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Tag Archives: 2012

100th Post: Reflecting on Nearly 3 Years

It’s really surprising to see that I started this blog nearly three years ago. And to find that this is my 100th post. Have I really had that many interesting things to say?! Excuse the self-indulgence here, then, as I look back at what’s changed since my very first blog post on 30th April 2010. (In no particular order…)

1. I’m now a freelance writer.
2. I’ve interviewed Matt Smith. (I know; I haven’t said anything about this massive event on this blog yet. But stay tuned!)

Matt and Moffat

3. I launched the Make Mine A Marvel Omnibus site in October 2010.
4. I had my first article printed in Real Travel magazine.
5. I work for the Doctor Who site, Kasterborous.
6. Amy and Rory left the TARDIS last year. (Don’t press me on the matter; I’m still a bit teary.)
7. I have an FdA in Professional Writing. (You can read more about that course here.)
8. Spooks has finished. (Thank God for DVDs!)
9. I’ve started my first novel.
10. I’ve written for the Weston College Higher Education Prospectus.
11. I did the web copy for Lovarzi’s Fourth Doctor Scarf for both their own website and Amazon.

doctor-who-scarf-4

12. As well as doing the official press release!
13. I’ve started my first children’s book.
14. The Amazing Spider-Man reached #700.
15. I’ve worked for Kasterborous’ sister site, CultBritannia (and you can read my first article here.)
16. I’ve learnt how to add videos to my blog!
17. I wrote The British Comedy Guide’s 10th anniversary celebratory article of The Office.
18. I’ve started a few scripts…
19. … And am searching for an agent.

Armstrong and Miller Guide2Bristol review

Armstrong and Miller Guide2Bristol review

20. I reviewed the Armstrong and Miller Tour for Bristol247
21. … And for Guide2Bristol.
22. The latter of which has been quoted on the official A&M website!
23. I copy-edit regularly for Kasterborous.
24. I reviewed the Day of the Daleks: Special Edition DVD for Kasterborous in two parts (here and here).
25. Then reviewed it for ItchyBristol here.
26. I’ve ran two blog advents across December 2011 and 2012.
27. I’ve worked on four Doctor Who ReKapped articles (learn more about that here), with another one in the works.

A Town Called Mercy 3

28. Clara Oswin Oswald has joined the TARDIS (sort of).
29. Neil Armstrong has passed away.
30. And so has Sir Patrick Moore.
31. The Killers have released a new album, Battle Born (and you can read a review of their single, Runaways here).
32. Avengers Assemble! has been released.
33. My review of the Doctor Who graphic novel, The Dalek Project went online here.
34. I’ve contributed two features to the upcoming Kasterborous Magazine (stay tuned for that).
35. Ray Bradbury has died.

The Illustrated Man

36. I’ve joined Twitter!
37. I’ve reviewed the last episode of Sherlock, The Reichenbach Fall, for Cult Britannia.
38. I have worked in a shop, Giggs, during the Christmas 2011 period – a shop which has since gone bust! (Nothing to do with me, I might add.)
39. I’ve read countless books – and you can see my top 10 reads of 2012 here.
40. Two episodes of 1960s Doctor Who have been found!
41. I reviewed Mission to the Unknown for Kasterborous’ Doctor Who@50.
42. The Gunfighters too! (And that’s certainly not the last of my involvement in the project.)
43. I created the Introducing: Doctor Who series for Kasterborous.

The Gunfighters 4

44. Doctor Who Confidential has been axed. (And was voted the best show ever on BBC3. Typical.)
45. I previewed Forbidden Planet’s Doctor Who Fun Day for ItchyBristol.
46. And in a short piece for The Mercury.
47. And finally for Bristol 247.
48. … For whom I also reviewed it.
49. The price of a 1st class stamp has increased to 60p.
50. I reviewed Lovarzi’s Fourth Doctor Scarf.
51. I write a regular column, Bristol Comics Corner, for Guide2Bristol.
52. Death in Paradise debuted on BBCOne.
53. Tuition fees increased, with a cap at £9,000.
54. … Something which I argued against in this Bristol247 article.
55. Brandon Flowers released his first solo album, Flamingo, and I reviewed it here.
56. I was thanked for my article about Jack Vettriano’s Bristol exhibition.

Vettriano on the Bristol247 homepage

Vettriano on the Bristol247 homepage

57. I previewed the Slapstick Festival in 2011.
58. I created my own website, using Moonfruit…
59. Then deleted it, as I wasn’t happy with the inability to update.
60. The Dandy ceased publication. (Read my article on that here.)
61. I’ve submitted an article to the Doctor Who book, Celebrate, Regenerate.
62. The Doctor Who Experience opened in London –
63. – Then moved to Cardiff.

JLC dress and Dalek

64. I reviewed Mack the Life, Lee Mack’s autobiography, for The British Comedy Guide.
65. I interviewed comic writer and artist, Jerry Holliday.
66. The Ice Warriors have been confirmed to return in the second half of Doctor Who, Series 7.
67. The world didn’t end on 21st December 2012. (Always a good thing, I find.)
68. The Bristol Comic Expo returned to Brunel’s Old Station.
69. I previewed the 2012 Expo here.
70. And reviewed it here.
71. The James Bond film franchise hit the big 5-0.
72. My former tutor, Marc Leverton, who’s a freelance writer, has written a guest blog post about his experience of publishers.

How To - Journalism

73. A review of his book, How to work as a Freelance Journalist, can be read here.
74. Steven Moffat has left Twitter. (Again, nothing to do with me!)
75. I’ve seen Steven Moffat at the Doctor Who Experience!
76. Sherlock burst onto television in July 2010.
77. I’ve helped Kasterborous begin their 50th anniversary celebrations with monthly Introduction articles.
78. January’s was Frontier in Space.
79. And this month’s is Vengeance on Varos.

Frontier 3

80. Tying into this, my editor called a second Frontier in Space piece I wrote one of the best articles the site has ever published. A massive compliment. You can read The World Behind: Frontier in Space here.
81. I reviewed Lee Mack’s Going Out live tour for Guide2Bristol
82. … And Bristol247!
83. I’ve visited the National History Museum for the first time.
84. Colin Baker appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
85. My article, Room with a View?, was the most-viewed article on Kasterborous in 2012!
86. I’ve begun work on a number of non-fiction books – but researching is a long task!
87. I reminisced on the anniversary of Matt Smith’s debut as the Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy and Arthur Darvill as Rory here.
88. And celebrated Matt’s Doctor here.

The 11th Doctor

89. I’ve started a short story collection.
90. My jewellery article, With This (Time) Ring…, was surprisingly popular, making the Kasterborous top 10 list of the most-viewed articles of 2012.
91. I looked at the top 10 guest stars in the Tenth Doctor era here and here.
92. I’ve started reading the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
93. T4 On The Beach (held in my hometown) has been cancelled.

David Tennant

94. I’m working on a particularly-exciting documentary idea – though it’s only in development in my head at the minute!
95. I’ve seen Peter Kay live at Manchester’s M.E.N. Arena.
96. Parts of Doctor Who: The Snowmen were filmed in Bristol, as were bits of Night Terrors.
97. I previewed tours by Micky Flanagan, Ed Byrne and Stewart Francis for my local newspaper, The Weston and Worle Mercury.

Micky Flanagan Mercury preview

Micky Flanagan Mercury preview

98. I’ve seen the asteroid, 2012 DA14!
99. I’ve added a new section to my blog: Testimonials.
100. I’ve written 100 posts!

But don’t go anywhere. This is just the start.

Thanks for sticking with me this long.

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Top 10 books I read in 2012

I read a lot of books, a lot of graphic novels, a lot of comics. It’s my craft; it’s what I love.

