“The Hand Of Oberon”: And Other SF Delights From The Bradcave Of Books

 Escape Into A Good Book (Or Four)…

“As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world, you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible” – Ray Bradbury. 

So, 2018: the Year of the Black Panther is upon us.

First and foremost, let it be a groovy one for you, dear reader. 

For me, one major objective this year is simple, but imperative: Read More Science Fiction Novels and, thus, feature more book reviews on this site! Over this past year, my visits to secondhand bookshops have intensified, and some interesting titles have come my way.

Save them for a rainy day, methinks. By Holdo’s beard! It’s a-rainin’ now!

“I visualize eperything in my stories in considerable detail. If I cannot see a person or place clearly I cannot write about them too well. I tend to hear the dialogue, also, when rehearsing it in my mind. I sometimes think that this has something to do with a childhood spent listening to radio dramas” – Roger Zelazny.

At the zenith of otherworldly wonders on the printed page, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny stands as one of the most astonishing SF masterpieces ever written.

Endeavouring to catch up with other scintillating works by this SF grandmaster, The Hand Of Oberon (1976) is an intriguing addition to his five-part Amber series – a foray into the fantasy genre, in keeping with his interest in myth, miracles and theatricality. 

Is Amber treading the path to destruction? 

The whole kingdom is set to plunge into chaos, for Oberon, Amber’s magical king, has gone missing. Monstrous evil forces emerge from the dark, alternative world of Shadow. Upon the shoulders of the magus Lord Corwin falls the task of finding King Oberon – and foiling the sinister alternative reality threatening to destroy Amber… 

Highly and widely praised as “a brilliant creation of a weird alternative reality,” this enthusiastic bunny is beginning to agree.

“Those whom heaven helps we call the Sons of Heaven. They do not learn this by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason.

“To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the Lathe of HeavenChuang Tse: XXIII.

Keen to read more female SF writers, you could not ask for a more prominent example than Ursula K. Le Guin. 

The Lathe of Heaven (1971) is “a dark vision and a warning –  a fable of power uncontrolled and uncontrollable. It is a truly prescient and startling view of humanity, and the consequences of playing God.”

George Orr is the individual whose dreams possess the uncanny ability to alter reality. And his psychiatrist, William Haber, plans to benefit from this power…

Interestingly, each chapter begins with a quote from ancient Chinese philosopher: Chuang Tse, but one chapter leads with a staggering quote from Lafcadio Hearn.

Le Guin has “gracefully developed” an absorbing and inventive read. An intriguing fusion of science and poetry, and reason and emotion, this “clever exercise in alternatives and ethics” should serve me well until The Left Hand of Darkness eventually finds its way into my eager mitts…

“Patiently, and out of his own enormous vitality and talent, [John W. Campbell Jr.] built up a stable of the best science-fiction writers the world had, till then, ever seen” – Isaac Asimov.

August 4

“Dark, flickering shadows. We cannot use more mantles, as they require the oxygen of six men, give little light… I sat up and watched the store-rooms for three hours, but could not remain awake longer. No food was taken.” 

August 5

“The suit batteries are giving out now. The men complain their batteries will not stay charged…” 

This gives just some idea of the chilling tone set by The Moon Is Hell by John W. Campbell. 

As someone who used to try SF novels based purely on the awesomeness of its cover art, this particular cover fails to either entice or excite any potential reader, but this happened to be the first time ever that my book quests have located any work by the legend that was John W. Campbell Jr. so had to be snapped up regardless. 

As editor of Astounding Magazine (still in curculation as Analog) Campbell “made modern science fiction what it is today.” The success of such SF greats as Asimov, Heinlein, Sturgeon and numerous others can be attributed to him. He is perhaps best known for the classic short story: Who Goes There? – twice filmed, once as The Thing (From Another World) (1951) and again as John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). 

Apart from being an influential figure in publishing, Campbell knew how to weave some thrilling tales. Sure enough, The Moon Is Hell is quite a distinctive piece of work. First published in 1951, it tells of the first manned mission to the Moon in the far-future of  1981.

Essentially, it is the diary account of Dr. Thomas Ridgeley Duncan, physicist and second-in-command of the Garner Lunar Expedition. It turns out to be anything but the stupendous landmark achievement reserved for the history books. Constant tech faults, oxygen leaks, deliberate sabotage, you name it: each new day brings a fresh nightmare. 

Harrowing, claustrophobic, hopeless: it sounds like the last thing you would want to read! (>_<)

And yet…

The immediacy and intimacy of the personal journal format, plus the brevity, and tension inherent in Campbell’s style pulls you into this utterly compelling thriller.

“Ringworld is the best of the newest wave, the return to classical hard-science fiction of the kind popular in the Golden Age. Niven’s imagination is 3-D and detailed, and his style is lucid and appealing” – Frederik Pohl.  

On that dull and breezy day in May in which that bright and cheezy Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 came into my life, imagine my joy upon discovering a copy of Ringworld, by Larry Niven. 

With the inception of this blog, my long-dormant interest in SF could flourish once more – as a starter, compiling for myself a provisional list of essential SF classics to track down – Ringworld was one of them. Only took me four years to find this Hugo and Nebula Award-winning epic, first published in 1970. 

In this deep-space adventure, the titular centre of attention is a solar satellite which actually encircles its sun, populated by a whole coterie of alien races.

An inventive writer, Niven keeps his ideas solidly based in contemporary astronomical knowledge and physical theory. My attention was particularly drawn towards his critically-acclaimed concerted effort to recapture the spirit of Golden Age SF.  

That trip to the cinema was fine, but this novel is proving to be more memorable. 

“A good writer should be able to write comedic work that made you laugh, and scary stuff that made you scared, and science fiction that imbued you with a sense of wonder…” – Neil Gaiman. 

Well, these are just some of the books keeping me quiet and occupied in my den during this wet and windy Winter. 

Plenty of other amazing novels have accumulated around the Bradcave!

Forthcoming Posts will explore some of these amazing items; you can also look forward to a snazzy fiesta of science-fantasy – the subgenre of tales set in a far-future bereft of technology (sounds like my ideal world! 😉 )

And in case you were wondering what Bradscribe listens to whilst reading, and cataloguing, new additions to his ever-expanding Library this week – and never ceases to please the neighbours! – it’s this: 

“It may remain for us to learn . . . that our task is only beginning, and that there will never be given to us even the ghost of any help, save the help of unutterable and unthinkable Time.

“We may have to learn that the infinite whirl of death and birth, out of which we cannot escape, is of our own creation, of our own seeking; – that the forces integrating worlds are the errors of the Past; – that the eternal sorrow is but the eternal hunger of insatiable desire; – and that the burnt-out suns are rekindled only by the inextinguishable passions of vanished lives” – Lafcadio Hearn, Out of the East.

 

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In Loving Memory Of Our Princess: Carrie Fisher

One Year On – Still Can’t Believe She’s Gone…

Lor San Tekka: “Oh, the General? To me, she is royalty.” 

Poe Dameron: “Well, she certainly is that.” 

 

“Carrie was one-of-a-kind… one gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny, take-charge woman who took our collective breath away…

“She played such a crucial role in my professional and personal life, and both would have been far emptier without her” – Mark Hamill.

“Star Wars is about family, and that’s what is so powerful about it” 

Carrie Frances Fisher (21 October 1956 – 27 December 2016). 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Bradscribe Review

Your Spoilers – They’ll Have To Wait Outside! We Don’t Want Their Kind Here!

“Ryan Johnson’s movie has a sense of humour about itself and a sense of joy, but its emotional generosity, even in the midst of all the extravagant green-screen work, is its best special effect” – TIME Magazine. 

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror…

“I fear something terrible has happened.” 

You betcha!

Only the terror manifested more in the unwelcome form of spite and bitterness – there has been a Starkiller-sized amount of hate for VIII over this past weekend alone.

