Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, Swords, Sorcery, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness
Monday, 31 January 2022
My love for - and personal connection with - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is well-documented on HeroPress, so it's no surprise that I'm really excited for this official sequel to the peerless original dropping on Netflix in a couple of weeks (February 18).
After nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town.
In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it.
With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Academy Award winner Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson, Midway) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, Game of Thrones) believes her.
These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find out that our Moon is not what we think it is.
Directed by Roland Emmerich, and written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser, and Spenser Cohen, the film also stars Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Eme Ikwuakor, Carolina Bartczak, and Donald Sutherland.
Another slice of inspired gonzo lunacy from the man behind popcorn masterpieces Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, Moonfall crashes into cinemas this Friday.
Saturday, 29 January 2022
Jean-Luc Picard and his crew prepare for a journey into the past in a race to save the galaxy’s future, and face the ultimate trial from one of his greatest foes.
Watch Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard coming to Prime Video on March 4.
On March 8, International Women's Day, Big Finish will be releasing the second of its female-led The Eight of March collections of full-cast audio adventures.
A particular highlight for me is the inclusion of a story focussing on Rani Chandra (Anjli Mohindra), one of the former young compatriots of Sarah Jane Smith (the late Lis Sladen) in the superb Sarah Jane Adventures on TV.
I've long felt Rani would make a fantastic companion to The Doctor, so let's hope RTD hears this audio and agrees with me!
The box set, which goes by the subheading of Protectors of Time includes three, hour-long, standalone stories:
Scattered through time and space, many women have crossed paths with the Doctor. Some were fellow TARDIS travellers, some were allies defending the Earth, and one was the Doctor’s daughter...Protectors of Time is now avilable for pre-order direct from Big Finish.
2.1 Stolen Futures by Lizbeth Myles
Romana and K-9 have stayed in E-Space to help an ancient and noble people, freed from their shackles. But first they must heal divisions in the ranks, and those who see a very different future for the Tharil race...
2.2 Prism by Abigail Burdess
Lady Christina de Souza is crashing an exclusive party in search of a priceless diamond. Out in deep space, time travellers Jenny and Noah collide with a strange diamond-shaped vessel. What is Prism? And what does it want with the Earth?
2.3 Turn of the Tides by Nina Millns
In the footsteps of Sarah Jane Smith, Rani Chandra is investigating strange weather phenomena, calling on an old friend for help – Jo Jones! But UNIT is also on the case, led by science officer Jac. Soon all three women will be on a mission to the Moon...
Friday, 28 January 2022
The first issue of the direct market, standalone, iteration of the Rebellion's new Hawk The Slayer comic is now available for pre-order via Diamond's Previews catalogue.
So make sure you let your friendly local comic book store - or online trader of choice - know that you want to sign up for Hawk The Slayer (Diamond code FEB221649).
Penned by comic book legend Garth Ennis, with gorgeous art by Henry Flint, the debut issue of the five issue mini-series is then expected in stores on May 11, with a cover price of £4.99 ($6.50).
A few years have passed since Hawk and his trusty band of warriors defeated the evil wizard Voltan, but Hawk is still uneasy, fearing that the Dark wizards have only temporarily disappeared and are due to return.A direct sequel to the cult 1980's movie of the same name (which also stands as the definitive Dungeons & Dragons movie to date), these comics will feature painted covers from Greg Staples.
Once again, Hawk must assemble a team of warriors to confront the returning evil.
The Mind Sword may be the key to saving the world, but is it also responsible for the resurgence of these ungodly forces?
A version of the title, without the Staples' covers, is being released in the UK, packaged with Rebellion's monthly Judge Dredd Megazine.
Rebellion already publishes an occasional RPG magazine, Adventure Presents, with each issue being its own standalone system, so a game about exploring the world of Hawk The Slayer would fit well there.
In Studio 666, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Foo Fighters move into an Encino mansion steeped in grisly rock history to record their much-anticipated 10th album.
Once in the house, Dave Grohl finds himself grappling with supernatural forces that threaten both the completion of the album and the lives of the band.
Directed by BJ McDonnell, Studio 666 stars Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett & Rami Jaffee and the cast also includes Whitney Cummings, Leslie Grossman, Will Forte, Jenna Ortega and Jeff Garlin.
Exclusively at Cinemas February 25.
|Doctor Who: Flux is also available as an Amazon exclusive steelbook|
Not only has the latest season of Doctor Who just been released this week on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK, but the BBC has also made available - via its Writers Room website - the scripts for all six episodes of Doctor Who: Flux.
The site has plenty of other scripts from the modern era of the show as well for your edification.
Now we just need Character Options to release some Flux-centric action figures: a Dan Lewis and Fugitive Doctor, at least, although a Karvanista, Professor Jericho, and The Ravagers (Swarm and Azure) would be rather cool additions to the collection as well.
