Futurescape: What Will Become Of Us 1000 Years From Now?

Who Wants To Live Forever? 

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“Even if we are civilised 1,000 years from now, will we still be the dominant form of life on Earth?” – Arthur C. Clarke.

“I who am dead a thousand years

And wrote this sweet archaic song, 

Send you my words for messengers, 

The way I shall not pass along.

“I care not if you bridge the seas, 

Or ride secure the cruel sky,

Or build consummate palaces 

Of metal or of masonry.” 

These are the opening lines from a poem by James Elroy Flecker entitled: “To A Poet A Thousand Years Hence.” 

At the dawn of this new millennium, that renowned futurologist and technological prophet: Arthur C. Clarke (1916-2008) was commissioned to speculate what the human race might expect on the cusp of the next millennium. As someone adept at eloquently discussing visions of the far future – especially in such works as “The City and the Stars,” and most notably with his critically-acclaimed speculative sequel: “3001: The Final Odyssey” – he cited this work by Flecker throughout his article.

A few months ago, on a day of meagre inspiration, escaping from my stultifying office-space became imperative. At one of my favourite historic olde towns along the south English coast, this writer/explorer/seeker-of-the-truth wandered and pondered through forlorn remains that nearly 1,000 years ago used to be the largest Cluniac priory in England. 

Those brethren who once strode across marvellous spacious stone floors – now open grassland – could never have comprehended our fast techno world of digital gadgets, moving images and gargantuan achievements in science. Thus, it is virtually impossible to speculate how – one thousand years from now – our world will look and what our descendants might be doing.

We may not have “bridged the seas,” but that “cruel sky” now sure is congested with too many long-distance flights… and those consummate palaces – reaching ever greater heights – crowd the skyline and multiply like…

no tomorrow…?

Pillars-of-Creation

“The fossil record implies trial and error, an inability to anticipate the future – features inconsistent with an efficient Great Designer” – Carl Sagan. 

“Have you wine and music still,

And statues and a bright-eyed love,

And foolish thoughts of good and ill.

And prayers to them who sit above?”

Obviously, Clarke fully expected rudiments of culture to continue flourishing in such a distant period. Sure, music will carry on – as it always has – although the pitiful depths to which pop music seems to have sunk nowadays would strongly suggest otherwise…

And yet the scientist/writer who created HAL9000 made the alarming observation that if humans can survive, would they remain the dominant species? Look now, some scientists dread the rise of sophisticated AI and its exponential rate of development.

The pinnacle of our technological finality has not been reached; Arthur C. was just one of several thinkers willing to stretch the scope even further. He confidently cited how the “next stage” may involve: “input of sense impressions directly into the brain, bypassing the eyes, ears, and other input/output devices nature has given us.” 

We could easily – almost flippantly – rename Flecker’s work as: “To A Blogger A Thousand Years Hence,” but…

As poetry used to be a popular pastime a century ago, and we are (hopefully) a community of contented bloggers now, that status is bound to change yet again (well) before 2115. What medium of communication and creative expression will be embraced a thousand years hence?

As Clarke observed amusingly: “How would anyone before 1970 have realised that, at the beginning of the 21st century, millions would spend a major part of their working day fondling a mouse?” 

2001-stargate

“What a fitting end to your life’s pursuits. You’re about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something” – Dr. Rene Belloq.  

“O friend unseen, unborn, unknown, 

Student of our sweet English tongue, 

Read out my words at night, alone:

I was a poet, I was young.” 

Too young, alas. Flecker succumbed to tuberculosis in 1915, at the age of only 30 – grief, now it’s the centenary…

Spare a thought for those “unborn.” The truly magnificent advances already accomplished in medical science have successfully contained the proliferation of infectious bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis and other deadly threats. This has culminated in the gradual extension of life expectancy. With more people living beyond 100 now, how long can people expect to live in that far future? What will they be doing? Will they have ventured out beyond the stars as Clarke et al had cheerily envisioned…? 

“Student… Read out my words…” Would that be possible? Those ruins mentioned earlier reminded me of my sheer bafflement experienced upon reading for the first time barely recognisable Anglo-Saxon passages from a millennium ago. Fast forward another millennium and whatever form our “sweet English tongue” takes, it is guaranteed to be not only a whole lot different but just as barely recognisable. Will it still be “English”? Will it still be sweet?  

This Post shall end – just like Clarke’s original article did – with the final verse of Flecker’s poem, teeming with boundless optimism. Despite the inevitable fears of apocalypse that forever beset the pages of science fiction, the prospect of a positive and hopeful human continuity will always remain strong.

