“The Purfuit Of Happineff”: Happy 4th Of July To All My American Friends!

Hip Hip Hooray! Let’s Hear It For The US Of A!

“You can’t do this to me, I’m an American!” – Marion Ravenwood. 

Howdy!

For this Post, considering how the majority of you live Stateside, thought it best to write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

As far as one can remember, America always had something bigger and better to offer. British television: yes, all three channels, just two if you include the broadcasters’ strike (one of many in various sectors to cripple the UK during the late-’70s) languished in the doldrums. Even Doctor Who – that longest-running bastion of SF TV, its already-miniscule fx budget hindered even further by a technicians’ strike at the BBC!  – could not compete against the flashier, more expensive likes of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, or The Muppet Show, The Incredible Hulk, Starsky & Hutch, Kojak(!) (et al, etc. etc.) for that matter. Who (else) did we have? Metal frickin’ Mickey, that’s who – who?? Exactly!! 

Compared to the subsequent decade, The British Film Industry offered larger, more expensive than usual, but ultimately unattractive movies, but nothing like those two gargantuan smashes of 1977 and 1980 respectively (you know what they were!) that sent cinema queues trailing down the street. And then around the corner. 

So finger-lickin’ good: American comics, American toys – heck, even American words – dominated our school playground. Yay, our precious post-punk platters led the way in the pop parade, but let’s face it, our own Claire Grogan was cute, but Debbie Harry was gorgeous.

Still, my father actually spent some time in the US during the ’60s, and was that close to getting a really great job in aviation – so, for that brief time (28 years ago) Brad found himself the centre of attention for once! Until one of the other kids announced that his Dad actually was American, and the throng gravitated to his side of the bike shed, eager to catch a glimpse of the bigger and better delights he could reveal from his Starsky & Hutch satchel. 

Gah!

Anyway, one of the various quality products that my father brought back with him – and enriched my childhood – included a classic Stan Freberg long-player (in Stereo!) 

It’s in, it’s very in! 😉

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin.

Now, onto American music.

Generally, my music tastes gravitate towards the Blues, Soul and Jazz – all the phenomenal African-American essentials. 

Which is my favorite American band, you ask?

Gee, that’s a toughie. 

The Doors immediately excite the senses, but what gets me every time has to be Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ever since Bad Moon Rising caught my attention in An American Werewolf In London, they have held a very special place in my heart. And my record collection!

During the Vietnam War, thousands of American servicemen were stationed @ U Tapao, Nong Kok and other bases in Thailand. Countless bars – playing music of that era, including Creedence, sprang up all over the place. Most of these guys left long ago, but, most of the bars – still playing music of that era, including Creedence – remain. 

This was always my go-to tune on Karaoke Night:

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson.

Just thought it would he groovy to fill this gap to ask:

How will you be celebrating today? Where will you go? What will you eat? How many fireworks are required? 

Is it the same every year? 

Will be thrilled to read your Comments! 🙂

Chon Wang: “The English are not very friendly.”

Roy O’Bannon: “They’re just sore losers.”

Chon Wang: “What did they lose?”

Roy O’Bannon: “A little thing called the American Revolution, Chon… They came over with about a million men. We had a bunch of farmers with pitchforks and beat ’em like a drum.”

Politics! Hoo-boy…

The political systems in both the US & UK these days are as mad as a bicycle. And then some. 

Today, your fest may not have the right zest, or your grub may lack the necessary relish, whilst grudgingly knowing that such a deplorable doofus is running your country (into the ground), but your Brit correspondent here would like to assure you that my thoughts are with you during these very trying times. 

You will NOT see Brad meddling in politics – by Jove, no!

Why, the very word itself is detestable: consisting of “poli” which means “more than one” – yours truly is an old-fashioned type o’ fella: can only handle one lousy inconvenience at a time. While “tics” are bloodsucking parasites. 

You see? Not my scene.

At all…

Couldn’t proceed without this BBC comedy gem from 1980, the year in which current affairs analysts on both sides of The Pond could not envisage a ’50s B-movie star in the White House. 

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! How times have changed…

“When I was a kid, my Mum said: ‘Work hard, you can become President!’ because I grew up in a Disney film. That was back when we believed that Presidents were righteous and honorable… Here’s the kicker: according to the odds, there is 40% chance that, as President, somebody is going to try to assassinate you, but there is a 100% chance of character-assassination…” – Rich Hall. 

Fact: Brad did not travel overseas until his early-20s. 

As my inaugural trip outta Blighty, guess the only one desirable destination that sprung to mind.

Yep! That’s right: during May 1996 – one of the highlights of this boy’s life – Brad spent a fortnight on YOUR side of The Pond. Manhattan, to be exact – sight-seeing (searching for those crucial movie locations, mainly). There was no need to fret over how to wrangle a cab to get me to the IYH (International Youth Hostel) – sitting next to me on the flight was a British businessman who kindly offered to give me a lift Uptown. And, as a regular visitor, he gave a few tips on how to get by.

Can vividly recollect waking up on my first morning in another country.

The temperature was scorching; the city noise every bit as cacophonous as my craziest dreams had imagined; and as my feet hit the NY street for that very first giddily-exciting time, which song on my Sony Walkman marked my wild-eyed an’ gawping-gob entrance into Pretzel Central?

Well, goldarn it! It had to be this: 

“See me walkin’ down Fifth Avenue, walkin’ cane here at my side. Take it everywhere I walk, I’m an Englishman in New York” – Sting.

As a member of The British Museum Society, the Manhattan Metropolitan Museum of Art was top-of-my-list and – gee whiz! – it did not disappoint! A whole afternoon was spent mooching around its impressive galleries. Then emerged into the relentless sun to get a hot dog an’ a bag o’ donuts from the multitude of street stalls crowding the pavement – sorry! – sidewalk. 