Truly, we waited on tenterhooks for two years for... THIS?! 

Okay, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is NOT terrible, but, alas, it is not great either.

You will be relieved to know that – unlike the barrage of bile foisted upon IMDb over the last few days – this review will refrain from descending into an expletive-laden rant. 

Unlike other episodes on the big screen, nobody cheered, nobody applauded, as the goosebump-inducing score broke out, or the legendary title scrawl began trundling upscreen… 

Hello, methinks, quite a different Star Wars movie is unfolding here… 

“And, as for Luke, Hamill comes into his own here with a very intelligent and sympathetic portrayal of his great character. Luke is now part Prospero, part Achilles… potentially the great magician or teacher on this island, ready to induct Rey into the Zen priesthood of the Force” – The Guardian. 

The biggest gasp in the auditorium did not go to the – admittedly awesome – praetorian guard fight, nor towards the surprise appearance of a dear old friend on Ahch-to (arguably Last Jedi’s most charming scene). No, as the opening space battle gets underway, the very first First Order officer we see on the bridge is played by none other than Ade Edmondson!! 

My non-British blogging friends might like to know that this cult fave star appeared in a few classic BBC TV comedy shows during the 80s. To see him here was extraordinary, but, immediately, alarm bells started ringing.

Uh-oh, they’re gonna play this for laughsunfortunately, this proved to be precisely the misguided and cringe-inducing case as a thoroughly underwhelming first act ensued. There are certain lines that should never be uttered in the Star Wars galaxy – “Let me put you on hold” (?!) should NOT be one of them, by Jove!

Amidst all the much-maligned New Hopisms of The Force Awakens, the trio of new characters: Rey, Finn and Poe were most welcome, and refreshing additions. Here, none of them, frustratingly, were allowed to develop any further.

The only thing to strike me about Holdo is that she looked all dressed and coiffured ready for Canto Bight, not saving the Resistance.

Laura Dern?! As an Admiral?! 

Come OFF IT… That absurd premise turned out to be more hilarious than anything “General” Gleeson managed to spout…

And “Captain” Phasma…? Soz, but that was the moment Brad blinked…

With the Asian cinema market larger than ever, it was just a matter of when, not if, a character like Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) would appear in this franchise. Personally, she gabbled too fast, so none of her scenes could be followed. No matter,  by the time she had become miraculously embroiled in the shoddily “written” derring-do, my attention had well and truly drifted. 

Speaking of cringe-inducing: by far the weakest – certainly most useless – sequence takes place on Canto Bight.

A cosmic Monte Carlo might be more suitable for crap like Valerian. But not Star Wars, for cake’s sake!

“We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life… …”

On a positive note, however, it was fabulous to see the lovely – and still feisty – Princess (sorry) GENERAL Leia again – thankfully, watching Carrie for the very-last-time proved not to be the emotional slog one had expected. However, one particular scene glided past 😉 that elicited a few sniggers in the darkness around me.

My time and patience was also saved by Adam Driver, who managed to bring some much-needed gravitas as perpetually-petulant-teen-with-ridiculous-mask: Kylo Ren.

And Chewie!

But then again, despite his instant-classic “Roast Porg” scene, this weary Wookie had – as feared – too little to do.

More sketches with those delightful, albeit dotty, “Caretakers” on Ahch-to would have cheered me up.

Most of all, though, it was great to catch a powerful and moving performance by Mark Hamill  as Ireland’s living legend: Stragglybeard, Lord Of The Grumpy Teatsqueezers.

The Last Jedi ranks with the very best Star Wars epics by pointing ahead to a next generation of Skywalkers – and, thrillingly, to a new hope” – Rolling Stone. 

Mercifully, this instalment is not as atrocious as the universally-reviled prequel trilogy, but still lags several parsecs behind last year’s Merry Sithmas Special: Rogue One. 

Disney – obviously – were too preoccupied with designing those cute critters: porgs, crystal foxes and whatnot – and all that blasted associated merchandise! – to worry about the inconsequential stuff. Such as story structure and a cohesive narrative, etc. etc.

And what is so Supreme about this Leader?

Deeply disappointed.

After being so intrigued by such a potentially-menacing figure, and wanting to know more about his origins/history, here (in his snazzy golden dressing gown) his “character” is – shamefully, almost embarrassingly – barely onscreen long enough to frighten us, let alone fascinate us further.

Snoke is a joke! (And like this film’s other “light-hearted” moments: simply not funny. And doesn’t deserve to be.)

Similarly, our fascination surrounding Rey remains almost-painfully unresolved. Amounting to nuthin’, this simply splutters out as the most annoying non-event ever. 

And Brad grows tired of asking this so it will be the last time: how did Maz find Luke’s lightsaber?!

Oh, never mind…

Not only do these unsettling anti-climaxes remain unsettled, but the way we all got psyched up and brainstormed out for NOTHING (partly inciting the extreme antipathy that has clogged up the internet these past few days) has brought me to the brink of indifference. And a complete, crushing state of apathy towards Episode IX, or – Sith forbid! – a whole new trilogy by Rian Johnson. It’s as if he didn’t BOTHER to watch The Force Awakens. Or, at least, consult JJ Abrams’ notes…

Whilst pondering whether to discuss Spoilers in this Review, let me conclude by stating that this whole bally venture felt like it spoilt just about everything that makes the Star Wars phenomenon so stupendous and awe-inspiring.

 

The most memorable moment of this particular viewing experience happened to be the severe cramp. 

After two and a half hours, all feeling in my right leg had gone. As the last dude stuck in his (plush, velvet, Edwardian) seat after this evening’s performance of The Last Jedi, a young attendant – black eyeliner, black lipstick, rings and studs protruding from the most unlikely places – came to check on me.

After explaining my predicament, whilst rising awkwardly to my feet, she chortled:

“Yer jus’ gonna ‘avta FORCE yerself, darlin’, he he!” 

Honestly!

What IS it with Brad and cheeky Goth girls?! 

She noticed me grimace at the endless end credits.

“I know!” she complained. “Absolute blooody roobbish, innit?! I ‘avta put up wiv this three times a day fer the rest o’ the week!” 

Ah yeah, your job really sucks…

“Anyways, enough abaht me – what did YOU think of it… …?”

 

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“That’s NOT how the Force works!”

 

 

 

Good! Let The VIII Flow Through You!: First Impressions Of The Last Jedi

Breathe. Just Breathe. Now Reach Out.

What Do You See?

Green Greedo: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Han Solo: “Yes, I bet you have...”

“When I read VIII, I told Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided about my character’,” Mark Hamill said before embarking on filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Although Mark swiftly changed his mind and had a blast resurrecting the character with which he will always be associated with, immediately, this statement turned out to be the most worrisome aspect of this latest instalment. If it was “shocking” for Mark to read what Rian had written, then how is it going to make us feel?!

Personal reservations about new characters and contentious plot developments for established characters – not to mention unease concerning where the last two episodes will lead – have somewhat lessened the eager anticipation which so many fans have revelled in and blogged about these past few months.

Nevertheless, it is thrilling to have NEW Star Wars magic within our grasp once more and, obviously, both of you are itching to read what this first generation fanboy has to say about it, so, away we go…

“It was incredible! The perception of these films is that they’re all planned out on a secret sheet of paper in advance, but that’s just not the case. I wasn’t given an outline of where it goes or even a list of things to hit. It really was just, ‘Okay, what’s next?'” – Rian Johnson.

“Who is Luke Skywalker now?” asked Rian Johnson as he set out to fulfil a dream and write the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“I grew up with an idea of who Luke was, so the real question was why is Luke on that island? Luke’s no coward… so there must be some reason he’s there that makes sense to him. That was the first nut to crack. The seed for the whole story was inside that shell. I just had to get to it.”

