“The Female Man”: Issues Of Gender And Feminism In SF

Hey Man, The Future Is Female…

“After reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, I began to think about how women could explore alternate biologies and societies for their benefit. That’s the sign of good science fiction” – Marge Piercy.  

“The enormous appeal of science fiction is the ability to change just one or two small variables and see what could happen,” says writer Marge Piercy, whose 1976 novel: Woman On The Edge Of Time has become a feminist SF classic. “Up until [The Left Hand Of Darkness (1969)] most science fiction had assumed binary gender throughout the universe. She writes of a world where gender is irrelevant and sexuality completely fluid…” 

Aeons ago, when Brad was… oh, about that high, there was an easy peasy way to tell the difference between boys and girls: 

boys loved sci-fi –girls did not = it was that simple.

Nowadays, of course, such a statement sounds so trite and patronising… not to mention simple-minded. Encouragingly, more than ever before, there is active female participation in science fiction, whether it be reading novels or comics, or – better still – producing a new wave of critically-and-commercially-acclaimed material. 

As this Post will show, not only has the number of female SF writers grown, but the genre has always had a healthy history of influential female involvement.

Recalling those longlost schooldays, it would now appear that those attempts by girls to run off with our Star Wars figures signified concerted efforts to break barriers and expectations and try to infiltrate this exotic-looking Boy’s Club. Back then, of course, the very notion of ACTUALLY TALKING TO GIRLS about comics, spaceships, transdimensional engineering and the inner workings of

Mennotor 430 Neural Inhibitors seemed so… far out – as unlikely as…

as BBC’s Doctor Who ever changing into a woman…

“I wish my successor, whoever he or she might be, the best of luck… I think it might be quite nice to have a woman…” – Tom Baker.

Having established that the Doctors could transmogrify into another aspect of this particular character, then there was no real limit to the number of Doctors or the sex of the Doctors,” remarked Patrick Troughton, the second actor to play this particular character (between 1966-69).

In July, the biggest SF news happened to be the announcement of the next regen(d)eration of Gallifrey’s most famous Time Lord; this year’s Christmas special will mark the debut of Jodie Whittaker – the first woman to portray the Doctor since the series began in 1963. There came a point during the most recent season in which the current Doctor (played by lifelong-Whovian Peter Capaldi) explains – to his gobsmacked companion – how his race long ago transcended the whole gender-thing, and you think – aha! – better prepare for something pretty unprecedented here… 

When avidly watching the series back in the early ’80s, this boy – who constructed his own sonic screwdriver, used his own wardrobe as his TARDIS, and brought Teddy Edwards along as his own companion (aah bless!) – would have baulked at the prospect of having an actress in the titular role; now, of course, that prospect is in keeping with the fresh and innovative nature of the show and should be warmly welcomed.     

But Jodie will need a truly exceptional writer to make her tenure work…

On the threshold of making SF TV history, Whittaker said she felt “beyond excited to begin” reinvigorating the BBC’s longest-running SF series. Certainly, Verity Lambert – the producer responsible for bringing Doctor Who to television screens in 1963, would have been absolutely delighted with this news…

“[The Female Man is] a wonderfully inventive novel – this interplanetary exploration of feminist inner space, this sophisticated, playful fantasy book is, of course, all about reality” – Phyllis Chester.   

“You simply can’t underplay how ground-breaking it was,” remarked Yasmin Khan – advisor to the “Into the Unknown: A Journey Thro Science Fiction,” a major exhibition held in London this past summer – referring to Sultana’s Dream, written as early as 1905, in Bengal, by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (then aged just 25). “Raised in an upper-class Muslim family, she was denied a social education, like many women at that time.” 

Appalled by the social injustice inflicted on women, she created “Ladyland”: a technologically advanced matriarchy where women monopolize all freedoms, while men are secluded in the “madana,” a play on the Urdu word zenana (women’s quarters).

Imagined futures, and speculative concepts – the very styff on which science fiction has always thrived – should be enhanced and enriched by adding female perspectives.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ is a principal go-to game-changer in feminist SF, conducting a powerful and uncompromising critique, both of society and the patriarchal framework of sci-fi itself. Her writing offers “strong, witty female protagonists whose understanding supersedes the status games and repressive obsessions that occupy the other characters, often representatives of far-future societies that parody our own.”

Apart from confronting issues of genger and sexuality, as far as publishers were concerned, the matter of the author’s sex – and her sexual orientation – were considered a hindrance at that time. Nevertheless, the novel helped to begin tear down boundaries not just in SF, but in women’s literature in general. 

Its status as an all-time masterpiece has been recognised by Gollancz who fortunately included in their SF Masterworks series. Thus, unlike the other titles mentioned here, The Female Man CAN be found in my local library… 

“Traditionally, people turn to science fiction in times of political crisis.”

Cue The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) by Margaret Atwood, a dystopian noveland now Emmy-award-winning TV serialso timely and monumental, it deserves its own blog post…

“I’m a pessimist if I’m not careful, a feminist, a Black… an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive” – Octavia Butler.

“Considered one of the most creative, unique, and innovative science fiction writers of her generation,” is how feminist scholar Professor Rebecca Hankins describes Octavia Butler (1947-2006) – one of a scant number of African-American writers working in this genre. “Never one to sugar coat our existence, Butler’s writing always centres on women as independent, fierce, and unapologetic heroines.”

Her work also helped eradicate the genre’s entrenched science fiction image as “male, pale and stale.” She created a shape-shifting, gender-fluid creature in Wild Seed; a post-apocalyptic mute in Dawn; and the determined daughter in the Patternist series.

Therefore (one abhors having to admit this), because she does not fit the white male norm expected in the genre, this explains precisely why this SF “aficionado” has been deprived of all knowledge pertaining to this marvellous talent for so long. Moreover, it is a crying shame that her gender and ethnicity have proved a hindrance to her seemingly-deserved exalted status among the SF hierarchy. 

As for actually getting round to reading her masterworks? 

Well, not yet… 

It comes as no shock to learn that her books are unavailable in the half-dozen public libraries near me…

You want Arthur C. Clarke? 

He’s right here. 

Itching for Philip K. Dick? 

He’s over there. 

Do they have Isaac Asimov?

Are you kidding me? A whole shelf is devoted to his sizeable back catalogue…

Dread to ask the librarians if they stock ANY Octavia Butler:

“Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have him…”

“Her works are an ongoing inspiration,” Professor Hankins continued: “…not only to black women writers, but to all of us to push the boundaries and imagine new fairer worlds.”

“Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen” – Margaret Atwood.

And while we’re on the subject of gender, you may be delighted to learn that – in the spirit of these enlightened fluid and flexible times – Brad will be changing gender as well. Henceforth, address all e-mails/Comments to Angelina.

Seriously though, an increasing number of media work is geared towards women writing exclusively for an all-female readership. Look at the subjects requested: history, psychology, sociologynothing gender normative about them. Nonetheless, in order to get more work in the online 21st century environment, this is the measure one must take to ensure a steady supply of cake in one’s larder…

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Finally, let’s finish on an amusing – and thoroughly English – note.

That legend of prime-time evening entertainment: Kenny Everett provided the very first time this bunny saw any man in drag. They must have had a marvellous time making these shows – the production crew couldn’t help but laugh.

There are no SF-related vids here, but there may never come a more appropriate opportunity to show this classic sketch.

While compiling this Post, it was heartening to learn that Billy Connolly is due to receive a knighthood. 

Well, huzzah! Arise, Sir Billy!

Or should that be Dame…?

 

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The Power Of Warlock: The Golden Boy Of Counter-Earth

Adam And The Angst…

“Do you feel it? The sheer, awful agony…? For, uncanny your sacred mission… unearthly your weirdling powers… And, beholding them, men shall call you Warlock!”  – The High Evolutionary. 

By Thanos!

How difficult can it be these days to actually complete and Publish single Blog Post?! Very, as it turned out.

The latest comics round-up is proving to be an arduous task; perhaps a movie review would help, but… of what? Nothing outstanding enough to entice me into the nearest popcorn parlour; and you were treated to a music compilation in my last Post, so – what to do?!

“Why?! Why have the fates so conspired against me?” 

No, these are not my words (not like me to despair, by Jove!!) but a quote from that other misunderstood blond hunk: Adam Warlock – a golden-skinned red-clad figure with the most voluminous cloak in comic book history. 

Yes, in a higgledy-piggledy roundabout way, my concentration somehow locked onto a cosmic fella borne through the stars… in a cocoon. Weirder things have come to pass on this site (but none come to mind as yet). Adam holds a particular fascination for me, primarily because he is one of the Marvel canon’s more unusual characters.

