2.28.2013

Post Script on Dredd Show ...






In case you missed it, Swords and Space Radio episode III, talking about the film Dredd is available for download HERE. One thing we forgot to do, was give the "rating" to parents on "recommend" and for "what ages."

While I recommend it, Dredd is definitely a film for adults, or at the very least mature older teenagers. I would not allow anyone younger than 16 to see it, I don't think, due to the very "no holds barred" violence in the film and some brief sexual suggestion. Mostly the violence is the concern though, since nothing is held back and quite a few people get killed in messy fashion. It isn't to the level of gratuitous "violence porn" but certainly only fit for mature audiences.

2.25.2013

Your Bi-Weekly Update #15

The theme of this winter -- illness -- has continued to keep me out of action. The last time I took a sick day (and that was only a half day) was in 2009. I'm NEVER sick, but this winter, starting in November, I've taken a real beating. Here's hoping that once the spring weather comes, health and reinvigoration regarding writing returns!

  1. Tomorrow evening, I'll be hosting Episode III of Swords and Space Radio along with my good friend Stephen Heiner and guest Brian Pauls to discuss possibly the best film of 2012, Dredd. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope you'll join us:

    Swords and Space Radio III: Dredd 02/26 | Blog Talk Radio
  2. Speaking of Swords and Space Radio, it's been very successful so far. Our Game of Thrones show already has more than 2000 downloads and the Canticle for Liebowitz show is just shy of 700. So definitely a lot better ratio of effort:results than blogging. As such, I'm afraid content may continue to slow here although I'd like to focus more on posting short stories and comics to the blog. Please note that I've added a list of Swords and Space Radio shows to the top of the right-hand sidebar.
  3. Haven't gotten any writing done, not even the "flash fiction" I was thinking of, but I did get a bit more work done on my Warhammer 40k stuff. Finished off my unit of first unit of Sanguinary Guard last night. I'll post a proper picture of the finished product this week (probably Friday).

2.23.2013

Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman (Book Review)


Title: Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman  
Author: Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Publisher: Bantam
My Rating: 2.5 stars our of 5
Summary in a Sentence: The 30-years-in-coming sequel to A Canticle for Leibowitz which shows flashes of the original's brilliance, but on the whole ends up being a disjointed and lacklustre, though interesting, parallel novel to the classic original.

This is one of those books that a really wanted to like, and which had many elements that I did like, but in the end must be called disappointing and perhaps mediocre. Although, to be fair, it did grip my attention sufficiently that I kept reading it every lunch break until it was done which cannot be said for other novels like Witch World which I've been "working on" for 6 months and just cannot get into it. I finished off Saint Leibowitz in less than a month despite continued illness.

The main character, Blacktooth Saint George, is one of the main problems with this work. He's basically a narcissistic, self-centred, whiner. At the beginning of the novel, this is forgivable, as he still has a certain likeability about him, a charming naivete, and he is still struggling manfully to overcome his demons. So one expects him to develop into a good protagonist, but rather than develop he tends to stagnate and even regress over the course of 450 pages. As far as I was concerned, he'd devolved into a thorough donkey cave by about page 300 and did not redeem himself by the end.

The good of the work is the worldbuilding. Taking place around the time of the second novella in the classic original, this work fleshes out the post-apocalptic North America A LOT more. This was very well (and thoroughly done) and enjoyable. Aside from Blacktooth Saint George, there were a number of interesting and likeable secondary characters, although some of them seemed to disappear around the halfway point of the work.

The plot tends to jump around a bit too, and the end seemed very rushed. In all, the novel really felt like something that a man had struggled with for 30 years and then had it finished by someone else who was unwilling to input too much of himself into the work, and therefore leaving blanks instead. It definitely had flashes of Miller's brilliance from the original and many memorable individual scenes. But as a whole, the work just does not hold up. It is also a much more depressing and "dark" work in the "Song of Rape and Torture" vein where there are few real good guys and everyone does lots of very bad stuff (some of it seemingly for no reason) evincing a tortured soul who, if he hadn't lost his faith, was on the verge of it.

2.13.2013

Tonight's Show Cancelled

Apologies to Swords and Space Radio listeners, but I am forced to cancel tonight's show by my continuing illness. I am better than I was yesterday, but certainly not well enough to give you the quality of show you deserve. Therefore we're cancelling and we'll reschedule The Hobbit show anon.

Our next show will be 26 February, discussing the best film of 2012 with return guest Brian Pauls:

Swords and Space Radio III: Dredd 02/26 | Blog Talk Radio

2.12.2013

Today's Radio Show Delayed



Apologies to anyone planning to listen live, but I've had to move tonight's Swords and Space Radio episode on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit back a day due to illness on my part. I just am not up to doing a radio show (or much of anything other than sleeping) tonight. We hope to do the show tomorrow evening at 9 pm.              

Swords and Space III: The Hobbit 02/13 | Blog Talk Radio

2.06.2013

Judge Dredd: Coming Soon to a Street Near You?


I try not to be an alarmist, but in my day job as a criminal lawyer, my observation is that there is a slow creep in Canada, the U.S. and Britain away from civil liberties and an erosion of due process. There are already aspects of a police state at play, in my view, and I think this is a reason why the Judge Dredd comic resonates with so many people and especially with me. I just think of one case I'm working on where literally all of the evidence that the Crown intends to use against my client would not have been admissible 20 years ago (and had inadmissible since at least the 17th century). Yet it will probably all be admitted when we get to trial.

