The Fantasy Super Wonder Group!

Now as most of you know, I do like music a bit … Ok, a lot! i listen to a lot of genres but Im mostly (and always have) been into Metal and most of its many, many different sub-genres. Be it Death, Black, Power, Tech Death, Prog, well you get the picture. Metal aside for the moment, I do listen to listen to a lot of other things. For those of you that know me, you will know that I am a massive fan of Rush, Toto, Steely Dan, Yes, King Crimson, Camel etc. I could go on and on and on. But I will leave that for another time.

So, with me and my tangent-like mind, I thought about this- What if the some characters from many Fantasy books came together and formed a band? Ok, so some of the characters that i have chosen dont actually play any instruments but lets just say that they do and it just was never mentioned or they were practicing their instrument of choice between the pages. STAY WITH ME PEOPLE! Ahem … Ok, heres what I came up with.

Name of Character – The Marquis de Carabas

Book – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Instrument – Vocals 

When I was reading this book, the Marquis reminded me of a vocalist I used to play music with. very self confident and arrogant, and a bit of a dandy. This does mean that his stage wear would be rather flamboyant, and Im sure he would give the audience a good show. As far as his vocal style goes, I imagine him to sound a little like Geoff Tate from the band Queensrÿche with a little bit of Jim Morrison from The Doors.

Neverwhere_PaperbackHeadline_1185845982

Name of Character – Kvothe

Book – Kingkiller Chronicle series (The Name of The Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear.) By Pat Rothfuss

Instrument – Guitar (7 string)

But Kvothe plays a lute! I hear you cry. Yes, I know he plays a lute but in this band I thought he could play a guitar, and seven string no less. Im sure he could handle it. Yes it might seem like an obvious choice to have Kvothe in this band but personally with a musician as talented as Temerant’s own Hendrix of the lute, It would be silly not to have his string wizardry. In the Pat Rothfuss’ Kvothe is a dedicated musician and knows a wide range of songs. I decided to give him a seven string as I reckon he could handle it. As far as style goes I see Kvothe as a sort of cross between Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Blackmore’s night, with a little bit of virtuosity in the style of neo-classical mega shredder, Yngwie Malmsteen.

Name_of_the_Winduk

Name of Character – Vin Venture

Book – The Mistborn trilogy (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages.) by Brandon Sanderson

Instrument – Drums

Lets face it doing what Vin does being an Allomancer (magic through using certain types of metals when swallowed) there is something very rhythmic about the way she fights and leaps into action. So she would be a perfect drummer and with her throwing coins about the place imagine the speeds and drum fills she could do, she wouldnt even need sticks! and belonged to Kelsier’s crew she already has experience of working within a group albeit a very different type of group. I would imagine Vin playing drums in the style of say Phil Collins and his complex drum patterns from the Genesis album Selling England By the Pound, and perhaps a little Stewart Copeland from The Police with those lovely cymbal and Hi-Hat flourishes, and perhaps a touch of Neil Peart from Rush. final-empire

Name of character – Wydrin the Copper Cat of Crosshaven

Book – The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams

Instrument – Bass

Well, there were other candidates for the bassist of this little group but my mind kept returning to the Copper Cat, the adventurer with her twin blades and one particular scene involving some rather flashy eye wear in The Copper Promise that probably makes her one of the grooviest characters ever Bass players are groovy … Im not just saying that because I am one but being a bassist is all about groove and Wydrin more than qualifies for this. Her playing style would be a cross between Doug Wimbish from Living Colour, and Martín Mendez from Opeth, a lovely mixture of funk slap style with some really rocking grooves interwoven with some lovely bass fills, as well as a lovely smoothness to her playng style and tone. posting-cover.jpg So what we have here is a band that totally defies the bounds of musical genre and would create a kind of music that would be all kinds of cosmic. Something that incoporates folk metal with lashings of prog rock, and reggae beats with a rather funky groove and soaring, gritty and yet velvet vocals. And to our next question, what does one call such a group of chart smashers? I shall leave that to you dear readers

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron – The Teaser Trailer

So here it is, and Im ridiculously excited about this. I wasnt going to blog about it but I really couldnt contain my excitement.