You probably don’t know anything about him, other than his suggested appearance in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3. This is understandable. From a certain point of view, his obscurity has lent to his status as a cult figure within the Marvel pantheon.

My 200th Post(!) – rapidly approaching! – will feature a Countdown of:

My All-Time Fave Comic Book Characters

so considered it best to practice by compiling a Profile on this enigmatic subject. 

Notice (above) the distinctive style of Jack Kirby (what would have been his 100th birthday this past week was honoured by the comics industry and various bloggers) and see what happens when Gil Kane gets hold of this cosmic character (below):

“Don’t be afraid!! I will stay with you! I have known another like you – one who is also powerful… but who needs understanding… and compassion! For the sake of the love I feel for him… I will not desert you!”  – Sue Storm. 

In the beginning, Adam Warlock was known merely as “HIM,” and treated as a Messianic figure. Just like trying to pinpoint how/where the fascinati0n of this character lies, so attempting to work out those responsible for created him poses a particularly perplexing nitscratcher…

While one source states that the 1st appearance of Him can be seen in Fantastic Four #66 (February 1966 – written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby), another states that his full debut sgould be attributed to The Mighty Thor #165-166 (June–July 1969). However! As soon as Roy Thomas and Gil Kane collaborated on the first issues of Marvel Premiere (culminating in the first issues of The Power of Warlock) then the character received proper development.

The High Evolutionary: “a tormented man-god experimenting in ways so cosmic and radical as to threaten his sanity,” creator of the animal-headed New Men, including Man-Beast – his most unruly progeny (and one of the few vividly-remembered supporting characters from my earliest comic-guzzling days!) finds an extraordinary objecta giant cocoon – picked up within range of his space-scanning Scopitron

Apart from “ultra-strength, paranormal reflexes and the power of levitation,” Adam’s most potent weapon is the vampire Soul Gem, encrusted in his forehead – that’s right – it’s the one Infinity Stone we are yet to see in the MCU!

 

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The Magus: “You planned all this, didn’t you…? Warlock wiping out my forces… rushing him inyo the time stream before he could truly realize what he’s about to do… it was all planned! 

“WHY?!” 

Thanos: “Because you are a creature of chaos and order… purpose… LIFE! So, being a creature of vast power, you may some day oppose that which I worship! For I am a dreamer of tranquillity… non-purpose…

“DEATH!”

Adam‘s solo series, The Power of Warlock first appeared in (August) 1972 – “devoted to the superhero your letters have proclaimed the most unique in the history of comix!”

#10 (1975) is a mesmerising – albeit difficult to track down – classic (in every sense of this grossly overused label.) Here, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane bring the cosmic man Earth, where he is discovered by a group of teens. While The High Evolutionary named him “Warlock,” so these kids call him “Adam.” It is during this series where both epithets become fused into the name by which he’s thenceforth identified.

The writer/artist with which Adam Warlock is most synonymous happens to be Jim Starlin, who once related how he took this Messianic figure and made him complicated(!) With The Power of Warlock #10 (1975) he created a quite excellent – not to mention distinctive – form of Bronze Age awesomeness. Part 1 of How Strange My Destiny is a brilliant – if not bonkers – cosmic adventure (reviewed here)

#11 (February 1976) sees our hero: “caught between dark insanity and yet darker reality.” Part 2 – only obtained during this past fortnight! – provides an intriguing and inventive continuation of this classic saga. More psychedelic than Doctor Strange (even on his most trippy dimension-bending shenanigans!) this ish is mesmerizingly illustrated.

The archenemy is the Magus: Adam’s future self(!) and there is a thrilling showdown between The Magus and Thanos who maintains that the Magus can only be destroyed by imploring Adam to destroy himself(?!) hence the title of ish #11: The Strange Death of Adam Warlock…

“You’ve proven yourself a true Warlock. I’ve attacked you with agents of earth, water, fire and air. Yet you’ve survived, for you are truly a master of such things, and so a foe to be reckoned with. That alone is reason enough that you should die… Therefore, Warlock, prepare to be… WHAT!? AGAIN HE’S…

GONE!”

– Star Thief. 

“Your abduction of a portion of my soul caused me great pain, Warlock… Now you shall share that suffering!” – Fire Giant.

Paid double what is usually doled out for these mags, but Warlock #14 (August 1976) Homecoming (Why is every other morsel of mighty Marvel mayhem called Homecoming…?!) is well worth every satang.

Adam must confront an entity known as Star Thief (the astral projection of an incurable invalid on Earth). In the depths of space, Adam fends off whatever psychic force Star Thief conjures against him, whether it be a flock of club-wielding winged demons, a Fire Giant and even a shark By The Great Nebula! – a great white shark chases Adam across the stars!

This far-out adventure does look very familiar…

These later ishs of The Power of Warlock were reprinted in (of all things!) Marvel UK’s Star Wars Weekly (1978); this MAY be the source of my discovery of this character (although they would not have entered my air(head)space until 1979 or 1980…)

Whatever caused this title’s premature demise – cancelled after only fifteen ishs – The Power of Warlock has (deservedly) attained cult status; fortunately, four of them – against seemingly high odds (and almost astronomical prices) – have reached my collection.

“I have come for the emerald gem that throbs at your brow, golden one. Men call me The Stranger! Though I alteady have acquired one such gem, I covet them all!” – The Stranger. 

“Listen, Goldy, you seem pretty handy with the Star Trek bit! How’s about a lift back to Earth? I don’t have any change in my tights, but I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday…” – Spider-Man.

Since the far-too-premature carcellation of his own title, Adam Warlock managed to make some unlikely cameos in other series. This most extraordinary cosmic character could not be any further diametrically opposed to your friendly, neighbourhood wallcrawler, and yet, incredibly, Marvel Team-Up #55 (March 1977) saw them (what else?) team up…

Adam Warlock, pencilled by the great John Byrne, seemed like an irresistible treat. And it most certainly is! Finding himself marooned on the Blue Area of the Moon, Spidey must do battle with The Stranger – a formidable cosmic villain, who made several threatening appearances during the Bronze Age.

A particularly bizzare prevalence during tke ’90s involved resurrecting classic comic characters. Adam Warlock was lumped into this category.

Out of curiosity, #2 (March 1992) of Warlock And The Infinity Watch made its way into my shopping trolley. My fascination with comics soon wore off in the early 90s as most mainstream titles became more moronic, and this ish is no exception. Almost miraculously, Jim Starlin returned to manage the script, but he is let down by the cartoonish style of Angel Medina’s pencils – nope, not heard of him either…

Reappearances by Gamora and Pip fail against the derisory treatment of Drax, and Moondragon’s cameo is wasted. 

SHAME…

warlock-adams-cocoon

“I think I will call him Adam” – Ayesha. 

Now, despite being dropped from Guardians Vol. 2, we can see Adam’s cocoon in The Collector’s Trophy Room during Vol. 1. 

Just when we can gladly expect the golden fella to grace Vol. 3, news that he is NOT expected to debut in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War is nothing short of BEWILDERING. Infinity War, Infinity Watch – you name it, Adam has played major roles in these comics to this end. Heck, to my knowledge, he’s the ONLY being powerful enoughother than Thanos – to have actually wielded the Infinity Gauntlet! 

And – as you have learntAdam possesses the Soul Gem, so he has GOT to play an integral part… surely?! Yours truly loves the MCU as much as you, but its liberties with story-lines are beginning to annoy me…

Once upon a time, it would have seemed really cool to watch my fave comic characters on the big screen, but now…

With knowledge that Adam will become part of th MCU, this news only instils unease within me; primarily, who will play him?

Who can play him…?

Personally, it would be really groovy to see him portrayed by Kevin Bacon (tying in neatly with that snazzy ref to the legend that is Footloose in the first movie), but it will most likely be some-pop-singer-or-equally-cretinous-pop-nerk… and besides, NOBODY gives a fudge what Brad thinks anyway…

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Of course,  this has been just an Overview of Adam Warlock – a more extensive expedition must set out to discover some of those obscure Strange Tales back ishs and that significant plotline from The Mighty Thor #165-166 (June–July 1969) and other Kane/Starlin classics from the Power of Warlock series, leading to a more concise character study prior to the release of Vol. 3. 

Once again, APOLOGIES for such a delayyyyed Post, but – trust me – the other stuff frantically battered out this past fortnight has fallen waaaay short of my usual mega standards. 

Perhaps Brad needs an extended break from blogging…?

In one ish, Adam Warlock himself voiced my own thoughts so eloquently: 

“My period as this reality’s Supreme Being has been a shattering experience. I fared poorly as a divine entity. I am in dire need of solitude in order to regenerate my spirit and strength.

