Click on book covers for reviews, previews and purchase options.
"RealmShift is phenomenal. If it’s not already on your bookshelf it should be."
"a gritty tale of blood rituals, mystery, and mysticism… grabs hold of the reader and doesn’t let go"
"A sinister tale of black magic and horror..."
"...stunning supernatural noir..."
"Everything about it is bang on"
“The best way for a writer to learn what’s really involved in brawling, short of going down the pub and starting something.”
"Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot." - Morpheus, The Sandman - Dream Country (Neil Gaiman)
"A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensly right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt." - Mark Twain
"At the beginning there was the Word - at the end just the Cliche." - Stanislaw J Lec
Black Feathers: The Black Dawn, Volume One by Joseph D’Lacey Published by Angry Robot Books UK ISBN – 978-0-85766-345-0 US ISBN – 978-0-85766-344-3
Black Feathers is the first volume in a new horror series by Joseph D’Lacey. The story follows two main threads simultaneously. We have young Gordon Black, a thirteen year old boy living in a slightly alternate version of our own modern day. In Gordon’s England, the world is sinking into economic collapse and being ravaged by various naturally destructive phenomena like solar flares and earthquakes. The land is ruled with an iron fist by The Ward, a combination of brutally right wing political party and zealous corporate conglomerate, driven by a greed for money and power. The people of most countries have voted The Ward into control globally after the successful lobbying of the party to convince the populace that only The Ward can protect the people against the swift descent into Armageddon facing them all.
Concurrent with this story is the tale of Megan Maurice, a young girl living far in the future, in a green and pleasant post-apocalyptic land where people have returned to living with the Earth, putting back as much as they take out and revering the Great Spirit and The Earth Mother. Megan is approached by Mr Keeper, a very revered holy man among the people, and he tells her that it is her destiny to walk the Black Feathered Path. This is a path of Shamanic learning, where she puts herself in the path of the stories of the Crowman, for someone must keep the tales alive in order to never lose the knowledge.
By now I’m sure you’re getting the feel for where this book is going. Gordon’s family are abducted by The Ward, but Gordon escapes and goes on the run. He is told he must find The Crowman, a terrifying creature of modern legend who some say is pure evil and others say is a force for good. As Gordon runs, the world descends quickly into its destructive cycle as the Earth Mother shakes off the scourge of humanity and The Ward are desperately hunting Gordon, as he is prophesied to usher in the end times, which is something they can’t allow if they are to maintain their grip on power and profit.
It should be quite clear by now that this is a book with a very clear and unashamed agenda. D’Lacey has an affinity for the Native American mythology of the Earth and it manifests throughout this narrative. The thing is, D’Lacey is a brilliant writer and while the message is something of a sledgehammer throughout, the story, the characterisation and the sheer beauty of the prose make that okay. This is an excellent story, very well told.
I’ve said many, many times here that reviews are the lifeblood of an author’s career. And reviews can mean literal reviews, posted at places like Amazon, Goodreads and so on, as well as reviews in newspapers and on dedicated reader blogs. But reviews can also refer to readers simply talking about a book they enjoyed with friends, family and colleagues. That may lead to those people buying the book, so it works just like reviews are supposed to. But not all reviews are created equal.
In essence, any review is valuable. Even if you didn’t like a book and you give it a bad review and a low star rating, it’s still useful to potential readers and it may lead a different reader to think, “Well, the problems that person had with the book don’t sound like problems to me, so I’ll give it a go.” And besides, you can’t please all the people all the time, so a good spread of reviews and ratings shows honesty and means we don’t start to suspect that Auntie Mabel and the Sockpuppets are the only people reviewing the book.
For example, American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a book universally recognised by readers and awards alike as being quite excellent. But not everyone likes it. On Amazon it has a 4-star average rating, but that includes 92 1-star reviews. (I’d be ecstatic with 92 reviews of any kind, but that book has over a thousand in total!) Anyway, my point is that not all reviews are going to be good ones and giving a one or two star review is fine. If you’re reviewing the book.
Wondering what I’m talking about? Look at this fucking idiot:
In case you can’t read that, it says:
Taming a Seahorse was good. However, Monday I purchased another Spencer book, and it took sooooooooooooo long to get to my Kindle, I was 20 pages into another book………………..