Caught up with Looper (2012) earlier this year, to get acquainted with Johnson’s directorial style. Fortunately, it is an intelligent and fantastic time travel SF thriller, and assured us that Star Wars VIII looked to be in more-than-capable hands.  

From a certain point of view, The Force Awakens was great fun, even though, yes, we didn’t need the rehashed New Hope tropes of another Death Star and “vital information” placed in a droid-unit etc. etc. Unfortunately, the film’s main hindrance lay in JJ Abrams direction. Solo’s demise seemed inevitable, but the whole confrontation between Han and Ben sorely lacked the dramatic heft it deserved.

And although John William’s score was suitably moving as Rey clambered up Skellig Michael to find Luke, this pivotal sequence still looked too bland. This former Archaeology student realised the problem – he instantly recognised the locationAdd an extra planet in a sky that maybe should have been tinted a wildly different colour. Maintain the impression that we are indeed in a galaxy far, far away and not just off the coast of Ireland, please… 

 

Also, savour again this classic, endearing moment from The Empire Strikes Back:

“Where’s my boyfriend? I like that Wookie” – Maz Kanata.

Let’s face it, Chewie would have stampeded up those Skellig steps faster and more enthusiastically than Rey – not mope around outside the Falcon! Half-expected him to do so, as well! How long is it since he last saw Luke?! Besides, he had just lost his scruffy-lookin’ best buddy, but Abrams NEVER allowed him the screen-time to grieve! 

Would not be surprised to discover that our fave Wookie will be similarly underused in The Last Jedi. 

Come ON – let the Wookie scene-steal!

*

Thankfully – judging from early reviews, this movie seems to be a positive upgrade, but just poses so many questions: 

Will Rey turn to the Dark Side?

Will Kylo learn the difference between right and Ren? 

Will General Hux really get the most laughs?!

Will this episode answer ANY of these questions (and plenty more too innumerable to type)..?! 

Hello… …?

“Episode eightgosh… The first film didn’t even have a number…” – Anthony Daniels. 

 

“It’s the first time I’ve been on set not yet knowing what the character’s gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!” – Andy Serkis.  

For me, it has reached the point where speculation surrounding “Supreme Leader” Snoke supersedes everything else, including that other Starkiller-sized mystery of the galaxy: Rey’s parentage. There is an overwhelming urge to suss out who this creep is – and where he came from. 

Presumably, he is very ancient, very powerful. One thing is certain: the name is bogus. Has to be. 

In The Force Awakens, listening to characters as diverse as Leia and Nux saying “Snoke” with a straight face was something else. 

However, does the REAL villain of this Episode lurk elsewhere..?

It is telling that Rian Johnson has mentioned how Snoke is the (ahem) snokescreen for where the true drama – and shocks – lie… 

The above poster is included here to emphasise the following point. Notice here how Luke is bathed in red: traditionally associated with the Empire. With evil. Also, see how large he looms, as Vader used to do on the OT posters…

Dark Side or not, what intrigues me the most about this episode is learning additional details about the background story of Luke’s quest for the first Jedi temple, and how he lost his padawan – his nephew – to Snoke, thus compelling our hero to retreat in shame(?) to a remote sector of the galaxy.

Tell me, OLD Luke, what brings you out this far… …? 

“Oh baby, would I love to play my own evil twin…We could watch this guy undermining the good guys secretly, maybe even killing a supporting character… And then, of course, the good Luke shows up” –  Mark Hamill. 

“Are they puffin-like? Are they pug-like…? One, in particular, befriends Chewie. I won’t spoil it, but if you think the ones you’ve seen in the trailer are cute, you have not seen anything yet” – Neal Scanlan. 

Difficult to see, the plot is. 

When you consider how Star Wars is now Disney property, it’s all too easy to fear the worst. Your correspondent, regrettably, can see it now: Jedi Master Luke and his plucky porg posse break into Snoke’s Throne Room. 

Epic lightsaber duel ensues.

(Hopefully it will NOT be as inspid and seven hours too frickin’ long as that soulless saber-swingfest from Episode III).

Just when the Leader looks to be too Supreme for his own good(bad?) Luke extends his robot hand and Force-propels Snoke back; at the last minute, the villain trips over a wall of porgs, and – like Maul and Sidious – hurtles to his doom down one of those expensive, albeit superfluous, CG-chasms.

Later, as the hangar explodes and disintegrates all around them, and they must go their separate ways, Porg Chief Berni Two-Socks (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of course) looks up with those ubercute oversized black eyes, tears a-swellin’, and chirps:

“Gee, Mr. Luke, not bad fer a Longshanks! The boys are gonna miss ya, an’… aww shucks, Ah’m-a gonna miss ya too…”

Trust me, there will NOT be a dry eye in the (full) house…

Uff, typical Disney fluff! 

On second thoughts, methinks mayhap this grizzled ol’ nerfherder should DELAY his trip to the local popcorn parlour this week. And wait to be seriously disappointed in the comfort of his own Sanctum Sanctorum when XIII starts “streamin’ on Nitflex” (or whatever the younglings call that dashfangled gogglebox-contraption)…

“The Last Jedi felt more visceral. The first film felt like a dream” – Daisy Ridley. 

Before hitting Publish, it would be fitting to finish with a nice little anecdote from – oh yes – a long time ago when ONLY TWO Star Wars movies existed, but for me and my gang of mates, we were just DAYS away from the release of Return Of The Jedi. 

At the time, a British magazine called Voyager – concentrating on movies, model kits and space/astronomy news(!) – published an invaluable article discussing The Genesis Of “The Star Wars.” Reckoned it would be a great service to proclaim that instead of three movies we could – one day – enjoy all NINE episodes of The Journal Of The Whills.

They all looked at me as if Admiral Motti had just dissed The Force. 

Bumfluff growled and hissed bitterly: “Jeez, Brad, you’re so full o’ Bantha doo-doo it’s unreal!”

True story…

It would also be lovely to round off this post by stating that as we all prepare to watch The Last Jedi, it’s nice to know that Brad will be having the last laugh.

But will it – can it – really make for a joyous cinema experience? Yet again, yours truly just can’t bring himself to describe how difficult ’twill be to sit through the late, great Carrie Fisher’s last-ever screen performance.

Definitely, there are grim tidings ahead. Having lost Han Solo in VII, we must prepare for Leia’s fate in this episode, but also – although one does not like to dwell on such disconcerting matters too much – Luke will probably not see the end of IX…

 

WAIT a moisture-farmin’ minute here… 

What if Luke gets killed off in VIII?!?! 

What ELSE can account for Mark’s misgivings and the “considerable risks” rumoured to have been taken by Rian with this far, far away material?

Who else has a bad feeling about this?

We must be cautious…

Breathe. Just Breathe… …

 

“What a piece of junk!” – Luke Skywalker. 

How fitting that Episode VIII should be released in the year of Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary. 

Is it really FORTY YEARS since the world we thought we knew changed forever…?

“…A script arrived on my dressing table. When I opened it and found that it was science fiction I thought: oh crumbs, this is simply not for me…

“The dialogue was pretty ropey, but I had to go on turning the page… That is an essential in any script…” – Alec Guinness.

 

“You May Dispense With The Pleasantries, Commander”: THIS IS IT! BRAD CONFRONTS ZAN DOKA!!

Duel Of The Cakes…

 

This is the Final Episode in the Firm And Shapely Trilogy if you want to catch-up, here are Episode I & Episode II

Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenceless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete…” – Emperor Palpatine. 

 

BLAZES!

We CAN’T wait any longer! Get ON with it, already!

 

“Command Ztation, zeez eez ZT 3-2-wurn. Code Clearence Blue,” announced the Zandokan pilot as the Zoulzukker approached the Imperial Ztodgeztonker.  

“Ve’re ztarteenk our apprurch. Deactivate ze zecurity jhield!”

A Command Ztation officer watched their approach: “Infirm Lord Zegreatme zat Commandair Zubizmaar hez errift.”

