• death and taxes

    It’s been a strange week. There have been two deaths, and I’ve attended one funeral (neither of the deceased were close to me, so don’t proffer sympathies), and a major row erupted in the Irish sf scene that involved a lot of people I know. My mother had been away on holiday, and she called me on Tuesday evening and asked if I wanted to go see a film. I couldn’t really spare the time. Not only did I have a funeral that was going to take up most of the following day, I was really late on sorting out my taxes. I’d been brooding on the Internet fracas going…

  • a weekend of horrors

    I’m back from my trip to London for the horror film festival FrightFest, and I had a lovely time. The weather was great, mostly, and I avoided the occasional showers. When I wasn’t watching movies, I strolled around Soho in the sun, bought a bowler hat, and met up with mates who’ve moved to the city. This year I tried a new strategy in relation to the festival: don’t watch everything. There have been FrighFests in the past where I have attended every single screening over the five days. It’s not recommended, and impossible now since there are two streams of programming. This year I skipped all the late films,…

  • words on foot

    I’ve been reading Nietzsche today. As thinkers go he’s clear and reasoned. In fact, he’s a little too perceptive for those who like their self-delusions, so sometimes his surgical excision of unpleasant human motivations can make for glum reading. He’s a bit of a grump at times too, especially when it comes to young people. In Human, All too Human he has an entire section called “From the Soul of Artists and Authors”, which had me laughing, nodding, and sometimes grimacing. He has high standards: Speak not of gifts, or innate talents! One can name all kinds of great men who were not very gifted. But they acquired greatness, became…

  • d day

    On this day in 1897 a book called Dracula was published for the first time. In a strange bout of synchronicity my screenwriting group is looking at three screen adaptations of Dracula: Dracula (1931), the BBC mini-series Count Dracula (1977), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Afterwards, we’re going to a screening of the marvellous Swedish vampire film, Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In – 2008). I’d been tipped off about the 1970s BBC version while doing research for the public interview with Kim Newman last month. Everyone who’d seen it heaped the adaptation with high praise, so I was interested in watching it. The series was…

  • look around you

    I haven’t forgotten it’s Thurday. Here’s today’s micro missive: Houdini’s first afterlife message, delivered by email: Lack of limbs renders escape awkward but not impossible. Flexibility of will, vital. Sometimes I like to have fun with these little splashes of words. After signs of an incipient summer we’re back to monsoon rains. I was thinking of hitting the cinema this afternoon for the latest Star Trek movie but I was in a midst of a strong writing session–I was having fun–so I decided that Kirk et al. could wreck CGI havoc without me for another few days. I did brave the floods and rain for a poetry reading, only to…

  • uplifting

    Another one of my twitter stories has been published on Thaumatrope: if you’re hungry for a fictional nibble.Reviews of Black Static, issue 10, have been appearing online. I realised before reading the first one that I had been bracing myself: like how you involuntarily clench your muscles when you expect a terrible blow. My story, “Vic”, is intimate, small, and poignant, and I suspected some people might want a story that’s more action-packed and brutal. Although, that’s the beauty of a diverse collection of stories in a magazine–you should find one to your tastes. However, Colin Harvey over on Suite 101 enjoyed “Vic” very much, and rated it “Outstanding”. He…

  • FrightFest 2008 Roundup

    Another year, another FrightFest. Here are a number of horror movie clichés I could do without in the future: A blood-covered girl being chased in the woods as a hook to start a film A woman being captured, locked up, and tortured Stating at the beginning “Based on actual events” Yuppies being menaced by psycho assailants Creepy mirror scenes that aren’t scary enough Comedy horror flicks that have more gore and rubbery intestines than story or funny lines Oh gosh, the bad guys are kids! The countryside is occupied only by crazies – even if you escape, you can be guaranteed you’ll fall back into their clutches just as you…

  • is it too much to ask for plot and characters with the chest bursting?

    Last night I watched Aliens vs Predator – Requiem, or AVPR as it’s also known, and reckon the Alien/Predator franchise has hit its movie nadir. I will admit a fondness for the original AVP. It’s formulaic, but it featured a strong likeable central heroine, Alexa Woods, (Sanaa Lathan), a clear story, and it delivered a couple of cool smack-downs: my personal favourite is when the Predator swings the Alien around like a discus athlete and knocks chunks out of the temple wall with the Alien’s head. Unfortunately, AVP contained too few moments like that. I wanted a bit more of Aliens and Predators knocking the crap out of each other.…

  • establishing space

    Over the years I’ve watched Alien (1979) many, many times. Every time it appears on television I am compelled to watch it again. I’m never bored because I’m always watching for something new in the film, and each time something comes to my attention. In my recent viewing I was struck at how Ridley Scott takes his time establishing the environment of the spaceship. A good four/five minutes pass until anyone speaks. Before that there are moody shots of the interior, with enough human touches in-between the technology and flashing buttons to suggest people before we ever see them. Goldsmith’s score is haunting. This is a film that sets an…

  • a weekend of speculation

    My weekend was spent in the company of funny, intelligent people who like to discuss speculative fiction. Best of all my Clarion West classmate, Julie McGalliard, and her husband Paul Carpentier turned up for two evenings. I’d met them in Galway on Thursday and guided them on a brief tour of the more interesting parts of the medieval city. They managed to squeeze in loads more sightseeing in their remaining days in Ireland, and make time to hang out with friends at Octocon. The lacklustre organisation of the convention didn’t impinge upon me very much because I wasn’t involved in the running of the event, and from my past experiences…