Tagged: Monsters

Tomorrowland, Starring George Clooney, Begins Filming

Disney Logo

Burbank, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2013) —Principal photography has begun on Disney’s mystery adventure Tomorrowland, starring two-time Academy AwardÒ winner George Clooney (Michael Clayton, Syriana), Hugh Laurie (

Monsters vs. Aliens, House), Britt Robertson (Under the Dome), Raffey Cassidy (Dark Shadows, Snow White and the Huntsman) and Thomas Robinson (The Switch). The film is directed, produced and co-written by two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird (“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Incredibles). Damon Lindelof (Star Trek Into Darkness, Prometheus) and Jeffrey Chernov (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) are also producers. The screenplay is written by Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof from a story by Lindelof & Jeff Jensen and Brad Bird.

Jeff Jensen and John Walker (The Incredibles) will executive produce with Bernard Bellew (Les Misérables, 28 Weeks Later) and Tom Peitzman, VFX producer (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Alice in Wonderland) serving as co-producers.

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as Tomorrowland.

Bird has gathered a great team behind the lens with Oscar® winning director of photography Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), production designer Scott Chambliss (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, Cowboys & Aliens), Oscar® nominated costume designer Jeffrey Kurland (Inception, Ocean’s Eleven) and Academy Award®-winning editor Walter Murch (The English Patient, Cold Mountain).

Tomorrowland will be released through Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on December 12, 2014.

Happy Mother’s Day From Monsters University!

MU_Bleachers_Online_1s_w2.0-1Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer.  The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.

Screaming with laughter and oozing with heart, Disney•Pixar’s Monsters University is directed by Dan Scanlon (Cars, Mater and the Ghostlight, Tracy), produced by Kori Rae (Up, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc.) and features music from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and award-winning composer Randy Newman  (Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 3). The film opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2013, and will be shown in 3D in select theaters.

Mike Wazowski’s (voice of Billy Crystal) lifelong dreams of becoming a Scarer are derailed during his first semester at Monsters University when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), and their out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program.l 2013.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9N12nUVYZY[/youtube]

New Who Review: “Hide”

Quite often ghosts are described as spirits who cannot bear to leave their loved ones.  That appears to be the case in this week’s Doctor Who adventure, as an old house seems to be the home of a creature (or two) that makes you want to run and…

HIDE
by Neil Cross
Directed by Jamie Payne

Caluburn House is home to a roaming spirit who has been appearing for centuries, calling for help.  A former espionage agent and his assistant are dedicated to discovering her secrets when The Doctor arrives.  It’s evident quite quickly that the ghost is not all she appears to be…and she is not alone.  The Doctor is stranded, and Clara has to get past what appears to be a resentment by the TARDIS to save him.

Bluntly, this is the story people were expecting when they heard Neil Cross was writing for Doctor Who.  An indeed, it’s the first script he wrote – he had this idea first, and came to Moffat with it.  Rings of Akhaten was good, but didn’t have the edge one would expect from the creator of Luther.  A solid story with a stellar cast, including two exemplary guests.

GUEST STAR REPORT

Jessica Rayne (Emma Grayling) Hit the ground running in her short acting career, striking gold with the role of Jenny lee in Call the Midwife.  She’ll be back for the anniversary special An Adventure in Time and Space, playing Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert.  She also appeared with the rest of the Midwife cast in a sketch on Red Nose Day this year, with a particular guest star.

Dougray Scott (Alec Palmer) Has had an impressive career, both for the roles he took and the ones he almost had.  He was originally scheduled to play Wolverine in X-Men, but when production on Mission Impossible II went long, he had to give up the role.  He was also in the race to be the next James Bond, a part that eventually went to Daniel Craig.  He’s currently appearing in the thriller mystery series Hemlock Grove.

Jamie Payne (Director) has worked mainly in television, including three episodes of Call the Midwife and several genre shows like Primeval, Askes to Ashes and Survivors. I really liked the jump-cutting from several camera angles during conversations – gave the scenes a more disjointed nature.  Even more so than the Krafaysis in Vincent and the Doctor, the beasts are just lonely for each other, and reaching out for anyone who can help them.

THE MONSTER FILES – The Crooked Man follows a theme in Doctor Who of late – he’s not actually named in the episode, and he’s not actually a bad guy. The Doctor realizes it’s not actually trying to harm anyone, it’s just rapped in the same time/space event as Hilla Tacorien.  To make its movements a bit off, they filmed the suit actor moving backwards, and then reversed the film, resulting in being a bit irregular-looking when played.

