Thursday, 31 January 2013

Deja Review: January 2013

Hail Mighty Readers,
New Year, slightly new look for the Deja Review Section, whilst the titles featured don't necessarily have the up to date covers they've been reviewed prior to thier newest incarnation so each titles will link back to when we originally tackled it.

We hope you like the new look and enjoy this months selections:

Lady Eleanor and Gareth

FANTASY REVIEW: The Twyning - Terence Blacker

Release Date: 08/01/13


This is the story of Efren, a young ratling born into the Court of Tasting, in the kingdom of rats below the city streets. The kingdom is in turmoil after the death of the old king, assassinated by a human scientist, Dr Henry Ross-Gibbon. Obsessed by an ambition to exterminate all rats, the doctor is assisted by Dogboy, an abandoned thirteen-year-old with a gift for understanding animals. Soon a war to the death rages between the rat kingdom and its mortal enemy: humankind. Hurt and alone, Efren finds shelter with Dogboy and his friend Caz, a runaway eleven-year-old girl. And between these unlikely allies a spark is ignited - first of communication, then of hope. This tumultuous story of creatures caught up in a pitiless war transcends the barriers between animals and humans. What Watership Down did for rabbits, THE TWYNING will do for the kingdom of rats.


I love a book that is different to the norm and to be honest that is exactly what this is, as a tale told from two perspectives being that of our human lead, Dogboy and that of rats. Yes you read that right, rats. Its definitely something quirky and whilst the author has made both come across in an easy to understand manner it’s a book that reminds me of films like “Phase IV” being so off the wall that there’s really nothing else like it out there.

Add to the mix subtle direction by the author, some wonderful turns of phrase and a novel that really makes you think and I was more than pleased that I took the time to read this. All round a solid enough book that will make me seek out other titles by this author.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Iron Druid 5: Trapped - Kevin Hearne

Release Date: 29/11/12


After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O'Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he's still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave. Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge - but he'll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.


Having fallen for Kevin’s Iron Druid series since the first book it’s been something of a must read each time a new one comes out. Here in the latest is a book that really keeps up the momentum that has been built up over the previous four excursions, the characters crisp, the prose sharp and when added to a kick ass plot with huge underlying arcs and historical payback, really makes this a book to savour.

Add to this a wonderful sense of familiarity with the characters that you care about, some wonderful turns of phrase as well as a great authorly directorial style and all round another tick in my happy reader box. Great stuff.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

GUEST BLOG: Where do Idea's Spring From? - Gaie Sebold

Thank you for inviting me to guest blog.  I thought I would attempt to peel that ancient chestnut, “Where do you get your ideas?” 

In some cases, the honest answer would be, ‘I have no idea.’ But these are a few thoughts about how it works for me.  

Firstly, deadlines.  Nothing gets my brain going like a deadline.  I once committed to write a flash piece every other week for a year.  I  went to story prompt sites, trawled my files for unfinished ideas, went to – but the best stories came at random.  Listening to a radio programme about tomb-robbery while washing up, I thought of an odd tomb-curse and how it might affect someone who didn’t believe in tomb curses.  I wrote it down.  Actually I probably wrote – ‘tomb idea, comfy bed,’ or similar - just enough to remind me what the idea was.  Staring at the pattern on the duvet while listening to the news, I had a thought about patterns and the banking system.  I wrote a paragraph before I fell asleep, and once I was able to translate my semi-comatose handwriting the next day, the rest followed.  

When I was invited to contribute to the Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, I was delighted – then I panicked.  I’d never yet come up with a ghost story that satisfied me.  But I was reading about the industrial revolution at the time, and thinking about creativity, and passion.  And I had a deadline.  Eventually, I had A Silver Music, the final story in the anthology.   

Sometimes it works without a deadline.  My sister, a teacher, was undergoing the delights of a school inspection at the same time as I happened to be reading about serial killers.  The two things came together to create Inspection Day  (End of an Aeon anthology.)  

And lots of the time, I’m not actually looking for ideas.  They just turn up, from pictures in galleries or postcards in a shop, talking to other writers, running, gardening – sometimes they’re ideas about running or gardening.  (In fact my partner David Gullen and I discovered so many parallels between the processes of gardening and those of writing we decided to do a regular blog on the subject). 

The ideas that seem to work best are usually about two or more things, coming together in an interesting juxtaposition.  Like school inspections and serial killers or creativity and exploitation.  And they may be sparked by anything from a photograph to an overheard phrase, but are given body by my own obsessions, beliefs, fantasies, hopes or fears.  