And the idiot gives the book a 1-star review. I’ve deliberately blurred the name, as I’m not here to witch hunt. It’s just one of many reviews I’ve seen that are like this. This “reviewer” is directly damaging the author’s career by reducing their rating average for reasons that are nothing to do with the author or the book and for things over which the author has no control. The “reviewer” even says they thought the book was good, but they’re giving it a one star review because the Whispernet service was slow delivering a completely different novel by the same author. The degree of stupid here is staggering. What the fuck did the author do to deserve this one star review, exactly?
It’s just petty hollering because the person wanted to have a moan about something publicly and arbitrarily tacked that whinge onto one of Parker’s books. If anything, they should have simply complained to Amazon directly (which, admittedly, is like trying to water a garden bed by pissing on the roof).
This is not an isolated, or even uncommon, incident. These fuckknuckles are everywhere. There are even blogs set up to collect all the reviews that are small nuggets of human idiocy distilled into illiterate paragraphs. This is one of my favourite examples of blogs like that, but I can never get past a few entries before the red mist of rage descends: http://leasthelpful.com/ Seriously, it starts off quite funny for the first one or two, then I begin to despair at the stupid, then, after half a dozen or so, I just want to go out and block the blow hole of a dolphin until it drowns. Then hit stupid people with the dead dolphin.
Reviews are awesome and anyone who takes time to review a book is a fantastic person who will be rewarded with cookies and whisky. But only people who review the book. If you’re using a review and slamming an author’s work in order to whinge about postage times, delivery networks, the fact that your dog shat in your bed (which you deserved, by the way) or anything else, then you’re a broken, stupid person and you should have your internet privileges revoked. Please, won’t someone think of the authors?
Dredd is the second attempt to make a movie from the incredibly enduring 2000AD comic strip, Judge Dredd. The last attempt, with Sylvester Stallone in the title role, was such a smouldering pile of crap that I refuse to say any more about it. Does the new version make up for that? Actually, yes it does.
Dredd is the story of a future Earth where nuclear holocaust has reduced the vast majority of the planet to radioactive wastelands full of mutants, generally referred to as The Cursed Earth. The surviving, unaffected members of humanity live in massive, sprawling cities that cover thousands of square miles, called Mega-Cities. The biggest of these, covering the vast majority of the east coast of the US and home to some 800 million people, is Mega-City One. Most people live in Blocks, mega structures of some 200 stories each. As you can imagine, people crammed in those kind of numbers into that kind of space means crime and violence are everyday dangers. The only line between the people and utter chaos are the men and women of the Hall of Justice, known as Judges. They are judge, jury and executioner, dispensing justice and sentence wherever they go. Of all the Judges, Judge Dredd is the Judgiest. An absolute law man, with a perfect working knowledge of every aspect of Mega-City One’s fascist and brutal justice code and a black and white eye for resolution.
This is a world and a society that has grown incredible detail over the decades, so to tackle the subject in a single 90 minute film is daunting, to say the least. The makers of this film, however, were smart and, after some opening sequences through Mega-City One, they locked two judges in one block and the rest of the film played out there. It’s the story of one particular crime boss, known as Ma Ma, and her control of the new drug Slo-Mo. When you take Slo-Mo, you perceive the world as passing at 1% its normal speed, which gives the filmmakers an excuse for some awesome and beautiful super slo-mo sequences. Also some truly brutal ones, but we’ll get to that.
Judge Dredd is saddled with a new rookie judge, Anderson. The rookie failed her test to become a judge, but only just. She does, however, have a pretty powerful psychic ability and the Chief Judge tasks Dredd with taking her out for a day’s assessment to see if the slight fail can be ignored if Anderson’s psychic abilities prove her to be a good judge on the streets. On investigating a triple homicide in Peach Trees Block, they find themselves trapped in Ma Ma’s web and the crime boss seals off the block with war protocols and orders everyone inside to find and kill the judges. Thus begins a Die Hard-esque fight for survival while Dredd and Anderson try to stay alive and dispense justice.
Seeing as I’ve been a fan of Judge Dredd since before my age hit double figures, I was scared about how faithful to the comics this film would be…
My latest reviews are up at Thirteen O’Clock. I’ve been enjoying Blackbirds and Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig. Excellent dark urban fantasy horror thrillers. Review excerpts below.