Similarly, The Caliburn Ghast is another example of a phenomenon mistaken for supernatural when it’s just super-science. Scaroth of the Jagaroth was also spread across time, manifesting itself as seven distinct beings in City of Death.

Hmmm…a being appearing at several times in history, seemingly connected in some way… Oh, never mind, just a coincidence…

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

NOTHING BEATS AN ASTRONAUT – That spacesuit may look familiar – it’s the one Ten wore in The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit.  He wears the same helmet as he enters Bowie Base One in The Waters of Mars,

STAY CLOSE TO THE CANDLES…THE STAIRWAY CAN BE TREACHEROUS – Not really a hint or anything, I just loved the way Clara hung onto the candelabra long after the candles got blown out.

THE QUESTION’S NOT WHERE…IT’S WHEN – The TARDIS didn’t used to get used in the body of an episode.  Usually it was a device for bringing the adventurers to the crisi of the week, and is them promptly forgotten about, or like in last week, taken off the table dramatically.  It’s really only in the Moffat years did it get more often used as a tool to solve the mysteries of the week.

“Member of the Baker Street Irregular, the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” – A real covert ops department in the British government during WWII, those were both nicknames for the Special Operations Executive, also known as “Churchill’s Secret Army”.  One of its members was (yes, that) Christopher Lee.

“Experience makes liars of us all” – There are SO so many lines in this episode that could easily be applied at The Doctor.  Palmer is talking about his brief life in espionage, and later laments the deaths he has caused – imagine how many times more The Doctor feels these things.

“Whiskey is the the eleventh most disgusting thing ever invented” – Ignoring the potential correctness of the phrase, this is just another passing use of the number eleventh that permeates the series, all alluding to the fact that The Doctor is in his eleventh regeneration, starting with matt’s first episode The Eleventh Hour.

“A blue crystal frm Metebelis III” – Oh boy did that one make the Whofen squee.  The planet Metebelis III was possibly the first attempt to create an arc storry on Doctor Who.  It was first mentioned in Carnival of Monsters as a planet he wanted to Take Jo Grant to after his exile was lifted.  He made a few attempts to reach it, finally succeeding in The Green Death, retrieving one of the blue crystals.  As he explains in this episode, the crystals enhance mental energy, which in that past episode, allow a group of people to break from the control of a sentient computer.  He gives the crystal to Jo as a gift as she leaves his company, only to have it reappear in Pertwee’s last adventure, Planet of the Spiders.  Here allowed a mentally handicapped man to read, and eventually to be healed of its damage that cause him handicap.

“Subset of the Eye of Harmony” – The Eye of Harmony is traditionally the name of the Black Hole that Rassilon stabilized and set in the core of Gallifrey, to use as a power source for all Time Lord technology.  In the TV movie it’s said to be on the TARDIS itself.  There’s a couple of theories to explain that, the most plausible being that each TARDIS is connected to the original Eye on Gallifrey.  But with Gallifrey now trapped in the time lock as part of The Doctor’s actions in the Time War, the Eye is likely a stand-alone power source.  It’s recharged itself lately on Rift energy, like the one found in Wales.  This is in fact the time time the Eye has been mentioned in the new series.

“In four seconds the entropy would drain my heart – in ten seconds I would be dead” – It is assumed that the conduit that Emma opens would prevent that eventuality, as they were in the pocket universe for more than four seconds.  Once the way was open, the TARDIS opened up for Clara (by itself – note that modern Clara hasn’t got a key) and made the dangerous trip.  And then again at the end of the episode.  Presumably the trip through that conduit is not as arduous as a full blown trip in the time vortex, which explains how The Doctor and The crooked Man survived it hanging onto the outside.

“Every lonely monster…needs a companion” – See earlier comment about statements not always referring to whom they’re originally said about.

BIG BAD WOLF REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT

“Is she real?  as in, actually real?” – That’s another “Clarallel” – it’s very similar to a line Future Oswin spoke in Asylum of the Daleks, asking The Doctor if he wasn’t a figment of her imagination.

“Cold…warm…cold…warm” – What interesting is that it’s supposedly it’s Hilla and Emma & Alec who have the connection.  But the connection gets MUCH stronger when Clara walks through the odd manifestation The Doctor chalks off.  At first, many folks online thought it was because Clara herself was the anomaly.  That wasn’t the case, but since we learned later that the ghost was a temporal anomaly, might not another temporal anomaly also strengthen the link?

“It sticks out, like….a big chin.” – We’re not talking about Emma anymore, are we Clara?

