Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The One Where I Went To Hyper Japan 2012

You ever notice that in TV episodes the characters rarely go anywhere other than work and home and that one bar/cafe they always go to? My life began to feel a bit like that lately, as I was going from home to work, to home and back again. But the weekend before last I actually stepped outside my door for a non-work and non-grocery shopping reason: Hyper Japan 2012.

Adore the designs on the fabric in the background.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Creativity and Ninjas

I've not been much in the mood to create anything lately, which has included blog posts. We will blame it on the grumpy monkey on my back. He's a miserable git, and tells me to sit and watch TV rather than do anything because, you know, what's the point? Despite him I have been getting some ideas and just had one today that is either amazing, or absolutely awful. But I like it, so will probably pursue it. Even a rubbish idea can turn out great once you get a bit of depth to the story. And to share my crazy process, here's how this idea came about.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Film Review: The Ides of March

As the real life death match day dawns in America (imagine the turnout for that kind of election), it seemed like an appropriate time to watch "The Ides of March". George Clooney directs and stars in this political melodrama, which deals with the price, and loss, of idealism. It's a solid film, with snappy performances from the leads, but sticks to a muted tone, rather than all out excitement or scandal. Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy did for espionage, The Ides of March shows political machinations in a realistic light, where it's not so much top-down, thought out conspiracies afoot, but instead the desperate actions of individuals out to save their own skins.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


An impromptu post about news I've just heard: Disney has bought Lucasfilm and all its subsidiaries (Industrial Light and Magic as well as Skywalker Sound). I felt a tremor in the force when I read that (and listened to the accompanying announcement video). It turned into an "Alderaan has blown up" moment, when I read the following lines from the announcement: "Fans can expect a new feature film, Star Wars - Episode 7, in theatres worldwide in 2015". Oh, Obi-Wan, no...

If there were ever any doubt that Lucas sold his soul, here's the proof.
I love the original Star Wars trilogy. They were an adventure, and a moral guide for me growing up, something that made me aspire. Okay it made me aspire to become a Jedi Knight, but there are worst things to dream of as a kid. In fact I'd even say one of the greatest things I learnt about storytelling came from those films; start in the middle of something. I read a huge amount of the spin off books, and in fact still have them all sitting on my book shelf behind me. I played the games (even the bad ones) and thought no game would ever be better than Knights of the Old Republic. I was, and still am in some ways, a die-hard Star Wars fan, with a cacophony of useless information about the extended universe in my head. In other words, a total geek.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Huzzah and Hooray - Returning to the 21st Century

Joyous jubilation's; I have the Internet once more at home. No more hanging around in a Starbucks looking like a pretentious tosser. No more burning out my phone's battery (and bill) with eye hurtingly small screen browsing. And better yet, it's faster than it's ever been, thanks to a certain "infinity" option from one of the biggest telecom companies in Britain (don't make me say their name - Lucifer probably gets another three souls every time they're mentioned. But better the devil you know, than the one you don't).

As if this wasn't enough to bring pure happiness to my life, I also got a new fridge-freezer installed. I tell you, it's like being in some science-fiction fantastic future. With a force of will I didn't hug my new fridge but I may have stuck my head inside its reassuring coolness when I got home. Don't judge me: try going without a fridge for over four weeks. Then you can judge me.

So as I have my two preciousness' (preciousness's?) back here are some photos I took during my holiday. Me and my man spent a day in London taking in the views of Westminster on our way to the Tate gallery. Enjoy.

I always forget just how "big" Big Ben is...

Westminster is very pretty on the outside.
Shame about those politicians ruining it on the inside.

I couldn't have planned a better shot.
Thank you dark cloud for adding atmosphere.

The Union Jack flies proud and true.
Wonder if they were eating caviar in there?

I adore this architecture. Gothic and majestic all at once.

This would have been a great picture if not for the "plebs" wandering into shot.
(Only kidding. I love plebs really.)

You can't see them but there was someone standing on the other side
of the horse to get their picture taken with it. The horse did not like them much
and turned to bite them. Yay horse.

Friday, 5 October 2012

How To Go Stir Crazy

I'm absent easy access to the Internet right now - that alone is enough to make anyone go crazy. It's funny to think I survived so long in my life with no Internet whatsoever; now I can barely go a few weeks of no Internet without feeling like my arm has rotten off and been stolen by hungry badgers. But I truck on, mainly by exploiting the free wifi a certain conglomerate coffee seller offers. It's cheaper then an Internet cafe, but a lot noisier. Especially when the yummy mummies come in with their spawn...  maybe their Internet hasn't been installed yet either.

The flat move is complete and I made my first mortgage payment four days ago. It feels much better than paying rent, though it comes with its own set of problems. Like when your fridge doesn't work. At all. And you have to call a useless customer "care" department that put you on hold for at least ten minutes at a time with Beautiful South songs playing on a loop. I mean, what kind of evil, twisted mind thought that up; the Beautiful South for Christ sake! I may as well plunge chop sticks into my ear drums. This wouldn't have been so bad if any of the agents before the fifth one I talked to had given a damn but alas, it took many calls until I found that most elusive of creatures; a customer service agent that actually cares. Or at least is good at pretending and wants to fix your problem enough so they don't have to talk to you again. Fingers crossed I will be getting a new fridge in the next week. If not, then there will be one more very angry call in the near future.

Work looms on the horizon, as I've been off these last couple of weeks. Between battling with 'Electrosux', I managed to get some words down and am pleased with the little story developing. It's another short one, and features two young people (15 and 8-years-old) surviving in a post-apocalypse world, where they seem to be the only survivors, three years on from the plague that killed everyone else. But then the youngest disappears in the middle of the night and the eldest has to seek her out - and discover what else survived... I'm liking where it's going and hope to have it finished soon, possibly over the weekend. Assuming I don't lose my mind in the process from lack of web access. Then again maybe that's the best way to write; on the verge of a full mental breakdown.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Life and Stuff

So I haven't blogged in a while. Life got a bit busy and if I'm honest my feeling of wanting to write/draw/do anything creative has been horribly absent. While we all know that you shouldn't let your feelings interfere with creating, the practical real-world situation is; sometimes you just can't help it.

So I have a brand new shiny flat to move into, which should happen this coming week. As ever nothing has been simple. There have been "snag issues" (i.e. paint peeling off in the kitchen and the

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Trickiness of Endings

Last week I at long last read a Stephen King story that I'd wanted to read for years; The Mist. I saw the film for the first time in 2008 and despite loving it I didn't seek out the King original story it was based on at the time. Now, with the wonder that is the Kindle, I got the collected short story volume The Skeleton Crew and settled down to read it through. But having watched the interview between director Frank Darabont and Mr. King I knew the ending was different to the film. And not necessarily for the better. This got me thinking about my own troubles with endings and why there's hope for us mere mortals if even the writing gods like Stephen King can get it wrong sometimes.

