Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Just got back from seeing a press screening of Avatar. Good fun. Gets a bit silly in places and the running time meant that I ended up with deep vein thrombosis but if you just go along for the ride it's great.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out, Wordsworth

Here's a few poems I've been fiddling with:

The Great Old One Cthulhu,
Whilst holidaying in Honolulu,
Was disturbed by a dirge,
And could not resist the urge,
To rip the head off of Lulu.

No? Okay, how about this one?

A chef became a ghost,
After arguing with a dinner party host,
He had stood by the oven,
And said, "Hey, stop shoving!"
But still ended up next to the roast.

No, no, take that gun from your head, there's only one more.

Barry was mad of course,
Lacking sanity or even remorse,
He used blowtorch and knife,
To create a new form of life,
Out of two pigs, a duck and a horse.

So do you think I'll become Poet Laureate anytime soon?

Monday, November 30, 2009

TV or not TV

"We Have Books About TV" -- Sign outside Springfield Library, The Simpsons

Televison gets a bad rep for encouraging illiteracy and turning anyone who watches a programme for more than thirty seconds into a braindead, dribbling moron but I'm not sure that's entirely deserved. Yeah, there's lot of rubbish programmes that people watch when they could be reading but there's lots of TV adaptations of books and also lots of TV programmes that get novelised.

Personally a lot of my early reading came from finding out about books and characters from TV. Paddington Bear, Just William, Swallows and Amazons, Sherlock Holmes, Dr Who and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Not to mention Jackonary which led to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wind in the Willows and The Otterbury Incident (written by a future Poet Laureate no less). While you could argue the literary merit of some of these stories they helped develop my love of reading.

Even as an adult I find myself sampling authors due to the influence of TV adaptations. Books such as Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels, P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Even the Simon Nye novel which he later developed into his hit sitcom Men Behaving Badly (fortunately when he adapted it for TV he decided it might be an idea to include some jokes.)

And it's not just me. One of my friends happily admits that he's not a big reader but thanks to TV he's had a crack at C.S. Forester's Hornblower novels, Jeff Lindsay's Dexter novels and P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories.

Now I appreciate it's not just the influence of television that brought me to read some of these books. Stacy Keach's Mike Hammer isn't really a factor in me wanting to try Mickey Spillane and I don't remember Spenser: For Hire well enough for it to sway me one way or another when it comes to reading Robert B Parker. And I'll admit that even when I thoroughly enjoy a TV adaptation it won't necessarily spur me on to read the source material. At least not straight away. Decades passed between my seeing Joan Hickson portraying Miss Marple and my deciding that perhaps I should give the books a go. And although I tried a P.G. Wodehouse novel at the time of Fry and Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster it took many years and several nudges from various quarters (including repeats of the TV series) to remind me that it was high time to read some more of his stuff.

Sometimes the TV connection can be quite unexpected. A while back Garth Ennis mentioned that he enjoyed the novels of Derek Robinson, an author with whom I was totally unfamiliar. Recently I stumbled upon one of Mr Robinson's books only to discover it was the basis for a TV series I saw as a child.

UK TV has a long history of adapting books to screen and otherwise appropriating literary characters. Rumpole of the Bailey, The Darling Buds of May, Bodies, Tales of the Unexpected, A Bit of a Do. Crime novels seem to be particularly popular TV fodder -- Wire in the Blood, A Touch of Frost, Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Morse, Sharman, Jemima Shore Investigates, An Unsuitable Job For A Woman. Not to mention period dramas. British TV does like to dress up actors in frockcoats and breeches and actresses in bonnets and corsets. Although to be fair quite a few of these programmes seem equally keen to get the actors and actresses out of these costumes at the earliest opportunity.

Judging by the imports we get over here US TV isn't quite so keen on adapting books but in the last few years there seems to have been an upswing -- Homicide: Life on the Street, True Blood, The Wire, Generation Kill, Dexter and FlashForward.

So it's not all bad news as far as TV is concerned. It can actually inspire people to read more than just those annoying messages that flash up on the screen to tell you what the next programme will be, totally ruining the ending of the programme that you're currently watching. Occasionally, just occasionally, television can inspire viewers to seek out the wonders of literature.

Now excuse me, I'm off to watch I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Just to annoy the musical purists out there here's one of my favourite mash-ups:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FantasyCon Bebop

Went to FantasyCon over the weekend. Caught up with friends, went for a curry, visited Nottingham Castle and its excellent art gallery. Jolly good fun.

And in a totally unrelated matter here's the Cowboy Bebop theme 'cos I'm in the mood for some anime-inspired Japanese jazz. Trust me, it's actually pretty good.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Monster Magnet

'Cos sometimes you just need some psychedelic rock in your life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Just heard that I've had a story accepted for Catastrophia, PS Publishing's anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction featuring stories from heavyweights in the fields of science fiction and horror such as Brian Aldiss, Adam Roberts and Simon Clark. (Presumably after getting those three PS ran out of money and had to settle for what they could get.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Trying to decide if I like David Mamet's Redbelt or not. It's well-acted (even Tim Allen puts in a decent performance) but the plot makes less and less sense as it goes along. Plus, the film's about Brazilian ju-jitsu but half the hero's moves that so impress the media types in the film are stick and knife techniques from the Filipino martial arts.