“This is how it must be. I am sorry.  

“Farewell until we meet again…”

Pip The Troll: “What say we go on down to Mama Alpha’s? I’ll buy you a mug of Ambrosian Wine... and treat myself to a Stinger and a reversed bowl of grud!”

Adam Warlock: “Let’s go have that drink, Pip! I could use it!”

 

“Mind Your Head, Sleepy Chicken”: Mishaps With Creativity In The Age Of Outrage

The Daze In The “Life” Of A Flustered Writer 

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The Ancient One – “Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all. ”

Dr. Stephen Strange – “Which is?”

The Ancient One – “It’s not about you.”

“We don’t care. We don’t really care,” retorted the script editor (whose name shall remain undisclosed to protect MY innocence). “The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean, 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter.”

This – one of umpteen rejections foisted upon me over the years – just confirms what has been niggling my noddle lately. Such a rebuke – stern but to be expected – is, essentially, cancelling out my worth as a wordsmith. On a major motion picture. 

The prospect of movies limping along with next to no script does not exactly come as a great shock to me. My intentions of making it in the movie industry appear to be growing thinner by the day. Sure, it’s a classic case of not what you know, but who you know. Believe me, rejections here, ignorance there, and my resilience well and truly wrung – Brad would prefer not to mingle with such types…

Anyway…

Apologies for not publishing a Post sooner. But you would not believe the ridiculous setbacks encountered on my travails! While my concentration gets lost amidst the daily hustle and bustle of 21st century strife, too many people around me are losing their tempers all too easily – upon offering to help, their only rebuke comes in the disagreeable form of “Get lost.” Or (coarse) words to that effect…

Why, oh why, so much unrestrained hostility? Don’t tell me: this is the Age Of Outrage. 

My problems are probably ten times worst than theirs, but you don’t see me blowing my stack. However, considering what your correspondent Has Had To Go Through This Past Two Weeks it’s a mystery he hasn’t blown it several times already! Thankfully – between you and me – years in a Southeast Asian temple Being At One with my Inner Cha-Cha, closely supervised by a half-human half-pangolin guru have mentally prepared me for my nonchalant return to what they laughably call Western “Civilization.”

Apart from the obligatory technical glitches, trying to carry out research in the Public Library: someone has lost/misplaced a required book; then, someone else broke wind in the Self-Help Section forcing the whole bally building to be evacuated… 

At my former Alma Mater, my luck fares no better; due to the heightened security around the City, my status as Alumnus does nothing to persuade the bouncers @ Reception. Handsome? By jove, always! But “suspicious”? Do me a favour…  

In other news: my novel has stalled, primarily after studying the latest book survey revealing that two-thirds of novel readers are women. Set in a 12th century abbey, the most horrifying aspect of this medieval sci-fi adventure is the head-scratching realization that it has NO female characters! This needs to be readdressed, of course, but after a disconcerting fall in the Stats from this site, this makes me seriously ponder: will anyone want my novel…? Perhaps the answer lies in converting it into a graphic novel – but then again, my artwork (normally quite therapeutic) has not gone as snazzy as hoped…

The case continues…

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“For, in their savage ignorance, they feel only hatred for any among them who may seem… different! They long for peace, yet gird for war! They search for love, yet harbour hate!” – The Silver Surfer. 

“By living life for itself, don’t you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being,” remarked the nameless Martian, last custodian of his long-vanished civilization. 

Following the sickening terrorism act a few months ago in Manchester (where my degree was gained!), and again as the appalling news from Virginia broke over this past weekend, this beautiful sequence of dialogue (from The Martian Chronicles 1979 TV adaptation, written by Richard Matheson) returned to my fevered mind.

All too easily, these sage Martian words are simply ignored. Hate, regrettably, has become far too common and rampant. Rather than wallow in the throes of despair, these atrocities invigorate me to produce a unique brand of positive, entertaining and thoroughly wholesome fare at a more exponential rate.

Out of the multifarious dark and evil acts committed around this Pale Blue Dot, projects of ever-increasing worth and vitality have prevailed. Consider this impressive history: disillusioned by the collapse of the short-lived New Republic in 17th century England, James Milton wrote Paradise Lost; disturbed by the horrors he experienced at the Western Front, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien fought off the nightmares by “escaping” to Middle-Earth and creating an epic fantasy saga called The Lord Of The Rings. 

In turn, yours truly has had to stem an incessant surge in personal, social and economic problems by summoning the last vestiges of his resilience to produce evermore entertaining reams of writing (that you will enjoy here shortly!). 

With nine out of ten of my applications, enquiries and job pitches “lost” or ignored, this blogging platform remains the only means by which anyone and everyone Can See What Brad Can Do…

Keep Calm and Carry On Writing…

“The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees” – T.H. White.  

“You don’t want [readers] to read your story, you want them to feel your story.”

This writers’ tip has held particular resonance these past few months. Having vowed to pay more attention to my levels of description, injecting all the right feels into my fiction no longer pose any problems. Considering what we have had to endure over the past eighteen difficult months, my work can now exude a heavier, more personal, more loaded edge. 

Whenever a piece of my fiction fails, (and too many pieces have floundered by the wayside recently) one quote from Confucius instantly comes to mind: Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

To me, if my “path of creation” is hindered, an alternative route is taken… but my physical and mental batteries are now so depleted that finding the energy and enthusiasm to concoct something as ridiculously easy-peasy as a comics review devolved into an unnecessary struggle. But do not fret, my friends! 

It’s official: Brad is on the rebound!

HUZZAH!!

And: TOP tip for this month?!: “Write rubbish!”

Bingo, fella, whaddya think this writer has been doin’?! ‘Tis the only skill @ th mo at which he excels… bah!

Seriously though: the key is to settle into the right room as well as the right frame of mind. You’ll be delighted to learn that a number of intriguing new projects have emerged on my Dashboard! Granted, the first few drafts looked messy and confused – understandable, bearing in mind what woes and worries hung heavy on my mind – but, as all exterior tensions faded (meditation, plus mocha and blueberry muffins, usually help) and my senses gradually immersed into blissful concentration, my compositions evolved into something more groovy and coherent. 

And as this ramblin’ ram-packed Post comes to a merciful close – don’t want to rant, but let me say just this: 

Cultures shape values, and those values shape history; therefore, our values shape our future. However, repugnant values have brought on these antipathetic and violent times; they have been allowed to fester by the very same factions of ignorance directly responsible for denying me my vocational and socio-economic progress.  

Politicians talk loud, but never say anything positive or progressive to help me. 

Instead, the rise of negative hypernationalist movements (regrettably a global outbreak) MUST be counteracted by RATIONAL thinkers and campaigners willing to offer a progressive values-based world vision – a different path based on UNITY across racial, gender, ethnic, and religious lines… 

Now you know: this past fortnight, Brad has been too busy freedom-fighting to blog…

Quite frankly, this evening, my head feels like an ex-Communications Director is locked inside it, yelling expletives…

Still, this migraine is worth the effort. 

In this life, it is ALWAYS PREFERABLE to create than hate…

“…Live as well as possible, expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful.

“Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the Sovereign Of Our Universe, given to be savoured, to be luxuriated in, to be… respected…” – The Martian.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius. 

 

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming: The Bradscribe Review

Watch Out! The Amazing Spoiler-Man Can Do Whatever A Spoiler Can!

Let’s Face It: Brad Is The Last In The Universe To See (And Review) This Blockbuster –

Let’s Discuss This (OK, Geek-Out) Like Sensible MCU Fans… WOO-HOO! LET’S DO THIS!

“One of the reasons it’s called Homecoming is because it feels right that Spider-Man can finally inhabit the full Marvel world from which he came” – Kevin Feige. 

“Can’t you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?” Tony Stark remarks to our boy blunder: Peter Parker during Spider-Man: Homecoming – the latest entry in the phenomenal MCU franchise. By the time that underwhelming Spider-Man 3 appeared ten years ago, the franchise had become less-than-friendly, and that significantly less-than-Amazing Andrew Garfield double-ill was certainly not welcome in my neighbourhood…

Although Tom Holland (the British stage actor who excelled on London’s West End in the Billy Elliott musical) proved to be a brilliant – albeit brief – success in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, when news broke of yet another Spidey-flick it regrettably triggered my Reboot Allergy. So, not surprisingly, my reaction to Homecoming was not exactly welcoming…

However(!), the first Reviews turned out to be overwhelmingly positive; moreover, the premise of “Ferris Bueller with added webbing” clinched it for me. Besides, Marvel Studio’s uncanny knack of blowing our socks off in the wildest, most unexpected ways looks unstoppable right now.