AWESOME!

AWESOME!

Plenty of rumours circulating the interwebs of who Andy Serkis will be playing? Also, note that The Vision (played by Paul Bettany) isnt in this trailer, so this can only mean that Marvel have a few surprises up their sleeves for us. Roll on April 2015
Make mine Marvel 🙂

2000 AD Prog 1900 – Perfect For New Readers!

Release Date: 24th September 2014 in print and digital

Published Weekly by Rebellion UK

Available from all good stockists

Next week sees the perfect opportunity to pick up 2000AD for the first time or if you have read it before and forgot about it, now is the time to return to the Galaxies greatest comic.
Prog 1900 has three new story arcs and is great for new readers to be introduced to the fantastic worlds of 2000AD

COVER 1900It features:

Judge Dredd – Block Judge  by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra 

Stickleback – The Thru’penny Opera by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli

Kingdom – Aux Drift by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson

It really is another important milestone for 2000AD. The fantastic cover is by Greg Staples and the new logo by lead 2000 AD designer, Pye Parr.

For me Stickleback is always a pleasure to read especially with D’Israeli’s fantastic artwork  and the character really has become one of my favourites from the vast array that 2000AD have. This will be the new readers chance to get in touch with some of the fantastic strips and the characters that feature in them. This is a mere taste of some of the wonders that 2000AD will have in store.

 

The Theories Of The Moustached Man

I have recently become a little obsessed with fan theories. For those who don’t know I shall direct you to this link just to get you started and to show you what got me a little obsessed with the idea in the first place. I think some of them are absolutely fantastic and actually make a whole lot of sense and can make you look at a TV series/movies/books etc in a completely different light, and sometimes they can annoy the absolute hell out of you and drive you bonkers for many different reasons. The beauty of these fan-theories are that it doesn’t just begin and end with SFF it can extend to all genres. So, I wanted to throw my own theories into the vast mix that is already out there on the world wide web just for the sheer hell of it. Without further ado here are my two favourite non-SFF fan theories that I came up with. (Yeah, I know. Yay me).

Highway To Heaven:

Starring the late 200px-HighwaytoHeaven2 Landon (Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie), and the late Victor French (who also starred in LHOtP alongside Landon). The series lasted 5 seasons from 1984 to 1989 and detailed the work of an angel named, Jonathan Smith (played by Landon) whilst being “on probation” to re-earn his wings. Helped by his human friend and all round top bloke, Mark Gordon (played by French). Together the angel and his helper go around on assignments given to them by “the boss” or as he more widely known, God. Smith and Gordon seek out those who are need in times of loss, despair, anguish and help those who spend their lives helping others. Its a proper tear jerker of a television show and was always one of my favourites when I was growing up. Everything always works out in the end and it does show that kindness can go a very long way. Whilst its obviously riffing on Christian theology, it does it in a way as so not to come across as high-handed and is certainly not preachy.

The theories:
So, throughout the series as I have mentioned Smith is sent to earth on probation to regain his wings and is an angel-in-training. However, he doesn’t seem to have stumbles and manages to sort things out pretty smoothly for all involved. So maybe the angel-in-training is actually Mark Gordon as he is a man who is very set in ways about certain things and Jonathan (at times) can be seen to be teaching his presumed pupil and showing him how to help as an angel should. Also my wife, came up with this little doozy of a theory that concerns Highway To Heaven and Little House On The Prairie- Jonathan Smith and Mark Gordon are actually Charles Ingalls and Isaiah Edwards reincarnated in HtH.

Midsomer Murders:

Yes, that incredibly brilliant crime drama set in a fictional county of the UK. So far, I think it is in its 14th series and counting. For those of you who are not familiar with the series it is based on the murder mystery books by Caroline Graham and follows the investigations of DCI Tom Barnaby played by the brilliant John Nettles (Bergerac), within the grisly backdrop of Midsomer. There are some very memorable moments in the series and John Nettles is fantastic as the lead role. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. The theme music alone is absolutely brilliant.

The Theory:

So, something struck me as odd. There are plenty of episodes in which Joyce Barnaby (Tom’s wife) is seen actively taking part in many community activities. OK, so nothing odd there. But! My friends, it would seem that many of these community/social events that Joyce Attends throughout the whole of Midsomer end up with some poor attendee being killed off. Coincidence? I think not. Joyce Barnaby could be a serial killer who targets the inhabitants of Midsomer and its villages/hamlets because she longs to be a permanent fixture of the quiet village life and not living in a town that acts as an anchor to her overly hard working husband. Now, you may say, that if Joyce Barnaby was a serial killer in Midsomer surely her husband being a very clever copper would know? And what about the episodes that Joyce is not seen and doesn’t appear to be involved with whatever the current community activity is? Perhaps DCI Barnaby is, in fact, aware of the fact that his wife is a serial killer but aims to do whatever he can to protect her even if that means threading together any kind of explanation to suit this end. And perhaps the reason she is not seen participating in an event in a particular episode is because she is elsewhere plotting and planning her next kill or to avoid arousing suspicion at that precise time. Joyce has proved she is a crack shot with a rifle (episode Blood On The Saddle) and also is involved with amateur dramatics (Death Of A Hollow Man) and could quite easily disguise herself. Ok, so there you have it my two little contributions. I do have more but I need to mull them over a bit before the grande reveal, so to speak.johnjoyce1

Anyway, there are some totally bonkers theories out there and some will absolutely bake your noodle.

The Year That Was, Through The Eyes Of The Moustached Man

I thought about doing a best-of-list, for this year, but decided not to. So instead I thought I would do a little look back at some of things that (being old or new) have caught my interest in the year 2013. There are probably a few things that I have missed.

Books:

There have been so many great book releases this year, and many that I have not yet had the chance to get round to a large proportion of this years book releases as well as last years.
Throughout this year I have read so many great books and have also re-read some of my favourites (Book Of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe, being one) as well as some classic Gemmell (Rigante series) and Robin Hobb’s Fools Errand. Also I began reading (at long last) A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R. R. Martin and am currently at book three (and still waiting for my copy of Storm Of Swords part 2 to arrive) Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter, Your Brothers Blood by David Towsey are two of my very favourite reads this year, but there are other reads that have also been fantastic, and I look forward to reading more from the authors that have created them. One book that I finally got around to reading was Sabriel by Garth Nix, part one of the Abhorsen trilogy. This a book I highly recommend and one that I will be re-reading very soon. Another novel that has made a very big impact on me, is The City’s Son by Tom Pollock. Although, not released in 2013, is still a novel that can only be described as wonderful and alters how we view our surroundings. I somehow forgot to mention the magnificent Heartwood by Freya Robertson, that got me through a difficult time, but also a very enjoyable read, with amazing worldbuilding and awesome characters. I somehow forgot to also mention books 1 and 2 of the Everness cycle by Ian Macdonald. All I can say about Planesrunner and Be My Enemy is. Read them! You won’t regret it. Airship duels! Nuff said.

Films:

As for films I’m very, very behind with this years releases. Although there have been some films that I have seen for the first time this year and have made a big impression on me: Calvaire directed by Fabrice Du Welz- a Belgian horror film and the tragic documentary that was released this year- Blackfish- about the controversial Seaworld, and the tragic plight of the Orcas that are used for entertainment and are taken from their natural habitat and separated from their young. I urge anybody to watch Blackfish. Another film that *is* from this year is the 2000AD fan film Judge Minty, which I highly recommend for 2000AD fans, and fans of the film Dredd, (which I am yet to see). I finally got to see Trollhunter directed by Andre Øvredal- a horror/fantasy set in Norway. Its a relatively low budget horror, but its a fabulous film and magnificently done. If you are a fan of the film Monsters directed by Gareth Edwards, then Trollhunter is a must see.

T.V Shows:

As for t.v shows. The 50th anniversary of Dr. Who (Day Of The Doctor), was absolutely fabulous, and I am looking forward to the regeneration, however, I will be sad to see Matt Smith leave the show. I also started watching Hell On Wheels, which I thoroughly enjoy, I liken it to a somewhat old west style- Person Of Interest, which is another show that I feel goes from strength to strength. I never got round to watching Atlantis or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but I will at some point. I’d like to see some new Sci Fi television shows in 2014 that are awesome and don’t get prematurely cancelled.

