Stranger Th1ngs HAVE Happened!: Season One Celebration

“Something Is Going On Here!”

Please Note: This Post contains copious oodles of chocolate pudding and LOTS of tears…

Jim Hopper: “99 out of a 100 times kid goes missing, the kid is with a parent or relative.”

Joyce Byers: “What about the other time…? The one!”

If it had been on disc available to rent from the Public Library – and if my laptop had not detected a virus upon first clicking on Netflix.com last Winter – Brad would have watched Stranger Things lot sooner. 

After a spate of lousy movies and TV shows, and yearning to escape the humdrum of daily toil, the hype for this show could not be ignored forever. Upon learning that Season 1 is set in 1983 – imho, one of the best years ever! – my heart leapt, and thus, my Netflix sign-up duly completed.

Heck, Stranger Things was awesomely hookable enough to watch through several nights AND drag me away from my morning (breaks) of coffee and CONTEMPLATION to compile this Post.

Unfortunately, on this tea and scones side of The Pond, we don’t have Eggo Waffles, but seeing how chocolate pudding is universally scrumptious enough to be found in the fridges of both Hawkins Middle School AND Brad Manor, one reckoned that sumptuous treat would make an ideal accompaniment through this binge-watching malarkey. 

Okey-dokey, got your Eggos at the ready? Let’s engage! 

Mrs. Wheeler: “I hope you’re enjoying your chicken, Ted!”

Mr. Wheeler: “Hey, what did I do…? What did I dooo?”

“On his way home from a friend’s house, young Will sees something terrifying. Nearby, a sinister secret lurks in the depths of a government lab…” 

The opening eight-minute pre-credits sequence of Chapter One is a masterpiece. 

Not only effectively setting the dark and creepy premise, but, with the unexpected aid of Dungeons & Dragons, it introduces our main protagonists as a thoroughly likable gang of Tolkien-crazed perishers. At its simplistic best, this wholesome scene sets Will, Mike, Dustin and Lucas as the sort of friends we would want to have hung out with back in the day. How else can it be explained that so many viewers have become so emotionally invested in what befalls them?

Interestingly, their role-playing gaming also informs us as to which beastie we will have to confront: the Demogorgon (a Demon Prince of the Abyss, it is considered the most powerful villain in the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons). Said beastie and a “mysterious girl with psionic abilities” have gone missing from a top secret facility: Hawkins Lab on the edge of this supposedly quiet town.

What about Chief Jim Hopper (FREAKY FACT: Named after the unfortunate MIA character killed by the Predator (1987); incidentally, Hawkins became the first member of Arnie‘s combo to be eliminated by that eponymous hunter). When we are introduced to him (waking up on his sofa) the immediate reaction was: oh great, methinks, another stereotypical deadbeat cop. But, fortunately, Hopper – played exceptionally well by David Harbour – quickly establishes himself as one of the outstanding integral characters of the series, even driving the plot to such compulsive extremes.

No matter how sternly he warns the D&D gang to stay away from the hunt, they – naturally! – head off into “Mirkwood” anyway to try and find their friend themselves.

This whole opening episode is riveting to watch. And it culminates in the dramatic encounter with the “weirdo” in the woods.

It was a dark and stormy night… 

Lucas: “I bet she escaped from the nuthouse in Curly County.” 

Dustin: “You got a lotta family there?” 

Lucas: “Bite me!” 

One of the crucial factors in this show’s success – and popularity – is the gang, played by an amazing bunch of young actors. It’s oh-so-easy to see how Dustin quickly became a firm fan-favourite. But it’s Mollie Bobbie Brown as Eleven who really steals the show here. With little to no lines to work with during her introductory scenes, her expressive performance is quite easily the most striking by a child-actor seen in a long time. Dr. Brenner summed her up perfectly: “Incredible.”

Sometimes, flashbacks can screw up the narrative flow, but in Stranger Things they work really well, particularly Eleven’s unfavourable memories of “Papa.” It would be convenient, at this point, to mention how great it is to see Matthew “Birdy” Modine again, after too long away from our screens, here playing a villain for a change: Dr. Martin Brenner, Director of Hawkins Lab, and – gee whiz! – such a nasty piece of work too.