Who knows? In a thousand years, even Bradscribe may be worth something…

space_art_by_skandix-d5flzke

Since I can never see your face

And never shake you by the hand,

I send my soul through time and space

To greet you. You will understand. 

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“In Thy Future” Challenge: 5 Things That Need To Be Done

Share 5 Things About My Future. Well, Had No Idea Last Week That This Was Going To Happen…

edge-of-tomorrow

“Look, I am not stupid you know. They cannot make things like that yet… Are you saying it’s from the future?” – Sarah Connor. 

Having studied/worked as a historian, the past seemed – somehow, comfortingly – more certain, less daunting, yet always reassuring. Reviving my passion for sci-fi through this blog has helped confront that unfathomable and intangible “future”; now comes this challenge (gleefully accepted): 

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Rules for the In Thy Future Challenge:

• Thank the blogger who nominated you.
• Link back to the challenge creator to track progress.
• Share 5 things about your future.  Then one day you can look back and find out how psychic you really are.
• Tag 5 bloggers and put them up to the challenge.

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Danica Piche @ Leading a Beautiful Life – nominated me for this Challenge.  Thank you, Danica!

5 Things About My Future:

stained-glass-beauty

“You should see what he can do” – Rogue.  

1. Get that novel finished. Obviously. And then write some more fiction. 

Yes, yes! This well-meaning intention has been announced/noted several times in this household – during this past year alone – to the point that Mrs. B no longer believes it. But hey, the ideas, enthusiasm and typing sessions generated over these past few weeks through my latest Brother Brad creation, have been fantastic.

Beforehand, there was a SF mega-opus coming along, but far too slowly. This project, on the other hand, is a different, more satisfying prospect – have not felt so good about writing fiction in a long time. Actually, working via WordPress rather than Word Document has actually sparked a more encouraging creative process.

If you are interested in Following this project as it comes to fruition, you can check out this site. Moreover, there are plenty of awesome ideas to stretch this concept into a series.

ETA: Volume 1 in the stores by Christmas!

roman-forum

“I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark. Rome is the light” – Maximus Decimus Meridius. 

2. Visit Rome.

“Yet you have never been there!” as Marcus Aurelius constantly – irritatingly – reminds me. Ciao! Talk about a radical departure from what usually appears on these Posts, this remains a long-standing Thing To Do. 

Finally got the chance to study Ancient Roman History at universityHowever, having no physical connection to the metropolis once considered the centre of the world, it was not easy to get to grips with my studies. After the degree came a great travel option: Europe or Southeast Asia. The latter was selected; my life advanced to a higher, more enjoyable, level, although one part of me wonders what fortune the former option could have presented…

Mi dispiace, goodness knows when this visit will happen.

Cosi e la vita, bebe…

ETA: Who knows? Summer 2016 perhaps, or 2017? 

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“With his fertile imagination, his wit, and his prolific output, Isaac Asimov truly laid the Foundation for all future generations of science fiction writers” – Kevin J. Anderson. 

3. Swot up on some essential science fiction classics.

Compiling my own sci-fi Posts, this would seem like a mandatory pursuit anyway. However, due to the unavailability of such classics – and work commitments, of course – this aim is not as easy as it sounds. 

Honestly, how can you accept me as a sci-fi blogger if some of the greatest literary works in the SF canon have not been thoroughly scrutinised?!

For example, top of the Essential Classics list comes the Foundation series – revered in some quarters as the greatest SF series ever published – created by the grand master himself: Isaac Asimov. Initially a trilogy – Foundation (1951), Foundation And Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953) – it now consists of six books; confusingly, Prelude to Foundation – the prequel – was the last book in the series to be published (as late as 1986).

ETA: From this November and on through Christmas (subject to availability). 

Green Arrow Clay Mann

“We have sat waiting like this many times before… At night, I can hear the call of my race. They wait for me. Once I join them, we will be forgotten” – Crow.  

4. Resurrect my archery.

Well, it doesn’t get any more ironic than this. There is a future for this ancient noble art in my life. Brad The Bowman: sounds kinda cool, huh? Not such an idle fantasy as it sounds…

Gawping at Crow, the Elvin bowman (the only highlight of ultra-cheap British fantasy flick: Hawk The Slayer) and the early ’80s Robin Hood TV series both proved to be lasting influences. This led me to sign up for an Archery Group at a fab holiday camp during junior school. Wow, talk about being a natural bowman – it was as if this mild-mannered moppet had been a Merry Man in a former life…

Unfortunately, there’s never been another chance to strap a quiver on me back ever since. My bow-draw-muscles are getting a tad flabby; yet my goatee is ripe and my Green Arrow costume gathers dust in the spare wardrobe.

So, put my name down for the next Archery Contest before my elvin skills set packs up completely; what say you?! 

