“I Have A Plan. Attack!”: Prepare for War!

Time To Suit Up For ALL-OUT AWESOMENESS…

“Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose? I’m open to suggestions” – Iron Man. 

“The threat has risen to a new level – which is really saying something,” says Robert Downey Jr.

It really is!

Considering how Rob’s first outing as Iron Man – released ten years ago next week – started this whole delirious, but irresistible, MCU malarkey that has culminated in Avengers: Infinity War – just DAYS away now(!)

It has been an absolutely spectacular decade, watching this particular Universe develop. Thankfully in all the right places.

How’s it been, Rob?  

“…It’s been the Ben-Hur of the MCU, for sure. This is huge, isn’t it? It is HUGE.”

And impossible to disappoint… right?

This Enhanced Individual Convention is arguably – creatively, logistically, budgetary – not only Marvel Studios’ BIGGEST movie, but the GRANDEST superhero epic ever (ahem) assembled. In this camp, there are no doubts that all elements will work, for writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen Freely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo – responsible for the amazing Captain America trilogy – are in charge here.

When asked how high the stakes are, Freely offers: “Is the universe high enough for you?” 

This is only the largest event movie. Ever!

Expect to see just about all the Avengers we’ve come to know so far. And the supporting characters from their respective solo movies. PLUS the Guardians Of The Frickin’ Galaxy! AND Fields overflowing with Wakandan warriors! 

As the younglings are wont to say these days, it’s only gonna be FUCKIN’ AWESOME!!

Soz, Cap…

 

Humans… They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court… death” – Chthon.

“This is the biggest film of all time,” says Benedict Cumberbatch.

You can trust him. He’s a Doctor. 

That colossal third-act battle – teased tantalisingly in the trailers – breaks out across Wakanda, because the sixth, as yet unseen, Infinity Stone languishes there, right?! 

Normally, my journalistic instinct is to uncover every juicy, spoilersome nugget of info from each major movie, but considering the scale and ambition of this EPIC, who knows what will transpire?!

Yes, so good to see Chadwick Boseman return as King T’Challa: The Black Panther – Cool. Charismatic. AND GET THIS MAN A SEQUEL! As Black Panther has become the first non-Stark MCU movie to pass a billion dollars worldwide, quite clearly, Wakanda‘s finest will be the new figurehead for the new Phase going forward.

Considering the xtreme measures taken to protect certain plot-points, it comes as no surprise to learn that Chris Evans was one of the few members of the enhanced ensemble to receive a complete script.

“The majority of people on set are like, ‘So what are we doing today?’ The Russos have to give a loose description of what’s happening. I didn’t complain. I was just like, ‘I need to know what’s going on! Give me a fucking script!'”

Uff, LANGUAGE!

“That’s not going away anytime soon…” – Captain America.  

Behold! Earth’s Mightiest Boy-Band: N-Hanced…

 

Thor: “I thought humans were more evolved than this.” 

Nick Fury: “Excuse me, did we come to YOUR planet and blow stuff up?” 

“You could call this movie: AvengersThanos if you wanted to,” says Stephen Freely“He is the main character.”

“The movie is told from his point of view,” Anthony Russo explains, discussing Josh Brolin’s performance. “It’s a very complicated character. He’s at times despicable and horrifying, and at other times oddly empathetic.”  

“He’s an exceedingly difficult character to beat. He’s stranger than the Hulk – he’s a force of nature. He is a conqueror of worlds.” 

The next statement intrigued me the most. 

“He doesn’t have a weakness, and that’s what makes him so threatening.”

How the Avengers can prevail against such an indefatigable foe, will certainly make for intriguing viewing. Having been in awe of Thanos over these past two years of Bronze Age explorations, seeing this big threat marching across the big screen will probably be quite a dewy-eyed experience as well…

“It really is mind-blowing…” adds Joe Russo, “…how sensitive a performance we can translate into a CG character now, and how much of Josh’s performance is in that character.”

Yep, sounds like all concerned know how to handle the Mad Titan here.

AND that we are all going to have to rearrange our Top 5 Movie Villains charts…

“Conflict breeds catastrophe…” – The Vision. 

“We heve not had any special death requests,” McFeely stated, confirming that he and co-writer Markus had “free reign to kill off whomever the story dictated should go.”