For Babylon Steel  the thought of a brothel in a place where planes intersected was hovering for some years; what, exactly, sparked it I could no longer say.  But to write it I needed to be at a point where my own ideas about sex and sexuality had clarified, and where I was comfortable writing about them.  Questions of power and its uses and misuses have come to form part of my political views, and those themes ended up combined with the trans-planar brothel.  Portals have fascinated me since I first read Alice Through the Looking Glass and spent hours staring at that other girl’s bedroom in the mirror, longing to push my hand through the barrier and walk into another world.  That fascination only grew.

And if I hadn’t read Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy I wouldn’t have heard, all those years ago, about sacred prostitution.  Whether or not the famous courtyard of Mylitta ever existed, or was just a piece of propaganda on the part of Herodotus is irrelevant, as I’m not writing history – it helped spark an idea, and that’s all I needed of it.   

I read poetry and fairy tales and classics and fantasy and contemporary literature and crime and sf and chicklit.  I read history and popular psychology and New Scientist and the personal columns of the local paper and the ingredients on tins if there’s nothing else. 

I also watch the news and visit galleries and museums and travel and look at odd bits of architecture and have conversations with taxi-drivers and shopkeepers and people with babies and museum attendants and undertakers.   I watch films and trawl the internet and find weird stuff in charity shops.  Any or all of these things can be the source of ideas.  Many of them occur when I’m not actively looking for them, some when I am.

I wouldn’t call myself well-informed – I’m a knowledge-flirt, a magpie, I pick up what interests me and ignore or forget the rest.  Even what I do pick up often gets forgotten, on a surface level, but some of it sinks into my own internal myth-pool.  And when I go for a mental swim, searching for a story, I grab at that shiny thing gleaming in the mud of memory.  

Sometimes it’s only a tin can.  Sometimes, once I’ve washed the mud off, it looks like treasure.  And sometimes it’s managed to accrete all by itself, lying there in the mud; a whole story, just waiting to be picked up.  On the rare occasions this happens, it feels like cheating – as though I’d got away with something, like a burglar.  I try not to feel guilty.  There are enough other times when I have to sweat out a story from what looked shiny, but brought to the surface seems to be little more than a tin can and an old shoe.

And sometimes it just won’t work for me.  But someone else can make treasure of it.

Ideas are all around, all the time; but what I see or hear will have no meaning, or a completely different one, for another writer.  Set any roomful of writers three ideas, you’ll  get thirty different stories.  Because ideas are everywhere.  Stories come from inside. 

FANTASY REVIEW: Babylon Steel 2: Dangerous Gifts - Gaie Sebold

Release Date: 29/01/13


Babylon Steel, former avatar of the goddess of sex and war, owner of the Scarlet Lantern brothel, has been offered a job as bodyguard to Enthemmerlee, candidate for the Council of Incandress; and as spy for the barelyacknowledged government of Scalentine. Incandress is on the verge of civil war. Enthemmerlee represents the hopes or fears of a large portion of its population and is a prime target for assassination. Babylon attempts to turn Enthemmerlee's useless household guard into a disciplined fighting force, dodge the Moral Statutes and the unwilling presence of a very annoyed Scalentine diplomat. Keeping both herself and her client alive is a hard job that only gets harder. And that s before she is driven to a choice that has terrible and far-reaching consequences...


Fantasy is one of those genres that many feel is just a one trick pony. That is, if you were to ask a cross section of the public, they’d more than likely say that it was all Conanesque muscle bound heroes fighting impossible odds to get the girl and a bit of booty. Well readers of fantasy would argue differently and for me, I have to recommend Gaie as an author for them to try purely for the fact that her writing is definitely something far from the norm.

You’ve got a kickass lead heroine who works wonderfully into the genre with her forthright modern thinking as well as the twists that the authors thrown in to give the readers a real grasp of her world. Yes it’s dark, there’s all sorts of shades of grey but when you add some great twists, jaw jarring combat alongside complex twists that need to be figured out and you’ve got a brief hold on what she has to offer. Yes, it’s no Song of Fire and Ice series but with so many of the brain breaking titles out there you want something that’s going to not only hit that fantasy itch but go full on into overkill, then this could well be the author for you. All round a great second novel and one that I’m more than happy to have enjoyed.

Monday, 28 January 2013

LADY ELEANOR EXCLUSIVE: Life as a Stuntman - Mike Carpenter

Hail Mighty Readers,
Here at Falcata Times we're always on the lookout for something a little different to bring to you and with todays release of Continuum, Lady Eleanor has found something very special for you with a guest blog by Stuntman Mike Carpenter who has worked not only for the aforementioned show but also Supernatural.

So without further ado, I bring you his blog, we hope you enjoy:
I have always dreamt of being in the movies.  When I first started watching television I wasnʼt quite old enough to understand movies were a pretend world so much so that when I was little, I even asked my mom to take me to Sesame Street. 

As a kid I remember my mom peppering me with the question, “what do you want to do when you grow up”?  My reply was different on an hourly basis.  One minute it was a cop, a fireman, boat
captain, baseball player, ski racer, motorcycle racer, car racer, hockey player, must have been a motherʼs worst nightmare.  Wordʼs such as Doctor, Accountant, Lawyer, none of the classics were ever uttered from my lips. 

She was in for a rough ride with me and the trips to the hospital started at a young age.  Iʼll never forget how my buddies and I would pile all my Dadʼs empty beer cans into a giant beer can wall. Our
house at the time was at the bottom of a downhill driveway and I remember charging that beer can wall with my Big Wheel and blasting through it with glee. 

As I grew older and learned how to ride a two wheeler I started building jumps and trying to emulate Evel Knieval.  Mom even made me a white suite with the stars on it and I remember racing down
that driveway when the brakes on my bike failed.  I couldnʼt get the back wheel to lock up and skid to a stop that I figured was so darn cool.  Instead I took a header into my momʼs flower garden.  Yep, first trip to the hospital to get my forehead zippered back up.  Helmets were not a cool accessory back in the 70ʼs and to be honest  I would say that that bike crash was my scariest stunt to this day outside of the car hit on Supernatural.

As a kid I was lucky to have had parents that exposed me to a lot of team sports, and being from Canada one can ultimately guess what my favorite was.  It was all about Hockey in the winter months and Baseball in the summers.  These are pretty traditional sports in Canada and I did well in both playing on high level Rep teams up into my late teens.  I loved both these sports
but the political pressures of hockey in Canada just ruined it for me. 

I remember going skiing one weekend when I was around 13 or 14, and it was so freeing.  Just me and the mountain.  No screaming coaches and crazy hockey parents, I fell in love with it.  To my
fatherʼs dismay I packed up my hockey gear and stuffed it in storage, I was going skiing come hell or high water. 

When I quit hockey I was angry inside, frustrated that something I loved wasnʼt fun anymore.  I felt a little robbed and was determined to take out that energy in other places.  For me it was the ski hill and then came martial arts.  I liked all the training and sparring.  The owner of the club and fight promoter really wanted me to fight for his club.  I was game but I still had to have my parents sign off on it because I was under 18. It was a no go.  My mom was all about education and wasnʼt interested in seeing me get my head scrambled like so many young fighters. 

I was pretty flattered to have been asked because there were a lot of really successful fighters out of the club (some Canadian champs in both kickboxing and boxing.)   I was fortunate to have good
instruction at that time.  Nowadays a lot of those techniques are old school, especially in the movies but at the time it was great training and though I didnʼt know it at the time all these different loves were helping to carve a path towards my destiny.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I kept myself pretty busy.  I was pursuing all these physical activities as well as going to University unfortunately University and I were not the best of friends.  I constantly found myself butting heads with professors over their philosophies, ideologies and general opinions.  This didnʼt help me in my educational pursuits and in reality I was just putting in time although in my heart I knew this wasnʼt for me.

My biggest hero has always been my father.  My Dad was in the fishing industry and owned as well as ran big commercial fishing boats.  I thought this was so cool and adventurous.  I begged him to take me to sea with him.  He was never big on me following in his foot steps but I really wanted to spend some time with him and learn about the water. 

As one can imagine he was away a lot when I was growing up and wanted to bond. Man did we ever bond, he worked the living shit out of me.  I donʼt think I slept for four years.  I figured if Iʼm going to be in this business Iʼm going to be the Captain so I signed up for the Marine academy and earned my Master Marinerʼs Certificate by the time I was 26. During that period I also took some courses in film. I really wanted to give it an honest shot.  I remember auditing a film school when I was around 19 but changed my ideas after seeing some of the students.  They were all dark and brooding like Johnny Depp in Edward Scissor Hands.  Then there was me, a complete jock/fisherman and I felt really out of place.  I put the film idea to the wayside.

A few years later while Commercial Fishing we were caught in a huge storm up in the Queen Charlotte Islands where we could do nothing but wait it out. I remember going to bed and as cliche as it may sound I had a dream where I was in front of a bunch of movie lights and I was flying through the air.  I woke up and thatʼs when I decided I was going to go for it.  I distinctly remember it.  When I finished the season I packed my stuff and moved to Vancouver ready to chase the Hollywood dream. What a joke that was...