In the Imperial Foyer, the Dark Lord strode towards a turbo-lift, anxiously awaiting its occupants. The doors slid aside and two guards exited, followed by the leader of the Kriegzlide Killzquad and his prisoner, who gazed at Zegreatme with complete calm.

“Zeez eez a Rebel zat zurrendaired to uz. Although he deniez eet, Ay believe zhere may be murr uv zem, end Ay requezt pairmizzun to conduct a furthair zearch uv ze area… He vuz armed… urnly weev zeez.”

The Commander extended his hand, revealing the egg-whisk that the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had “borrowed” from the canteen on Wotsit IV; Brad chortled heartily.

“Gourd verk, Commandair. Leaf uz. Conduct yer zairch end breenk heez combpanionz to me.”

“Yez, may Lord.”

Zmutti Zubizmaar and the guards withdrew. The rotten antagonist and the groovy protagonist stood alone in the oddly tranquil beauty of the place… until Zegreatme growled and flung the whisk aside.

“Ze Emprah hez been expecteenk yo,” the Dark Lord muttered as they walked back into the flagship.

“I know, me Lord.”

“Zo, yo hef accepted ze truth zat – hey! – Ay EM Ze Beeg Cheeez-” 

“I’ve accepted the truth that you are a big-“

“ENNUV!” They halted abruptly. “DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR! VHERE’Z MAY VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG?”  

“Jeez, Zeggy-baby, haven’tcha got over that yet?! Anyways, it seems ages since we last locked antlers, sotaspeak. Ya know what? I missed ya, Zeg yeah yeah, I’ve actually missed ya, you stormin’ biochemech tosspot, you! Funny thing is… I reckon that… yeah, you kinda missed me too, coochie-coo…”  

The Dark Lord bristled: “UFF…! DURN’T MEK ME DEZTROY YO…”

“Nah-ah, I know ya missed me-”

ZYLENZ! AY VEEL NUT LEEZZEN…”

“…That is why ya couldn’t destroy me. That’s why ya won’t bring me ta yer Emp’ror now-“

“GAH! YO AIR A DEEKWAD, AZ ZE EMPRAH HEZ FURZEEN…”

“Search yer feelin’s, tosspot-”

“YO DURN’T KNUR ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH!”

“I feel the conflict wiv- Jeez! That ‘eadache yer givin’ me dahn’ ‘arf split! Let go o’ yer Caps Lock, already! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora…”

“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?” – Han Solo. 

Just as they rounded a corner, Brad hurled himself into the Dark Lord, sending him clattering and swearing inanely into the wall opposite.

As mad as a bicycle, the reluctant infiltrator dashed off with a gaggle of guards in hot, clanking pursuit. To one side, a door slid up; instinct compelled him to hurl his ripped bod through. He found himself in a sizeable hall – penetrating blackness prevented him from sussing out how large. 

A transparent screen – several metres high – met his startled gaze on the port side. Countless glittering stars dazzled his retinas as he gawped into the infinite vastness of space…

“BEHULD!! Ze ultimet pah in ze uneevuzz! End eet eez… ULL MAIN…” 

The abrupt, booming voice reverberated malevolently. Your hero slowly turned, and there, in an opulent throne sat the most imposing figure Brad had ever encountered. It was bedecked in brilliant purple biochemech armour, and wrapped in the most extravagant crimson cloak. No head could be seen. That despicable voice emanated from within an oversized, conical silver-plated helmet as worn by the Varlok warlords of olde. 

“ENTAH, Bred Fertlittair! Ay hef been expecteenk yo…”

“Oh, blazes… That voice… That cloak…! Ya gotta be-”

“Prezizely, Commandair! EMPRAH ZAN DOKA: RULAIR UV ZE UNEEVUZZ!

“Az lung az Ay vield ze PAH COZMEEC, Ay em ULL PAHFUL! Lurng hef Ay ewetted zeez day! Ay vonted to meet ze wun end urnly Kekchairmair… Beefur heez eeneviteble extairmeenation, heh heh heh… Prepare to meet thy DOME, Urfmairn!!”

“Who talks first? You talk first? I talk first…?” – Poe Dameron.

“Wherevair Ay look, ze Rebel bandz air zcattered end demurelized acrozz ze ztarz…

“Eet ezz urnly a mattair uv tem beefur yer peeteeful leetle bend air crujt, end may gallant furzez march to ze vinal veectory!”

“Pfah, YOU… are the one ‘oo’s doomed, Zan – we may be few, we may be poor, but the Rebellion’ll be the end o’ ya – of that, ya can be sure!”

“Ha! Nut even yer louzy poetry ken harm me!” Emperor Zan Doka sneered.

“Yer gravely mistaken, Chief… Ya really think that yer despicable ideology o’ hate will prevail…? ‘Ere, check it aht: as long as dudes like me stand oop ta the likes uvya-“

“Laike yo?! Heh, yer NUTHEENK, Bred! Juzt a homelezz zupairmudel weev a blaztair!”

“Huh, an’ you are a-” 

“ENNUV! AIR, Lurd Zegreatme! Ve vood be honaired eef yo cood jurroin uz…!”

Brad sensed a gargantuan fella lumber in to stand beside him.

“Eet eez UNWAZ to queztion ze Rulair Uv Ze Uneevuzz, Urfmairn…” Zegreatme grumbled.

“Oh yeah? I’d like to see how far ya get wivaht him strainin’ on yer leash, Zeg-“

“Urgh yeah? Ay’ll ZTRAIN YO unteel yo tell me VOT yo deed wiv may VUKKEEN’ ZAMZUNG, Bred!” 

“Ya know what?! I shoulda shoved it in yer Imperial Cake’ole! Blimey, it’s bloomin’ big enough! Then ya’ll be sure NEVAH ta lose it!”

“Yo knur vot?! Ay’m gonna LOOZ EET een a meenut, Urfzcurm! BAY SHOVEEN’ YO OAT ZE VUKKEEN’ AIRLOCK!!”

“Huh, try it, coochie-coo. Just try…”  

“ZVIVEL ME ZYDWEZ!!” the Emperor roared. “Vood yo juzt LEEZEN to ze pair uv yaz?! JEEZ! Yo two verr MEDD fer each uzzair! How ken ve rezturr peaz end belendz to ze Uneevuzz wiv yo DEEPWEETZ conztently beeckaireeng, heh? HEH?! JEEZ!!” 

“Fergeev me, may Mazter…”

“NUR! Ay zwear! Yo two veel be ze deff uv me! Ay ken juzt enveezage ze pair uv yaz teemeeng urp end ovairthroweeng me!” 

Brad’s cute eyes lit up. 

“‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought…” he whispered, nudging the Dark Lord playfully in the ribs. “Whaddya say, Zeggy-baby?! Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn this-“

“NUR! ‘OW DARE YO, URFMAIRN! AY VEEL NEVAIR TURRRN EGENZT MAY MAZTER, FOOL!!”

“We can DO this! Come ON…! Aow ya picked one ‘elluva time ta turn yella, fella…” 

“ZYLENZ! YO DARE CALL ZE DAKK LURD UV ZAN DOKA A COWARD?! VUKKIT, BRED, WUN MURR WYZAZZ LINE FROM YO EN’ AY VEEL HEET YO ZO VUKKEEN’ ‘ARD, YO’LL BE VLYEENK!!”

“WOO…! You EAT CAKE wiv that mouth?!” 

“JEEZ, zhere yo two gur… EGEN!” wailed the exasperated Zan Doka. “Dyzan demmit! Deedn’t ze pair uv yaz hear me ze virzt tem?! ‘OO eez Emprah eround ‘ere? HELLUR…?! ‘Oneztly! Zeez beekkereeng eez geeveenk me en ‘eadache!” 

“YOU got a split’er?!” Brad cried in dismay. “‘Ow’d ya think I feel?! ‘Ad nuthin’ but grief given ta me by the pair uv yers ever since I wuz brough’ ‘ere!”