“It’s a cocktail of emotions,” was how Evans summed it up.

So many bloggers have speculated as to which of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will fall in this big showdown. Yes, much must be risked in War, but you KNOW how Brad prefers to concentrate on the positive, hopefully life-affirming, textured-sponge-with-a-creamy-filling things in life, so no morbid discussions to round off this particular blog-post, ta very much! 

Plan to watch The Movie Of The Decade this weekend having avoided – for once – all rumours, leaked clips, TV spots and what-have-you. Just looking forward to finding out what this jaw-dropping spectacle has to offer.

We began with Rob Downey Jr. – is it with him where it will all end…? Well, let’s close with him here anyway, speaking highly about IW’s lead actor: Josh Brolin.

“I love him,” Downey leads the praise, having known each other for thirty years, and so happy to see him become a solid participant in the MCU. Brolin doesn’t take himself seriously, but there’s a lot of weight in how he’s portraying this guy. We literally are all little bit scared when he’s done cracking wise and steps into it. 

“Get ready… the Brolin Effect is coming.”

“I hope they remember you…” – Thanos. 

 

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“You Don’t Get Older, You Get Better”: The Bradscribe Gif Party

Make Cake Not War!

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss.

Welcome to the party!

So glad you could make it! 

Where else on the blogosphere right now can you forget all your troubles… and enjoy a party for this one day?

Lots of great music to enjoy, and savoury and sweet snacks aplenty!

Are you ready to dance?! 

Okey-dokey, plug in, lil fella!

“The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing” – James Brown.  

“Don’t think about your errors or failures; otherwise, you’ll never do a thing” – Bill Murray.

Try the egg custard tarts – they’re lovely! 

For their sterling work filing and cataloguing my formidable Bronze Age comics collection, yours truly has treated his minions to a live set by The Mummies in the basement.

Be careful, the umpteeenth barrel of orange squash has just been prised open, so things are getting pretty lively down there…

“You know you’re getting old when you get that one candle on the cake. It’s like, ‘See if you can blow this out'” – Jerry Seinfeld.

Well, you’ve probably guessed by now that today is a very special day; yes, that’s right: celebrating the Best Day of Mum’s Life 🙂

Would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU all for your love, support and uplifting Comments – it is very much appreciated! Always! 

Bless you all!

Please help yourself to another cake…

Here are the requested book prezzies received today:  

Been searching AGES for these two classics! In case you don’t see any New Posts on this site over the next few weeks, this writer will be busy reading!

Also, can get my own copy of Thor: Ragnarok – released on DVD this week just in time for my birthday? What are the chances of that happening?! 😉

This, obviously, provides yet another excuse to upload the Best Gif Of 2017:

 

“You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake” – Bob Hope.

 

So, how is the latest upgrade of Brad holding up?

First and foremost: STILL looking younger than what a dude of my age should!

Does getting older means that one is getting wiser? The jury is still out on that one – experiencing increasingly frustrating difficulties with phones, unexpected tech-mishaps and various miscellaneous inconveniences but that seems to be a uniquely 21st century thing.

Apart from feeling a tad flaccid around me knees, and suffering cramp if having to endure a particularly lousy or disappointing movie at the cinema, yours truly is feelin’ fine an’ dandy! 

Thanks fer asking! 🙂

Like the late, great Maya Angelou once said, “my mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive”; this writer intends to carry on writing (even if there are only half a dozen readers at a time willing to view my work) with some passion, some awesomeness, some humour, and (hopefully) some style.

And what about my age? 

No worries, it shall not weary me; don’t count the years – make the years count!

Cheers!

“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” – Satchel Paige.

 

“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot” – Douglas Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001)

 

“Mad As The Snow”: Brad’s Winter Wonderland

Out Of The Bewilderness – In From The Cold

Phil Connors: “Come on, all the long distance lines are down? What about the satellite? Is it snowing in space? Don’t you have some kind of a line that you keep open for emergencies or for celebrities? I’m both. I’m a celebrity in an emergency.”

“Flights cancelled as snow expected to hit most of UK in coming days.”

So, you think Brad has been away? 

Haven’t had the opportunity to go anywhere, but now comes confirmation from the Beebitsy Nooz that he won’t be able to get out of his own gaff anyways – gah! 