“We’re all ghosts to you” – Here we see the sum total of Earth’s history, from its fiery origin to its fiery end.  And Clara can’t cope with it.  She imagines how insignificant humans must look like to him.  Wilf had a similar conversation with The Doctor, saying “We must look like ants to you”: The Doctor replied “I think you look like giants”

“You are the only mystery worth solving” – As before, The Doctor may well be talking about Humanity as a whole…but he may well be looking straight at Clara and talking to her specifically.

“It doesn’t like me” – Clara’s belief that the TARDIS “doesn’t like” her was first referenced in Cross’ last story, and it was easy enough to wave off as worry.  Here’s it’s placed flat in the middle of the room and has a lampshade on.  Theories have abounded that Clara may be an anomaly of time, as Captain Jack became when Rose made him a living Fixed Point.  More than a few people have drawn more than a vague connection there, suggesting that Clara may be related to Jack in some way.

The interaction between Clara and the TARDIS is priceless, from Clara called her a “cow” to the TARDIS choosing Clara’s own image, because it’s programmed to project an image the viewer will trust and esteem, and realizing the only person that means for Clara is herself.  Considering the title and plot of next week’s episode, it’s clear this plot thread will be followed quite a bit more.

“You need a place to keep this” – The Doctor’s confusion is understandable – there’s been either an umbrella stand or a hat rack in the control room for almost every iteration of either the ship or the Doctor.  It’s almost conspicuous in its absence.  I earlier posited the theory that what we’re seeing as the control room now is the default design, the design for a person who couldn’t care anymore about how it looks, and one who wasn’t expecting guests, so they wouldn’t need a hat rack.

“Clara – what is she?” – As in The Almost People, The Doctor is ostensibly just out for an adventure when he’s actually looking for information about his companion from an expert source.  Emma has nothing but good to say about her, which should please The Doctor, but likely only makes him more curious.

“Don’t trust him…there’s a sliver of ice in his heart” – but is it at all possible that based on this statement from earlier in the episode that she’s lying?  She’s a powerful enough psychic empath that The Doctor seeks her out to get a reading on Clara – odds are she’s right about what she sees in him. She just may not understand the whys and wherefores that cause d it, and assumed the worst.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – One of the more promising titles in the series – Journey to the Center of the TARDIS – in one Saturday hence.

A Doctor A Day – “Fear Her”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

Children are disappearing on a suburban street, and a certain being seems intent on making us…

FEAR HER
by Matthew Graham
Directed by Euros Lyn

“I can’t stress this enough – ball bearings you can eat…masterpiece!”

Three children have vanished in the course of a week, cars are cutting out in the middle of the street, and everyone has been reduced to paranoid panic.  Not a good state of affairs for the day of the opening ceremonies of the London Olympiad.  The Doctor and Rose arrive just in time to help, luckily.  There’s an odd residual energy in the spots where the kids have vanished, which suggests it’s not some common human crapsack.  One girl named Chloe stays indoors and draws.  She draws the other children in the street.  Just before they vanish.  …yeah, The Doctor and Rose made the same assumptions…

An alien creature, the Isolus, has latched onto Chloe and used her raw emotions from a lifetime of abuse from her father (now dead a year) to try and get back to its family.  The alien is too weak to do so, and Chloe doesn’t know how to help, so she draws the kids in the street, who get teleported to a nondescript somewhere else, to attempt to assuage the alien’s loneliness.  She has the power to create things in her drawings as well – she angrily crosses out over one drawing, and the scribble comes to life, and a huge and choked thing with the emotion of her abusive father is gaining power in the back of her closet.  The Doctor has several goals – save the trapped kids, separate the alien from little Chloe, help it get back to space… and crash the Olympics?

This episode is…bad. It’s a weak shadow of the classic Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life, with no real sense of direction. The alien is innocent and unaware of its effects, and we end up being more afraid of Chloe’s father, who’s been dead a year. The scene with them collecting up al the pencils and crayons in the house as if they’re knives is ridiculous, is immediately surpassed by the scene where Chloe reveals she’s got pencils hoarded inside her dolls like Ray Milland hid whiskey bottles. The acting’s good, the music is great, but the premise is just so blah, and the look of the crayon monsters so silly that there’s no surprise that this is universally considered the worst episode of the new series by a long length: Doctor Who Magazine did a poll of the 200 most popular stories of the show’s run, and this one came in 192nd, only barely beating out Paradise Towers.  By contrast, Daleks in Manhattan, the story that resulted in the Daleks getting put in the cupboard for two years, came in at 152.  Of course, that just beat out the sublime Love and Monsters, so I imagine no poll is perfect.  Even  the idea of a living scribble was even done before, and better, on an early episode of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. In the episode The Trouble with Scribbles, it’s learned that scribbles are the almost universal form of babies’ first imaginary friends, and they mount up quickly.