After visiting the Statue of Liberty, made my groovy way up Downtown to Uncle Huckle-Buckle’s Chuckle Hutch (try sayin’ that after a few Buds!) to sit down and listen to the stand-ups; can’t forget my ears popping in the express elevator to the top of the Empire State Building; and other wondrous sights and sensations too numerous to drone on about here(!)

Out and about in NYC, chances are that you will see some very famous people. One day, taking a route recommended by my Tourist Map, a classy African-American lady marched straight past me – yes! None other than Diana Ross!! Ruminating over which was her best: either Baby Love or Chain Reaction, walked around a corner and almost collided into John Lennon’s widow!! (Don’t forget: you heard it here first). A few months earlier, we had recorded Jackie Mason Live In London – a programme that my father always requested to watch and never failed to reduce him to tears of laughter. So, imagine papa’s envy when listening to my incredible story of hanging around in the doorway of the Waldorf Astoria, standing next to the comedian himself, listening to the joke that reduced two NYPD officers to tears of laughter. 

And upon returning to the hostel every evening, a special, extra-large, local delicacy awaited all tourists on the front desk. Absolutely scrumptious! What on Earth was it?!

Somebody replied:

“We call it ‘pizza’…”

After ten days of intense adventures, no wonder there was no energy left; nevertheless, my last four days turned out to be equally life-changing; just around the corner(!) two important discoveries were made in that “New World”: the Barnes & Noble Superstore (ended up buying two books for myself and two books for Dad); and even more crucially:

TACO BELL!!

Thus, thenceforth, Brad‘s undying love for Mexican food flourished.

Obviously, if and when another Stateside visit occurs, special detours will have to be taken so that, finally, WE CAN MEET and you can regale me with tales of YOUR bigger and better way of life!

Who better to round this Post off than with The Boss himself?!

What better way to sign off than by saying:

Have A Nice Day! 🙂

“Day of glory! Welcome day!
Freedom’s banners greet thy ray;
See! how cheerfully they play
      With thy morning breeze,
On the rocks where pilgrims kneel’d,
On the heights where squadrons wheel’d,
When a tyrant’s thunder peal’d,
      O’er the trembling seas…
O let freemen be our sons;
And let future Washingtons
Rise, to lead their valiant ones,
      Till there’s war no more.”
~John Pierpont (1785–1866), “Independence”

 

 

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Voyager: A Bradtastic Trip Into Space

Is There Enough Space To Have Time…?

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be… We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries…” – Carl Sagan.

For me, it all began with Cosmos.

That ultra-rare occasion when a TV programme fulfilled the aim of providing something both educational and entertaining, Carl Sagan helped make astrophysics accessible, and instilled in this gawping infant, the need to learn/discover so much more.

Off and on, through this boy’s life, the stars have continued to fascinate. Now, most nights, after finishing my writing – or those moments when the words don’t flow the way they should – it’s great to just step outside, after the street lights have switched off, and marvel at the inspirational – and staggering – wonders of the universe. 

After a very trying month, maybe its just as well that this Post blasts off to be among the stars (even if it may be with only one-quarter impulse power).

Away from it all… 

Rather than perplex you with something deep and philosophical (such theses will appear on this site at some point!) let’s gradually revitalise my creative powers with an easy vids n’ gifs compilation! 🙂

Looking for groovy tunes represented with a vid of suitably spacey visuals turned out to be quite a chore; annoyingly, a few of my initial choices have been removed from YouTube, or are simply unloadable, but when you consider how we all live “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam – a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena” my problems – whether they be psychological or technical – are really so inconsequential! 

Dr. Hans Reinhardt: “Well, Mr. Booth, what’s new on Earth?” 

Harry Booth: “Well, I don’t think it’s changed very much since you left, Doctor.” 

Dr. Hans Reinhardt: “Nothing much ever changes. Same news, different names…” 

It’s Mingo Mean Time for some classic movie magic with that Quarterback New York Jets saviour of the universe himself. When the Flash Gordon movie was released (in 1980!), this iconic character rapidly became my new favourite. Gorged myself on Weetabix every breakfast in order to accumulate all 18 Official Movie Photo-cards; bought ANY sci-fi book that reprinted original pages (or merely one or two panels) of Alex Raymond’s original comic strips; even avidly watched episodes of those ancient serials starring Buster Crabbe as the titular hero; moreover, everyone in my year at Primary School was expected to know all the movie’s lines off by heart!

Absolutely nuts – it’s best to regard this as not so much a movie but a 100-minute Queen video! 

Nothing like a dramatic blast-off, and this following clip is one of the best blast-off sequences in scif-fi cinema. What better to hurl yourself into the Imperial Vortex with than the pulse-pounding percussion of Queen’s Roger Taylor? 

“Check the angular vector of the moon!” – Dr. Hans Zarkov. 

One of the unexpected hits of last year came in the form of Life.

Such a thrill, for a change, to watch a sci-fi movie that is NOT a sequel or a remake!

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover an organic lifeform amidst soils samples collected from Mars, but following sci-fi/horror tradition, it grows into a life-threatening nightmare….

Despite having such heavy-hitters as Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, its the extraterrestrial itself (named Calvin by NY schoolchildren in a national competition!) that steals the show. It may not look as menacing as HR Giger’s xenomorph, but this martian’s level of intelligence becomes particularly unsettling (the way in which Calvin breaks out of his incubator is ingenious!) 

Most importantly, Life fulfilled the essential quota of any space movie: the scenes above the Earth were excellently created, and the original soundtrack by Jon Ekstrand turned out to be quite memorable, evoking the magic and the peril – of space exploration, as this vid amply demonstrates.

Choose Life!

Minister of Defence: “My God, what’s Bond doing?”

Q: “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir.”

As you will see, (before yours truly pops out for a spot of constellation-hunting) we’re saving the BEST till last.

From a movie featuring the ISS, we turn our attention to an astonishing NASA time-lapse video shot from the International Space Station itself, displaying some breathtaking views of what Carl Sagan himself called our “Pale” Blue Dot in all its glory.