Is anybody going to mention what a swell diner Eleven finds?! Any hangout that plays Jefferson Airplane and The Seeds is a cool dive in my book. ‘Tis written: play the White Rabbit song and this White Rabbit blogger will always be pleased no end! 😉

The bickering interaction between the boys in Mike’s basement offers particularly commendable scenes. We get to learn more about their individual characters as they try to work out how to deal with the “Weirdo On Maple Street.” This scene is notable for two reasons: first, the boys learn that Eleven has “superpowers,” and secondly, that’s a swell Dark Crystal poster on his wall! 😉

If Chapter One had the best series opener ever, then Chapter Three offers arguably the most heart-wrenching end sequence of any TV drama: a child’s body is retrieved from the river; Jonathon gets a hug from his mum, whilst Mike pedals home to get a hug from his mum, as Peter Gabriel’s achingly beautiful version of Bowie’s Heroes plays.

And Brad almost chokes on his chocolate pudding. Seldom has one witnessed anything so moving during the early hours…

“Mike?! Mike what?! You were supposed to help us find him alive. You said he was alive! Why did you lie to us? What’s wrong with you? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” – Mike Wheeler.  

Speaking of flashbacks, in one striking scene, we see the Byers brothers in an endearing bonding moment: bopping along to The Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go, which later takes on creepy significance as the mystery gradually unfolds.

Oh, what the ‘eck! We’ve held off this track long enough – you just can’t have a Stranger Things Season 1 round-up without The Clash. Honestly, listening to this ol’ classic stomper will never be the same again.

This is your cue, Joyce:  

“COME ON! COME ON! TALK TO ME! I KNOW YOU’RE HERE!” 😉

Jonathan Byers: “Let me get this straight: Will, that’s not his body, because he’s “in the lights”, right? And there’s a monster in the wall! Do you even hear yourself?!” 

Joyce Byers: “I KNOW it sounds crazy! I-I-I sound crazy! You think I don’t know that? It IS crazy! But I heard him, Jonathan! He talked to me! Will is- is calling to me. And he’s out there. And he’s alone, and he’s scared, and I don’t- I don’t CARE if anyone believes me. I am not going to stop looking for him until I find him, and bring him home!

“I AM GOING TO BRING HIM HOME!!” 

Joyce Byers stubbornly refuses to accept that her youngest boy is dead. Winona Ryder plays the stressed-out mum really well here – a career-best performance, perhaps? 

Right, there are lots of good, freaky stuff in this first season, but none more so than during the fourth minute of Chapter Four. Chief Hopper leaves Joyce sitting, worried and confused, on her coffee table. The camera pulls back, and THIS begins to play.

WOW:

“You can keep the mix if you like. Really, all the best stuff is on there: Joy Division, Bowie, Television, The Smiths. It’ll totally change your life” – Jonathan Byers.

We see Jonathan Byers locked away in his bedroom, lying on his bed listening to Atmosphere by Joy Division on his headphones, trying to shut out the upsetting possibility that his mother has gone insane. 

You see, that was ME exactly thirty years ago, locked away in his bedroom, lying on his bed listening to Joy Division Atmosphere on his headphones, playing and rewinding it over and over and over again, trying to shut out all those scholastic, social or psychological problems… Watching an uncanny biopic of This Brad’s Lifeespecially at that time of night – should be unsettling, but on the contrary, it’s gratifying to learn that someone in the crew saw fit to apply such fine taste in music.

In order for El to try and locate Will, the boys have to smuggle her into the AV room at their school. So they give her a makeover – she has such boyish looks that even wearing Nancy’s old pink dress and a blonde wig – an obvious nod to E.T.’s disguise! – she still looks like Charlie Brown in drag!

Speaking of Peanuts, whilst compiling this Post, this amazing mash-up turned up.

El’s dancing and the Demogorgon’s yawn still crack me up every time.

Good grief! 😉

Joyce Byers: “If he’s so wise, why does he need fireballs? Why can’t he, y’know, outsmart the bad guys?”

Will Byers: “Most of the time, yeah, but sometimes the bad guys are smart too, y’know?” 

Joyce Byers: “Alright, I don’t know who’s been raising you, but I’m going to get you some new crayons (because it looks like he’s shooting cabbages!)” 