I didnʼt have a clue what I was doing. Lucky for me my roommate who is now a very successful 1st AD and very good friend was in the same boat and we helped each other along.  I was doing a little extra work through some shady background agency that never paid me.  My roommate ended up getting some PA work, and he helped me get a job.  To this day I think a PA is one of the toughest jobs on set and everyone should have to do it to appreciate how lucky one is when they move up the hierarchy.  Never forget your roots and always respect people.  There is a saying, PA one day Producer the next.  Regardless of that fact every job on a set is important and they are there for a reason.

I canʼt stand arrogance or attitude on a film set from any person including actors.  Itʼs unacceptable, we arenʼt saving the world here. We are making films and we are no more special than any other occupation.  Itʼs just that film is high profile because we are in entertainment.  I was fortunate that I met others with that same down to earth attitude and they gave me opportunities.

One day working as a PA I was looking after a location in Lynn Canyon and a couple of guys came down and started building a high line. (A high line is a tight steel cable...Itʼs like a zip line.)   I started talking to the guys and asking them what they did. They gave me a little run down and the next day they showed up on set dressed as military soldiers. They were firing guns, jumping off cliffs, and hanging off the high line.

Suddenly it all came crashing down on me.  Dressing up and playing super hero when I was a kid, my sporting background, my love of movies, my rigging background from being on the all made sense!  This is what Iʼm meant to do!  Iʼm going to be a stuntman!  It was a grind. I became a movie Grip to pay the bills but I was studying acting and taking as many Special Skills jobs as I could get. (Special Skills are the background people that often are the cops, soldiers, hockey players etc on films.)  It was a discouraging few years in the sense that I was getting a lot of “look seeʼs” and “maybes”,  just about getting the stunt job but it never quite worked out as there is a process to getting work.  That if there is someone in the biz that is already established and can do the job, the new person is not getting it.

We have unions and respect for the established performerʼs.  I was really getting frustrated with the whole stunt thing and felt like throwing in the towel and admitting defeat... then opportunity finally knocked.

I was working on the Lizzy McGuire movie as a Best Boy Grip when Scott Ateah a very established stunt coordinator and performer I knew from hockey was working on the same show.  We got to talking one day and I told him that Iʼve been pursuing stunts but didnʼt want to hit him up because we were friends. (Duh!)  What was I have to be strategically aggressive in this business.  It turned out about a month later the stars aligned for me.  Scott and I were standing in the catering line and he mentioned to me he was trying to find someone 6ʼ 3” that could do the splits and he was getting frustrated.  He had been searching everywhere for someone.  Dance studios, Dojoʼs, you name it.  To bad he never took a trip to the Grip truck in the first place. The Grips are the McGyverʼs on a film set.  I looked at him dead pan and said I can do the splits no problem.  He couldnʼt believe it so I warmed up and showed him. Thank god for martial arts and a high pain threshold. He asked me to stay loose as he was going to call me in a few weeks.

At that stage of the game I didnʼt have too high of hopes after several disappointments but I stayed limber just in case. Sure enough just like clockwork the phone rang three weeks later and I was working on a little film entitled ELF doubling Will Ferrell.  Scott was a tough cookie.  He didnʼt just give me the job. It was one gag at a time. He would ask me if I could do certain things and then rehearse them with me. I kept passing each test and after a few weeks I ended up getting to carry the load. I realized he needed me as much as I needed him.  Ever since that job he has been both
my mentor and one of my best friends.  We are often line mates on our beer league hockey team.  He still acts like my boss on the ice so I feed him the puck as much as I can even though he never friggin scores!

After that job my career just exploded, and I was thankful. The earlier you get into the stunt game, the longer your career will be.  I had to make up for some lost time. It was tough but rewarding.  I figured the odds of me being the next Wayne Gretzky or Brad Pitt were against me so I split the difference and became a stunt performer.

Bumps and bruises have long been a part of my life so that end of the business has never bothered me much.  What does bother me is when people judge a movie stunt person as crazy or reckless thrill seekers.  I think that attitude is kind of cheesy. I canʼt stand the extremest guys that talk all cocky about how if they screw up theyʼll die and how rad they are.  Listening to people talk and say they donʼt care if they die doing what they love is just a bad omen and a terrible example.