Glad to see a Spidey movie not bogged down by any of that “with-great-power-comes-great-pretzels” malarkey from the Raimi/McGuire era. It is with tremendous joy – and relief! – that Director Jon Watts and his crew have succeeded at putting together a FUN and marvel(KABOOM!)ous time at your local popcorn parlour.

Quite simply, THIS is how a really Amazing Spider-Man movie should look like!

“You need to stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” – May Parker.

“You got to get better at this part of the job…”

One factor that will be unanimously agreed is the casting of Tom Holland. Having hoofed it on the West End, he brings the required agility to do all (well, most) of his Spider-stunts. Yep, he operates in that “little grey area” pretty well!

Also, Tom Holland is – quite easily – the best big screen Peter Parker, portraying the awkward, mixed-up teen slouching along the corridors of Diversity High so well, but fairly early on, it becomes apparent that he gabbles too fast. When he gets together with best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), their exchanges, consisting of frantic whispering at some points, almost become unintelligible. Really liked his Extreme Interrogation voice – part of me wanted that through all the suited-up scenes! Seriously though, Holland has such a distinctive voice – surely anyone who comes into contact with Spider-Man would suss that it’s that doofus Peter Parker…? 

Apparently, it has been a long-touted aim of Head Honcho Kevin Feige to one day cross a MCU movie with a John Hughes comedy. And here it is! See Michelle (Zendaya)? That’s Ally Sheedy right there! A team of SIX writers is enough to doom any movie, but they managed to produce an entertaining package. However, the 80s vibe is not as fully realised as it could be; extra high school scenes should have been developed, especially with Michelle: an instantly endearing quirky gal who deserved additional funny lines; the script is not as sophisticated as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club. 

Peter Parker: “But I’m nothing without this suit.”
Tony Stark: “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don’t care about us! The world’s changed boys – time we changed too!” – Adrian Toomes. 

There is another awesome reason that helped push me into watching this, and that is the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. “Fuck! They put him in a cape too?!” 😉

Rightfully enjoying a renaissance in his onscreen career, it’s a wonder that Keaton agreed to be in this at all: his third stint as a winged comic book character. Immediately, he instils a sense of menace that has otherwise been lacking from MCU villainy recently. The most extraordinary aspect regarding Adrian Toomes is how ordinary he is – an everyday guy just as frustrated and put-upon like the best of us; not only does Keaton convince, Toomes is so relatable. When Peter comes to pick up his date, you could feel a huge shudder of shock from fellow moviegoers as her father answered the door…

In his short and tender life, Brad has endured some very trying struggles, but… please, NEVER leave me alone in a car with Michael Keaton. EVER…

Not only has the “world changed,” but one quintessential element is curiously absent. Although we are mercifully spared the (exhausted) origins story, there are NO spider-senses(!) on display neither. Admittedly, this True Believer was never a big fan of that red and blue Spider-suit (it chafes me nipples), and my access to Spidey’s original comic books proved somewhat limited, but ask me to offer just one of the webhead’s defining traits and it would have to be those spider-senses.

Did the writers discard this trait intentionally?! With great reboots come great alterations? Not convinced. And certainly not chuffed that we were denied even a single tingle…

Watching Peter failing to come to terms with his new suit (voiced by Jennifer Connelly?!) is fairly amusing, and may be appreciated by this hi-tech generation (who probably ordered/paid for their popcorn via smartphone) but just shows how contentious the wilful tampering with a well-established character can be – it just doesn’t make (spider) sense. Honestly, Homecoming could have ended up with only 3 stars because of this…

Anyway, to emphasise what a shared Universe this is, having Tony Stark as the coolest – and richest – mentor an enhanced juve could have added such a groovy touch. Undeniably, the scenes that Holland and Downey Jr – ha ha, yes! – share together are among this film’s highlights.

And, oh yes, “Garry” 😉 is a blast as ever!

There is something else that would make required viewing: As prep for the role – to get a feel for American high school life – Tom (who is now 21!) posed as a student for three days – the teachers and fellow students had NO IDEA. Would love to see their faces as they watch this in the cinema and realise that that kid (soon to be a mega-star – and deservedly so!) had mingled amongst them that week…!

There were a number of LOL scenesperhaps not as many as this reviewer would have preferred; Ned, obviously, got a few chuckles (is there any other reason for his part in this?), but Aunt Hottie got the biggest roar in the auditorium during that instant-classic closing shot. In a single frame, Tom Holland’s startled expression here encapsulates the sheer entertainment value of this latest MCU triumph – it’s priceless.

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: How many more of these? 😉

Tom Holland: “That’s amazing! I thought he would take a huge amount of persuading… but Rob [Downey Jr.] said yes. He loved being here – he was like a happy little kid on set.”

Tony Stark: “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that…” 

 

Do The Wampa Stomp!: Dancing To Another Liebster Award

Was Ist Das? Ein Weiterer Liebster?! Ausgezeichnet!

“The world is never the same once a good blog has been added to it” – Dylan Thomas.  

A BIG THANK YOU to Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life for nominating me for another Liebster Award!

This honour is particularly special to me as Danica is truly one of the blogosphere’s exceptional treasures; her collection of “Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes” are a delight. 

What is the Liebster Award?

The word “liebster” (originating in German) has several definitions — dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued. 

This award recognizes bloggers who offer amazing content and can connect with their readers in ways that are truly awesome. For me, it is an opportunity to show my appreciation for the finest blogs to illuminate my Reader (and let you know that my visits would be far more frequent if poss!)

Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
Give 11 random facts about yourself.
Nominate 11 blogs.
Notify those blogs of the nomination.
Give them 11 questions to answer.

 

11 QUESTIONS Answered

Coffee or tea or mocha/hot chocolate?

Tea all day every day while writing. Mocha whenever in town.

Why do you blog?

To show editors/employers what Brad can do; without anything published (yet) my blogs are the only proof that BRAD LIVES. And has created. 

How would you describe your sense of humor?

Good to flimsy!

What would you do in your ideal day?

Anything with Mrs. B!

Summer or winter?

Summer boy, definitely! English Winters always got the better of me…

Beach or mountains?

Love both! Nothing like walking along a beach. Or biking in the mountains.

Could you live without your smartphone? 

Interesting question!

A more pertinent query would be to ask most people why they feel the need to live WITH one! It has become such a monotonous, time-wasting addiction. Nobody calls/texts me; my laptop offers any data/news updates anyway – would much rather prefer a sardine sandwich than a smartphone, thanks. 

Do you like sardines?

Aha! Now you’re talkin’…

How do you like your eggs?

Preferably on me table, not in me face, cheers!

Does the weather affect the way you see the day?

The best time to write is when a storm is howling outside – gratifying to know you’re not stuck out there in it! 

Can you dance well?

Blimey Charley, CAN Brad dance! Woo-hoo!! Gets on the good foot whenever he can… 

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words” – William H. Gass.

 

11 Random Facts About Brad:

1 THERE’S BEEN NO BLOGGING this past weekend, because my artwork is taking up all my creative time/effort @ th mo! It is another therapeutic way for me to unwind.

2 NEVER EATEN in McDonalds – as an “active” member of the Friends Of The Earth group at college, we voted to boycott all branches (then suffering from a reputation of unhygienic practices) – a principle this freedom fighter has faithfully adhered to ever since…

3 CAN’T STOP playing this:

4 NEVER MET any of my current group of friends. Seeing as you are all bloggers – based predominantly Stateside, (presumably reading this right NOW!) – have wondered how great it would be to have a mocha and a chat with you!

5 MOST OF THE BEST IDEAS for my fiction come to me when out walking.  

6 THE ONLY STAR WARS ACTOR that Brad met was Dave Prowse.

The Green Cross Code was a national campaign during the 1970s to educate UK children road safety issues. Dave Prowse magically appeared in a number of TV commercials as the Green Cross Code Man to instruct kids to: Stop! Look! Listen!  before they dared to venture out into the road. Went to a local funfair to meet him; he took one look @ pint-size Brad and slapped a Green Cross Code badge on me. Will never forget it – was like being punched in the chest! Top bloke.  

7 BELIEVE that Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is the GREATEST Movie Ever Made. It excels in every department: direction, cinematography, the acting, etc. It has the best entrance of any character in cinema history; that score by Maurice Jarre! And the screenplay by Robert Bolt remains truly inspirational and unmatched. There are enough fantastic quotes to fill at least THREE of my Posts! Choosing just ONE clip for this Post is gruelling enough, but Anthony Quinn’s first scene is both dynamic and amusing.