Lookee here: ANOTHER quintessential ’80s trope: a lone hero sneaks into a top secret facility and hiding in doorways whenever one of its dodgy denizens happens to walk down that very corridor. In this Stranger Things case, it’s Hop who sneaks into Hawkins Lab in search of that most elusive quantity: the TRUTH.

Really digged the scene following that bogus funeral for Will  in which the boys ask Mr. Clarke how to travel to another dimension. Gee, what a great teacher Mr. Clarke is! He helps the gang cope with their “mourning” by explaining the theoretical principles of parallel universes. Spiffing! 

“You guys have been thinking about Hugh Everett’s “mini-worlds” interpretaion, haven’t you?” 

Yeah, man, not a day passes… 

And so, the gang set off to find the portal that should lead them into the Upside Down. 

Chapter Five ends on a suitably sinister note, with that unlikely pair of Nancy Wheeler and Jonathon Byers venturing out to try and find that “faceless” entity she witnessed behind Steve‘s gaff. Yay, Nancy manages to escape from the Upside Down (at the beginning of Chapter Six). Did anybody doubt that she would? A particularly fine performance from Natalia Dyer, whose character develops from shy cardy-and-long-skirt-wearing school swot to assertive jacket-and-jeans urban monster-hunter. 

And – ha ha ha! – how the blazes could we forget Steve (“This is crazy. This is crazy!” etc.) Harrington? He starts off as the cool cat: “King Steve” = Stephen King – nice touch! 😉 – turns into an annoying douche halfway through this series, but redeems himself by ending up getting stuck into the spirit of urban monster-bashing. 

The same chapter ends with a gripping confrontation between Mike, Dustin and those school bullies. And wahey! Guess who shows up to save the day?

“Yeah, you’d better run! She’s our friend and she’s CRAZY!”

WOO-HOO!

One of my instant favourite scenes, and yours too, no doubt! 😉

Dustin: Do you know anything about sensory deprivation tanks, specifically how to build one?”  

Mr. Clarke: “Sensory deprivation…? What is this for?”

Dustin: Fun….?” 

Mr. Clarke: “Okay, well, why don’t we talk about it Monday, after school, okay?” 

Dustin: “You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find. Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?” 

As expected, the penultimate chapter really gets busy, beginning with a tribute to E.T. – the gang are pursued through the Watkins streets by the “bad men” in their matching vans.

Having just wiped my face (and keyboard!) dry after that emotional embrace between Mike, Eleven and Will on the clifftop during Chapter Six’s finale, so Chapter Seven compels me to ransack the manor for MORE tissues as Lucas makes his heartfelt apology to Eleven, and Mike and Lucas shave hands – everything’s fine and dandy now?

Oh no-ho-ho! 

In come more extras from E.T. Luckily the Chief of Police turns up just in the nick of (clobberin’!) time.

Assembling a salt bath in the school gym is kinda rad, man! Another great, creepy sequence.

And as the gang wait for the grown-ups to return, Dustin goes to raid the school store for CHOCOLATE PUDDING. Attaboy, Dustin! 😉

Hey, if MY junior school had stored such a humongous stash of gooey goodness, then – by Jiminy! – all those detentions would have been way more bearable… 

“This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy! THIS IS CRAZY! What are you doing?! Are you INSANE?!” – Steve Harrington. 

And before you know it: my binge reached the final episode. Gee, it all went by so quick; but wow, what a crescendo.

At the Byers’ residence, Jonathan, Nancy and Steve are occupied with paranormal threats, while the kids are chased through their own school by the “bad men.” Meanwhile! Joyce and Hopper – Hazmatted-up and venturing into the Upside Down to rescue Will – offers another irresistibly creepy highlight. Ultimately, Hop makes a deal with the shady cohorts of Hawkins Lab but what price will he be paying…?

Eleven has a final showdown with the Demogorgon in one of the school’s classrooms, and both are whisked off… to the Upside Down? Eleven has to return in Season Two, right?! Boo-hoo! She’s just got to!  

Actually, before proceeding with Season Two, this brand new Stranger fanboy went back and watched this whole corking caboodle all over again. 

Is this love…?

“Only love makes you that crazy, sweetheart, and that damn stupid” – Florence.

Eh? Come again, Flo?!