*Here Be Festooned With Spoilers - Fairly Warned, You Be*

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Weird Tales, Racism and Yet More Stupidity

In a week full of depressing exhibitions of ignorance and stupidity, I have plenty I could rant about. Instead I'm going to lament the passing of a previously great speculative fiction magazine: Weird Tales. No, they're not closing down, and no doubt the next issue will come out on time. But it isn't the same Weird Tales that in 2010 earned a place on the Hugo ballot. That was made abundantly clear with the farce that is currently taking place on their website, after their editor Marvin Kaye decided to defend a "thoroughly non-racist book", that is totally racist - screen capture here (as Weird Tales have removed the original article from their site. Tut tut.) He also planned to publish the first chapter in the next issue of Weird Tales. Even though it's available for free from Amazon and a number of other places...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nostalgia Time - The Demise of The Dandy

I love a good bit of nostalgic whimsy. Casting your mind back, a smile dancing on your lips as you recall the smell of your street growing up, the cartoons you used to watch, the sweets you used to eat. It is with this feeling that I recall The Beano; a British comic that featured Dennis the Menace, his pet dog Gnasher and a whole host of other characters. So I was sad to hear that it looks like its sister comic, The Dandy, may be facing an end to its 75-year long run. Though nothing is definite, and I have no doubt the publisher DC Thomson will try to save it, with such a low circulation it's hard to see how it can continue as is for much longer.

"Where's me Beano?"
(Photo by Peter Barr, c.c. licence,via Wikimedia Commons)


Children just don't read The Dandy anymore. Or the Beano for that matter. The usual suspects of TV, video games and the Internet have been brought up as reasons for it, though considering the Moshi Monsters comic apparently saw a 43% rise in its circulation within a year of its release, something else may be at play here. Personally I suspect cost plays a part in all this; when I was wee the Beano was under a pound, about 60p - 70p I think. Nowadays it costs over a pound... even with a free toy, that seems a bit steep. Then there's also the possibility that the Dandy (and possibly the Beano too) are just past their sell by date. The characters were fun and interesting to me as a child in the 80s and 90s but I don't know if that's as true for children of the 21st Century. That's the problem with nostalgia; sometimes it can make you think something is better than it actually was and to want to protect something that probably shouldn't be saved. The Dandy characters will no doubt live on, in other comics and online, but how relevant is the comic itself anymore to children's lives? Especially when they have so many more options than previous generations?

What do you think? Should beloved products be saved for nostalgia's sake, or is their relevance/quality more important?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Life Olympics

Another looong gap in postings... I really need to stick to a schedule. Hell, I probably really need to make a schedule, but I don't ever seem to find the time. Making a point of doing a quick post today as I'm about to set off for a hotel stay this weekend, to be a bridesmaid tomorrow for one of my closest friends. She's the first of the gang to get hitched so it's been a pretty big deal to all of us. Feeling old or feeling grown-up - not sure which - but it's very exciting either way. The couple are lovely together and I couldn't be happier for them. Or for the dress that I get to keep. I may walk around my flat in it from time to time, just to get some wear out of it (and because it's really purty!)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Sexing up the Classics

After a lull in the bloggage, I thought I'd share my take (you mean rant surely? ed.) on the news that some classic works of fiction are getting sexed up in the wake of the brainwashing juggernaut that is the Fifty Shades books. Up front I'll say I haven't read the Fifty Shades books - I got the original fan-fic and nearly wet myself with laughter trying to read some of the worst prose I've ever seen; "I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror." (Who the hell else would you be scowling at while looking in a mirror?), "I gasp and all the muscles deep in my belly clench... my inner goddess is doing the dance of seven veils" (Mwa ha ha ha ha!) . But they're selling like hot cakes, with free handcuffs, so it's no surprise someones come along and thought of a way to jump on the rumpypumpy-wagon. Enter "Total-E-Bound Publishing", who intend to release erotic versions of classic pieces of literature, including Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey, and A Study in Scarlet. Claire Siemaszkiewiczm, the founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, says, "We're not rewriting the classics. We're keeping the original prose and the author's voice. We're not changing any of that."

Oh, that's alright then. Because, if you rewrote the whole thing, that would be more insulting then shoehorning in a sex scene where none previously existed. And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that it would also be a lot harder for your "writers" to rewrite a whole book from scratch...

Friday, 6 July 2012

TerribleMinds Flash Fiction Challenge: Fairy Tale Upgrade

Another challenge is up on Chuck Wendig's site terribleminds, this time to take a fairy tale and rewrite it for the modern age (or any age that isn't medieval in nature). Read on for my effort, which is more of an interpretation than a direct retelling; hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Book Review: Jenny Pox

Jenny Pox (The Paranormals, #1)Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being a regular reader of Amanda Hocking's blog, I saw a trailer for this book and her suggestion to check it out while it was free from the Amazon Kindle Store (and it still is at the time of writing this review). The trailer was very impressive and professional so it seemed worthwhile to give it a go. I am glad to say I was not disappointed; original, twisted and with good pacing, Jenny Pox not only has a great title but a very nice story going on in its pages. It's far from perfect, but the few niggles weren't enough to ruin the experience.

Plot: 18-year-old Jenny Morton is cursed - every living thing she touches gets the plague ('the Jenny Pox'), and if contact is held for longer than a couple of minutes, they die, horribly. A lifetime of not being able to touch people has left her lonely and an outcast in the small, rural town of Fallen Oak. Her life is made ever more miserable by the machinations of Ashleigh Goodling, a super-popular, beautiful girl, with a secret of her own. Then Jenny discovers something marvelous and terrible; there is at least one person she can touch, and it just happens to be Ashleigh's boyfriend Seth Barret...

Many have said this isn't a Young Adult book, but I felt most of the story was very much a standard paranormal YA tale. But this is definitely unlike any YA book I've ever read, and I suspect it's meant primarily for those aged 16+. Gore, sex, drugs - it's got it all and personally it was a breath of fresh air from the usual YA fare that pretends these things don't exist, or at least talks about them very indirectly. I would definitely have read this at 16, maybe even 15 without any problems (but then I was reading Stephen King by 13, so this is a totally subjective opinion).

