I apologise for the lengthy and confusing title. I just saw this gif and thought it was funny. I loved Battle of the Planets when I was a kid. I also spent way too long playing Pokemon on the Gameboy back in the day. Anyway, thank you Simpsons, good memories…
‘You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!’
There are numerous versions of the above opening but they are all pretty similar and are all pretty damned awesome. I love the original black and white Rod Serling-helmed Twilight Zone. Maybe the newer ones were good – I never saw them – but the fact that channels like Syfy and streaming services like Netflix always play the original shows, makes me wonder if the newer ones might not be the best. I saw the 80s film and it was ok, as far as I remember, but certainly no better than watching several original episodes in a row.
Maybe I am just a fan of Rod Serling or maybe it was that the stories were written by some superb talents. Writers included Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Serling (obviously) and many more. There were also stories adapted from the brilliant tales of writers like John Collier, who wrote the superb short story collection ‘Fancies and Goodnights’, and Ambrose Bierce who is probably most famous for his ‘Devil’s Dictionary’ and also for a great story called ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’.
Which is my rather long winded way of introducing the first Twilight Zone radio play in a new series on the BBC. ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ was first published in 1890 and is a non linear tale set during the American civil war. It was then a short silent film, and was then adapted to an ‘Alfred Hitchcock presents…’ episode, then a Cannes film festival and Academy award winning short film. It was this latter version that was then adapted for the Twilight Zone. It is a cracking tale and will be the first of a series of 10 adaptations that will air on BBC Radio 4 Extra.
I highly recommend Radio 4 Extra and I highly recommend the Twilight Zone. According to the Independent the new radio series will feature actors like Jane Seymour, Jim Caviezel, Michael York, Malcolm McDowell and Don Johnson. As you can tell, I am pretty damned excited about all this. I love “Golden Era” scifi stories with a twist in the tale and Rod Serling’s Carl Sagan-like voice is a superb start to any show and I am sure Stacey Keach, his replacement, will put in a pretty good effort.
The radio series starts in March and will will air on Saturday nights. Check BBC Radio 4 Extra for details.
I wouldn’t hold your breath for the next Game of Thrones book but the TV show seems pretty damned reliable. GOT season 6 will be here in April forcing me to make the horrible decision of whether to watch it episode by episode, or hide from the internet and spoilers for 10 weeks and binge it. I suspect the former as I am weak.
Frankly the teaser it reveals next to nothing except that Games of Thrones is going to be bleak and full of death. Which isn’t much of a reveal. Still, it got me excited. Enjoy.
Best Served Cold is the 4th book set in the world of the First Law. Books 1 to 3 were a trilogy and were brilliant. Best Served Cold is a standalone novel set in a part of the world called Styria and is also brilliant.
Here is the synopsis:
Monza Murcatto is mercenary who leads an army of mercenaries called the 1000 swords. There have been 19 years of warfare on the continent and Monza and her brother Benna are great at what they do. A little too great in fact, and their employer, Duke Orso, grows concerned that they might try and take over. So he has them both stabbed a lot and thrown off a balcony and down a cliff. Unfortunately for the seven people involved in this literal backstabbing party, Benna dies but Monza lives. So she sets out to get revenge. It is basically a fantasy version of Kill Bill.
Everything I like and slightly dislike about Abercrombie is present in Best Served Cold. What I like far outweighs what I don’t.
What I like: It is exciting, well written and violent, with superb characters. Some of these characters are from (or at least mentioned) in the First Law trilogy, some are new. It doesn’t really matter though. They all have pretty satisfying story arcs and are believable. The story is told in shifting third person POV and not one of them are dull. To alleviate the often brutal happenings in the book, there is quite a lot of Abercrombie’s dark humour. While each revenge is a bit episodic, there is a satisfying arc to the whole tale. Also each episode is great – like a series of incredibly violent capers.
