Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs... Forbidden Planet!

BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY will be signing the sixth and final title in the massively popular Scott Pilgrim series: SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR on Tuesday 17th August 6 – 7pm.

It’s finally happened! With six of Ramona's seven evil exes dispatched, it should be time for Scott Pilgrim to face Gideon Graves, the biggest and baddest of her former beaus. But didn't Ramona take off at the end of Book 5? Shouldn't that let Scott off the hook? Maybe it should, maybe it shouldn't, but one thing is for certain: all of this has been building to Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour!

Bryan Lee O’Malley is an award-winning Canadian cartoonist. He has been working on a series of graphic novels called Scott Pilgrim. He writes the words and draws the pictures.

Now - if only he can persuade Scott Pilgrim to catch up with a couple of exes of mine...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A little Culture culture

How many of you have had a creative idea in your head that you've been tinkering with for years... only to see it manifest by another author/artist/muso before you’ve had a chance to shout about how good it is?

My feelings, pretty-much exactly, when I saw the cover of Iain M Banks’ new book.

(On the other hand, of course, it does tell me that the idea was a good one!)

Whatever the personal ironies (they’re all over the use of the fractal eyes theme, dammit!) it’s a kick-arse cover, and Mister Banks himself will be at FP to sign his latest Culture title, Surface Detail, on October 7th at 6pm.

Don’t miss this one – it’s likely to be big!

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Friday, 25 June 2010

An Anti-Vamp Rant

I used to like watching Buffy – I own it on… actually on VHS… and I’ve watched it to absolute Undeath.

But by every Mother of God am I sick of fucking vampires!

It was with a huge cheer, then, that I read Neil Gaiman’s comments in the Independent this morning – kicking back against genre and marketing saturation, and against the de-fanged and de-balled castrato-vamp that we’ve all learned to loathe. He’s right, they’re like cockroaches, they’re everywhere – and we’ve had enough.

And not only Gaiman, bless him. He’s backed up by Sam Stone and Graham Marks… and even Ms. Meyer herself has had enough. Could it be – finally – that the public backlash is finding its teeth?

I get marketing trends – hell, I’m supposed to, I have to follow and ride them for a living. But when does a trend become a dictation? When does it stop being something the audience want – and become something they’re told they must like? Working where I do, I’ve been on ground level with marketing a motherlode of Vampire merchandise… and you can guarantee that, for every Twilight-Sparkly-Box-Souvenir that we’ve promoted through our Social Media net, we’ll get a kick-back of customers who’ve all reached their own saturation limit.

And so I ask: have we now reached the point where our media consumption is being utterly dictated by its buying trends – and where those very trends are set by a nation of proto-teen consumers? Just who is in fucking charge here anyway?!

Please – enough with the ‘safe sales’, already, and enough with the sheep-herding; enough with the force-feeding of pulp and enough with having our consumption controlled.

Let’s give the Vampire back his teeth... while we open out, and embrace the full scope of our genre.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Father's Day Geek Win!

It’s a pretty unholy fusion – geekery and musical theatre were not really meant to be together.

But up in Leicester Square today, it’s been all about Superheroes, Sith Lords, Singers and Pink Drapery as we’ve once again taken up a two-day residence in a West End Live display tent… and proved that Glee isn’t the only thing that can cross that potentially hazardous cultural boundary.

We know the drill – we’ve done this four years running. Armed with a TARDIS, a cut-out of The Doctor and a selection of SF-style helmets and weaponry, we’re there to provide an uber-cool photo op and a chance for the kids to get their hands on (and their head in) a Clone Trooper helm.

But here’s the thing…

It’s not just the kids.

While Mums want a picture of their little’un with Batman, while teen girls squee at even a cardboard Matt Smith, Dad has never outgrown actually being a superhero. Mum will take a goody bag for the kids; Dad will take one for himself as well – and be chuffed as fuck to get a Spider-Man comic. Mum will wander off to watch the cast of Legally Blonde; Dad will stay and tell his kids about Darth Maul.

You know it: it’s always Dad who has to try the Optimus Prime helmet on.

Up at Forbidden Planet, our female customer base is bigger than it’s ever been – we all know there’s a Geek Grrl Revolution going on. But I’ve stood in the back of that tent today and watched a starry-eyed Dad teach his five-year-old correct rifle etiquette with a steampunk-style Annihilator Mk II… and then take a picture that will last him the rest of his life.

It was a tad surreal - but it did underline one thing...

Today is Father’s Day. And it’s been a complete Geek Dad Win!

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Daleks and the Geek Mum Win

My son loves Doctor Who.

He’s five – and it’s become his story and his focus. Sod Ben 10, stuff Transformers, and Batman is just so over… Who is where it’s at.

And nothing makes him jump up and down on the sofa (hiding’s for wusses) like the appearance of the Daleks.

I remember hiding from them; they were wonderfully scary. Now I’m having to remember the 1980s plotlines as my son Isaac will quiz me about every decision Davros ever made and who where the Kaleds anyway…

…my job, sometimes, is a life-saver in more than one way!

Now the Daleks (with a little help for Professor Bracewell) have finally machined some help for my plight.