At the beginning of this year I started my humble blog. In which I share what I’m interested in, which mainly involves lovely, lovely books
I absolutely adore reviewing SFF books and writing blog posts about all sorts, and couldn’t imagine not doing it.
in finding my feet in the depths of the SFF blogosphere. I have come across some amazing people. From bloggers, podcasters, authors, and artists, to editors and beyond. All the individuals that are the spokes of the wheel of the SFF community, and I’m proud to feel part of that wheel.
Yes we are all aware of the individuals and issues that lurk in the dark side of the community, but on the whole, the SFF community is a nice place to be, and the majority of people are, to be frank, awesome!
If you want book/film/game/comic recommendations, you got it. You need help with your blog or podcast? Or tips on how to write that epic fantasy tome, its yours.
Everyone is there for one another and there to help each other.

One of many things I love about the SFF community is that it is a journey of discovery for all involved, not unlike an SFF story, in which the characters discover hidden kingdoms or Extra Terrestrials on their own path of discovery.
It truly is a wonderful thing.

So I would like to say a big thank you, to everyone in the community for making me feel a part of it and for joining me and others on their own quests, into the wonders of genre. I look forward to further adventures into genre with you all.

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year. And here is to swords and spaceships, monsters, and magic.

Arbor-cadabra: Magic in Heartwood by Freya Robertson.

Greetings fellow insomniacs! Last week I reviewed the epic fantasy Heartwood by Freya Robertson, and this week the lady herself has kindly done a guest post for SMOAWGMM readers.
So without further ado I shall hand you over to Freya.

Hi, and thanks for having me on the blog today!

As a topic for the post, you asked me about the magic systems behind Heartwood, and whether the gaming I do has any influence on the way I write about magic in my fantasy.

The Lord of the Rings and subsequent novels like Brooks’s Shannara series pretty much covered magic items, and Harry Potter has monopolised the wand waving, Latin-word casting form of magic, so anything written with these features is now seen as a copy. It’s a challenge to find a different way to represent magic in a fantasy novel.

Does a fantasy novel even need magic? I play MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 and tabletop games like Warhammer Fantasy Battles, and magic plays a big part in these. The expansion to the eighth edition of Warhammer called Storm of Magic brought even more emphasis to magic in the game, and I loved exploring the numerous schools of magic with the wizards. Warhammer is great because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and half the fun is the possibility of the wizards blowing themselves up! But playing fantasy games in all their various forms reinforces the importance of magic in the genre. We can set our story in a quasi-medieval setting, give the characters quests and create maps of vasts lands until the cows come home, but it’s the introduction of some kind of magic system that lifts the story out of being some kind of historical-lookalike and into the fantasy genre.

I decided when writing Heartwood that although I wanted it to be a recognisably traditional epic fantasy in many ways, I also wanted to give it a more modern twist. So it doesn’t have elves, orcs or dwarves, and there is also much more of a gender balance than was usual in the medieval period. The other way I decided to make it different was in the way magic was used.

In Heartwood, there are no magic swords or indeed any magic items, and no wand waving. Instead, the supernatural element was born through my interest in nature religions such as paganism and Wicca and healing systems like Reiki. In the story, the Arbor—the tree at the centre of the fortified temple of Heartwood—controls the flow of energy across the land through its roots, and a major theme of the story is the discovery that the land and the people are in fact one, and the reason the land is failing is because there is war between the various societies. This is also an Arthurian idea, “a king without a sword, a land without a king,” the notion that somehow the citizens of a country are somehow linked with the fertility of the land. Behind this is a veiled reference to global warming and the fact that—now we surround ourselves with concrete—perhaps we have lost the link with the earth that our ancestors once had.

Magic in Heartwood is related to a character’s personal energy, and is linked with the idea that we can affect the living things around us with our energy flow. The people of Anguis discover there is much more to their world than what they see around them, and they learn that the only way for them to keep the land fertile and to hold back the bond that stops other elements from invading is to understand and cultivate their control over the flow of energy through the land.

