Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

What is there to say about Michael Bay's Transformers films that hasn't been said already? Sadly, as Empire mentioned in their review, absolutely everything that was wrong with the previous two films is wrong with the latest one too. Bay hasn't listened. He hasn't learned.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Star Trek: Nemesis

I know I said I wasn't going to do this, but I ended up putting it on earlier than I thought and so have some free time. So here are a handful of the many things wrong with Star Trek: Nemesis...

[There be spoilers ahead! Though saying that I can't see how anything could spoil this film more than the film itself does simply by existing]

Monday, 27 June 2011

Star Trek: Insurrection

It was always going to be hard to beat Star Trek: First Contact. I think pretty much everyone loved that film and to try and do another dark, action-packed adventure would have been a mistake. Doing something completely different in tone seemed, in principle at least, a jolly good idea.

Didn't completely work though, did it?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

A post for post's sake

Apologies, this blog. I have been neglecting you a little recently (and most other things as well) due to all the toyology stuff at the Toybox. I'm slowly managing to ensure I control it, and not the other way round.

Literally a second ago I finished uploading my latest book to lulu. I know I announced it was finished a while ago, but I had the formatting to do and a little tweaking on the last chapter.

As a quick aside, I was happy to see that lulu are currently offering a free copy of any new book published, or an existing book bound in some other way. I think I'm going to take the opportunity to order a couple of things in different formats just to see how they look & what they cost. For those interested, the offer ends on the 31st of July.

Back to the main topic, the copy I've just ordered is a special one for my wife. It's her job to see whether the countless storylines in the book make it completely impossible to understand or not. Once she's (hopefully) given her approval I can start giving it a bit more of a polish.

If she doesn't give it the thumbs up then I'm in trouble. In that circumstance I'll likely start work on something new and come back to it later when I've been hit by inspiration.

That's about all really. Just a quick note to say I still exist.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Choosing to Die

Last Monday Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die was shown on BBC 2. If you haven't seen it, then I'd get to iplayer quick before it disappears.

Sir Terry Pratchett followed a number of people who had decided that their quality of life wasn't great enough to continue living and they wanted help to commit suicide. In Britain, assisted suicide is a crime and the only place Britons can do this is in Switzerland, through the Dignitas Clinic.

Pratchett suffers from Alzheimer's. There will be a time when words are no longer his to command. He's already lost the ability to type and has to dictate to his assistant, Rob Wilkins. He has difficulty reading and had to have Tony Robinson read the BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture he had written. He has the view that when his condition reaches the point where he can no longer write books he no longer wants to live, hence his interest in Dignitas.

As Pratchett warned at the beginning, it wasn't easy viewing. The documentary showed the onscreen death of Peter Smedley, a motor neurone disease sufferer, which has resulted in hundreds of complaints to the BBC.

But this part wasn't the part that I found most disturbing.

The trouble with assisted suicide is that the person doing it has to be signed off first by a doctor as being sound of mind. He has to be fully aware of what he is doing, and able to perform the act by himself. This means that it isn't a person who is truly suffering who is committing suicide, but one who will be suffering in the future.

This leads to a great problem: how do you know when the time is right? How do you decide when the point is to take your life? Leave it too long, let your condition become too bad, and you won't be allowed to do it. Do it too soon and you're cutting off your life prematurely.

There have been complaints from pro-live groups that Choosing to Die was 'pro-suicide propaganda'. It didn't come across as that to me. Pratchett's assistant Rob appeared to share the same concerns I had - that  people who could still have reasonable quality lives for some time to come were ending them prematurely.

I'm not against suicide. I think a person has the right to end their life when they see fit. If I end up suffering from Alzheimer's then I don't want to live as a vegetable. But I'd want to live until the very last moment.

In the TV show Boston Legal (which if you never watched, shame on you!) William Shatner's character Denny Crane suffers from Alzheimer's. His solution to the problem of deciding When is that he has his best friend, Alan Shore, promise that when Alan thinks Denny has deteriorated beyond recognition, Alan will shoot Denny in the head.

This is how I'd want to go out.

Obviously this then passes the buck onto Alan who has to make the incredibly difficult decision of when to pull the trigger. Maybe if a list of criteria was written out while Denny was fully aware? Could someone independent be hired to perform the act when all the boxes on the list were ticked?

This is still not without glaring problems, I know. Maybe given time I (someone?) can come up with something better. But in order for this blog post to go up before the documentary is taken off iplayer then it'll have to do.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Second DVD Cartoon Golden Age

A while ago I declared - and was agreed with by someone in 'the business' - that if an obscure cartoon hadn't been released on DVD yet, then it never would.

Seems I was wrong.

Things have, however, changed somewhat from around a decade ago when He-Man was in readily available in mainstream shops. You could pick up Visionaries and Bucky O'Hare and all sorts of relatively obscure things.

The problem was that, despite being very popular with fans, there really weren't enough fans to make it worthwhile for companies to continue releasing them. In America, Bravestarr bombed. Galaxy Rangers bombed. Basically anything that wasn't ThunderCats bombed.

Friday, 10 June 2011


I've finally heard back from Angry Robot about the manuscript I sent during their open submission month in March.

And the answer is... Well, I kind of gave that away with the title, didn't I? I'm feeling a little down about it. Not, as you might expect, because of the rejection itself. I kind of expected that to happen. As brilliant as my book might be (or not) I had a strong suspicion that it wasn't exactly right for Angry Robot. It's definitely genre (zombies!) but I don't think it's genre enough for them.

So why am I feeling down?

You know when you send off a job applications and are then sat waiting for a response? You kind of feel that you're doing something productive while you're sat doing nothing. The fact that the application is out there, waiting for the employer to look through, means that you (or at least, I) fool myself into thinking that I'm still working towards getting that fantastic new job. And you feel you deserve at least a little rest after spending so many hours getting everything just right for sending off.

Then the rejection arrives. And suddenly you're really not doing anything. There's no hiding the fact any more and you have to make an effort to begin again. You've probably continued to look for other jobs while the application was out there, but the pressure was off. Now the pressure is back with a Vengeance.

And thus the same is true for my book rejection. Now I have to make an effort to get it into print, rather than just sitting and waiting. Angry Robot taking it on would have made life incredibly easy, but now I have to hunt for an agent, or give up on 'proper' publishing and go the self-publishing route.

I know Angry Robot said there 'probably' wouldn't be any kind of feedback, but my real hope from submitting my work was that there might, possibly, be something, some comment on the rejection. Some kind of feedback that would help me move forward. There wasn't. So now I'm wondering if the book needs another draft doing, or if it should remain as it is for the time being.

So much work lies ahead.

Where yesterday there was a small flame of hope sustaining itself with no input from me, today the fire has died down to nothing but glowing embers and I have to manually keep throwing wood at it to keep it alive.

Life's never easy, is it?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Comic Adverts

I've been asked why I buy monthly comics instead of waiting for the collected books. The trade paperback versions are cheaper, and more easily stored on a bookshelf.

Besides the obvious reasons of impatience and wanting to be able to surf the internet without being 'spoiled', there's something else I like about monthlies that you don't get in books.


Yeah, I know - it's a little odd to like something most people find really annoying. Not too long ago readers were complaining to comic publishers about the amount of adverts filling the pages of comics.