ETA: The sooner the better…

TDU-BTTF2-A

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” – Doc. Emmett Brown.  

Last but not least…

5. Secure a copy of Back To The Future 2 and watch it on October 21 2015.

Aim to have a rollicking laugh at how hopelessly wrong their vision of our future turned out to be! This average sequel should also be regarded as a serious lesson about how futile it is to try and predict such things like the onset of hoverboards. 

It’s best to end on such a relatively simple task, as long as the download technology does not let me down…

ETA: October 21 2015. About teatime.

groundhog_diner

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today” – Phil Connors.  

This may seem like such a daunting challenge, but – trust me – this provides an ideal opp to sort out what you need/want to do. 

So, the delightful nominees are: 

Hope you are up for the challenge – good luck!

xaviers

Wouldn’t it be thrilling to visit our future self, look them in the eye and ask: “Well, did you manage it?” 

comments

Cheers!

The Man From S.C.R.I.B.E.

I Spy With My Little ’60s Eye.

bond epix 4

“This organisation does not tolerate failure” – Ernst Stavro Blofeld. 

It was only a matter of time before we got around to the ubiquitous spy thriller. Preferably, any such fare produced these days worth its bespoke tailoring has to be set in the 1960s: arguably the best period for Bond movies – the franchise to which any thriller teeming with dapper-suited agents, beautiful yet mysterious femme fatales, guns and gadgets, must inevitably be compared.

In my relentless quest for quality sci-fi, should spy thrillers be counted here? Of course, the gadgetry wielded by 007 during his Sixties heyday, heralded – some say directly inspired – this more technological era in which we live and work.

The covert world of the spy – the colder the war, the more dangerous the assignments – was given such a ridiculously glamorous edge, thanks in large part to the fiction concocted by Ian Fleming. Ultimately, the “spy” was elevated to the status of becoming “what every woman wanted and every man wanted to be.”

“Shocking… positively shocking…”

napoleon-solo

“Not very good at this whole subtlety thing, are you?” – Napoleon Solo. 

Amidst the heavy revival of the spy thriller genre this year is a revitalised rejig of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. This slick and (lightly) enjoyable ride starring Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander and Armie Hammer has thankfully stayed rooted in the ’60s, immersing itself in the fashions, music and politics of that so-called “swinging” era.

It’s directed by Guy Ritchie, which means that you can expect his unique quotient of style to shine through. Cavill cuts a suitably devilish dash as the debonair illicit-art-dealer-turned-CIA agent: Napoleon Solo, who goes up against high-strung Soviet powerhouse: Ilya Kuryakin (Hammer) before they are forced to collaborate in thwarting the usual nasty plot involving that old chestnut of – oh yes – “world domination.” Yet behind the predictable postcard locations, champagne and caviar-coated glamour and the – oh nosame old dodgy Russian “accents,” there is neither any drama, nor tension. 

The major flaw here lies with the script; it lacks that necessary edge of substance and sophistication. Sounds therefore like the perfect mission for the White Rabbit, aka Agent Brad.  

The earliest Bond pictures were especially blessed with sensational music by John Barry; in keeping with that essential element, this film does come with a cool soundtrack. At least Ritchie‘s U.N.C.L.E. certainly beats sitting through that present-day-set blockbuster featuring a diminutive Scientologist hanging from the side of a plane. 

“This never happened to the other fella.”

shirley-eaton

“You come over for dinner… and I’ll cook you a wonderful angel cake” – Miss Moneypenny. 

Apart from the ludicrous-yet-painfully-predictable “model-like hotel clerk submit[ting] within minutes of casual proposition,” one of the highlights about the Man From U.N.C.L.E. is Alicia Vikander. She plays Gabby Teller, the daughter of “Hitler’s favourite rocket scientist” whom Solo and Kuryakin must find. Having already made waves in the impressive Ex Machina, this Swedish actress is particularly good in this feisty female lead, first seen working as a car mechanic in East Berlin, and later proceeding to try and melt Ilya’s big cold heart.

Just as well, for the majority of women to have crossed the path of this gentleman spy – emphasis on the gentleman, you understand – were cool and confident, quite the opposite of the archetypal “Bond girl,” who invariably played the feeble screamer and not much else. 

“I must be dreaming.”

Forever fit and well-attired, the Man From  S.C.R.I.B..E. can be found propping up the bar with a cool White Russian. And that’s just the drink…

What is my secret? Why, its top, and well-kept, obviously. And just what does the acronym: S.C.R.I.B..E. stand for exactly? That’s Classified, like most of my best missions, of course. 

“Do you expect me to talk?” 