Seriously though, this Post set out to be a Review, assessing its faults in addition to gushing over its awesomeness. Let’s face it: tried my BEST to find the WORST, but there are no niggling negatives to be gnawed at here. 

However, one crucial point should be made though:

Got to love the way in which this is described as “A Netflix Original Series.” On the contrary, of course, Stranger Things is a cut-and-paste show, with nods to The Goonies here, E.T. there, and so many references to Stephen King sprinkled everywhere! But it’s all concocted in such a deliciously fun and engrossing way that it can – and should -be savoured as a loving ode to the ’80s. And – oh yes – that synthtillating soundtrack by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein is wonderfully evocative of the best decade ever.

Primarily, what appeals to me here is that it’s not so much a horror show; rather, its emphasis leans more towards dark fantasy (an intriguing subgenre that is currently fueling some of my best fiction writing!) There is menace; there are one or two moderately gruesome moments but nothing gory. The 1983 setting is mighty fine and dandy – a story such as this could not have worked in the 21st century – gimme walkie-talkies, NOT mobile phones, ANY day! 🙂 And you know the writing is top class when it becomes impossible to select just one favourite character. 

All in all, glad that time and technology could finally coalesce in a highly fortuitous manner to make Stranger Things Season One happen for me. At last! It’s a splendid, but rare treat: watching a perfect piece of television such as this for the very first time. 

Ah yeah, this series grabbed me by the Goonies from the get-go and never let go.  

Now, Brad has to go and replenish his fridge with MORE chocolate pudding, but he WILL return VERY SOON and present you with an Xtra special feature about El, a Season 2 Review and -hey! – a Season 3 Review.

Promise 🙂

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“Pretty… good…” 

Marks Out Of 10? ELEVEN! (or El for short) 😉

 

“Friends don’t lie…” 

 

The Kinks – Supersonic Rocket Ship: MARVEL Music Monday

Welcome To New Asgard!

Move aside, there, Lebowski!” – Tony Stark

Thor: “Do you know what is coursing through my veins right now?”

James Rhodes: “Cheez Whiz?”

 

Sphare Sechs – Phase II: Mellow Music Monday

We Have Loved The Stars Too Fondly To Be Fearful Of The Night…  

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit” – Stephen Hawking.

 

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” – Carl Sagan.   

 

 

The Midnight: Explorers

To The Freedom Fighters

To The Everest Climbers 

To The Castaways

To The Midnight Riders

To The Spark Igniters…

“Mom, remember that stuff you were tellin’ me about your dreams and doin’ what you want to do? Well, if I really want to be an astronaut and go out in space – and really do that, it’d be ok, right?” – Ben Crandall.

 

Dear Friends,

Following yet another losing battle against this madhouse that is the 21st century, Brad has decided to strike back and hold an ’80s Party this week. 

Had such a groovy time this past weekend dipping into 80s pop classics and Retrowave numbers, so can’t wait to share some of my top picks with you! Therefore, this edition of Manic Music Monday offers a preview of what nostalgic delights lie in store. 🙂

Have recently discovered The Midnight: a group who have really tapped into the sounds and vibes of that decade. This vid exudes such a welcome feelgood quality, includes an amazing assortment of movie clips, and, being a joyous celebration of all-things-80s, it seemed just too cool to hold back.

After last week’s Retro Review of The Goonies this vid is a reminder that Joe Dante’s Explorers (1985) had also passed me by! Have started watching that, so perhaps another Retro Review might be in the works…

Hope you can make it to the party in mid-week. It’ll be lovely to see you! 

And – hey! – if Brad is really on the ball, you should be getting the latest Fartlighter Bradventure by the end of this week! 😉

Cheers!

 

Wolfgang Müller: “Explosions in space? It’s impossible.”

Darren Woods: “What do you mean? You can hardly see the strings.”

 

Electric Dreams III: Revenge Of The Synth

Synthwave, Retrowave, Dreamwave And – Oh Yes – Darkwave… 

“We’ll always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
We’ll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Is it too soon, you may ask, to have another music post on this site?!

Perhaps. And yet…

Considering how it feels like an age since the last Post, and my writing is a tad sluggish at the moment for my liking, this seemed like the easiest option to get me back into the swing of actually completing something!

