From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

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“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

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“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

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“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

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“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

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  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

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“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

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“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

Breaking Brad: Trying To Put Up A Good Fight In The Tech-Wars

Do Not Even Think About Upgrading The System!

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“God isn’t interested in technology… Look how he spends his time: forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men! …Slugs! He created slugs! They can’t hear. They can’t speak. They can’t operate machinery. Are we not in the hands of a lunatic?!” – Evil.

The future is upon us. Tell me about it; my laptop crashed twenty minutes ago. 

The technology dreaded throughout the sci-fi of olde has now seeped into our everyday lives. But at what price? Amazingly, it looks like everyone has accepted this gleaming gizmo-laden future with open pockets (despite the fact that hardly anyone appears to have any money). Is it disconcerting how people have become so – no, too – dependent on their phones and other assorted gadgetry? Every time on the train, it’s always the same – the majority of commuters with their heads down, eyes locked on their mobile screen, their fingers busy fiddling…

If there is one thing guaranteed to mess up my equilibrium of sobriety and patience then it is the despicable act of “upgrading the system” – that ultimate lunacy of “fixing” what is not broken. Just when you think you’ve mastered one mode of tech, along comes another. And you’re stuck with a piece of junk that has become obsolete faster than you can say: “In which socket does the frickin’ recharger go?!” 

Mark my words: once the the War Against The Machines breaks out, it will be Brad leading what’s left of the human resistance, standing on the front-line, scowling at the HKs.

Whoa no, you accursed machines! You’re not gonna take this carbon-based biped without a fight!

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“‘Humans’ is showing us a world that’s not that far off. We should be questioning whether, as a society, we’re embracing technology too quickly… There’s a generation growing up who only know how to interact with their devices” – Gemma Chan. 

The uneasy relationship between man and machine moves ever closer. As realised in the most recent UK sci-fi drama: Humans, domestic life (in – that most desirable of real-estate – the “near” future) has become so stressful that artificial home-help, known as Synths, is required.

“Basically, they’ll have common sense,” exclaims  Prof Geoff Hinton, one of the top AI scientists. He is currently developing a new type of algorithm designed to encode thoughts as sequences of numbers, which he calls “thought vectors.” He believes the path from current technology to a more sophisticated version approaching a “human-like capacity for reasoning and logic” is plausible. Moreover: “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be like a friend… A flirtatious program would probably be quite simple to create.”

Oh, leave. It. Out. The cynic in me immediately assumes that my human-like artificial intelligent unit will more likely resemble the treacherous Ash (from Alien) than Gemma Chan (above). And would most likely try to throttle me or nick me nachos – both scenarios are far too dire to contemplate…

Hang on, though; nothing to fear just yet.

“We really have no idea how to make a human level AI,” adds Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, and adviser on one of this year’s best films: Ex Machina. He rates the odds of human-level AI development before 2050 as “possible but unlikely.”

It would appear that the sweeping advances in technology now engulfing the 21st century have left some older miscreants (you talkin’ to me?) out, and yet notice how it’s all second nature to the younglings – what the blazes is going on?! You gotta lol…

Like Groucho Marx once said: “Why, it’s so easy a four-year-old kid could understand this… Run out and find me a four-year-old kid; I can’t make head nor tail out of it…”

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“That cold war paranoia is the larger framework of the first two [Terminator] movies, but now we are so reliant on technology… SkyNet no longer needs to beat down your door because you lined up in front of the Apple store and invited the wolf to dinner” – David Ellison.

With ubiquitous technology influencing our “popular” culture, including the movies we watch, it would appear that the traditional sci-fi fear of haywire technology has been made redundant; so, who wants an obsolete Terminator sequel? For the umpteenth time: the first two movies of that franchise were NOT broken… 

Never mind: time to embrace all this talk of tech-this an’ tech-that. If you can’t join ’em, beat the hell outta them i.e. out with the manuals, instructions (and aspirin) and get swottin’. 

Take the other day for instance: having decided to study how to cascade my spreadsheets, and optimize my HTML, etc. the nearest, most moderately-priced technical tome was selected. Huzzah! Brad faces the future – for the first time – with a sense of hope. 