The wonderful musical accompaniment is from that under-rated 007 In Space spy thriller: Moonraker (as the end credits amusingly revealed, it was filmed on location in Italy, Brazil, Guatemala, U.S.A. and Outer Space!)

John Barry was a tremendous composer of movie music. And, fittingly, Moonraker happened to be one of his most spectacular works. Make sure you can watch this on the biggest screen you can find:

“And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We’re now on full automatic, in the hands of the computers. I have tucked my crew in for the long sleep and I’ll be joining them soon…

“…The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You who are reading me now are a different breed – I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets.

“But one more thing – if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s purely personal. But seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely.

“That’s about  it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbour’s children starving…?”

 

Electric Dreams III: Revenge Of The Synth

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

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

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

Perhaps. And yet…

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

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

SAL-9000: “Will I dream?”

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

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

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

Purge those rumours of this site’s imminent demise!

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

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

Nancy Thomson: It’s only a dream!”

Freddy Krueger: “Come to Freddy!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

No worries!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, guess what appears here next! :0

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

But why complain?

It’s Blade Runner!

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

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

Maybe, just maybe… 

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

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

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

Edgar: “Who says?”

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

Edgar: “No, it was Cinderella, 1949.”

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

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

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

Sweet dreams… 🙂

Earth’s Mightiest Back Issues!: My Five Favourite Avengers Stories

Just Can’t Get Enough – Another Post On Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

“It’s almost time! I’m not going to enjoy conducting this Membership Review – but I really have no choice! I’m the leader of this outfit! It’s my job – my responsibility to make the Avengers the most effective fighting force possible!” – Captain America.  

First of all, apologies for the yawning gap since my last Post, but really, how do you follow Thanos?!

Seriously though, that Review fell flat; none of the fiction is working; and the less said about that hi-brow essay on transdimensional engineering the better… sheesh!

My writing reached such a low point that over the four-day Easter weekend, my creative faculties switched instead to sketching. Might as well have carried on with all that incessant partying throughout the week following my birthday if one knew how lousy the upkeep of this blog would turn out!

Bah!

Sheer bally exhaustion.

Nothing else can explain how – over this past few weeks – half a dozen posts were worked on before being discarded, falling unbelievably weeeell below the usual Bradtastic standard you have come to expect here. Even this little concoction – an easy-peasy piece that should only have taken a few hours to compile – ended up in development-hell for several days; where oh where can you get the stamina these days…?! 

Anyways, will spare you the torrid tales of mishaps and miseries. Just reckoned it best to escape into the myriad majesties of Marveldom. 

Thought this topic might be quite timely… 

Read on, True Believers! 

“It’s some sort of unearthly inhuman vision-! And that voice… like something from beyond the grave…!” – Wasp.  

Ever since catching sight of that supercool yellow and green fella on the cover of Marvel UK’s first issue of Marvel Superheroes (September 1979) The Vision has been my favourite Avenger. Naturally, the tale of his origins became much sought after. 

This synthozoid made his debut in The Avengers #57 “Behold… The Vision!” (October 1968) – a veritable star-studded super-saga! As these Silver Age ishs are so hard to come by – especially at affordable rates – the ultracheap Marvel UK reprints make suitable alternatives. The Avengers Weekly #84-85 (April-May 1975) carries this epic. 

This story also featured Hank Pym in one of his most decisive roles as he fought his errant creation, that classic antagonist: Ultron.

Despite The Vision being used by the mad robot  to lure The Avengers into his trap, the team still accept him as a new member, hence that iconic panel (see below!)

Written by the irrepressible Roy Thomas, this ish turned out to be a John Buscema masterclass.

The Vision: “You accept me… though I’m not truly a human being?”

Hank Pym: “Is a man any less human because he has an artificial leg… or a transplanted heart? The five original Avengers included an Asgardian immortal… and a hreen-skinned, tormented behemoth! We ask merely a man’s worth… not the accident of his condition!”  

 

“The Grey Gargoyle turned my armor into stone, but not the man inside it. Other than a heck of an itch on my nose, I’m as good as new. DD and I’ll be fine… so long as Central Park’s pigeon population doesn’t find us!” – Iron Man. 

The Avengers: drawn by John Byrne?! 

What a delectable proposition!

Indeed, The Avengers #191 (January 1980) – written by then-regular scripter: David Michelinie – proves to be an irresistible ish.

Iron Man and Daredevil have been turned to stone by the Grey Gargoyle, who has wrought havoc in downtown Manhattan; he fights The Avengers and WINS! He returns to his old apartment, to collect chemicals to augment his powers, only to discover that the new tenant has thrown them out! 

Thank goodness The Falcon turns up to battle the wrath of the Gargoyle, holding him off until the regrouped Avengers can show up. Scarlet Witch uses her hex power to turn him back into flesh and blood. 

And the title of this Bronze Age extravaganza? 

“Back To The Stone Age.”

Groovy… 

“Hah! It’s at times like this that I wonder how people can call you the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!” – The Grey Gargoyle.

 

The Avengers #194 “Interlude!” (April 1980) makes it into this survey ‘cos of George Perez’s art.

Having done such an impressive job on Man-Wolf, a stint on this series sounded too cool to miss!

Just before an official meeting, a frightened and dishevelled man named Selbe turns up at Avengers Mansion pleading for protection. Shady officials arrive, claiming the man has escaped from the “Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane,” so have to turn him over.

On the point of resuming their meeting, The Avengers realise that Wasp is missing, having followed the officials back to this alleged institute…

This ish featured in one of my Bronze Age Bonanzas – lookee here:

And, yes yes yes, it’s another showcase to present The Vision’s extraordinary powers. That double spread on pages 12-13 is quite stupendous. 

Did you know he’s my fave Avenger? 😉

Actually, #195 looks live a real jaw-dropper, as it features a guest-star appearance by The Taskmaster! (Not surprisingly, this is one of the most difficult ishs to find – Brad‘s not gonna give up any time yet!)