Here he is, stuck indoors, wrapped in his big, fluffy dressing gown, huddled over his laptop, trying to bang out something legible.

With the Winter Olympics under way on the other side of our crazy planet, now is the time to chill out (hyuk hyuk!) in style!

Not really…

As long as one can remember, snow, ice and all-things-wintry have filled me with dread.

To counteract this, my SF attention has always naturally gravitated towards the more humid climes of Arrakis, Tatooine or anywhere else just as cosy. But with temperatures plummeting, let’s sift through my wintry reads – see what can take my mind off the despicably low temperature… 

This cool classic – from criminally underrated ’90s band Kitchens of Distinction – helps me to focus:

“Oh, really, you’re cold?” Han Solo.    

The icy wind is positively galeforce owtside tonight, seething and whistling up and down the chimney beside me as these words are typed.

Thc SF genre is (ahem) snowed under with numerous icy reads. The following titles are the frosty tomes lined up from the darkest recesses of the Bradcave to accompany my copious mugs of hot chocolate over the next few nights:

Always been enchanted by the cover (Ian Miller at his striking best!) of The Anvil of Ice (the first volume in The Winter of the World trilogy by Michael Scott Rohan. The story of a struggling civilization threatened by a deadly ice age and a young boy who discovers a power that could determine the fate of the world has taken AGES to find. (Goodness knows how long it will take to track down the other two volumes!)

ICE by Anna Kavan is a fifty year old masterpiece that, unbelievably, hardly anybody knows about. Set in yet another apocalyptic wasteland – except this one is frozen – “a nameless narrator searches for a silver-haired girl seeking to free her from captivity before the ice closes in.” 

Covering now-topical themes such as climate change, totalitarianism and feminism, it may “remain as resonant as it ever was,” but its low profile prolonged its obscurity. This year, however, a 50th Anniversary Edition has been published, and my Library reservation should be due any day now.  

Mother of Winter is an acclaimed instalment in Barbara Hambly’s Darwath series. As the world grows increasingly colder, and a strange fungus that causes madness spreads, Ingold the wizard and Gil the swordswoman travel to the mountain known as the Mother of Winter to confront the mages who may be responsible.

Inevitably, any winter-themed round-up would not be complete without A Song of Ice And Fire. My copy of Book One: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin has been started two or three times – perhaps this month will be freezing enough to influence its completion…? 

Yagya will always be my most dependable producer for top ambient dub-techno – Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson can do no wrong. 

With his Rhythm of Snow album, it really was difficult to decide which Snowflake to select, so plumped instead for this track – it comes with a still image more wintry than anything accompanying that aforementioned work!:

“It wants to freeze now. It knows it’s got no way out of here. It just wants to go to sleep in the cold until the rescue team finds it” – RJ MacReady.

The closest literary equivalent to John Carpenter’s The Thing, (in my possession) happens to be H P Lovecraft’s cosmic horror classic: At The Mountains of Madness. In the wastes of Antarctica, explorers discover a mountain range higher than the Himalayas which border a city built by the Elder Things – and they’re not alone…

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge tells how the planet of Tiamat, has only two seasons: a long Summer followed by a long Winter. This change of seasons marks a change in regime, but the Winter Queen plots to keep her power by creating clones of herself, but one of them has plans of her own… 

And in the month when we lost one of the grandmasters of the genre: Ursula K. Le Guin, we cannot forget possibly her most famous novel: The Left Hand of Darkness. This masterwork is set on the planet Gethen (Winter), in the midst of an aeons-long Ice Age and covered in glaciers. Its inhabitants can choose – and change – their gender. A lone human emissary comes to facilitate their inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization, but “he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.”

And, although it is not SF-related, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is suitably snowbound enough to guarantee a ritual browse-thro during this season every year. Not only a narrative of a murder investigation (not normally my mug of hot choccie!) it remains an astonishing – and always-inspirational chronicle – of the Middle Ages. 

Will leave you now with one of the most awesome ambient techno tracks.

The fantastic Substrata album (1997) by Biosphere evokes such a chilly Arctic feel that when it came to compiling this Post, this happened to be heading the provisional Tracklist. Those incredible drones you can hear are Nordic fjordhorns. 