If you love something so much youʼd care if you died doing it because as far as Iʼm concerned if one is having so much fun doing something, wouldnʼt you want to keep on doing it!?  The true professionals donʼt have this attitude. We are athletes that narrow down our margin of risk to the
greatest degree we can. I like to compare a stunt person to the Fonz. We can make something look gnarly and dangerous but to us itʼs a walk in the park.  Itʼs much cooler to walk away from something that looked crazy and is executed in a controlled manner than leave the scene in an ambulance.  Thatʼs a stunt person.  Itʼs important to respect your body.  It is how we feed ourselves and is our ultimate tool.  Performerʼs train hard, hours in the gym, martial arts, yoga, driving, you name it.  If a person wants longevity you must be well rounded and keep your body strong and healthy.  I always love the negative comments from individuals.  Sometimeʼs even Doctorʼs make negative comments on how you must be feeling it, or you canʼt do it forever, you should think about retiring.  I tell you this, there may be some truth in what people say but as far as Iʼm concerned Iʼm in a job that requires me to keep my body and mind physically healthy.  I want to be like some of the older guys in there 50ʼs and 60ʼs still going at it because they love what they do and enjoy an active lifestyle. I hope when Iʼm that age Iʼll still physically have the skills to pull off a car hit, I just hope to have enough brains in my head to say no at that stage of the game.

I have been lucky in my career in both avoiding injuries and being employed.  I have had the great joy of being involved in the TV series Supernatural doubling the very talented and classy Jared Padalecki taking the hits for the Sam character.  Jared and Jensen are two of the classiest actors I have ever worked alongside.

Another series I worked on last year was Continuum and that looks as though there will be some work coming up in the near future.

Last year was an interesting one for me travel wise. I ended up in Belarus for the summer working on a remake of the 72 Summit series playing a Canadian hockey player. Itʼs a Russian film called Kharlamov No.17.  From there I took a leave of absence from Supernatural and was off in Mexico working on a project with Matt Damon, Jodi Foster William Fichtner, and Diego Luna called Elysium.

All these people were amazing, down to earth and fun to work with.  Mattʼs a real beauty.  He made me feel comfortable whenever I was performing alongside him. It is still surreal when I get to work with some of my favorite film stars.  Elysium should be one exciting movie!  Iʼm not allowed to say too much about this one but I played a character...well two actually, but only one where you will see my face...if I donʼt end up on the cutting room
floor first.

As far as conventions go I havenʼt had the opportunity to attend any yet. If Iʼm ever asked I would jump at it if my schedule allows.

Performing has been a wonderful experience. Iʼve had the opportunity to work with many great actors and directors. Many are some of the most talented, humble and kind people I have ever met...others have been a disappointment. What I have learned is there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in Hollywood.  Itʼs not the glamour that the outside world may think it is. Itʼs long hours, hard work, sacrifice, and disappointment is not uncommon. There are a lot of highs and lows but if a person can mentally adjust to this, the business makes for one interesting ride. Anyone fortunate enough to make a living in it should thank their lucky stars for we are truly blessed. Without fans and movie lovers weʼd have to go out and tough it out in the real world.  Now thatʼs a stunt.

DVD REVIEW: Continuum - Universal Pictures UK

Release Date: 28/01/13


All ten episodes from the first season of the time-travelling Canadian sci-fi drama. Whilst attempting to stop eight terrorists, known as Liber8, from escaping execution, Vancouver law enforcement officer Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) finds herself transported from the year 2077 to 2012. In her attempts to track down the terrorists and prevent them from changing the future, Keira joins the present day Vancouver Police Department, enlisting the help of 17-year-old tech geek Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) and local officer Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster). The episodes are: 'A Stitch in Time', 'Fast Times', 'Wasting Time', 'Matter of Time', 'A Test of Time', 'Time's Up', 'The Politics of Time', 'Playtime', 'Family Time' and 'End Times'.


I caught the first couple of episodes on the Syfy Channel and whilst I was interested it wasn’t something that originally stuck with me enough to watch it all the way through. Now this isn’t a case of because I was bored, it was more to do with a lot of the subtle nuances within that whilst you remember it at the time, over subsequent weeks when others work their way though, you’ve forgotten what has gone before which is why a DVD release is a real joy to own.

What you get within this, is a top notch story that whilst following some of the conventions that other futuristic time travel series have utilised really works on the principle character trying her damnedest to not affect the current time and thus change the future as she or her family will change. It’s a solid premise and when you add the heroine chasing a group of villains all set on starting a war that will change events, really works on so many levels.

Add to this solid performances, some wonderful film trickery to help you get the emotional aspects (though the use of camera filters) and solid story arc linking all ten episodes and it’s a series that works very well for me as a viewer. Great stuff.