The story is interesting, and though it sags a bit in the middle (when it goes deep into standard YA paranormal romance territory) it isn't long before it picks up and hurtles to a very dramatic, and icky, conclusion. This is not a book for those with a weak stomach.

The characters could do with a bit of fleshing out, as they mostly feel like archetypes, especially Seth. Jenny is suitably tortured, though I wondered at her actions in the final act - there would have been a benefit in seeing a crueler side to her earlier on to make it flow, but it still works. Asheigh is by far the best character, though again her character lacks a certain depth. There was however a redeeming moment in the final act, where we get a glimpse of her point of view about Jenny, and it was a welcome addition to make her more than just the 2-dimensional baddie.

There's definitely a touch of Carrie to Jenny Pox, along with a dash of Mean Girls (Ashleigh is essentially a paranormal Regina George, and I always saw Rachel McAdams while I was reading Ashleigh scenes). Anyone with a sympathy for the underdog teenager should get a kick out of this. Though I'm a little unsure about the explanation for the powers (it's given rather suddenly in the last few chapters) I'm willing to carry on reading the trilogy to see how it pans out. If you want a different sort of YA novel - without the sweetness, or easy morals - then Jenny Pox would be worth trying. Especially while it's still free.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Busy Little Bee

Sorry for the late posting of this. I've just had one of those weeks when your head feels like it might implode with all the stuff you have to get done. It's not all finished yet either... but I'm definitely on my way there.

The first thing that's been keeping me busy is some major Hen Night planning for a friend of mine. It's wonderful to try to come up with things that I think she'll love, but massively stressful. I'll be a lot happier once the day itself is here and (I hope) she squeals in delight at what I've set up for the activities. So, I'm a tad stressed about that...

Friday, 15 June 2012

This Is Not The Post I Was Going To Write - The Lara Saga

I just got back from Sweden, after a one night stay to visit Swedish colleagues there. I have a number of cool pictures from Gothenburg - which I will upload at a later date - and was very impressed (again) with how clean the city is, as well as the great weather that I really hadn't planned for.

I caught up on what I had missed in the last couple of days and spotted a post on Kotaku, titled "You'll 'Want to Protect' The New, Less Curvy Lara Croft". It's an interview with Crystal Dynamics' Executive Producer Ron Rosenberg, in which he seems to be saying that players can't see themselves as Lara Croft, that they will instead want to protect her, and a suggestion that she is broken, and "turned into a cornered animal" when faced with, what seems to be, an attempted rape. After reading some of the comments on there and blog posts about it I was slightly less seething (knowing I wasn't alone in having a problem with it), but left with a feeling of nausea; is this really how one of my favourite female game protagonists is going to be treated? Are game developers/writers so unimaginative that the only way they can think to toughen up a female character is to have someone try to rape her? And what the fuck is with the idea that players don't want to be Lara Croft?

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Big Birthday

Happy Birthday to  me!
Today is my 130th birthday... well, it would be if I were a Hobbit so we can detract 100 from that number. I had an absolutely incredible party on Saturday, mainly due to having some of the best friends anyone could ever want. For any of them reading; thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hired a small screening room in central London for the occasion and told everyone to treat it like an exclusive private movie screening - any excuse to get glammed up. I didn't tell anyone what film we'd be watching though, so with much anticipation everyone took their seats and after I thanked everyone (as is mandatory with any film themed night) the opening credits began. There was a cheer when the words "Directed by Paul Verhoeven" came up, and an even bigger cheer when the title "Total Recall" was up on screen. So I obviously chose well. There was much shouting out of lines ("Give dis people air!"), laughter and commentary along with the film; the best way to watch a movie with friends. Afterwards the bar area was booked for the night so much drinking followed.

I seriously don't think I can ever top that as a birthday party, and I'm not sure I want to; turning 30 is a big deal and I don't find it depressing at all. It's liberating. I don't worry about what others think of me, I know what I want from my life (and what I don't) and I'm working on achieving dreams and ambitions. All of this wouldn't have been possible in my twenties, with the insecurities, the confusion and lack of direction. But for the first time in my life I know (roughly) where I want to go, while being open to any opportunities that may come along the way. But most of all, I'm more comfortable in my skin than I think I've ever been. And that has to be worth celebrating.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Feeling Arty

As promised, this is my work in progress. Based on a scene from Spirited Away - I just love the soot sprites!* Using water colour to colour in, and will finish off with pen later. This is layer 2 - still many more to go.

If by some strange chance you haven't seen Spirited Away, then I highly recommend it - it has a fantastic story, magical characters and a really quirky sense of humour. I only hope my little soots will come close to the original. Painting with water colours is something I've not done for years and I'm remembering why I loved it and hated it - at times you feel like you have no control, and the water just does what it wants to do. A bit like writing characters actually...

*The soots are intelligent - and very cute - little workers who throw the coal into a fire always burning in the bath house. They work non-stop to keep the fire going. These guys need a union. They originally look like this:

Soot sprites with their little star treats. I don't know if they
eat them or not but they definitely love star treats.

Jubillee and Train Rides

After a strange weekend full of union jacks, national fervour and rain, I've finally pulled myself out of my bank holiday fog - I still don't know what day it is, but I'm at work, so it must be after Tuesday. For those not in Britain it's hard to describe what happened over the four day break - a strange, en masse, coming togetherness, for a woman who was despised 15 years ago for the exact same stiff upper lippedness that is now so admired. The public are a fickle lot.

Personally I enjoyed what I saw of the boat procession on Sunday (I fell asleep in the middle) and the procession on Tuesday was truly awe inspiring. Not because of the horses - pretty though they were - but due to the huge amount of people gathered around Buckingham Palace, who spontaneously cheered, and sang "God Save The Queen" at the top of their lungs, while Her Majesty looked down from on high. Though I'm far from being a royalist, even I have to say it was jolly nice seeing the genuine affection from the crowds for our monarch, and even more so seeing the, at times overwhelmed, Queen respond to that.

On a personal note, I'm trying my hand at more drawing and painting. When I get home I'll take a picture of the little water colour I'm doing at the moment, though it's no where near finished. Recently I've found myself writing a few hundred words and then drawing, or doing a little sketch and then writing. The two seem to be feeding off each other. I only wish my daily commute was a bit shorter so I'd have more time for both.

And speaking of commute, as everyone in London likely knows, there have been considerable problems on the Central line since yesterday. Which just happens to be the line I use every day. It's truly amazing how much a burst water pipe can cock up a whole line, but that's London for you. On the way to work (via my secondary, 30 minute longer route) I looked at the crowds gathered on platforms and came up with a few lines. Below is my meagre attempt at poetry inspired by those ideas

The Never Train

Look, wait, huff, sigh,
heads down, 
waiting for the never train.

