Author Archives: Ames
It’s December 21st 2011, 1 year to go until the Mayan calendar comes to an end. Many have interpreted this to mean the end of the world. The Apocalypse. Revelations. Judgement Day. The End.
Friday 21st December 2012 ~ TGIF takes on a whole new meaning.
There’s no question 2011 has been a tumultuous year. Both Mother Nature and mankind have suffered some extraordinarily tough times but do we really think the end of the world is nigh? The long dead Mayans may have simply decided to stop recording time at this date because they could not have indefinitely recorded every single day, month, year there ever could be. Today also happens to be winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, a date which marks the shortest day and longest night and vice versa, respectively. This may be why they chose to end their calendar at this point.
Let’s look at 31st December 1999 -The Millennium Bug. Many believed technology wouldn’t be able to cope with the turning of the century. The changing of digits, simple numbers. The year meant nothing to technology. It didn’t care. Only we did. Nothing happened. Dashed hopes and red faces were all we suffered, much milder than the predicted alternative.
But now we supposedly have a “credible” source for this doomsday theory. The Mayans. They’ve been lauded as the most developed civilisation for the age they lived in, established well before Christ. But again, is it our interpretation of the meaning of the end of their calendar that is wrong? Did the Mayans explicitly say the world would end on that date? No. Is there any scientific evidence to base this assumption on? No. So, is it likely the world and it’s inhabitants will still be around in 2013? Yes, although no one could ever say for certain. That’s life.
Freaky Friday ~ 11:11:11 on 11/11/11
Season two teaser of Game of Thrones narrated by Stannis Baratheon, the dead King’s elder brother.
The publishing industry, due to popular demand and profitability, are finally becoming less snobby about sci-fi and fantasy, according to The Bookseller. The genre has become hugely popular in the last decade with authors such as Terry Pratchett, J K Rowling, Suzanne Collins, George R R Martin and Charlaine Harris pushing the genre into the mainstream. So what’s hot right now?
Bram Stoker is responsible for catapulting the Vampire to stardom and since then it’s had a few revivals helped along by Anne Rice, Laurell K Hamilton and of course Ms. Stephanie Meyer with Twilight romanticising the blood-sucking creatures. Movies such as Blade and TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as those influenced by books such as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have flooded the market with all things vampire but perhaps we’ve reached our limit for now?
Just another form of undead, but far less glamorous. I don’t see any sparkling zombies seducing silly under-aged girls any time soon but there have been a few zombie romances -eww! Zombie movies have been around since the 1930s, many of which were made by George Romero. More recently we’ve seen Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Resident Evil, 28 Days, Shaun of the Dead, on TV now were watching The Walking Dead and next year we’ll see Brad Pitt starring in Max Brooks’ World War Z.
John Landis says “So many of these zombie movies are about the collapse of social order. Chaos. Anarchy.” At what better time would we have this on our minds than when we’re experiencing a global recession, the toppling of dictators, political protests are on the rise, and the potential collapse of the Euro and even the European Union with the worryingly impending resource scarcity, are on the horizon. Fearing the end of world as we know it is the perfect atmosphere for zombies to feed on our
flesh fear of what’s to come. It’s zombipocalypse time!
Although The Hunger Games wasn’t the first, it is most likely responsible for the recent explosion in the number of available books in the genre, especially in YA. What attracts teen readers to dystopian fiction?
Moira Young, author of Blood Red Road, says:
There are a number of opinions, but the main drift seems to be that books set in either chaotic or strictly controlled societies mirror a teenager’s life; at school, at home, with their peers and in the wider world. Let’s call it the “my own private dystopia” theory.
I’m going to offer a much simpler explanation. Teenagers like to read dystopian fiction because it’s exciting. It all comes down to the story. The story comes first, and the setting – extraordinary though it may be – is of secondary importance.