Well, the ‘C’ has to stand for ‘Cake’ – the best bargaining chip an(y) agent could have in this business; the ‘I’ denotes ‘International,’ naturally – a perusal of any one of my passports would tell you that; while the ‘E’ would have to be ‘Enjoyment’ – otherwise, what’s the point, eh?

Hang on – sniff, sniff – what’s that burning? Will this blog self-destruct in five seconds? 

No, this spy has just accidentally sat on his own exploding pen…

“Oh, the things I do for England…”

VIKANDER2

Licenced to thrill. 

The Gung-Ho Iguana And Other “Strange Friends”

Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. 

last starfighter

“Terrific. I’m about to get killed a million miles from nowhere with a gung-ho iguana who tells me to relax” – Alex Rogan.

Aeons ago, when my very first science fiction stories were written, aliens played vitally important roles – some were integral supporting characters; a select few even played the lead. For me, what extraterrestrials said or did usually held vastly greater significance than anything humans got up to.

In that far-flung past, before the www. and even DVDs (and Blu-ray – whatever that is), thrill-seeking goonies like me had to get their SF fix from renting VHS tapes. Some of my all-time favourite movies were originally viewed via this invaluable medium; all the walking, talking, hilarious, fearsome and painful aliens one could wish for whirred and clicked their weird and wonderful way through my weary, long-suffering VCR. These otherworldly characters had more immediate impact than anything uttered by any tedious Terran. 

So, these are the strange “companions” who not only thrilled and entertained me, but compelled me to create my own marvelous menagerie of cosmic characters.

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“Science fiction aliens are both metaphors and real possibilities… Aliens may represent hopeful, compensatory images of the strange friends we have been unable to find” – Gary Westfahl.

One of the most important videos ever rented had to be The Last Starfighter (1984), the magical tale of young Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) recruited to fight in a galactic war because he showed all the right skills necessary… by playing a video game in “some flea-speck trailer park in the middle of tumbleweeds and tarantulas.” 

It was supposed to herald a new age in special effects, but its computerized graphics look hopelessly outdated by today’s relentlessly sophisticated standards. Nonetheless, it holds more timeless charm and traditional storytelling methods than most of the CGI-drenched pap we have to contend with nowadays.

This was due, to a certain extent, to the amazing, dependable Grig (Dan O’Herlihy) Alex’s charismatic pilot who helped explain and drive the plot as well as providing a few comic moments. Unlike most reptilians, here was a swell dude who didn’t deserve to get suspended in any xenon mist – one of the best (benevolent) aliens in SF movies:

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“…Virginia fights for us! He will fight the Torquas in the south. The Warhoons in the north! And he will be called Dotar Sojat! “My right arms”!” – Tars Tarkas.  

In my earliest days of printed sci-fi (over)consumption, there was no way to resist the bizarre imagery and sheer escapism conjured by Edgar Rice Burroughs, when he chronicled the adventures of John Carter: a Civil War veteran from Virginia, mysteriously transported to the planet of Barsoom (Mars).

In the very first novel: A Princess of Mars (first published in 1917), he would meet what became – quite literally – my favourite Martian: Tars Tarkas, Jeddak (chief) of the Tharks – those doughty, green-skinned, 7-foot tall, 6-limbed warriors of the red planet.

Incidentally, as far as subsequent research has shown, it would appear that Tars Tarkas – imbued with an ironic sense of humour and painful memories of a past romance – could well be the very first individual, talking, thinking extraterrestrial being in (science) fiction!

For ages, a major movie production of John Carter of Mars had been mooted for some time, but it took ages until a sufficient level of sfx to successfully render the Tharks could be attained. Typically, the movie went to all that trouble of getting the movements and mannerisms of the Tharks just right, but failed to animate the human characters…

Who did this fanboy envisage providing the voice for Tars Tarkas?

Why, Willem Defoe, of course! And guess what? The makers shared the same vision – great! 

Close Encounters 4

“He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him” – Project Leader.  

The most obvious candidate for best friend from beyond the stars has to be everybody’s favourite mentor: Yoda, but so many blogs have been written about him already.

Instead, on a personal note, honorary mention must go to the spindly-limbed Alien Ambassador from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Although he appeared for the briefest of moments – with his endearing smile and accompanied by John Williams’ cute incidental music – that pint-sized traveller captivated many hearts (of my generation at least). It’s a shame he never spoke – we were all left to speculate what he would/could have said. Even The Special Edition – released three years laterfailed to add any precious further insights.

When Spielberg’s E.T. came out in 1982 – (then) becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time – this lil piggy stayed at home – i.e. didn’t want to sit through such an overlong treacly spectacle which featured a “much more ugly muppet.” It was decided then: return my attention to the more malevolent, antagonistic bug-eyed beasties so rampant and commonplace in mainstream sci-fi!