Rush, shove, cough, halt,
heads up,
here rumbles the never train.

Push, move, crush, read,
heads down,
standing on the never train.

Screech, lean, jolt, stop,
heads up,
stepping off the never train.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

One Goal Reached, Many More to Conquer

I got excellent news this last week; my offer on a flat was accepted and the process of owning property has begun. But that isn't what this post is about (though it could be - I've been bouncing around in excitement about that for days). No, this post is about another bit of great news. For you are now reading the words of a published writer. That's right, my short story, that I talked about ages ago, has finally been released in an anthology and it's available from a number of sources.

**Shameless self-promotion ALERT**

The book is titled, "Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity". It is a collection of short stories that explore what would happen if the old tales and legends were true - but with dark truths we never imagined. My story is called "A Fair Price", and is about a young woman discovering the holiday home her and her husband are staying in might not be so idyllic after all. You can find your very own copy here:


and here:


I particularly like the bit on Amazon, where it says "Author" after my name. Squeel!

Now of course I would love it if everyone reading this would go buy their very own copy to keep and treasure forever, and then get all their friends to buy their own copies too, but I'm realistic - and with the property buying, on a tight budget myself now.* But I would be super grateful for the word of mouth, so if you know anyone who likes twisted tales and short stories - or reading in general - pass it on. I will ask Karma to send you something nice. Like cake. Everyone likes cake.

* Really? Is that why you just spent loads of money on your birthday party? And bought yourself that watercolour set? - Internal Editor.** 

**Shut up.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Feeling Thankful

I'm writing this because I realise I don't say thank you often enough for the good things in my life. Maybe it's the hangover (there was much dancing and drinking last night - and on a school night no less), or maybe it's the exhaustion talking, but I wanted to take a post to be grateful for the good things in my life. The Internet is full to bursting with joy-consuming negativity, like a big dark seeping slug on the interweb, so this is me fighting it back, if only a little.

Seeing the positive in things is something I do a lot more now than I ever have before, probably due to seeing first hand how fragile human life is and that it doesn't last forever. Rather than upset me the realisation invigorated me to try new things, to feed my passions and to push myself to achieve the things I want out of life. But it was easy to make that mental transition because of the wonderful people in my life. I owe a huge thanks to all my friends for being so jolly brilliant, encouraging and just generally fabulous. Then there's the wonderful man in my life, who puts up with me tumbling home at silly o'clock and only teasing me a little about it... or a lot, depending how funny it is. And I am immensely fortunate to have not just my parents in my life, but to know them as human beings, rather than simply as entities of authority.

I am very fortunate, and I hope I don't ever take that for granted, especially as not everyone can say the same. But finding the good, in amongst the bad, is definitely the best thing I ever learnt. So thank you guys, one and all, for being my rocks, my co-conspirators, my devil's advocates and the source of a lot of my hangovers...

*Shameless 90s reference alert*

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

It Never Rains; Instead It Shitstorms you

Howdy wordseekers. I have been a bit quiet on the ol' bloggery for a bit, and even my tweeting has taken a dive. All because I go and get "grown-up" and find myself with far more responsibilities and things to do then is wise for someone with as short an attention span as me. Ooh, look something shiny outside... Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, being a "grown-up" and doing everything at once.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Maurice Sendak: Gone Where The Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator, died yesterday and though it's sad to know another great mind has left this mortal realm, it's been wonderful to see his works spoken about in print and on screen. I adored "Where the Wild Things Are" as a child, and only came to appreciate Sendak's works all the more the older I became.

Sendak did something that few children's writers seem to do; he told the painful truth. Being a child is not, in my experience, a purely innocent, tra-la-la through the flowers good time. Bits of childhood suck. Other parts can be terrifying and incredibly distressing; whether it's fearing that spelling test the next morning, with the teacher who shouts at you when you get it wrong, or blaming yourself for other people's problems, or feeling pure fury at your own powerlessness. Sendak understood this and communicated it in the dark fantasy worlds he created.

My imagination has been heavily influenced by Sendak's works, leading me to love the darker side of a "nice" story, which can also be seen in films like The Dark Crystal, Willow, Return to Oz or Labyrinth. They have the same mix of childlike wonder with a terrible darkness lurking on the edges, which occasionally confronts you head on. If you've never sat and read one of his books then I can't recommend them enough. No matter how old you are.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Film Review: Avengers Assemble

Or, as it should be written, "Avengers! Assemble!", in a big booming voice. In America it's just been titled "The Avengers", but someone, somewhere, thought us Brits would get confused between this and the truly dire 1998 film of the same name. Regardless of the name change, the film itself was great fun, and packed to the gills with action, humour and explosions. In other words; prime blockbuster stuff.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tatto DVD/Blu-ray Launch

Yesterday I went to the launch party for the DVD and Blu-ray of David Fincher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The irony is I haven't seen the film yet (and sadly no freebies were available at the party). It was held in the new Covent Garden based London Film Museum, a place I didn't even know existed until I got the invite, in the appropriately named "Vaults". There was lots of scaffolding outside, making the entrance a bit hard to spot (thank you to the rep with the clip board standing outside in the rain - it was a clue for who we needed to talk to!) Inside were photos of the cast, particularly of Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, as well as a select choice of props from the film. What can I say; sometimes there are perks to my day job.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge - "Death is on the Table"

I was thinking I needed to do a bit more fiction on this ol' blogshere shaped thought translator and waddyaknow (that is so a word) - my favourite foul-mouthed pen-monkey, Chuck Wendig, went and issued a challenge on his blog. The theme is death, where it is a main feature of a 1000 word story. To that I say;

Death Of Rats by Paul Kidby
"Challenge accepted, sir. Even if it's, you know, a bit bleak."

Then I thought, does it have to be bleak? Can I make a story where death is a main element, the raisin dental of the story, but not be depressing about it? It's worth a go anyway, so keep reading to see my entry, coming in at 999 words. (It was very hard not to write my own ode to the Death of Rats, of Discworld fame. I love the Death of Rats. With his little scythe and his little cloak.)


Death Duty - Apply Within

Some people think that dying is the worst thing that will ever happen to them. It isn't; filling in your forms so your spirit goes to the right place is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone. I should know. I do it for a living. I'm an "Afterlife Co-Ordinator".