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: London Falling - Paul Cornell

Release Date: 06/12/12


The dark is rising ...Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect Rob Toshack is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack's murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law -- until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again. As the group starts to see London's sinister magic for themselves, they have two choices: panic or use their new abilities. Then they must hunt a terrifying supernatural force the only way they know how: using police methods, equipment and tactics. But they must all learn the rules of this new game - and quickly. More than their lives will depend on it


If you love a crime novel that blends supernatural into the overall arc then this story by Paul Cornell will more than fit your brief. Its got some top notch prose, some great twists and with the added experience of an author who has learned his craft over a great many years really knows how to deliver.

Whilst in some places it does feel a little brunt, the authors background in the graphic novel industry really comes to the fore with managing to keep you glued whilst taking direct route to a number of the key points within. That’s not to say there aren’t some flaws within yet on the whole this novel does work.

If you’ve enjoyed other books with a similar flavour such as Redlaw by James Lovegrove or The Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch then this book will fit wonderfully with your tastes. All in a solid enough book and I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing where Paul goes from here.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

URBAN STEAMPUNK REVIEW: Clockwork Century 4: Ganymede - Cherie Priest

Release Date: 03/01/13


When paranoia is a way of life, trust doesn't come easily. The Sidhe look like us. They live amongst us. What they lack in numbers they make up with their fearsome mental abilities and the considerable physical resources at their disposal. And their biggest advantage? No one believes they exist. Almost no one. Bez, the best hacker in human-space, is fighting a secret war against them. Always one step ahead, never lingering in one place, she's determined to bring them down. But she can't expose the Hidden Empire alone and when the only ally she trusted fails her she must accept help from an unexpected quarter. Just one misstep, one incorrect assumption, and her Sidhe trap - her life's work - could end in vicious disaster. Worse, if Bez fails then humanity may never have another chance to win free of the manipulative and deadly Sidhe ...


Steampunk seems to be a genre that grows more popular with every release and as s reader I love to suspend belief and dive headlong into a work of mechanisation clockwork. Yet whilst I’ve read way more than I’ve enjoyed if a title’s blurb more than grabs me, whether I’ve enjoyed an author before or not, I can’t resist the lure to travel to this wonderfully inventive genre.

Whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of Boneshaker as I couldn’t really get on with one of the protagonists, this book did do a reasonable enough job of keeping me engaged and while I do love a story that brings zombies alongside it, the book really doesn’t add anything that I’ve not seen before as a lot of the elements within the set up failed to live up to the twists that I was expecting within. All round whilst it is a solid enough title, I want something that pushes the boundaries, something that deliver a hell of a ride that doesn’t leave me wondering how long I’ve been reading and whilst this has been a pleasant enough diversion, it’s not one that’s going to stay with me that long. All round a great shame.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Hidden Empire 5: Queen of Nowhere - Jaine Fenn

Release Date: 03/01/13


When paranoia is a way of life, trust doesn't come easily. The Sidhe look like us. They live amongst us. What they lack in numbers they make up with their fearsome mental abilities and the considerable physical resources at their disposal. And their biggest advantage? No one believes they exist. Almost no one. Bez, the best hacker in human-space, is fighting a secret war against them. Always one step ahead, never lingering in one place, she's determined to bring them down. But she can't expose the Hidden Empire alone and when the only ally she trusted fails her she must accept help from an unexpected quarter. Just one misstep, one incorrect assumption, and her Sidhe trap - her life's work - could end in vicious disaster. Worse, if Bez fails then humanity may never have another chance to win free of the manipulative and deadly Sidhe ...


Jaine Fenn is one of those authors that knows how to weave a story for the reader whilst maintaining the integrity of the overall arc with her hidden agenda. Here, in the fifth outing is a story that continues the war against the Sidhe as our intrepid heroine takes on the alien in her own techno-savvy way.

As usual the prose directs your journey with some wonderful interludes, solid pace and when backed with the authors own unique writing style really keeps you going. All round another success in the series although I still think my favourite is the original.

Friday, 25 January 2013

STEAMPUNK REVIEW: The Aylesford Skull - James P Blaylock

Release Date: 25/01/13


Professor Langdon St. Ives brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer is at home in Aylesford with his family. Not far away a steam launch is taken by pirates, the crew murdered, and a grave is possibly robbed of the skull. The suspected grave robber, the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, is an old nemesis of St. Ives. When Narbondo kidnaps his son Eddie, St. Ives races into London in pursuit.


OK, I’m coming at this as a newbie to the writing of James P Blaylock, and whilst I know he’s been established as a Steampunk author for many years, I was a little apprehensive to pick up this book as I wasn’t sure what to expect. Yes I expected a mystery, some cracking twists which when blended with the Victoriana would take me on one hell of a journey but when an author hasn’t released for so many years, you have to wonder how well he knows the current audience and if his writing will translate as well as it did originally.