What I didn’t like: It is all pretty bleak, which isn’t a bad thing I guess, but don’t read Game of Thrones then this or you might get a bit down. There is a lot humour though, so it is lifted somewhat. Most of the characters have a pretty shit time of it, which I suppose is to be expected, but I hoped for a slightly happier arc for some of them.
On the whole though, I bloody loved Best Served Cold. It is probably not quite as good as the First Law trilogy, but if you enjoyed that, you will like this.
In summary then – GREAT BOOK. I LOVED IT. BUY!
I quite enjoyed the first Suicide Squad teaser but wasn’t massively impressed. It looked ok. So when the new trailer came out I didn’t bother with it for a couple of days and when I finally got round to viewing it I loved it. Possibly because of Queen in the background but only possibly. It looks pretty goddamn fun, which will make a nice change in the DC cinematic universe. This has been all over the internet in the last couple of days but I was tardy to the party. Enjoy.
I recently wrote a long short story called Cooperworld. Or a short novella. Whatever. It is 17,000 words. If you have a shiny new kindle or tablet, here is something to put on it. My gift to you. Except you have to pay a few pennies, so it is also a gift to me. It is science fiction, but it is more philosophical than a lot of my stuff.
Here is the blurb:
In the near future, AI research is strictly controlled by paranoid governments. When a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert illegally decides to create digital life in an simulated universe, he doesn’t at first realise the implications of what he has done. Implications not just for him, but for everyone.
In this short story, journalist and writer Jason R. Ward has a light-hearted but fairly philosophical look at what constitutes consciousness and has a good hard look at how we perceive reality.
For US customers:
For UK customers:
Happy new year to all my Scifiward readers! Welcome to 2016!
As I get older each annual digit change seems to come more quickly and feels more like something from science fiction. I guess I grew up watching things like Space 1999, Escape from New York (set in 1997), 2001, 2010, Blade Runner (2019), Back to the Future 2 (a couple of months ago). Even in the Buck Rogers (TV show) he set out in 1987. So quite a lot of things that seemed futuristic and painfully distant in my young brain should have now happened. Some have, most haven’t. I am writing this on a ridiculously thin laptop and beaming my pointless observations to the world, which is pretty damned impressive. I am doing this from the planet Earth however, so that sucks.
I am not one for resolutions as I have grown bored of disappointing myself, but regular readers should notice some changes this year. I write non-fiction as my profession and the dream is to slowly get rid of the ‘non’ and write more of what I enjoy. One thing I also enjoy is writing shallow sarcastic comments on my websites, so expect to see more of that too.
Whatever your dreams are for this futuristic age we live in, I hope they come true. As the late and lamented Leonard Nimoy said in some show or other – Live long and prosper – and try to have a little fun. (This latter sentiment was edited out for characterisation reasons.) Happy 2016.
I have written a new short story called Cooperworld, which I am pretty excited about. I will shamelessly promote it when I have the energy and am less full of Christmas meat, but if you need something for a new tablet, check it out.
I will keep this short as I am going to binge some more. Be happy scifi fans, and merry christmas! Cheers.
Ok there have been about a million Star Wars trailers now but this is very probably the last one before the film comes out. I have tickets for the 17th and am jabbering with excitement already. As it is the last trailer, and a good one, I thought I would do a final Star Wars trailer share for old times’ sake.
Well, this aired a few hours ago and I have to say it has made me pretty excited. And I’ve seen the last Superman film. Actually, I think the last Superman film was ok. Not great, but not as bad as people say.
So far, the trailers for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice have all been pretty damned spectacular. Even though 99% of my subconscious is currently running around in excited circles yelling ‘Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars!’ the remaining 1% is quite excited about this. On the surface you’d think Superman could easily squash Batman but his main nemesis is Lex Luthor – a smart rich guy – so it isn’t guaranteed. Except… really… Superman would easily beat Batman and that is actually hinted at here. Also, any comic book fan knows how this will end up, with the formation of a certain league implied strongly in the title.
Anyway, I have waffled enough. The trailer looks superb and even has a couple of seconds of Wonder Woman. A couple at the max. No Aquaman though. See what you think: