Sunday 30 December 2007

The Boy Scout and the Military Industrial Complex

Plowed through Marvel's Civil War arc last week and was struck by how sophisticated the story telling is. Unfolding, as it does, across a number of separate comic book series we get a chance to see important events from multiple viewpoints. For all that most of the character's wear tights for a living this spread of viewpoints, coupled with a subtle approach to the issues, lends an air of veracity to the story as events unfold.

Civil War also operates on multiple levels; for example the personality clash at the heart of the story is between Captain America, the 'Boy Scout', a living symbol of honour, liberty and apple pie, and Iron Man, industrialist, inventor and the embodiment of the Military Industrial Complex. Their rivalry is both personal and ideology and both, crucially, are operating from motives so pure you could drink them. Both of them realise that they have made mistakes during the conflict and both pay a terrible personal and moral price for their role in it.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

I Have No Memory of this Place

Took the Evil Monster Boy to see the Golden Compass on Sunday. Despite some brilliant performances from Kidman, Fanning, Broadbent and the usual British character actor suspects I felt there was something missing. Perhaps it was the poor print (at the usually good Finsbury Park Vue) or the fact that I'd only had two hours sleep but there seemed to be problems with the narrative structure in the first half. Some of the transitions were mishandled, the Lyra in London montage in particular, and the choppy, unnecessarily exposition heavy opening.

The design was impressive, the high standard set by WETA in The Lord of the Rings , has now become the base line for big fantasy blockbusters - even if TV still lags - yes I'm looking at you Doctor Who.

However, the strangest thing for me was how much of the plot I didn't remember from the book. I read Northern Lights in 1998 and ground to a halt halfway through A Subtle Knife a little bit later but I had no memory of the armoured bears (panzerbjorn what a wonderful name). This is strange - for while I'm perfectly capable of forgetting the names of close family members my retention of plot detail borders on the savant.

Since the Evil Monster Boy demanded that I buy the books, on pain of pain, I'm going to reread them and see if they stick this time. I'm sure Kidman's performance as Mrs Coultor will help.

Sunday 2 December 2007

A Good Murder

Yesterday I got a chance to work on Princess, my completely speculative detective drama series, and finally came up with the thing I've been lacking so far - a good murder.

I think it's easy for industry people to lose sight of how important the central mystery is to a good detective drama. The temptation is always to believe that it's the character of the detective that drives the narrative. Hence the crude attempts to make the crimes 'personal' by killing off relatives, friends and, I'm looking at you Inspector Lynley, the odd girlfriend or fiancé. This represents at best a failure of nerve by the production team and at worse a lack of understanding of the genre they are working in. Look at the classic detectives, Morse, Frost, Holmes and you'll find that they have character traits not character arcs.

Morse was the same grumpy beer drinking, opera loving snob in his last episode as he was in his first. This is because the single most interesting thing about Morse was that he was a police detective, the opera and the expensive education were interesting only because they contrasted with his job. Likewise without their careers in detection Frost would just be an opinionated northerner in a pork-pie hat, Dalgliesh a failed poet and Holmes, well god knows what Holmes would be - dead probably.

A good TV detective is distinctive, charismatic and three dimensional but a writer must never forget that at the heart of every mystery must be a good murder.

A Joy Forever

A thing of beauty is a joy forever;
Marc Platt has delivered a wonderful first draft for the second episode of the second B7 Audio series. This follows on from an equally brilliant first episode by James Swallow leaving me with a tough act to follow for episode three.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Missing Adventures

I have another short story out soon. It's called 'The Evacuation of Bernice Summerfield Considered as a Short Film by Terry Gilliam', the title being a conscious echo of JG Ballard's 1970 novel 'The Atrocity Exhibition'. Rebecca Levene, the editor, asked that each story be written in a distinctive style or genre and Evacuation is my first stab at magic realism.

You can order the book from the Big Finish website and, just to freshen the deal, the collection also contains a preview of my next Benny novel 'Terra Incognita' scheduled for release in 2008.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Walking On Stilts

As I sat here biting my fingernails to the quick while I waited for the latest development on [CENSORED] it occurred to me that television and film production is liking walking around on a huge pair of stilts, you can make great strides but sometimes you have to lurch backwards to maintain your balance, the least little obstacle can bring you down and you can never, ever stand completely still.

This random thought was brought to you by the letter aghhhh!

Monday 10 September 2007

The Confidentiality Bleep

Part of the problem with writing a blog when you're a script writer is that you are expected to keep your mouth shut pretty much until the start of principle photography...

... and even then it's advisable just to say what the publicity replicant tells you to...

...and god forbid that you contradict the producer in any way...

Or the director...

Or the caterer for that matter.

As a result I'm bubbling to let the two people who (alledgedly) read this blog that I this close to getting my first [CENSORED] which is what every script writer wants and what's more it's [CENSORED] and based on an original pitch by me - [CENSORED] meets [CENSORED] in fact. [CENSORED] at [CENSORED] says that they could have the deal signed by the end of [CENSORED].

Now you can see why I'm terribly excited - especially since this will be [CENSORED].

Monday 3 September 2007

The £25 Autograph

Call me backwards but I never knew you could sell your autograph for £25. Well obviously I couldn't sell mine for 50p but Patrick Stewart can, so can main characters from Heroes and Lost. I discovered this while pushing product at the London Film and Comic Con where the queues for the Heroes' characters went around the block.
We all ended up in the same rather overheated green room though. I draw no conclusion from the fact that Nana Visitor and I shared a table merely that every time I think I've got a handle on 'fan' culture some new aspect of it surprises me.

Wednesday 22 August 2007

The Great Comic Con

Yes I, large fat man, genius writer and reformed geek, will be at the Blake's 7 stand at this year's London Film and Comic Con where I will be available for chat, celebrity photographs (particularly if you are a celebrity) and to push as many copies of the Blake's 7 Audio adventures as I can.

Remember if you buy a writer's CD he eats for a day but if you teach your friends to consume product I'll be able to replace my kitchen cabinets sometime next year.

Secret Vices

I've just reloaded Campaign Cartographer 3 onto my newly restored computer. Although my official work was all backed up amongst the many personal things I lost were my maps. I like to create worlds but they have the most tenuous connection to productive work and so, until that glorious day when I become hugely rich, I try and discourage it. Still; bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim, I gotta to create fantasy worlds.

This is the first of my new worlds, I'm calling it Tradeland for now. I established point sources for certain vital trade goods and then trace out the trade routes between them. Secondary cities are placed where the trade routes intersect or pass over terrain boundaries (especially those on a north/south alignment). Then I'll link the secondary cities together and the intersections on those routes will provide me with the tertiary population centers. The idea is to create a convincingly 'organic' looking geography that maintains an internal consistancy that just happens to be my personal hobgoblin.

Now you see why I called this post 'Secret Vices' - still we can't all be as interesting as Simon bleeding Guerrier.

Saturday 21 July 2007

At last...fame for our Daniel.

Daniel Geddud, a man of many talents and enduring hospitality is finally getting the recognition he deserves. I met him when he was providing myriad voices for the Blake's 7 audios and when I went over to LA for Gallifrey One he put me up on his sofa and introduced me to some really good places to have breakfast.

You can check out his work at Flying Squid Studios and there's an interesting article about him here.

Once Bitten...

My hard drive crashed...

No seriously my hard drive went phut, taking with it 75% of my latest novel and god knows how much irraplacable stuff.

But fortunately 99% of the data was backed up.

So the famous Sir Augustus Sod can kiss my CD burner.

Tuesday 10 July 2007

In case you wondered....

A friend has pointed out that people reading this blog wouldn't be able to divine what it is I do for a living. I pointed out that I didn't have any evidence that anyone read my blog and so the point was moot. However on the off chance there are people actually reading this blog, such as it is, and on the off-off chance that they have some disposable cash and are up for it I will put a list of my work, such as that is, under the profile.

Oh, I'm a writer.

Glad we've had a chance to have this little chat.

Monday 9 July 2007

Return of the return of Blake's 7

Blake's 7 is back and this time it's available on CD in all good music stores (well HMV anyway) and direct from the B7 Media online store here.

On behalf of my fellow writers, Marc Platt and poor crippled James Swallow I urge you to buy a copy now. Remember a mere 2,000 copies will keep an author on a coffee IV drip for a month and just 3,000 copies will allow Marc Platt to take the glory that is Wagnerian opera to the endangered orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra.

5,000 copies will allow us to find James Swallow, so cruelly neglected and then abandoned by his owners, a new family.

So buy a Blake 7 CD today, be entertained, be educated and above all do some real good in the world.

Monday 7 May 2007

The Return of Blake's 7

Just a note to point out that the first free streamed chapters of the new audio adventures of Blake's 7 are available now at

The first 12 Chapters were written by me and I'm terribly proud of them.

Did I mention that they were free.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Why We Write

Never write while in a state - it's never as good as you think it is.