What I received within this book was a highly imaginative story, some cracking fully fledged characters and a tale that really delivered what I was hoping for, yet for all that I have to say that for me, I found it quite hard to get into as the writing style felt a little outdated for my own personal tastes.

Don’t get me wrong it’s definitely a strong book, the twists will more than satisfy and if you love Steampunk its going to more than hit the spot, but when you get a writing style that is hard to follow until you get used to the way the authors prose comes across, it’s going to be a story that is going to take some time to get behind. All round, a cracking title but please remember to stick with it as otherwise you’ll be missing something special.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

GUEST BLOG: Beauty Queen's - Leigh Evans

People have commented that my heroine, Hedi Peacock, isn’t your typical urban fantasy protagonist. First, there’s her heritage: she’s half-Fae and half-Were. And then there’s her physical description—she’s short and somewhat plain. In no way or shape is she an Angelina Jolie clone. Martial arts? Gad, no. My girl from Creemore couldn’t disarm a bad guy with a high kick to his jaw, even if she stood on an apple crate to achieve the right angle.

And yet? People keep describing her as kick-ass.

Interesting. Perhaps it’s because she’s a bit of a smartass? Or maybe it’s the fact that, with the right motivation, she can magick a washing machine into pursuit of a Were-bitch who very much needs to be flattened? Or is it the people she lives with—an amulet with an attitude called Merry, and a 9/10ths batty fairy aunt called Lou? Any of those things could colour your perception of our girl Hedi.

But still, wouldn’t it have been easier to cut to the chase? Made her obvious hero material? Why didn’t I begin her story with Hedi fleshed out as a gorgeous righter-of-wrong, complete with the leather pants, and a dagger or two tucked into her thigh-high boots?

Well, the answer to that puzzler starts with a song and ends with a story.

There’s a really old tune out there, written by a woman called Janis Ian, titled “At Seventeen.” Haunting and sad. The second line is a killer, “That love was meant for beauty queens.”

Go ahead. Check it out.

I know some of you might not get it. Twelve seconds into the song, there’s a risk that you’d yawn and click onto the next link that interested you, meaning Gareth would quietly curse me for leading the Falcata Times’ readers to another spot on the web. But there would be others—and hello, I see you—who would listen all the way through, and as they reach the final chorus I’d imagine them quietly inhaling through their nose; mouths flat and tight.

They’d understand every line of those lyrics. In a very personal way.

As I did at the age of seventeen.

Back then, I was the kid in high school who never quite got the joke, whose laugh was a little too loud or a little too late. Wrong hem length, frightened of boys, thirty to forty pounds overweight. Definitely not the cheerleader. Plus? A helpless romantic. Yes, if someone had coaxed me into a cheerful mood with a plate of brownies, and then had asked me to unload my most sacred inner thoughts, I would have said—

“I believe in the possibility of One True Love. I believe there might be is a man out there in the world with a strong heart, and an independent mind, who smells good and has a shoulder custom made for my head. I believe there is a place for me in this universe, where all the things I am, and will be, shall be valued. And yes, I firmly believe that for every aching heart, there is a home. “

Yeah. I was that girl. And boy, oh, boy, did those rosy hopes lead to a few sad heart crushes. I don’t even want to try to add up how many dreary Saturday evenings were spent listening to Janis’ ode to the miserable.


Here’s what I’ve learned: Ms. Ian was wrong, wrong, wrong. Love is NOT only for beauty queens. And the rest of her rules of observation? Well, hell, a few of those were meant to be smashed and broken.

That’s why, at the beginning of the series, my heroine is not kick-ass or beautiful. She’s a 22-year-old virgin, who’s all round curves, with the exception of her sharp tongue. And she’s far from perfect. In fact, our heroine’s definitely a little bit dented and a whole bunch doubting.

Because seriously, what fun is it to watch the perfect girl get the perfect life?

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Mystwalker 1: The Trouble with Fate - Leigh Evans

Release Date: 03/01/13


WHAT SHE DOESN'T KNOW MIGHT KILL HER: Hedi looks normal. Yet that's taken effort. Her fellow Starbucks baristas don't see her pointed ears, fae amulet or her dark past, and normal is hard for a half-fae, half-werewolf on the run. Hedi's life changed ten years ago, when her parents were murdered by unknown assassins. She's been in hiding with her loopy aunt Lou since, as whatever they wanted she's determined they won't get it. Things change when wolves capture Lou, forcing Hedi to steal to free her -- for if she can offer up a fae amulet like her own they may trade. But it belongs to a rogue werewolf named Robson Trowbridge, who betrayed Hedi on the night of her greatest need. Over forty-eight hours, Hedi will face the weres of Creemore, discover the extent of her fae powers and possibly break her own heart in the process.