What I read, obviously, influences what I write (and vice versa), and so pinpointing the ten best books I read last year helps me focus on what I like in a story. It seems variety is the key! So, in no particular order…

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Cast of Sherlock

The massively-successful Sherlock TV series on BBC1, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, spurred me on to discover the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – and I’m so glad it did! A Study in Scarlet was a revelation, and I eagerly picked up The Sign of Four. I now have all the Sherlock books, and so I began 2012 by reading the third book in the series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It’s the first of the short story compilations, and once again, Doyle’s wonderfully easy but genius style made it an absolute pleasure to spend time with Holmes and Watson. This year, I’ll endeavour to read the next three books, ready for Sherlock returning to screen.

Fahrenheit 451

I picked this up on a whim, but it started my love of Ray Bradbury’s writing. It’s such a cliche (a phrase which, ironically, has also become cliche!) but Fahrenheit 451 really spoke to me. The level of thought that had gone into the novel, the amount of love and passion, came through instantly. It’s a book about a world without books. It’s a terrifying thought, but you completely buy into it. It’s still as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1953, if not more so.

Crooked House

Gemma Arterton is set to star in the film adaptation of Crooked House

Gemma Arterton is set to star in the film adaptation of Crooked House

Agatha Christie, whom I’ve been a fan of for quite some time now, is brilliant. I love her work, and The Agatha Christie Book Collection is a perfect way to fuel my imagination and fascination. Crooked House is so ingenious, it blew me away. Nothing is quite how you expect. (Although my Mum figured out who the murderer is, I hadn’t got a clue!) It’s a surprisingly disturbing novel, and the end is really shocking. It’s the definition of a ‘whodunit.’

Fatherland

Fatherland

What if the Nazis had won?

Once the notion was planted in my head, I couldn’t escape from it. I needed to pick up this book by Robert Harris. It’s so simple – why hasn’t every novelist done it before?! Maybe because they couldn’t beat the quality of Fatherland. In its anniversary year, I couldn’t put this down – even if, with German insignia on the front, it made me look like a Nazi sympathiser!

The Girl on the Landing

I’d read Paul Torday’s previous novels (his first, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, being his most famous) but this altogether different. It’s more disturbing than those that preceded it, and leaves a lot to the imagination – but that just makes it more unsettling.

The lead character is a normal, boring bloke – until he sees the titular girl on the landing, who may or may not be real. Things soon spiral out of control and you soon can’t put the book down.
Though The Irresistible Inheritance of Wiberforce is my favourite of Torday’s books, The Girl on the Landing is up there with the best.

Mack The Life

Lee Mack is, by far, my favourite comedian, and his autobiography is hilarious. In fact, it’s the first autobiography I’ve ever read in its entirety; I’ve tried others, sure, but they’ve never gripped me as much as this one.

For all my thoughts on this revealing book, take a look at my review for The British Comedy Guide.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale

Spurred on by the exceptional Skyfall (and watching Daniel Craig’s previous outings as the famous MI6 agent), I was surprised at the debut of James Bond in Casino Royale. It was everything Bond encompasses, but it was also sensitive and heartfelt. The main action was over midway through the novel, but Casino Royale is about Bond falling in love: a brave step to start out an action/thriller series. Live and Let Die waits for me on the bookshelf.

The Ghost

I nabbed The Ghost, another book by Robert Harris, when it was on offer at Waterstones for just £2.99, and I’m massively glad I did!

The Ghost

Harris’ style is pacy and pleasing, intriguing but warm. The interaction between characters is just as important as the mystery behind the new PM, Adam Lang. It really got me into the conspiratorial mindset for my script, A Writer’s Retreat, and was a thoroughly entertaining novel.

The Illustrated Man

Ray Bradbury came up with the clever idea of bookending a collection of short stories with an intensely unsettling tale of the Illustrated Man, whose tattoos come alive and tell the chilling and thought-provoking tales.

It’s especially interesting to see Bradbury’s exploration and obsession with this idea as just last week, I finished reading Something Wicked This Way Comes. It’s also interesting to note how Bradbury’s writing style changes – and yet stays the same, or, at the very least, recognisably Bradbury. Perhaps this is because his fairytale-esque tinged with horror tone comes through in whatever he writes?