You see, there isn't a natural ascendance into heavenly space - death is complicated. Everyone has to be checked and assessed, before being assigned to their next life. Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, you gotta do the whole thing again. And again. Once more around the merry go round. But next time you might be a cockroach, if you didn't behave yourself in your mortal coil. There's rumours of a next level, a higher state, but I've never seen it or known anyone to vanish into it. Likely a ruse to keep us keen.

It's a pretty dull job most of the time. The netherworld isn't the most glamorous (no nightclubs, no restaurants, no night for that matter) and those of us assigned this "honour" have to do it every day, hour after hour. It's not even as if we can simply stamp the form and send the floating essence on its way. Oh no, we have to interview them too, work out what their perspective is. Not everyone, just the "edge cases", the people who did some pretty bad things but may have had a reason, or seemed to accidentally do good things. Personally I envy those who only handle small furry mammals, or fish. How easy must that be? Oh, you were a fish? You bobbed about in the ocean until a bigger fish ate you? Let me stamp that form for you. Jeesh... some people don't even know how good their afterlife is.

I've been here for... well a long time. I can't honestly remember anymore. And, even though my head hurts at the thought of work, when I'm processing the latest form I always try to remember that the spirit before me is still getting used to this. Most are surprised they get to go back. And even more surprised when they find out they get to go back as a lion. Or a polar bear. Or an ant. That happens to more people then you might think, but then a lot more insects get to go back as humans then you might expect too.

I was starting another day, tidying my desk, when in came my first essence of the morning. I don't like to think of them as spirits; too spooky. But this one was different. It had a glow about it as it hovered between the filing cabinet and the Palm plant in the pink pot. Most of them have at least some features, the residue of the person they were, but this one had no face, no arms, nothing. Just a big glob of faintly glowing white-blueish mist. Then it spoke.

"What now?"

Short and to the point. I liked it already. I opened my drawer to pull out it's file, which normally materialise out of no where in there, as you need them. Oh, how I wish they would magically file themselves, but alas. This time though, there was no file. So I looked in my inbox tray. Nothing. I looked through the papers on my desk. Nothing. I began to feel a dread come over me. I'd lost a bloody essence's file. That's never happened before. I'd never even heard of it happening before. If I could have, I would have been sweating by now, but as it was I tried to act calmly in front of the client and looked through the filing cabinet. It floated over my shoulder, watching my movements as I again failed to find its file. I had to stall.

"So, where are you from?"

The essence bobbed up and down a couple of times, its confusion obvious, before it responded. "I remember a boat?"

"Really? A boat?" I asked, rummaging under my desk now in desperation, "so were you a fisher... man?"
Again the shape was silent for a time, giving me a moment to curse under my breathe when the damned file still hadn't materialised in any place I could think of. Then it glowed a little brighter and said, "I was told to come here."

None of them had ever said that before. I looked at it puzzled for a moment before asking what it meant.
"I... yes, it's coming back to me. I went to another office before this. They were very nice. They said I was to come and relieve you. That you're free to go."

For a moment I was the one who hung there, silently. With a shake of my head I gave a nervous laugh and answered, "That can't be right. There is no where to go. This is my job."

The globule moved about on the spot, like a dog shaking itself.

"No, there's another place above this one. They said, you just need to go up the stairs and turn to the right. And to not worry. I'll be taking over and will be fully trained on the job, just like you were."

I honestly felt like I was going to be sick, which considering I don't technically have a stomach anymore, is impressive. I walked to the door and opened it. There, despite never being there before, was a staircase, leading upwards, with a blazing glow at the top of it. I turned to the essence, which was beginning to take on the shape of a woman.

"Thank you. I think."

"Not a problem. Apparently you've been very good at what you do here. I hope I get to join you one day," she said.

"Yeah." I couldn't think of anything else to say. I turned to those stairs, which had a golden hue to them and took a step towards the light and a totally unexpected future.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Stories and Hens

Hello wordseekers. Sorry I've been absent for a bit - I've been a tad busy. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will have seen my mumblings about Domains and Hosts; you see I'm realising this ol' blog here just isn't going to cut it long term. But I don't want to lose anything I've posted, so the plan (at the moment) is to set up a new website, with my own domain name, and move all of this over to it. Thankfully Wordpress seems to do the job, so I suspect that will be the platform I'll be using, once I have the other stuff done. This is all a bit scary/exciting as I've never set up a website before AND I want to do as much of it myself as I can. What can I say; I'm a control freak. That, and I've noticed the most successful indie-authors out there are in total control of their own sites. I also like the idea of not being dependent on a designer or architect to make changes in the future. It's going to be a hell of a ride.

In other news I'm working on a new short-ish story that may be coming out as an e-book in the not too distant future. It depends how it turns out and what beta-readers think of it. Oh, and on me finishing it in the next few weeks. Yeah. That's probably important too. It should come in at roughly the 40,000 to 50,000 word mark, all being well. And I even know what the cover will look like. But it still involves a lot of research, mainly imagery, and if anyone would like to see some of that research as it happens, head on over to my new pininterest page. Artwork from deviantART will feature heavily, as I've been in love with that site for a long time and have always turned to it when I need inspiration (or just want to look at amazing drawings). See if you can guess what the work in progress might be about...

The other thing I'm working on is planning a hen party for a very close friend of mine. Bit daunting to be given so much responsibility, especially by someone who I; (a) don't want to piss off and (b) actually really like, so don't want to disappoint. Thankfully ideas are flowing, and hopefully I will have something sorted out soon. Now, where did I put that number for the Chippendales...?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sour Grapes or Solid Points?

Last week I came across author Christopher Priest's blog, specifically his post about the recent Clark awards nominations. He's a novelist and Science-Fiction writer, probably best known in the mainstream for his book The Prestige, which was turned into a very successful film staring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. I'll admit I'm only familiar with that latter work of his, but I know he is a well respected and admired author. Unfortunately this only confused me more when I read his comments on the Clarke awards; you see, he's not best pleased.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Book Review: 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer

500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer - Chuck Wendig - 2012

First off, something you should know; I am a big Chuck Wendig fan. I've been mooching around his blog, Terrible Minds, for over a year now and I'm consistently impressed/amused/educated, in equal measure. This means that anything I read of Chuck's is going to be in light of how much I love his site, especially when the book in question is made up of stuff that he posts on the websphere. Combined with enjoying his fiction, I have a big ol' soft spot for him and his works - he's doing a lot of this on his own and is taking the time to share his thoughts with the world. And very useful thoughts they are too. HOWEVER (said in deep booming voice) if you are in any way;
  • Sensitive
  • Easily offended
  • Disapprove of swearing
  • Think that "zany" is overrated
  • Don't like being shouted at
Walk away. Stop reading. This book (and pretty much most of Mr. Wendigs wordage) will not be your thing. Chuck uses wacky imagery, often, goes off on tandems that have nothing to do with what he's saying, and swears an awful lot. This is why I love his stuff. This is why others hate it. Each to their own. But this review will be based on the notion that you, dear reader, also like these things.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Those Wheels Keep on Turning

Today I received a confirmation email for my story submission with "that anthology" I've mentioned on these here blog spots and it was very exciting to see my name in the list of "contributing authors". Squeal! I now have a confirmed date so I feel like I can share some firm details with you; the anthology is published by Sirens Call Publications, and is entitled "Twisted Realities: Of Myth and Monstrosity", with a release date of May 26th for both eBook and paperback versions. Double squeal!