Have not listened to any Synthwave for a while, but returned to it just this week. For me, Lazerhawk is the outstanding artist of this amazing genre – so selecting our first vid posed no problem at all: 

SAL-9000: “Will I dream?”

Dr. Chandra: “Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why. Perhaps you will dream about HAL… just as I often do.”

You may be interested to know that my ideas have not abandoned me.

Far from it – there is no shortage of them! Time is no problem – never has been for me! My problem is finding the energy! 

Purge those rumours of this site’s imminent demise!

Forthcoming attractions are on their way. In  the next few days: you can (hopefully) expect Bradscribe Reviews of BOTH Deadpool movies, various updates on my expeditions to find more awesome Bronze Age comics, and…? The rest is a surprise! 

Blimey! So was this next track now this is fukkin’ sick! (As the younglings are wont to say these days, by Jove!): 

Nancy Thomson: It’s only a dream!”

Freddy Krueger: “Come to Freddy!”

Speaking of nightmares, my fiction has suffered more than anything 😛 – it seems to have dried up (only for the time being we hope! Yeah…?) 

For the second time, my novel has stalled. What has been produced so far is bereft of plot progression  – that breath-taking twist still hasn’t “sprung to mind.” Not going to chuck the bally thing in completely – for one thing, it would be a shame to see all my research papers go to waste… 

On a much brighter note, during this past two years my enthusiasm for concocting short stories has revived. Through the blog format, Bradventures featuring a distinctly English galactic hero have come along in leaps and bounds. You may like to know/be assured that a handful of new episodes reside on my Dashboard awaiting editing, so he won’t be going away any time soon! 

The most recent instalment is still pretty fresh, if a tad neglected, so please, pay it a visit, right here: 

You’ll like it, it’s about a prison break. 😉

Moving on then, this next video would have made it into Electric Dreams I – a perfect accompaniment to a Lazerhawk track, but it got pulled offline so had to rummage around for a replacement at the last minute(!)

No worries!

This tune will suffice; this is the awesome opening sequence from that crazy sci-fi thriller: The Hidden (1987) featuring an alien parasite that uses human vessels to wreak his own warped sense of “fun” on Earth:

Bob Blair: “Now we can go into an enemy’s dream, kill him, make it look as if he died in his sleep. Do you realize what that means?”

Alex Gardner: “It means no one’s safe from you…” 

Blade Runner (1982) remains as monumental as those techno-ziggurats that dominate the LA skyline.

Not only did it create one of the most mesmerising examples of visual futurism on the big screen, but the velvety Vangelis soundtrack has had a huge influence on the Synthwave genre. 

Not surprisingly, a considerable number of Synthwave tracks turn up on YouTube illustrated by stills from this classic movie. 

So, guess what appears here next! :0

Funny how the source material, written by Philip K. Dick is called “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” and yet there is no quote featuring the word: ‘dream‘ in the movie…

But why complain?

It’s Blade Runner!

“Milk and cookies kept you awake, eh, Sebastian?” – Dr. Eldon Tyrell. 

Speaking of visual style, whenever the mood for writing failed to manifest, my creative faculties have expressed themselves instead through sketching. Noting how plenty of Followers/readers have commented that my fiction would be enhanced by converting the work into graphic novels… 

Maybe, just maybe… 

In the meantime, there are some artworks – produced several years ago as well as more recent gobsmackers – that should (scans permitting!) appear on this site very soon.  

Moving on thenoh yes – when it comes to the best Retrowave producers, there’s no ace like HOME: 

Miles Harding: “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”

Edgar: “Who says?”

Miles Harding: “Walt Disney. Sleeping Beauty, nineteen… fifty.”

Edgar: “No, it was Cinderella, 1949.”

To end on a high note, completing this Post has reminded me what is so compelling about the blogosphere; plus, it has restored the verve to carry on!

What better way to end this playlist, fellow Oneironauts, than with some scintillating Chillwave from the exceptional Crockett, who – as you may have gathered from Electric Dreams II  has become my second-favourite Synthwave artist!

“I’m a seeker too. But my dreams aren’t like yours. I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than Man. Has to be…” – George Taylor. 

