Tag Archives: Science Fiction

What to Watch? Orphan Black

The other day, I read a post of someone on Facebook, mentioning how engrossed they were in Orphan Black. As I was loosing interest in Salem, I was looking for something else. I checked out Orphan Black and finished season 1 this weekend. We just got into season 2.

Orphan Black

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Cast

The main character, Sarah Manning, played by Tatiana Maslany, actually plays twelve characters! And they’re all different, not only in looks but also in voice and how they carry themselves, not to mention sexuality. Maslany does an awfully good job pulling it off.

Her fellow actors are Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden, an ex-military mercenary, who is a monitor and boyfriend. Jordan Gavaris plays Felix (“Fe”) Dawkins, Sarah’s gay foster brother and confidant. Whether he is gay in real life or not, he does a great job as the comic relief in the series. Kevin Hanchard is Detective Arthur “Art” Bell, Beth’s police partner. Michael Mando plays Victor “Vic” Schmidt, Sarah’s abusive, drug-dealing ex-boyfriend. I felt so sorry for him (but not because he’s a drug dealer 😀 ). Maria Doyle Kennedy is Siobhan Sadler, Sarah and Felix’s Irish foster mother. They call her ‘Mrs. S.’

Évelyne Brochu is Dr. Delphine Cormier, Cosima’s monitor (I actually visualized this name as being ‘Kozimaa’), Ari Millen is Mark Rollins, a Prolethean, and Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix, Alison’s husband and monitor.

Plot

I’m not going to give away too much as I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. It starts with Sarah Manning witnessing a woman, Beth Childs, who looks very much like her, throw herself in front of a train. Being in a bit of a pickle after stealing her boyfriend’s cocaine stash, she grabs the dead woman’s bag and takes her identity, not realizing the woman was a police detective. Sarah has a seven-year-old daughter, taken care of by her foster mother Shioban, that she wants to start a new life with, but Sarah has no idea what danger she has gotten herself and her daughter into.

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What I like about Orphan Black

As mentioned before, I love the way that Tatiana Maslany plays all these different characters. She has different hairdo’s, different ways of speech, different mannerisms. It must have been so hard for her! I’m sure it’ll put her on the map of great actresses. This, of course, couldn’t have been pulled off without the great eye of the director, John Fawcett, who was bold enough to put three of the same characters interacting with each other in the same scene.

As I’m always looking for things that take me out of a scene, I’m happy to mention that the only thing that bothered me was the hairdo of Rachel Duncan. That said, it was a hard one to pull off; a high-back bob-line. With all the other wigs, there never is a moment that you think they’re fake.

All the actors play their parts excellently and the story is extremely intriguing, nothing like you’ve seen before. That said, I’m not sure if they can keep this up for five seasons. I guess I’ll be looking for something else again after season 2, but in the meantime I’ll soak up every second!

What I didn’t like about Orphan Black

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Summary

If you haven’t yet, watch it. Just watch it. It’s funny, it’s scientific, it’s got drama, romance, and action, murder and mayhem. All the good stuff.

Meet the Author… Craig Wainwright

I met Craig Wainwright on Twitter (where I meet most of the authors I interview). He was talking about a big reveal and ramped the suspension up enough to peak my interest. I was dying to find out what he was talking about! His first book, The Lost Titan, launched yesterday, and Craig’s going to reveal his big secret in this interview, so quickly continue reading…

Craig Wainwright

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Biography

I’m normally a reserved, middle of the road, kind of  guy, whose always been geeky about Sci-Fi. When I got married, I warned Diane, my long suffering wife, that there would be three people in our relationship: me, her and the Doctor (big Doctor Who fan you see). Nowadays, the Doctor and Diane often pop out and leave me busily tapping away on the keyboard, only to return before I miss them – it’s a time travelling thing, I’ve been told…

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

Terrance Dicks, Dr Who editor (from 1968 to 1974)
Terrance Dicks, Dr Who editor (from 1968 to 1974)

Terrance Dicks, by a long way. To date he is still the longest serving Doctor Who script editor there’s been (1969 – 1974), wrote some cracking stories for the TV series and then topped that by writing the lion’s share of the Doctor Who range of Target books. What a guy.

Of course, being a cheeky Doctor Who fan when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to invite him round to my house when meeting him at a signing. To my amazement he agreed. At the time I was a member of the local Doctor Who group and so I quickly organised a sponsored “Stay Awake” event for the visit. Terrance got the proceedings going, with an auction and stayed for a couple of hours afterwards to chat with us.

Then I asked the typical fan question: ‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?’ His answer was the obvious one, but it stuck in my mind because he’s such a lovely bloke. ‘Just write it,’ he said. Succinct, concise and to the point. The answer hit home.