I still can't quite believe I'm going to be published - in a paying medium no less - but I'm keen to work on that success and look for the "next thing". I've never been a believer in sitting on laurels; if nothing else the same view gets a bit dull after a while. To that end I've been playing with short story ideas, which has in turn slowed down novel writing. But it's turning out to be a good thing. Why? Because I'm seeing faults with my novel that I would never have seen without working on this short story for Sirens Call. Their editor was super and gave really helpful feedback in the copy-edits. If I'm honest I think I learnt more from those few pages of notes than I've learnt from writing 100,000 words of the novel. As a result I bought myself a proper moleskin notebook and have recorded tonnes of improvements I can make. Rather than depress me, I'm finding it's energising me to keep going - the results are going to be worth it.

So the plan at the moment is; keep on trucking with the novel - I believe I've got a cool story there and the characters won't leave me alone now so I don't have a choice. While doing that I'm going to aim to have another short story finished in the next two months and submit it to paying magazines/e-zines. It's amazing how many are out there if you look around enough - and they don't all pay in badger breath! Some give you actual money! The latest I've found is Lightspeed Magazine, who have open submissions for short fiction, at 5 cents a word - so I may work on something for them, assuming my ideas are in the right genre. I'm also planning on rejigging these blog pages - I feel that there's too much going on and it needs to reflect, well, me a bit more. No date on that but it will happen. You have been warned...

In other news, I've just finished yet another genius eBook of writing advice from the swearing, ranting, and inebriated Chuck Wendig. I will be reviewing it here in due course but have to say it was rather good, and fired off a few of my synapses to keep me on this crazy writer path I find myself on. I also watched Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (ugh... don't expect a review. It was bad enough having to watch it once without having to think about it in detail), and the first series of Game of Thrones. Which I will be reviewing. Because it was stupendous. So much so I'm going to end this post with a picture of Karl Drogo. Because I can never get enough Karl Drogo.

Peace out.

If I had to marry a barbarian, this is one I wouldn't mind so much.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Deja Vu Films

Ever seen a film and thought, "This is strangely familiar but not what I expected?" Or maybe you've looked at the cover of a DVD or Blu-ray and wondered if it's the same film that you've seen the trailers for. The one that was recently in Cinemas. Chances are it isn't the same film, it's instead what I call a "Deja Vu Film"; a film that has been inspired (heavily) by another movie, normally one that's been a huge blockbuster. Why they do this is pretty obvious - to make money. Lots of it. But it can be a bit unfair on the unsuspecting viewer who may not know that the film they're buying/renting is not actually the one they wanted to see. I see this a lot in my day job, and am amazed at the brashness of some studios to make a buck. So here are some of my favourite Deja Vu Films from recent years;

John Carter

When the Disney film hadn't even been released in cinemas yet I saw a film listed in release schedules for a March release, called "John Carter of Mars". It's since disappeared from those schedules and from every retail site in the UK; I suspect Disney may have had something to do with that. You can see the title on the IMDB page, originally titled "Princess of Mars", which wouldn't have given them the same search engine results (or, if we're less generous, wouldn't have tricked people into buying it). Anyone paying attention would see it isn't the Disney version, but on a quick scan, especially of search results, a person may not have noticed and made a purchase.

The Three Musketeers


Now, I know what you're thinking; there are loads of Three Musketeer versions. But there is only one that came out a few months before the recent Matthew MacFadyen iteration. And even better, the cover looks like it's set in the same era but it isn't; the first few sentences of the synopsis put paid to that mistaken notion, "When Alexandra D'Artagnan, junior National Security Agency officer, uncovers a plot to assassinate the President of the United States..." Sounds awful doesn't it? I wonder how many people read the synopsis though before they make a purchase...

Happy Feet

This isn't as bad as some of the others, more amusing than deceitful. And there are three of them (at least). I only saw this recently and it made me chuckle. One film is about a penguin and his friends who meet a human for the first time and the other is about a penguin who can tap dance. How many more will they make with Happy Feet 2 coming out?

Sherlock Holmes

Asylum films have a reputation for churning out knock-offs of blockbusters. They're biggest "hit" was an original-ish concept, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus but that hasn't stopped them continuing with the copy-cat films. My favourite is probably their Sherlock Holmes; the cover is a very similar colour as the Robert Downey Jr. version, and on a quick glance looks similar. Until you notice the octopus. And the Tyrannosaurus Rex. And the dragons.

Puss in Boots

Another animation, and another one where there has been more than one attempt to create a Deja Vu Film. One tries to be a little more obvious by adding "A Furry Tail" at the end of the original title, but it's still pretty clear that they hope to cash-in on the success of the Dreamworks films.


And finally another cartoon and one I saw a lot of complaints about when the non-Disney version was released. Despite the (slightly) different name, a number of people got confused about these two films. But no doubt as far as the people behind the Deja Vu Film are concerned it made more money then it would have done if it hadn't been called "Tangled Up", so where's the bad?

So watch out when you see a film listed on a website or sitting in a shop with a similar name to a film you're waiting for; it might not be what you expected...