For the most part, dystopian fiction owes more to myth and fairytale than science fiction. These are essentially heroes’ journeys – they just happen to be set in an imagined future world. The hero, reluctant or willing, is just as likely to be female as male. Something happens – an event, or a messenger arrives bearing news – and the teenage protagonist is catapulted out of their normal existence into the unknown. They cross the threshold into a world of darkness and danger, of allies and enemies, and begin a journey towards their own destiny that will change their world. They will be tested, often to the very edge of death. The stakes are high. The adults are the oppressors. The children are the liberators. It’s heady stuff, far removed from the routine of everyday life.
The outer, global journey of the characters is matched by an inner, emotional and psychological journey. These are no cartoon superheroes. They, like their teen readers, have to deal with recognisable concerns and problems, including friendship, family, betrayal, loss, love, death and sexual awakening.
A new wave of dystopian fiction at this particular time shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s the zeitgeist. Adults write books for teenagers. So anxious adults – worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we’re leaving for the young – write dystopian books.
We create harsh, violent worlds. These are dark, sometimes bleak stories, but that doesn’t mean they are hopeless. Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope. It wouldn’t be right. We always leave a candle burning in the darkness.
No doubt the movies of The Hunger Games, the first of four (Mockingjay will be a two-parter) will be out next year, will elongate the Dystopia trend. There are a fair few books to be released in 2012:
…to Science Fiction?
I’m talking aliens, outer space, time travel, steampunk and other science-y themes. It’s been gathering steam (haha!) quietly in the background for a while now. But will sci-fi go supernova? In recent times we’ve had both a book and a movie of I Am Number Four, bestselling author Kathy Reichs has moved both into YA and sci-fi with a new series beginning with Virals, and Across the Universe by Beth Revis -have all done incredibly well.
Some 2012 releases:
Books like Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey and those by all ready big author’s like Patricia Briggs and Richelle Mead have given the fae a high profile but I think they’re on the decline. I can only think of a couple of new series based on the fae which have so far received a positive responses: The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis #1) by Sandy Williams, The Iron Witch (The Iron Witch #1) by Karen Mahoney, and A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair, #1) by Allison Pang.
Ever watch The Little Mermaid, sing “Under the Sea” and wish you could live under the sea? Then this is for you!
In 2012 we’ll be see the following released:
Although not waning as of yet, the popular angel trend driven by Hush, Hush and Fallen is fast-becoming over-saturated. If you’re not affected by it now then I predict most of us will be suffering angel-fatigue by 2013 at the latest. There are a good many angel books due out in 2012:
Staying within the biblical, religious and mythological realm but moving the focus onto everything surrounding death i.e. reapers, resurrection and reincarnation. There are a fair few due out in 2012.
Books on Fairy Tales have always been popular but that popularity has recently been reflected in TV with Once Upon A Time and Grimm both debuting this year. In the movies we’ve had Red Riding Hood and Beastly, both based on books of the same name, and next year there will be not one but two Snow White movies: Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Hunstman! There will also be movies like Jack the Giant Killer, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Pan (based on Peter Pan) and Enchanted 2 to name but a few. Is 2012 the year of the fairy tale movie or what?!
What do you think will be the next big thing?
Remakes are pretty popular with the movie-makers at the moment but not necessarily with movie-goers. Some are perfectly happy with the originals and let’s be honest, most remakes suck. Here are some of the remakes coming to the big screen in 2012.
Remake of: Judge Dredd (1995)
Release month: US ~ September | UK ~ tbd
Synopsis: In a violent, futuristic city, the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Stars: Karl Urban (Star Trek) as Judge Dredd , Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Makers also worked on: I Am Number Four (2011), Never Let Me Go (2010), 28 Weeks Later (2007), Sunshine (2007)
News & Trivia: Filmed in South Africa. Currently in post-production. Estimated $45m budget.
Remake of: Total Recall (1990)
Release month: US ~ August | UK ~ August
Synopsis: As the nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker (Farrell) begins to suspect that he’s a spy, though he is unaware which side of the fight he’s on.