Still, it was fun to play spot the famous martial artist with the cast -- "Look, it's John Machado. And Randy Couture. And there's Dan Inosanto -- so that's where all the Filipino stuff came from."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Comic Book Role Shall Escape My Sight

Okay, so Ryan Reynolds is going to play Hal Jordan in the upcoming Green Lantern film. This after already playing Hannibal King and Deadpool. Meanwhile his missus Scarlett Johannson is due to play the Black Widow after already playing Silken Floss in The Spirit and Rebecca in Ghost World. Are they in a tie for the actor who's played the most comic book characters on the big screen or has someone else got them beat?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lemon Jelly

Ah, I haven't listened to The Staunton Lick in ages.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fifteen Minutes of Game

Little exercise in timewasting that I stole from Michael Kelly. List 15 books that will always stick with you. But they have to be the first 15 books you think of in 15 minutes. Cue much cursing when you only start thinking of really impressive books after 16 minutes.

Anyway, here's my list:

Black Light -- Stephen Hunter
Axiomatic -- Greg Egan
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams
The Drive-in -- Joe R Lansdale
The Unquiet -- John Connolly
The Hound of the Baskervilles -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Wind in the Willows -- Kenneth Grahame
Dune -- Frank Herbert
Dirty White Boys -- Stephen Hunter
Mucho Mojo -- Joe R Lansdale
L.A. Confidential -- James Ellroy
Mortal Stakes -- Robert B Parker
Dr Who and the Planet of the Spiders -- Terrance Dicks
Biggles Hits the Trail -- Captain W.E. Johns
The History of the Runestaff -- Michael Moorcock

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Yakety Yak

There's a quick interview with me up on the Thomas Ligotti message
boards if you have absolutely nothing better to do.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Reflecting Eye

A while back I was one of a bunch of authors asked to write some quick comments on their favourite novellas. My choice was 'The Reflecting Eye' by John Connolly. See the final feature at http://ttapress.com/611/their-favourite-novellas/0/5/

My bit's tucked away right at the bottom but I'm sure that's because they listed the contributors in alphabetical order and not just because no one's ever heard of me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tales of Mild Uneasiness

Recently read Eduardo Risso's Tales of Terror. Collection of black and white comic strips from the Argentinian artist. Nice artwork (even if I think the visuals don't always flow that well from panel to panel) but the scripts by Carlos Trillos fall pretty flat. There's a couple of okay stories but nothing special and definitely nothing scary. Probably doesn't help that originally they weren't written in English.

Anyway, samples of Risso's artwork and a more positive review of the book over at http://warren-peace.blogspot.com/2007/10/eduardo-rissos-tales-of-terror-i-didnt.html

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Everybody Knows Everything

Bit disappointed with The South Bank Show profile of William Goldman. Yeah, they showed great clips from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ("Guns or knives, Butch?") and some of his other films but they skipped A Bridge Too Far and The Princess Bride.

Not to mention the fact that any Goldman fan will have heard all the anecdotes he trotted out about a million times before. I was sitting there guessing which bit of gossip he was going to supply about each clip before he even opened his mouth.

Still an enjoyable programme of course. I just wish it hadn't been so predictable.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wire We Waiting?

So I've finally bought the last two seasons of The Wire after finding them discounted to a price that I can actually afford. I was absolutely ecstactic ... until I discovered that the series is finally coming to British TV so I didn't need to buy them after all.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Who Just Watched the Watchmen?

Attended the press screening of Watchmen last night. I've been waiting twenty years for this film so I deliberately kept my expectations low in order to prevent myself going beserk with an automatic weapon if the film turned out to be rubbish.

Good news. I didn't kill anyone.

The film's pretty faithful to the comic. Yeah, they've had to ditch subplots and secondary characters which in turn means they've had to tinker with the main plot slightly to accomodate these changes but it's still Watchmen. A streamlined, or diluted if one were being unkind, version of Moore's story to be sure but at least Hollywood didn't turn it into Batman and Robin.

Of course it's also very obviously a Zack Snyder film. There's lots of slo-mo and both the action and the gore have been amped up just to remind people that he directed 300 and The Dawn of the Dead remake. The fight scenes are full of wire-fu and at one point become so OTT they make The Matrix look like cinema verite. Whilst the graphic nature of the many maimings and killings had the audience alternating between wincing and applauding. And my friend who blagged me my ticket for the screening was practically traumatised by a gruesome setpiece during the prison scenes.

There's about a million other points I could make about the film but the short version is that while the film isn't perfect it's about as good a Hollywood adap as we could expect. And as such it's well worth a look.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's Clobberin' Time!

Been reading Mark Waid's run on Fantastic Four, generally considered to be the third best run EVER, coming behind the stints by Lee/Kirby and John Byrne. Jolly good fun especially as I got the first two storylines in the hardcover edition which includes Waid's initial proposal and character notes from when he took over the series. Offers interesting insights into his creative process and allows me to appreciate the choices he made while writing the series. Even the ones I didn't agree with.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dave Bezzina

Dave Bezzina's got a new website

Features a selection of his Fantasy and Horror artwork in paints, inks and pencils.

Apart from being a British Fantasy Award nominee Dave provided half of the illustrations for my debut collection Spare Parts. (But don't hold that against him).