“They didn’t even notice me… didn’t count me! Was it an oversight? Or had everyone already made up their minds that I would be one of those eliminated…? I am nothing to them! They do not want me here!” – Jocasta. 

 

Bah! That the Son of Odin must so proclaim himself-! Are there no heralds aboutNay… never when thou needest one! Still, I wonder… if chosen to remain will I choose to do so?” – Thor. 

The Avengers #211 “…By Force Of Mind!”  (September 1981) is integral to this survey.

Originally picked up @ a Comics Fair in 1990, this happened to be my very first Avengers ish. Moreover, it marks my introduction to the astonishing artistic talent that was Gene Colan. 

Now, it does not contain a particularly dramatic story – it is, however, the ish in which the Cap decrees that there can only be SIX members on the team, not eight. There are guest-stars aplenty: Hawkeye, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Dazzler, Iceman, Tigra et al, all brought to the Avengers Mansion at the dodgy hypnotic instigation of Moondragon, to test their suitability to join.

Thus, The Vision and his wife: The Scarlet Witch decide to leave the Mansion; even The Beast and Wonder Man decided to call it quits!

Moreover, Page 3 of this ish has always been one of my favourites:

“…I’m leaving! Wondy and I had a talk this morning… You know, I used to be a scientist! I used to habe a future besides my next gag and tomorrow night’s date! I want to see if there’s anything left of Hank McCoy besides a “blue-furred buffoon”!” – The Beast.

 

“I remembered that a human being can survive for a few seconds in the vacuum of space, so I turned physical… and cut loose with my power blast! The reaction force sent me flying backward… but I managed to regain light form, just as the torpedo slammed into another orbital generator!” – Captain Marvel.   

“Understand, our once-proud empire now lies in shambles. Several of your months ago, the world devourer Galactus came to the imperial throneworld. 

“And on the heels of this shocking news, chaos and rebellion spread throughout the galaxy. 

“Amid this insanity rose a great mercenary army. Its warriors were outcasts of a thousand worlds from this galaxy and others. And its leader is a she-demon who calls herself Nebula. 

“World after world fell before Nebula’s forces. She knew no defeat…” 

The Avengers #259!

Look at that cover! “On the side of… the Skrulls!”?

Preposterous!

Nevertheless, this startling cover did direct me to one of the most stiking ishs of John Buscema’s second classic stint on this series.

“Duty Over All” (Septamber 1985) continues the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – in this case: the Cap, Wasp, Captain Marvel, Hercules, the Black Knight and Starfox – opposition to Nebula: treacherous she-devil daughter of dreaded Thanos – only introduced in ish #257. 

She poses such a gargantuan threat to the galaxy that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must band together with their sworn enemies: the Skrulls – yes! The Skrulls! Even Firelord couldn’t believe/accept that monstrous fact either!!

Scintillating! Exciting! Nebula is sooo awesome here – makes you realise how wasted her character has been in the MCU thus far…

THAT’S IT!

This list may yet change as other classic ishs permeate the Bradscribe Collection. 

But come ON, friends! This Post has been completed. And Published!

Surely – after all this writer’s been through this past month – this simple feat calls for a celebration, albeit a textured-sponge-with-a-creamy-filling one. 😉

Cheers!

 

“No one tells me what I “must” do…! Have all stations made battle-ready! And make certain that everyone knows… we will take no prisoners!” – Nebula. 

 

“Am I Not Death?”: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About THANOS But Were Afraid to Ask

A Dreamer Of Tranquility. Non-Purpose. Death.

“Tell me his name again” – Tony Stark.

Ten years. Eighteen movies. And it’s all been leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, set to bedazzle us all in just over a month(!) 

With the latest trailer for this epic slugfest released on Friday, and seeing how all of you are eager to go to War, you sure as fudge need to know what you’re going up against…

Created by writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin, Thanos hails from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. His parents were Eternals – his father was Mentor. His mother: Sui-san – so shocked to discover that he carried the Deviants gene, making him resemble the Eternals‘ cousin race – tried to kill himWhile Thanos embodied Death, his brother Eros – aka Starfox who served as an Avenger during the mid-80s – represented Life.

His super-strength, speed and durability are greatly enhanced by the Deviants gene. Not until adolescence, did he develop his fascination with nililism and death, worshipping and eventually falling in love with the physical embodiment of death: Mistress Death. 

Able to absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy, Thanos is capable of telekinesis, telepathy and matter manipulation. Trained in the arts of war on Titan, Odin Allfather had to concede that he was a worthy opponent, and he even BLASTED GALACTUS OFF HIS FEET(!)

A scientific supergenius, he uses three space vessels named Sanctuary as alternate bases of operations. (Yes, you already saw Sanctuary II loom LARGE during the Thor: Ragnarok post-creds sequence!)

 

“Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!” – Roy Thomas. 

Watching the Armoured Avenger getting well and truly KA-POWed to the ground during the first Infinity War trailer reminded me that the Mad Titan actually made his debut in Iron Man #55 “Beware, The Blood Brothers!” (February 1973).

“I went to college [before] getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos” Jim Starlin explained. “I felt that [Iron Man] may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it.”

And the rest is (quite a substantial) history.

It is intriguing to learn that when he iniatially envisagd this formidable icon, Starlin – who also brought the Mad Titan’s nemesis: Adam Warlock to life – envisaged him as a more scrawny fella; only through the insistence of editor: Roy Thomas does he sport such massive bulk.

Thanos story continued in Captain Marvel #s 25-33 (March 1973 – Jan. 1974) (some sources list this arc as The Thanos War) – again, these ishs are stupendously expensive collectors’ items, or they would have materialised in the Bradscribe Bronze Age Comics Collection loooong before now…

He made further appearances in Marvel Feature #12 (Nov 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan 1974) What?! Picking on the blind now, huh, fella?! Jeez, what a bounder… and Avengers #125 (July 1974). 

He returned in an excellent extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975) and Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Feb. 1976), the latter of which was reviewed here: and can be heartily recommended!