Yet all the time, my mind kept drifting back to that Ambassadorwhat a cool friend he would have made; at that time, we would have shared the same height… as well as plenty of outlandish stories and all sorts of other cool stuff; explored distant worlds together; and exchanged candy no doubt!

Brad would have gone where no infant-sci-fi-eater had gone before. But alas…

He would never learn that alien’s name. 

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“Take up a cause, fall in love, write a book!” – John Carter.

Cheers!

The MediEvil: [Part ii] Est A Diabolica!

My Testimony To Those Wondrous And Terrible Events of 1115 AD Continues.  Chapelle-de-BethlC3A9em-Alien

“We must make an idol of our fear, and call it God” – Antonius Block. 

ACT II: DAEMON FUGIT!

“By thy troth, Will, we must find it! Pack the most basic of provisions; we travel light-“

“But Brother Brad, how can we expect to find this… this thing?” 

“Simple, boy. We follow the trail of petrified peasants that thing leaves in its wake. We must hurry. Thou art familiar with the apotheca: the storehouse of medicines?”

“Y-yea, Master.”

“I bid you go fetch that small vial with the green liquid from the top shelf.”

“Wherefore needest it thou, Master?”

“This is most important, for it be the only concoction that can destroy our otherworldly foe. I shall ready the horses and meet thee at the main gate.”

“The only…?” William gingerly took a pace forward. “Then… ye hath dealt with these skyfallen ones before?!”

Methinks perchance this boy was too bright…

“Yea, William… and will again and again, I’m afraid. Now, festinate! I shall see you anon.”

In very little time at all, William came running out of the North Transept, a bulging bag slung across his back; the vial clasped to his chest with both hands – good lad.

He noticed the pointed bundle I cradled: “What be that?”

I unfurled the top end of the cloth, revealing a hilt and hilt-guard. “A sword! I dare not ask what thou wert in thy past life, Master!”

“Fear not, my young friend. I was merely a traveller. In distant lands, one must be… cautious.”  

“O splendid scholar, with all these skills… why stay at this monastery?”

“Where else could I write my books…? Come, we cannot allow further delay.”

We mounted our steeds and set out into the far-from-idyllic terrain beyond. The trail was easy – yet so disturbing – to follow.

Regrettably, we discovered the eviscerated maiden whose face had twisted in sheer terror – may she rest in peace; and then we encountered the gibbering shepherd, blabbing something about a “malum diabolicum” – who still managed to give us reliable directions!

Undoubtedly, we were getting closer… 

“Ayah, Angelo Maligno!”

I could scarcely believe the frightened croak of the old beggar sitting beside the country lane as we approached him. I hurried over and knelt at his side.

“Be still, my old friend. Tell us, you saw the-“

Confound it! You bonehead, Brad! Only then did I notice that the vagrant was as blind as a trowel. 

“Why so flustered, old man?”

“The vile lacerta homos ye seek hath passed by not long past!”

“Nay! How could thou know-?!” 

A knowing smile erupted through his unkempt whiskers as he muttered: “I am gifted with powers of a higher order, young Quester. I-I sensed it. What passed this way ’twas certainly not mortal – it felt more sinister than Lucifer ‘isself…! But forgive my fevered ramblings… good den, good sir. My name is Nathaniel…”

“Hardly expected to find such a gifted soul in this lowly spot! Your aid is indeed very much appreciated, Nathaniel. William! Bring forth some bread!”

I passed some of our provisions to Nathaniel, who gorged on them eagerly, as if he’d not partaken of any nourishment for days. 

“Oh thank thee, young saints! Thank thee, kindly! I bid you good fortune in your tiresome quest. Fare thee well; may the Lord bless thee!”

“Nay… ’tis too late for Him to bother with me now…if at all. Doth ye know where yon thing dwelt?”  

Tired old Nathaniel spoke naught, but waved a trembling bony finger off to his left. My gaze wandered several yards yonder to – Saints preserve us! – the tranquil setting of the Church of St. Mary.

Of all the-?!

The beast had fled into a church…?! Lord, what madness was this?! devil's-reaper

“If I kill you, I am bound for Hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay” – Solomon Kane. 

ACT III: ANGELO MALIGNO

Without hesitation, we burst into St. Mary’s church.

‘Twas stood, hunched in the centre of the aisle – the belief that daemons could not frequent “holy” sites be damned.

It flicked its cowl back to reveal that Malachi’s facial features had completely disintegrated. The wraith’s true grotesque green head turned menacingly towards us; it barred dripping fangs at us; its low-pitched snarl echoed off the church walls.

“You… it could only be you. Thou art Brad: the one they call the Scribe.” 