Stars: Colin Farrell (Phone Booth) as Doug Quaid / Hauser, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Ethan Hawke, Bill Nighy
Makers also worked on: Fast & Furious 5 (2011), Die Hard 4.0 (2010), I Am Legend (2007), Underworld (2003)
News & Trivia: Currently in post-production. Preview of a Total Recall car.
Remake of: Dark Shadows (1966-71, TV show)
Release month: US ~ May | UK ~ May
Synopsis: A gothic-horror tale centering on the life of vampire Barnabas Collins and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves and ghosts. Based on the cult TV series.
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better…
Stars: Johnny Depp as Barnabas, Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Alice Cooper
Makers also worked on: Rango (2011), Inception (2010), Sleepy Hollow (1999)
News & Trivia: Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, both of which are being turned into feature films. Currently in post-production.
Pick of the Lot:
This is the one I want to see. The infamous threesome of Tim Burton, his other half Helena Bonham-Carter and friend Johnny Depp are always up to something interesting. I loved Sleepy Hollow, it’s one of my favourites. I’ve also never seen the original TV show or any of the reincarnations since then which is perhaps why I’m looking forward to it the most. You see, I’m still quite fond of the original movies of Total Recall and Judge Dredd even though they’re not the best films and haven’t aged particularly well.
Breaking assassin Jonathon Decker out of a maximum security prison on Trakis One seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, pursued across space by the two most powerful factions in the universe, the crew of El Cazador are having second thoughts. They’d like to give him back. Unfortunately, that no longer seems an option.
Jon is used to working alone. Now, he’s stuck on the space cruiser El Cazador until he can work out just what he’s supposed to know that puts him on everybody’s most-wanted-dead list. He s not happy that the crew includes a runaway priestess with designs on his virtue such as it is. Jon likes women, but he gave up the role of protector a long time ago, and Alexia, High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, is an accident waiting to happen.
After twenty-four excruciatingly boring years of doing her duty, Alex is finally having some fun. She never meant to run away it was a rash impulse and she means to go back eventually. But first, she’s going to squeeze enough excitement out of the situation to last her a lifetime. And what could be more exciting than a stunningly gorgeous werewolf?
Meanwhile, the Church are chasing their missing priestess, and the Collective are pursuing their escaped assassin. Being hunted has never been more deadly…or more fun.
Deadly Pursuit (Blood Hunter #2) by Nina Croft
Firefly with a paranormal twist. Better than Break Out, Deadly Pursuit continues from where BO we left off.
Al, the small teenage boy, turns out to be Alexia High Priestess of the Church of Everlasting Life, the 24 year old woman. Suffocating from boredom and lack of control over her high profile life she escapes, disguises herself as a boy and ends up on the spaceship El Cazador.
Both the Collective (people who’ve taken the expensive immortality treatment Meridian) and now the Church (believe in immortality of the soul which goes to heaven when they physically die) are chasing the crew for the recapture of Jon the werewolf assassin and the return of the High Priestess.
Despite her deception, the crew immediately defend Alexia. She’s one of them and they’re not going to hand her over if she doesn’t want to go. Jon, on the other hand, is wanted for an unknown reason, pointing to a conspiracy so they’re not giving him up after they were hired to risk their lives breaking him out of prison until they get some answers.
Alexia is instantly attracted to Jon. Unfortunately her disguise worked only too well, looking like a scruffy child. Her innocence is compounded by the fact that she’s a virgin who’s lived a sheltered life, and Jon doesn’t do virgins. He’s a rough, tough, manly 6ft 4 werewolf to her doll-like 5ft 1. He’d break her. But she knew what she wanted and was determined to experience as much of life as could before she was forced to return to her duty so the predator became the prey. Poor man, he had no chance. At least he has a new pack now i.e. the crew and a buddy in Rico despite him being a vampire.