It’s best to wrap up warm with a steaming mug of hot choccie.

And a good book. Or three. 

Cheers!

Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside”  

 

🙂

 

A New Hope In A New Light: A Reappraisal Of The Movie That Started It All

Why “Episode IV” Will Always Be No.2 In The All-Time Star Wars Chart

“Suddenly the film starts, and every kid in the audience starts screaming!” – Irwin Kershner.   

It’s over a month now since we were subjected to the travesty that is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Not only has it lessened my attitude towards the saga (will probably never watch Episode VII again, now knowing that Episode VIII fails to develop the new characters in any way 😦 ) but – as you may have gathered this past few weeks – it has almost completely sapped my will to write! A staggeringly bitter irony to take, considering that the original Star Wars – with all its bewitching escapist fare, “done with all the energy and intelligence and thought that I could muster,” as its creator George Lucas remarked back then – inspired me to create my own science fiction.

Ahem, it has come to my attention that a number of fans have recently blogged their Star Wars rankings – in many such Posts, The Last Jedi has been ranked far too highly; but more surprisingly, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope appears far too low on these charts.

You probably wondered why no 40th Anniverwary Celebration appeared on this site last May. Here in the UK, “Star Wars” did not get its theatrical release until 27 December 1977, (cinemas – like everything else around the country – are closed on Christmas Day) and even then, it would take good ol’ word-of-mouth to convince us that something quite extraordinary awaited us at our local popcorn parlour…

So, to mark four decades since its release on the tea-and-scones side of the Pond, me writers’ block has been jiggled orf in order to cobble together some hopefully-entertaining thoughts. 

By the mid-’70s, a more gritty, often brutal, realism had permeated the big screen; Star Wars brought a timely sense of magic and fantasy back to the movies. No matter how much the original cast and crew complained about the simple script and dodgy dialogue, there were no niggles to be had from yours truly. Besides, many of the lines have become immortalised in pop culture.

It will be forever intriguing to speculate who else could have played these iconic roles. We could be here all night discussing all the influential major and minor players, but for the moment, let me focus on a role that remarkably receives less treatment.

Star Wars helped convince me that Peter Cushing was one of the greatest actors. He could portray the fiendishly evil Dr. Frankenstein and create a fetching, grandfatherly Dr. Who with equal relish. A young Mark Hamill was in awe, and has confessed that – even though they shared no scenes together onscreen – he would visit the Hammer Horror legend in his dressing room to pick up acting tips.

And, of course, “dear little Carrie” simply could not bring herself to shout at this gentlemen even if he was playing “a rather frightful Edwardian chauffeur.”

Sure, today’s technology can recreate the likeness of Peter Cushing, but it will never capture his charm:

“I was absolutely knocked for six. I was riveted! Star Wars was a picture you had to see again… My only disappointment was that poor old Moff Tarkin was blown up at the end, which meant I couldn’t appear in the sequels” – Peter Cushing.

“I actually designed the sandcrawler. R2-D2 was my concept. Darth Vader was my concept. And the white stormtrooper costume was mine; George wanted a white costume, but that’s about all he said. Many people could have done them. I happened to be available and capable of doing the stuff when it was needed… It’s just a big happening” – Ralph McQuarrie. 

Biggs Darklighter: “Luke, I didn’t just come back to say goodbye… I made some friends at the academy. When our frigate leaves for the central systems, we’re gonna jump ship and join the Alliance-“

Luke Skywalker: “THE REBELLION?!”

Biggs Darklighter: “Quiet down, willya? You got a mouth bigger than a meteor crater…”

On Christmas Day 1987, Star Wars (at last) received its UK TV premiere. Naturally, a brand new VHS tape was utilised – for the next few years it would have to withstand umpteen repeated viewings. 

Also that year, Starlog magazine put out an amazing special issue celebrating Star Wars‘ 10th Anniversary; one of the numerous jaw-dropping facts to grab my attention concerned the deleted scenes. This section even published a still from the scene in which Biggs Darklighter returns from the academy to tell Luke of his intention to join the Rebel Alliance, and suggests that they go together…

Admittedly, most of these scenes (set on Tatooine) were rightfully deleted, but this scene in particular has long evoked a personal fascination. It offers some nifty dialogue between these best buddies; in addition, it reveals the effects of Imperial dominion on a domestic level (and would help give the emotional resonance that Biggs’ death requires.