One fully functional radio controlled Ironside with full 360-degree movement and flashing lights and speech and poseable gun and arm and yadda yadda… BUT WE CAN MAKE THEM FIGHT.

Two Daleks, twelve batteries and one very excited small child later…

…there are no more questions about Davros.

And I have a Geek Mum Win.

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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Forbidden Planet Bares All!

Thanks to Angry Robot books, LAUREN BEUKES will be signing an exclusive pre-release hardcover of ZOO CITY at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR on Thursday 29th July from 6 – 7pm.

Zinzi December has a talent for finding lost things. But in a city of black magic, familiars and damaged people, some lost things don’t want to be found. To save herself, Zinzi will have to confront her demons and find the hardest thing of all: the truth. An astonishing second novel from the author of the highly-acclaimed Moxyland.

Lauren Beukes is a recovering journalist who used to hang out with township vigilantes, electricity thieves, trendoid swingers, teen vampires and great white sharks; now she spends most of her time making stuff up as a TV scriptwriter and novelist. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and daughter.


As part of the Zoo City promotion, five art toy BARES are being auctioned for the Suitcase Project, helping Johannesburg’s refugee children. These unique customs a have been donated by the Am I collective and decorated by South African artists Joey Hi-Fi, Elise Wessels, Clemi, Willeen le Roux, Carine Nguz and Bia van Deventer.

Lauren will be bringing one of the Bares, Bi-Polar Bare by Willeen de Roux, with her to the event.

And please don't forget to go and bid!

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Bullshit and Artistry

The saying goes: that a short story is to a novel what a sniper rifle is to a shotgun. It’s a precision instrument – there’s no room to fuck about if you want to do the job properly. You can’t just paint the target and hope… you need to know exactly where you’re aiming, and how you’re going to get there.

Having just finished the first short story I’ve written in (cough!) far too many years – and prayed my trigger mechanism isn’t too rusty – it’s kind of led to something else…

Sticking with the analogy: is urban fantasy to epic fantasy what using a weapon is to just noising about it? It has to be real – you have to know exactly what you’re doing because people will bloody-well notice if you’re a bullshit artist.

If you’re an epic fantasy writer, you can make all sorts of cool shit up – a home, a battlefield, a drinking den, an historical date, a stupidly-oversized sword – as long as it’s a socio-cultural fit, you’re away.

Then you come to writing something set in London.

After a bit, it dawns on your little brain that you can’t make that shit up any more. If your characters have a home – you need to know where it is, you need to know what it looks like, you need to know where the closest Tube station is and what the streets are like at two in the morning. Are there pubs or clubs in the area – what time do they shut? Where (if you want to get really anal) do your characters go to get a pint of milk on a hungover Sunday morning?


With all this crap in my head, this afternoon I’ve been up in Camden. Not shopping, not even in the Market itself a lot of the time – but ranging that little bit wider. I’ve been on manoeuvres: the side streets, the backstreets, the suburbs, the churches and the tiny, forgotten parks. The normal places, the places that the tourists never go; the places that the cool guys with the facial piercings have no interest in… because no-one can see them hanging there.

What we see in any city – any place – is largely what we’re looking for. When you take a step back from yourself and what’s expected of you, and you go out looking for something new, it’s amazing what you’ll find.

The pen, it seems, it truly the mightiest weapon of all - it makes us aware. But I'm guessing we knew that...

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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Going Postal

What wonder is this – Bank Holiday viewing that’s fun, original, beautifully put together and has us glued to the screen for two hours on two consecutive nights?

It can only be Mister Pratchett.

Last night, my son dozed off on my shoulder and I sat, my arm going to sleep, absolutely bloody riveted. If I have a complaint, it’s that there were too many sodding adverts, thank you Sky!

But! A flawlessly paced and solid narrative, a charismatic performance by Richard Coyle as Lipwig, ably supported by the stern schoolmistress sexiness (it’s a cheap shot but, hell, it works) of Miss Dearheart. We fell in love with Stanley and his pins – the moment of his perforation genius brought twitter tears to many, I think. Stanley is the geek in us all, we decided – and it’s pure comic insight that takes a single, recognisable quality and turns it into loveable character with which we can all empathise.

Charles Dance made a beautifully austere Vetinari – but all were utterly upstaged by the outrageous ‘Evil Genius’ overacting of David Suchet as Reacher. He was bad, he was glorious – and he was kind of hot (sorry, that might just be me)…

The thing at which Sir Terry has always excelled is taking modern clich├ęs and referencing them in a Discworld context – so the three ‘x-files’ geeks who bust the code of the Clacks, the industrial regulations of the Golems, the media and corporate wars that made up a strong part of the story – and not forgetting ‘Extreme Pins’ magazine – all of these draw us in and bring the Discworld to vibrant life. We can identify with it, because it’s so close to our own experience.

Gorgeous set, snappy dialogue, perfect timing – and a wonderful cameo by the Man Himself at the end – what else is there to say?

One thing.

The final race sees the triumph of a book (more than one, if you include the ledger) over technology.

Perhaps Going Postal was making a point?

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