Yours truly is well aware of how difficult it is to acquire these individual back ishs. For the best introduction to Thanos, before 27 April, seek out the compilation volume: Essential Captain Marvel. 

You won’t be disappointed! 

Thanos is the greatest menace this galaxy has ever known! He’s here to gain the force that can subjugate the stars – the Cosmic Cube!” – Captain Marvel. 

“Only you, Titan. Congratulations. You are clearly a person one does not easily forget” – Adam Warlock.

“The entire time I knew him, he only ever had one goal – to wipe out half the universe. If he gets all the Infinity Stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers… just like that” – Gamora.

Strange Tales #180 (June 1975) marked the debut of Thanos adopted daughter: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan.

After her species: the Zen Whoberis were wiped out by the Badoon – Thanos found the infant Gamora and raised her solely for the purpose of destroying The Magus: the evil, future self of Adam Warlock. Judging from that touching moment in the latest Trailer, it looks like we will get to see how that unlikely father-daughter relationship transpired.

Apart from her – and Nebula, of course – Thanos has fathered enough children to form his own baseball team. He even had a child with his main infatuation: Mistress Death. 

And what did they call their sprog?

Rot, that’s what.

Aww, cute…?!

The last time the Mad Titan (dis)graced the Bronze Age he picked a fight with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers Annual 1977 – another sterling job by Jim Starlin. 

And just like that, he was gone…

“And I thought we wuz friends!” – Pip The Troll.

…Until 1990, when The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #34 (Feb. 1990) witnessed the revival of Thanos.

Talk about unstoppable.

He frequently guest-starred right up until ish #59 (Nov. 1991), while simultaneously stealing the show in The Thanos Quest #1 & 2 (Sept-Oct. 1990) and the monumental The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991).

After an appearance in Spider-Man #17 (Dec. 1991), any mini-series with “Infinity” in the title, whether it be Warlock And The Infinity Watch, Infinity War or Infinity Crusade, you could bet the Mad Titan would show up to deliver his own unique brand of carnage… 

If that wasn’t enough, he not only returned to The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #86-88 (Nov. 1993-Jan. 1994), but managed to gate-crash Thor #468-71 (Nov. 1993-Feb. 1994); Namor The Sub-Mariner #44 (Nov. 1993); Secret Defenders #11-14 (Jan-Apr. 1994) and even frickin’ Ka-Zar fer cake’s sake! 

He featured in Thor (vol. 2) #21-25 (March-July 2000) and Captain Marvel (vol. 4) # 17-19 (June-Aug. 2001) before being reintroduced in Guardians Of the Galaxy (vol. 2) #24-25 (April-May 2010).

Notice in the forthcoming movie how Thanos isn’t going into this alone – he is aided by four shifty enhanced individuals – Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and Black Dwarf – alternatively known as the Black Order, or the Children of Thanos. You saw them briefly in this latest Trailer, holding Loki captive. They have been exacting their duplicitous allegiance to the Mad Titan in the comics only since 2013, making one-panel cameos in New Avengers (vol. 3) #8 before being properly introduced in Infinity #1.

Their onscreen visages were unveigled at the Disney D23 Expo last year  – here’s hoping they can avoid the “Phasma-curse”: receive a tremendous pre-release buzz only to end up with having barely anything to do/say onscreen.  

The one female member of this band: Proxima Midnight is seen here (from last November‘s Infinity War trailer) flinging her spear – forged especially for her by Thanos at the valiant Captain Crumbcatcher: 

“Death follows him like a shadow” – Mantis.

James Gunn originally envisaged Thanos enjoying a more substantial role in the first Guardians Of the Galaxy movie, but Joss Whedon felt that: “the character needed to be threaded more gently” (whatever that means).

Personally, not hearing a single dickie bird said about Adam Warlock in relation to this Enhanced Individual Convention is a tad discomfortingAdam possesses the Soul Gem – embedded in his forehead – the one Infinity Stone yet to be revealed in the MCU; as Gamora said – in The Avengers Annual 1977: if there is one man in the galaxy who Thanos fears, it’s Adam. 

Besides, The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series saw them scrap mano a mado – a confrontation never far away from fans’ MCU wishlists.  

It would impress this ol’ fanboy no end to see, at the climax of this imminent record-breaker to watch Adam Warlock – defying all the pre-release gossip that he is not due to appear until Guardians Vol. 3 – make an electrifying entrance (before flashing that inevitably-annoying “To Be Continued” sign across the screen!)

No worries: this EPIC is brought to us by the ever-capable Joe and Anthony Russo who possessed that uncanny ability of turning me into a big fan of Captain America who, arguably, has the most impressive MCU trilogy. There is NO doubt that this dynamic duo can craft the marvel-ous spectacle we all crave, although it will be particularly interesting to see how they juggle a whole decade’s worth of awesome characters into 2 hours 36 minutes (TOO SHORT!!)

Heck, if they can handle the intergalactic infamy of Thanos then they are capable of anything.  

“Everyone, without knowing it, loses this day – save death! 

“For now, nothing can halt my ultimate plan for total stellar genocide! Soon, all who must suffer through that which is called life shall be granted the peace that only passing the Great Divide can bring!

“Yes, I shall grant them this tranquillity, for am I not ThanosAm I not the Dark Side? 

“Am I not Death?” – Thanos.

 

Unbelievable Bronze Age Bargains! But At What Cost?

SO Many Comics Purchased With So Few Pennies!

Carol Danvers: “You startled me. I didn’t hear you approach.” 

Wolverine: “No one ever does.”

For too long, True Believers, this site has been bereft of a Bronze Age Bonanza. 

Well, long for such a Post no more! Thought it would be a swell idea to get one rattled out this weekend.

But it still took this long to make it work!

New additions continue to enrich the Bradscribe Comicbook Collection each month, but keeping up with writing about them is a completely different matter – don’t know why these Posts should prove so strenuous to write up…

The Post that would have appeared here has been withdrawn to my Dashboard for the umpteenth time, while numerous ishs for this Post came and went before settling on the following frantic finalists. 