On proceeding confidently – and nonchalantly (hey, gotta look groovy for that CCTV, baby) to the counter, the “member of staff” fumbled with the bar-code in front of the scanner, unable to make it bleep. After having to type it in manually, she uttered the price. Upon handing over my hard-earned polymer note, she gawped incredulously.

“Wow!” she cried. “Real monnay! Oi ain’t seen that fer a long toime!”

One flick of a switch to activate the till. Nothing happened. She fiddled and tugged. Again, nothing continued to happen. Guess what: “they” had upgraded the store’s internal system and forgot to send her the relevant memo. Typical. What could she give me other than a look of utter despair?

“Soz! You can’t buy anyfink today ‘cos oi can’t get me till open.” 

The case continues…

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Keep your friends close and your smartphones closer.

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“In Thy Future” Challenge: 5 Things That Need To Be Done

Share 5 Things About My Future. Well, Had No Idea Last Week That This Was Going To Happen…

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“Look, I am not stupid you know. They cannot make things like that yet… Are you saying it’s from the future?” – Sarah Connor. 

Having studied/worked as a historian, the past seemed – somehow, comfortingly – more certain, less daunting, yet always reassuring. Reviving my passion for sci-fi through this blog has helped confront that unfathomable and intangible “future”; now comes this challenge (gleefully accepted): 

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Rules for the In Thy Future Challenge:

• Thank the blogger who nominated you.
• Link back to the challenge creator to track progress.
• Share 5 things about your future.  Then one day you can look back and find out how psychic you really are.
• Tag 5 bloggers and put them up to the challenge.

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Danica Piche @ Leading a Beautiful Life – nominated me for this Challenge.  Thank you, Danica!

5 Things About My Future:

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“You should see what he can do” – Rogue.  

1. Get that novel finished. Obviously. And then write some more fiction. 

Yes, yes! This well-meaning intention has been announced/noted several times in this household – during this past year alone – to the point that Mrs. B no longer believes it. But hey, the ideas, enthusiasm and typing sessions generated over these past few weeks through my latest Brother Brad creation, have been fantastic.

Beforehand, there was a SF mega-opus coming along, but far too slowly. This project, on the other hand, is a different, more satisfying prospect – have not felt so good about writing fiction in a long time. Actually, working via WordPress rather than Word Document has actually sparked a more encouraging creative process.

If you are interested in Following this project as it comes to fruition, you can check out this site. Moreover, there are plenty of awesome ideas to stretch this concept into a series.

ETA: Volume 1 in the stores by Christmas!

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“I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark. Rome is the light” – Maximus Decimus Meridius. 

2. Visit Rome.

“Yet you have never been there!” as Marcus Aurelius constantly – irritatingly – reminds me. Ciao! Talk about a radical departure from what usually appears on these Posts, this remains a long-standing Thing To Do. 

Finally got the chance to study Ancient Roman History at universityHowever, having no physical connection to the metropolis once considered the centre of the world, it was not easy to get to grips with my studies. After the degree came a great travel option: Europe or Southeast Asia. The latter was selected; my life advanced to a higher, more enjoyable, level, although one part of me wonders what fortune the former option could have presented…

Mi dispiace, goodness knows when this visit will happen.

Cosi e la vita, bebe…

ETA: Who knows? Summer 2016 perhaps, or 2017? 

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“With his fertile imagination, his wit, and his prolific output, Isaac Asimov truly laid the Foundation for all future generations of science fiction writers” – Kevin J. Anderson. 

3. Swot up on some essential science fiction classics.

Compiling my own sci-fi Posts, this would seem like a mandatory pursuit anyway. However, due to the unavailability of such classics – and work commitments, of course – this aim is not as easy as it sounds. 

Honestly, how can you accept me as a sci-fi blogger if some of the greatest literary works in the SF canon have not been thoroughly scrutinised?!