Doctor Who: The Silent Stars Go By

Ice Lord

The final novel I read in 2012 was this considerable narrative by Dan Abnett, which sees Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond, and Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams come up against one of the Doctor’s most-notable enemies, the Ice Warriors.

It was a real pleasure to read, with great characterisation, a well-thought-out plot, a big twist or two, and a wonderfully creepy-yet-beautiful backdrop. While the ending wasn’t perfect, the novel, as a whole, is a gem – and a must-read for Doctor Who fans!

 
 

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Why Write A Blog Advent?

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).

This is the second year running that I’ve done a blog advent, updating the blog every day. But why? It’s certainly a big commitment. But there are good reasons…

Rockefeller 2012

Writing

The biggest task of all for a writer is to write. It sounds stupid, but to actually sit down and write… takes a lot of effort. Personally, I always think to myself, ‘if I do it now, I won’t do it right.’ It’s not me being lazy – it’s a genuine concern. And I know I’m not alone.

But once you start, it’s fine. Enjoyable. And this blog advent is a strict regime: you have to do it once it’s started! Sure, it’s tough, but when you’re on a roll…

I’ve clocked up nearly 8,000 words in this blog advent alone. That’s nearly 8,000 words more than I had at the start of December. It looks much better than a blank page, believe me.

Improvisation

A blog advent stretches your skills. I don’t get up and know what I’m writing. It’s improvisation. It’s reacting to what’s going on around you; what you feel like writing; and what you want to say.

Sure, there’s some planning involved – but plans change. I knew, for instance, that I wanted to do a Doctor Who quiz again this year, with a separate post for answers. But I certainly didn’t know when I was going to do it. They went up merely when the time was right.

It’s a skill that comes in handy if you’re trying to write daily; if you’re trying to get into journalism, or continue your career or even just hone your trade.

Learning new things

On the search for new content, I learnt a few things. Not necessarily things that I’ve even turned into a post – but things that I researched just because they interested me. The idea of perceptual adaptation really grabbed me… and who knows? Maybe I’ll write a post about it once day.

A bigger audience

Google loves a regularly updated blog: one with links, and a range of topics; quotes and pictures and videos. The more content – no, the more good content you have, the bigger an audience you’ll reach. Maybe someone will find your blog by searching for Looney Tunes cartoons, but then visit again and again (even subscribe) because they’re also a fan of The Killers or Doctor Who.

2012 Bauble

Showcasing your work

Also, the more content you have, the more work you have online to show off your skills. Editors, fellow journalists, friends: they all need to know what you can do.

Show them.

Deadlines

To be able to show editors you can be responsible and stick to strict deadlines is invaluable. This is what editors need to know.

Yes, they also need to know you’re good at what you do – but proving yourself reliable is half the battle.

And if you don’t think that updating your blog every day isn’t a challenge… try it. And if you still don’t… I’m impressed. Also, a little concerned.

Develop

Writing style is important, as is understanding language, syntax, grammar, spelling, rhetoric… I could go on. To develop these, you have to write. Something which forces you to write is surely a brilliant thing to help your writing grow.

Naturally, your writing shouldn’t ever stop evolving – or else, why be a writer at all? – but a little annual kick along the way must help.

Who I Am

Your blog is a reflection of you. Remember that. Everything on it says something about you. So tell people who you are.

Oh, and by the way… Thanks for reading.

Have a very Merry Christmas.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Blog Advent - 2012

 

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12.12.12

ADVENT DAY TWELVE: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).

Today is the last day in many of our lives – certainly the last of the century – to have a so-called ‘perfect date.’ The phenomenon won’t happen again until 1st January 2101.

Mayan culture

Personally, I won’t see another date like this unless I get to the age of 110. It’s unlikely to say the least. For anyone significantly younger than me, you might just see the 01.01.01. But why is it special?