As these examples set out to prove, cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty…

 

Corsair: “Callous as it sounds, Cyclops, all of that is negligible, even expendable. You worry about a few score lives. I’m trying to save a world. This world.” 

Storm: “You are correct, Corsair. It is callous. And cruel… and inhuman. 

Corsair: “Then, I guess, so am I.” 

Let’s start at the zenith of my most startling recent acquisitions:

The Uncanny X-Men is arguably the most expensive series to bedeck the boxes of back ish basements. However, through sheer good fortune – the likes of which only ever happens to other people – one of these fine editions stumbled into my possession with a price SO unbelievable, you’d think some cheeky fella had tagged it on as a prank. 

#154 Reunion (February 1982) begins with Cyclops and Storm, innocently enough, playing handball with their powers. Hurtling Earthwards, a Shi’ar space vessel crashes into the pond on Prof Xavier’s estate! Both X-Men dive in and rescue Corsair – leader of the Starjammers – from the wreckage.

Hot on Commander Christopher Summers’ heels is a tempest of arachnid-like Sidrian hunters. Storm “generates an incredible, irresistible vortex” to banish them, but succeeds only in trashing Xavier’s Mansion! Unlike Brad, she paid a hefty price! 😉

Although this terrific trio escape in one of the Blackbird jets, the Sidri converge into a ship, “as big as a skyscraper!” according to Air Traffic Control and chases them across Manhattan’s East River!

Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum at the top of their game.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE?!

Yeah-heh-hes!! 

How can ANY ish of a series that is regularly marked between £10-30(!) pass into my eager mitts for so few pennies?!  

The wraparound cover had fallen off this copy’s staples, but the Claremont/Cockrum goodness remains unblemished…

 

Thor: “Tell me, monster – art thou the madman or the madman‘s slave? And more – how didst thou appear so suddenly… like a ghost from out of the air?”

Ego: “Know this, godling, I am no ghost, but Ego personified! My flesh is the flesh of this planet – my body, the stone at your feet! This form exists because I created it – so that when I crush you, I may see your pathetic face!”

Ego The Living Planet! Has gone mad?!

Why else would Thor(!) join forces with the despicable Galactus(!) to try and stop him?! With the awesomeness for this classic mind-boggling saga ascending beyond measure, so, alas, the value had to rise in accordance.

When first reading this storyline last year – reprinted as Essential Thor Volume 7 – just the thought of ever owning a single instalment – in all its original colourific glory – seemed beyond even my grandest schemes. 

And yet…! By the Flames of Ragnarok!!

In the right store at the right time: “he just stood there, staring at the cover for what seewed an eternity – at its price for a whole lot longer…” 

The Mighty Thor #227 In Search Of… Ego! (September 1974) begins with Odin himself(!) at a loss to explain how his beloved son and heir could be colluding with “the most dangerous entity in all space and time?!” It is through the Allfather’s curiosity that we pick up the threads to the story so far – brilliant narrative device by Gerry Conway. Side by side with Hercules and Firelord, this most unlikely fantastic four proceed to destroy the Mind of Ego!

From the enthralling splash page to the explosive cliffhanger, this is Big John Buscema at his pulse-pounding best. 

This ish has prized possession written all over it (probably why the price was so ridiculously low, ho, ho!) 

“I’m certain you now fully comprehend the danger, Asgardian. If such energy were to be applied against the stars of this galaxy… we would all perish” – Galactus.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

Considering how some unscrupulous ‘erbs have tried to flog this very ish online for three-figure sums, yours truly managed to pick this up for only TWO POUNDS(!)

Madder than the Living Planet itself, baby…

 

“Never in my wildest imaginings could I have filled a world with so strange a mixture of folk as I’d found on the Mars of the long-dead past – but this wasn’t my imagination… and most of those “folk” would dearly love to see me dead” – Gullivar Jones.  

Creatures On The Loose is an important series in my collection for Man-Wolf features as the star attraction of its final seven ishs. 

Earlier editions are intriguing for giving a home to Gullivar Jones. 

Gullivar who…?

Some SF aficionados argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs – to put it politely – “borrowed” this character in order to produce his more popular John Carter of Mars. Nevertheless, Marvel adapted both of these Red Planet adventurers; while John Carter back ishs are easy to find, Gullivar like the original novel – is extremely rare. But new stock in one of my regular comic book emporiums (just in time for the January Half-Price Sale!) included a few Creatures back ishs featuring this character.

#19 The Long Road To Nowhere (Septemher 1972) offers artwork by Gil Kane – one of my favs! – Jim Mooney and Wayne Boring, but the writing fails to impress (finding decent dialogue to quote turned out to be an unexpected task). Also, this story is too short (it only fills half this ish); the rest of the pages are taken up by two short fillers – while the first includes art by Jack Kirby(!) it is a substandard alien-invasion-of-Earth story.

After an impressive splash page (see below!) the quality of this ish rapidly plummets with each turn of the page…

‘OW MUCH?!: 

£2.50 – but would further ishs in this series be worth my time and money…?

 

“At once, should one of those guardsmen become unnerved… a stray bullet could plunge all eternity into irreparable chaos! And by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth that must not come to pass!” – Doctor Strange.

The Defenders – that so-called non-team featuring the Hulk, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie – has been a rather hit-or-miss series. It is an absolute delight, though, to state that  #26 Savage Time! (August 1975) is a classic. Not only does it featurespecial-guest-star appearance by the (original line-up of the) Guardians of the Galaxy(!) but – thanks to an enticing script by Steve Gerber – it incorporates a staggering 1000-year history of the future, including a single-panel appearance by Killraven.

You’ll be happy to learn that the rebellion against the Techno-Barons comes to a triumphant end with the execution of the tyrant Kwaal in 2525. Well, whoopee-doo! Any excuse to order more cake 😉

All this action, adventure – and future-history – is brought to furious fruition by Our Pal Sal Buscema. 