Freya

Thank you Freya! Heartwood is out now from Angry Robot Books. You can find out more about Freya on her website http://www.freyarobertson.com/ and she can be found on twitter @EpicFreya.

The Rant Of A Cornish Geek!

As some of you know I’m originally from the south-west of the U.K (Cornwall).
I’m a proud Cornishman- yes it has its problems as do most places in the World.
On the whole, its slow pace of life can be a good thing. The phrase that correlates to this is “Dreckly!” Meaning I’ll do it after a long period of time has amassed, or when I feel like it etc. For example
Person a) “Ere boy, do us a tea will ee?”
Person b) “I’ll do un dreckly pard!”

Cornwall on the whole- is a very serene and nice place to live/visit. Its a fantastic place to grow up, and evolve ones creative imagination whether you are a writer/artist/musician etc

Everyone together now… BUT!

One thing bothers me, there are very few Fantasy/Sci fi or geek events!
For example there are seldom book signings by a Fantasy/Sci Fi author/s and there seems to be (as of yet) no established conventions (as far as I’m aware), for fans to gather and hear authors discussions, get their memorabilia signed, and celebrate their favourite pastimes, and if they so feel like it dress up as Fitzchivalry Farseer carrying a toy Wolf named Nighteyes.
The majority of book signings that do occur consist mainly of celebrity chefs, or someone who is predominantly in the public eye and sometimes poetry and anything to do with painting.
There is nothing wrong with this at all, more power to em!

I can’t help but feel we are somewhat left out of the great fan/author events that happen all over the U.K.
The other day a favourite Fantasy/Sci Fi author of mine, announced that he/she was touring the U.K to sign their new book. Immediately I went to see the dates and where they would be. Well they are everywhere in the U.K except… Yep you guessed it… Cornwall! This is such a common occurrence.
Now one might say to me “Maybe that is because there isn’t many Fantasy/Sci Fi fans to ratify doing something of this manner.”
To this I say, (rather loudly) Pish Posh! According to the U.K 2011 census, Cornwall has an estimated gross population of 532,300.
Now you cannot tell me out of that number, there is only a few readers/geeks/fans of Speculative Fiction living in the county, therefore an event such as the ones i have mentioned previously wouldn’t attract the hordes of Cornish Orcs to warrant it being done because I think you would be surprised!
Now I completely understand that you cannot please everyone in this life, and regarding authors they are extremely busy people. Someone somewhere is going to be disappointed when it comes to these matters.
I know most people would say “Travel elsewhere if you’re that bothered!” but this is my point, because its such a famously creative place with legendary stories of King Arthur and Merlin, Tristan and Isolde etc.

Why then is there a lack of conventions/Fantasy and sci fi book signings/ and other similar events? (Don’t even get me started on comic book shops! There used to be a couple of really good independant ones. Now there is ONE! One- in the whole county! Right out in the sticks and over an hours drive!)

I digress

People may say, “Yes Romeo, but we. feel the same in ___(place name here)____” and I would agree with them to a point; I guess a lot of places are in the same boat as Cornwall.
Although I guarantee that a lot more places have these things going on. more frequently than in my own humble county.
Obviously if there have been some of these great events featured down here 1) I apologise, I must be living under a rock
2) They then were not promoted very. well.

During the writing of this post I did come across an event that happened in 2008, in a popular chain of bookshops by a very popular fantasy author.
However this was only done because they lived in the county at the time!
I just think and feel that it would be awesome to have a pure geek event in a fantastical county, a county that I feel should have its roots in fantasy celebrated and not be left out.

Rant over, and apologies if I have offended anyone.

Till next time Insomniacs

The Indie Writers Show

Calling all Writers! The brilliant Stephen Gordon has just started, The Indie Writers Show. Each episode deals with getting the most out of being an indie writer in todays publishing mindfields.
Its frank and honest and very useful advice to those who want to write Stephen will correct me if iam wrong but I think there will be a new video every two weeks. Episode one deals with What is A Indie Writer to being able to run it as a business etc.
The link to episode one is here

Also sign up to Stephen’s mailing list to get great stories and also his top 5 Geekertainments which is always a great read

Stephens site is
http://www.stephengordon.org/

Till next time insomniacs