“Verily, that I be; how do you know who I art, beast? What say you!”

“The hunted must know who his hunter is! Thou art cleverer than those other robed imbeciles: a formidable nemesis to be sure. So, call upon your God to save thee afore ye dare try and smite me, worm!” the wraith chortled.

“Nay: through His “Word, all things are created just as He willed”… where – on Earth – deceitful snake, do ye fit in?!”

“Hmm, my “Word calls forth flesh in the shape which was drawn from Adam.” Mayhap this disenchanted mortal ought to forsake thy misspent quest? …And start worshipping me, ha!”

I bellowed over its gurgling guffaws: “Silentium, dire one! I am too strong-willed to rise to your bait; too stubborn to let you skyfallen scum succeed!”   

“Very well, stubborn worm; I shall consign thee to thine own end! Maledixerit tibi voltus, mortalis!” 

With that, it unleashed a dagger, hurled it at me, but the deterioration of its human form had diminished its aim, as well as its stamina. The wraith collapsed in a final exhausted heap; the weapon just swished past me.

“Curse me? Ha, yea my misfortune was foretold long before you crash-landed…”

I took forth the vial, and sprayed its noisome contents on my adversary. They fizzled and burned on impact; the beast screamed, clutching a steaming arm.

“You accursed dregs! Backward sapiens…!” the beast spat as the delirium of searing torment set in. “How did you infernal lot ever get to this pitiful stage of evolution?”

“We mortals strive to learn, to build, to prosper-”

“Rot! We are all-too-familiar with the petty troubles of your kind: you crave war and spread famine… and pestilence. I harbour no shame when I aim to… exterminare celerrime praeiudicio!”

“Exterminate? With extreme prejudice? Regrettably for thee, Malachi was a feeble old man; that lifeforce is ebbing quickly from you now. You are in no position to do as thou wilt-” 

“Monetae…! …Ultionem!” it rasped, grabbing my arm in one last futile gesture.

I almost felt sorry for this damned shrivelled satyr; ’twas in no fit state to declare or exact such vengeance upon me right now.

While that vile shape writhed on the aisle floor, poor William lay slumped in the rear pews, sobbing uncontrollably.  Damn my eyes: yea, I had condemned the archfiend to burn in hell, but in doing so, had consigned my accomplice to endure a living hell… 

I leant my angry face closer and gleered at the ailing creature, and whispered with venom: “Know ye this, foul incubus: as long as my cursed life prevails, I shall warn others of thy diabolical presence on this fair and simple Earth; as long as I wield the written word, thy devious intent shall forever be set forth!”

The creature’s hold on my arm gradually loosened, but it managed to waste its dying breath by emitting another condescending splutter: “And there…! Thou art hopelessly mistaken… Brother… Brad.

“Write this tale, and be damned! In a thousand years from now, nobody will care enough to read… or believe it…!” a3-15

FINEM NOTE:

Brother Brad dedicated the rest of his life to rid our green and pleasant land of the inhuman skyfallen ones.  An inestimable number of esoteric tomes describing these Angelos Malos were produced. For many years, Brother Brad’s complete account resided at the Priory of Sele in Upper Beeding, in the southern counties, but during the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-40) alas, it was lost. 

This presentation is merely a palimpsest of what once was…  The-Seventh-Seal-1957-stars-from-the-past-32472124-500-362

21st Century Brad is on holiday.

The MediEvil: [Part i] An Unearthly Daemon In Our Midst!

My Testimony To Those Wondrous And Terrible Events of 1115 AD Begins.  alien-3-arceon1

O vis aeternitatis (Power of Eternity) – you who ordered all things in your heart, through your Word all things are created just as you willed, and your very Word calls forth flesh in the shape which was drawn from Adam” – Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).

PROLOGO:

The storm was one of the worst of that wretched winter. The ferocious elements summoned by the Almighty must have cleft the wraith’s craft from the sky, for several folk from the village reported a great fiery star descending rapidly above the countryside.

I do not blame them for believing this malevolent portent – roaring through the night sky with an unspeakable cacophony – to have been naught but a dragon.  On several occasions during some of those coldest, loneliest winters, I had heard stories about the “ships of the sky” – magnificent shimmering vessels that traversed the clouds, supposedly transporting travellers from beyond the heavens.

Yet never – ever – in my lifetime did I expect to have to deal with any of their devilish occupants myself. 

‘Twas Brother Malachi – poor, unsuspecting Brother Malachi – who rushed to the aid of the injured being, which limped pathetically to our main gates on that tempestuous night. Although taking the precaution of locking it in a cell, by some devious sorcery – I dare not contemplate – the thing absorbed Malachi’s form, and now dictates its despicable demands to us in the monk’s crazed mish-mash of Latin and Olde English.  31-01-01/22

“Have you ever known a place where God would have felt at home?” – William of Baskerville.

