit here that I have not read any of the volumes of the above mentioned books, which may just put me in the perfect position to review this one unencumbered by expectation… or at least that’s the line I’m using here!
It appears to pick up very soon after the events in the previous story, and the threads are deftly explained so I was not left with any ‘I don’t know what’s happening’ moments – at least not because of the exposition.
Because there are quite a few ‘I don’t know what’s happening’ moments in the narrative, in fact it ends on an incredible cliffhanger that had me shouting at the book for daring to leave me hanging like that!

This is a complex book. There are a number of storylines running at the same time, and each of them in densely plotted, but not to the expense of storytelling which is deceptively fluid and easy. An awful lot of work has gone into making this book a smooth read. And I think it’s a mark of how well each strand is written that when each one finished and we returned to another, I wanted to stay there and see what happened next.
There are also some very bold storytelling moves that really should leave the reader feeling short changed, but don’t. For example, one character has a major life changing revelation, and while the reader is absorbing this, we turn the page to a caption saying ‘Two years later’.
As for the art, it is superb. Sometimes the figure work leans on the stiff side, but each character is wonderfully realised, and facial expression are rendered with extraordinary precision.
The flora and fauna on Antares are another treat. Leo has obviously thought long and hard about the ecosystem on the planet, and without spelling it out through dialogue or captions, he leaves the reader with a perfectly clear idea of the way this world has evolved.
So, in summary then… Cinebook have done it again and you need to buy this.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Coming soon - Kingdom: Call of the Wild




Seriously folks, Kingdom is one of the best new comic strips in the past five years, we urge you to buy this book!
Now, here's the press release:

In the post-apocalyptic future, genetically-engineered animals fight giant insects to preserve the future of the world!
From the pages of legendary British comic book 2000 AD comes Gene the Hackman, the pack leader turned lone wolf who battles Them, in a new 144 page collection!
These gargantuan insects have swarmed across the planet and forced mankind into cryogenic slumber in the hope that their dog soldiers can fend off the invaders.
With his human companion, the young girl called Leezee Sower who he saved from certain death, Gene must now learn to survive in the kingdom of Auxtralia, where if Them don’t kill him, the ‘Wild Bunch’ might just!
In the sequel to the hit collection Kingdom: The Promised Land, New York Times bestseller Dan Abnett (Majestic, The Authority) again teams up with artist Richard Elson (Thor), for an explosive mix of hardcore action and dystopian sci-fi.

Doctor Who Earthshock audiobook review




Earthshock is a notable story for a number of reasons. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it is the favourite story of some fans for one particular reason. And to you people I would say: you are very cruel.
So, this audiobook of the Target novel by Ian Marter is read by the then Doctor, Peter Davidson.
This definitely adds something to the proceedings. Some of the previous audiobooks have been read by other actors who appeared in that particular story, and these have worked fine. But there’s something about having the Doctor himself reading it that lends an extra air to the proceedings.
Davidson is, naturally, very good. He has one of those warm voices that is perfect for the audiobook market. And of course he understands the emotional impact of certain events therein and conveys them with great skill. Also worth mentioning is that the cyberman voices are provided by Nicholas Briggs.

As mentioned, the book itself is written by the late, much missed former Harry Sullivan, Ian Marter.
After leaving the series as an actor, Marter managed to carve a nice corner of Who for himself by writing some of these adaptations, and even wrote a spin-off Harry Sullivan solo novel that was not half bad at all.
As a writer, Marter is very good, although he does commit a couple of, what are to me, cardinal sins. He uses too many adjectives in describing conversation (“He said, angrily”) and also does the really annoying thing of describing in detail what people are wearing. I don’t care what they have on – I care what they are doing.
On the plus side though, he improves greatly on the original television script, which was written by Eric Saward. Marter gives some more depth to the goings on, particularly with his descriptions of smells, and even has a go at patching up and explaining one of the major plot holes in the story to some success.
He also goes as far as to tweak the ending slightly, adding even more pathos to the scene. But I know that some of you will still laugh anyway…

Earthshock is released by AudioGo

Monday, 6 February 2012

Victory? Trailer

So boys and girls, gather round and watch this!
Hi-Ex! guest John Vaughan has a rather exciting new show about to air on RTE - and very soon he is going to need your help... keep watching this space and we'll give you more details very soon.
In the meantime, here's a taster of what's in store.


Avengers - new trailer!

I'm sure you've all seen this already, but still - wow!