Similarities to Firefly (Rico is Mal with fangs and a lust for blood) and the introduction of shapeshifters, my favourite supernaturals, meant I quite liked this. However, I’m slightly uncomfortable with how Alexia, seconds after being almost raped and killed on two occasions, jumped her mate-to-be’s bones. That struck me as wrong since she was beaten and manhandled. I doubt I’d feel up to it if I was in her shoes.
Tannis is next to be matched up with her crush Callum Meridian, the man who first took the immortality treatment and has been transformed by it. They’re hired as his bodyguards in the next book.
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…
Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Please, Sir. May I have some more?
Touch of Power may be mildly similar to Poison Study which does bring in an element of predictability but it doesn’t feel repetitive. This world is far larger and more complex than that of the Study trilogy.
Avry has been in hiding and on the run for 3 years and she’s tired of it. After people blamed the spread of the plague on healers, they’re captured and executed whenever they’re found. However, Avry can’t stop herself from healing fatally ill children and each time she does she must move on in case the child’s parents turn her in, though this time the sickness she’s assumed overcomes her and she’s captured. While in prison awaiting execution she’s approached by a man called Kerrick who breaks her out so she can heal his “friend”.
Unfortunately this friend is hundreds of miles away and with a bounty on her head the journey is dangerous even with Kerrick’s men accompanying them. When Avry is informed of who she’s to heal, she refuses because it’s a prince accused of inhumane crimes. Assuming his illness, the plague, would mean certain death for her. Sacrificing her life for a child is one thing, they’re innocent but for a cruel and powerful man -no. Kerrick reacts badly, punishing her until she changes her mind. She’s too stubborn so they try to change her mind in other ways while they travel.
On the journey she gets to know each man, saving her hate for the mysterious Kerrick. They teach her survival and fighting skills so she can defend herself. Along the way they begin to understand more about the plague, it’s link to the sentient network of huge human-eating venus flytrap flowers and the healer’s guild. They also encounter a real madman, Tohon, who can influence and read thoughts and emotions using it to gain more territory and power. His experiments are nightmarish and genocidal. Politics and intrigue ensue. There are many fighting for power in the game of
thrones kings in this post-apocalyptic fantasy.
The hundreds of miles Avry & co travel, and on foot, makes my feet ache in sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and Avry’s journey spanning about 6 months. I loved the high level of detail involved and the intricacies of the characters’ magical abilities. I laughed at the Men in Black moment when Avry shouts “Eat me!” to the mutant plant. In fact, I did a lot of laughing. Avry and her merry men grow to be a tight-knit family who jump at the chance to tease, compete and help each other. I was sad when a character died but I have a feeling we’ll see them again though I’m worried about how they’ll be changed by the experience. I wish I had a Papa Bear and friends like these who’d die for me if need be, and vice versa.
Kerrick and Avry’s relationship develops and evolves slowly as he learns how to handle his emotions. His desperate 2-year search for a healer and Avry’s stubborn refusal turns him into an unlikeable man but with the persuasion of his men he pushes back his anger and gets to know Avry and comes to understand what makes her tick. He shares his skills with her and they come to find they can share and enhance each others magic, something they never thought possible. I enjoyed their slow-burning combustible chemistry, Kerrick’s jealousy and finally his realisation that not every woman is like his ex Jael.
And can I just say I love these covers! It’s rare when I want both. One shows pure grit, determination and “power” (LEFT). The other, the delicate yet beautiful effect a “touch” can have (RIGHT).
I definitely look forward to the next installment of this series. Bring it on!
‘A few concerns are voiced consistently: YA’s transcendence may have come at the expense of middle-grade, which most believe is undersold. Picture books have yet to rebound. And within the YA category, there’s an industrywide case of paranormal fatigue.
“I was at a writer’s conference a few weeks ago and got four different pitches for an angel series in one day,” says Curtis Brown agent Ginger Clark, who was in London last month to shop her agency’s list to British publishers. “Almost all the editors I saw said they are not buying new paranormal. There was some agreement that readers might not yet have paranormal fatigue, but a lot of editors do.”