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Book Review: Servant of the Underworld

Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian & Blood) (Obsidian and Blood) - Aliette de Bodard - 2010 - 432 pages

Fantasy can be a bit stale at times; nothing but ethereal elves, wizened old wizards and enough chosen ones to make up a football team (or ten). Servant of the Underworld is a very different fantasy tale. Set in the ancient Aztec lands, it has deities, spirits and strange creatures galore. And not an elf in sight. It's also different in that the plot has more in common with a murder mystery like The Killing, than traditional fantasy story arcs. Think Cadfael in South America. With a lot more blood.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

20 Tips on Mugging Your Muse

After my success last week I've been trying to come up with some more short story ideas. The hope is to have a couple finished in the coming months and then send them out to earn their keep, or at the very least get a rejection slip with some constructive feedback. This confronted me with the bane of many a writer's life; coming up with ideas. One of the most common questions for storytellers is "where do you get your ideas," which is actually a coded way of asking "how can I get me some of those ideas?" It's a very hard question to answer, and I don't think there are many people who do anything creative who can honestly explain where or how they get their ideas. They just seem to happen. But I do know there are some techniques I use to get and develop inspiration so thought I'd share them below, along with some truths about the idea process. They may help, they may not. But they're worth a go if your muse is being particularly stubborn. Please to enjoy.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Book Review - Debris

Debris - Jo Anderton - 464 pages - 2011 (Kindle version)

My quest to read books I don't normally read led me to the debut novel of Jo Anderton, "Debris", a steam-punk-esque, sci-fi/fantasy tale of class divides and technology gone wild. It isn't a book I would normally pick up, as I'm not a huge fan of steam-punk (it feels too forced and cliched at times) and a book's description that involves words like "architect" ,"pions" and "powersuit" are not normally that attractive to me. But as this is my year of pushing myself I bought an e-book version from Angry Robots and have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Exciting News

This week has been an odd one; I started it thinking there was something really wrong with my heart and/or lungs, due to breathing problems and chest pains, only for it to end on the highest of highs. Fiction has nothing on real life and its unpredictability.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Film Review: The Woman in Black (2012)

A good ghost story seems hard to find in modern films; too many rely on shock tactics, whether it be via gore or something jumping out of a wall, to build up that sense of terror that can be achieved just from watching a door handle slowly start to turn. The Woman in Black is a welcome return to ghost story telling of the past, and though it's a different beast to the play and book that precedes it, the film still offers a genuinely frightening and entertaining experience.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Modern Greed or a Tale That Needs Telling?

So news has 'leaked' that Amanda Knox has been given a  $4 million book deal with HarperCollins for her version of events surrounding the murder of Meredith Kercher and the ensuing court case against Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. It seems an odd time to "cash-in", considering that the Italian courts are appealing against the release of Knox and Sollecito, and as America has an extradition treaty with Italy, this could get very embarrassing for the publisher should she be sent back for a retrial. Or maybe that would just increase sales...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Over 10,000 Hits and Counting

Hello word seekers. I noticed that my visit count for the ol' rant-o-meter here has just passed the 10,000 hits mark - woo hoo! I find this extra impressive as I haven't posted much recently but it is super appreciated. Thank you to all of you that come on here regularly and a smaller but no less grateful thank you to the fly by night, blink and you'll miss-em visitors.

A quick catch up is probably in order. Today I submitted a short story to an anthology publication (deadline tomorrow - I just love cutting things as fine as possible) and will now wait to see what they say. Oddly, I wouldn't mind a rejection, if it comes with some feedback. But we will wait and see what happens. I admit I would much rather it be accepted... I must also mention my fabulous friends who took on the role of beta-readers for it. I got some excellent feedback and it really helped make the story better than I could have managed on my own. Thanks guys! (You know who you are - I owe you all at least one drink.)

In other news I'm coming out of a chest infection (another one!) that caused some never experienced side-effects before. Turns out not being able to breathe isn't much fun, and the steroid pills they give you for that make your stomach burn like you've just eaten the hottest chili in the world, with an added dash of molten lava. But I am on the mend, and that's been the primary reason the blog's been so quiet these last few weeks - writing in my cold office was on my list of "things I can't do until the drugs start working". But I'm back, and looking at my writing schedule again so should have a few more regular posts in the coming weeks.

I'd remove those scissors - that amount of writing block
can result in plucking out your own eyes.
I've also had a bit of a rethink re. "The Tome that Never Ends", otherwise known as my attempt to write a novel. I have realised a painful truth - it needs a lot of work. I mean a lot. At the moment the ending just sorta happens, and doesn't feel like it's due to the protagonist's decisions. Which we can all agree is not good. The problem is a lot deeper than that though - earlier on I just don't give her enough to work with. So... I am keeping what I've done BUT the stakes are being made that much bigger, huge in fact, so that failure really isn't an option for the main characters. I realised all this due to writing the short story I mention above; the first version of that was too safe, so I made it nastier. That in turn led me to think about my longer work and I realised I had done exactly the same thing; playing it safe resulting in uninteresting beige stuff. I'm glad I've realised this though, as it should result in a better, faster paced and enjoyable read. It's got me quite fired up too and that's normally a sign I'm onto something.

So more words to come, possibly in a couple more short stories to throw out there while I totally rejig the novel. Who knows what the next short story might teach me?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Book Review: God Is Not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchens - 2007 (Kindle 2011 version reviewed) - 320 pages

In light of his recent death I thought I'd finally get round to reading this book from Hitchens, written at a time when I was a bit disgusted (to put it mildly) with his support for the war in Iraq. At the time I didn't feel any need to read it; I'd enjoyed Richard Dawkins' rant about religion but didn't see the point in his or Hitchens' books, seeing them as simply preaching to the choir. To me they didn't seem to be saying anything particularly startling or, for a convinced atheist, anything that hadn't been said before. Having now read Hitchens' contribution I can honestly say my initial assumptions weren't far wrong, but he does a far better job of supporting his piece then Dawkins, and his writing is a wonder to behold.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Flash Fiction - "True Love"

Chuck Wendig posted a flash fiction challenge to his blog, "The Present Tense"; to write a maximum of 1000 words, all in the present tense. It's an odd tense to work in, and I thought it needed a lot of concentration to stay in it. Can't promise it's one I'll use in my fiction but it was nice to try it.

So I present you with my effort, "True Love". Hope you enjoy.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Getting (almost) anything onto your Kindle

Hey folks, it's time for another of those "I just discovered something that everyone probably knows about but it was news to me" posts. Specifically this is about the Amazon Kindle and how to get non-amazon ebooks onto it. As much as I love my Kindle my one complaint has been having to buy eBooks only from Amazon. Though I think their pricing is pretty good, I've always been uncomfortable with having no choice. Well that problem was solved when I discovered a little downloadable programme called "Calibre".

Marketing itself as the ultimate eBook organiser I watched the short introduction movie and was pleased to see how simple the tool is to use. You simply add your eBooks to Calibre and they are stored with editable meta-data (so if you don't agree with the genre listing you can change it to something else), with the option to add more metadata if you want. The layout is simple but attractive, with a list of your books in the middle and the details about the one you have currently selected shown on the right, front cover and all. When I first added my books to it one of them had no image but this was easily solved with the edit metadata option, which lets you "download a cover". After it searches the inter web it will show you what covers it found and allow you to select one to be shown in your library. Voila! One attractive book cover added.