There’s a bit of fun in the beginning of the episode – the idea of 2012 being the “Near future” gave them a moment to to skewer new X-Factor winner Shayne Ward with a poster for a Greatest Hits collection.

But it was this episode that fueled Doctor Who fandom’s hope… nay, belief that David Tennant would be carrying the Olympic torch at the 2012 ceremonies.  Even after Matt Smith started it off in the relay, the desire for Ten to close out this little time loop was unassailable.  Indeed, in Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremonies, there was originally to be a sequence featuring Doctor Who; each of the living actors had to authorize the use of their photos, but it was dropped.  The whooshing sound of the TARDIS, barely audible over the din of the mix, is the only mention.

MONSTER EARTH GETS COVERED!

Art: Eric Johns

Mechanoid Press’ James Palmer has unveiled the cover art for MONSTER EARTH by the artist Eric Johns. Get more information here.

PRESS RELEASE:

Contact: James Palmer
palmerwriter@yahoo.com
http://www.mechanoidpress.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monster Earth Coming Soon!

Atlanta, GA—James Palmer, editor and publisher of Mechanoid Press, an independent publishing imprint specializing in New Pulp, science fiction, and more, is proud to announce the upcoming release of its first anthology MONSTER EARTH.

MONSTER EARTH harkens back to the classic giant monsters of yesteryear like Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, and King Kong, while focusing on the human element and what it would be like to live in such a world where giant monsters terrorize the Earth.

“There have been a few other giant monster anthologies over the years,” says Palmer. “But our book is going to be a bit different. It has a unifying concept, as well as a solid pulp style of storytelling.”

Developed by MONSTER EARTH co-editor Jim Beard (writer, Captain Action and the Riddle of the Glowing Men), each story in the book takes place in a different decade of the 20th century, which leads to a Cold War fought with giant monsters rather than the threat of nuclear weapons.

“I really wanted all the stories to have an underlying thread that weaves between them all the stories, and Jim really came up with a winner.”

The stories in MONSTER EARTH have a strong human angle as well.

“Focusing in on the human beings living in this world is important to me,” says Palmer. “The monsters are like forces of nature, with the humans trying to control them. But don’t worry, these aren’t just regular human interest stories with a monster thrown in for window dressing. There are plenty of great monster battles and more than enough citywide destruction to please the most discerning kaiju fan – and anyone who loves a good tale.

Palmer and Beard have assembled a great line-up of New Pulp all-stars to give us their visions of a world ruled by giant monsters. MONSTER EARTH will include stories by I.A. Watson (Sherlock Holmes, Blackthorn: Dynasty of Mars), Ed Erdelac (The Merkabah Rider), Nancy Hansen, and newcomer Jeff McGinnis. Beard and Palmer will also provide stories, and there will be a free online bonus tale by Jeff McGinnis coming out shortly before the book’s release.

MONSTER EARTH is slated for a Christmas release, and will be available in print and ebook formats.

For more information and updates, including a preview of the cover and table of contents when they are finalized, go to http://www.mechanoidpress.com/ and sign up for our FREE newsletter.

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About Mechanoid Press:
Mechanoid Press is a new imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp, and steampunk ebooks and anthologies. For more, visit http://www.mechanoidpress.com/ or follow the robot revolution on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mechanoidpress. You can also like Mechanoid Press on Facebook.

A Doctor a Day – “The Long Game”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode, The Snowmen.

Making the same move for new Companion Adam he did for Rose, The Doctor takes the trio to the year 200,000 – the middle of the fourth great empire, mankind at its height.  So when everyone seems to be not a lot further up the social advancement scale than the 20th century, he suspects something’s wrong.  Someone is trying to change things, very slowly, playing…

THE LONG GAME
by Russell T Davies
Directed by Brian Grant

“Time travel’s like visiting Paris; you can’t just read the guidebook, you gotta throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs! Get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers! Or is that just me?”

The Doctor and co arrive on Satellite Five, news center for the empire, streaming information from everywhere, to everywhere. Journalists and techs are all angling for promotion to Floor 500, where it’s said the walls are made of gold. They’re off by one letter – it’s deathly cold, to ensure the health of the mysterious “Editor-in Chief”, the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. The Jagrafess has been stunting the advancement of the human race, keeping them from achieving its potential.  His assistant, played with style by Simon Pegg, works for a consortium of banks who are manipulating the news, and as a result, the people, to make things better for their investments.

