Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Toy Story 3

I can’t remember the last time I cried in the cinema (I watched ‘UP’ at home), but any film that can make you laugh your arse off all the way through and then have you wiping water from your eyes (the 3D glasses make this downright awkward) at the closing scenes – well, it’s more than just a film for Cubs.

The plot of Toy Story 3 is swift, bright, clear – beautifully wrought. It's continuity is wondrous - the smallest dropped fragment (Woody's Hat) becomes a demoniac device for later in the story. It can be predictable - but that's no bad thing. While we know what’s exactly going to happen to the toys in the daycare centre, for example, the tension is built so skilfully that the shock and horror are still genuine. The wheeler-dealing of the bad guys in the roof-club of the snack-machine, the final fate of Lotso – in each case, you know what's coming, but the scene-setting, the references, the symmetry are all flawless. The entire script is absolutely stuffed with sly adult gags – my favourite being Ken throwing open the door before a love-struck Barbie with the words, ‘Baby, this is where is all happens!’ – and it’s to his wardrobe… words fail me.

We all love Buzz and Woody – but Ken, accessory or not, totally stole that entire film. Right down to his love-heart shorts.

In fact, there just wasn’t a weak character. The dastardly, strawberry-scented bear, voiced to villainous perfection by Ned Beatty, is more iniquitous than any plush toy has a right to be – but the perfectly dovetailed flashback by the sinister clown just tinges his soft menace with sympathy. It also wins us to the side of the lumbering-simple Big Baby, tormented by the one thing he trusts. Assisted by the truly scary watch-monkey and a scattering of sinister side-kicks (we liked the two faced robot), Lotso is absolutely a genius evil.

And props for the silent Totoro. I wonder if he was on an exchange visit?

This is a film that carries you along regardless. (The Claw!) Made for a younger audience or not, I challenge any adult to watch it and to not have their heart touched. What was your favourite toy as a child? What happened to them? The closing scene of the teenage Andy introducing little Bonnie to his friends was what reduced me to tears – and not only me, I suspect, from the snufflings next to me.

It’s a reminder that, for all we’re supposed to be adult, are we supposed to be grown-up?

Friday, 23 July 2010


He's the best pet ever! You’ve seen the film (all of them), now you can have one of your very own…

This huge beast is two feet at the shoulder – that’s above your knees – and over 28” long. He comes with a zip-line through the body and fully articulated legs, plus LED lights and all sorts of movie sounds and phrases… he (almost) walks, he (pretty-much) talks and he’s dead cheap to take to the vet.

Plus: he comes with his own keeper – a 3 ¾” driver action figure (with speeder bike) and he has enough space to hold up to 19 more Star Wars action figures.

He’s an All-Terrain Armoured Transport, AT-AT for short, and he really hates teddy bears.

The only question that remains is…

…what are you going to call him?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Titan Books: New Website

This week, my colleagues downstairs at Titan Books have launched a shiny all-new site.

Titan specialise in the good stuff - film, TV and music tie-ins, illustrated books, hot fiction and cool graphic novels - titles like The Simpsons, Supernatural, Batman, Star Wars and Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass... you'll find many of them on the Forbidden Planet site too, oddly enough.

Their marketing team are Bookseller Awards short-listed and they've been having fun with the digital and social media thing - look out for the Hammer Glamour app for the iPhone and iPad and for Titan on twitter at @TitanBooks.

The new site, as well as keeping you updated with all the hot titles forthcoming from the Titan presses, features a blog offering such goodies as exclusive interviews (Mark Millar, Joe Simon) and guest posts (Scroobius Pip, Robert Graysmith) - plus sample chapters, exclusive sneak previews, video clips of games and films, quizzes and behind-the-scenes news from the Titan staff. And don't miss the competitions page - for thirty days from August 2nd there will be a new competition featured on the site daily. Get your mitts on an X-Box 360, original artwork, props from hit shows like CSI and Firefly, as well as signed books, DVDs and CDs.

And, of course, there's the forthcoming events page - making sure you don't miss out.

Go have a nose for yourself at www.titanbooks.com!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, 19 July 2010

Writing and Twitter: The Case for the Opposition

So – the validation thing.

I have this theory (stone me if you will): the point at which you stop needing validation is the point at which you’ve learned to write like yourself (not like Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk or Dan fucking Brown). Don’t get me wrong – we all need feedback, positive or negative, that’s how we learn – but thirsting for constant reassurance means you’re still seeking your own voice… and your own feet. As you’re finding these things, and becoming secure in them, that need will thin and fade.

Those authors who have success as their feedback seem to forget this – they, too, started somewhere.

I’ve blogged before about Twitter as a distraction (and Gods fucking KNOW it can be!) but the Case for the Opposition is that Twitter can provide three things (other than helping you market your title, we got that one already): -

Support and reassurance: we all have to take those first steps.

A smack round the head: as well as being a distraction, Twitter can be a motivation. Whether you gain your necessary arse-kick from stating what you’re going to do, or from a friend’s booted foot, that doesn’t really matter. Perversely, Twitter can be good for actually making you work.

Research: neatly bringing me to where I was going.

While the Great Prophet Google goes almost all the way to making research easy, there are times it genuinely can’t help you. So, when you find yourself asking a question, a question that’s so spectacularly simple, so downright fucking dumb, a question that’s so ridiculous that you didn’t even know that you didn’t know...

…you ask Twitter.

And Lo! Where the Great Prophet fails, the Little Blue Bird offers up the answer.

So – this blog is a thank you to all those people who answered the idiot query ‘Do you open your glove compartment with the same key as you open your car?’ It’s also a thank you to Lloyd Davis over at Perfect Path for chipping in with his busking experience – and a shout out to all those people who make Twitter, not about pointless validation, but about help that actually matters.

Twitter can be like the bottom of the bird-cage – what you get out of it depends entirely…

…you know what I’m saying.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Squeee At Last: Michael Moorcock!

MICHAEL MOORCOCK will be signing his new Doctor Who novel The Coming of the Terraphiles at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Thursday 21st October 6 - 7pm.

There are no words to describe the massive effect that Michael Moorcock has had on the growth of our genre/s – and on all of our lives. He's won the Guardian Fiction Prize for The Condition of Muzak, and been shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize for Mother London. He’s best-loved through, for the epic characters he has created Elric, Jerry Cornelius and Colonel Pyat. This is rare opportunity to meet our own Eternal Champion.

Miggea - a star on the edge of reality. A point where space-time has worn thin, and is in danger of collapsing... and the venue for the grand finals of the Arrow of Law competition. The Doctor and Amy have joined the Terraphiles - a group re-enacting Earth’s ancient sporting events and they are determined to win the Arrow. But reality is collapsing, ships are disappearing, Captain Cornelius and his pirates are looking for easy pickings. The Doctor and Amy have to find out who is prepared to kill to get their hands on the Arrow. And uncover a traitor. And win the contest. And – of course – save the universe from total destruction. This is a thrilling, all-new adventure featuring the Doctor and Amy, as played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

Guys - this is going to be big. Please take moment to consider the people in the queue behind you and DON'T come down with a big ol' bag full of all your Elric novels - there will be restrictions on what you can ask to be signed.