In the late 1800s, a man arrives in a remote country village to investigate an attack by a wild animal but discovers a much deeper and sinister force that has the manor and its townspeople in its grip.
The brilliantly curated weird art blog Monster Brains recently published a portfolio of vintage posters for magic shows from the early 20th Century.
You really need to click here and go visit their glorious collection.
If nothing else, as well as simply being stunning eye-candy, these would make great props for Jazz Age roleplaying games such as Call of Cthulhu, Gumshoe, Capers etc
A small taste of the period posters follows:
Thursday, 27 January 2022
Since the end of last year I've been binge-watching the modern era of Doctor Who - from Christopher Ecclestone's Ninth Doctor onwards - and now have the naïve hope that I'll be able to reach the first episode of Flux before the start of the Winter Olympics (on Friday, February 4).
One thing that has struck me, particularly from Matt Smith's time onwards - when, watching an episode a week, I was losing focus on the 'bigger picture' - how much more I'm enjoying the later episodes than I did first time round.
In the intervening years I've dipped in and out of these stories, especially when I've caught them randomly on TV on a weekend afternoon and found myself drawn back in for a few hours.
However, now watching them all, in sequence, often several at a sitting, without breaks of a week (or sometimes longer) between each one, it almost feels as though I'm coming to them fresh.
I'm currently into Peter Capaldi's first season as The Doctor and really enjoying it.
I already love his final season, with the brilliant Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) as his companion, but now I'm pleasantly surprised by how engaged I am with these earlier stories.
These were ones that, as well as not penning episode-by-episode reviews on HeroPress as I had done up to that point, I wasn't even bothered about seeing the moment they aired (a shock to the system for a firm believer in 'appointment TV' viewing).
Instead I was recording them and watching them 'sometime' during the following week.
I never had a problem with Capaldi, my issue was always with the scripts, but I'm pleased to say that's changing.
I hope I have time to also binge through Jodie Whittaker's first couple of seasons, as planned, before the Olympics.
Those, too, suffered from a similar apathy at the time, even though I wrote largely positive reviews for her first season, I still had "issues" with the stories she was being given.
Anyway, the plan is to wrap this stage of my Grand Endeavour up by the Olympics, then afterwards return to Classic Who and either work my way through that with some kind of system or cherry-pick the stories I haven't yet reviewed on this blog.
I would also like to find the time to - separate from, but informed by, my current binge watch - return to the later Modern Who seasons I haven't yet reviewed and cast a critical eye over the episodes for inclusion on the blog.
If for no other reason than for completeness.
I'm even entertaining the idea of revising/rewriting some of my more critical reviews of some of the nuWho era with my more measured thoughts from this recent rewatch.
But then again there's only so much time and I am getting on a bit!
|Arthurian costume sketches by Philip Reeve|
My favourite author, Philip Reeve, has posted an update on his project to film his own low-budget Arthurian tale in the beautiful landscape of Dartmoor.
"...Queen Gwenevere sets off on an autumnal journey accompanied by one loyal lady-in-waiting and one rather grumpy young knight: along the way she’ll have one of those perplexing supernatural encounters which always await those who venture far from Camelot."As well as outlining the provisional plot, revealing that shooting will place in October, and announcing that he has already cast one of the key roles, Philip says in this latest update that he is still looking for a Gwenevere and a young knight.
"Gwenevere should be aged between 45-60, and the knight can be anything from late teens to late twenties... Some acting experience would be useful, and a knight who knows how to ride would be good too."
While I remember this trope - and have employed it in adventures I've written for games of Dungeons & Dragons - that's not the 'great danger' I remember most clearly from my youth that now doesn't seem to get a look-in.
That would be: spontaneous human combustion.
I have vivid recollections of reading about this phenomena in multiple Fortean Times-like publications (such as The Unexplained, from the early '80s) and books that I pored over as a youngling, every one seemingly running the same picture of the charred leg of a supposed victim of spontaneous human combustion.
Although the case remains a mystery, the pseudoscience of spontaneous human combustion has been ruled out as a cause.
But when I was a wee bairn (already blighted with an easily-triggered fear of fire because of an early exposure to The Amazing Mr Blunden at the cinema), this image seared itself into my brain.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't directly afraid of spontaneous human combustion, but for the longest time I was really convinced it was both a real thing and happening all the time around the world.
And yet since, probably, the 1990s I haven't heard mention of it.
However, in this age of idiotic conspiracy theories and science-denial, I'm expecting spontaneous human combustion to explode into our psyche once more.
Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Congratulations to The Asylum for slipping out a mockbuster of Moonfall - which already sounds like an Asylum film - just ahead of the real deal.
Party of Five's Jeremy London stars in Moon Crash, which is due for release on Tuesday (February 1).
A global steelworks company partners with an aerospace firm to mine the Moon. But when a drilling accident causes a giant piece of the Moon to crack off and hurtle towards Earth, the surviving space team and the head of the firm must figure out how to destroy the meteoroid before it wipes out the entire planet.I wouldn't be at all surprised if I ended up watching - and revelling in - both of these ridiculous disaster movies.
|Back In The Flesh!|
Previously On The Theoretical Science Foundation:
Exploring the alien planet they find themselves lost on, our heroes discover a cave where the errant Dr Crowe is being held prisoner by strange creatures.
The Tuesday Knights were back, live and in-person, around our table for our first gaming session since September.
It was time for more of Pete's 1950's GURPS Atomic Horror, wherein our plucky heroes find themselves trapped on an alien world and harassed by the strange, inhuman natives.
Sadly, our returning Antipodean member, Meredith, was unable to Zoom in (due to the fresh lockdown in New Zealand which meant her husband would be working at home, in the area where she would have joined us from) and Kevin had a prior family arrangement.
However, having missed September's "reunion", Simon was finally able to be in the same room with Pete, Clare, and myself for the first time since the pandemic began.
This morning he tweeted:
First face to face gaming with my IRL group for two years. We braved the terrors of Dimension X in GURPS Atomic Horror. Roll on next month when hopefully Prof. Crowe's transdimensional whatnot can be reversed. Some things just can't be punched.@acrobatic_flea— Elevated Pachyderm Press (@PressPachyderm) January 25, 2022
Meanwhile, Clare wrote of our get-together on her world-renowned Three Beautiful Things blog:
It is a really good thing to re-count the entire campaign from start to finish. Sometimes we forget what an achievement it is to meet up regularly and sling dice; and there is so much pleasure to be had in flipping back through notes recalling our adventures. Everyone remembers different details, and it helps a lot to share and fill in the gaps.After Clare - at Pete's request - had recapped the full campaign to date, with others chipping in as we recalled bits she'd missed, we picked up the adventure from the middle of the fight with alien critters that we had left at the end of our last session, four month ago.
|The cavern at the beginning of the evening|
Buck (my explorer character) tried to brazen his way through the insectoid aliens, to reach the imprisoned Dr Crowe in the far chamber, but was blocked by a particularly strong warrior.
While we were locked in a manly staring contest, Freya (Clare's photojournalist) used the old flashbulb trick to temporarily blind - and distract - the assembled aliens.
We used this brief reprieve as our opportunity to rush the strange beings and try to force our way through to Dr Crowe.
The fight - which took up the rest of the evening - saw, amongst other things, Buck using his shotgun as a baseball bat and taking out several foes; Dick (Kevin's G-man, being played by committee) getting splashed with acid and having to tear his clothes off (Aliens-style) to avoid severe burns; Fr Ned (Simon's priest) heroically battling a giant sabre-toothed caterpillar creature that has sprung on his back; Onyx (our NPC cat burglar, who will be Meredith's character) proving to be deadly with crossbow, pistol, and knife; and Freya, despite calling for aid early on, using her wits - and shooting prowess - to inventively bring down her opponents.
With the main beasties taken care of, we were left with the two gelatinous alien plants barring the entrance to Dr Crowe's "cell".
We knew one spat acid - as it had got Dick - but the other, it turned out, could explode itself and jettison a goo akin to napalm.
Thankfully - more by luck than judgment - we managed to eliminate both of these blobs without suffering any further damage.
|The cavern at the end of the evening|
However, I think everyone had been slashed, burned, stabbed, or cut to some degree during the scuffle.
Then, as we talked things over with the liberated Dr Crowe, Onyx was able to administer more through first aid to us all.
One of the first questions Dr Crowe - who, like us, has no idea where we are - asked was: had we left anyone on Earth to open the portal again so we could get home?
Of course, the answer was no!
To Be Continued...
- Buck Hannigan - played by me
- Dick Tate - played by Kevin (absent)
- Father Timothy 'Ned' O’Flaherty - played by Simon
- Freya Larson - played by Clare
- Onyx Jones - will be played by Meredith (absent)
Showrunner - Pete
Having a long-established love for this story guarantees I'll be checking this new iteration out.
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
Lockdown: The Doctor Who Fans' Survival Guide is a new 50 minute documentary, hosted by Ace herself, Sophie Aldred, about how Doctor Who fans around the world have coped with life during the current global pandemic.
Produced by Reeltime Pictures, which is responsible for the incredible Myth Makers series of interviews with Doctor Who cast and crew, Lockdown is an uplifting overview of the joy of having a hobby during such trying times.