Its importance, perhaps, lies in our subconscious satisfaction with symmetry, a trait that helps us organise our lives and even judge who we end up with. The Daily Mail reports:

“Some scientists believe we are programmed to react to symmetry – in choosing partners who will be good breeding material: so whether it is a perfectly balanced face or a mathematical sequence, we take a pleasure in it.”

It’s been dubbed a “World Day of Interconnectedness,” where goodwill will reign, apparently. The world is celebrating in many different ways:

  • In Hong Kong, Singapore and America, today symbolises love – and so many are getting married.
  • Some believe today is the end of the world, based on the cycle of 260 days, called tzolkin, of the Mayan calendar. Others think this will be on 21st December 2012 – whereas many believe the latter date to instead be the start of a new era.
  • Marvel Comics has, perhaps coincidentally, released Scarlet Spider #12 today.
  • In Chinese numerology, 12 is a balance between yin and yang, bringing harmony to all.
  • Pope Benedict XVI has tweeted for the very first time.
  • In Britain, the mad Christmas rush continues.

Scarlet Spider 12

Yes, today is important. But then, if we see the importance in our own set calendar (which let’s face it, holds no bearing on the planet or its nature, but is just defined by the most dominant race on Earth), surely every day is important.

After all, if we stick by the current Gregorian calendar, we’ll never again see any given date again: 12th December 2012 will never happen again; neither will 13th December 2012; 14th December 2012 – and so on! It’d be hard to mark each day with the same significance today is getting. The most we can do is to make the best of what comes our way.

12.12.12 may be special. That date won’t ever happen again. But neither will any date.

(Thanks to RT.)

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Blog Advent - 2012

 

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Doctor Who ReKapped!

ADVENT DAY ONE: Christmas. It’s not long away. And to celebrate advent, new content will be added to this blog every day in the countdown to the big day. You’ll see reviews, opinion pieces, links to some of my other work, videos – maybe even a short story! Remember to check back every day (in between the mad rush of packing presents, getting the freezer stocked up and watching Home Alone on repeat).

Earlier this year, I was involved with a new project for Kasterborous: running alongside the new series of Doctor Who, we recapped each episode in prep for the next one.

Pond Life

Of course, this meant a surprising amount of work: rewatching episodes and creating a scene-by-scene breakdown, noting down important dialogue and making sure the final piece doesn’t take 45 minutes to read!

Here are all the reKaps (with a K!) – and remember that you can buy Series 7: Part 1 on DVD and Blu-ray.

Asylum of the Daleks

The first episode was recapped by my fellow-contributor, Scott Varnham. The experiment obviously worked well, so as Scott was busy the following weeks, I happily volunteered for the next four episodes. (Fingers crossed I get to continue writing them at Christmas and beyond!)

Asylum of the Daleks ReKap

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I feel that there are a few important things to get across in each rekap. Firstly, it has to be enjoyable, which is quite a challenge when what you’re essentially doing is retelling a story in basic terms, with little speech. Secondly, it has to be understandable – quite a task considering that many don’t really ‘get’ the complex narratives of many-a-tale by Steven Moffat! And lastly, it has to reflect the tone of the story.

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship has a wavering tone (that’s not a criticism; I loved this episode), ranging from funny – cue Rory’s dad, Brian – to the serious (mostly due to Soloman). It wasn’t tough to show, really; the serious side seeped through, just noting down the grim sides of the tale, like the Silurians being ejected out of the air locks.

Dinosaurs ReKap

The funnier/sillier sides of the story are mainly shown through paraphrasing: you can’t put words into their mouths – but it’s not just a transcript throughout.

A Town Called Mercy

A Town Called Mercy ReKap

A surprising highlight of the series for me, focussing on a town cut off by the cyborg Gunslinger. It’s bookended by narration, and I used that as an introduction and conclusion to the piece. The rest of the tale was all about morals, laced with typical-Toby Whithouse dry wit. Again, this was achieved through paraphrasing; for example, when Kahler-Jex tells Amy that the Gunslinger probably won’t fire if someone else is with him, she replies, “Oh, well, colour me reassured.” This translated into:

“Jex pulls a gun on Amy, intending to use her as a hostage in order to escape: the Gunslinger’s programming won’t let him harm innocents unless absolutely necessary (and Amy is coloured reassured!).”

The Power of Three

Power of Three ReKap

Due to the very nature of the ‘slow invasion,’ the structure of The Power of Three is quite disjointed, flitting between the everyday lives of the Ponds and their travels in the TARDIS. But it also maintains a sort of linear narrative. Again, this had to be reflected in the rekap, which was pretty tough.

It was made even harder as many of the scenes in previous episodes could be cut; not that they were unimportant, but little details could be skipped or incorporated later on. But most of the scenes in The Power of Three were important for either character development (the main thrust of the episode) or the threat of the cubes.

It had also become apparent how popular and likeable Brian is, so I tried to incorporate some of his quirks more, like calling him Brian “Diligence” Williams.

The Angels Take Manhattan

By far the hardest rekap to write: a fantastic story, naturally – but one which confused many and had to be a satisfying goodbye for Amy and Rory… and a whole era of Doctor Who.

Angels Take Manhattan ReKap

Once more, the narrative zig-zags between time zones, and I had to reflect certain aspects of the story’s tone and especially sadness. The best way to tell the story of The Angels Take Manhattan is, it occurred to me, how River Song told the story: in a book.

Obviously, a whole book would’ve been over the word limit by just a little bit – so instead, I split the action into chapters, utilising the headings from River’s novel, The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery. It was quite a task, considering those particular chapter titles don’t fit entirely with the on-screen happenings!

Still, it worked out quite nicely, with a few friends saying that it cleared up some confusion.

Matt Smith had previously said that the end tied into 2010’s The Eleventh Hour, and I can proudly say that I correctly predicted that it was Amelia waiting in the garden – then the noise of the TARDIS engines. In fact, that scene had been niggling at me for a while. I even wondered if it was metaphorical or maybe that Amy was dreaming when the TARDIS wakes her! Thanks to Mr. Moffat for clearing it up.

Cherubs

So then it was down to the business of Amy and Rory’s farewell. I found myself relying on the dialogue to get the emotion across, as, hopefully, the reader would start hearing their voices.

Of course, I then got to the afterword – and I just had to transcribe it.

It may have been difficult to do, but I’m really happy with the finished article.

Finally, there’s that last chapter, not in River’s book, but vital to relate back to: what started it all, and a favourite of not just me but so, so many others:

The Eleventh Hour.

 
 

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The Immortal Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Bradbury, perhaps best-known for his novels and short story collections including Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes, died in Los Angeles on 5th June 2012, at the age of 91. He wrote 27 novels and over 600 short stories, a bibliography and success that any writer would love to have to their name.

“When he was 12, Bradbury had a chance encounter with circus entertainer named “Mr. Electrico” who did a wild routine with static electricity. Twelve is an age when young men with imagination are especially impressionable, and Bradbury was enthralled by Mr. Electrico’s act.

At the conclusion, Mr. Electrico pointed his electrified sword at Bradbury and touched his nose, making his hair stand on end. As the sparks flew, Mr. Electrico exclaimed “Live forever!”

Bradbury said when he went home, he began to write his fiction, and he wrote every day for the rest of his life. He later realized that subconsciously, he had found the way to make Mr. Electrico’s command come true.

Through his literature, Ray Bradbury does live forever.”

–          Lou Antonello, RIP Ray Bradbury; The Daily Tribune.

I first came across Bradbury just this year. But it’s incredible how one chance encounter with Fahrenheit 451 has changed my view of the landscape. Though I’d heard of it before, I didn’t quite know what the book was about, but the cover intrigued me, so I picked it up and scrolled through the blurb.

‘FAHREHEIT 451: the temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns.’

That first line blazed away any preconceptions that this was just any other book. I read on: ‘Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness.’ I didn’t need to read the rest of the blurb; this dystopian society was haunting and horrible instantly – and an extension of a few concerns that had been batting around in my head for a while.

The Times calls it: “A disturbing tale that explores the maxim, ‘ignorance is bliss.’” Kingsley Amis summed it up as “the most skilfully-drawn of all science fiction’s conformist hells.” Both those statements are true, of course.  But to balance out the hell, there’s also great hope.

Guy is in it deep; certainly from the first few stunning paragraphs, he’s the Man Beyond Redemption. But for book-lovers (and who else would be reading it?), that world doesn’t feel right. In fact, for anyone, that world doesn’t feel right. But maybe book-lovers can feel it more. And we’re represented there, amidst the flames: a glowing dedication and love for this intangible force presented to us each time we open a cover.

I discussed this a few years ago in college. Why are stories important? They make us human. And Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most human books I’ve ever read.

Soon, I found The Illustrated Man, a collection of short stories with a bookending narrative about a man whose body is caressed with tattoos – tattoos that move and tell stories. Here, Bradbury presented me with fairytales and wonder, but tinged with a chilling sense of doom. (And notice I say me, not us. Because Ray’s books speak to you personally.) Truths we should all face up to. Here’s the perfect illustration of what Bradbury does:

“Yet the Illustrated Man has tried to burn the illustrations off. He’s tried sandpaper, acid and a knife. Because, as the sun sets, the pictures glow like charcoals, like scattered gems. They quiver and come to life. Tiny pink hands gesture, tiny mouths flicker as the figures enact their stories – voices rise, small and muted, predicting the future.”

Something terrible and magnificent at the same time. And this theme carries on throughout the book. Kaleidoscope gives us a beautiful image that might haunt our subconscious every time we look up at the stars. The Playground feels real and troubling, but also signals the brilliant bravery and love we feel around our family. The Long Rain is creepy and bleak, evaluating what life might be like when we step out onto other planets, but makes you realise how lucky we are.

I was surprised to see that Wikipedia list The Veldt (or The World the Children Made) as ‘children’s literature.’ Opening my edition of The Illustrated Man, it’s an incredible tale that shows what future technology might offer kids as they discover mortality. It’s genuinely shocking stuff.

I know certain themes run throughout Bradbury’s books, inevitably inspired by his life and, in particular, his childhood. This led Spiked! writer, Patrick West to say that:

“The great Bradbury longed for a future that would recapture the past.”

This nostalgia is just part of the rich tapestry that Ray weaves into his stories and, indeed, the world. To paraphrase a different genre of literacy, Sherlock Holmes says that we see, but we do not observe. But Ray Bradbury helps us observe.

Thank you, Ray.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Books

 

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Ultimate Spider-man Omnibus announced

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-TWO: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

Marvel’s March solicitations have been released, featuring a nice surprise for the middle of 2012.

In June (and no, I don’t know why it’s in March’s solicits, either), Ultimate Spider-man is released, collecting the first 39 issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s critically-acclaimed run.

I’ve been looking for the USM HCs for a while now, so this is certainly a welcome addition to the range.

Here’s the full synopsis:

In 2000, Marvel launched the Ultimate Universe, reinventing Spider-Man for a new millennium. Now, the first three years of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s fan-favourite, award-winning take on the web-slinger are collected in one oversized volume! Relive Peter Parker’s early days as Spider-Man, learning to fight crime by trial and error as he struggles to balance his new life with the demands of high school: puberty, homework and dating!

Even with the help of his best friend and confidante, Mary Jane Watson, Peter has a heavy load to bear. But the neophyte Spider-Man is making enemies left and right — including the Green Goblin, the Kingpin of Crime, Dr. Octopus, Kraven the Hunter and the maniacal Venom — and unless he can rise to the occasion, he may not survive until prom! Collecting Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #1-39 and #1/2, written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencilled by Mark Bagley, with alternate covers by Joe Quesada & Mark Bagley.

Marvel, hardback, 1000 pages, published June 2012

Remember to check out my other blog, Make Mine A Marvel Omnibus, (marvelomnibus.wordpress.com) for more news on the range… and some amazing deals on Forbiddenplanet!

 
 

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