Sweet dreams… 🙂

The Prescient Visionary: H.G. Wells: A Celebration

Herbert George Wells Was Born This Day 150 Years Ago

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“Wells occupies an honoured place in science fiction. Without him, indeed, I can’t see how many of it could have happened” – Kingsley Amis. 

As I sit down to write here amidst the shadows of vine-leaves under the blue sky of southern England it comes to me with a certain quality of astonishment that my appreciation of these amazing adventures of Mr. Wells was, after all, the outcome of the purest accident. It might have been anyone. I fell into these things at a time when I thought myself removed from the slightest possibility of disturbing experiences.

Herbert George Wells: prolific and extraordinary science fiction imagineer, visionary, author of histories and polemics, and a noted public figure of his day, is best remembered nowadays for the series of scientific romances published at the beginning of his long and successful career.

Born at Bromley in Kent, young Bertie spent much of his early years in Sussex, on the south coast of England. Following a two-year apprenticeship in a draper’s shop, in 1884 he got accepted at the Normal School of Science, South Kensington, London, where he was taught biology and zoology by T.H. Huxley, one of the foremost scientific thinkers of the Victorian era. He worked as a biology tutor before becoming a professional writer and journalist.

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“Wells’ scientific romances were works of art with unique relevance for our times” – Arthur C. Clarke.  

“It is obviously the work of an inexperienced writer,” wrote Wells in the 1931 Preface to his first published novel: The Time Machine (1895). This work began as a rough, intermittent draft entitled: The Chronic Argonauts during his student days.

This and the subsequent novels: The Island Of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War Of The Worlds  (1898), When The Sleeper Wakes (1899) and The First Men In The Moon (1901), stand as a formidable set, not only as pioneering examples of early SF, but as pinnacles of English literature in general.

It seems ironic that as the only one of this set to cover space travel, and be published in the 20th century, The First Men In The Moon is regarded as the most old-fashioned. The discovery of an anti-gravity metal: Cavorite to spark an elevation to our nearest neighbour sounds quintessentially Victorian.

His first four scientific romances, however, have endured largely because they each tap into fantasies and fears that will forever dominate the human psyche.

There is a very charming theory that the spindly, tripod war-machines that march across the Thames in The War Of The Worlds were inspired by the newly opened Daddy-Long-Legs railway at Brighton, East Sussex – the city in which this very Post has been researched, written and published. This latter novel still stands as the definitive alien-invasion-of-Earth thriller – oft-imitated, but never equalled; and it can certainly never be bettered…

His brand of science fiction did “not aim to project a serious possibility; they aim indeed only at the same amount of conviction as one gets in a good dream,” Wells wrote in 1934. “They have to hold the reader to the end by art and illusion and not by proof and argument.”

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“There is no need to make allowances for the age of these novels; the science may be proto-steam punk, but Wells’ imagination was lively, vivid and timeless” – Lisa Tuttle.

“Her stews were marvellously honest,” Wells recalled. After years of malnourishment and student poverty, the meals prepared by his landlady in Midhurst, West Sussex, provided his first taste of good and proper grub. “And she was great at junket, custard and whortleberry and blackberry jam.” 

They certainly helped enrich his creative powers. “An important liberator of thought and action,” according to Bertrand Russell, his educational works extended to The Outline Of History (1920) and The Science of Life (1930).

It is difficult to believe now, but at the time, his sci-roms were not deemed “respectable,” so Wells had to develop more literary works; later novels such as Kipps (1905) and Tono-Bungay (1909) are notable, but they do not exude the same power to enthral. 

What is particularly striking about these sci-roms is the flourish of imagination – and a highly original one at that. While contemporaries such as Poe, James and Lovecraft accentuated the fear behind the unknown, Wells not only directly confronted the seemingly unknowable, but gave the impression that it could be scientifically explicable. 

And, by gad, all this ingenuity stemming from the mind of a former mere draper’s assistant…

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“The Prospero of all the brave new worlds of the mind, and the Shakespeare of science fiction” – Brian W. Aldiss. 

Futurology was “an intellectual game” to Wells. He had an uncanny ability to envisage many aspects of the 20th century. He cycled “all over the southern counties,” along roads where hardly any automobile could be seen, yet he foresaw a time when four-wheeled travel would take such precedence that suburbs would spread and the landscape be transformed at an exponential rate to accommodate its rapid expansion.