ACT I: INTER MUNDOS

“Idiota, Brother Brad! 

“Dost thou know what has become of Brother Malachi?”

Father Severinus and his entourage had rode all night – let it be known, at some haste – to protest at my alleged gross mishandling of this whole monstrous incident. Brother William – my assistanthad just returned from tidying the storehouse of medicines, and couldn’t resist listening to our ensuing argument.

“There is no cause for alarm, Father Severinus, I assure thee. The brethren cleared the wreckage to the best of their abilities. I supervised the recovery of fragments from the “ship” myself; its main core was of stupendous proportions. Brother Malachi is locked in a cell, guarded by Brother Berengar. We are quite safe… Isn’t it ironic, though, how something so heaven-sent could be more malevolent than anything Hades could spawn?”

“Blasphemy! I will have nothing to do with this- this black magik, Brother Brad!” Father Severinus blared.

“…Oh, Father?” I instantly realised how inappropriate his title was. “Forgive me, but I was under the impression that “pater” denoted compassion and understanding-“

“Gah!” he grunted, and stormed out of the chamber.

“So be it… dotard,” I seethed under my breath. “Make thy leave…”

I watched hopelessly as the rotund ignoramus Severinus and his entourage rode out of our grounds. We were left to deal with this… dilemma on our own. Again, I would have to finish it myself.

As silence returned to our monastery once more, William wondered: “Brother Brad, why did yon peril have to fall out of the sky?” 

“Well, it-” 

At that moment! An abrupt and terrible ear-piercing shriek! The clatter of bowls and other implements crashing to the floor down the hallway! Frantic running up to our door! 

William and I watched in horror as Brother Berengar stumbled in, babbling hysterically and tearing at his hair as the most abominable seizure took hold.

“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, heavens, Brother Malachi-!” 

I surged forward, my astonishment compelling me to try and shake him back to his senses. “What ails thee, Berengar?!”

“‘Tis Brother Malachi! Oh, blessed saints preserve us! He overpowered me and fled into the forest!”

Christ’s blood – ’twas the last thing we needed!

“Thank the Lord that fool Severinus did not get to see this…” I muttered gratefully.

“Forgive!” Berengar wailed, his grubby mitts locked in shaking prayer. “Paenitet! Sorry! Prithee forgive this dullard, Brother Brad!”

I placed a reassuring hand upon his shoulder. “Peace, Berengar. There be naught ye could hath done…”

In a flash, I pounded up the North Tower; William called frantically after me. In the blustery turret, I squinted at the dank and murky countryside yonder. Just as the boy emerged beside me, I caught sight of Malachi’s dark robe moments before he disappeared into the forest.

So be it. Our former “guest” had headed northeast – predictably back to the site of his downed vessel. “That way, William,” I cried. “We go northeast!” 

“Master, what does this all mean?” 

“Danger, boy… we must give chase – the daemon is loose!” seventh-seal-111

Brother Brad at work in his chamber... until the skyfallen ones set his life on a new perilous course...
Brother Brad at work in his chamber… until the skyfallen ones set his life on a new perilous course…

Prepare for the intrepid quest! To continue to the next instalment, click here:

Sherlock Holmes and The (Bad) Sign Of Four

I Say, Holmes, This New Fantastic(?!) Four Movie Really Is Quite Dire! 

Mark_Gatiss_gives_us_the_inside_story_on_the_Sherlock_special

“Now, let’s not jump to conclusions. We need much more scientific evidence before we can say that” – Reed Richards. 

“First things first, Watson. Inform Mrs. Hudson that it’s about time for afternoon tea.”

“Certainly, Holmes!” I replied. I could tell by his furrowed brow that the World’s Greatest Detective had found a most perplexing case upon which to cogitate. 

“Now, upon my return to our beloved home at 221B Baker Street this morning after wrapping up that most bothersome Case of the Missing Characterisations, I received a most curious telegram; it outlines a most perplexing case-“

“Aha! Thought so, ho ho!” 

“…Ahem. Here, I shall dictate, thus:

“Why, oh why. Stop. When Captain America, Iron Man, the Avengers et al consistently produce such splendid sequels, absolutely no one can make a great Fantastic Four movie? Stop. Please, please, please, make them. Stop. J. Whedon Esq.”

“By Jove! Now, that- that is a frightfully complicated conundrum to elucidate!” I blurted. “Gad, that should keep you occupied for a jolly long time!”