Brad’s cute eyes lit up again. 

“It- say! We do ‘ave some’t in common! ‘Ey!! Tha’s a thought… Whaddya say, Big-Wig? Why dahn’ we team oop an’ take dahn ol’ lanky Lordy Fog’orn ‘ere? Like, I’m easy, either way, man…”

“ENNUV!” th Emperor roared once more. “Yo TRY oor patienze ULL TOO QUEEKLY, Fertlittair! Yo VEEL be zentenzed to deff!”

“Come again?”

“DEFF!!”

Yer overconfidence is yer weakness,” exclaimed Brad.

The Emperor spun round and spat: Yer zoftzpotz fer peenball macheeenz end kek eez yerz…”

Zegreatme nudged Brad mockingly in the ribs and whispered: “Eet eez purrntlezz to rezeezt… DEEKWAD…”

“Power is the only freedom that I seek. Absolute power is absolute freedom” – Omega. 

“Lord Zeg, leave uz,” Emperor Zan Doka exclaimed.

“Ez yo weesh, may Mazter…”

The Dark Lord bowed ostentatiously, but snarled at Brad before departing: “Zee yo latair, deekwad…”

“Yeah, already missin’ ya, Dork Lard…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger drawled as he watched his arch-nemesis depart.

“Nice. Gotta hand it to ya, Chief; tha’s one well-trained poodle ya got there. Foul-mouf’ed, lousy tempah per’aps, but still, nice…”

Brad froze, staring at a delectable object on a stand beside the Emperor’s throne. 

“Yo vont zeez…” The Emperor snarled, turning to regard a slice of chocolate cake with abject scorn. “Durn’t yo…?”

“That’s… that’s a slice o’ me fave! You can sense that…?”

“Zenze it?! Ay ken hear yer ztomach rumblin’ frurm ‘ere, Urfmairn!”

“An’ ‘oo’s fault is that, Chief…? Blazes… ya enforce blockades; annex ‘ole planets; subjugate – even xterminate – entire species! All the while, thousands… oh Dyzan, millions… are starvin’! They despair! They ‘oller! They curse ya! An’ wotcha doin’, all the while…? ‘Oldin’ fancy dress parades? Openin’ new Imperial space stations…? Playin’ golf…?!”

“Nur, Ay rule!” 

“Nah, YOU SUCK!! Ya really think that I’m jus’ gonna lounge arahn’ an’ let ya torment the galaxy wiv yer… yer-“

All of a sudden, your hero felt a tingling sensation in his mind as the Emperor held aloft his long, spell-casting talons.

“Yezzz, yo VONT TO TEK ZE PLAZ BAY MAY ZIDE… Yo VONT to eet ze kek, Bred… EEET… ZE… KEK…”

“Uh… yeah, man… I wanna eet ze… ‘ang on…!” Brad shook his head, holding the tasty-looking wodge in his gloved hand, sniffing it. 

“Uff… poisoned!” he roared and hurled it angrily at the Emperor. “Think ya can fool the Cakecharmer ‘imself wiv dodgy bakes, eh?!”

The Emperor struck back: “Eef yo veel nut be turned, yo veel be-!”

“‘OLD! ‘Ang abaht, Zan – I got a bet’er idea… …” 

“Put down your weapons! No one, but no one, dies in the palace without a command from the Emperor” – Klytus.

“GAH! VUKK!!” the Emperor roared as he burst out of his own throne room into the main corridor, throwing frustrated Imperial arms in the air. “VERDS FAIEEL ME!!”

Zegreatme and the Praetorian Guards sprang to attention.

“Zat Urfmairn… eez ‘ard verk, iz’e nut, may Mazter?”

“Ya ken zay ZAT eggen, Zeg! VUKK, ‘e’z zumzeenk elze… Een ULL MAY DAYZ, Ay hef NEHVAIR beefur met ‘ee’z laike…” Emperor Zan Doka grumbled.

“Vot eez thy biddeeng, may Mazter?”

Uff… vukk knowz… Vot muzt wun do agenzt ze PAIRFECT combeenation uv pecz, abz en’ bunz… GAH! Vot KEN wun DO against zuch a… ZUCH A- GAH…!”

“Do nut fret, Mazter,”

“Nur worries… Lord Zegreatme! Zhere eez zumzeenk trubbleen’ me… Pat yer head…”

“May Mazter…? Ay do NUT undairztand…”

“Do nut look zo zairprized, Lurdy – Pat yer head… Know, rub ze tummy at ze zame tem-“

“But VHY, Mazter…?!”

“GAH! VUKK! DO NUT QUEZTION YER EMPRAH! HOW MENNY TEMZ MUZT AY TELL YO NERKZ, HEH?! HEH, jeez…”

“Fergeev me, Mazter; ez yo veesh, May Mazter…”

“HA!! Yo KEN do eet! Ay knew eet; I KNEW IT! Ha…! That’s one thing I can’t abide about you extremistsyer ALL shout, an’ NAH clout. Jus’ a sad bunch o’ blind, obedient automatons. ‘Oo NEVAH question authority; ya CAN’T even exhibit yer own initiative! YOU are the lot who will meet thy DOME! DONUTS… the lot o’ ya…”

“May Mazter, vot…?!”

“Nutheenk yo ken get ta greepz weev, Zeg… Oh! Wun murr theeng… Remove the blockades from Gondabek, Otthon IV and Burgonya. Oh! And – while you’re at it – withdraw the garrisons from Oberon and Shazbot…! And Tufluk! ‘Tiz yer Emprah’s weel! EDVENZ EET! KNOW…!

“Ze Urfwomairn! She’z urn ze Detention Levil – Ay VONT to zee hair! Tek ME to ‘AIR, zumbuddy!!”

One Shokk Trooper stepped confidently forwards: “Shee eez held een Cell wurn-wurn-3-8. Let me ezcurt yo, Yer Highness!”

“Gourd… GOURD! A faine example uv Eemperial deezcipline, zeez boy! Lead URN, Troopair…! Mek ware, MEK WARE! Rulair uz ze Freeken’ Uneevuzz, comeen’ thro…”

And with that, they marched away down the corridor.

Rounding a corner, away from any Imperial bods, the Emperor noticed a couple of curiosities: clearly, this individual seemed too short to be a Shokk Trooper; and a most-recent blast point could clearly be seen on his right pec…

He stopped the Trooper in his tracks, and exclaimed: “Zhere eez zumzeenk… very femeeliair aboat zet voice… Yo zed “Yer Highnessss…” 

The Ruler of the Universe looked up and down the corridor, ensuring that they were indeed alone. Then he reached over, and – clasping the shocked Trooper‘s shoulder and jigging it a lil – began to speak in a more groovy voice:

“It… IS you, innit… Bagel…? Thank Dyzan, I thought ya wuz a goner! SO GOOD ta see ya again, kid… …”

“Go and seek out Baltar. Tell him I am displeased. Tell him I offer a choice: deliver the Battlestar… or deliver his head” – Cylon Imperious Leader. 

“Blimey, Commander! Ya jus’ gotta tell me ‘ow ya got ‘old o’ th Emperor’s cloak!” Bagel enthused as the two Rebels marched towards the Detention Level. 

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, kid! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“HALT! Ze pair uv yo!” shouted the armed, female Zandokan sentry as they rounded the next corner. She scowled at the Emperor, aiming her blaster ominously…

“We-heh-hell! This is TOO GOOD to be true… I’m not standin’ for the likes a’ you… Your Slyness… HEY! What are you starin’ at me like THAT for…?! I’m gonna-!” 

“WETT!” cried the young Trooper. “Durn’t yo knur who yo air deeeleenk wiv ‘ere?!”

“Why should I give a fudge…?”