Blackbirds is a novel by notorious internet pottymouth, Chuck Wendig. Chuck’s online writing advice and sheer volume of bloggery is quite impressive and I was slightly dubious about wading into his actual fiction for the first time. I really wanted to like it, but wasn’t sure if I would. I needn’t have worried.
The story follows ballsy, attitude-ridden, hardass, Miriam Black, who has the power to know, from a single skin-on-skin touch, when a person will die. She’ll see in graphic detail, just once, the first time she touches a person, exactly how that person will shuffle off. She’s never wrong and she can’t change anything that happens. What she can do is make notes about the people who are going to cark it and be sure she’s nearby at the time to loot the corpse. That’s how she makes a living. Pretty dark stuff.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered just as he seems to spot her behind the killer. Miriam knows from experience she can’t save him, but if she’s there as he’s murdered, she’d better try, in order to save herself if nothing else.
Wendig delivers this story like shotgun blast after shotgun blast of action and smartmouthed dialogue. The characters, for the most part, are excellent. Miriam is a very well-conceived invention, a real basketcase, and Wendig manages her well.
Mockingbird is Wendig’s second novel from Angry Robot Books and the sequel to Blackbirds (which I reviewed here.)
Mockingbird picks up a year or so after the events of Blackbirds, with Miriam and Louis in some kind of stable situation. But this is Miriam Black, so we know that’s not going to last. Louis sets Miriam up with a job using her special power to see how people are going to die. A friend of his works at a school for troubled girls and wants to know if her suspicions of terminal illness are well-founded or not. Miriam reluctantly agrees to use her powers for good.
While at the school she touches a young student, a troubled teen called Lauren, and sees her suffer a hideous death, aged eighteen, at the hands of a particularly nasty serial killer. This leads Miriam to investigate further and she begins to uncover a lot of horror, murder and mayhem, dragging her through several twists, reversals and life-threatening scenarios.
Once again, Wendig showcases his excellent writing skills, with tight powerful prose, locked into the voice of his characters like a tick to exposed skin. The character of Miriam definitely grows in this book – she’s explored more deeply, we discover more about her background and what has led her to be the way she is. She also begins to realise what she is to become, where her own destiny lays.
There’s been a lot of stuff going around the interwebs lately about douchefucks paying for positive reviews, guerrilla reviewing their rivals with one star attacks, sock-puppetry and so forth. I blogged about it a little bit here and a web search will show loads of other people weighing in on the debate. The net result of all this is primarily twofold.
1. People are now distrustful of all positive reviews;
2. The real victims are readers, because now no one knows what or who to trust.
In some respects, this is only a small part of the bigger picture. Most people buy their books on the recommendations of friends, regardless of reviews. They trust certain outside sources, like book bloggers they respect and so on. However, reviews are a significant part of any author’s literary lifeblood. We will always get new readers when someone reviews a book, someone else sees that review and says to themselves, “Well, that sounds like it’s right up my particular stinking alley, I’ll give it a go.”
So we need people to continue reviewing. We need people, once they’ve read a book, to take a moment to leave a review and a star rating on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing or wherever they frequent. We need them to write about it on their blog, mention it on Twitter or Facebook or wherever they hang out socially. These things are easy and it shows great love for your favourite authors, so said authors get to continue squeezing word babies from their fetid brains for your amusement and delectation. It’s a symbiotic relationship and it works well.
That is, until these fuckmuppets and their sockpuppets start devaluing the whole thing for everyone else. (Incidentally, Fuckmuppet & The Sockpuppets is the name of my next band.)
Some people are suggesting that Amazon needs to address the problem. Some are saying they need to only allow reviews from verified purchasers, or only allow reviews from accounts linked to some third party verification. But there are massive problems with that.
The verified purchaser thing is a problem because what if someone borrowed a copy of a book from a friend and really liked it? What if they wanted to review it on Amazon? Or even if they hated it and wanted to review it. They can’t. People borrow books all the time, there’s nothing wrong with that. Or they buy them secondhand. Or they download them illegally. All these things deny the author a royalty, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s just how things are. What does matter is that those people can leave reviews which will help that author in the long term. Take away that option and you take away the ability for borrowers to give anything back to the author they enjoyed (or hated) so much.