“Indubitably, my good man,” he huffed, rather world-wearily. “Although let it be known that I am about to embark on a most trying venture, so it will be anything but jolly, I’m afraid.”

“Of course, I’m sorry, Holmes.”  

“I shall acquire your help too, old friend; I will need to summon all the powers at my command. My fortitude. My resilience… and some tea. Make it so.”

fantastic4

“Wow, Dr. Phil, that’s deep. Let’s think about that. You got Victor: more money than God, Stud of the Year. And you got Reed: world’s dumbest smart guy, worth less than a postage stamp. That’s a real toss-up” – Johnny Storm. 

“This new Fantastic Four movie, Watson – more needless “origins” pap. What do you make of it, old chap?”

“Hmm, not much to write home about I’m afraid, Holmes.”

“Precisely, Doctor… Often cited as the greatest team in comics, with a 54-year history of stories to call upon, and yet this charmless cinematic curio offers nothing in the way of wit or worth. Already, it has fallen woefully short of its predicted Opening Weekend Haul-“

“You mean it received a clobbering! Oh, ho ho ho-!”

“Watson, for goodness sake…”

“Sorry, Holmes… It received a paltry single-figure total on Rotten Tomatoes… Not much of a Marvel-“

“AH, WATSON!” Holmes yelled, making me jolt so irksomely that I almost fell off the arm of his plush leather armchair.

“That is precisely the point, my dear Watson! Not… a Marvel. Not a Marvel… at all. It’s produced by 20th Century Fox, wouldn’t you know, but… those stupendous X-Men movies were done by Fox, so it’s no fault of the change in studio… Hmm, there is one quintessential fact about the Fantastic Four that these so-called film-“makers” have overlooked: the comic’s wholesome nature is derived from the fact that – as two of them are siblings, two of them are married, two of them are constantly bickering with each other – they are a family unit, so cue a happy, frothy formula: one that has thrived for decades; not this dark, brooding nonsense currently clogging our cinemas, for pity’s sake! …And so, what next…?”

1994-fantastic-four-640x427-the-fantastic-four-1994-jpeg-193439

“Hey, you think you got problems, you take a good look, pal!” – Ben Grimm.  

“Oh my giddy aunt…”

“My thoughts exactly, Holmes (ahem),” I spluttered.

“What is the meaning of this- this trainwreck?!”

“Well, as far as I can gather, this 1993 version was made primarily by Constantin – the studio best remembered for churning out that Resident Evil nonsense – purely as means to retain the rights to the franchise.”

“Yes, there was a time when Marvel Comics were collapsingat the brink of bankruptcy-“

“Oh no, perish the thought-“

“Oh yes, Watson, it was – I can assure you – a very long time ago, but all unbelievably true… They sold the rights of various superhero titles; apparently, Marvel had proposed a Fantastic Four movie as early as 1983, but – having sold the rights to The Human Torch to Universal in 1977 – they had to wait until 1986 before any plans could be developed!”

“Ah, this version never got released, and was never intended to, either.”

“Ha! Just as well! Huzzah for small mercies, eh what? This abomination was doomed to tank anyway. Anybody could see how elementary that is…”

Fantastic-Four-Movie-Cast-Original

“Any more bright ideas? Why don’t you strip down and have a hundred people stare at you?” – Susan Storm. 

“Now, some people cite the 2005 movie as awful. Really, this effort wasn’t half-bad.”    

“It had the ever-delightful Jessica Alba as Sue Storm. Why, on Earth, would they want to make her invisible…?”

“Weh-heh-hell, I count my lucky stars I was never hired to figure that one out, thank the Lord!” 

“And you know, the sequel: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (from 2007) featured yet another extraordinary performance by Doug Jones as the Silver Surfer!”

“Good call, Watson! Yes, the Silver Surfer: the iconic fan fave. Hard to believe that comicbook movie is treated with equal disdain!”

“Delightful Stan Lee cameo-“

“Exactly! There is no reason to vilify this sequel either! No, really, Watson, these two movies should not be condemned to the extent that they have been. Too lightweight, underwhelming, mayhap, but simple, decent entertainment compared to this latest travesty nonetheless. Just look at these good points: you have Julian McMahon as a suitably menacing Victor von Doom; great comic relief between Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis); great special effects as always; and Jessica Alba. Taking her clothes off… These are not the traits of a dud movie-”

“No shit, Sherlock… Ha ha ha! By Jove, Holmes, did you see what I just did there? Ho ho! My, I’m in fine jest, this day-!” 

“Really, Watson, don’t. Milk. Your part. Actually, speaking of milk: WHERE’S MY BLASTED TEA?!”

namor445

4 times the action! 4 times the fantastic…! Ah, nuts to this: 4 times the trainwreck, 4fs…