(see Question #7)

Auda Abu Tayi: “Who told you that?”

T.E. Lawrence: “I have long ears.”

Auda Abu Tayi: “And a long tongue between them…”

8 THE NAME of my record shop would have been “Al Gore Rythms.” (Would he have approved? Probably not – can’t spell rythms).

9 STILL TYPE ‘s’ instead of ‘a’, and ‘r’ instead of ‘e’!

10 HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN that Bradscribe has its own Facebook page! (Doesn’t matter – NOBODY looks @ it anyway – ha!) 

11 THIS IS THE ONLY BLOG to have LOST Followers in the last six months!  

 

So, now we come to the exciting part!:

My 11 Nominees:

boxofficebuzz

byhookorbybook

cinemaparrotdisco

mycomicrelief

mysideofthelaundryroom

onthescreenreviews

recoverytowellness

sci-fijubilee

stephenliddell

thetelltalemind

wordsforeverything

 

My Questions:

1 What is the best aspect about blogging? 

2 Thor: Ragnarok or Justice League?  

3 Who is your favourite fictional character?  

4 What music have you enjoyed listening to this week?

5 What was the last line of movie dialogue that made you ROFL?

6 Should one writer be allowed to change the background story or ethnicity of another writer’s character?

7 What do YOU consider to be the GREATEST Movie Ever Made?

8 Can you dance well?

9 What should be done to improve Bradscribe?

10 Could you live without chocolate? 

11 We’ve analyzed their attack and there is a danger. Should I have your ship standing by?

 

And finally, here – by popular demand – is the key to how the Official Bradscribe Ratings System works:

 

DJANGO MEETS SARTANA!

DJANGO FANDANGO

DJANGO BELLS

JINGO DJANGO BANJO

STOP! OR DJANGO’S MOM WILL SHOOT 

 

Of course, all my Nominees – hey! and Danica, of course! – excel in a Django Meets Sartana stylee!

Please Don’t Change A Thing…

 

“We gotta go. Come on, move with me. We got a plan, and we’re going to stick to it” – Tony Stark.

 

The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

Up The Creek, Down In The Desert… 

cribbins-with-peter-selle-009

“The Sand People are easily startled, but they’ll be back, and in greater numbers…” – Obi Wan Kenobi.

 

Missing In Awesomeness!

Following an unexpected Imperial entanglement, the Calista Blockhead was forced to make an emergency landing on Bitumen IV in the Itaintalfotmum System. Although Brad Company managed to escape from a Zandokan ambush, Mitch Quintana was mortally wounded, and Brad Fartlighter was captured.

In the meantime, a dangerous new band of Tahntah rebel fighters has emerged in the Djinn Wastelands, led by the notorious chieftain:

Darb Dak’ar Dinari – known to his Followers as

The White Lion.

Their raids on Zandokan stations are increasing in deadly frequency, complicating any chances of rescuing your hero!

Yet from amidst the mysterious sandscape, an encouraging distress signal has been picked up. The Calista is now speeding over the Dune Sea into hostile tribal territory, and the Company are on their perilous way to bring back their Brad

 

“Okey dokey, fellas! We’re comin’ up on the Tahntah camp!” Chief Engineer Harris Wrench announced enthusiastically.

“Settin’ her down… now!” cried Helmsman Gaz Murphy. 

“Watchit, you lot! Ya bedder be on yer guard,” the Chief yelled, lowering the hatch and bounding out onto the velvety golden sand before he had properly activated his respirator.

“‘Ey, ‘Arris?!” Second Officer Lexi Waldorf yelled, racing out after him, the rest of the Company tagging cautiously behind.

“Don’t get sooo excited! Wait up, willya?!”  

“These Tahntahs are mean beggars; top desert figh’ers – tough as crud! They’re renahned fer takin’ nah pris’ners. They all go arahn’ swathed in yajhmakhs: tribal gear coverin’ ’em from head ta foot. These savages are crackshots wiv their looong tahndiggi rifles. An’ they all speak some’t indecipherable called Bit’i – not a frickin’ word a’ English, which is-“

“A real frickin’ drag, is it not, Earthman?” the Tahntah scout growled as it abruptly sprang out of the sand right in front of the startled Chief.

“Uff, frickin’ tourist… Shoutin’ yer lousy head off loud enough to betray our position to the Zandokans. Wanna know how “crack” I can be with this, sunshine?!”

All Harris could do was freeze… and stare with dread down the looong barrel of a tahndiggi rifle. 

In an instant, its buddies had emerged from the ground all around the terrified Company to gesture impudently at them.

“Hey, loudmouth Earthman! We take you all back to our camp; Darb Dak’ar Dinari is… expecting you! And then we show you ignorant lot how frickin’ “savage” we can really get, heh heh heh…”

“Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it…” – Sherif Ali.

Deep within the Tahntah base, in a subterranean tribal assembly room, a mob of Tahntah warriors had gathered to gloat at the hapless outsiders. The fearsome fighter: Tahntah Khasabah stepped onto a raised platform and proudly announced the arrival of Darb Dak’ar Dinari.

In an instant, the tension – and noise – dissipated; the crowd parted and a tall and imposing figure, bedecked in a dark, hooded cloak swathed around his sandswept yajhmakh, strode menacingly forth. Darb Dak’ar Dinari stopped to flick back his hood, and he gleered at Bad Company with sinister eyes as black as night.

“Ay caramba!” Nacho gulped.

“Keep back, Lex!” Gaz whispered. “I gotta feelin’ this moofmilker’s gonna chew all the scenery…”

Raising his right gloved hand to salute his guests, the mighty Darb spoke in a terrifying guttural drawl:

“Tahn diggi! Tihn diggi diggi tah bishkah!”

“An’ a-diggi diggi to ya too, fella,” Harris sighed despondently.  “Soz, but we dahn’t un’erstand yer lingo…”

“Nuh fret!” Darb announced heartily. “Aycan speaky yer lingy…”

“Cor, blimey – tha’s a swell piece a’ luck… Er, yer ‘oldin’ our Commander. We came ta geddim back, like; any chance we could see ‘im, umm… Mister Dinari, sir… please?”

“Ha ha, no hold…! He free man! Heere on Bi-tu-mee-een…!”

“Well, where is ‘e, like?!”

The great tribal leader switched off a Voice Modulator under his chin. From thenceforth, his speech lilted… in a more familiar dahn-ta-Earth tone:

“Ha ha ha! ‘Oo loves ya, baby?!”

Lexi stepped forward, gawping in disbelief. “Aow, fer cryin’ out loud!” she beamed.

The others just turned to stare at her.

“I just KNEW it…! Hey, guys: WHAT’S DARB SPELT BACKWARDS…?!”

Undisciplined… unpunctual… untidy. Several languages. Knowledge of music… knowledge of literature… knowledge of… knowledge of… You’re an interesting man, there’s no doubt about it!” – General Allenby. 

“Good on ya, Lex! Groovy. Thought ya might suss me aht before these nerks, ha ha!” Brad cried as he revealed his ridiculously good looks.

Nacho ran towards his Commander, giving him a big hug.

“Oh, tu madre loco!” he blubbed.

“Ha! Yeah, guess yer right, Nach… Good ta see ya ‘gain too, fella!”

Barb Degoya watched with a big dopey grin across his Rontavahrian chops.

“You never cease to amaze me, my Commander…!”

“Cheers, Barby!”

Gaz shook his awestruck head.

“Trust you, Brad, to act out your Loz o’ frickin’ Araby fantasies…! You’re one helluva crazy Brit, but I’ll always folla ya!”

“Heh, cheers, Gaz. Didn’ wanna disappointcha!”

“How have you survived here, all this time?”

“Easy peasy, fella. These Tahntah bunnies are such swell, ‘ospitable peeps; their kebabs are among the finest in the galaxy; they make the most scrumptious dessert: tahndiggibaklava – aww, ya jus’ gotta try it! – an’ luckily enough, I ‘ad the Desert Eagle e.p. in me Zune ta pump me oop for all those raids, but… ah, me Comp’ny – I missed y’all, so I nabbed an Imperial Com’unica’or for ya to come an’ get me!”

Lexi chipped in: “An’ you topped up yer tan as well, I see…”

“Ooh, it’s lovely, in’it? I got- ‘EY! Cheeky gal…”

Brad glanced at his Chief Engineer. “Ain’tcha gonna join in wiv da wisecracks, fella…?”

“Bleedin’ ‘ell…!” Harris muttered. “The ‘White Lion’…?”