Among other things, he anticipated the sexual revolution, and a phenomenon he called the “world brain” – what we would identify as a sort of proto-Wikipedia. As well as tanks, he described The War In The Air (1908), almost a decade before aerial dogfights would break out above the Western Front. In 1913, one year before the outbreak of the Great War, his novel: The World Set Free, imagined an “atomic bomb” that could be dropped from planes…

His 1933 future novel: The Shape Of Things To Come – made into a movie in 1936 – predicted the Second World War. And its catastrophic consequences…

In a letter to a friend, he described “Anticipations,” his 1902 collection of futurological essays, as: “designed to undermine and destroy the monarch, monogamy, faith in God and respectability – and the British Empire, all under the guise of a speculation about motor cars and electric heating.”

As 2016 also marks seven decades since his passing, it is fascinating to conclude that Mr. Wells’ scientific romances continue to be regarded as essential reading, and his prescient visions of the future remain unsurpassed.

Bravo, Bertie!

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Herbert George Wells: “A man ahead of his time”

21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946. 

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Cakecharmer!: The Adventures Of Brad Fartlighter

MAKE CAKE NOT WAR!

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“He is the fool saint,

The golden stranger living forever

On the edge of reason.

Let your guard fall and he is there!” – The Ghola’s Hymn.  

“Damn your circuits, Nacho!” Major Spoiler seethed. “Where is that bounder named Brad?!”  

The megalomaniac way in which the officer’s bulbous head wobbled like that as he barked informed the clueless fearless troupe: Brad Company that somethin’ serious was brewin’.

And it wasn’t Brad’s Earl Grey…

“He is right here-“

“Then bring on that renegade Battleforce Commander, curse you!” the officer thundered.

“Give him time, sir. He broke a leg running through a comcam vector and has been in a rotten mood ever since we left orbit, so-”

“No biog, Nacho – just put him on…”  

The Commander hobbled forward: “Yo, Big Ears! How ya doin’?” Brad chirped.

“Harrumph. Impudent to the last…”

“Yeah, well, whatcha want? The burrito is getting cold and I’d much rather spend more time with that, know wha’ I mean-?”

“The Zandokans are back in your sector! We need you now, more than ever – the way you led the Resistance and drove five divisions of Zandokan Shokk Troopers off Marsbar was… exceptional-” 

“Only ‘cos those dozy ‘tards knocked me cake onto the floor…” 

“Don’t be so… so self-effacing, Commander. You’ve got to take this job. You see… you really don’t have a choice in the matter. May I remind you that the cred-count for you bozos has tripled since our last vid-conf. And let me tell you: the Calista Blockhead is a top-of-the-line Sentinel-Class Starship which you stole and-“

“Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Let’s get something straight here, fella – when yours truly puts in a request for something, your desksuckers turn me down! If I don’t take it, I don’t get anywhere; I’m a Commander – I commandeer things, simple as, DAMMIT…”

“Hmm,” the self-righteous turniphead growled. “That’s your… philosophy is it?”

“Yo momma…” 

“Ahem. We could take away your commission…” 

“Ha, try it coochie-coo. Just try…” 

“Now listen here, Commander. I have just about had enough-” 

“Sweet, me too! Shut him off, Lex…”

And with that, the amazing Lexi flicked the monitor off. The renegades were left in silence once more.

“He needs you,” Lexi purred sarcastically. “He needs the famous Brad-“

“Yeah, well. Who doesn’t, lov? Now that’s done, let’s see where we can go… Okey-dokey, help me over to the nav-console, Nach.”

“Yo, you got it, boss! Er, which is your jammy leg? Is it that one?” 

“IT’S THE ONE WITH THE PLASTER CAST, EEE YA DOZY HA’P’ORTH! For goodness sake! Flamin’ Nora…”

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“Brad is a real man’s man” – Angelina Jolie.  

The pips on Lexi’s console started bleeping far too regularly for comfort. 

“Don’t tell me…” Brad face-palmed. “That’s who I think it is… is’nit?”

“Yep,” she muttered reluctantly. “A Zandokan K8-Class battle-cruiser de-cloaking off the starboard bow.”

“Nuts… I TOLD you not to tell me…” 

“Er, Commander…” Lexi gulped. “They’re hailin’.” 