“Everything in my in-box is paranormal, but the problem is, I’m not interested,” Laughran says. “It can’t be just two shiny guys and a girl anymore.” Instead, the books that are going to be successful, she believes, are the ones that do something different with the paranormal elements. She cites Maureen Johnson’s just-released The Name of the Star (Putnam) as an example. “There’s a paranormal element, yes, but it’s super funny on one page and super scary on the next.”
But just as you’re about to classify paranormal as “done,” a press release from Sourcebooks announces Embrace, “the first in a multibook, paranormal romance saga debuting March 2012.” Another, from Bloomsbury, announces Diabolical (winter 2013), a paranormal thriller trilogy with “a dash of the creepy and supernatural on the side,” set at a premier ballet academy. Goldblatt teases that he can’t yet release the details of a sale he made recently (“waiting on the press release,” he says), but it involved a vampire novel that should have been “absolutely unsellable” these days. “And yet it did.”
With the forecast calling for hardcover YA fiction to continue selling strong, everybody’s on the hunt for the next book with potential to crack the toughest nut: the New York Times chapter book bestseller list.
Many believe (hope?) it will come from outer space; Clark of Curtis Brown has high hopes for a “straight-up science fiction” series she’s shopping titled The Julian Path by Washington Post writer Monica Hesse. But she gushes, too, over Code Name Verite by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion, 2012), a historical novel about two girls working in Britain’s Royal Air Force during WWII. “Oh, it will make you weep,” she promises.
Historical fiction as the next big thing? Who knows?
“Who would have thought that the next big thing after Harry Potter would be Twilight?” Goldblatt asks. “Followed by… Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Followed by… The Hunger Games? All it takes is one book to start a new trend and no one will see it coming. That’s the fun of what we do.”’
Extracted from “YA Comes of Age” by Sue Corbett [bolding mine]
Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer recently made a startling admission:
“We make a lot of shitty movies.”
In a speech made at the Savannah Film Festival Meyer made some very candid remarks regarding past and future movies. Here’s a summary of what he said:
3-D is only suitable for a small number of movies where it can add to the viewing experience.
Who cares about winning awards when there’s money to be made
“It’s great to win awards and make films that you’re proud of and make money, but your first obligation is to make money and then worry about being proud of what you do.” “But we did A Beautiful Mind, and I don’t know that we’d do A Beautiful Mind again. That’s the sad part.”
Low risk, medium budgets and average movies
“None of us would be able to do, or afford, what Jim Cameron was able to do with Avatar,” that kind of project is just too high risk which is why he recently turned down Ron Howard’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. For such a huge budget ($200m) he was worried about what they could make back on that investment. Clearly, from the past 5 years only Fast Five, Despicable Me and The Bourne Ultimatum grossed over $200m at the Box Office so it’s a legitimate worry despite interest from King fans.
Humanity on screen
Interested in making movies which show how great the human spirit is in the face of adversity.
New sources of revenue?
- Meyer would like to see if he can make money from Video-on-demand -making the movie available to download only a couple of weeks after they are released in theaters for a premium price of say $59.99. Unfortunately his attempt to do this with Tower Heist did not succeed due to fierce opposition from theater owners.
- There are plans to build more Harry Potter-themed amusement parks to capitalize on its success.
So, really in these hard economic times, Meyer is saying he hates the fact that he’s made crappy movies in the past but he can’t afford to take huge risks by spending enormous amounts of money on a project, not even if he believes it would be a multi-award winner because that doesn’t bring in the big bucks. Instead he’s looking to spend the least amount of money on using readily available techniques showing middle of the road fare aimed at family (or teenaged, at the oldest) audiences. He’s not willing to reach for the stars or develop innovative movies which could put them on the map.
If other production companies take Universal’s view, then perhaps this is why there are so few great movies these days. Few are willing to take a risk.