“Ah, oho! Well, y’see… they love me porcelain complexion round ‘ere, y’know! An’ dahn’ ferget me lustrous blond mane! Ha ha, blimey Charley! Jus’ listen to ya: ‘Ooh, Mister Dinari, sir’, heh heh heh – shoulda seen da look on yer mug!”

“Aow, leave it aht, Brad… Uff, shoulda known…”

 “Yeah, fella… ya shoulda!”

At that mo, Harris’ blood curdled; that scout wandered over… and extended his hand. 

“Accept, please, my apologies for the…”act” … ‘Arris, is it not? Brad neglect to tell me how… sensitive you is…”

“Ha ha ha! Are ya?!” The Commander wrapped a reassuring arm around his Chief’s shoulder. “Nah worries – meet me new mucka: Tahntah Bosskhah.  ‘E may look as fright’nin’ as fudge, but ‘e’s really a mild-mannered  gent, like meself! ‘Ey, dahn’t be so easily startled, fella!”

“Yes, ‘Arris, chill out… man. Have some tahndiggibaklava…”

“Ah yeah! Ha ha! Amen, bruvva!”

“Give thanks to God that when he made you a fool, he gave you a fool’s face” – Auda Abu Tayi. 

Suddenly, a teenage Tahntah fighter leapt into the chamber, squawking something in Bitti. At once, the older tribesmen grabbed their tahndiggi rifles and began to disperse; Brad Company looked at each other uncomfortably.

“What the fudge is goin’ down now, Commander?” Gaz frowned.

“Sounds like we gotta Zandokan contingent ‘eadin’ our way…” Brad moaned, loading his rifle. “Confound it! Looks like the baklava’ll ‘ave ta wait…”

“Brad?! You’re not thinking…” 

“It’ll be okay, Lex – just one more time-“

“WHOA! Reverse thrust, Mister! We risked EVERYTHING ta get you back! We’ve been through too much to… aah, fegeddit. C’mon, ‘Arris, leave the lunk’ead ta linger here with his cosplay and tahn-frickin’-‘klava! GAH!”

And with that, Lexi stormed out, with the Chief sauntering sheepishly behind.

Tahntah Bosskhah had stood behind them, watching all the while, arms folded and head shaking.

“Oof! Doth my eyes deceive me? Can this be true? Looks like the Lion… just got tamed…”

“Aow, shush you…” Brad blushed.

The desert warrior wrapped a reassuring arm around the Commander’s shoulder.

“Do not be so easily startled, fella…! Wonderful girl… I… do not know. What you think? You think a Furie and a fella like me-“

“No! Oh me giddy aunt, no! She’ll make mincemeat outta ya… fella…”

“So be… never argue with the White Lion…! In that case… I long, instead, to see a real lion – you portray them as such fine, noble creatures…” 

“No such luck, amigo…” Brad sniffed. “They’ve been hunted ta the brink o’ extinction…”

Tahntah Bosskhah shifted uneasily.

“Tahntahtheos, no…! I know now why you were so eager to flee Earth. Truly, therein lie the real savages…”

“Do you think I’m just anybody do you? …The best of them won’t come for money – they’ll come for me!” – T.E. Lawrence

Tahntah Bosskhah surveyed the uncompromising Kazvini Plain with his “acquired”  Imperial ocular device.

“Has been an honour to fight by your side, Inglish… So, are we to ride and raid – one last time, or does the need to avenge your fallen comrade take precedence? I think we both know that Kismet will sweep you away along the latter path…”

“We both know that I dahn’ wish ta leave, but it’s uncanny – after ages thwarting the Empire countless times, the most onerous challenge I must confront involves… executing a coward…”

Tahntahtheos be with you in what perils lie ahead…”

“Cheers… Need all the strength: physical – and mental – that I can muster…”

“…You, my friend, the White Lion – what a privilege to state even that – have made… such a strong impression in such a short time! A redoubtable warrior; a formidable philosopher; a mighty eater; surely no other Earthling could cross the Anvil Of The Twin Suns unscathed? Tell me, is there anything you cannot do, Inglish?!”

“I can NEVER give up hope that, one day, the Empire will fall…”

Sherif Ali: “Have you no fear, English?”

T.E. Lawrence: “My fear is my concern.” 

Harris had taken Lexi out onto an alcove cut high into the Tahntah‘s great mountain fortress to let her simmer down. Tahntah guard wandered out to watch over them; but they all ended up watching the brigade – to an accompaniment of darbuka drums beating furiously – gallop away across the Djinn Wastes…

The Dak’ar Dinari actually stopped to turn and wave to them. Lexi reluctantly waved back. 

“Yeah, ‘bye ‘bye, lunk’ead; if you’re not back by midnight, we’re takin’ orf withoutcha… Do you think he will make it back…? In time…? ‘Arris…!!”

He flashed a wide, dopey grin stretching from one side of the galaxy to the other. 

“Well, fe fi fo frickin’ fum, fella!” he chortled. “I smell the blood o’ me Commander!” and turned to the guard, who lowered his rifle and stared back in shock.

“Jeez, Chief! How’dya know it wuz me?!”

“Ha, I ain’ gonna fall fer the same trick twice! Y’shoulda known that!”

“Yeah, fella… I shoulda!” Brad retorted, unwrapping his yajhmakh. 

“Huh, I shoulda guessed…” Lexi added, with a grin – albeit a wry one – finally returning to her lips. “Actually, I shoulda looked closer no other bunny in this tribe has so many tahndiggibaklava crumbs on ‘is yajhmakh. Lookachu! Messy pup… Okay, so who was the guy wavin’ at me?”

“Tahntah Bosskhah – I reckon you are ‘is Desert Rose-“

“Weh-heh-hell, nuts ta THAT! When? Can. We leave?!”

“As soon as yer ready!” Brad laughed. “Oh well, the new Dak’ar Dinari doesn’ get the girl, but ‘e should manage – gave ‘im me Zune! ‘E loves that Desert Eagle e.p.‘Onestly, ya jus’ couldn’ ride into battle wivaht it. Lookee ‘ere – the only bunny on this rock wiv a music player – if that doesn’t consolidate ‘is leadership, nothin’ will. Okey dokey, notify the others – we’re ‘eadin’ back to the Block’ead.” 

They were just about to move out, when Brad drew them into his arms.

“I know who the traitor is,” he whispered softly. “I’ve been ‘ere long enough ta work it aht.”

“Excellente!” Lexi snarled. “Poor Mitch. I’ve been itchin’ fer payback… ever since he…”

“I know ya have, lov, but this is some’t I ‘ave ta do… considerin’ who it… is…” 

She prepared to argue her case for a bigger role in this Bradventure, until she noticed REAL TEARS welling up in the hero’s eyes; she gave him a big hug before they all turned to leave.

Tahntah Khasabah appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll meetcha aboard in ‘alf a tick, guys – there are some farewell wishes I must pass on…”

“‘Tis true, then? You must leave now?” Tahntah Khasabah spoke (in Bitti). Alas, your glorious chapter in our story comes to a bittersweet end; we should have held a banquet in your honour.”

“We can have that…” Brad replied (in faultless Bitti). “…’Pon my return!”

“Ah! Then you are coming back?!”

“Of course! I could not stay away from all those savoury and sweet delights for too long…” 

“Ha! Praise Tahntahtheos for delivering thee – the ravenous White Lion – unto us!”  

“A thousand thanks for bestowing upon me the honour of leading your warriors into battle…”

“You are most welcome, Inglish. Besides, I needed to repay you for helping me defeat that band of Gondobek brigands, back in the day…”

“You already did when you rescued me from that Zandokan division. It was… Gondobek…? Ha, I had forgotten about them!”

“Glory! I thank Tahntahtheos that the White Lion is on our side…! Now the mantle of my tribe falls to Tahntah Bosskhah – he becomes the rightful Dak’ar Dinari… Once upon a time, I would have ached to join the brigade riding off this evening, but now… I just ache… I grow weary of battle.”

“What will you do now…?”

“I wish to retire, far below, and meditate beside our subterranean glacial pools. I yearn to write poetry, but the Zandokans deem me “savage” and decree that I cannot…”

“No! ‘Tis your life; your love… Do anything YOU want to do…”

“Absolutely! We both know that I will, Inglish. From now on, I will fight only to uphold every right, and strive to ensure that my people survive…”

“I very much look forward to reading your poetry… Follow your heart and smite the trolls.”

“Perhaps… Perhaps I should compose The Saga Of The White Lion; celebrate for evermore how our lives were blessed by such a remarkable man from beyond the stars… Who bewitched us all with his striking blue eyes…”

“Bless your heart, Tahntah Khasabah. You are a remarkable woman…”

Dune_Concept_Art_Illustration_m01-848x400

“I think you are another of these desert-loving English…” – Prince Feisal.