“What you’re seeing is a genuine U.F.O., a ship presumably of extraterrestrial origin… 

“It seems the pilot of this spacecraft has survived the ship’s plummet from space and is concealing himself inside.But perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the ship is its insignia. For inscribed in English on the hull are the words: “Captain America”…

Hard to believe that not all Defenders ishs are up to this standard… or down to this price!

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE!

(The bottom half is badly crumpled, but after sitting beneath a pile of other distinguished members of the Bradscribe Collection, it no longer makes crinkling noises when you turn the pages!)

 

Sir Lyan: “Board, man of metal – and do not be brave if you value your life! My blaster is set to kill!” 

Iron Man: “You have nothing to fear from me – I’m no friend of the colonizers! (Besides, I think I’ve figured out a way to recharge my deplted power!)”

What a genuine – and totally unexpected! – pleasure to welcome Iron Man to the Bradscribe Collection! Hey, if the plot goes cosmic, then any title can make it in there!

Iron Man #111 The Man, the Metal, and the Mayhem! (June 1978) continues th unputdownable cosmic adventures of the Knights of Wundagore – those fabulous man-beasts created by the High Evolutionary – and their ongoing resistance against those diminutive would-be world-conquerors: the Rigellians. 

Having been beamed aboard a Rigellian scavenger ship “whose size beggars our poor mortal powers of description” belonging to Fleet Commander Arcturus and his crummy crew of unruly observer-munchkins, the Armoured Avenger finds himself trapped inside an inter-galactic war. Suspecting he is a Rigellian robot, tke Wundagorians shoot ol’ Shellhead down to Wundagore II. There, he gains the trust of the walking, talking beasts. 

For me, personally, this is a great ish as Tony is joined by Jack of Hearts, one of my very first favourite comic book characters and, arguably, the owner of the most elaborate costume in comic book history. Much like Spider-Man in last Summer’s Homecoming movie, Stark acts as mentor to the young Jack Hart throughout ishs: 103-113.

And, as both sides also make significant cameos in The Mighty Thor as well, this bunny can’t wait to catch all these other ishs – at an agreeable price… of course! 

Fleet Commander Arcturus: “A lovely planet! Alive with everything one could ask for! A perfect planet for settling at least some of our fleet!”

Observer YJ18: “Fleet Commander, no! What of the oath sworn to the Asgardian: Thor…?!”

‘OW MUCH?!: 

ABSOLUTELY FREE!

WHAT?!?!

Yes, priced at £3 – same as all the other Iron back ishs, my friendly neighbourhood awemonger deducted it from my bill in recognition of frequenting his establishment after all these months. 

Also: ’twas the night before Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

“Don’t Delay, Book Today!”: The Entertainer Is Back in Town!

2ooth Post!!

The Entertainer Blogger Award comes to me from the talented and entertaining

Danica @ Living A Beautiful Life Thank You, Danica!

“You mean old books?”

“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”

“How could there have been stories about space travel before-“

“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up…” – Philip K. Dick.

Having succumbed to a particularly debilitating bout of Scribe’s Fever a few months ago, it was truly a delightnay, a blessing – to be presented with this particular Award. 

The Entertainer Blogger Award recognizes bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most of all, entertaining. This special Post – also marking my 4th Blogiversary! – happens to appear in the same week that this blog hit the 30,000 views mark. 

Yes, yes, this is a BIG brouhaha for me – it makes me want to dance on the beach; shout in the local library. Feel so high, wanna touch the sky etc. etc. 

One of the questions asked as part of this Award intrigued me:

What is your favourite book?

Thus, these last few evenings have been spent, deep within the cosy and cushty confines of the Sanctum Sanctorum @ Brad Manor, perchance to pour over the VAST array of books that one has accumulated across four decades and determineonce and for all – which of them proved to be The Life-Changers… 

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The most amazing SF novels to inspire me will – no doubt – feature here @ some point. Probably in two parts. Or even three… 

For this Post, we will – whole-heartedly – concentrate on the NON-fiction cabinet of my book collection. Selecting just FIVE titles proved to be quite a perplexing beard-scratcher in itself.

Without further ado, welcome to Brad’s Books 

Hmm, sounds like a vintage secondhand tome emporium, lost down some leafy English lane. No doubt such an establishment would look very much like the inside of his head: small, cramped, and full of dust and good reads. 

Aah, can see it now:  rather surly-looking fat Persian cat sits in the window, nestled on a comfy, leather-bound edition of How To Spot A Creep From A Distance.

A sign on the door reads: Come In, We Are Awesome!

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re sceptical” – Arthur C. Clarke. 

The first book that springs to mind is the tome that helped get me mixed up in SF in the first place – the joy of The Space Warriors has already been praised elsewhere, but then, it IS fiction, so instead, let me draw your attention to that other hefty tome snapped up around 1979/80: Alien Creatures, by Richard Siegel and J-C Suares. 

It is one of those books that could appeal at once to a moppet like me and an intellectual like my father. Its in-depth history of SF cinema came with such an incredibly stuffy, hi-brow text for such a small boy to ingest, (read it and appreciated it only fairly recently, in fact) – my immediate attention was especially drawn to the rare stills from the Flash Gordon RKO serials (repeated every morning during the school holidays back then) and Ray Harryhausen filmography then my main obsession.

In addition, it contained conceptual art by Ralph McQuarrie and “exclusive stills” of a space opera – from the director of American Grafitti – that had only appeared in cinemas that past Summer…

While that unexpected smash went on to transform big-budget moviemaking – and the whole course of science fiction (for the better?), Alien Creatures set the standard for what my bookshelves – back then: clean, sturdy and reputable keepers of knowledge – should come to expect… 

“Enticing, imaginative, readable, iridescent” – New York Times.

What’s that?

Want to read a book telling the story of how fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution transformed matter and life into consciousness?