Such a shame: a poor copy can be found on YouTube, but most likely, you probably never heard of it.

In 1997, when news broke of a Special Edition – released to herald the movie’s 20th Anniversary, chances of finally getting to know Biggs looked more promising. 

Well, what a swiz… 

Instead, we had to watch needless – not to mention mindless – animated inserts; at least the remastered climactic attack on the Death Star  got spruced up rather well. Although we got only one previously unseen moment with Luke and Biggs meeting up at the rebel base on Yavin, this still did not help explain Luke’s line: “Biggs is right, I’m never going to get out of here!” which, curiously, was still left in. 

“Much of my personality has gone into Chewie, and people can pick those bits out. There are quirky movements that nobody else does. I feel that I’ve put a great deal of Peter Mayhew into Chewbacca” – Peter Mayhew.

“We were very worried about credibility. We wanted everything to come across as if it existed in the real world. The film’s whole style was dented, rusty and realistic” – Ben Burtt.   

From Tatooine, to the Death Star, and then onto Yavin, the pace never lets up (unlike The Last Jedi where, at some points, staring at my watch – or my cinema’s exquisite early 20th century décor –  proved to be a more engrossing spectacle than anything delivered onscreen).

Perhaps, the moment in the trash compactor aboard th Death Star is Episode IV’s slowest, least appealing moment? A few times my infant self felt propelled to fast forward to that gripping TIE fighter attack. 

With the climactic battle against the Death Star, both my interests in Second World War aerial dogfights and sci-fi action were spectacularly combined, but this next sequence always excited me more.

Stuff the ridiculous video game effects of the prequels! And that bland bombing run with which The Last Jedi begins – THIS is Star Wars!:  

So, let me get this straight: 

you really believe that Benicio Del Toro is more important than Ben Kenobi? That the salt of Crait is more precious than the sand on Tatooine? And that Canto Bight (ugh) is more awesome than Mos Eisley?! 

You may put forth your arguments defending what is no more than a 150-minute Disney commercial in the Comments section below.

“I’m going to cut across the axis and try and draw their fire!” 😉

And please don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten this magical scene:

“In six weeks, we set up shop, made 30 aliens – some were my designs, some were Ron Cobb’s… I’m very proud to have done something on the picture. I wish to God I had spent a year on Star Wars rather than King Kong” – Rick Baker.   

This clip brings us nicely to my last – and arguably most endearing – point.

Seeing how anybody could have written this Post – let me add my own 25-satangs-worth. 

While everyone wanted to be Han Solo, or a Jedi, my time – and ebullient imagination – became captivated by those Tusken Raiders aka Sand People, those nomadic, primitive crack-shot ruffians of the Jundland Wastes who – when easily startled – could be guaranteed to  “be back, and in greater numbers…”

Instead of clamouring for a (decidedly naff) plastic(?!) lightsaber, this innovative moppet improvised with a Tusken Raider mask (remember it being so brittle it could have torn like paper). Found a fallen branch from the small pear tree in our back garden – miraculously just the right size for me, AND with one end unbelievably curved exactly like a a Tusken gaderffii stick; to complete this “transformation” Mum wrapped me in that small, sand-coloured blanket from the airing cupboard under the stairs (besides, it was pretty nippy outside at that time of evening!).

Sadly, there are no photos of me in my very first dabble with cosplay – ‘twas a time in which having photos of you doing anything and everything was not essential. Perhaps people were too scared to take a snap of me, fearing the prospect of stealing this pint-sized primitive’s virtue, or somesuch. 

Beware of the Bradling?!

Loved wandering around outside the corner store up the road, in character, for hours, as a formidable liddle Sand Person, waving my homemade gaderffii menacingly at any outsider who dared venture into that establishment…

Ask anybody in that neighbourhood at that time and they would testify to that end..

“They had a guy wandering around in a dog suit. It was ridiculous” – Harrison Ford.

 

“I got the job of this movie with the caveat that I lose ten pounds… I was terrified they were going to look at me and say: ‘Bring in Jodie Foster and get that fat girl outta here!'” – Carrie Fisher. 

 

“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.

 

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!”