And it’s not all about good reviews. People will pay much closer attention to a book with a whole range of reviews than to a book with only 5-star reviews. The more variety in the ratings, the more likely a person is to learn about that book and make an informed decision. You can’t please all the people all the time. An honest 2 or 3 star review can actually help to sell a book. What you don’t like might appeal to someone else.
The absolute last thing we need is for places like Amazon to make it harder for people to review books. If that happens, the douchefucks have won. The power is more in the hands of the reading public than it has ever been, and that power only retains its potency while it is easy to apply. Right now you can read a book from any source, then spend literally five minutes or less popping into Amazon and Goodreads and leaving a star rating and a couple of lines of review. You only have to type it once, then copy and paste it elsewhere. Take this review of RealmShift on Amazon from one Cathy Russell:
I liked that this story had believable characters and explored faith (or lack of), it’s origins, etc. It had a lot of deep themes. The characters were well thought out. The plot was engaging, and I liked the whole idea of a superhuman who could kick the devil’s ass. While reading this, I kept thinking it would make a great action movie or comic book too. I’d recommend this.
That’s a fantastic review (Thank you, Cathy) and would have only taken moments to write. She gave it four stars, too, bless her beautiful reading eyes. Now imagine if Amazon had required some particular hoops be jumped through in order to leave that review. She may still have done it, of course. But she may very well have not bothered. That would damage me as a writer and potential future readers.
I don’t think it’s Amazon’s job to police this stuff (beyond the obvious, like removing reviews flagged as hate, etc.) It’s up to us, the readers. BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL, it’s in our hands! We can fight the douchefucks with our minds and tappity typing fingers. I’ve compiled a list below of all the things you can do to help your favourite authors. And you can address authors you’re not so keen on using the exact same list. Because open honesty is what’s required. If we deluge the system with clear and open reviewing, then whatever douchefuckery these other bastards engage in loses its potency with every blow we strike.
At the same time, if you are one of those douchefucks who buys positive reviews, uses sockpuppets, sabotages your fellow authors with 1-star attacks or anything else, just fucking stop it already. You’re a scumbag and you make the world a worse place. Don’t game the system for your own selfish ends. Let the system work. If recent news is anything to go by, you’ll be found out in the end anyway. You’re just pissing in the shared flagon in the meantime, and that’s not on.
So, here’s that list I was talking about.
Whenever you read a book, take a moment to do the following:
Talk about the book, online and IRL. Tell people you read it and what you thought.
Tweet, Facebook, Google+, etc. a quick comment about it, like “I just really enjoyed/hated reading This Book by An Author.”
Go to Amazon, Goodreads or any other bookish place you frequent and click a star-rating.
If you have time while you’re there, jot down a few lines quickly about why you rated the book the way you did. You don’t have to be super eloquent or anything. Just honest.
If you have time, spend a bit longer on a more thoughtful review.
If you have a blog, maybe write a blog post about the book.
If you enjoyed the book, buy it for a friend, family member or colleague for their birthday or anniversary or just because you’re a hoopy frood.
If you hated the book, buy it for an enemy, because you’re cold like that, you mean sonofabitch.
If you’re part of a book group, suggest the book as a future read for your group.
Talk about the book, online and IRL.
You may have noticed that my list is in increasing order of time and effort. If you only do the first thing, that’s great. It’s better than doing nothing (which is why it’s repeated at the end). The more of those things you do, the better it is for everyone and the less of an impact the dishonest douchefucks will have.
So, take it away. And please comment with your thoughts on the subject and any suggestions you have for doing the right thing by authors and readers. Feel free to suggest additions to my list.
There’s a caveat to the title of this post, explained later, but I don’t mind a bit of sensationalism. So, this has come around again. It’s a subject that has cropped up a few times and usually makes the news cycle once in a while. It basically boils down to predatory fuckwits offering to write glowing reviews of any book (which they won’t bother to read) in exchange for cashmoney. Idiot authors jump on the bandwagon and buy those reviews in a desperate attempt to get their work noticed.
Most recently there’s this guy selling reviews for $99. Or 20 reviews for $499. For a cool $999 he would write you 50 reviews. On the one hand you have to admire the entrepreneurial spirit. On the other hand, you have to say, “Fuck you, pond scum, why are you devaluing the work of legitimate authors and reviewers everywhere!?” To which he’d reply, “Because it makes me around $28,000 a month!” and you can’t really argue with that. Well, you can, but clearly there are no ethics or morals involved here, so applying our own is pretty pointless. His business has failed, thankfully. More on that later.