(Eerily prophetic, isn’t it?)

And meanwhile, new companion Adam has decided to take advantage of the opportunities that access to 198,000 years of future history can provide, and attempt to download enough info to make his former employer look like the owner of a lemonade stand.

A simple done-in-one episode with a strong message and a solid monster, It’s a great example of how much Russell could get into his stories.  The set is both well designed and very efficient, budget wise – a bit of redressing and it takes the role of several separate floors.  And it’ll return later in the season as the plot threads of the season start to get tied up.

Russell T Davies made a running gag of the alien and planet names getting progressively more complex, all culminating in next season’s “cheap episode”, Love and Monsters, where the baddie is from the planet Clom.

Simon Pegg is the first big name to appear in the series, the first of a still-growing list who are all too happy to become a part of the show’s history.  Simon also narrated the first season of Doctor Who Confidential.  While she’s not as well known in the US, Tamsin Greig is a popular comedic actress in the UK. She recently played Sacharissa Cripslock in the two part mini-series Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.

Interestingly enough, in an earlier draft, Adam has quite a different reason for doing the old Back to the Future Sports Almanac trick.  Originally, it was written that Adam’s father has a disease of some type, and he tries to access medical information in the hopes of saving him. It’s an interesting idea, but for The Doctor to take the information away and chuck him out of the TARDIS in punishment would make him the jerk.  It’d be warranted for breaking the laws of time and space and all, but it would still come off as a dick move.  The idea that he simply wants to profit works much better, and it shows that once again, this new Doctor is not infallible.

NEW FANTASY PULP FROM PRO SE AND HANSEN’S WAY- THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD!

Pro Se Productions, one of the leading publishers in the New Pulp Movement, announces today the release of its latest volume, the newest release from the author centered imprint Hansen’s Way.  From the fantastic mind of one of Pro Se’s best selling authors, Nancy A. Hansen, comes a collection filled with Magick and Heroism, Monsters and Adventure- THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD!

 When the northern frontier of a world in upheaval most needed a champion, a champion arrived– a short statured, buxom woman with piercing green eyes, a sizable streak of stubbornness, and a determined spirt that refused to accept defeat. Roshanna the Huntress is the warder of enchanted Greenwood, both a wanted outlaw and staunch defender of all good beings. With bloodlines of Elf, Dwarf, and Human coursing in her veins, she tirelessly treks the forest and countryside, bow over her shoulder and knife at her hip, struggling to maintain an uneasy peace while fighting to keep the creations of a Dark God at bay. 

Acclaimed Author Nancy Hansen and her own Pro Se imprint, Hansen’s Way, presents THE HUNTRESS OF GREENWOOD, a collection of thrilling tales of fantasy and adventure where a world of magick exists a mere heartbeat away! From Pro Se Productions– Puttin’ The Monthly Back into Pulp!

Now Available from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/d6jw8el and at www.prosepulp.com! Coming soon in Digital Format! Featuring stunning cover artwork from David Russell and format and design from Sean E. Ali!

Looking for Action and Magick?  Ready for Creatures and Chaos and a bow slinging Heroine to save the day?  Then Nancy A. Hansen’s HUNTRESS FROM GREENWOOD is what you’re looking for.  From Hansen’s Way, an imprint of Pro Se Productions- Puttin’ The Monthly Back into Pulp!
First Look at Monsters University

First Look at Monsters University

We’re exactly a year away from its release, but Disney is wisely beginning to tease next June’s Monsters University with the opening of Brave on Friday. The sequel to the successful Monsters Inc. will once more feature vocal work from Billy Crystal and John Goodman, joined by Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray, and Peter Sohn. The Pixar production is being directed by Dan Scanlon.

Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan are an inseparable pair, but that wasn’t always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn’t stand each other. “Monsters University” unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.

Screaming with laughter and fun, Monsters University is directed by Dan Scanlon (Cars, Mater and the Ghostlight, Tracy) and produced by Kori Rae (Up, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc.). The film opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2013, and will be shown in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

Notes:

  • Monsters, Inc., originally released on November 2, 2001, was nominated for four Oscars®: Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Song—“If I Didn’t Have You,” for which it won.
  • Monsters University will hit U.S. theaters nearly 12 years after the Monsters, Inc. theatrical debut.