“Bummer- fine, put ’em on the screen…” Brad groaned.  

Sure enough, Brad’s arch-nemesis: Zegreatme filled out the screen, smug and supercilious as always:

“Look how old you’ve become…”

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage-“

“D****d inzolent c*r, Bred! Ve should haf conzigned you to ze stazziz toobs on Altair IV vhen ve hed ze chence!”  

“Yeah well, sorry ta disappoint’cha, fella, but th-“

“ENNUV, Bred! Your kek-guzzleeng days air ovair! By ze vay… how is ze leg…? Air could get zum of meh agents to admineestair a CLEEN BREK to your uddair leg. Zhen, Cammandair, you vould attain vot hes alluded you yer whole life: conseestency, heh heh heh…!  

“Damn you, you Zandokan moof-milker! Tell me, Zeggy, why are you Zandokans so-” 

“ZYLENZ! En’ leesen! We eemplore you, for the oompteenth tai-eem, Cammandairdo NOT get embroieelled in Zandokan matterzzz-” 

“Blimey Charley, this is the livin’ end. Shut ‘im off, Lex,” Brad seethed.

In that moment, Ensign Crow Magnon yelled: “TORPEDOES COMIN’ IN!”

“SHIELDS UP!” Brad blurted.

He grabbed the Com as a piercing red light shot across the main monitor. The blast shook the Bridge. Chief Engineer Harris Wrench yelped as his quesadillas fell onto the floor.

A wicked Zandokan chortle erupted on the main audio channel.

“Heh heh heh, zat vill teach you to sweetch me urf in meed-sentenz, Bred-fool! Ehr… juzt one more theeng: our Empeerial Tractair Beeem haz juzt confeescated ALL YOUR KEK! Zo long, zuckairs, HA!”

In a flash, the Zandokan ship blasted off into hyperspace. 

“Jeez, Brad…” Lexi cried, glaring at her console in alarm. “He’s right! They’ve seized ALL OUR CAKE from the storage units-”

“Argh! Why, I oughtta… oof; that does it! Set a course for the Wotatease System; cake- (sorry) make OUR jump to hyperspace!” 

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“Brad is only getting more handsome with age. He also bears a striking resemblance to the iconic Robert Redford…” – Entertainment Weekly. 

“Eef you vont zees job done properly, Major…” Baal Maag, the top Zandokan assassin, growled through the vid-comf monitor: “you should tell me more about zees renegade cammandair-turned-bloggair…”

“Very well,” Spoiler spouted, contemplating the traits that best defined the man. And then he realised the sheer immensity of his task: the cake, the burritos, the kebabs, the katsu curries, the beef and jalapeno bake; not to mention the dakgalbi, and bibimbap buffet, the copious cups of tea, and yet more oodles of scrumptious cake…

“Oh Lord… where do I begin…?” 

Meanwhile, just outside the Yuhafbinhad Nebula… 

In the Calista’s cafeteria, the cool-as-fudge Terran Commander was waiting for his tea to brew.

“Come on, damn you. Come ON!”

While those Zandokan feckwits were streaking ever further away across the galaxy – with Brad’s cake, don’t forget! – Brad Company had HAD to beam aboard the Ambassador of Wahtalaf. Initially, Brad had baulked at such a costly diversion, until Lexi reminded him that here, some of the finest confectionery this side of the Oort Cloud could be obtained… 

“First things first, Your Excellency: howsaboutta cuppa tea?” 

“Let’s not concern ourselves with that just now. It’s a long and complicated operation-“

“What?! To make tea? Come, come, fella, there’s really nothin’ to itit’s a piece of cake- HA!” 

“No, I mean the operation we want you and your band to undertake. PLEASE, Brad, you ARE the celebrated Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger; Scourge of the Necroscoffers of Nippleheim. Can we count on you to incite rebellion among the Screwheads of Shakatak? Force them to overthrow the Flaccid Empire of Scrotum IV and restore freedom and ping pong balls to the galaxy?! Eh, Commander…? What say you?!” 

“Do you take milk and sugar?”

to be continued...

Sherlock Holmes and The (Bad) Sign Of Four

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

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“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.”

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“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…?”

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“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…”

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“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…