Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: The Phantom Menace [Week 1]

Star Bores I: A Spent Force… 

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“I’m sure this one will do fine…” – George Lucas.  

Always gratifying to expunge one’s demons, so they say. So it is with the wretched Star Wars prequel trilogy. 

As part of a blog-a-thon devised by Ashley over at boxofficebuzz, these much-maligned prequels have come under scrutiny, and she gladly accepted my participation.

Back in 1999, the hype for a BRAND NEW STAR WARS MOVIE(!) was phenomenal. George Lucas was ready to come out of his directorial hiatus and tell us how Anakin Skywalker – the Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force and became Darth Vader. So, what did Brad make of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace? 

Let’s just say it was a trip to the cinema he will NEVER forget…

This Post follows boxofficebuzz’s What works/What doesn’t work format, although – let’s face it – the latter is going to be a significantly longer section…

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“I was apprenticed to the most powerful being in the galaxy once. I was destined to become… so much more” – Darth Maul.

What works:

  • Darth Maul: by far the standout element of Episode I. 

As a fan of aliens/villains in hooded cloaks, it’s difficult not to be mesmerised by the spectacular choreography of Ray Park. The extraordinary makeup is both devilish and distinctive. And hell, he’s everyone’s fave Dathomirian Zabrak ‘cos of his supercool dual-bladed sabrestaff. Strangely enough, this Sith apprentice was the very first aspect of preview images to catch my attention. Remember thinking at the time: we’re in for one helluva good cinema trip…

Rather than inevitably load up that lightsaber duel scene itself – still amazing after 17 years – this featurette is worth a look: 

  • The Pod Race

Admittedly, this was fun the first time we watched, and the only sequence not including Darth Maul worth extra viewing. Sebulba is a particularly dastardly figure, and the ensuing carnage makes for compelling viewing. Obsessed with Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders, watching them twenty years later taking pot-shots at the pods was a joy. But please, leave out the two-headed commentator (speaking English?!)

  • John Williams triumphs with the music score. As always. 

Undoubtedly the most outstanding track here is Duel of the Fates. Could you imagine the lightsaber battle without it? 

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“How does it feel to see my designs out in the world? All you can do is sit back and watch in amazement” – Iain McCaig.

  • The conceptual designs of Iain McCaig:

One of my favourite SF/fantasy artists is Iain McCaig. It was a really exciting day when news broke that he was working on Star Wars: Episode I. He was the artist solely responsible for creating the terrifying look of Darth Maul, and designing the outlandish costumes worn by Queen Amidala. 

Although some of his concepts – such as the most reviled alien in the universe – did not make the transition to the big screen so well, his exceptional artistic contribution should be honoured as one of the prequel trilogy’s scant saving graces.

  •  The J-type 327 Nubian Royal Starship:

Super-sleek, covered in chromium, this vessel carries more class and sophistication than any of the dialogue or acting. Such a wonderful design, it does not belong in such a below-average blockbuster. 

NabooRoyalStarshipTatooine

“Phantom Menace is, ultimately, so extraordinarily objectionable… Nothing has the right to bore and disappoint us this much” – Peter Bradshaw. 

What doesn’t work (where do we begin?!):

At the beginning, of course…

  • The beginning: is so lame and monotonous. 

“Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.” 

Really? Who gives a monkeys? Suddenly, John Williams’ oh-so-familiar perpetually-stirring theme tune feels incongruous when set to this mind-numbing scrawl. Honestly, this is the intro to a NINE-PART SAGA, and that is the best you can come up with, George?! Remember the opening scene of Episode IV? Yeah! NOW THAT is how you begin a blockbuster! 

  • The taxation of trade routes:

How was this needless attention to economics and politics supposed to engage with the infant cinema-goers?

  • The script: NONE OF THIS RUBBISH MAKES ANY SENSE.

More than the original trilogy, the inanity of the dialogue is called into question; you can’t call any of these figures “characters” because they are never fleshed out/explained. There is no reason/motivation for these figures to stick together, just as there is no reason/motivation for them to travel from one side of the set/planet to the other and – most of all – there is zero character development, so nobody comes out alive (literally).

  • The CGbloomin’I 

Those aliens aren’t real; that droid army certainly isn’t real; fx over here – fx over there – fx every-frickin’-where. And it’s all so tediously obvious. Thus, the screen is beset with absolutely no sense of wonder. And the magic – that endeared the original trilogy to millions – is depressingly absent.  Look, George, it would have been a whole lot easier melting my retinas staring at a video game for 133 minutes instead…

And while we’re on the subject:

  • That droid army: What a bunch of fragile, useless, near-sighted scrap piles!

It’s far too easy to destroy them. The old phrase: “Could knock them down with a feather” could not be more apt. Nothing to fear then, especially during:

  • The Battle of Naboo:

As a fan of SF battlefields, this should have rocked. Instead, the droids – and their battle-tanks – are assembling on the opposite hill – so what? Everybody has seen how ineffective they are – therefore there is no tension, no trepidation for the battle to come; as for the Gungans, by this point, everyone in the cinema is rooting against them, so it’s such a wasted opportunity. Again, more worthless CGI to sit – and yawn – through. Speaking of yawning…

  • Natalie Portman: seems to be a byword for lousy acting.

Cringing in my cinema seat thinking with dread: Shit! We haven’t got to put up with her in the next two episodes, have we…?

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  • Qui Gon Jinn:

Apart from sounding like he was named afer a bottle of Korean alcohol, WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY?! The original trilogy was quite specific: Yoda trained Obi Wan. So to learn that this “Qui Gon” fella was not only training the young Obi Wan, but ready to train Anakin as well, annoyed me immensely – ’twas an affront to my supposed status as All-Knowing Star Wars Honcho. Without any character development whatsoever, there is absolutely no audience reaction to his death.

So long, Qui Gon – didn’t know/care much for ya anyway. 

Liam Neeson obviously signed up under the impression that he was going to be part of something special… as did: 

  • Celia Imrie: What was she doing?!

She’s one of the finest TV actors in the UK, so upon discovering she was to join the Ep I cast, it seemed perfectly logical that she would be playing Anakin’s mum, thus providing the right gravitas and emotional intensity required – but no. Bloody typical: overwhelmed to be involved with Star Wars she wrangled her way to big screen mediocrity by appearing instead as one of the fighter pilots. Honestly, her gain was everybody’s loss…

  • Ewan McGregor: He does NOT save this movie, despite so many protestations to the contrary.

He just sleepwalks and drones his way through, only “coming to life” during that confrontation with Darth Maul. And cut that lame pony-tail off! Bad, padawan, bad! And hey! He’s responsible for the oh-not-so-cool: 

  • Death of Darth Maul:

Why kill off the coolest asset of the trilogy in the first Episode?! Maul’s duel with Qui Gon on Tatooine ended with the latter jumping onto that sleek chromium ship. It would have been really clever to end the Obi-Wan/Maul saber-scrap in a similar fashion, with the Sith somersaulting onto an escape ship, leaving the Jedi to watch helplessly as it blasts high into the sky, knowing that this Sith must be hunted down in the next episode... But then again, no one listens to a word Brad says… hello? 

Last, and by all means least:

  • THAT ALIEN WE ALL ABHOR!

Don’t need to mention the lanky, goofy one by name – everyone knows who it is, and enough antipathy has been hurled in his direction since 1999. There is just one more thing to add here: was this figure deliberately intended to look, sound, move and act as derisory as he did? If so, WHY?!

Having blotted out this confusing but colourful mess of a movie from my mind, it was hoped that this would be a mere unforseen one-off misstep, and George would get his mojo back in order to deliver a darker, more dramatic, Episode II.

Besides, the signs were favourable: we were promised less of the lanky, goofy one; the legend that was Christopher Lee was rumoured to appear(!) and the return of Boba Fett looked more likely than ever. 

Really, how could it possibly go wrong?

They couldn’t fuck it up a second time!

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…Could they?

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Batshit Crazy: What A Week In The DC Extended Universe!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly In The DC Pipeline. 

THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS?: "We want Justice, an' we wan' it now!"
THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS?: “We want Justice, an’ we wan’ it now!”

“That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel” -Alfred Pennyworth.  

Most of you who frequent this site will have noticed that Brad has been a huge comics fan, and continues to be an avid follower of comic book movies. Overjoyed at the recent thrilling developments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it almost seemed like sheer folly for DC Comics to weigh in with their own equally immense big screen projects.

While Marvel reigns supreme at the box office, DC would seem to be quite content to have their Arrow and Flash (and the imminent Legends of Tomorrow) shows dominate TV ratings. Yet as Chris Nolan’s outstanding Dark Knight trilogy showed, DC Films are prepared to put up one helluva fight. 

Yes, there is a part of me yearning to find out how DC will show off their Extended Universe. After all, despite my “Make Mine Marvel” chants, rummage through my comic collection atop my wardrobe/TARDIS and you will discover that a decent 65% of them are DC titles (dating between 1980-1993 for those of you taking notes).

This week, we finally got tasters as to what DC/Warner endeavour to unleash. Last Tuesday night, a TV special: DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League on The CW showcased some of DC’s current movie developments, including an exclusive trailer for August’s Suicide Squad, plus new footage of next summer’s Wonder Woman movie.

Tell me: do you geek? You will… 

FISH AN' QUIPS: "Oh water day! Water lovely day! (Now you're just being silly...)
FISH AN’ QUIPS: “Oh water day! Water lovely day! (Now you’re just being silly…)

“The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!” – Lex Luthor.  

Ta-da! First up is Batffleck vs. Superhenry: Clash Of The Capes. Sorry, but seriously, Dawn of Justice just looks like such a perilous venture. Placing DC’s two most box-office-friendly heroes in the same blockbuster has all the hallmarks of safe bet – even desperation – written all over it. 

Show some guts, DC!

If Marvel Studios can gamble with such risky, obscure material as Guardians Of The Galaxy, then surely you can give Matter-Eater Lad his own big screen adventure at last! Can’t you…? 

From what we can gather so far, Dawn of Justice looks too dark and too bleak… please, the last time this “style” was done we were lumbered with Fantastic frickin’ Four – and see how badly that pap turned out!

The news that Ben Affleck had been chosen to play the Caped Crusader didn’t trouble me at all, although plenty of diehard fans predictably vented their spleen over the matter. What is really disconcerting is the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. An evil mastermind?! Ha, our cat looks more menacing than him. Unable to work out what the casting director saw in such an inexplicable choice…

Rather than paste the same old Bat-pics, here (above) is Jason Momoa, simply stunning as The Dothraki Waterboy Aquaman, who hopefully – for me – will help make Dawn of Justice a more intriguing spectacle – he’s easily its second-best aspect. 

The top attraction, of course, being the – long-awaited! Let’s not let that lie!! – big screen debut of Wonder Woman, which should make this outing more worth our while.

Just for you, here’s the trailer:

IN SQUAD WE TRUST?: A bunch of cool cats. And Will Smith. Hey! Who's that reptilian dude on the right? Possibly my fave Squad member already...
IN SQUAD WE TRUST?: A bunch of cool cats. And Will Smith. Hey! Who’s that reptilian dude on the right? Possibly my fave Squad member already…
DADDY'S LIL MONSTER?: My Daddy warned me about lil monsters like you, lov...
DADDY’S LIL MONSTER?: My Daddy warned me about lil monsters like you, lov…

“Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?” – Rick Flagg.  

If DC’s behemoth in March does regrettably turn out to be the “Yawn of Justice,” then how about Suicide Squad?

When news of a Suicide Squad movie broke, my inner geek – whatever that is – shouted yippee!… until realising yours truly had been thinking of Doom Patrol, a totally different – and a whole lot weirder – ensemble brought to us once upon a time by the exceptionally talented Grant Morrison. 

The general consensus is that this trailer is outstanding, but being subjected to this concept, and these characters, for the first time, awash with grungy style and zero substance, it fails to amaze me… yet. Nice use of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody though. 

Jared Leto’s Joker – notice how Joker-free the pics department is here – seems to be just as misguided a casting choice as Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Trying to follow in the (purple) wake of Heath Ledger’s arguably definitive portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is either brave or foolish. 

Suicide Squad appears clearly aimed at the teenage boys Sucker Punch market, apparently, blatantly, disregarding the ever-growing number of female comic readers out there.

Worst? Heroes. Ever? Yep, can’t argue with that… 

All in all, a Doom Patrol movie – would have been preferable… 

AMAZON STORIES: The Wonder of you...
AMAZON STORIES: The Wonder of you…

“The greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is, yet none of that negates any of her power” – Patty Jenkins. 