Ha! Got just the thing – Cosmos by Carl Sagan admittedly, we were hooked by the ground-breaking TV series in 1980. In such a rare moment, the medium of television actually fulfilled its remit of offering an educational and entertaining programme.

In this bold project, here was someone – Dr. Carl Sagan – prepared to discuss the mysteries of the universe in a captivating and uncomplicated way. Not only did his book instil in me a wonder of science and a zest for all-things-cosmic, it taught me the value of questioning anything and everything (much to my teachers’ annoyance)…

And there are half a dozen groovy quotes accompanying each chapter, so when my blog came to fruition, one automatically assumed that quotes were obligatory – ha!

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

“Sh! We hear a rustling in the greenery and a soft sound of running feet. This is Procompsognathus, an early meat-eating dinosaur. But how small it is!”  

Every boy should have a book on dinosaurs, so Dinosaurs And Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson became my go-to – published in 1978, and it shows. The sauropods had to “stay in swamps to keep their massive bulk upright.” Moreover, the advances and discoveries made in palaeontology since this book’s publication are quite considerable. 

However, what sets this tome apart from all the rest is the INCREDIBLE artwork by Rudolph F. Zallinger. 

The wonder of this book lies in its staggering timeline. Along the bottom of each page, a yellow, numbered box represents a million yrs; a tiny illo shows which major type of dinosaur roamed Pangaea at that time. While each chapter describes the (pre)history of these palaeontological marvels – from the emergence of fish onto land to the final members of the Cretaceous Period – that timeline works in reverse. 

To put this gargantuan chronology into perspective, we homo sapiens barely make it halfway across the first page, while the dinosaurs hold sway throughout the majority of the book’s fifty pages…

Interestingly, the last (first?) beast to be featured is the fish-like Eusthenopteron that swam around 290 million years ago. The otherwise empty timeline terminates at 293 million years BC… 

“Down along the sunny shore, Tyrant Lizard finds the hunting better. He can walk fairly fast on his two legs on dry land. But he does not like to get too close to the water…”

“Science Fiction: still for some of us the most marvellous subject – or at least the second most marvellous subject. ‘The glory, jest and riddle of the world’ – at once abominable and abysmal in so many of its manifestations, and yet, in its best, the voice nearest to our inner voice” – Brian W. Aldiss (1925 – 2017). 

Now, where would this blog be without The Science Fiction Source Book?! 

Acquired during a Withdrawn Stock sale @ the local library, this veritable encyclopaedia of science fiction, first published in 1984 – edited by David Wingrove, with a Foreword by Brian W. Aldiss – represents, arguably, the best thirty-five pence ever spent. 

Following an introductory decade by decade Brief History of SF, there are sections discussing the sub-genres of SF; various small features describing the Art of Writing contributed by a whole host of leading writers; and a considerable A-Z Consumers’ Guide: listing authors from Edwin A. Abbott to Roger Zelazny.  

It has flown with me between three countries, in my travel bag, nestled next to both my writing journals, a copy of either Scientific Enquirer or The Economist, and whatever novel piqued my interest at that time. 

Even now, as this Post is prepared on my Dashboard, the Source Book lies in easy reach…

“The strength of Maisel’s approach to his grand theme lies precisely in its breadth… it is generously illustrated with diagrams, maps and graphs… both scholarly and accessible to non-specialists; indeed it is a tour de force” – David R. Harris, Director, Institute of Archaeology, London. 

Twenty years ago this quarter, mu Ancient History abd Archaeology degree @ The University Of Manchester began.

When the Unconditional Offer arrived through the post, my parents were so delighted. And relieved. My freelance journalism career had come to an abrupt, unforeseen halt the year before so my life needed a dramatic upturn. The next letter to come from Manchester felt like a dream – it contained a READING LIST!! 

Deep joy. 

Thus ensued a (mostly) satisfying book-hunt. At the Top Of The List – and deservedly so when recalling it in hindsight – was: The Emergence Of Civilization by Charles Keith Maisels.

Integrating Archaeology, Ecology and Textual History to produce a new Anthropological perspective, it charts the rise from hunter/gathering – through farming and advances in social complexity – to the rise of city-states in the ancient Near East.

Now, you’d think that a textbook with such chapters as:

“The relationship of demography and technology to social structure,”

“Is agriculture the outcome of technological discoveries?” 

and – whisper it – “The ecology of the Zagrosian Arc,”

would make for trying and tiresome studying, but no!

Far from it!

It proved to be endlessly fascinating, responsible for helping me to produce some of my most successful essays. My interest was, however, not all it managed to absorb…

One day, somebody accidentally sat on my backpack (don’t ask), thereby squashing my daily banana onto this academic behemoth. All three page edges remain cursed by dark, frightful – but fruity – stains. But for months the sweet essence of banana lingered.

Lo, every book tells its own story… 

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life” – Mark Twain. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH to each, and everyone of you, who have Liked and Commented on my various movies, comics, books, science and fiction gubbins.

Brad is a humble wordsmith, but is nothing without YOUR appreciation.

CHEERS!!

There is a lot more cool stuff yet to come. Promise!

And who does Brad Nominate for this Award?

Well, automatically, YOU who are reading this! (If you want to do an Entertainer Blogger post let me know and you will receive the full set of questions!)

By the way, this Post could not finish without a special shout-out to the Best Book Blogger In The Blogosphere, who can read a novel AND post its review faster than Brad can eat a burritothat’s some considerable talent right there…

Think she might be absolutely thrilled to see this: 🙂

“A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. So the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his/her life to this war with the forces of oblivion” – Umberto Eco.

As soon as this Post goes out, no doubt another half-dozen life-changing titles will spring to mind.

Ah well…

For the moment, this insightful, perhaps interesting dare one say it – entertaining – Post looks groovy enough.

Doesn’t it?

As for the Book With The Greatest Title Of All Time – it didn’t take long at all to work that one out: 😉

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King.

keep-calm-and-read-a-book

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