To be honest this has been a hard book for me to review, there’s so much of it that I loved and yet in places I felt that it lost its pace and became a little disjointed almost as if the characters fought against what the author wanted them to do. Luckily enough this was few and far between yet anything that upsets the seamless flow of the arc can take me a while to get back into my stride.

Yet for that the constant lead character really carried the day for me and whilst a great many will dislike the antihero aspect of her choices the author has done a great job of creating a character whose past really has coloured the choices she makes in the present. Add to the mix some wonderful twists on Fae Lore and a whole host of aspects to explore in future outings and I suspect that this is going to be a series that whilst it may start out quietly is going to be one that helps not only push the boundaries within but also other authors out there to do something equally different.

So how do I know that this series is going to work? Well, any book that gets me asking a ton of questions as the final page is turned and demanding to see what happens next is definitely one to watch and I suspect that with the cliff hanger that we’ve been left with alongside the lessons learned by the author (as well as the protagonist within) that the second title is going to be not only smoother but one that will definitely push both to their limits so much so that I’ll definitely look forward to seeing what Leigh hits back with next time.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

NEWS: Toy Industry Awards Presented at Toy Fair, Olympia

Hail Mighty Readers,
Hot off the press are the winners from this years Toy Industry Awards presented at the Toy Fair in Olympia, London.

The winners are:
Independent Toy Retailer of the Year  -    MIDCO Toymaster
Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year  -     Smyths Toys
General Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year   -    ASDA
Online Toy Retailer of the Year    -     The Entertainer
Judges Special Recognition Award    -     Toy Barnhaus
Judges Special Recognition Award     -     Harrods (Knightsbridge)
Overall Toy Retailer of the Year     -     Smyths Toys

Collectable Toy of the Year    -     Moshi Figures, Vivid Imaginations
Construction Range of the Year    -     LEGO Friends, LEGO
Game of the Year    -     Angry Birds Knock on Wood, Mattel
Pre-School Toy of the Year    -     Jake and the Never Land Pirates Pirate Ship Bucky, Mattel
Girls’ Toy of the Year    -     Monster High Ghouls Rule Doll Assortment, Mattel  (Draculaura pictured Left)     
Boys’ Toy of the Year    -     Web Shooting Spider-Man, Hasbro
Doll of the Year     -     Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Dolls, MGA Entertainment
Lifestyle Toy of the Year      -     LeapPad2, Leapfrog
TRA Special Recognition Award    -     iMC Toys
TRA Special Recognition Award     -     John Adams


Supplier of the Year      -     VTech

Toy of the Year     -     Furby, Hasbro

We at Falcata Times would like to applaud the winners and hope that all attending the fair will have a great time,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

HORROR REVIEW: Hunger - Melvin Burgess

Release Date: 17/01/13


When Beth wakes up one morning covered in dirt, she puts it down to an extreme case of sleep-walking. But when reports of a desecrated grave start to circulate, her night-time wanderings take on a sinister air. Soon the city is being plagued by strange sightings and sudden disappearances. Beth knows that something is changing within her. Something that's filling her with an urgent, desperate hunger that demands to be satisfied - at any cost...


If I were to sum up this book in one line I’d have to modify a line from the original Romero “Night of the Living Dead.” “They’re coming to get you Beth.”

All round this no hold barred Hammer title really gives the reader what they want, there’s gore, there’s otherworldly creatures and when you add to this solid prose, great twists and a nod of the head to one of the greats that have gone before, really makes this a book to sit down and devour. Back that up with a cracking plot, a reasonable cast and all round if you want some classic horror in your bedtime reading, this will more than hit that spot. Great stuff.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Elder Scrolls Online Beta Testers Required - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda Softworks® and ZeniMax® Online Studios today announced that beta signups are now open for The Elder Scrolls® Online at  Interested gamers simply have to go to the website and register for a chance to play. Selected beta registrants will be granted early access to beta test the game. They will be among the first to experience this epic world with others in one of 2013’s most highly-anticipated releases. Timing and details of the start of playtests will be provided at a later date to those who register.

“We’re really excited to get the game into players’ hands,” said Matt Firor, game director of The Elder Scrolls Online. “We receive invaluable feedback through the beta process, and that helps us ensure that the game will be one of the best online gaming experiences ever offered -- one worthy of The Elder Scrolls franchise.”  

But don't take our word for it, does this trailer whet your appetite?

We really can't wait,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor