Martians

Martians! Squeeee! Maaaartiaaaaans!

Ahem. I'm sorry, let's start again. We open with a rather uninspired monologue about seeking life in the stars, but combined with the music and some lovely astronomical footage it becomes quite interesting. It's easy to be mean about In Search Of's  visuals sometimes, but I like this old timey footage of stars and planets. CGI has made contemporary documentary makers lazy. Shots of space all look like bloody video games.

Science? Science!
Science? Science!

Now a lovely tone poem about the birth of the sun. Roughly correct science, surprisingly suitable electronic music and Nimoy's voice. I'm loving this so far, and we haven't even got to the Martians. Nimoy's voice acting is different here to usual. Often, he's doing this sort of 'voice of authority' thing, intoning nonsense to make it seem reasonable. Here, he sounds more like he's trying to convince. I wish I knew more about Nimoy the man, because I find myself wondering how much he felt he had a personal stake in this discussion of space research and exploration. After all, like it or not, he was deeply entangled in public perception of space science, even though his contribution to this field went no further than Spock. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E09 Martians"

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"My journey had been my own suggestion, and Elizabeth therefore acquiesced, but she was filled with disquiet at the idea of my suffering, away from her, the inroads of misery and grief. It had been her care which provided me a companion in Clerval—and yet a man is blind to a thousand minute circumstances which call forth a woman's sedulous attention." – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

"Victor, you and I are almost strangers. But I can read your heart. I know we can work together! As you so, I'm subject to these wretched weaknesses. I'm helpless without your strength." -- Henry Clerval, Frankenstein: the True Story.

David MacCallum has a hacksaw.
David MacCallum has a hacksaw.

Way back in the early 1980s, my grandmother was looking after me one evening. I can't quite remember why – I think my Mum might have been unwell, but I'm not sure. But my Nan, who could be gloriously irresponsible when she wanted to, let me stay up to watch what she was watching: Frankenstein: The True Story. It wasn't really suitable for a small child, but I thank her anyway. ...continue reading "Frankenstein: the True Story 1973"

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The Handy Pavilion was packed to the gills with customers. This was always the way on a Saturday. But on this Saturday things were even more hectic thanks to the public appearance of Sydney's newest superhero, Voyager, just out the front, downwind of the Rotary Club sausage sizzle.

The scent of sausages and onions made Voyager's mouth water. She couldn't buy a sausage sandwich, though. Her stupid costume didn't have any pockets. Her utility belt was full of crime-fighting gear, but the designer had neglected to include a change pouch. She decided that she should get rid of one of the micro-torches. She could melt steel with her eye beams, what did she need it for anyway?

Voyager took photo after photo with her new fans. "The public loves its newest hero best," Aquaticwoman had told her with a touch of bitterness. Voyager didn't quite know yet whether she liked the attention, as she had her picture taken with customer after customer. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 20 The Return"

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4

The Mummy's Curse

Now we're talking! Fakey-Egyptian music, check! White women in diaphanous nighties, check! "Legend says…" check. "Coincidence… or curse?" Check, check, check! All right, now we're cooking with gas! Mummy's curse FTW!

When you see this sort of thing in a documentary on Egyptology, you know it's legit.
When you see this sort of thing in a documentary on Egyptology, you know it's legit.

...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E08 The Mummy’s Curse"

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So my creative non-fiction piece Walking in Fiction recently got published in Seeds and Skeletons the UTS Anthology for 2016. The University of Technology, Sydney.

S&SOn the one hand, it's not a big thing - one article among twenty-five. On the other hand, it's in a very cool publication, and it puts me forward  a step in the direction I want to go. And there's something very rewarding about seeing your words on paper, old school. I like my website and everything and I'm proud of my online publications, but a real, printed-and-bound, paper book? Hell, yeah! ...continue reading "Seeds and Skeletons"

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It was Laura Cho's first day at the Handy Pavillion, and her trainee badge was pinned to a neatly ironed apron over her polo shirt. Her excitement on starting her new job was rapidly dwindling, since Adam had parked her close to the entrance and told her to wait for her supervisor.

That had been half an hour ago. Not only was she bored, customers kept coming up to her and asking questions that she couldn't possibly answer, then getting annoyed when she didn't know.

She wished she could go hide in the break-room, but she didn't know where it was.

"Excuse me?" came a voice.

"Yeah, no, I'm new here, so…" she turned and nearly jumped to see a little man in a Handy Pavilion uniform. He had slate grey hair and a deeply lined face, and stank of tobacco. "Oh, sorry, I thought you were a customer."

...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 19 Origin Story"

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Earthquakes

Another mundane episode, it seems, but it begins with what seems like the strongest opening we've seen so far. It's black and white amateur footage of an earthquake in Alaska in 1964. Since it was taken by sailors on a freighter, it’s much steadier than similar footage taken from land would be. It begins with something utterly mundane – two dogs sitting on the shore, the sort of dull thing that home movie enthusiasts used to love. The all at once, the sea goes crazy and there's huge waves everywhere… it's pretty cool, and it sets the topic and tone wonderfully.

Actual real phenomenon. Has the show lost its way?
Actual real phenomenon. Has the show lost its way?

This use of file footage is one of the most effective aspects of this episode. No longer having to rely on crappy reenactments and lingering shots of rocks, the producers can show drama directly, rather than having to imply it. Unfortunately, the footage they show is a mix of actual news footage and clips of simulated earthquakes from old movies, though to be fair Nimoy does acknowledge this. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E07 Earthquakes"

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"It is my wish to disprove the old theories concerning the evolution of life and the origin of the life force and to restate, simply, in terms of biophysical chemistry, as chemical action and reaction controlled by the external impulses." - Baron Frankenstein, Evil of Frankenstein

Evil of Frankenstein is an interesting fish. It's not the best of the Hammer Frankensteins. It has some weird pacing issues making for a slow start and a somewhat rushed conclusion, and also the goofiest looking Monster of the Hammer era. It's interesting in a lot of ways, though, most noticeably one of the most sympathetic portrayals of Frankenstein that I've come across.

Which is odd, given that the film contains this scene.
Which is odd, given that the film contains this scene.

...continue reading "The Evil of Frankenstein – 1964"

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Following the success of our quarterly magical-waste or "m-waste" pickups, the Zan'dri City Council is pleased to announce the opening of three regional m-waste management centres. These will allow Zan'dri citizens and residents to organise the disposal of wizardly, spectral, Fae, chthonic, cursed otherworldly and other magical items, at their own convenience.

Introduction

The safe disposal of magical items has long been a vexed issue. Between the closure of Mount Doom by the Occupational Health and Safety and the passage of the new Road Traffic Laws which limit burial at crossroads, there were few options for safe magical disposal for Zan'dri residents. ...continue reading "Introducing the New M-Waste Disposal Service"

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"Are you sure about this?" Wellsey asked.

"Could you be any more clichéd?" Belinda said. "'Are you sure about this?'" she added in a high-pitched mockery of Wellsey's voice. "Gahd."

The Handy Pavilion was spooky in the dark. No, Wellsey thought, not spooky. Terrifying. The huge shelves towered up into the darkness, dark and ghostly pale in the dim moonlight. The air hung still and hot, undisturbed by the vast ceiling fans that hung still and idle. The building seemed at the same time too large and too small, dwarfing Wellsey and yet leaving him all too aware of the many places some terrible thing might hide. Wellsey stood in the middle of aisle eight, his growing dread focused on the folding table, covered with black candles and surrounded by director chairs.

"Fuck you," he said. "I mean, are you sure this will work?" ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 18: From Across the Veil"

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