We raised £600 for Cancer Research that day, and am proud of the fact.

What made you want to become a writer?

An urge to tell stories about characters which have lived with me since I was 10. I’ve needed to do this for a number of years and have had various failed attempts since 1989 to get the job done. The thought of dying before I’d managed to let everyone know about these wonderful characters and the situations they find themselves in, mortified me. Morbid I know, but it’s true, and since I’m not getting any younger, I knew I had to do it sooner rather than later to have any chance of getting book 5 written.

What do you love most about the writing process?

via GIPHY

That moment when a character says something and you think that they have suddenly just come alive during that moment. It’s a magical time. Then, as the book takes its course, these people go on their journey. You see them grow and, by the end of the book, after all the twists and turns in the plot, they come out different people – as anyone would. With my style of writing, with the plot driving things forward and not the characters, this development does add an extra dynamic which can enhance the story.

On the flip side, I hate writing the first draft. I find the whole process painful and really hard work. But after that hurt, building on the original draft, the process suddenly becomes enjoyable because it then becomes a time of discovery. This happened with Book 1, were several things happened in the first five chapters and by the tenth I thought, ‘There have to be some consequences here’, and so the court scene was born. One of my beta readers loved that scene, as I do, because the hero shows he’s not just a physically powerful individual, but also a clever one as well. A fact which will become more important as the series progresses.

What genre do you consider your book(s) to be? Have you considered writing in another genre?

The Last Titan, by Craig Wainwright
The Last Titan, by Craig Wainwright

That’s an interesting question because this series is multi genre: Book 1, The Last Titan, is Sci-Fi with a strong super hero facet to it, bringing in the fantastical element. Because I plan to the nth degree, I know Book 2, The Last Titan: Titan’s Quest, will leave Sci-Fi behind and become purely Fantasy, with large dollops of horror towards the end. Book 3 leans more towards Horror with Fantasy elements embedded within it. I see this as being a very dark book and only hope I can pull it off as Horror isn’t my genre of choice. Strangely, and having just said that, these books cry out for the darker writing to add to the growing menace. Book 4 will return to straight Fantasy again. That’s just series 1. Series 2 will be different again in structure and feel, but that’s a long way off…

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

These books are about ten races of people who need one another to survive, for them racial tension never existed until one man brought with him intolerance and hate. With his coming terrible acts of violence followed. When such a scenario enters a society which seems utopian, we would often find a very fertile breeding ground for the evil to grow.

The motto, I suppose. is that we need to spot this type of person when they get into power and deal with them quickly. We don’t want another Hitler and we definitely don’t want another world war.

What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?

That’s easy. This was for Book 2, which I’m writing now, and it’s the melting point of Quartz. It starts melting at around 600c, if you’re interested.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

The overall process of research for the book has been mainly passive, since I’m quite well read when it comes to the history and literature of Ancient Greece. I spent a few nights researching the Chernobyl accident and got an understanding of how it happened and how the reactor was designed. It turned out in the end most of that research wasn’t used in the book. I also did quite a bit of research on Mauy Thai, since the hero is a an expert in the martial art. I checked out a few websites and bought a couple of VHS (yes VHS) tapes and sat down and watched them, taking a few notes.

Regarding much lighter research I spent a bit of time finding the right stars which might have Hellas orbiting them. They ended up being in Ursa Major and they’re a true binary system called Gliese 412. These stars are red dwarfs and one is much smaller than the other. However, every now and again this smaller star becomes much brighter than its neighbour, which fits beatifully with one of the background Mythos I’ve already written. I won’t say any more because I plan to bring the Mythos out as anthologies eventually. Maybe even bringing the first one out before The Last Titan 2.

What did you edit out of this book?

via GIPHY

Loads of stuff. The bulk of it centred around a narrator and two children who would ask him questions about the action in the preceding chapters. These guys discussed pertinent points which I felt needed further explanation but couldn’t fitted in the story any other way. This allowed me to bring in several background stories (one of which tied in with the end of the book beautifully). When I later looked at these sections, I had to admit they had become somewhat redundant as I grasped the mechanics of writing a novel and the need to save space added further reasons to chop these sections anyway.

Interestingly, there was also an alternative chapter 8 which introduced the character of Jimmy (a tramp) and it described Omicron (the female villain) conducting horrific experiments on his two friends. This was made redundant when Jimmy informs a character later on what he saw, and rather than taking fifteen pages to get this across it took three paragraphs to explain it instead. The chapter also had a very different version of Jimmy; he was a more crotchety character. I prefer the character he’s evolved into because he’s a much more approachable, comical character – to the betterment of the whole series I think. 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I like to leave little markers which might hint at what’s be coming: a little comment here, somebody saying something there. That sort of thing.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think some writers maybe tend to accept their lot and don’t try to push for the best they deserve. My advice is to be ambitious and adventurous in your plans, be cheeky and ask the questions to get what you want when it comes to publishing and publicity. You don’t get unless you ask in this world, unfortunately.