Abruptly, the “Emperor” flung off his helmet. “‘Cos I dragged me firm an’ shapely buns across the Imperial Lightnin’ Field ta getcha, LEX!”

“What-?! BRAD?! But how…?” his Second Officer cried as she flung off her helmet.

“Ya bally well know I’ve always got a plan as ‘ot as me pants…! But what the blazes are ya doin’ in that get-up-?”

“Uff, look who’s blabbin’…”

“Ya’ll never get quali’y screen toime masqueradin’ as a ‘Trooper, lov…” 

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan to just hang around in a cell actin’ out that tired ol’ damsel-in-distress cliché-!”

“Yeah? Well, I didnt plan ta sit arahn’ on me firm an’ shapely buns jus’ worryin’ abahtcha!” 

“Well, cheers for your concern, Commander…” She turned to the Trooper and gleered: “And I suppose, right here, we have, none other than…?”

The Trooper flung off his helmet. “Bagel Looney, atcha service, ma’am!”

“Ugh! Put that helmet back ON! I risked my neck all for… this?! Really – too short for a Shokk Trooper?”

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

It- say! Where’d you get THIS?!” Lexi gasped, fondling the rich sheen of Brad’s new crimson velvet wrap. 

“Who’dya think? ‘E’s th only one ya can get it from…”

“Yes, but HOW DID YOU get hold of th Emperor’s cloak?!”

“Aww, this is an awesome piece o’ snazzy clobber, innit? Nah worries, lov! Ya see, it wuz like this: we-“

“DEMN YO, FERTLITTAIR!! YO TRIED TO FOOL ZEGREATME?!”

“Uh oh…”

The Imperial tannoy crackled and whined up and down the corridor; Brad’s headache throbbed even more, as his arch-nemesis bellowed maniacally.  

“BY ZE PAH UV ZE EMPAH, YO VEEL PAY FER ZEEZ OATREJ!!”

“Gawd…! Lays it on a bit thick, doesn’t he?!” Lexi gasped.

“Uff, tell me abaht it…” Brad groaned. “This gaff reeks o’ faschismus, dunnit?! An’ I’ve ‘ad this pair a’ barmy biochemech barnpots screamin’ in me lug’oles all mornin’… Come on, amigos, let’s gerrahtav’ere!” 

They raced away; six legs encased in biochemech armour – it made such an awful racket… 

“‘ERE! VHEREZEVUKK YO GO?! AY VEEL NUT LET Y’ULL EZKEP!!”

“‘Ow we gonna get aht?!” worried Bagel, as they reached the overcrowded Imperial Flight Deck. “We can’t jus’ nab a new crate under these nerks’ noses-“

“Aww, no worries, Bagel! YES, WE CAN! Wiv me badass cloak an’ flawless Zandokan accent, we’re gonna nab the ‘Ead ‘Ombre’s own crate: the Zentinel.”

“Huh, you sure your buns can get that far weighed down in all that armour?” Lexi frowned sceptically. “Whatever you do, don’t trip over your cloak… Your Highness…”

“Heh, sweet… Ta fer th tip, Officer! Okey dokey, those bozos bet’er bewareRuler O’ Th Frickin’ Universe, comin’ through-“

Just as Brad jumped out to expose himself, Lexi tugged him back and sprinted stealthily across the concourse.

Bagel gawped as – silently, shockingly – she made mincemeat of the ground crew: “Who is she…?! She’s… beautiful…”

“Wakey, frickin’ wakey, oor kid!” Brad swiped the lovestruck lad gently over the head. “Yes… YES! She’s opened the ‘atch! C’mon, Boy Blunder, we’re movin’ in!”

Through volleys of laser-fire, the dynamic duo bungled aboard just as the hatch began to close – at least, the youngest fella made it onto th bridge…

“This bucket o’ bolts is never gonna g- Brad?!” Lexi yelled. “What the blazes are you doing back there?!”

“‘Arf a tick, lov,” he shouted. “I got me cloak stuck in the door…” 

“…I’ve never before met your like. You’re a hero, don’t you see that…? You really prefer death to a kingdom? I’m disappointed. I’d much rather see you on my side, than scattered into… atoms… but, as you wish…” – Emperor Ming The Merciless.  

“PUNCH IT, LEX!” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger (eventually) wailed, and the colossal ion engines of the Imperial Zentinel shuddered and howled into life. Within seconds, the tired – but triumphant – trio found themselves zooming away from the Imperial flagship. And… YES! As expected, whenever Zan Doka’s vessel blasts off, the Imperial Lightning Field is automatically deactivatedHUZZAH!

On-board, Brad flopped into the co-pilot’s seat next to Lexi.

“Whoopee-doo, we did it…! Hey, whaddya think: Bagel in the Company-“

“No, NO!!” the Officer swung round and fumed. “No WAY is that weasel becoming one of us! Goldarn it, Brad! You’re STILL smarting over losing Mitch. I know; heck, we all are… he was… irreplaceable. This reckless little…! He’s NEVER going to make the grade. You saw yourself how reckless he is… Teach him not to endanger the rest of the Militia, if you want to, but NOT on the Calista! Not near us!”

“Uh-huh – not near YOU ya mean…”

“You GOTCHA, Commander…” 

“Received… an’ un’erstood…”

Brad sauntered off to salivate over the gleaming Imperial Coffee-Maker while Bagel fiddled with the Imperial Zuperduper Ztereozoundzyztem, loading some blisteringly dark and grungy drum n’ bass. Brad peered in and a big dopey grin spread across his handsome chops: “Excellente! Those are the same kicks-as-a-mule beats I listened ta when I wuz your age, kid!” 

“Gawd, are you boys gonna be headbanging all the way back to base?”

“Sure, Lex!” Bagel chirped. “Why the ‘eck not?! Wanna dance… babe…?”

“Uff, just a finger-lickin’ minute, here…” Lexi bristled, rising menacingly out of the pilot’s seat. “Just who do you think YOU are calling ‘babe’, Bumfluff…?!” 

Of course, the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger had to wade in and settle the dispute: “Now then! Now now! What’s goin’ on ‘ere, now? Then…? Let’s NOT end this adventure wiv anuvva foight, puh-lease! Be cool!

“Lex! Chill, lov.

“Bagel! Manners, puppy…”

Before settling back for the long journey home, your hero relayed a quick message to the Ztodgeztonker:

“ATTENTION, dipwits!

Uh, situation normal groovy.

If ya still want yer Tosspot-In-Chief, I left ‘im on the Garbage Level; the dinner is in the cat; an’ – ah yeah! – I left a Sonic Disruptor in the [CONNECTION LOST]

Thanks fer ‘avin’ me! LOL 

CHEERS! 

Deke Wad 😉

X

“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought…”Princess Leia Organa.

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

The Good, The Brad And The Spoiler

Brad Day @ Black Rock – How To Deal With The One Who Gave It All Away…

continued from: The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

“Every gun makes its own tune” – Blondie.

Spoiler, ALERT!” cried Touche Turtleneck as the security breach signal rang out.

Damnation and blast!” raged Major Spoiler“He’s here!”

The disgraced Galactic Defence Militia officer stared intensely out of his office window on the 14th floor of Black Rock Block. Here, in one of the more seedy districts of Duggan’s Run Spaceport on Beta Lugosi, torrential rain lashed down relentlessly.

Touche and his gang of hoodlums – who had been hanging around in the office most of the day, just for this moment – drew their blasters and rushed to the door.

JarJar Kushner, the Major’s twisted right-hand man, sitting languidly at the desk, his heavy, ultrawornout boots perched impudently on the blotter, snapped at them:

“Watch it, idiots! This is no ordinary cake-scoffin’ bum we’re dealing with here! He’s good… even by my standards… And for pity’s sake, watch yer backs, he could be anywhere!”

They nodded and piled out, marching off down the hallway.

The two remaining villains listened to the monotonous clatter outside until Spoiler spluttered:

“Do you think he will catch me…?”