A call went out to members of Doctor Who fandom to submit footage of what they had been up during the long months of being required to stay in their homes.
Shot on mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and cameras, this footage is linked by material featuring Sophie Aldred, best known as fan-favourite companion Ace to Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor, shot at The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi in Allendale, Northumberland.
From cosplay to cooking, art to crafting, singing to writing, and performing skits to binge watching Doctor Who, the documentary touches on the many ways creative fans have not only kept themselves entertained but also managed to involve - and check in on - other members of the community, while still remaining within safety guidelines.
Of particular interest to me, because of my hoarding tendencies, I loved the glimpses of people's various collections, which ranged from neatly archived DVDs of Doctor Who episodes and action figures right up to full-on Doctor Who-themed man-caves, complete with life-sized Daleks, Cybermen etc.
There was definitely some 'collection envy' from this neck of the woods.
Written and directed by Roger Stevens, Lockdown isn't an in-depth documentary, rather a fillip for these dark times, a good natured - even occasionally self-deprecating - celebration of the unifying power of fandom, even when its members are forced to stay at home.
The DVD includes a quarter of an hour behind-the-scenes package, following cameraman/producer Keith Barnfather as he films the linking segments with Sophie Aldred in and around the well-stocked sci-fi museum.
While not 'required viewing', Lockdown: The Doctor Who Fans' Survival Guide is a lovely reminder that in this day and age if you have a hobby or fandom you need never be bored or feel alone, no matter what the circumstances outside of your home.
|ENIGMA VARIATIONS: Believed to have originated in either a meteor or an asteroid, |
The Enigma is the world's largest cut diamond (Picture: Sotheby's)
This week we return to the mysteries and majesty of outer space for our selection of links to inspirational news items for Doctor Who RPG (and other systems) gamesmasters looking for story ideas, locations, non-player characters etc
THE ENIGMA FROM SPACE: The largest cut diamond on the planet, a unique, 55-sided, 555-carat black diamond known as The Enigma (that possibly originated off-world) is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in Dubai on February 3, and is expected to sell for at least $6.8 million! But, for our gaming sakes, does it have any special powers or arcane significance (possibly to an alien species)?
PROXIMA CENTAURI: The first extrasolar star to be visited by mankind thanks to the first faster-than-light spaceship, piloted by Susie Fontana Brooke, granddaughter of legendary Mars explorer Captain Adelaide Brooke. But what do we know about the closest star to our Sun?
THERE IS NO SOUND IN SPACE: In 2003, China's first astronaut Yang Liwei suddenly heard a loud knocking on the outside of his spacecraft. Looking out the porthole, he could see no obvious cause in the endless vacuum of space.
BLACK HOLE SUN: Could alien races have constructed Dyson Spheres around black holes to harvest their energy as power sources for their civilizations?
DEFORMED PLANET: The first "deformed" planet has been discovered, a rugby ball-shaped world (WASP-103b) in the constellation of Hercules.
WAR IN SPACE: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has published its "overarching" plan for operations in space, including the four key roles it believes it should play. Sounds like something UNIT would be involved in, right?
AURORA HUNTERS: The BBC talks to a variety of people, in Scotland, who are dedicated to 'chasing' The Northern Lights, aka The Aurora Borealis.
While investigating a child abuse case, a young social worker discovers that a supernatural entity is tormenting the family. To save the parents from losing custody of their child, she must confront her fears and use her clairvoyance to stop the malevolent force.
Written and directed by brothers Burlee and Abel Vang (The Tiger’s Child.)
They Live in the Grey stars Michelle Krusiec (Hollywood), Ken Kirby (Good Trouble, Dynasty), Ellen Wroe (For All Mankind, Shameless), Madelyn Grace (Don’t Breathe 2).
Premieres February 17 on Shudder.
|The most recently announced upcoming release for the Arkham Horror line|
Hopefully my mental and ocular issues with regards to reading are finally on the mend.
I'm certainly more inclined to pick up a book or a comic these days, I just can't guarantee how long I'll be able to concentrate on it.
However, that hasn't curtailed the collector in me pursuing books that pique my interest, with the idea that I will get round to reading them... one day!
A publisher of horror fiction that has been at the forefront of my thoughts for the last six months or so is Aconyte Books, which publishes a licenced series of novels inspired by the Arkham Horror boardgame, which, itself, takes inspiration from the worlds and mythology of HP Lovecraft.
Not only are the books a great read, but the cover art is rather special.
Some times you really can judge a book by its cover.
In my uneducated way I break them up into three styles: art deco, vintage film posters, and game art.
Check out the beautiful covers released (or scheduled for release) so far here in this post.
Aconyte also publishes original official Marvel novels as well as books based on other franchises, but it's the horror that drew me in and keeps me coming back to the well.