From the above you can tell that I’m very ambitious, maybe more than my talent deserves, but I’ve known what I want from the start and I’ve pushed to get it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, then other times it does and I’ve ended up doing business with some wonderful people who wanted me to succeed because they saw my drive and determination. Chris Grant (the voice over artist for the ad) put in an email to me: “So, go get’em Giant Killer.” A comment which sums up what I’m trying to achieve with this first book – break through and get established quickly. I dearly want these characters to be remembered and loved even. If I fail, well, at least I tried. If I succeed, then book 8 would most definitely be on the cards

The only other thing I can say is love your subject matter and let it draw you in. Some writers are mechanical in their execution of prose. Get involved with it. I’ve had a love affair with my characters since I was a kid and they’re so clear in my head now, they’ve become like old friends. If you are detached from the work, it’ll reflect in it and your characters will end up being distant at best and uninteresting at worst. Get into their heads, understand them, and the characters will write themselves.

So… what’s your big reveal?

As mentioned earlier, I have a book trailer/ad. Apart from promoting the book via an interview and review in Starburst (a British Science Fiction Magazine), followed by the ad in SFX (a British Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine) and Starburst for three months and a small ad on Doctor Who Online, it is also going to be… on TV! The book trailer will be shown on Sky1 and Syfy from August the 23rd for two weeks!

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Wow! That is so awesome! I bet every writer is incredibly jealous now. I certainly am. You do dream big, and I applaud you for it! I wish you all the best with your launch, Craig, and hope your book sales sky-rocket!

Craig Wainwright’s book is available NOW on Amazon, and you can watch the trailer on his website. You can contact Craig through Twitter.

What To Watch? Solo

This weekend my son wanted to watch Deadpool with his mates. We were chartered to cart him and his buddies to and fro. As we live a forty-five-minute drive away from the cinema, it was no use going back home again. So, we decided to watch a movie ourselves. We wanted to see Deadpool as well but didn’t want to spoil the boys’ fun. There wasn’t a lot of movies that my husband and I both wanted to watch, so we settled on Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Cast

It is very hard to find an actor who can pull of being the younger version of a famous actor, especially one that has to portray Han Solo, i.e. Harrison Ford. Alden Ehrenreich was a very good choice. Although he kept reminding me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, he does look like the ‘old’ Han Solo when you take a better look. He sure seems to have his charm (or is it DiCaprio’s charm?).

I hadn’t seen any previews of the movie and was surprised to see Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, the criminal/friend of Han, and Emilia Clarke (aka Daenerys Targaryen from GoT) as Han’s girlfriend Qi’ra. It took me a few minutes to actually recognize Harrelson, but it was his typical acting that gave it away.  I didn’t recognize Clarke with the bob hairdo either. Only when she changed her hairstyle did I see her smile (with the amazingly pretty teeth). Donald Glover did a good job portraying the young Lando, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was very funny as Lando’s droid companion, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.

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Plot

Qi’ra and Han live on a shipbuliding planet called Corellia and are made to steal to survive. When they get their hands on some coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, they use it as their ticket to get off the planet and start a new life. Unfortunately, only Han makes it out and Qi’ra is captured.

Han enlists and becomes a pilot but is expelled for subordination and now fights in the infantry. For three years he tries to get back to Corellia to save his sweetheart Qi’ra, but things don’t go as planned.  He teams up with outlaw Beckett to steal a big score of coaxium. With the profit, he hopes to finally go back to Corellia.

What I liked about Solo

I liked seeing a new face as the main character, even though he did resemble other actors. I liked seeing Emilia Clarke making a career outside GoT. I’ve seen her in the fifth Terminator movie, Terminator Genisys, but thought that was just a one-off. Good for her to continue her career outside GoT! I liked seeing Woody Harrelson as I think he’s funny. Whatever role he has, he’s always Woody. And I like that.

What I didn’t like about Solo

I won’t lie. The movie was extremely predictable. Obviously, we already know Han ends up with Chewie as his best mate, that he hasn’t got a girlfriend, and that he flies the Millenium Falcon. I guess I expected more twists, more one-liners, more… something. I recently read that screenwriters did a bad job if you can speak the lines before the actors did. That’s what happened while I was watching this movie.

Summary

Even though the movie was incredibly predictable, it was still good entertainment, and as I grew up a Star Wars fan, I couldn’t pass this one up.

Solo

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