“Oh yes, most definitely…”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I am… ‘cos I already ‘ave…”

“Wha-?!”

With one deft flick, the henchman tugged off his black ponytail to reveal a beautifulbut rapidly thinning – mess of blond hair; a device behind one ear was deactivated, and a holographic mask removed to reveal far more agreeable cheekbones. 

“Stone the bloody crows…! YOU!” the Major barked.

Yeah, me…” the Commander growled. “Told ya ‘e could be… ANY… where…”

“You smell like a pig already. Let’s try not to make things any worse” – Corporal Wallace.

“Spoiler… sheesh, you gave away too many Militia plans to the Empire, and now ya- ‘EY! Move away from that cabinet, Major… Disaster… Ah ah! ‘Ands where I can see ’em, fella…

Brad sprang to his feet and glared at the disgraced officer.

“Patheticlong ago, you had potential… Now, Brad, you’re nothingJust a dumbass with a blaster…”

“Quite a dumbass thin’ ta spout, seein’ as the blaster is trained right on ya…”

“Doesn’t matter. C’mon, Fartlighter, you’re kidding nobody – you’re too much of a wholesome hero to just blast me away… like that. No, it doesn’t matter what prison barge you send me to, I can enjoy the last laugh, watching… what unfolds… What does it feel like to be the Most Wanted Man In The Galaxy?”

“Fine an’ dandy, baby. Comes with the territory… o’ bein’ a galactic ‘ero. ‘Ad ta split Bitumen ‘cos the belly dancers couldn’t queue up in an orderly manner…” 

“No. Not that. Do you realise that the Empire has slapped a bounty on your “really ridiculously good looking” head? They were offering 20,000 creds-“

“Why, that’s despicable! A measly 20,000 creds?! Me pecs alone are worth a lot more than that-“

“Shut it. I said they were. Obviously, you’ve been too busy “saving the galaxy” to check your Notifications – they’ve shanked the bounty up to 50,000 creds-“

“Goody gumdrops! Sounds abaht right…”

Brad wiped the smirk off his face; his abrupt ashen-face seemed to take the officer aback.

“How much did it cost ya?” the Commander snarled, “…To direct those Zandokan cruisers ta intercept us?!”

“Oh, that was… free of charge! It was a futile move, anyway! You’re the “good guys”despite impossible odds, you always, insufferably, inconceivably, get through unharmed-“

“MITCH DIDN’T! He wuz wounded during the surprise attack. Me Company managed ta get ‘im to a med-unit on Epsilon, but he-”

“Hmm? I don’t recall- Which one is Mitch?” the Major frowned.

“Mitch Quintana, our newest… and youngest member-“

“Ha, yet another cocky young whelp, no doubt! Never heard of him – how young?”  

“Jeez! As sensitive as an earthquake, ain’tcha, fella?! Damn you… he was only 19-“

“Ah…! Same age as you when I took you under my wing twenty years ago-“

“No… NO! Don’t go there…” 

“…And made you into the leading man you are today. No worries! The boy will pull through – it’s in the script, right?! He will, most likely, turn out to be just as annoying and indestructible as you – ha!”

“Nah… we just got back in time… to watch ‘im pass away…”

“Aww! Where did he die…?”

The Commander held up his arms, and croaked dejectedly:

“In these…”

“Hey, amigo! You know you got a face beautiful enough to be worth $2000?” – Mexican Bounty Hunter.  

“Heh, are you the golden-haired angel sent to watch over me?” Major Spoiler remarked in disbelief.

“Nah… no such luck. There ain’t no songs o’ praise reserved fer… moofmilkuz like you…”

“Ha, cute… What did u do with Kushner?”

“‘Oo…? Oh, that useless scrote. Flung ‘im in the basement, din’I? Funnily enough, I don’t think ‘e belongs anywhere else. Blimey, ‘e’s a waste o’ space even dahn there…”

“Uff, hilarious… You know, in a strange way, I’m actually proud of the way you assembled that pathetic bunch of losers…”

“Me Company, ya mean…? Twen’y years ago, ya used to be a good mansomeone ta look oop ta – jeez, what the blazes ‘appened?!”

“I got wise! Listen to me for once, Brad! You, your Company; the Militia; Rajendra’s Free Fighters – you’re ALL finished. The last remaining Federation Planets WILL fall to Zan Doka and the Empire will prevail – the one true light in a moribund galaxy! Let me take you to the Emperor; he will grant you anything, and you can savour the fruits of the Zandokan Empire, as well as I! At last, your miserable existence will have a sense of purpose…! Just think of the immeasurable power we shall wield… Come with me. It is the only way!”

“Uff, spare me… I’ve just about ‘ad enough of yer insuff’rable monologin’…”

Spoiler spat sarcastically: “Aww, I hate to see you suffer… so much, Commander!”

“Fine,” Brad snapped back, levelling his blaster between the startled officer’s eyes. “Then lemme put ya outta yer misery…”

“No, wait! It’s-!”

“Waitin’s over. Adios, pret’y boy…”

.

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk” – Tuco.  

KERR-RAAAAASH!!

The shards of the shattered plexi-screen mingled with the shower as the ex-Militia officer’s body hurtled to the street below. The Zandokan sentries stood aside and simply averted their gaze away from the sickening impact. Upon reaching the foyer, Brad had just readjusted the wig and realigned the mask. He stumbled out of the elevator, desperate to erase from his fevered mind that hard day in the office…

Spoiler’s gang congregated by the revolving doors, adding the mess on the street to their Instagram accounts.

Touche came running up, all-flustered.

“Mr. Kushner! The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger is still in the building?!”

“Aye affirmative, that ‘e is, dipwit! If ya ‘urry, ya might jus’ catch ‘im!”

The hoodlums dashed back up the stairs.

Two of the Zandokan guards marched towards Brad, but, in character, he managed to keep composed.

“Secure the area!” he barked, putting on his nastiest authoritative voice. “Make sure the Earthling does NOT leave the building!”

The guards nodded in their usual, slavishly obedient way.

And – just like thatthe Earthling left the building…

“I think his idea was that I kill you. But you know the pity is when I’m paid, I always follow my job through. You know that” – Angel Eyes.

Around the corner, Brad tore off his accessories for the last time and chucked them furiously into a bin.

Over the deafening din of the monsoon, he opened his earpiece and hailed the Calista.

“‘Ey, whassup, mate?!” the Chief chirped.

“Uff, stow it, ‘Arris – I’m not in the mood.”

“Did ya do it…?”

“Yeah, wha’s done is done-“

“‘Eyyy, attaboy, Commander! The ‘ero strikes again, eh?!”

“Nah, far from, Chief… this ain’t NUTHIN’ to celebrate. This… this wuz bang out’a order…”

“Ne’er mind, eh? Got gateau fer ya an’-”

“NAH… dahn’ wan’ any cake…”

“WHA-?! Is that Brad?! ‘Ere, Kushner ya div! Givvuz our Commander back NAHW, ha ha ha!”

“…This ain’t no laffin’ mat’er, Chief… I’ve gone ta this vile dive ta terminate me ol’ superior officer…! Not only that… he wuz a fellow Englishman… This ‘ole thing… ugh… Jeez, it stinks to ‘igh bleedin’ ‘Eaven… This is NOT wha’ savin’ the galaxy wuz supposed ta be abahtTough ‘ero?! It’s really tough tryin’ ta be one… Gawd, this is pants…”

“…’Ey, Brad, ‘e ‘ad ta go, mate… ‘E doublecrossed uz all… nah one coulda done wha’ you jus’ done…  Kudos to ya, fella… Some good hasta come from this – it’s jus’ gotta… I-I know whatcha goin’ through right nahw-“

“Tha’s jus’ it, fella, ya dahn’t. ‘Ope ya nevah havta, an’ all…  Gotta bit’er taste in me mahf that ain’t gonna shift, an’ a lump in me soul that ain’t NEVAH gonna lift… …

“‘E wuz… dammit – ‘e wuz the one who made me Battleforce Commander in the first place…! Rot ‘im… … …”

 

“Sooo… … … ya wanna come back nahw?”