For example, top of the Essential Classics list comes the Foundation series – revered in some quarters as the greatest SF series ever published – created by the grand master himself: Isaac Asimov. Initially a trilogy – Foundation (1951), Foundation And Empire (1952) and Second Foundation (1953) – it now consists of six books; confusingly, Prelude to Foundation – the prequel – was the last book in the series to be published (as late as 1986).

ETA: From this November and on through Christmas (subject to availability). 

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“We have sat waiting like this many times before… At night, I can hear the call of my race. They wait for me. Once I join them, we will be forgotten” – Crow.  

4. Resurrect my archery.

Well, it doesn’t get any more ironic than this. There is a future for this ancient noble art in my life. Brad The Bowman: sounds kinda cool, huh? Not such an idle fantasy as it sounds…

Gawping at Crow, the Elvin bowman (the only highlight of ultra-cheap British fantasy flick: Hawk The Slayer) and the early ’80s Robin Hood TV series both proved to be lasting influences. This led me to sign up for an Archery Group at a fab holiday camp during junior school. Wow, talk about being a natural bowman – it was as if this mild-mannered moppet had been a Merry Man in a former life…

Unfortunately, there’s never been another chance to strap a quiver on me back ever since. My bow-draw-muscles are getting a tad flabby; yet my goatee is ripe and my Green Arrow costume gathers dust in the spare wardrobe.

So, put my name down for the next Archery Contest before my elvin skills set packs up completely; what say you?! 

ETA: The sooner the better…

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“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” – Doc. Emmett Brown.  

Last but not least…

5. Secure a copy of Back To The Future 2 and watch it on October 21 2015.

Aim to have a rollicking laugh at how hopelessly wrong their vision of our future turned out to be! This average sequel should also be regarded as a serious lesson about how futile it is to try and predict such things like the onset of hoverboards. 

It’s best to end on such a relatively simple task, as long as the download technology does not let me down…

ETA: October 21 2015. About teatime.

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“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today” – Phil Connors.  

This may seem like such a daunting challenge, but – trust me – this provides an ideal opp to sort out what you need/want to do. 

So, the delightful nominees are: 

Hope you are up for the challenge – good luck!

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Wouldn’t it be thrilling to visit our future self, look them in the eye and ask: “Well, did you manage it?” 

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Cheers!

The Rough Guide to Dystopia

Posted: 7 June 2014

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“We shall shortly be landing in Dystopia. Please fasten your seatbelts and put your seats back in the upright position, thank you”  

One of the most enduring subgenres of modern SF is Dystopia. The definition refers to a bleak future while the name itself is derived from a classical past, i.e. Ancient Greece. “Topos” is place, while “dis” is bad – thus, we are alluding to a “bad place” (as opposed to a “utopia” which is a good place).  One of the solutions to avoid an impending dystopia – as divulged in countless SF tales – is an evacuation from Earth to colonise a planet compatible with ours.

Among the leading proponents of this view include: The Space Merchants (1953) by Frederik Pohl and Foundation (1951) and End of Eternity (1955), both by Isaac Asimov. On the big screen, this idea was last used in Oblivion.

The main problem with dystopian movies now concerns not only their monotonous rate of production, but their contents have lost their shock value; with mass unemployment, debt, climate change and a whole host of other assorted crises, Dystopia is a fast encroaching reality.

The Dystopia is already upon us
The Dystopia is already upon us

“Few writers can take much satisfaction in unrelenting pessimism, and only the most embittered have been content to paint the future utterly black… but many people have tried to map escape-routes from Dystopia” – Brian Stableford.  

One cannot help but be reminded of the scene in Blade Runner (1982) where skyships blurt out: “the chance to start again” with “opportunity and adventure.” That sounds even more tempting now; stop the world, this bunny wants to escape to those “Off-World Colonies”Eerily enough, we’re only five years shy of the date in which Syd Mead’s rain-soaked neon-lit futurescape is brilliantly realised; and we can see with the utmost dread that this Dystopia (once as far-off as it was doom-laden) looks too darned accurate.

Another way to avoid a dystopian outcome would be to forsake modern technology and all the addictive urges which it creates. You’re telling me! Having to deal with superslow and unreliable software has undoubtedly been the bane of my work, as of late, and the reason why this particular Post was not published last Friday. Grrrr…   

Yet during the post-war regeneration, the acceleration of technology was greeted by social analysts as one of the factors in attaining a better life. This might be the case for the majority of the now-gen who seemingly cannot exist without a smartphone, but for this older hack, the urge to lob this laptop outta the window appeals… 

Donald Sutherland: "I have huge admiration for President Snow" Do you embrace the dystopian vision as well, Mr S?
Donald Sutherland: “I have huge admiration for President Snow” Do you embrace the dystopian vision as well, Mr S?

“… If you take from it what I hope you will take from it, it will make you think a little more pungently about the political environment you live in and not be complacent” – Donald Sutherland (on The Hunger Games).  

A Post on this particular subject would not be complete without mentioning the phenomenal success of The Hunger Games. As Followers of this Blog will know, (part of) this movie was viewed only during a long-distance flight and it did not make for pleasant viewing. Once past the utterly absurd and pessimistic premise, the turgid script and the lame lead actors detracted my attention; left glum and disenchanted, the Off button has rarely felt so good. All circus, and no bread.

At first glance, it seems perplexing as to how and why so many teens embrace this stuff. Actually, the concept of brutal factionalised worlds governed by authoritarian entities is basically high school, opined one critic. The mash of Dystopia and oppressed younglings has been a literary combination, long before it became a twinkle in Suzanne Collins’ eye.

Donald Sutherland, the veteran star who played President Coriolanus Snow, described in one article as “a tyrant’s tyrant, with basilisk malevolence,”  viewed The Hunger Games as essentially politically allegorical, offering a “coded commentary” on inequality, power and hope.

In conclusion, despite the fast and frenetic rate of technological development, instead of creating a greater, more fulfilling, society, we suddenly find ourselves nestled in the glum dystopia of our own misguided making.   

That’s enough depressing futures for now – a preferable alternative would be to spend the rest of the evening on Youtube watching cute bunnies falling over.

Goodnight, sleep tight.

For now, "but they'll be back and in greater numbers..."
For now, “but they’ll be back and in greater numbers…”

“No Charge For Awesomeness!”: My Top 20 Icons of Science Fiction

Posted: 23 May 2014.

One of those classic sci-fi magazine covers
One of those classic sci-fi magazine covers

“To me, deep in my soul, science fiction began in April 1926 and its father was Hugo Gernsback” – Isaac Asimov.

For this monumental, extended 20th Post, something encapsulating that magic no. 20 was in order, but what? After much head-scratching (and tail-shaking) the task was set: select twenty icons of sci-fi which encouraged my earliest forays into this great and giddy genre and inspired my own works of fiction & art.  

Neither assembled in order of merit, nor alphabetically, this list is merely a random compilation incorporating artists, writers, film-makers and even those fictional characters who touched and inspired me. So, where shall we begin? At the very beginning of course. 

The Time Machine (1895) and The Invisible Man (1897) by Herbert George Wells were fascinating, but it was War of the Worlds (1898) which appealed the most. The sound effects in the movie (1953) were exceptionally eerie; a 70s comic strip adaptation caught my imagination most vividly.  

Most of you may be unaware of the name: Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) but, in 1926, as the pioneering publisher of “Amazing Stories” he coined the term: “science fiction.” His magazine inspired the introduction of “Astounding Science Fiction” and numerous others, all graced with cover art this bunny could not get enough of.

A decade later saw the emergence of Flash Gordon; from Alex Raymond’s wonderful original comic strips to the Universal serial (1936) and the lavish colour extravaganza (1980), it never failed to excite.

 

Exeter (seated): one of best characters from the 1950s
THIS ISLAND EARTH: Exeter (seated): one of the best characters from the 1950s

“To most fans of fantasy cinema, the 1950s represent a Golden Age when the boundaries of film-makers’ imaginations were stretched to the limit – even if their budgets were not” – Phil Edwards.

The classics of the 1950s had a profound effect, none more so than The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951). most striking for its haunting Bernard Herrmann score and the giant robot: Gort, yet it was his master: Klaatu sensitively portrayed by Michael Rennie as a benign emissary rather than the overdone malign bug-eyed Martian which seared into my memory.

Two years later came the sinister Xenomorphs of It Came from Outer Space (1953); and then the thrills of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), both – to my deep joy – brought to us by the fantastic talent of Jack Arnold.

The Metaluna sequence of This Island Earth (1955) was done by Arnold. Here the plight of gentle, but doomed, scientist: Exeter (Jeff Morrow) was particularly moving.

The Martian Chronicles (1950): How did Bradbury conjure something so bizarre, & yet so compelling?
The Martian Chronicles (1950): How did Bradbury conjure something so bizarre, & yet so compelling?

“I’m not afraid of machines… I don’t think the robots are taking over. I think the men who play with the toys have taken over. And if we don’t take the toys out of their hands, we’re fools” – Ray Bradbury.  

Special mention has to go here to Arthur C Clarke. Not only did this enthralled lil bunny marvel at 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), he enjoyed getting creeped out by the World of Strange Powers TV series.   

Also on television, no repeats of The Twilight Zone were missed; its creator: Rod Serling not only “showed the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition,” but consistently produced mighty fine inspirational scripts.

One of the mainstream sci-fi writers to have scripts adapted for the show was Ray Bradbury. His Martian Chronicles, a collection of inter-connected short stories (1950) holds as much a profound effect on me now as it did thirty years ago.

Attending an SF club many moons ago, Bradbury met an individual who would become one of his best buddies… and one of my fave film-makers: Ray Harryhausen. Technically a fantasy creator, this undisputed master of stop-motion animation did make 20 Million Miles To Earth (1955) and First Men In The Moon (1964), thus undoubtedly confirming his inclusion in this very personal Hall of Fame.

Suave, sophisticated Scaroth (from The City of Death 1979)
Suave, sophisticated Scaroth (from The City of Death 1979)

“I am Scaroth! Through me my people will live again!” – Scaroth of Jagaroth.

Surely, Peter Cushing is more synonymous with horror? At first glance, yes, but he did play the Timelord in two Dr. Who movies during the 1960s, and portrayed the thoroughly nasty Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars.

In addition, he played a daffy professor in At The Earth’s Core (1976) where he was ably assisted by Doug McClure. In my infant years, anything with McClure – whether it was The Land That Time Forgot (1974) or Warlords of Atlantis (1979) – proved irresistible (although the appeal failed to last beyond my teenage years).  

Speaking of the BBC’s longest-running sci-fi series, 1979 was a very good year to become a devotee. “City of Death” is widely regarded as one of the best stories, with Scaroth of Jagaroth, last of a warrior-race. The destruction of his spacecraft inadvertantly triggered the creation of the human race – genius.

Try to imagine my sheer delight upon discovering the “Fantastic First Issue” of Dr Who Weekly in October 1979. The very first story: “Dr Who & The Iron Legion” featured: “…an alternative Earth, where Rome never fell! But, instead, developed a sophisticated technology and… conquered the entire galaxy!” The characters were amazing, but my obsession laywith Magog, of the Malevilus – most terrible of alien races, so much so that Bradscribe redesigned him and wrote a whole new background story, plus sequels…

yoda

“… To me directing the character of Yoda was the most important part of… the whole picture. I had total control – I could make his cheek twitch, his ears droop and so on” – Irvin Kershner.

My very first trip to the cimema came in 1979. with the hugely enjoyable (then) and memorable (even now): The Black Hole. The effects were grand; the music stupendous; and Maximillian was pure evil; but it was the droid: VINcent (voiced by Roddy McDowell) who delivered the most lasting impression.

A year later came the Biggest Phenomenon: The Empire Strikes Back. Initially an endearing comical Muppet, Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) quickly established himself as a powerful and sagacious figure, integral to the plot.

One of the greatest aspects of Star Wars – certainly the one that successfully pitched the idea to 20th Century Fox – was the marvellous production art of Ralph McQuarrie.

Other artists most prolific in the 1970s: Eddie Jones & Peter Andrew Jones have both held prominent places in my life, whether it be in the form of books, posters or postcards.

Finally, one of my favourite comicbook characters was Rom the Spaceknight, an ordinary citizen of Galador, who volunteered to serve in the war against the evil Dire Wraiths. As yet, there are no plans to grant this Marvel stalwart his own movie; this still gives me time to work on a script myself and give him the blockbuster he deserves.

 

 Hope you enjoyed this personal nostalgic journey; here’s to the next twenty Blogs… and beyond!

Cheers!

 

The Cosmic Latte: How The Night Sky Inspires And Boggles

Posted: 21 March 2014

Wherever you are in the world, the night sky always amazes
Wherever you are in the world, the night sky always amazes

“…Every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

Many moons ago, when standing in front of big brilliant bonfires on chilly Autumn nights, Bradscribe would crane his beady little eyes to scour the wondrous aerial canopy of stars. Through college, university, a mundane office job and now freelance writing and multifarious online shenanigans, the stars have never failed to bewitch me.

At this stage of my life, settled in the humid climate of Southeast Asia, the comfortingly cool nocturnal breeze offers a welcome respite. Working into the night (and usually right through until dawn) there is alway the chance of stepping out into the quiet night and gazing skywards to the myriad of shiny dots sprawled across the dark blanket of night.   

Everyone should stop to savour the sheer silence, serenity and solitude of the night sky.

Starlight – in technical terms – is electromagnetic radiation. Interestingly enough, while researching my piles files of astronomical literature, someone somewhere has determined that the average colour of starlight resembles “a shade of yellowish white,” amusingly branded as: “Cosmic Latte” (…!)

Admittedly, on one or two occasions, characters in my fiction have sought solace in the night sky as they try to unravel the problems in their lives… which this writer afflicted on them, of course! By gad, what a bounder this lil bunny is! 

The night time is the right time
The night time is the right time

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day” – Vincent Van Gogh.

During the good or bad times, productive or slow sessions, or just lying on the beach pondering where the next stage of my life should lead, the night sky – modern light pollution permitting – has always made for a marvellous spectacle. So it comes as absolutely no surprise that people from ancient cultures around the world held the night sky in high esteem; it influenced their knowledge of agricultural, astronomical and astrological matters.

Let’s not forget the aid of celestial navigation to ancient seafarers, with 58 stars selected and named in antiquity by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Arabs. The most notable of these is Polaris, the “North Star,” due to its proximity to the north celestial pole.

Despite the persistence of stargazing since time immemorial, this year sees only the 200th anniversary of the establishment of study into starlight spectroscopy: the examination of the stellar spectra.

Some gaze skywards to catch the arrival of an extraterrestrial kind; but then again, this bunny’s lived long enough to realise that – considering all the despicable and negative commonalities unfortunately prevalent throughout human nature – if aliens are intelligent and able to travel here, they would be imbued with the good sense to stay away from the likes of us!

The constellation of Orion in the southwest sky
The constellation of Orion in the southwest sky

“Humans are natural-born scientists. When we’re born, we want to know why the stars shine…” – Michio Kaku.  

The most beguiling feature of the night sky has to be the constellation of Orion. It is certainly the most recognisable, and one of the most awe-inspiring celestial wonders. Named after the hunter of Greek mythology, it is visible predominantly during winter in the southwest sky.

The Orion Nebula is a star formation 1,500 light years from Earth. The three stars of Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak, constitute the feature known as Orion’s Belt; the Ancient Egyptians deemed it necessary to align the three pyramids at Giza with Orion’s Belt. The Great Pyramid even has air shafts pointing to Orion. Trying to explain the need to recreate this on Earth has fuelled many theories and discussions, but the real answer still eludes us. 

In the scheme of things, the chance to spot a shooting star is always nice; astoundingly, around 15,000 tonnes of these meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere each year.

For thousands of years, people have gazed skywards; it’s gratifying to realise that one is a participant in such an exalted pastime. It is hoped that long after this lil bunny has shuffled off this mortal plane, countless more curious souls will eagerly revel in the wonders of the night sky.

 

The Sensational Inspirational Blog

Posted: 15 March 2014

Concentrate the mind on the task at hand
Concentrate the mind on the task at hand

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve, regardless of  how many times you may have failed in the past” – Napoleon Hill.

By far, the best machine we possess is our own mind. Fortunately, Bradscribe was blessed with awesome English skills. Ever since one can remember, writing – whether it be fiction or non-fiction – has always played a prominent role in my life.

However, in the last 48 hours, a fearsome fever: skin burning up; nerve endings exceptionally sensitive; splitting headache; dizzy spells; you-name-it-this-bunny’s-had-it, has struck me down. Big. Time.

In short, my body feels like it’s been hit by a car.

Obviously, this has put a serious dent in my writing/blogging schedule. It’s amazing to think that prior to this unsavoury onset, my mind was positively brimming with good ideas; but when this crept up on me unbeknownst, all that promising stuff evaporated. Too often in my tender youth, illnesses would beset my system; thus, too often my active imagination wondered how these despicable intrusions could be willed out of my system…

Consider, dear friends, the marvel and sheer complexity of the human brain; it puts into perspective how poor this annoying so-called cutting-edge technology we are compelled to buy with money we don’t have, really is…

Don't give up! Savour the good things in life
Don’t give up! Savour the good things in life

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out” – Christopher Reeve.

How on Earth does the essence of an idea ever mterialise in the first place?

Apparently what drives the creative processes remains inexplicable, but what we do know: when ideas are generated (especially by this undervalued noddle), rather than emanating from either the left or right sides of the brain, actually both hemispheres work in unison to create that special spark. But what produces the motivation? That need to carry on when all hope is lost?

Yes folks, Kismet has blown sand in Bradscribe’s face more times than he cares to remember.

Once upon a time, a veritable stream of rejections swirled my way. Then it was reduced to a mere trickle. Now, not only have they dried up, but due to those copious never-ending technical difficulties, my Inbox has become inaccessible.

How – in the face of such sheer adversity – does this lil bunny manage to keep going?

"By living life for itself, don't you see?Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being"
“By living life for itself, don’t you see?Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being”

“If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him” – Buddha.

No matter what technical, physical or financial problems lay siege to my battered mind – living in a country where Buddhism takes precedence – the gift of Meditation proved to be such a benefit. It came in particularly handy during my Southeast Asian office job, where the unfriendly inhouse atmosphere and stress combined with the noise and chaos of city life.

Even now, when my carefully constructed plans have not gone as well as hoped, the time and opportunity to sit back and meditate does come in pretty handy. Considering all that has been lost over the last few years – money, work, data disks, contacts, friends, trust, motivation – somehow this humble blogging bunny, (still a small name in a big Blogosphere) has come through so much (a little ruffled), yet persevered and retained his hop, skip and jump.

Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but make the most of what we have today, that’s for sure. Perhaps this is the main reason why most of my creative processes are reserved for reconstructing history. This discipline offers reassuring escapism as well as the comfort of nostalgia.

In an otherwise disappointing television adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles (1980), a speech of such insightful and inspirational depth concerning the Secret of Life was given by a Martian – a figment of the past; his words have resonated with me since that first viewing many moons ago. They have invigorated my own writing sometimes, and perhaps lie at the core of why Bradscribe just refuses to give up.  

It is hoped this quote will have a profound effect on you, dear reader. Goodnight. 

“Secret! There is no secret. Anyone with eyes can see the way to live.

“By watching life, observing nature, cooperating with it. Making common cause with the process of existence…

“…Life is it’s own answer, accept it and enjoy it day by day. Live as well as possible, expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing, leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful. Hold that which lives in all reverence, for life is given by the sovereign of our universe, given to be savoured, to be luxuriated in, to be… respected.

“But that’s no secret, you’re intelligent! You know as well as I what has to be done.”