Damnation and blast, Brad!” cried Major Spoiler, more than dismayed to see the Battleforce Commander-turned-desert fighter appear before him on the vid-conf screen.

“How are you still alive?!”

“Yay, the bees-knees ta see ya too, Major Crotchstain,” Brad drawled, now ensconced back on the Calista as it zoomed up and away from the Tahntah camp. 

“And what the blazes is it with all that ridiculous tribal get-up?! Amateur theatricals?!”

“Yeah, some’t like that…”

“A nest of savages cannot protect you forever… fool. I will finish what Baumer was unable to do!”

“Sooo… ya wan’ ta terminate me? …With extreme prejudice, am I right?”

“Right!”

“WRONG! I may be as stoopid as I look, Major, but dahn’t think fer one frickin’ minute that I’m gonna fall fer yer dodgy schemin’…!”

Suddenly, Brad leered right into the screen, hollering through gnashed teeth.

“JEEZ! I KNEW IT WUZ YOU!! The set-up…? The ambush? YOU arranged it all, didn’tcha, fella…? DIDN’TCHA?! I’ll track ya dahn, trai’or!”

He held a clenched fist up against the monitor.

“Then I’m gonna download THIS into yer cake’ole, ya treach’rous moofmilkAH!

And with that, transmission abruptly fizzled out.

The Militia officer swivelled round to view the Zandokan delegation seated behind him. A familiar Dark Lord sat at the top of the table…

And did not look at all chuffed.

“Vell done, Mehjair. Yo rilly hed heem urn ze rurpz zhaire…”

“Patience, my Lord. I can assure you that my men shall… take care of Fartlighter-“

“WHAA-?! Yo try to fool Zegreatme?! Ay hef ZEEN yer men! GAH! Vukk me zydwaz… Ze murzt YUZELEZZ burnch urv vukkweetz Ay evair did zee!! Nurt a zeengle brenzell betweeen zem!” 

“But, my Lord-!”

“Uff, zpare me yer vukkin’ covfefe, Urfmairn! Nur mattair! Ay deed nurt come ull zeez way juzt to keek zand een zee Bettleferce Commandair’s fazz…! Yer worriez aire ovair, MehjairBay Ze Pah Eenvezted Een Mee Bay Ze Empah, Ay hef dezpetched ze grettezt bounteee hurntairz een ze gelexy to deeel weev heem!

“Ze Kekchairmair vill peez uz erf… NUR MURR! Heh heh heh…”

 

CONCLUDES HERE

“Me, your Highness? On the whole, I wish I’d stayed in Tunbridge Wells…” – Mr. Dryden. 

 

Shove Piggy Shove!: 2 Cakes Too Many

A Rebellion Built On Cake…

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“The Son Of Fartlighter Must Not Become A Glutton…” – Emperor Zan Doka. 

Planet- Killer!

Zamora – one of the last Federated Planets in the Hugivzatos System to hold out against the Zandokan Imperial Onslaught – has incurred the wrath of Zegreatme, Dark Lord of Zan Doka.

He has set the brand new flagship: the Imperial Ztodgeztonker, armed with the Ztellar Converter, a superweapon capable of destroying an entire planet, on a course towards Zamora…

Pledged to defend the planet at any cost is cake-scoffing bum hero: Brad Fartlighter. Him and ‘is indomitable band of outlaws: Brad Company are already back on Zamora after another daring raid across one of the Imperial provinces, but not all is well…

Poor little Carrie sat at the kitchen table of her mother’s home sobbing uncontrollably.

The Zandokans had just skedaddled, after wrecking the garden furniture, scaring off her friends and callously destroying her prezzies. 

Uff, the scaly-skinned bounders had even confiscated her birthday cake… 

“They completely RUINED her party!” wailed Tanya, her shocked mother, who sat in the kitchen watching Nacho and Harris try and clear the debris. Lexi sat beside her, trying to console her.

“Gottverdamnt…” muttered Brad Fartlighter. “If only the Calista had come outta hyperspace a tad sooner… I coulda-“

“No, Brad, even you couldn’t ‘ave done anythin’. They would have captured you, and your cake would now be in the hands of the Empire… “

She was a longtime pal, but even those words cut him to the core stronger than steel. 

“Yeah, but… As a Galactic Hero, I’m supposed ta be in the right place at the right time, an’ all… So sorry Carrie… “Me an’ the Co. are gonna do everythin’ we can to make yer birfday as snazzy as can be again…” Brad muttered, but the girl did not look up.

Tanya held her daughter ever so tightly: “Oh, those Imperial thugs! My kids…! How could they do such a- a-“ and with that, she broke down in Lexi’s arms…

“Don’t fret, lov,” Brad reassured. “Me an’ the Company are goin’ ta deal with ’em right away – an’ ya needn’t worry aboutcha bairns! Isn’t that right, fellas?”

Brad Company each offered their commiserations as they filed out. Except for Lexi; she paused at the door, looking solemn.

“You fellas run along; I’m gonna stay behind an’ look after these guys.”

“Good on yer, Lex!” Brad replied. “We’ll keep ya posted.”

“Fart! Mr. Fart! Hey, wait up!”

Carrie’s brother, Timmy, came running out to Brad.

“Are ya gonna get those Zandokans? Put one between the eyes for me, will ya?!”

“Whoa, Trooper! Strong words for such a pint-sized Rebel. You gotta-“

Only then did Brad notice the tears brimming in the boy’s eyes; he knelt and gave Timmy a big hug.

“…I can promise ya that Brad’s gonna get ’em… Wipe those tears away, kid. Ya gotta be strong fer yer Muvva an’ Carrie now, y’hear?” 

Brad handed out one of his lollipops – wishing he could give so much more – and strode, heavy-hearted, back to the Calista. 

“Is he housebroken, or is he going to leave batteries all over the floor?” – Miles Monroe.

The Calista Blockhead veered through the Hugivzatos System en route to intercept the Zandokan Imperial Fleet.

“Hey, ‘Arris,” Helmsman Gaz Murphy wondered.On our last raid, didn’tcha capture an Imperial Service Droid? And reprogram it?”

“Yeah man!” Harris Wrench, the Calista’s Engineer, beamed with pride. “Got ‘im right ‘ere!”

A tall, powerful, yet long-suffering bipedal droid plodded forward.

“Ay em B2-BEN-D, Zerveez Droid, Zema Zeriez. Ya vont Zerveez – Ay giv you Zerveez-“

“Whoa, excellente, amigo!” Gaz gasped in amazement. “Hey, BEN, ya ready ta work wonders fer us?” 

The droid looked irritable. “…Not really, Urfmairn. Thet wuz zuch en eencunveenienz tekkin’ me away from my Eempereeal blizz…” 

“Well, you’re gonna-“

“Huh… mek me, Urfmairn…”

“Huh, hoighty toighty…!” 

The droid stepped menacingly closer: “En’ enuthair theenk: zeez eedeeot failed to give me an oil barf…”

“Did ‘e now…? Well, Iron Nerk, we can’t afford such luxuries aboard the Calista, y’know-“

“Jeez, vot kinduva Meeky Mouze show air you lot runneenk heere?!”

“Look, I’m famished, BEN – go fry some chips-“

“Huh, go fry your head, Urfmairn…”

“Hey, ‘Arris…” Gaz whispered. “D’ya think ya reprog-job… y’know, was extensive enough?”

At that moment, Brad trudged onto the Bridge, bedecked in the biochemech armoured suit of a Zandokan Shokk Trooper. 

“Ay caramba! Here’s your helmet, Commandante,” Nacho chipped in. “Where you want it?”

“ON ME ‘EAD, SON! Where else, Nach?! Fer goodness sake! Flamin’ Nora…”

“Madre de dios, I don’t know… I have a bad feelin’ about th-”

“Stow it, Nach. I got this plan, an’ it’s as hot as me pants!”

Harris took one butcher’s and wrinkled his nose: “Uff, too hunky for a Shokk Trooper?”

“Aww, leave it out, ‘Arris! I’m takin’ an awful risk, amigo. This ‘ad bet’er work…”

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Luke Skywalker: “Why didn’t you say so before?”

Han Solo: “I did say so before!”

Meanwhile, aboard the Ztodgeztonker: 

“Zir!” piped one of the console operators on the Bridge.

“Yez? Vot know?!” yelled Zegreatme.

“Ay hef detected a deezturbenz urn Level 1138.”

“Level 1138? Zat eez ze Control Centair fer ze Ztellar Convertair! Put ze ZZTV urn ze main zcreen, eemmeediatly!”