Of course, it’s not just this guy. From that article:
[Bing Liu, a data-mining expert at the University of Illinois, Chicago] estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.
Well, boil my nuts in the tears of angels, what’s the fucking point? Why don’t we all just buy the reviews we need? The guy in the article linked above has some of the best weasel words I’ve ever heard. How’s this:
“I was creating reviews that pointed out the positive things, not the negative things. These were marketing reviews, not editorial reviews.”
The fuck does that mean, exactly? He’s likening the reviews to back cover blurbs, but that’s bollocks. Reviews are valuable because they’re impartial. We know that blurbs aren’t. He can “reason” it out any way he likes, he knows he’s lying. Misrepresentation.
Anyway, this particular story has a happy ending. The business was ratted out and subsequently failed, for which we can be thankful. The guy says he regrets his venture into what he called “artificially embellished reviews”. Which is good. At least he realises that what he did was wrong, so there might be hope for humanity yet. Shame he couldn’t admit even then that he was lying and misleading people. Just “artificially embellishing”, but there you go.
Here’s the thing, as far as I’m concerned. Paying for a review is not necessarily a bad thing. We all want to get noticed. We all want our work to fall before the eyes of more readers and reviews definitely help that. I’m always going on about reviewing. If you read something, review it! Two lines and a star rating at Amazon and Goodreads can make a massive difference. People are really busy and everyone needs to make a buck, so someone charging money for reviews is not neecessarily a bad thing. I’ve said that twice now in this paragraph and there’s one very important word that I’ve deliberately left out. That word is “good”. Paying for good reviews sucks Satan’s rancid balls, because you’re corrupting the system and devaluing the work of everyone. Paying someone to read your book and honestly review it, however, is fine. That’s a very important distinction.
I’ve never done it, but I wouldn’t completely write off the possibility. Getting reviews is hard and if someone is prepared to take a free book and a small fee, with the guarantee that they’ll leave an honest review in a variety of places, I see that as a good thing. Sure, you might be paying for someone to tell you, and the entire internet, that your writing sucks, your book is crap and no one should buy it unless they run out of toilet paper. But that’s what you always do when you send a book off for review. And when you do send it off, it might never actually get reviewed. Adding a few bucks to ensure it does makes sense. And if you’re told it’s shit, you know to try harder next time. Maybe listen to the advice of your writers’ group and beta readers. Or get new ones. Or something. Just don’t pay some schmuck to guarantee you a good review. You’re cheating your future readers, you’re cheating yourself, you’re cheating the very fucking concept of honesty. And the only one who really benefits is the person charging you for their artificially glowing review. If your book is good enough, it should hopefully get some good reviews all on its own. Regardless, it should garner some honest reviews over time. Hassle people about reviewing it. When people tell you they enjoyed it, ask them politely, ever so nicely, prettyplease can they put a quick review somewhere.
But, most importantly of all, please honestly review what you read. Lead by example. Make it a habit to add a line or two and a rating on a handful of sites every time you finish a book. Or even just one site of choice, like Goodreads. Whether you like it or not. A broad range of honest reviews will do wonders and takes no time at all. And if everyone got into that habit, we’d have fewer predators out there using sock puppets (multiple fake online personas) to leave bullshit reviews. And when you do find those people, don’t grab a pitchfork and a gang of friends and give them a good, old-fashioned online lynching. Why waste your time? Report them to the sites in question and let the policies of those sites deal with them. Then get on with your day, read a book and review it.
We love you when you review our work. Don’t let the sharks spoil it for everyone. Now I’m off to Goodreads to fill in a few gaps in my own reviewing.
(And if you’ve read any of my books, prettyplease can you put a quick review somewhere? And if you want to read my books and will leave me a review, drop me a line and I’ll send you ecopies for nothing, if you promise to leave an honest review at Goodreads and Amazon. Can’t say fairer than that, eh?)
Blade Runner is still the greatest movie of all time. Alien is still the benchmark movie by which all space-horror should be measured. It’s hard to believe that the man who brought us these amazing films is also responsible for the execrable mess that is the long-awaited Prometheus. I saw this movie last night and I’m still angry about it. I had to teach a tai chi class this morning and it was hard because underlying my calm, professional exterior was a seething, unavoidable rage at a film that couldn’t have been more shit if it actually tried to be the shittest film ever made. There will be spoilers here, but don’t worry – you should save your money and not see the film anyway. But I’m assuming most people have seen it already.
From a simple film-making point of view, it was a stunning achievement. The design, the effects, the atmosphere were all excellent. But that matters not when the story makes no sense. Seriously, a script written by randomly pulling letter tiles from the Scrabble bag would be more coherent. Now, before anyone thinks I’m totally missing the point, I know it’s a massive allegory for Creationism with an extremely heavy Christian agenda, brutally mixed with various other mythologies. It is written by Damon Lindelof, after all, who brought us the atrociously unacceptable Christian Shepherd ending to Lost. (Talking of scripts that make no fucking sense.) That allegory would annoy me anyway, in this case even more so as it’s rammed down our throats like a face-huggers egg tube. But I might be prepared to forgive the great exogenesis bullshit if it was tied into a credible story. But it’s not. It’s so far from a credible story that the film should be called The Great Incredible Anti-Story.
It should have been awesome. The cast are one solid bunch of capable professionals, but they can’t be expected to save a film when the script is delivered to them as shit stains carefully shaped into letters on used toilet paper. That’s the only way I can imagine that this script was “written”. The character inconsistencies and plot holes in this film are breath-taking. I’ll just look at the first few things we see:
We open with a possible Earth and a huge, white, muscly alien dude drinking some goo that disintegrates him and seeds the planet with his DNA. Okay, I was prepared to buy that – there are surely better ways to mix their DNA with the goo, but if they use this whole sacrifice method, then sure. It’s absurd, but I’ll roll with for now.
Cut to humans investigating cave paintings. They spot a recurring theme – big dudes pointing at six dots. With absolutely no evidence or explanation whatsoever, this is interpreted by a Christian scientist as an invite by Von Daniken’s aliens to come and visit. Why!? What possible reason could there be to immediately assume that’s an invite? Well, we’re told later in the film, “Because that’s what I choose to believe.” Fuuuuuck!
Anyway, this is enough to trigger a trillion dollar expedition to the planet in question. Wait, they found a planet in the vastness of infinite interstellar space using a cave painting of six dots? Yes, they did. Apparently. Because “plot”.
So they fly there and there’s this moon, right, and that’s where they’ve been invited to. So they break orbit, cruise in, see a big mountain and say, “Let’s cruise that valley.” They turn a corner and voila! There’s the alien installation. How do you instantly find the correct valley on a planet the SIZE OF A PLANET!? On top of this, we later learn that this isn’t the homeworld of these big, white, muscly alien sacrificial DNA vendors, but it’s actually a massive production depot for weapons of mass destruction that they intend to use to destroy humanity. Why did the cave paintings “invite” humans to their massive WMD moon? What the fuck possible reason could they have for that? Anyway, back to the timeline. (Bear in mind that I’m only a few minutes into the film at this point.)
The crew immediately decide to explore this installation and send off these 3D mapping drones. Without waiting for the mapping to be finished or for any explanation of why the air is suddenly breathable and not full of pathogens, they take off their helmets and start running around inside, because complete lack of science or any kind of brain.
Suddenly and for no discernible reason, a holographic history lesson starts up and tells them things they need to know, because “plot”. Incidentally, this same inexplicable hologram happens later, giving androidDavid the password flute tune he needs to operate all the things. Yes, you read that right. Aliens with massively advanced technology turn their computer systems on with a quick tootle on a flute. Sure, that could be conceived as a very clever password system, assuming you don’t have a randomly triggered hologram show up and give that password to anyone who happens to come along. Why were there holograms of past events showing up all over the place!?
Anyway, back to the opening twenty minutes of the film. Our intrepid selection of the most unscientific scientists ever assembled discover the fossilised remains of a big alien. The geologist immediately freaks out and says, “I’m only here for money and rocks, fuck this noise” and says he’s going back to the ship. He asks if anyone else is going and the biologist says, “Yep, fuck this noise.” The biologist! The one who is presumably along on the trip because he’s really into biology and that, yet he’s not going to investigate a new, alien species. So off they fuck. And even though the geologist is the one with the mapping drones, and even though those drones are live-feeding a three-dimensional layout of the entire complex to the ship, and even though the ship is in constant contact with everyone and can see on the map exactly where everyone is at all times, the geologist and the biologist get lost and inexplicably left behind.
They end up stuck there as a convenient plotstorm comes out of nowhere and decide to wait it out in a scary room full of inexplicably replicating alien goo. Then a weird alien snake thing appears. The biologist, who was moments ago terrified of a 2,000 year old fossilised humanoid, is suddenly and inexplicably besotted with this up-standing, threatening, hooded, hissing alien snake thing. After all, he’s a biologist, so he’d know you never have to be concerned when a snake thing that pops out its hood stands up and starts hissing at you. That’s completely unthreatening. So he tries to play with it and it kills him. And sprays acid blood on the geologist. All because “plot”, of course. Incidentally, said geologist, who dies facedown in the goo, comes back later as a violent zombie-hulk thing. For no reason at all he travels back to the ship all folded over like some contortion-zombie showing off his crazy, uncanny crab walk, then just stands up and fights everyone like a normal zombie-hulk until he’s burned to a crisp. And just going back to that snake thing – where did it come from anyway? We can only assume it spontaneously evolved from the black goo in a couple of hours because.
Anyway, I’m going to stop now. You’ll have a pretty good idea of just how fucking awful this movie is and I’ve barely scratched the surface of plot holes and character stupidity – people who see worms in their eyes but don’t seek medical help, for example. Or people who die because they can’t turn left or right while running. And so on. Not to mention the complete lack of any consistency in any of the “science” randomly thrown at the film like poo from the monkey cage.
Other people have done excellent work deconstructing this piece of shite from various angles:
One of the best things about the modern world of publishing is that there is more good stuff available, and it’s easier to get hold of, than ever before. Small press and boutique publishers are springing up everywhere and, along with indie and self-publishers, they’re giving the “big six” more of a run for their money than ever before. I think this is great, as it really does give an outlet for pretty much anything. There are still gatekeepers in the form of all the hard-working editors at those small and boutique presses. Hopefully there’s still control in content from the self-publishers, as they should be employing editors and proof-readers and cover designers to make their work the best it can be. Of course, a lot aren’t and, whether indie, small press or big six, there’s an awful lot of shit out there.
So, this is where everyone else steps in. That’s you and me, the readers and consumers. I’ve blogged before about readers as gatekeepers and this post is an expansion of that. In part, this is simply a reminder of that post – you’re a reader, so you have the power to share the good stuff by reviewing and/or rating it on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog and so on. Keep doing that.
But the expansion is this – do your reviews regularly and honestly. If you see a book on Amazon and it has ten five star reviews and nothing else, it’s altogether possible that it’s really that good. Or it’s equally possible that ten friends and family of the author posted a review and nothing more. A lot of value is added to a book when there’s a variety of reviews and ratings. A book with ten reviews that are a mix between three, four and five star reviews is a lot more likely to be something reviewed by a variety of people who actually read the book. You can read their comments and get a real feel for the book that way and decide if it’s going to work for you. That’s kind of thing is far better for authors.
I can understand not wanting to give a bad review. That’s fair enough, and if you really hate something you can just choose not to review it. If you feel you want to review and mark it poorly with only one or two stars and explain why, then that’s great too. If you’re clear about what you didn’t like, others can get value from that. What pissed you off might actually attract another reader with different sensibilities. The honesty of a range of reviews from a variety of readers is far better for an author than just a few dollops of glowing praise that won’t really move anyone reading them.
So please, don’t forget to review. It takes hardly any time, it’s incredibly easy with places like Amazon and Goodreads, and it’s invaluable for authors. If you enjoy their work, think how much time and effort was involved in making it and spend a few of your own precious minutes clicking a star rating and typing a few words of opinion. It doesn’t have to be much at all, just a couple of comments about why you did or didn’t like the book and the author will love you for it. Be honest. If I get a three star review and, “I liked this book and would recommend it. Not the greatest thing I ever read, but worth your time” then I’m as happy as Larry. (Who is Larry, anyway?)
Of course, I much prefer four and five star reviews, because I love it when people enjoy my work enough to praise it that highly. But any review is helping me out one way or another.
Review everything. Review honestly. Be a pal to all the authors.
The website of author Alan Baxter
Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.
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