So, if Dawn of Justice feels bad, and Suicide Squad looks, well, ugly, was there anything good to come from DC this week?

Well, yes, just the most iconic superheroine of all time! 

Arguably the most intriguing news from the DC Extended Universe’s trawl of exclusive thrill-power was the first footage from the star n’ striped Amazon in her own solo movie, set for release in June 2017.

When the first image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in her patriotic… chocolate-brown(?!) combo first adorned the worldwide web, my heart sank. Honestly, she looked like a Xena: Warrior Pincess cosplayer. And a third-rate Xena: Warrior Princess cosplayer at that.

My initial hopes for the movie were not high, but when this pic (below) was released a few months ago, the project starting to look quite intriguing. Then this actual footage was shown last Tuesday, and the movie now looks far more encouraging. It revealed Wonder Woman’s dexterity with a sword in typical 300-style slo-mo action; the Amazon riding on horseback; and – most interestingly – in her guise as Diana Prince, but during the First World War, and not the Second as traditionally told in the original comics.

Of course it’s still too early, but with this project at least, it looks as though DC/Warner finally know what they’re doing. 

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Superman: “Is she with you?”

Batman: “I thought she was with you.”

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David Bowie: A Tribute To The Man Who Fell To Earth

David Bowie Has Died Aged 69. 

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“His death was no different than his life – a work of art. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us” – Tony Visconti. 

“Time may change me
But you can’t trace time.”

My earliest memory of David Bowie, who has died from cancer at his home in New York aged 69, was on the video of Ashes To Ashes in 1980. At that point, video was the medium transforming pop music. Bowie – who had spent that previous decade not only transforming but transcending “popular” music – always keenly embraced new styles and technologies.

One of the very few multi-talented individuals able to define what pop music/culture could – and should – be about, he was so much more than just a singer. Ultimately, he was a true artist – one of the most influential of his era – with a knack for staying relevant. 

And being confrontational, whether it was pushing down cultural, social, or even sexual boundaries. 

What gave the music, the look and the ever-changing style such mass appeal was its power to register with all the misfits, geeks and outsiders who couldn’t “fit in.” As someone who didn’t want to fit in, his love of sci-fi seemed to mirror my own.

Besides, hits such as Life On Mars, Starman, Jean Genie, Heroes (and many others, fortunately for us) will always be great, enduring pop classics. 

“Put on your red shoes and dance the blues.” 

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“David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is” – Iggy Pop. 

“There’s a Starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds”

One of the defining traits of David Bowie, in a career spanning 51 years, was his ability to experiment with different personas. From his commercial breakthrough single: Space Oddity to the glam-rock of Ziggy Stardust there was a strange otherworldly quality to this post-modernist performer. Having failed to develop Orwell’s 1984 as a musical, some of the songs went on to appear on the critically-acclaimed Diamond Dogs album.

It’s not surprising that this constant character-switching led to several movie appearances. First and foremost, Nicolas Roeg chose the pop artist for the lead role of Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth. The tragic tale of a humanoid alien on Earth trying to bring water back to his dying home planet, this 1976 cult classic is a cosmic mystery, described by its director as “a shocking, mind-stretching experience in sight, in space and sex.”  

With his bizarre costumes, ambiguous persona and those alarming mismatched eyes, Bowie was ideally cast as the enigmatic titular anti-hero. Some would say he was merely playing himself – the perfect physical embodiment of both the alien and alienated. 

Desperate to evade his escalating drug problems, Bowie escaped to Berlin that same year. In collaboration with Iggy Pop and Brian Eno, during the late-’70s he released a stunning trilogy of albums: exuding darker, more experimental sounds. Culturally and creatively, Bowie was back, with added vigour, describing his German retreat as “a city where you could get lost, but find yourself too.”   

Although Bowie cited the early-’80s as a low point, it brought Let’s Dance (in 1983) – a colossal commercial smash, heralding the MTV era, and a role ideal for the 1980s, with BIG hair and a daft name he starred as Jareth The Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986).

Despite his hiatus from public view this past decade, his music still resides within the SF genre; Moonage Daydream made it onto Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix Tape in Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), while Starman (not Life On Mars, regrettably) found its way onto the soundtrack of last year’s The Martian.

“Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell me wife I love her very much she knows”

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“[The e-mail] was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. they will never rot’. I realise now he was saying goodbye” – Brian Eno. 

“Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know?
He’s in the best selling show

Is there life on Mars?”

As everyone from pop stars and politicians emerge with their own tributes today, it’s really not surprising to learn that he was so much and more to such a wide variety of people. So how did he manage to touch so many lives so profoundly, so deeply? 

Not only did his appeal stretch across the generations, but through all his onstage (and onscreen) extraordinary personae he was, essentially, still an ordinary boy from Brixton, South London. 

Thought it would be possible to keep on blogging without having to do another Obituary, but this is such a huge loss, something had to be written up. An Appreciation of the man and his music fittingly entitled: “Loving The Alien” has sat on my Dashboard since his birthday only last Friday. Little did anyone know that it would have to become this Tribute just a few days later.

As someone who looked and sounded as if he had fallen to Earth, it is ironic to consider that David Bowie was ideally suited to grasp what this world is about, and what it could do for us. So many people around the world have been grieving all day today because we’ve lost our guide – our thin, white icon. 

Bowie paved the way for all of us to be heroes. 

Even if it was just for one day.  

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David Robert Jones –David Bowie 

8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016.

Power-Reading: Essential Works For Any SF Fan To Watch Out For!

Starting The New Year With Old Science Fiction Classics!

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“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them” – Ray Bradbury.  

In order to improve your science fiction writing, various how-to books and articles recommend that you do a stint of power-reading: study how some of the master wordsmiths of the SF genre crafted their classics. Having struggled through NaNoWriMo this year, producing far too many drab and uninspiring drafts, some encouragement of some kind was called for.

So, just what is “power-reading”? 

It’s enhanced, focused, critical reading – in this case, of science fiction in the hope of learning how certain authors attained popular – or cult – success with their individual otherworldly visions.

Winter always seemed like my designated period for reading novels; too cold to go out, so would make a tea/hot chocolate; grab some cake/biscuits, snuggle under a duvet and immerse myself somewhere across the galaxy, on an alien world preferably hot and bug-free.

 With the recent revival of my interest in SF, that tradition has made a glorious return. To invigorate my writing, a quite considerable armada of classics was selected to help inspire me to achieve greater literary heights. 

Hopefully, the more we read, so they say, the more we will want to write. 

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“But the peak came with… the first installment of Galactic Patrol by E.E. Smith. If I had to pick the moment in my life when my reading experience hit its peak… that was the moment” – Isaac Asimov. 

Well, What Is It?

While researching other Posts, the name: E. E. ‘Doc” Smith would usually prop up, usually listed as a defining influence on later SF authors. It got to the point where research had to turn in his favour – and it was startling what a distinctly awesome contribution this writer offered to the genre.

In order to understand the rudiments of the “space opera,” his Lensman Series stands out. It doesn’t get more pulpy than this; published during the 1930s, although not scaling the same legendary heights as Flash Gordon et al, they nevertheless defined the template for the archetypal space opera, and inspired later works, including a certain space saga currently breaking all box office records yet again…  

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Well, Did U Get It?

For the time being, my pulp-hunger has had to make do with Skylark of Valeron, the third part of Skylark: another SF series produced by Smith around the same time. Quite simply, it is: “essential reading for all who appreciate science fiction in the grand manner.” 

And the cover art was provided by the always-reliable Chris Foss, which helped ensure its purchase. 

Speaking of Asimov… 

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“One of the most staggering achievements in modern SF” – The Times. 

Well, What Is It?

As Doc Smith’s Lensman Series provided one of the main inspirations for Isaac Asimov, this brings us neatly to his classic Foundation series, begun in 1951. Often cited as the most revered SF saga ever published, it is certainly essential reading for anyone who wants to study sci-fi as it should be written. 

As the Galactic Empire crumbles, Hari Seldon and his band of psychohistorians must: “create the Foundation – dedicated to art, science and technology – the nucleus of a new empire.” 

Well, Did U Get It?

My most fortunate acquisitions.

As early as last April, a copy of Foundation’s Edge came into my possession, while the acquisition of Foundation and Empire was made in the following month.

A few weeks ago, however, the original Foundation was found, and now rests on top of the pile, awaiting my eager inspection. 

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“I have learned more than I can say as a writer from his wise, twisty stories…” – Neil Gaiman. 

Well, What Is It?

The Shadow Of The Torturer (1980) by Gene Wolfe is a science-fantasy novel that has become an obsession of mine ever since first casting startled eyes at its truly mesmerising cover by Bruce Pennington.

This first volume in the tetralogy that has become known as The Book Of The New Sun, is set in a distant future, but looks very medieval in its striking imagery; its protag: Severian – an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers – is banished from the city, and – among other incidents – acquires an awesome sword called Terminus Est, and is dispatched to Thrax: the city of windowless rooms. 

Rightfully regarded as “one of the greatest SF writers of all time,” there is much to to be learned from studying the writing style of Gene Wolfe.

Well, Did U Get It?

No!

Surprisingly, despite his reputation as “one of SF’s greats,” Shadow was the most elusive of all the titles mentioned in this Post. None of the secondhand stores, nor any libraries, have it.

Instead, the nearest compensation to be found came this week in the form of: Shadows of The New Sun: Stories In Honor Of Gene Wolfe (2013), which includes pieces by a formidable assortment of acclaimed authors, such as: Neil Gaiman, Timothy Zahn and David Brin… including a couple of exclusive short stories by Wolfe himself. 

“Hours of reading pleasure” are, apparently, assured. Looking forward to it…

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“The High Crusade was a lively, sharp-witted reversal of science fiction stereotypes, as well as a magnificent adventure… His full-bore mastery of science fiction elements meshes perfectly with the historical details” – Greg Bear. 

Well, What Is It?

Intent on producing my own SF opus about aliens on Earth – in Medieval England, rather than the boring and overused present-day Manhattan – which you are most welcome to peruse here, one of my first areas of preparation involved checking who had used this theme in their work.

A quick search turned up The High Crusade, one of Poul Anderson’s most beloved works. It speculates what would happen if an alien spaceship landed in 14th century England…

Well, Did U Get It?

Yes!

Another surprise. Half-expecting to not find any of his works – his name doesn’t appear to have passed into the lexicon of SF greats – even tracking down just a yellowed, tattered version of this anywhere seemed remote.

However, in 2010, its 50th Anniversary was honoured with a deluxe reprint featuring a set of congratulatory introductions from such esteemed admirers as Greg Bear and Robert Silverberg, so have acquired a copy from the local library. 

Made a start, and already it’s turning out to be fantastic stuff. “huge cylinder, easily two thousand feet long; save for the whistle of wind, it moved noiseless” lands. It dispenses demons: “from the lowest pits of hell, about five feet tall, clad in a tunic of silvery sheen, deep blue skin, [with] a short thick tail.” Naturally, Sir Roger de Tourneville and his merrie marauders slaughter the whole extraterrestrial crew. 

“Not knowing Englishmen, they had not expected trouble.” 

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“Dune seems to me unique among SF novels in the depth of its characterisation and the extraordinary detail of the world it creates. I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord Of The Rings” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

You may remember in this Post, how Frank Herbert’s Dune: “huge in scope, towering in concept,” was beckoning me to be read. Well, it took until Christmas Eve to finally find a copy – this version (see above) is the same New English Library (Gollancz) design as Children Of Dune (Part 3 of the trilogy) which has been gathering dust on my shelves for countless aeons.

Of course, the original Dune – because it is “the most widely acclaimed SF novel of the 20th century” – had to be started first thing on getting home (the wrapping of far lesser fare could wait).

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LATE NEWS!

Before putting the final touches to this Post, earlier today the second part of the trilogy: Dune Messiah was found!

Have always been impressed with Messiah’s cover art (again produced by Bruce Pennington – methinks a special profile article on this fabulous artist is in order?)and it’s fantastic to welcome this sequel – at last – onto my shelves. To have probably the greatest SF trilogy ever purchased now stacked on the desk beside me invokes a satisfying – yet rare – sense of accomplishment.

Having accumulated all these books, it’s time to log off, disappear into the duvet and escape into those alien worlds!

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“Hopefully, other historians will learn something from this revelation” – Bronso of Ix. 

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