“Eet eez Troopair FU421, Yer Exzellenzy.”

The shot of a blatant act of sabotage relayed on the main screen.

“Votzevukk eez he doeenk…?!”

Zegreatme bolted outta his seat as if an electric charge had shot up ‘is high-an’-mighty arse. 

“BLAZEZ! Zat eez ze tallezt Troopair Ay evair did zee! Ehr… FU421, vhy airen’t yo at yer purzt?”

FU421 turned round to face the camera.

“Who, me? Oh, er… vitel repairz-“

Troopair… vot eez your urpairateenk numbair…?”

“Numbair 2-5… zeex… wurn, wurn-“

“HA! GOTCHAIR, ya zaboteur-zwine, yo! Zat eez NUR urpairateenk numbair! 

“Oh, Blimey Charley, zat’z-!”

“WETT…!” Zegreatme’s bionic fist shot into the air. “Wett a meenit… NURBUDDY elze een ze galaxy toks laik ZAT. GUARDZ! Remurv zat troopair ent breeng heem to ME!”

lightspeed

“We’re gonna do this!” – Poe Dameron. 

FU421 was led by heavily armed escort onto the Bridge; Zegreatme strode forth to confront him:

“Troopair: yo vill remurv yer helmet and tell me yer nam…”

FU421 did as he was told, and all the Zandokans on the Bridge gasped as the galactic hero revealed himself.

“Me name is ‘Arrison Ford, Battleforce Commander of the Galactic Defence Militia, Sworn Defender of the Federated Planet of Zamora. Owner of a dodgy bike an’ some mouldy pretzels. An’ I WILL HAVE ME CAKE! In this Prison Barge. Or the next.”

“WHOA, heh heh! ZWIVEL ME ZYDWEZ! Vot a zpeech! …But pointlezz. Prepair to meet thy DOME, Fertlittair… but, er, veally – too hurnky fer a Shokk Troopair?”

“Aow, bloomin’ ‘eck, Zeg, don’t you start!”

“Gentlemen, Ay tell yo, zeez Urfdawg hez bin a cunztent pen – laike a boil urn ze burm fer too lonk! Zo… Bred, vot breengz yo crawleenk oat frum undair yer wretched ztern zeez tem, eh?”

“Ah, put a cork in it, Zeg! Do wit’ me whatever yer foul bonce can muster, but let Zamora go! I won’t stand aroun’ an’ watch while ya-”

“HA! Do may lugholez hear raight?! Ze gret hero eez lewzeenk ee’z tempair weev Zegreatme!”

Brad lunged forward and started knocking all over the Dark Lord’s armour. A shrill clanging sound reverberated all around the Bridge; the officers present gasped even louder.

“‘Ere, ‘ow come yer suit’s thicker than mine-?”

“GERROFF, ya crazy Urfdawg-!”

“Any’ow, jus’ thought I’d let ya know that I’ve already swiped back all the supplies – an’ the cake, of course! – that you lot swiped from Zamora…”

“Ha! Yo tray to fool Zegreatme?!”

One of the operators glared closer in disbelief at his console: “Eet’z true, may LordContainment Vezzel No. 237 eez know combpletely EMPTY! ULL 403 conzignmentz urv kek are gone az vell!”

“Er, 405 actually – I swiped a couple a’ beauties from anuvva-“

“Nur! Zat eez two kekz too many, end- ENNUV! Eet eez urv leetle conzequenz,”  Zegreatme remained unmoved. “Shurtly, ve VEELL enairgize ze Ztellar Convertair end you ken watch yer patheteec paltry planet BLURN eento urbleeveeurn, heh heh heh! “Yo hef LOZT, Fertlittair! Urn yer dodgy baike, Urfmairn! GUARDZ! Eef yo pleaze…”

“‘Old yer ‘orses, Zeg,” Brad exclaimed nonchalantly, licking some renegade cream off his upper lip. The hero brandished a a small device from his jacket’s inside pocket. The Zandokan guards’ trigger fingers twitched.

“Vot air you feedleenk wiv know, Urfmairn?”

“Ya know what this is?”

“Vot’s vot?”

“No, Who’s Who, but ya were close. In ‘ere is a record of people who ‘ave been left dischuffed an’ downtrodden by you Zandokan nerks fer too long… But there’s one name in particular I wanna draw your attention to, an’ – if I scroll dahn… dum-ti-dum-ti-d-AHA! ‘Ere she is! A little girl – she means nothin’ ta you Imperial nitwits, but yer Shokk Troopers, Zeg, still ‘ad ta go an’ ruin her big day, anyway! I wan’ ya ta know…” Brad seethed, fidgeting desperately with his device.

“This… is for Carrie…”

And with that, he flicked a switch, and sparks leapt out of the main console; in the confusion, he darted one hand up to a hidden earpiece:

“Okey dokey, ‘Arris, get me outta ‘ere, NOW!”

Brad Company teleported their Commander off the Ztodgeztonker. 

The Dark Lord waved his arms in the air. “VOT?! Ecteevate ze Tractair Bimm! Ay vont Bred back!”

“Bimm… May Lord?”

“Yayyez, BIMM! BIMM HEEM BECK KNOW!!”

“…But ve ken’t, Yer Ekzellenzy! Ze Urfmairn hez deacteevated ze Tractair Beem!”

Another controller cried out: “Nut urnly zat, may Lord! He hez rerouted ze Men Pah! Ve air completely eenurpreble! Aieee, ze Ztodgeztonker eez KAPUT!!” 

“Aah, fer ze lurve urv… KURZEZ!”

Brad exhaled a huge sigh of relief as he reappeared back aboard the Calista. 

“No time to ‘ang arahn’, lads – we gotta get back ta Tan’s gaff, pronto! PUNCH IT, GAZ!”

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“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don’t” – Carrie Fisher.

The doorbell rang.

Tanya came to answer it – she couldn’t believe her eyes! There stood Brad Company, holding prezzies – Gaz and Nacho carried huge cakes. And all Carrie’s birthday guests came running back in!

“An’ anuva thing…” Brad brandished a small gold-foil-wrapped prezzy. All the kids gawped; Carrie took it and shook it curiously.

“I swiped somethin’ else from Zeg…” Brad whispered to Harris, winking cheekily.

The Engineer’s eyes lit up: “Me beauty! Ya crafty beggar, ‘Ligh’er…”

Eagerly, Birthday Girl tore it open…

She opened her mouth in a silent scream, and then let out:

“COOL! A Samsung smartphone! Me very own Samsung smartphone!!”

She ran off to show it to all her friends.

“Don’t forget to say th-!” Tanya yelled, but her daughter had already disappeared into the next room. “She is very grateful…” the exasperated Mum exclaimed apologetically.

“No worries, lov! We can see thatTold ya I would make it up to ya- oh! Hey, Timmy, come here a sec, kid.”

Timmy, feelin’ kinda left out, slouched over very slowly.

“Hey, Nach, bring over that big package…”

In curiosity, the boy gradually unwrapped it – a humongous grin flashed across his grubby face as he brought out the second cake.

“Whoa, cheers, Mr. Fart!! This is swell!”

“Oh Brad,” Tanya beamed. “Do you ever get tired of being such a groovy Galactic ‘Ero?”

“Is this a trick question…?”

Outside, B2-BEN-D complained endlessly as he was ordered to tidy up the wreckage in the garden…

“Nur rewad eez worth THEEZ…”

Back indoors, a rare moment of jubilation erupted in this otherwise deprived sector of the Empire as the party went into full swing. The kids revelled in playing games: Pin The Tail On The Zandokan Ass; 1-Potato 2-Potato and – oh yes! – Shove Piggy Shove.

Tanya wiped away more tears, this time, of joy: “Bless you, Brad!” she whimpered gratefully.

“Bless you…”

_pbnir

 

Somewhere… 

In the cold depths of space…

The largest and most expensive starship in the Imperial Zandokan Fleet just hung there – derelict and pathetic – as dark and powerless as its seriously dischuffed Commanding Officer.

“GAH! VUKKITY-VUKK!! DEMN zat Bred!” Zegreatme growled furiously. “Ay veel chaze zat eccurzed Urfmairn to ze endz uv ze cozmoz end beck eef need be…!

“Uff… Ay’m FED URP weev zeez… Ay veel call ze repairmairn mayzelf…”

He frantically fondled himself.

“VUKK! VHERE EEZ MAY VUKKIN’ ZAMZUNG!! Gah, demn yo, Bred! DEMN YO!!”

All to no avail…

Didn’t you know, Zeg…? 

In space, no one can hear you berate the one and only Brad Burrito Fartlighter…

end