Monday, 23 July 2007


After messing about, for a week or so, on 'social network' website FaceBook, it was time for Pigasus Press to launch into MySpace. Sad but true...

Wonder how long the latest website presence will stay clear of rubbishy adverts, idiotic comments, and nonsense postings from so-called 'friends' that I've never heard of before?

Friday, 20 July 2007

DVD column

A quick plug for Interzone #211 (July-Aug issue), which includes my first column of DVD reviews (covering Neverwhere, Headspace, Charmed, A Woman In Winter, The Lost Room, White Noise: The Light, Gamebox 1.0 and Forbidden Planet) for the magazine. If you can't find IZ in the shops, go subscribe, and order direct from the publisher T3A Press.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Launched a group, Spank Utopia, on the Face Book website...
Newcomers always welcome, SF knowledge is not essential, but a good sense of humour would certainly help.

Just received a batch of interesting books from UK publishers Duckworth, including novel Harm (which, gazelle-like, jumped to the top of my must-read stacks) by Brian Aldiss.

Sunday, 15 July 2007


Had a go at clay pigeon shooting, yesterday. As complete novice to the country sport, I approached it as entirely recreational not competitive, so it didn’t matter that I was last in the overall scores. I was quite happy enough that, in one instance at least, I did manage to hit both ‘birds’ with a single shot - which, clearly, is the main object of this particular exercise.

The venue was a shooting range, on farmland off East Lane, near Horringford. The weapon I used was a 20-year-old Winchester ‘Diamond Grade’ over/under 12-gauge shotgun. When I (very nearly!) got used to the heft and recoil, I did like the way it ejected spent cartridges with the ‘breaking’ action. That bit was… um; cool, especially when I got both shells to jump straight into the nearby bin, instead of hitting anyone standing behind me.

Judging from how experienced gunmen (of Island Practical Shooting Club) helpfully explained the required techniques for proper stance and aiming, it seemed to me this sporting activity attempts to re-train our basic stone-throwing skills into a different tool-user’s reflex. Although the old hands made it look easy, it’s rather more difficult to hit moving targets than I’d imagined. Overall, it really was great fun (I can still smell the gun smoke), for an afternoon in the woods with shotguns. Thanks to John, Dave, and my brother Stephen, for their patience.

Friday, 13 July 2007


Forgot how much I hate working in the garden... With my brother on Flymo duty (and one burnt out electric mower later), and with help from a strimmer-toting neighbour, we managed to get the grass cut and the paths cleared of weeds, so the front's about done, though it doesn't really qualify as 'lawn' space. Ordered a petrol-motor brush-cutter from Screwfix, to tackle the forbidden jungle that I laughingly call my back garden. Weather not in our favour so far this month, however.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


Got my account on set-up and working now. It seems easier to figure out than other social networks online. That's probably not surprising, though, as it's certainly much clearer in layouts & content than MySpazz (as it's been called).

No if only I could figure out how to feed my posts here into Facebook!

Monday, 9 July 2007

Die Hard 4

Saw Die Hard 4.0 last night... It's a big-scale action-thriller, very much in the summer blockbuster manner, with some great visuals, spectacular stuntwork, but nonsense plotting, the weakest villain in this franchise, and overly commercial appeal (complete with essential happy ending to please US audiences), which leaves this movie with an overall score of only 7/10.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Tibor Takacs

Hungarian-born film-maker, Tibor Takacs, has made a consistent living out of mining offbeat genre themes in quality B-movies, starting in 1978 with the rarely-seen Metal Messiah. Like many fans, I first came across his work in the late 1980s, with the video release of supernatural horror The Gate (1987), followed by stylish fantasy-chiller Hardcover (aka: I, Madman, 1989). He made a sequel to The Gate in 1992, and directed five episodes for the mid-1990s revival of The Outer Limits, tackled TV erotica in episodes for The Red Shoe Diaries series, and turned to modern noir with Deadly Past (1995), before teaming up with action star Mark Dacascos for a batch of routine thrillers, the best of which was sci-fi adventure Armageddon (aka: Redline, 1997), co-starring Rutger Hauer.

In 1998, Takacs went on to launch the Gene Roddenberry-created sci-fi TV series Earth: Final Conflict, and has also contributed episodes to TV series like The Crow, and Sabrina: The Teenage Witch. The director's more recent films include such varied projects as Nostradamus (2000), Rats (aka: Killer Rats, 2003), and Black Hole (2006). The last of these is a sci-fi apocalypse in which subatomic research using a particle accelerator threatens St Louis when a micro black hole is accidentally created on Earth, unleashing an energy draining 'electrical entity' upon the city. Judd Nelson and Kristy Swanson play the scientists fighting against military paranoia and gross stupidity (the US army general wants to nuke the black hole!), and figure out how to use sound waves (a borrowing from Day Of The Triffids, perhaps?) to lure the electric monster back towards the 'gate' that allowed it entry into our world.

If the film's basic plot sounds a bit familiar to SF readers, it does hark back to 1950s' pulps and Twilight Zone stuff, but also has echoes of more recent formidably hard-SF novels like Cosm by Greg Bear, and Artifact by Gregory Benford, but that's not to say Takacs' Black Hole movie offers anything resembling a proper take on hard-SF themes, as it's simply a topically quantum-theory inspired action adventure with a disgruntled yet heroic scientist, who almost single-handedly saves the planet from destruction. Still, despite its typically stereotyped characters and humdrum wannabe blockbuster plotting (with CGI visuals depicting the televised collapse of St Louis landmarks into a swirling vortex of debris surrounding the growing black hole's event horizon), this is worthwhile viewing if you enjoyed similarly themed disaster pictures like The Core.