As part of a different case I recently argued in Court, reference was made to a particularly disturbing passage from an October 2012 decision of the Canadian Supreme Court, Her Majesty the Queen v. Boudreault, "anyone found inebriated and behind the wheel with a present ability to drive will — and should — almost invariably be convicted." The Crown Attorney certainly asserted that this passage means what it says: any person found drunk in the driver's seat of the car, regardless of his intentions and what he's actually doing there, should be convicted.

The Canadian parliament and courts, at the behest of MADD, have certainly been heading in that direction. In British Columbia, the authorities have taken a different tack, instituting draconian Highway Traffic Act laws that allow police to impound vehicles and suspend licenses on the spot (rather than resorting to Criminal Code) charges when they encounter suspected drunk drivers. Now, while stopping drunk driving is a laudable goal, annihilating due process, is not the way to do it in my opinion. But in any event, it certainly smacks of a precursor to a Judge Dredd-style system where the police act as judge, jury, and executioner, dishing-out on-the-spot "justice" without a trial.

2.04.2013

Your Bi-Weekly Update #14


I'm back home for a family funeral right now, but there are still a couple items of import to report:
  1. My friend Matthew Zepf launched a new science fiction/fantasy website this weekend. It is brand-new so it may still need a bit of polish, but there's already a lot of good fiction there. I've added a link to the sidebar. Please check out the site here: www.bravsindex.com
  2. In case you missed it, last week's Swords and Space Radio episode on A Game of Thrones may be downloaded here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/restorationradio/2013/01/30/swords-and-space-radio-ii-a-game-of-thrones; also, be sure to tune in on the 12th of February for our show on The Hobbit with the aforementioned Mr. Zepf as our guest:

    Swords and Space III: The Hobbit 02/12 | Blog Talk Radio
  3. I must confess no writing has been done since my last update.

2.02.2013

Dredd (Movie Review)


Title: Dredd
Director: Pete Travis
Studio: DNA Films/Lionsgate
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, and Lena Headey
Excellence: 4 stars (out of 5)
Summary in a Sentence: A bomb at the box office that is destined to be a cult classic on par with Blade Runner for it's excellent portrayal of a post-apocalyptic future, good acting, and lots of good action as Judge Dredd and rookie Judge Anderson must fight their way out of the Peach Trees megablock controlled by psychopathic crime boss Ma-Ma.

This film was one of the most pleasant surprises and enjoyable viewings of all the films I've watched this year. Although I expressed cautious optimism in the summer, I was skeptical, especially after how horrifically bad Prometheus turned out to be. I really REALLY wish I'd given Prometheus a miss and seen Dredd in the cinema.

The film wisely took the approach of offering a "slice of life" of the violent, post-apocalyptic Mega City 1 rather than trying to show everything as in the Stallone film. The main premise of the film is that the Judges of the Halls of Justice (police) have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Dredd tells the story of novice Judge Anderson's first day on the job under the supervision (and assessment) of the legendary Judge Dredd; they are trapped inside the 1 km-high Peach Trees megablock which houses 75,000 people by a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO and must fight their way out.

First: the atmosphere and fully-realized world. I always love a film with a well-developed and well-portrayed, gritty, lived-in, "maculate reality" aesthetic. It's a big part of what made Alien and Blade Runner classics, and as I alluded to in my one-sentence summary, Dredd definitely has it. Real sets, real people, and a very lived-in feel to the whole thing. It really allowed me to get "into" that world.

The plot was fast-paced and well-conceived. The right amount of levity (usually via Judge Dredd's deadpan) was inserted and the characters were all well done and interesting. The action tended to be very violent and bloody, as befits this sort of film, so be warned that it is quite brutal in parts. But it was very well-done action: nothing over-the-top, giving it more of a realistic feel, and because the characters were well-done, one cared about the outcome. The special effects were very-well done (the way SLO-MO is portrayed was great) nicely understated and blended into the scenery -- makes me wish ALL sci fi films were limited to a $40 million budget!

The acting: one doesn't always expect great performances in an action film but I thought everyone was great in this one and very convincing. I've enjoyed Mr. Urban's performances in all the films I've seen him in, including The Two Towers/Return of the King, RED, and even The Chronicles of Riddick, but I must say he's now one of my favourite actors. His portrayal of Dredd was absolutely perfect and really made the film. Olivia Thirlby did a great job as a young/frightened novice judge who really comes into her own through the crucible of the Peach Trees megablock. One wonders if Lena Headey isn't actual an evil psychopathic woman given her excellence in the role of Ma-Ma and her reportedly spot-on portrayal of Queen Cersei in the Game of Thrones TV series.

It should be noted, however, that this is a film STRICTLY more mature adults, and adults who are not sensitive to violence, foul language and some suggestive content. According to kids-in-mind.com, the "F-bomb" is dropped 47 times and there is 1 "religious exclamation". The violence is fairly intense in parts and quite "no holds barred", although I would think one would expect that for a post-apocalyptic film taking place in a violent, crime-ridden city. The sexual content may disturb some, although I consider myself pretty strict on that score, and was not troubled by it (certainly not titillated given the context). The worst is a very brief soft-focus shot depicting a criminal's imagining having sex with the rookie female judge and you can see bare breasts, buttocks and legs (sort of, given the soft focus).

Overall, I thought this a fine, fine film. The most enjoyable new science fiction film I've experienced since Serenity way back in 2005. Like Serenity, it did quite poorly at the box office and I can't fathom why, aside from poor marketing.

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