The reason I sought out Calibre was more to do with buying a lot of books in ePub format for a lot less than they would have cost at Amazon (from Angry Robot, who have some really original Fantasy and Horror titles). But the Kindle only accepts Mobi files, so what's a girl to do? The answer is find a programme that will convert the file into a format the Kindle will accept. Calibre does this, and is super easy to use; you simply add your device to the programme (again this is incredibly easy and intuitive) and you click and drag your book to the device icon. It asks immediately if you want to convert the file and hey presto - one ePub book added to your Kindle. So far this seems to have worked perfectly and all the books I've converted look spot on.

I have to say I've been incredibly impressed with Calibre and am now using it as my eBook back-up system. I'm in the process of adding all my Kindle store purchases to the Calibre library, so I can see them on my Mac, and edit the details to make it easier for me to find things. I particularly like the ability to "tag" your books so I can add whatever phrases make sense to me, rather than having to stick to just dull "Drama", or "Funny" genres. Instead I'll have "Dragons", "Intellectual Stuff", "Slow Builder" and "Brainless Fun" among others. The only downside I can see with Calibre is it doesn't track where you've put your eBooks, but as I'm currently only using one eBook reader I don't think that will be a problem for me, though I could see it causing confusion where multiple devices are used. This is a really minor issue though, and I really recommend Calibre if you need to convert some ePubs or other formats, or even if you just want to have your eBook library stored in one easy to use place.

And the best part of it all? It's entirely free (though they are more than grateful for donations!)

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins - 1868 (Kindle 2006 version reviewed) - 664 pages

Image source: Amazon UK
I'm determined to review every book I finish in 2012, so that I can see how many books I get through in that time, as well as to share my thoughts on them. At the end of last year I bought a lot of classics on my kindle (they are free after all) and the first one I started reading was The Moonstone. Well, two and a bit months since starting I finally finished it and, despite how long it took to get through, I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Deja Boob

I happened to catch a recent article in IGN, "Opinion; Boobs, Bad Games and Misogyny", and almost had to restrain a sigh of utter boredom. Not because it's a bad article, it isn't, but due to the fact that this is still, STILL, a subject in gaming circles. Don't get me wrong, it's good we discuss gender issues relating to games; there's still progress to be made in the gaming world with regard to full gender integration (and full sexuality integration - how many LGBT characters can you think of in video games?) But it depresses me that we still have articles and arguments about "boobs in games". The fact there are (relatively) so few women in the industry is far more interesting to me, especially the fact that the number is starting to grow. But instead most discussions of misogyny in games comes down to the size of characters tits... *sigh*

I've played games most of my life; I am no stranger to the way that some female characters have been designed. The most obvious that springs to mind is the one and only Lara Croft, who was known as much for her chest size as her ability to raid a tomb or two. If I'm honest it never bothered me or made me angry when I played the first game - because it was a good game. I do remember playing it with a friend and both of us collapsing into a heap of giggles when we started talking about her boobs, but it never annoyed me. In fact I think I was just happy to have a female character at all, considering before that there hadn't been that many. This doesn't make it okay for all women to be portrayed as Playboy bunnies of course, but what this never ending topic always misses are the countless female characters that were not like this. Those with realistic bodies, sharp minds, and the ability to sharp shoot. So I'm going to list here five of my top female game characters who don't conform to the stereotype of "all sexy, no substance". Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Samus Aran - Metroid Prime series

One of the earliest female characters to not conform to expectations, many players got a surprise when they finished the first Metroid Prime game to discover that the character they'd been playing all that time was in fact a woman. Of course in later iterations when we do get to see her she has the big chest to be expected in games (apparently) but it doesn't detract from the fact that the Metroid games were never about her looks.

Samus has become something of a sex
symbol outside of the games. Unsurprisingly...

April Ryan - The Longest Journey

Not many may have played it but I loved the Longest Journey (and to a lesser extent it's sequel), mainly due to April Ryan being a fantastic and deep character. She has parent issues, ambitions, dreams under threat - and at no point are her looks an issue.

Aeris - Final Fantasy VII

She may have started out as the "girl needing rescuing" but Aeris develops as a substantially important character in her own right, and again her mind and abilities are the focus. Also; Most. Tragic. Event. Ever. In. Games. Period. (If you don't know what I mean, I pity you; you missed out big time)

Alyx Vance - Half-Life 2

A companion to the main character, Alyx is a very useful helper; she hardly dies, opens doors, and helps in combat. And no huge mammary glands.

Jade - Beyond Good and Evil

Also one of the first non-white main characters to grace a game, Jade was smart, brave and has all her clothes on. The developer behind her creation, Michael Ancel, admitted that he wanted to create a realistic character, rather than a "sexy action woman".

Other notable mentions should go to; Chell - Portal, Chloe Frazer - Uncharted, Elena Fisher - Uncharted, Grace Nakamura - Gabriel Knight series, Lightning - Final Fantasy XIII, and the most excellent Elaine Marley - Monkey Island series. The thing all these characters have in common with the "stereotype" is their attractiveness - so far no ugly main female characters have graced our screens. But the same could be said of TV, films, music videos... hell, any visual medium. And I want to emphasise here that I'm not saying it's fine to portray ALL women as bouncing bimbos who get rescued by the big strong man, and can only help by healing him when he gets hurt. But that isn't what I see in the gaming world. I see a vast diversity in female characters; some are 'bimbos', some are smart, some are vulnerable, and some are tough as nails. Some are even a mixture of all of the above. There's still work to be done to get more of this variety into games, but it isn't, in my opinion, the sexist mosh pit that some articles/commentators would have us believe.

The last thing I want to say on this subject is that I've never been insulted by a female character having big breasts, a small waist and a pert bum when I've been playing games. I'm far more insulted by a bad game with awful game play being sold at the same price as the good stuff. It's no surprise that when you're playing a game, especially one that may last for 60+ hours, you want something nice to look at (I play as a male Shepherd in Mass Effect - partly because I feel he fits better with the story, and also so I have a nice bum to look at for the hundred or so game play hours I'll be putting in. I can't blame straight guys for doing the same with female characters).

We can all agree that outright objectification is bad (and lazy). But if that's the case, I think the guys have a lot to complain about too, don't you think?

Source; gearsofwar.xbox.com

All images from Wikipedia, unless otherwise stated