Suicide Risk, Comic Review(0)
Boom! Studios, Comic, $3.99 each/Trade Paperback of issues #1-4, $9.99
Reviewed by David Brzeski
Reviewing an ongoing comic-book series is a bit like trying to review just the first few chapters of a novel, especially if you don’t have a complete story-arc in hand. In fact, I delayed this review several times to give me the chance to check out one more issue.
Leo is a cop. He’s on compassionate leave, because he was the only physically unscathed survivor of a bank raid. The other survivor, his partner, had his arm crushed beyond saving.
The perpetrators of the bank raid had super powers. Such powers can be bought by anyone from back street dealers—if you have the money and the courage. There are no guarantees that you’ll get anything good, if anything at all. And more often than not they come with a free dose of psychosis, which means most of the super-powered are bad—very bad!
Leo decides to get some power of his own, to enable him to bring the people who crippled his partner and killed so many other cops, not to mention all their hostages, to justice. The problem is, he doesn’t fully understand his abilities, and he certainly can’t control them. In his first encounter with one of his targets, a not-particularly innocent, but non-powered, individual is critically injured.
The various characters and their powers are well thought out and reasonably original, without being too hokey. Even their super-villain code-names are pretty cool: Diva, Grudge War, Dr. Maybe, Voiceover and my personal favourite, Memento Mori.
It’s excellently written as one would expect from Mike Carey, and the art, by Elena Casagrande and colourist, Andrew Elder simply cannot be faulted.
There are many unanswered questions at this stage in the series; such as where does the mysterious device that the dealers use to grant power to anyone with enough money come from? Will Leo go bad in the end too, when the psychosis takes hold? Hints are given in the fourth issue that there may be something really strange going on, involving destiny and some sort of cosmic plan. Mike Carey achieves this in a manner which actually lets the reader understand slightly more about what’s going on than the protagonist does at this stage.
Then, just when you’ve become really involved in the story, Carey leaves Leo for a while and introduces us to a totally new character, in a single-issue story drawn by a different artist—Joëlle Jones, who is every bit as good as Casagrande.
Ada Robins’ life is a catalogue of troubles, until she acquires some powers of her own. Basically a good person, her methodology for getting her life back on track is… interesting!
Casagrande is back for issues 6 and 7, in which Leo joins forces with a group of the villains he detests, in an effort to find out more about his destiny and his forgotten other life as ‘Requiem’.
I’m certainly going to be keeping up with this one.
Shadow Publishing: special offers(0)
David Sutton’s Shadow Publishing has a number of special offers running in the pre-Christmas period. Pop over to the website to take advantage before the offer ends.
The Alchemy Press has now published eBooks (for the Kindle) of Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac edited by Allen Ashley and The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber. The eBook edition of Pulp Heroes 2 to follow.
Open Night update(0)
We can now confirm that Rod Rees (the Demi-Monde quartet) will be attending to sign copies of Invent-10n, his new dystopian novelette — in both hard cover (limited to 100 copies) and paperback.
British Fantasy Awards Constitution (7 December 2012 to 2 November 2013)(0)
This was the constitution of the British Fantasy Awards from the EGM of 7 December 2012 until the AGM of 2 November 2013, governing the British Fantasy Awards 2013. The changes incorporated in this constitution are listed here. The previous constitution can be seen here.
The British Fantasy Society (BFS) and the British Fantasy Convention (FantasyCon) present the British Fantasy Awards (BFA) annually. The BFS and FantasyCon jointly finance the Awards, except for the “Best Newcomer Award”, and appoint a Committee (minimum of one person) to organise the voting arrangements. In the event of the demise of either the BFS or FantasyCon, the remaining organisation will continue to present awards for as long as is practical. The ballot procedure is open to audit following prior notification.
The British Fantasy Society resolves that the BFS Awards shall ultimately be decided by a jury deliberating on a shortlist determined by the members of the Society. The Jury shall comprise individuals directly or indirectly related to the writing, publishing and bookselling genre fields. The Jury shall include at least one non-member of the Society. The Jury shall be appointed by the Awards Administrator, subject to approval by the BFS committee. The Jury shall deliberate on a shortlist of four nominations as determined by the membership by online or postal vote. The Jury shall also have oversight powers to add nominations where it identifies an egregious omission. In order to add such nominations the jury must make a unanimous decision. The addition of a nomination will be made in camera.
Notes on Eligibility
BFS and FantasyCon publications are ineligible, although their contents (e.g. individual stories, articles and pieces of artwork) are eligible. The “relevant year” throughout this constitution is the calendar year (January to December) preceding that in which the awards are presented. Eligible voters: members of the BFS (the vote of a member whose membership expires after the vote is cast remains valid), members of the previous FantasyCon, and those who have registered for the upcoming FantasyCon.
The Awards Administrator may not own or part-own any works shortlisted in any category. Where the Awards Administrator is associated (either by writing, publishing or editing) a work shortlisted in any category, the Awards Administrator will declare this association to the committee, who will independently verify the votes placed for that work, and that work’s eligibility to be shortlisted.
Where practicable, the awards administrator will allow and encourage members, publishers and other interested parties to contribute to a list of eligible items, to be made available online before voting begins.
Changes to This Constitution
Changes to these guidelines may only be made by a vote at the AGM of the British Fantasy Society, taken according to the same rules of procedure outlined in the BFS constitution. A committee vote may not be used to reverse a decision made at an AGM.
Fantasy Novel (The Robert Holdstock Award)
Eligibility: fiction over 40,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.
Horror Novel (The August Derleth Award)
Eligibility: fiction over 40,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.
Eligibility: fiction from 15,000 to 40,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.
Eligibility: stories under 15,000 words published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world in any format during the relevant year.
Eligibility: a collection of work by various authors, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year. BFS anthologies are not eligible for this award.
Eligibility: a collection of work by a single author, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.
Eligibility: a screenplay for TV, film or electronic broadcast released in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year.
Eligibility: non-fiction and fiction magazines, print and online, that were active during the relevant year. BFS publications (such as Dark Horizons and Prism) are not eligible for this award.
Eligibility: comics and collections of comics, published for the first time in the English language in any part of the world during the relevant year. New collections of previously published comics are eligible.
Categories with special juries.
The PS Publishing Independent Press Award
Eligibility: Independent presses active during the relevant year. Note that PS Publishing withdrew from competition in this category in 2009, choosing instead to sponsor the award. *Special jury to be appointed by PS publishing.
Eligibility: any artist who has produced work during the relevant year. This category covers artists who work in any format. *Special jury to comprise at least one artist working within the genre.
Eligibility: items eligible for this Award include non-fiction books, chapbooks, magazine or online columns or single magazine or online articles. The non-fiction item must have been published in any format (book, magazine, small press or electronic) in any part of the world during the relevant year. *Special jury drawn from bloggers, reviewers and commentators on the genre.
Special Award (The Karl Edward Wagner Award)
The British Fantasy Special Award is known as the Karl Edward Wagner Award. The Award may be presented to individuals or organisations. Eligibility: this Award is not necessarily restricted to an activity in the year prior to that in which the Award is presented. The Award may go to someone who has made an important contribution to the genre or the Society throughout his/her lifetime; or it may go to the organisers of a special event or publication that took place in the relevant year. Recommendations for this Award will be sought from the membership. *The BFS Committee will determine the winner of this award.
The Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award
The award is for a new fiction writer. The recommendations can be for a single work or more than one, provided they meet the eligibility criteria set out above. Recommendations for this award are sought from the BFS membership. Eligibility also requires that copies of the work(s) be provided to the voting panel by the appropriate author, editor or publisher. This award is sponsored and funded by the estate of Sydney J. Bounds and the winner will receive a cheque for £100. The winner is decided by a special panel of readers appointed by the BFS and will include representatives from the Bounds estate and the BFS.
(BFS Short Story Competition
The competition is subject to its own rules, which are at the discretion of the BFS Short Story Competition Administrator.)
The precise voting schedule each year will depend on the schedule of BFS mailings and the timing of FantasyCon.
Recommendations sought: Jan-March.
Jury work: April-July. Shortlist announced April.
Announcement of winners: usually September
Stage 1: Shortlist from the membership: Recommendations may be submitted online or by post.
Each member may put forward up to three Recommendations in any category, expressed in preferential order.
All Recommendations should ideally be accompanied with publication details: year of publication, publisher, and title of collection, magazine, editor, etc, if applicable. If the information supplied is insufficient for the BFA committee to establish eligibility the recommendations may be excluded from the ballot form.
Recommendations may not be made for the recommender’s own material. The British Fantasy Society discourages the practice of canvassing for votes.
The four titles or names with the highest number of recommendations will go forward to form the shortlist of nominations.
Stage 2: The Jury
A Jury of three or five readers shall have the power to add up to two further nominations if they so wish. The Jury shall decide a winner from the shortlist. The Jury’s decisions shall be final.
Stage 3: Announcement and Presentation
The Awards are presented at FantasyCon or at a suitable alternative event if FantasyCon is cancelled in any particular year.
The Awards will usually take the form of a statuette. The statuette should be abstract or genre-neutral in design, avoiding any preference for horror, fantasy etc.
BFS Xmas Open Night(0)
In the private function room. The room is downstairs in the basement, with its own bar / loos. Decent range of ales, bar snacks ranging from a few quid, to sandwiches (£5-6) and full meals.
Directions: The Elephant pub is opposite Halifax Building Society.
From Fenchurch St. Station: go directly out of station onto Fenchurch Street, turn left, 1 min walk.
From Monument Tube: take East Cheap, King William or Gracechurch St. exits from subway. Go up Gracechurch Street – this is in the opposite direction to London Bridge (the actual bridge, not LB station). Take first right onto Fenchurch Street, 3 mins walk.
Guests Confirmed: JON HARVEY, Founder of the re-launching Spectre Press, editor of the classic Tales of Cthulhu Mythos series. Jon has a history in British genre publishing going back decades, with many notable benchmarks including the publication of Brian Lumley’s “Ghoul Warning and Other Omens”.
Joining Jon will be author ADRIAN COLE.
Adrian Cole is the author of 25 novels and numerous short stories, writing in several genres: science fiction, fantasy, sword & sorcery and horror. His first books were published in the 1970s, THE DREAM LORDS trilogy (US) and he went on to write, among others, the OMARAN SAGA and the STAR REQUIEM series as well as writing 2 young adults’ novels, MOORSTONES and THE SLEEP OF GIANTS.
More recently he has had several books published by Wildside Press in the US, including the VOIDAL trilogy, which collects all the original short stories from the 70s and 80s and adds new material to complete the saga. Wildside have also published the novel NIGHT OF THE HEROES, an affectionate celebration of the world of pulp fiction as well as YOUNG THONGOR, which Cole has edited, being the previously uncollected short Thongor stories of Lin Carter.
Cole’s latest novel and most powerful to date is THE SHADOW ACADEMY, a science fiction work, which is due next summer from Edge Books – there is also to be an audio version from Audible. Recent short stories include, The Chaos Blade ( Fedogan and Bremer collection WORLDS OF CTHULHU) and 4 Nick Nightmares including You Don’t Want to Know (F and B collection WEIRDER SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH) and Nightmare on Mad Gull Island (Spectre Press). A collection of Nick Nightmare stories is in the pipeline.
His short stories have been reprinted in YEAR’S BEST FANTASY and YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND HORROR and he has written and performed a number of parodies of the genres he loves at various conventions in the past (but please don’t hold that against him – he means well).
Victor Gollancz are in the process of releasing the 4 OMARAN books as well as the 4 STAR REQUIEM books on their SF Gateway site as ebooks and Cole is currently preparing a 3 volume alternative history/fantasy dealing with Celto-Romano Europe and Britain.
Jon will be bringing along not only Adrian’s new publications by Spectre Press, signed and numbered in their hardback formats, (as well as editions from writers such as Andrew Darlington) but also the issues of CTHULHU: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos to date and a few other items from the back catalogue…these would make unique Christmas gifts!
Plus there will be some prize draws, raffle etc.
All BFS members / non-members welcome.
The Halloween Legion: The Great Goblin Invasion, Comic Review.Comments Off
by Martin Powell, Diana Leto & Thomas Boatwright
Dark Horse Books, h/c, £10.99/Kindle £1.53
Reviewed by David Brzeski
This book had a lot to live up to. I read the previous release from Sequential Pulp Comics, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, which was also written by Martin Powell, and gave it a very good review. I also read and reviewed Martin Powell’s prose novel introduction to the ‘Halloween Legion’, which I again praised highly.
I admit to approaching this one with a little trepidation. I liked the prose novel so much that I feared the writing might lose something in the comic strip format. I really shouldn’t have worried. Martin Powell has a great deal of experience in both prose and comics writing and made the transition flawlessly. I might have further worried that Diana Leto, who designed all the characters, didn’t handle all the artwork for this book, but I actually preferred Thomas Boatwright’s art, based on Ms Leto’s designs, to her own work on the bonus strip, which is not in any way intended as a criticism of Ms Leto’s excellent work.
I probably shouldn’t give away too much of the story. Suffice to say that it concerns an alien invasion attempt, which our heroes have to foil. We learn a little more about the abilities and limitations of the Halloween Legion along the way.
As I previously mentioned, there’s a short bonus strip, with art by Diane Leto, which tells the true story of the events that happened to Martin Powell one Halloween, when he was just six years old. Events which would inspire the creation of these characters.
Like the prose novel that preceded it, this graphic novel is perfectly suitable for young children (unless you’re one of those religious nuts, who think any mention of magic in fiction is the road to damnation) yet it’s still a really entertaining read for jaded adults.
I generally like to include some criticism to balance out my reviews, as I sometimes worry that overwhelmingly positive reviews might not get taken seriously. Mr Powell seems set on making this impossible to achieve.
Raising Steam. Book ReviewComments Off
Doubleday, h/b, 384 pp, £20
Reviewed by Rebekah Lunt
I was luckier than an Ankh-Morporkian who has survived consumption of the culinary delight that is CMOT Dibbler’s sausage inna bun to receive the new Discworld novel for review. If you got the reference there, and are fully aware that Raising Steam is the 40th Discworld novel and that it is the 30th anniversary year of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, you really don’t need to read this review do you? Just get along and read it already! You will find everything you expect and more.
For anyone else, read on… And then rush out to buy this and potentially all the 39 other novels…
Raising Steam is the story of how the age of steam came to the Discworld; of the first and best train; of its reet gradely creator and genius in harnessing steam, of the first fat controller, and the burgeoning business around steam-powered travel; and yes, of the first train-spotters too.
Running on parallel tracks are the satire and political wit regular readers will have come to know and love; of the tyrant Vetinari and his management of politics and peace, not just in Ankh-Morpork but in all of Discworld; of a civil war between dwarfs, some of whose fundamentalist stances threaten the development of this brave new world; of goblins and their gradual acceptance as people, alongside the humans, trolls, dwarfs, werewolves, vampires and zombies of Ankh-Morpork’s melting pot; and of the life and times of one Moist con Lipwig, nearly-respectable crook and general greaser of life’s wheels.
As always with anything written by Terry Pratchett, this is a fantastically entertaining story. In all honesty, as with most of the other 39 novels, you could probably read this one as a stand-alone story. However, having recently started reading them all again from the very first novel – The Colour of Magic, I can’t imagine why you would want to do yourself out of the pleasure of full immersion in this world. One of the extremely pleasurable aspects of this story in the 30th anniversary year is to revisit familiar characters and places alongside the new ones, and look out for all the name checks and in-jokes.
An extra treat, and the real beauty of the book, is the way in which it expresses and translates the emotional power of steam trains for converts and non-believers alike. I love steam trains anyway but this book made me feel a little of what I imagine first experiences of steam trains must have been like.
I must admit that, despite this, I approached the book with a little trepidation – being ever aware of Sir Terry’s health condition means that fans can be forgiven for wishing for an all too sadly unrealistic fairytale ending for him. At times it can feel that the rules and all caution are being thrown to the wind as we race through the world he created, wishing for more, more, more, endlessly. I must make clear though, that these are my own feelings and thoughts being read into the work of one of my favourite writers – there is still present an abundance of Pratchett’s continued mischievous wit and cheery abandon. In fact, if there are melancholy notes, these are soon chugged along in the steam of nostalgia, shared history and all those memories. This is summed up in no better way than in a quiet moment between crises when Moist gets to dance on the roof of a moving train. Sheer bliss!
I genuinely cannot recommend this book highly enough. Pratchett could be forgiven for resting on his laurels at any point in his career, especially this far along. Instead, he gives fans a beautifully imagined and constructed anniversary gift, and another new wonder for first-time visitors to the Discworld to experience.
My Amityville Horror. Film ReviewComments Off
DIRECTOR: Eric Walter
STARRING: Daniel Lutz, Laura DiDio, Neme Alperstein
RUNNING TIME: 85mins
CERTIFICATE: 15 mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams
When did I stop believing in the supernatural? God knows. Naturally, as we’re no longer on speaking terms either he’s not telling.
I spent most of my young life believing in something. Devout Christian, then New Age convert, reading Tarot cards for a living and luxuriating in the company of mediums and psychics.
At some point in my late twenties — perhaps, not entirely coincidentally, around the time I started writing about such things as fiction — I became a rationalist and skeptic. There was no single event that changed my way of thinking, it was more a natural progression. I believe we all settle into these things, shuffling our philosophies until we find the one that fits. The world view that best makes sense of the world in which we live. The one that makes us comfortable.
Daniel Lutz is not comfortable.
One of the three children dragged into infamy by the book (and endless movie adaptations) The Amityville Horror, this documentary allows him to take centre stage, talking for the first time about his experiences in the allegedly haunted house.
The Amityville Horror (a phrase trademarked by Daniel’s stepfather in 2002) is a case that never really goes away, despite so many of the details and claimed events having been questioned over the years. Indeed, a number of the people involved in the release of the original “true” account as a bestselling book have gone on record admitting the whole thing was a hoax. The Lutz family never did. They insisted that, while exaggerated, the essential details of the terrible few weeks they spent in the building were true.
Daniel Lutz clings to this view and perhaps that is where the real horror lies.
I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of the case, this is a review not an essay, but there is no doubt that Daniel Lutz is a very mixed-up, bitter and angry man. Naturally, given my skeptical credentials, I am likely to err on the side of disbelief. I don’t believe the house was haunted. I don’t believe the experiences he claims to have had within its four walls are quite what he claims them to be. That’s my extremely subjective opinion.
That’s not to say I think he’s a liar. I don’t know what he is. I suspect he doesn’t either. He strikes me as someone who has mythologised his early life — perhaps, as suggested here, in an attempt to address the difficulties of living with his stepfather, a man who doesn’t come out of this documentary very well — and he’s no longer quite sure what’s true or not. Certainly some of his stories contradict themselves, though all are recounted with such conviction, such frustration and anger, that its hard to view them as conscious fabrications.
For the first hour or so, Walter’s documentary seems to err on the side of the supernatural. The presentation and discussion is extremely biased towards those who are convinced the building is haunted. This is something of an error, not simply because it goes against my skepticism but because balance is important in any documentary. The last half an hour redresses this somewhat, as we seem to veer towards the assumption that its subject is a tortured and confused man rather than a genuine witness to the supernatural.
As a piece of documentary filmmaking it’s uneven and patchy. As an opportunity to hear a man discuss his personal slant on one of the most famous modern supernatural cases, it’s a worthwhile watch. Anyone with an interest in the subject (and that should include any fan of horror fiction) it’s a documentary that’s well worth hunting down, if only because it asks more questions than it answers, something that can’t fail to intrigue.