 

HANCOCK TIPS HAT AS HENKEL SETS ‘HEAVENS ON FIRE’! JASON DARK IV!

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of All Things Pulp By Tommy Hancock

HEAVENS ON FIRE
by Guido Henkel
Published by Thunder Peak Press
2010

Supernatural Investigators stumble over all sorts of Monsters and Mysteries in the world of fiction.  But if you look particularly close, when you tie the word paranormal or supernatural to the word investigator, often those tales revolve around monsters we’d expect to see- Vampires, Ghosts, Furry Beasties on Two Legs, and so on.   I enjoy it when someone gets it right, though, and by right I mean when a writer realizes that by tying those words together, it opens up a whole realm of possibilities beyond Hollywood creatures and bump-in-the-nighters.

In the fourth installment of his Jason Dark series set in Victorian England, Guido Henkel leaves behind the terrestrial fear bringers and applies the term of ‘terror’ and ‘monster’ to something more ethereal, holy even.   This novella finds Dark and his wonderful partner Siu Lin literally in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell.  The earth is being assaulted by demons who have found a portal into our world. These hellish invaders are led by a vile creature who has the ability to essentially continually manifest demons as necessary.  And his intent is not simply to destroy the world, but to quite literally bring the Heavens, and all who reside there, crashing down at his feet.

I have been continually impressed with the twists and takes Henkel applies to the entire genre he’s exploring with the Jason Dark series.   Although the battle between angels and demons has become somewhat cliche, Henkel brings a level of actual humanity to it.  There are reasons the Demon is after God and there are reasons the Angels stand in the void and those reasons on all sides are not simply black and
white, they are in fact very…human.    Couple that with the usual fast pacing, tight plotting, and bits of tension fraught throughout a Henkel book and this is a great read.

Something that struck me as off, however, was the characterization, particularly of our two main characters.  I’m not sure if its simply because Henkel has settled into the characters of Dark and Siu Lin after four volumes, but there’s something missing.  I’m fairly certain that instead of adding nuance and depth to both the individuals and the two as a team as he has in the first three volumes, Henkel has basically brought Dark and Siu as they were in the third book into this one.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does take a bit of unique vitality out of the tale that its predecessors displayed.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT- Great story, fantastic pacing, and enough supernatural hijinks to satisfy any fan of paranormal escapades with a good mystery thrown in to the mix.

Incoming Books: Brody’s Ghost, Monsters, Art d’Ecco, and more

Incoming Books: Brody’s Ghost, Monsters, Art d’Ecco, and more

The end of the year is fast approaching, which means Certain People (I name no names) realize that they need to use up their vacation days or lose them.

Changing subjects entirely, today I took off from work, and most of what I did was bop into the city to do some book-shopping. (I had a vague idea of doing Xmas shopping as well, and even walked quickly through part of that agglomeration of festive selling huts in Union Square, but that portion of the day’s festivities was not successful.)

First I hit Forbidden Planet — pretty much as an aperitif — which I hadn’t been in for several years. (My mental map of FP is from the days when they had back issues in the basement — yes, that long ago.) I got issues of two comics for the boys, and also two extremely different graphic novels:

Brody’s Ghost, Vol. 1, the first in a new series (teen-focused, I think) by Mark “Akiko” Crilley, about a guy who discovers secret supernatural powers.

And Ken Dahl’s Monsters, a highly acclaimed 2009 semi-autobiographical book (by a guy who now goes under a different name, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on) about herpes.

After that, I headed down the block to The Strand, which was the whole point of the trip. (Speaking of mental maps, when I was there, I was shocked to see that they don’t check bags anymore and then reminded that the childrens’ section used to be in the basement — so my standard of what the Strand looks like is also a good decade out of date.) There, I got many more books, mostly used or remaindered or otherwise non-standard:

Art d’Ecco, collecting comics work by Roger Langridge (along with his brother, Andrew) from around twenty years ago.

Proof of Life on Earth, an old collection (1991) of Roz Chast cartoons

Your Mother Is a Remarkable Woman, a similarly vintage (1992) book of Sam Gross cartoons

Love From the Shadows, an original graphic novel that came out earlier this year from the indefatigable Gilbert Hernandez, which has a loose (and probably indescribable) connection with his Love & Rockets material.

Martin Amis’s recent novel Yellow Dog, which was the first new book of his I didn’t read since London Fields — entirely because his prior novel, Night Train, was such a gigantic stinker — and which I used to have, in first edition hardcover, before the recent unpleasantness. (more…)