Tuesday, 1 November, 2011
“The Joker”, by Daniel Wallace, throws the spotlight onto Batman’s archnemesis, and one of the most notorious comic book villains.
Since his first appearance in 1940′s Batman #1, the Joker stands alone as the most hated, feared, and loved villain in the DC Universe. Though his true origins may be unknown, the Clown Prince of Crime’s psychotic appearances in hundreds of comic books has shaped the way we look at Batman, comic books, and ourselves. Indeed, a hero is only as good as his nemesis, so the Joker’s heinous crimes, including murdering the second Robin and paralyzing Batgirl, have elevated Batman to the highest levels of crime-fighting, and we, the readers, to the finest levels of quality pop-culture entertainment.
Batman, fiction, Joker
Friday, 9 September, 2011
A speculative account of what might happen should a unit of US Marines find themselves transported, somehow, back in time to the days of the Roman Empire.
Meanwhile, the mysterious appearance of the Marines has not gone unnoticed. Peasants have fled to the home of the land’s owner, Senator Aulus Terentius Varro Murena. It is 23 BC, and Murena is about to form a Republican conspiracy against Augustus Caesar. He and other Senators are deeply suspicious of the Imperator and fear that he will swamp their ancient order with newly minted Senators from his swelling armies. The appearance of a small but apparently competent armed force – with a vast array of what appears to be bizarre siege machinery – on his land makes him fear the worst. He dispatches several spies to monitor the visitors and orders his retainers to avoid the camp. He also sends messengers to his co-conspirators in the Senate.
fiction, history, marines, Roman Empire, Rome, US army
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011
Bob Gale, co-writer of Back to the Future, lifts the lid on the much pondered back story of the friendship between Marty McFly and Doc Brown.
For years, Marty was told that Doc Brown was dangerous, a crackpot, a lunatic. So, being a red-blooded American teenage boy, age 13 or 14, he decided to find out just why this guy was so dangerous. Marty snuck into Doc’s lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. When Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was.
classic films, fiction, film, movies
Monday, 22 August, 2011
Now that Harry Potter and friends have dispatched with dark lord Voldemort what happens next? Hogwarts needs to be rebuilt, and corruption within the Ministry of Magic weeded out, among many other things. But where to begin a reconciliation and reform process that could take decades to see through?
Surviving Death Eaters will have to be brought to justice or reintegrated into magical society. Long-standing rifts among magical communities that the war widened must be healed. Most of all, we must ensure that the values that triumphed in the final battle – tolerance, pluralism, and respect for the dignity of all magical and non-magical creatures alike – are reflected in the institutions and arrangements that emerge from the conflict. What ultimately matters is not just whether something evil was defeated, but whether something good is built in its place.
Could such a situation provide material for an Expanded Universe series of stories, as we’ve seen with the likes of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”?
expanded universe, fantasy, fiction, Harry-Potter
Wednesday, 27 July, 2011
Sady Doyle re-imagines the Harry Potter saga with Hermione Granger as the central character rather than Harry.
In Hermione, Joanne Rowling undermines all of the cliches that we have come to expect in our mythic heroes. It’s easy to imagine Hermione’s origin story as some warmed-over Star Wars claptrap, with tragically missing parents and unsatisfying parental substitutes and a realization that she belongs to a hidden order, with wondrous (and unsettlingly genetic) gifts. But, no: Hermione’s normal parents are her normal parents. She just so happens to be gifted. Being special, Rowling tells us, isn’t about where you come from; it’s about what you can do, if you put your mind to it. And what Hermione can do, when she puts her mind to it, is magic.
fiction, Harry-Potter, Hermione Granger
Thursday, 7 July, 2011
What made Sherlock Holmes, the fictional creation of Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle, so effective compared to police detectives? Holmes essentially pioneered forensic science, something that did not exist in the late nineteenth century, that could have otherwise aided police investigators.
What Holmes was very good at was looking at small, almost insignificant bits of evidence and using them to draw conclusions. Where a policeman might just see a worn piece of carpet in a hall, Holmes might see a place where a hidden door had been opened. Where another private detective (if there was such a thing) might see a half-eaten apple, thrown in the grass, Holmes might see in the bite marks an impression of the criminal’s teeth – an impression that might help identify the criminal.
crime, detectives, fiction, forensics, Sherlock Holmes
Wednesday, 29 June, 2011
J.K. Rowling, creator of the popular series of books about the boy wizard and his friends, last week unveiled Pottermore, an online domain where she will continue to flesh out the Potter characters… though, sadly for hard core fans, won’t be adding any new books to the saga.
fiction, Harry-Potter, J K Rowling, magic, wizards
Friday, 15 April, 2011
Might Batman make better use of his desire to combat crime in Gotham City, plus the quantities of money he has to develop his crime-fighting paraphernalia, by becoming mayor of the troubled city?
How much money per year are you spending on grappling hooks, Batmobiles, Batbikes, Batboats, the Batwing, plus a gigantic underground cave complex filled with state-of-the-art computers? Millions? Tens of millions? Because it seems like this would cost quite a lot of money. This seems like an inefficient use of your resources. Have you considered, instead, running for mayor of “Gotham City”?
Batman, comic books, crime, fiction, humour, superheroes
Friday, 8 April, 2011
A formula for writing “generic” science fiction novels, by British author of the genre, Paul McAuley.
Have your characters tell each other about their situation instead. Bars are good places to do this. Bars are also great places to meet people. Unlike airport bars, spaceport bars are packed with colourful characters who all know each other. Aliens can usually be found in the corners of spaceport bars, or in a mysterious rundown quarter of the city attached to the spaceport. They’re basically cats. Or turtles. Or some other pet animal.
fiction, science fiction, writing
Thursday, 10 March, 2011
Fiction writer Stephen King’s new novel, “11/22/63”, which will be published this November, is about a US teacher, Jake Epping, who having discovered a way of travelling back in time, realises he may be able to prevent the 1963 assassination of US president John F Kennedy.
Epping’s era-hopping habit begins when he learns that his friend, Al, who runs the local diner, is harbouring a portal to the year 1958 in his storeroom. Al enlists Jake on a mission to try to prevent the assassination of the 35th president of the United States by returning to the days of Elvis, James Dean, big cars and root beer. Jake duly makes the journey, and finds himself meeting not only troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, but also a beautiful school librarian, Sadie Dunhill, set to become the love of his life. But will Jake succeed in his attempt to change history? And if so, what will happen next?
fiction, JFK, novels, Stephen King, time travel