“Nah… thinkin’ o’ openin’ a resort dahn ‘ere…”

“Wha-?! Really?”

“O’ course, bleedin’ ‘o course I wanna come back!! An’ I’m gonna be one ‘elluva soggy moggy if I stay aht ‘ere much longer! Beam me oop now, ya donut…”

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

Electrospective: An Exploration Of Synthesized SF Sounds

Sounds Like We Are Going Into 2017 On A Synthwave

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“I’ll bet any quantum mechanic in the service would give the rest of his life to fool around with this gadget” – Chief Engineer Quinn. 

A New Year = A New Hope?

Brad may be an idiot, but he’s not foolish to believe that the travails of one rotten year are all going to magically dissipate as soon as a fresh one begins, but behold!

Aah, the healing power of music, especially the electronic kind. Having sought to prepare this Post for some time and – considering how hits of yesteryear usually slip back into my post-Christmas playlist every year – here it is!

We have come a long way since the days of Robby the Robot…

The first electronic movie score was used for Forbidden Planet (1956). To create a totally radical Space Age OST, Louis and Bebe Barron invented their own cybernetic instruments to produce: “Electronic Tonalities.”

For TV’s longest-running SF series: Doctor Who, Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop transcended tech limitations by tape-splicing the sounds of tone generators.

In 1972, mechanical experiments in sound texturing were afoot in Germany. Combining backwards guitar overdubs with chiming synthwaves, Neu! launched the subgenre that would become known as Kosmische Musik (dubbed somewhat disrespectfully as Krautrock by a disapproving UK press).

The early 1970s also saw the emergence of the ultimate electro-pioneers and shapers of the future: Kraftwerk. Their man-machine trope and their innovative creation of synthesized instruments for their “robotklang” were as far removed from the mainstream as you could get, but provided the template for electronic musical progression for many years to come.

Other experimental acts in this wonderful Kosmische canon include Popol Vuh and Can, providing their own unique spaced-out sounds.

In 1974, Tangerine Dream practically invented the (definitive?) “sound of “tomorrow” in the phenomenal shape of their fifth studio LP: Phaedra. Brimming with scintillating Moog and glacial mellotronica, the origins of modern techno can be discerned amid the glorious title track (which, remarkably – after 150+ Posts – is the first time its been uploaded here(!); looks like this Spaceman is slippin’ up in his middle-age…):

Could Have Played: Anything by Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster or Can et al.

“We are doing intellectual research on electronics… We really like to show how modern, sophisticated equipment can be used today in order to create a futuristic sound” – Edgar Froese.

Could Have Played: David Bowie – V2 Schneider, Neukoln or Moss Green.

“I’m not an original thinker. I am best at synthesizing things… I’d like to think what I did changed the fabric of music” – David Bowie.

Being on Earth, but not being of it resonated with the late, much-missed Starman: David Bowie.

Space travel and aliens (more specifically alienation) rolled recurrently throughout his lifetime (of) achievement. In The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) he appeared cold, emotionless and detached, because that’s exactly how he felt at that point.

Burned out in the US – both physically and spiritually – Bowie fled to seemingly the most incongruous hideout in Europe: the Turkish sector of Cold War Berlin. The Artist Formerly Known As Ziggy Stardust became very fond of the anonymity it granted him; the music he created during this phase became “some of the most rewarding of my life.”

In collaboration with ambient wizard: Brian Eno, he felt compelled to dabble in soundscapes, encouraged by the possibilities that different sonic textures could achieve.

“I was a big fan of Kraftwerk… and I thought the first Neu! album, in particular, was just gigantically wonderful…” Bowie remarked, reminiscing about this special time in his life.

“I had absolutely no doubts where the future of music was going, and for me it was coming out of Germany.”

Electronic music certainly revolutionizing his approach to music-making. Low and Heroes – both released in 1977 – form distinctive high points in what appears today as such a sumptuous discography.

Bowie’s instrumentals contained the breath-taking results of his Kosmische-inspired aspirations to make “expressionist mood pieces.” The track: V-2 Schneider was an ambiguous homage to Kraftwerk; Edgar Froese’s Epsilon In Malaysian Pale directly inspired Moss Green; while there is a hefty nod to Neu! in Neukoln; and how much of Neu!’s Hero can you hear in Bowie’s landmark single: Heroes? 

Even as late as 2013, nostalgic reflections of his time in Berlin graced the incredibly moving single: Where Are We Now?

Could Have Played: Honestly, we would be here ALL NIGHT going through my eclectic 1977-1984 playlist! Believe me – by Jiminy – the list is endless! (And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!)

“To me a career is just like a machine. All the pieces have to fit together perfectly or else the machine will tear itself apart” – Gary Numan. 

With the rise of electronic music during the 70s, SF sounds soared into a whole new system. One of the pioneers of electro: Giorgio Moroder revitalized the career of disco queen: Donna Summer. I Feel Love became the first fully-synthesized (playing no trad instruments) No.1 pop single in 1977.

That same year, Gary Numan also conquered the charts with two classic electronic singles, embracing the SF with his distinctive brand of synthpop and android looks. Are Friends Electric (listen above) – with its roboticized chugging beat – is one of his most enduring classics. To complement the sci-fi vibe, his fans are endearingly known as “Numanoids.”

Up to the end of the 70s, and well into the early 80s, numerous acts such as Ultravox, the Human League, OMD and many others continued the man-machine SF theme and never failed to dominate the charts.

Meanwhile, in the film world, John Carpenter contributed his own distinctive mark on the history of electronica by composing scores for his own films: most notably Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing. 

Numerous electronic film scores emerged during this period, but probably the greatest masterpiece in this field would have to be the soundtrack for Blade Runner by Vangelis.

Could Have Played: AFX – PWSteal.Ldpinch.D; Orbital – Science Friction; Eternal Basement – Parkhouse; Plastikman – Menak; Mike Ink – Thesis; Jeff Mills – Step To Enchantment; LSG – Hearts;

“Everyone Needs A 303” – Fatboy Slim.  

With the onset of the 90s, electronic music branched off into experimental subdivisions such as house – and of course techno (a mighty subgenre in itself, shortly to get its own post here!).

The whole scene was transformed by one unlikely piece of equipment: the Roland TB-303: a bass synthesizer (with built-in sequencer). DJs and electro musicians in Chicago experimented with this device and created acid techno (which thrived in the UK and Europe as well).

1994-1998 was a particularly innovative time with several artists becoming big names (especially in the Brad household!) with the likes of Jeff Mills, James Ruskin, Sven Dedek, Eternal Basement and Plastikman, aka Richie Hawtin – whose father was a robotics engineer and Kraftwerk fan (ideal background then for the son to make his own mark in electronics!)

Look again to Germany and the Tresor record label offered a quite considerable coterie of the next stage in intriguing artists such as Regis, Surgeon and Pacou. One of the most remarkable producers on the current German scene is Wolfgang Voigt, aka Mike Ink, aka Studio 1. aka Gas etc etc!

In the early 21st century, advances in digital tech allow for more complex soundstructures of diverse techno. Perhaps it is fitting that we arrive at a recently formulated subgenre referred to mainly as retrosynth (or synthwave) which marvellously recreates that analogue 80s style. Of the numerous artists working now, none is more impressive – and best prepared to reach for the stars – than Lazerhawk.

Before departing on my own jump to lightspeed, enjoy this delightful composition which, fortunately, is accompanied by a suitably cosmic vid:

Could Have Played: Burger/Voigt – The Jealous Guy From Memphis; Daft Punk – Moroder;

IN MEMORIAM:

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David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

“Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried”