Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Richard Matheson's BUTTON, BUTTON

Richard Matheson is one of my favourite short story writers, with Robert Bloch, Jack Finney, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King and many others. One of Matheson's many classic short story thrillers was Button, Button which was recently reworked by Donnie Darko's Richard Kelly. The film's reception was tepid at best, though I loved it, with the SF twist and retro 1970's feel, though it did give me the creeps.

Here is the original Twlight Zone episode

Button, Button Part I - Twilight Zone 1985

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Button, Button Part II - Twilight Zone 1985


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Disturbing View of Reality

As another decade passes – I thought I’d share my thoughts about one worrying aspect of reality as we approach the close of 2009.

In my private moments I often think about what the purpose of my existence is. I often consider this maybe the root cause of my excessive reading, my wish to learn about existence and the purpose of reality. I keep a moleskin notebook with me at all times, and when I discover or contemplate an axiom or possible meaning to reality – I scribble it down.

Two years ago I stumbled upon an excellent BBC documentary which in its last 10 minutes offered a very distubing view of reality - view at your own peril as it took several pages of my moleskin notebook to write down, and it is a theory that disturbed me considerably -

Part 5 - Everthing, including you, may not be what it seems.

See all the previous parts of the BBC Documentary on Time and Reality to put the simulation argument into context.

If this intrigued you – check out some worrying thoughts from Professor Nick Bostrom of Oxford University here – there are many technical papers that will provoke thought in what you see around you.

Incidentally Prof Nick Bostrom was involved in the World Science Festival held this summer in New York – and he was on a panel with some of the Battlestar Galactica team discussing Cyborgs on the Horizon

If all this is too heavy for you – why not chill out before the decade ends with one of my favourite John Carpenter movies – They Live, a paranoid look at reality.

The Existential Man wishes all of you a happy new decade – And let’s hope that the wars that rage around the world come to an end, as we wake up to what reality really is; even if we are living in a simulated reality or unreality, and that reality is more complex than our minds can understand.


NB : I am writing this in Dublin and can not get the HTML links working, so use Google or another browser to search the key words

Monday, December 21, 2009

You got 8 minutes?

That’s how long it will take to read and click on the links for my review of the English Subtitled film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at The Rap Sheet – Here

Extract here –

I was startled to see the Swedish actor Sven-Bertil Taube playing Vanger. In my youth, one of my favorite Alistair MacLean novels was Puppet on a Chain (1969), which was later turned into a film with Taube playing Interpol agent Paul Sherman. That movie featured a spectacular high-speed boat chase through the famous canals of Amsterdam. It was strange to see Taube on screen again after all these years--and yes, he has aged, but when I looked at him on screen, I could still see the handsome looks he had in such 1970s film thrillers as The Eagle Has Landed and Game for Vultures.

And it takes 8 minutes to watch the greatest boat chase filmed [even better than ‘Live and Let Die’] - from the 1970's film version of PUPPET ON A CHAIN

Have a great existential holiday and buy everyone you know some books - reading is important

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dan O' Bannon Passes Away

I am very depressed today, hearing about the passing of Dan O’ Bannon so The Existentialist Man wishes to celebrate his life with this lament from Dark Star which is strangely apt, so let’s have some music in here Boiler……

Now the years pull us apart,
I'm young and now you're old.
But you're still in my heart
And the memory won't go cold.
I dream of times and spaces
I left far behind
Where we spent our last few days
Benson's on my mind.

Benson Arizona,
blew warm wind through your hair,
My body flies the galaxies, my heart longs to be there.

Benson Arizona,
the same stars in the sky,
The days seemed so much kinder,
When we watched them,
You and I.

Benson Arizona’ Music by John Carpenter. Lyrics by Bill Taylor

I’ll miss you Dan, as your work touched my life.

From The Guardian

As a writer, O'Bannon was adept at taking something standard and adding new twists to it. He may not have originated all the concepts he doled out, but he was usually the first to expand on them and think of how they could be realised in visual terms. Witness the vertical cities he and Moebius put forward in their futuristic comic-book short story The Long Tomorrow in a 1977 issue of Métal Hurlant, which was "borrowed" by Ridley Scott for Blade Runner.

O'Bannon's résumé is full of highly enjoyable genre movies that are full of interesting quirks and character, many co-written with Shusett. There's the downbeat and creepy zombie tale
Dead and Buried, the paranoid, surveillance-themed helicopter movie Blue Thunder, and Lifeforce, the muddled but hugely entertaining adaptation of Colin Wilson's Space Vampires that mixes aliens, zombies, vampirism, spaceships, nudity and large-scale destruction of London.

There's also Total Recall, which managed to expand the Philip K Dick original into a high-action script that even managed to add a little ambiguity (Shusett and O'Bannon were way ahead of everyone in realising the cinematic potential of Dick's stories, picking up the rights to a few at a snip long before Scott's Blade Runner upped the price out of their range).

His directing career unfortunately never really got off the ground, but is still worth considering. As someone who had a hand in more or less every department in Dark Star, he wasn't one to delegate easily. As a result his directorial debut, The Return of the Living Dead, apparently wasn't much fun for anyone involved. The story is enjoyably told in B-movie actor Jewel Shepard's frank autobiography, If I'm So Famous, How Come Nobody's Ever Heard Of Me? – it's well worth tracking down a copy. The finished film, however, is great and was a "zomcom" long before Shaun of the Dead; it also had running zombies long before Zack Snyder "invented" them in his Dawn of the Dead remake. 1992's The Resurrected, the rather nifty HP Lovecraft adaptation, is O'Bannon's only other such credit.

Photo : Dan O' Bannon as Lt Pinback from 'DARK STAR'

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sony moving towards US Film version of Larsson Trilogy

The Existentialist Man is heading to a special press screening of the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – trailer below

The Girl Who Played With Fire Trailer

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest – teaser trailer

Michael Fleming at Variety reports that the US version seems on its way from Sony Pictures –

Sony Pictures has optioned the English-language screen rights to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the first of three titles in the Millennium Series of crime thriller novels by late Swedish journalist-activist Stieg Larsson.

Steve Zaillian is in talks to write the script. Scott Rudin will produce with Ole Sondberg and Soren Staermose of Yellow Bird Films.

The novels focus on journalist-investigator Mikael Blomkvist and a precocious computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. The duo become embroiled in life-threatening mysteries as they attempt to expose institutions that pull the strings behind the scenes.

The deal hasn’t closed yet; it’s been gestating for six months because of a rights dispute between Larsson’s parents and his longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson.

Sony’s pursuit began last summer, when Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal sparked to the novel series.

Read More Here and Here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Larsson dominates the UK fiction Charts

As a Crime-fiction and Thriller reader, I was delighted to read that the late Stieg Larsson's novels have really hit gold in the UK -

Quercus Publishing / MacLehose Press has just had confirmation from Neilson that THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has overtaken James Patterson by 3,654 copies to take the No. 1 slot in the fiction Paperback bestseller position, with 38,091 copies sold. James Patterson follows at No. 2 with 34,527 copies.

THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE Paperback sits at No. 8 with 18,098 copies and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST Hardcover moves to No. 6 with 13,807

That means that all three Stieg Larsson novels in his Millennium Trilogy appear in the UK Book Charts top ten in the same week.
In a word - REMARKABLE

Photo : Ed Kastenmeier of Random House and Translator Steve T Murray [aka Reg Keeland] at Bouchercon Indianapolis 2009 © Ali Karim

More Stieg Larsson info here and here

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Curzon Group Patron Jeffrey Archer lands £18m Advance

I have been interested in how The Curzon Group have been fairing, especially as their ‘manifesto’ has gained a little slice of blogo-war with thriller writer Steve Mosby. There seems to have been a truce declared since the recent heated debate, of which one point of contention has been the involvement of Jeffrey Archer as The Curzon Group patron. Whatever one considers vis-à-vis the merit of Archer as their patron, he certainly is a controversial character – being an ex-convict, bestselling writer and peer of the realm.

It seems that life often mirrors art, as the continual rollercoaster ride of Jeffrey Archer’s fortunes mirror that of his own characters – for The Times reports today that Archer is back in the money –

JEFFREY ARCHER is being paid a record £18m advance to write a Forsyte Saga-style epic spanning a century in the lives of a fictional family from Bristol. The deal is believed to be the biggest signed by a British author so far and requires the peer to produce five novels over five years. The first book is due to be published in 2011.

Archer said that he will begin work on The Clifton Chronicles shortly. The novels will set out the trials and tribulations of a character called Harry Clifton who rises from humble beginnings to become a wealthy tycoon.

Born to impoverished parents in 1920, Clifton wins a place at grammar school where he becomes involved with an affluent shipping family called the Davenports

The deal with Macmillan will see one book published every May until 2015, by which time Archer will be 75.

Only a handful of American authors, including
Michael Crichton, who died earlier this year, Dan Brown, James Patterson and Stephen King, are thought to have received larger advances than Archer.

In Britain he can be challenged only by
J K Rowling, whose contract to write the Harry Potter novels for Bloomsbury has been shrouded in secrecy. She received just £2,500 for the first book in the series. Although Rowling received much higher advances for subsequent Harry Potter books, much of her £499m fortune is derived from royalties and the success of the spin-off films.

The largest advances recently have gone to celebrities writing their memoirs. They include Peter Kay (£2m), Julie Walters (£1.5m) and Ant and Dec (£2m between them). But sales of these showbiz books have been falling away.

Since his first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was published in 1976, Archer, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative party who was jailed for perjury, has made about £100m from his literary career.

Read the full story here

So it seems that The Curzon Group’s patron is back in the Money; so let’s see if Archer's new saga is readable.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Farewell to Arms

When I was younger, I enjoyed watching screen actor Richard Todd who always seemed to play the quintessential British Army officer [in movies such as The Longest Day, The Dam Busters, D-Day The Sixth of June and many others]. I enjoyed the stoic image he portrayed and so was saddened to hear of his passing [aged 90]. Originally considered by Ian Fleming as the first choice for the role of James Bond [which he lost out to Sean Connery in a peculiar twist of fate] he worked continually in film, theatre and also in later years - raising awareness about the risks of depression. His later life was tinged with tragedy with the suicides of two of his sons, which sparked him initiating a campaign to warn parents of the dangers of depression in the young. Despite always showing his stiff upper lip in his military roles, Todd was born an Irishman in Dublin 90 years ago.

The Telegraph has a lengthy obituary on the life of Richard Todd -

In his autobiography, Caught in the Act (1986), Todd recalled that, while training as an actor, he appeared in the crowd scenes for two Will Hay movies and as an extra in A Yank at Oxford (1938). But the main focus of his ambition was the stage. After leaving drama school he performed in regional rep and in 1939 joined the newly-founded Dundee Repertory Theatre.

The Second World War temporarily prevented Todd from advancing his career. He volunteered the day after war was declared and was commissioned in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1941. In 1943 he applied to become a parachutist, and in May of that year was posted to the 7th Parachute Battalion – part of the 6th Airborne Division. For the Normandy landings, he was made the Assistant Adjutant.

In a later article about his D-Day experiences Todd compared the pre-briefing for the landings to "the readthrough and cast list for a new production at the Dundee Rep", and likened himself to an actor who had just been "told the minor role I was to play" after having been "subjected to a four-year rehearsal for the big first night". Yet throughout those years he had kept his profession secret, terrified that he might be put in charge of Ensa: "Not even my closest friends knew I was an actor."

After the war Todd rejoined Dundee Rep before making his West End debut in The Hasty Heart. In 1948 he was invited to London for a screen test and won a film contract with Associated British Pictures.

After making his screen debut in For Them That Trespass (1948) and his triumph in The Hasty Heart, Todd travelled to Hollywood to appear as a bridegroom with a murky past in King Vidor's Lightning Strikes Twice (1950), then starred as Marlene Dietrich's former lover – and a murder suspect – in Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950).

There followed an orgy of swashbuckling heroics in Disney's The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952), The Sword and the Rose (1953) and Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue (1954), which served only to prove that Todd was no Errol Flynn.

His role as Peter Marshall in A Man Called Peter persuaded Henry Koster to cast Todd in his Virgin Queen (1955) as a roguish Sir Walter Raleigh whose dalliance with lady-in-waiting Joan Collins angers Elizabeth I (Bette Davis), before casting him in D-Day, the Sixth of June the following year.

The Dambusters (1954) marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with the director Michael Anderson. He went on to appear in Anderson's Yangtse Incident (1956), as the commander of a crippled frigate breaking a Chinese blockade, and in the Hitchcock-style Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958), he played the mysterious stranger claiming to be the late brother of the heiress Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter). He returned as a Wing Commander (this time named Kendall) for their last film together, Operation Crossbow (1965).

Todd worked with a variety of other directors. He was the leader of the escape committee in Don Chaffey's PoW camp movie The Danger Within (1959), and in Leslie Norman's The Long and the Short and the Tall (1961) he played the leader of an Army patrol sent out into the Malaysian jungle. The same year he produced as well as starred in the bedroom farce Why Bother to Knock?

Todd was
Ian Fleming's first choice to play James Bond in Dr No (1962), but a scheduling clash gave the role to Sean Connery. Instead he played Inspector Harry Sanders in Lawrence Huntington's Death Drums Along The River (1963), a role he reprised in Coast of Skeletons the following year. In a rather more unlikely casting, he played a counter-culture hippie guru professor in The Love-Ins (1967).

By the late 1960s Todd's star had waned, and his later film parts were mostly forgettable, with the possible exception of Michael Winner's remake of The Big Sleep (1978), in which he played the police commissioner opposite Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe.

Read More

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Talented Mr Ripley

I've known Mike Ripley for many years now, apart from his very droll and award-winning Fitzroy Maclean Angel series, many people don’t realise that he is also a respected critic of crime fiction, writing for the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times and the Birmingham Post among others. He currently writes the "Getting Away With Murder" gossip column at

Now we here he has another project as series editor for Top Notch Thrillers with the release of his first four books -

The Terrible Door by George Sims [ISBN 978-1-906288-28-0]
Night Of Glass by Philip Purser [978-1-906288-29-7]
A Clear Road To Archangel by Geoffrey Rose [978-1-906288-30-3]
Snake Water by Alan Williams [978-1-906288-31-0].

When asked about the first batch he selected - “The first four Top Notch Thrillers show the diversity of styles and the sheer bloody inventiveness which is a long standing tradition of great British thriller writing.”

The 'Top Notch' authors

George Sims (1923-1999) was a well-known antiquarian book dealer; a background he used to good effect in several of his thrillers, notably his first, The Terrible Door (1964), and in The Last Best Friend (1967) which Harry Keating chose as one of the “100 Best Crime and Mystery Books”. Sims had the wonderful ability to create a sudden air of menace and a Dickensian flair for describing the seedier parts of London. He was a member of the famous Detection Club.

Philip Purser (b.1925) was the long-standing television critic for the Sunday Telegraph and is an acknowledged expert on TV and films. His thrillers are reminiscent of the early work of Alfred Hitchcock, where un-heroic people are forced to do heroic things. Night of Glass (1968) is not only a cracking thriller but contains many wry observations on the British class system. Philip Purser is married to crime writer and novelist Ann Purser.

Geoffrey Rose (b.1932) was a professional actor for over 40 years before retiring to the south coast of England in 2000. In the early 1970s he wrote three thrillers in his own very distinctive style, which was once compared to that of the early novels of Graham Greene. A Clear Road To Archangel (1973) is a fantastical, almost surreal, chase/manhunt thriller set during the Russian Revolution.

Alan Williams (b.1935) became a best-selling spy novelist with The Beria Papers (1973) and Gentleman Traitor (1975) but his earlier novels were full-blooded adventure thrillers set in exotic locations. Snake Water (1965) is a violent treasure hunt set in South America and introduced the engaging but totally untrustworthy rogue Sammy Ryderbeit who was to reappear in The Tale of the Lazy Dog (1970).

Mike Ripley told me - “I am delighted and honoured to be able to be able to help put these books and these authors in front of a new audience. Each title has a distinctive flavour and atmosphere and together they show the wide range of quality writing in the thriller genre.”

Top Notch Thrillers and all OSTARA titles will be available to order from all booksellers and through internet retailers. Full details can be found on and they make excellent festive presents as they are ‘Top Notch’

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martina is UK's No 1 Author [again]

So who could take on Dan Brown’s position sitting at No 1 in the UK Fiction hardcover book charts? Well others have tried and failed, but I am pleased to announce that it takes Martina Cole’s HARD GIRLS to knock off Brown’s The Lost Symbol as reported by The Bookseller today

Dan Brown's reign at the summit of the UK bestseller lists is over. The Lost Symbol (Bantam Press) sold 30,113 copies at UK book retailers last week, a sale only strong enough for third overall. The latest edition of fact bible Guinness World Records takes over top spot with a 31,812 seven-day sale, while Martina Cole's latest thriller, Hard Girls (Headline), sold an impressive 30,590 copies in just three days and takes second position. Cole's previous eight novels, beginning with Faceless in 2001, have all scored Original Fiction number ones. Hard Girls makes it nine in a row.

Read more

One of the biggest selling crime writers in the UK is Martina Cole, but she hasn’t become the staple of the bestseller charts overnight. Martina came from very humble beginnings and has worked hard all her life raising her son and writing urban thrillers which have attracted a loyal following. Martina Cole is even busier working back on TV with ‘Martina Cole’s Lady Killers’ as well as the ‘Martina Cole’s Girl Gangs’

Last year I enjoyed celebrating Martina’s success at the launch of ‘The Business’ at Dolce in London’s West End and look forward to her new book Hard Girls, which by knocking off Dan Brown shows how popular she’s become.

I’ve known Martina for many years, and if you are intrigued by the photo I took of her with screen legend Herbert Lom at the top of the post - then click here to read how Britain’s biggest crime writer met Inspector Clouseau’s boss - Chief Insp. Charles LaRousse Dreyfus .

If you’ve never read Martina Cole, you’ve got a lot of great reading ahead of you because when it comes to tough urban thrillers with a heart – Martina Cole is The Business.

Dangerous Lady (1992)
The Ladykiller (1993)
Goodnight Lady (1994)
The Jump (1995)
The Runaway (1997)
Two Women (1999)
Broken (2000)
Faceless (2001)
Maura's Game (2002)
The Know (2003)
The Graft (2004)
The Take (2005)
Close (2006)
Faces (2007)
The Business (2008)
Hard Girls (2009)

More information about the tough world of Martina Cole is available from –

Photo © Ali Karim [Clockwise Martina with her son and Barry Ryan entering the ITV3 CWA Dagger Awards, with Herbert Lom at Crimescene 2002, with cool shoes at Dead-on-Deansgate and with Larry Love of Alabama-3 in London 2008]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Books make The Best Gifts

As the wind tears off the autumn leaves summoning up the chill of winter; I always find myself reflecting upon some of the novels that have made me stop and think about life during the year. I always enjoy contributing to January Magazine’s best of Crime Fiction lists which I have done for many years now.

The capsule reviews by January Magazine and The Rap Sheet form an excellent resource to help readers select the “best of the best” from the pool of reviewers. Editors and Writers Linda Richards and Jeff Peirce work tirelessly in keeping January Magazine and The Rap Sheet continually updated and brimming with information. I am glad to call them friends, as well as colleagues.

The photo is taken from Bouchercon Baltimore 2008 [Left to Right Ali Karim, Jeff Pierce, Linda Richards and Declan Burke].

Listings of the “best of the best” in the book world are especially crucial today due to the economic situation which is damaging publishing. One should really try to buy books as festive gifts, not only to support writers, editors and publishers and all those people who work in the industry including booksellers, distributors etc – But crucially to get people to read books. Reading is far more important than many people realise.

Here’s some links to January Magazine’s resource, and you’ll find most of the books listed are available in paperback – so go on, make someone’s day – buy them a book, for which Crime Fiction and Thrillers can kick start someone reading again.

2008 part 1
2008 part 2
2007 part 1
2007 part 2
2007 Gift Guide
2005 Gift Guide
2004 Gift Guide
2003 Gift Guide
2003 Summer Books

Out of the 2009 gate, a tad premature but still welcome are Amazon’s top reads from their 100 editors as well as Publisher’s Weekly best of 2009 so as the weather becomes as chilly as the economy -
Remember to buy books for festive presents

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Edward James Olmos speaks about Battlestar Galactica THE PLAN

Being a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, I have ordered the US DVD release of The Plan which went on sale this week to much anticipation.

Movieweb have a feature interview with Edward James Olmos who plays Admiral William Adama -

Written by series writer Jane Espenson, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan begins before the attack on the 12 colonies and will show events mainly from the perspective of two Cylon agents. The narrative largely follows multiple versions of the Cylon models One (Dean Stockwell) and Six (Tricia Helfer), who have infiltrated the remaining humans, both on the planets, and those who have escaped into space. From there, the events of the television series are shown from a Cylon perspective, and their underlying plan is revealed in a way that will change your outlook on the new Battlestar Galactica series forever. Also starring Michael Trucco, Aaron Douglas, Dean Stockwell, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Rick Worthy, Matthew Bennett, Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Hogan and Rekha Sharma and directed by Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan blasts off on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27th.

Read More Here

Reviews are appearing all over; such is the popularity of Battlestar Galactica, and because of the frenzied anticipation, the word on the street though positive, is tempered due to the brilliance what came before THE PLAN -


There’s plenty of eye candy in The Plan, too: The space shots, nuke attacks and havoc wreaked on the colonies’ 12 planets are on par with the rest of Galactica’s gritty CGI look. There are also a few bits of gratuitous nudity, both male and female, that will doubtless be cut from this unrated DVD version when the movie airs on Syfy.

What The Plan doesn’t have is much in the way of heavy revelations. It also lacks a strong, standalone narrative. Perhaps most disappointing, the characters who made the series so compelling — Olmos’ steely fleet commander William Adama, Katee Sackhoff’s unpredictable fighter pilot Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Michael Hogan’s irascible
Saul Tigh — barely appear in The Plan. When they do, it’s usually in recycled scenes that will have fans of the series flashing back to the show’s glory days.

Galactica completists will eat up the tiny insights into the Cylon POV: the knowing smiles of skinjobs as mushroom clouds bloom over Caprica, the way
Leoben (aka Cylon Number Two, played by Callum Keith Rennie) obsesses over Starbuck.

But there’s not much that would make sense to viewers who haven’t already seen Galactica. It’s hard to imagine, for instance, what a BSG virgin would make of the Beat-poet babble spewing from the mouth of the
hybrid in the bathtub aboard the Cylon basestar.

If you haven’t seen all four seasons, explore the
complete series and file The Plan for future viewing. If you’re a Battlestar Galactica fanatic, don’t place too much hope in this mediocre coda. Watch it like you would the deleted scenes on a DVD, and don’t let it scrap your memories of one of the most ambitious sci-fi shows of all time.

At New Jersey Entertainment

Fans of "Battlestar Galactica," like fans of most great science fiction (and, let's be honest, lots of mediocre to bad science fiction) tend to be a ravenous bunch — always eager for more from their favorite show.

So even though the series came to a very definitive conclusion back in March, and even though a prequel series called "Caprica" will debut on Syfy early next year, the "BSG" fandom is understandably psyched for today's DVD release of the new movie "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan." But the finished product, which mixes original scenes with archival footage, at times feels as if it meets the bare minimum requirements to qualify as new material.

Because the series finale (which many fans are still not happy with) closed off most avenues for a sequel, and because the series had such a tight story line, there isn't really room to tell a new story about these characters. Instead, writer Jane Espenson and director Edward James Olmos have to content themselves with filling in a lot of blanks — specifically, with showing the events from the series' first few seasons from the point of view of the Cylons instead of the humans.

So instead of Olmos' Admiral Adama as our central character, "The Plan" (which will presumably air on Syfy sometime next year) is built around Dean Stockwell as malevolent Cylon leader John Cavil, who we learned late in the series had engineered the genocide of humanity as an act of rebellion against his human-loving creators. We see Cavil and most of the other Cylon models (Lucy Lawless doesn't appear as D'Anna Biers) preparing for the destruction of all of humankind, then desperately scrambling once they realize they failed to kill everybody.

I truly admire Edward James Olmos for promoting the importance of "humanity" being united, as well as his work with underprivileged youngsters. It was good of the UN in conjunction with the SyFy Channel to welcome Olmos and many of the cast and workers from Battlestar Galactica to ehe United Nations on Humanitarian Issues committee.

So if you haven’t explored Battlestar Galactica – it’s time to behold one of the greatest TV series every filmed – and available on DVD.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dennis Lehane’s sHutTEr iSlAnD

As the excitement mounts for the film version of Dennis Lehane’s sHutTEr iSlAnD a new trailer has been released, and a big follower of Lehane’s work here’s some interesting videos relating to Lehane and Shutter Island.

I was fortunate to interview Lehane on one of his rare trips to London, and found him a most modest and insightful writer.

Enjoy -
ShUtTeR iSLaNd Trailer # 3

ShUtTeR iSLaNd Trailer # 2

ShUtTeR iSLaNd Trailer # 1

Emily Mortimer interview about Shutter Island

Dennis Lehane on The Late Show

Dennis Lehane interview

Dennis Lehane and Tess Gerritsen with Selina Walker in London

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Dr Lehane please arise

Lehane Reads from The Given Day

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lehane opens up on sHuTteR iSLaNd

I consider Shutter Island one of the greatest gothic thrillers written in the last ten years, and was somewhat dismayed to read that the film release has been delayed until 2010. Dennis is a busy guy, working on a sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone [the original novel was filmed to much acclaim by Ben Affleck]. Now he’s on the road talking about the PB release of The Given Day as well as the Akashic Books collection Boston Noir that he edited.

I was delighted to read this comprehensive two part interview with Dennis Lehane from Peter Keough of The Boston Phoenix, from which these interesting nuggets are revealed –

PK: I think a big reason Boston is becoming such a setting for this type of movie is clearly your success in film. What do you think is cinematic about your books? You look at them and they're very dense in terms of characters' psychology and the writing is very fine, it doesn't seem the kind of thing that would translate immediately into movies.

DL: You know, I totally agree with you. I've written one original plot in my life and that was "Shutter Island" and even that is wearing it-the homage is on its sleeve-I'm not a real strong, I'm not an original plot guy. You know, "Mystic River" is the plot of an old 1930s RKO movie, so I don't know what started it, what originally brought people to work. I know now, and I flavor them up, and so I produce a laundry list and everybody's like, "Ooh that could be a good movie, could get an Academy Award out of that." I think the success of my movies is very clear on what it is and it is to me. There were no extra cooks in the kitchen and in each case I had sort of auteur theory in play and you had Clint Eastwood, Brian Helgeland, that's "Mystic River," that's it, end of story. "Gone Baby Gone" was Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, end of story, the Weinstein brothers left them alone and Martin Scorsese comes in and he's a 500 pound gorilla and he says "This is what I want to do," so none of my films have a lot of fingerprints on them.

PK: What's the story with "Shutter Island?" It's been
postponed until February; is that something we should worry about? I was disappointed to hear that it wasn't coming out in November.

DL: No, you shouldn't worry about it, I can say this without ego because I had zero to do with the production of that film, I mean I'm an executive producer, yeah, you know, but I had zero-my fingers are not anywhere near that outside of the book and so I can say having seen the film that it's brilliant. I think the story that they put in the press is mostly true which is that they didn't have the money, the market and in a year in which very solid films, like "Public Enemies" and "State of Play" clearly under-performed, I think everybody's scared. So they said, they want to go back, they decided let's have a really good marketing plan before we pull the trigger on this.

Read more here Part 1 and Part 2 of Dennis Lehane being interviewed by Peter Keough of The Boston Phoenix

Photo Dennis Lehane, Selina Walker and Tess Gerritsen in London taken from Rap Sheet Report Part 1 and Part 2 © 2009 Ali Karim

Monday, October 26, 2009


Many of you may realise that I have become totally obsessed by the Battlestar Galactica series. During The World Mystery and Crime Thriller Convention Bouchercon held in Indianapolis – my dear friend Jon Jordan and I swopped DVD’s and Books. I brought over the latest British releases of Ashes to Ashes, Spooks series 7, Spooks Code Red and others, while Jon and Ruth kindly brought the US Ultimate Boxed set of Battlestar Galactica for me. The US set is far superior to the UK set, as it contains features such as the Web-Episodes which were missing from British set. Jon Jordan is also as big BSG fan, and he sported a ‘FRAK ME!’ badge. Even David Morrell remarked on the badge when he met Jon and I, as he too is a big BSG fan. Jon was telling me about when he met Edward James Olmos [Adm. William Adama] at a recent comic convention in the US. Well in peculiar twist of fate, I bumped into British Actor Jamie Bamber who play’s Adama’s surviving son at last week’s CWA Specsavers Dagger Awards in Grosvenor House in London.

I had a great chat with Bamber [pictured on the right with me in fan-boy mode], and we were equally confused why BSG is not as huge in the UK as it is in America. Bamber told me that he felt hugely privileged to be part of BSG as he considers it one of the best acting gigs he’s had. “Working on Battlestar Galactica will take some beating” he said, and he’s right because I feel it is one of the greatest TV series I have ever watched. Each episode is like listening to the dials of a ‘safe’ click open, as the elements of story, acting, visuals combined with the theological / moral / quasi-religious themes make it completely hypnotic.

Now the countdown for ‘The Plan’ is ticking, which is due for release tomorrow reports The Philadelphia Daily News -

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE PLAN. Blu-ray, DVD and digital download, starting tomorrow.

"LET'S GET this genocide started."

As rallying cries go, it's no "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
But then "Battlestar Galactica's" Cylon model "No. 1," John Cavil (Dean Stockwell), isn't exactly Ronald Reagan.

For die-hard "BSG" fans, though, the line from "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan" is bound to come across with its full measure of dark comedy. And die-hard fans are the only logical targets for "The Plan," which goes on sale tomorrow on Blu-ray, DVD and through digital downloads.

Written by "BSG" executive producer Jane Espenson and directed by Edward James Olmos, who reprises his starring role as "Galactica's" Adm. William Adama, the 90-minute feature revisits the futuristic series about humanity's struggle against its own creations, the Cylons, from the Cylons' point of view.

Which means that Stockwell's Machiavellian Cavil gets more face time than he probably ever has before, a development that may not sit so well with fans of the more sympathetic - and gorgeous - Cylon No. 6 (Tricia Helfer), who's featured far more prominently on the DVD jacket.

When Olmos told fans at San Diego Comic-Con this summer that "The Plan" would make them want to watch the whole series over again, I'd honestly thought he was just plugging the series DVD.

He's right, though. Because in slicing off the Cylons' version of events, the movie necessarily telescopes large portions of the series, which ran for four seasons on what used to be called the Sci Fi Channel. If you lost track of that action at any point, you're bound to be wandering in the wilderness for long stretches of "The Plan."

Read more about the 2010 spin-off series Caprica

Battlestar Galactica is the best Frakking TV series I’ve ever seen “So Say We All”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Indianapolis Bound

As a devotee of Crime / Thriller Fiction, I always enjoy my annual US trip to Bouchercon and/or Thrillerfest. It takes a lot of planning as I have a very busy life [as well as a lot of understanding from my wife and kids]. My family all know how much I enjoy spending time with my US friends and colleagues who share my fascination with books set against the thriller / crime fiction backdrop. I have a lot of fun talking about books with my friends and colleagues as this photo indicates - of Ken Bruen and I being escorted from the Casino High Roller area [in The Stratosphere Tower] as my impersonation of a Middle-Eastern Prince failed to get me into a $10,000 table. The problem was that Ken Bruen and I had been taking a “pub crawl” along the Las Vegas strip earlier that afternoon…..Probably just as well as I could have ill afforded losing $10,000 in Blackjack.

That was my first Bouchercon [in 2003] when I went with Shots webmaster ‘Grog’ to Las Vegas. Both ‘Grog’ and I turned 40 that year so we combined the Bouchercon experience with a tour of America’s South West, and California. That was a special time so I took a lot of photographs that help remind me of the time that now resides only in my memory.

I recall spending time [with this years Bouchercon Guest of Honour] Mike Connelly who attended the event, and who used the time to research ‘The Narrows’ – a novel that set Harry Bosch against ‘The Poet’ in a deadly game of cat and mouse on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

I see that the city of Indianapolis is gearing itself for close to 2,000 fans of Crime, Mystery & Thriller genre descending for Bouchercon 40.

Mike Connelly is featured in the Indy Star today –

Is this your first Bouchercon, or have you attended before?

I haven't been to one in at least four or five years. I do think the event's an important tool for writers in the genre. In the beginning of my career, and throughout the '90s, I attended a lot of them. It's a great place to network and meet all kinds of writers, because ordinarily we're spread out doing our own thing. It's not like you see a lot of other writers unless you go to conventions like this.

What will you be doing there this year?

I'll be doing a bunch of stuff. So many writers attend that it's almost all panels. Being guest of honor, you get to have the spotlight for yourself for an hour -- that'll be on Friday. Not being much of a speechmaker, I elected to have myself questioned by another writer for an hour. I'll also be participating on a panel on (Edgar Allan) Poe.

"9 Dragons" is your 14th book in the Harry Bosch series. How is it different from previous Bosch books?

For one, it's a fish-out-of-water story. About a third of it takes place in Hong Kong, where Bosch has to go to find his missing daughter. And as far as his daughter is concerned, it's really a story about Bosch's vulnerability. Harry Bosch is a guy who believes he has skill in rooting out evil, and intentionally bills himself as being invulnerable. But maybe five books ago, he found out he had a daughter he didn't know he had. This is the book where he realizes he could get gotten to.

Read More Here and Here

Meanwhile the Indy Star also features a short piece from Jim Huang, co-chair of Bouchercon 2009. Included in the feature are comments from Terence Faherty, a tremendous PI writer who was on a panel - ‘Social Commentary in Crime Fiction” which I managed to moderated back in Las Vegas in 2003 despite intense sleep deprivation as this photo indicates [Faherty is on my left], flanked by Martin Edwards.

Read more here

Last years Bouchercon in Baltimore was a very special time, amazingly organised by Ruth Jordan and Judy Bobalik. These links explain why Bouchercon 39 in Baltimore was so wonderfully special – The Photos are at The Rap Sheet, and my report is here - Part I, Part II and Part III

I am now packed, and ready to depart for Indianapolis on Wednesday, when the fun starts. I am usually like a vacuum when I leave Bouchercon, as I get very little sleep, and feel melancholic saying goodbye to my friends and colleagues [until next year]. However this year I have the CWA Dagger Awards in London to occupy my sleep-deprived mind on my return.

I will have plenty of photos and stories of my adventures from Indianapolis when I get back – So have fun while The Existentialist Man is at Bouchercon

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's all Larsson & Brown on Super Thursday

When it comes to Crime Thrillers – it seems that Stieg Larsson and Dan Brown are the big guns on Super Thursday reports The Guardian

A deluge of 800 new hardbacks hit bookshops last Thursday but it was a translated crime novel by the late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson which saw off celebrity autobiographies from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Peter Kay and Chris Evans to jostle its way to the top of the book charts.

Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest soared into second position in the UK's book charts last week, selling 34,152 copies in just three days, according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan. It came in behind Dan Brown's thriller The Lost Symbol, which remained in the number one spot for the third week in a row with sales of 79,008 copies. Larsson's novel, the third in his bestselling Millennium crime trilogy, follows the adventures of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. It was one of the 800 hardbacks published last Thursday – 10 times the daily average, which has led to the day being christened Super Thursday by the book trade.

Waterstone's, which changed window displays in its stores across the country overnight on Wednesday, replacing older titles with new books from the likes of Kay, Jeremy Clarkson and Audrey Niffenegger, described the Larsson novel as its "runaway success".

"I saw somebody buy four copies and I heard from one store where somebody bought 10," said spokesperson Jon Howells. "Our Piccadilly store opened an hour early, at 8am, for Stieg Larsson – we're not talking Harry Potter or Dan Brown numbers but there was a definite steady flow of people wanting to get a copy or two."

Read More

Monday, October 5, 2009

Battlestar Fantastica

I have been incredibly busy with work and catching up on my thriller and crime fiction reading / reviewing, my own writing, as well as preparing for my trip to Bouchercon Indianapolis next week. Hence my blogging has become somewhat sporadic and erratic.

Due to my high work load; I rarely watch TV preferring to read in the evenings. The only TV series that have caught my eye and forced me to track down the DVD box-sets have been Spooks [US Title MI5], ‘The Wire’ and previously Millennium. Both those series still haunt me and I regularly watch them when I can. I have never got into the excitement of ‘Lost’, ‘Prison Break’, ‘24’ or many of the recent ‘Star Trek’ incarnations – though when I was younger [and had more time], I was very keen about the original 1960’s ‘Star Trek’ and ‘The Man from Uncle’. Now I stumbled rather late into a TV series that has really rocked my world; a series that dominates my mind and provokes deep thought.

Earlier this year, I went to see Bruce Springsteen at Hyde Park [London] with Stav Sherez and Nick Stone. While we caught up on what’s new in our lives; Stav mentioned how much he was enjoying “Battlestar Galactica”, which made me roar laughing. I was never a fan of the 1978 series, and as I don’t really watch TV, I was unaware of the 2004 series which re-worked the original premise. Stav and I are both fanatical about the work of Philip K Dick and explained that if I liked Dick’s look at reality, I’d love ‘Battlestar Galactica’.

Stav told me that I must watch Ronald D Moore’s re-imagined ‘Battlestar Galactica’, and was truly evangelical about it. But as usual, life and work got in the way; that is until last week when I read amazing reviews in the British press to coincide with the release of the complete DVD Boxset of ‘Battlestar Galactica’. Remembering Stav’s excitement and despite the cost, I ordered the sucker. Within the box-set, were the 3-hour Miniseries, seasons I – IV, ‘Razor’ a ‘Battlestar Galactica’ film as well as many extras.

I have since been watching the entire series [in sequence] and have been devastated by its sheer brilliance. Everything about the series is exceptional, and for my money it is the best TV series I have ever watched. It could be the best TV series of all time.

The premise is sheer poetry, the characters as vivid as real-life, the filming like a combat news-reel, extraordinary special effects, but most of all it resides in your brain as it works through the moral dilemmas that cloak our reality. All day it haunts me until I can get back and watch it late into the evenings. It is the stuff of exhilarating madness.

I would urge you to watch this wonderful series, because it is exceptional and beyond ‘entertainment’.

Following the miniseries, were two episodes that can be viewed online –

‘33’ - This is episode one from series 1

Link: Battlestar Galactica - 33

‘Water’ - This is the second episode from series 1

Link: Battlestar Galactica - Water

All that is left is The Plan – a feature length film due out on DVD later this month and which will be on cable in November.

There is a spin-off series ‘Caprica’ which has recently piloted in the US and available on a US import DVD with the series coming to screen in 2010.

I really don’t want to say anymore, because you really must watch it for yourself, because ‘Battlestar Galactica’ is the best TV you are likely to see – “So Say We All”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lehane on Connelly

I read this fascinating essay by Dennis Lehane on Mike Connelly’s Harry Bosch character which appears at Mike Connelly’s website. We present a excerpt from this feature for all you Thriller Fiction readers waiting for Bosch's return in Nine Dragons -

Where Chandler found the personification of his hero ideal in Philip Marlowe, the hard-drinking, chain-smoking, deeply principled and often philosophical private investigator, Michael Connelly has given us Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch, the relentless, tortured, highly principled but deeply pessimistic police detective who entered the literary stage in The Black Echo and has journeyed through fourteen more novels since. Detective Bosch shares his name, of course, with the Dutch Renaissance painter who slathered his canvases with ghastly visions of Hell, and one can certainly draw parallels between the hideous, fallen world of the paintings and the cauldron of sin and injustice that Harry Bosch confronts in modern day Los Angeles.

When Chandler sent his knight errant down Los Angeles' mean streets alone, "neither tarnished nor afraid," its mean streets were not, with all due respect to the master, nearly as mean as they are now. Harry Bosch, if rarely afraid, is certainly tarnished. He is the personification, in fact, of Nietzsche's admonition that those who fight monsters risk becoming monsters themselves. If there is a unifying tension that threads its way through all of the Bosch books, it is that—Bosch is always perilously close to succumbing to violence he not only fights but which inhabits him.

From that first book, The Black Echo, it's clear that Harry Bosch is a damaged soul. You worry about his physical health from dangers both within (he smokes so many cigarettes you can't help but assume a heart attack or at least an angioplasty awaits him at novel's end) and without (a group of ex-military killers and drug smugglers; a possible femme fatale). But more so, you worry about his psychological well-being. This first case will be the one that triggers memories of his service in Vietnam, and Connelly does a masterful job of evoking the claustrophobia and isolationism of a former "tunnel rat." At the end, we leave Bosch staring at a print of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, that epitome of broken dreams and alienation. Bosch, not surprisingly, identifies with the "darkness. The stark loneliness. The man sitting alone, his face turned to the shadows. I am that man, Harry Bosch would think each time he looked."

These are the musings of a psychic orphan with attenuated emotional development. But it's merely warm-up for what will be revealed about Bosch's psyche in books to come. Because in the annals of American crime fiction series protagonists, it's hard to imagine one who had a more traumatic history than Harry Bosch.

We soon learn that Harry Bosch entered McClaren Hall, an orphanage, at the age of eleven. He didn't know his father and was removed from the home he shared with his mother, a prostitute, deemed UM ("unfit mother") by the State of California. His mother, Marjorie Lowe, would later be murdered and the solving of that case would be the subject of Connelly's fourth novel, The Last Coyote.

Read More

This article originally appeared in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera on April 30, 2009. Courtesy of Il Corriere della Sera, RCS Quotidiani Spa.

Nine Dragons will be released in the UK and Ireland on October 1, 2009, in the USA and Canada on October 13, 2009, and in Australia and New Zealand on October 21, 2009. The audiobook, Kindle, eBook, and large-print editions of Nine Dragons will be released simultaneously with the hardcover.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Here Comes The Blind Commissioner

With the family away in Ireland for a few weeks; I spent the entire weekend transcribing interviews and writing a few articles, as well as reworking my own SF-tingered thriller OBSERVATION.

To give myself a reward to look forward to after all the work, I picked up the WATCHMEN DVD which I rocked to last night. Watchmen is a special graphic novel that blew away my world back in the 1980’s. I recall vividly when I attended COMICANA in London, I guess in 1987 when the Graphic Novel came of age with not only Watchman, but also Frank Miller’s re-interpretation of Batman. Both Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore as well as Frank Miller attended Comicana. I enjoyed meeting both of them and having my comics signed.

Anyway, despite loving Bob Dylan’s original, I have to admit My Chemical Romance’s reworking of DESOLATION ROW that closes the movie is spectacular. I had difficulty getting the song out of my head, so I’m now streaming it directly into yours.

Watchmen despite some mixed reviews, is still a remarkable movie and those opening credits with Dylan telling us ‘Times they are a Changing’ are superb.

My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row Lyrics

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
Well, they’re painting the passports brown
And the beauty parlor’s filled with sailors
The circus is in town

Oh now look here comes the blind commissioner
Well, they’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other’s in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless

They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Oh Cinderella, she seems so easy

“Well, it takes one to know one,” she smiles
And she puts her hands in her back pockets
Oh Bette Davis style
And now but here comes Romeo, moaning“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And then someone says,"You’re in the wrong place, my friend
You better leave”
And then the only sound that’s left

After the ambulances goIs Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now at midnight all the agents

And superhuman crew
Go out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do (knows more than they do)
They’re gonna bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles

By insurance men who go
Check to see that no one is escaping
To Desolation Row

‘Cause right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no letters no
Not unless you’re gonna mail them
From Desolation Row

Song Information
Released January 26, 2009 (digital)

Recorded 2008 Genre Alternative rock

Length 2:59

Label Reprise Records, Warner Sunset Records

Writer Bob Dylan

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ingrid Pitt at WHC 2010

I was delighted to get this update from the WHC Organisers, as I met Ingrid Pitt many years ago and she is as charming as she is beautiful. Many people didn’t realise that Pitt penned a thriller ‘Cuckoo Run’ as well as her autobiography “Life’s a Scream”. She told me about the time she worked with Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton on WHERE EAGLES DARE and the tragic death of Mary Ure [her co-star] in 1975. She is a wonderful actress, writer and an icon of the Horror Genre.

World Horror Convention 2010 is delighted to announce that our very Special Media Guest is Hammer Film’s “Queen of Horror” – actress and author INGRID PITT.

The Polish-born actress’ roles in THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), COUNTESS DRACULA (1970), THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1970), THE WICKER MAN (1973), Clive Barker’s UNDERWORLD (aka TRANSMUTATIONS, 1985), MINOTAUR (2006) and the ‘Vampirology’ episode on the URBAN GOTHIC TV series have established her as an icon in the horror film genre. Her latest credit is a new version of Edgar Allen Poe’s THE TELL-TALE HEART (2009).She has also written THE INGRID PITT BEDSIDE COMPANION FOR VAMPIRE LOVERS, THE INGRID PITT BEDSIDE COMPANION FOR GHOSTHUNTERS and THE INGRID PITT BOOK OF MURDER, TORTURE AND DEPRAVITY. Additionally, she contributed an Introduction and an original story to THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES BY WOMEN, and her autobiography, LIFE’S A SCREAM, was published by Heinemann in 1999.

At World Horror Convention 2010, Ingrid Pitt will be selling signed copies of her books, photos, DVDs and other memorabilia. There will also be a fee for her to sign items brought into the event. However, she will not charge to sign copies of the convention’s hardcover souvenir book and THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES BY WOMEN. Please do not embarrass her (or yourself) by asking her to sign any other items for free.For your copy of the Pitt of Horror catalogue or information about The Ingrid Pitt Fan Club, please send your address and a large s.a.e. (or three International Reply Coupons from overseas) to: Pitt of Horror, PO Box 403, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6FW, England, or visit the web site at* * *Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, The World Horror Convention will be held over March 25-28, 2010, in the historic Regency seaside city of Brighton, on the picturesque south coast of England. This is the first time that the event will have been held off the North American continent.

The theme is “BRIGHTON SHOCK! – A CELEBRATION OF THE EUROPEAN HORROR TRADITION FROM VICTORIAN TIMES TO THE PRESENT DAY”, and the convention will host numerous panels, talks, presentations, readings, workshops and displays devoted to horror, macabre, mystery and thriller fiction and art in all its varied and fearsome forms.
The venue will be the historic Royal Albion Hotel, which dates back more than 180 years and is situated directly opposite the iconic Brighton Pier and a stone’s throw from the beach. There are plenty of alternative hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the immediate surroundings, catering for all budgets, and Brighton is filled with restaurants, wine bars and clubs. Antiquarian shopping precinct The Lanes, the Sea Life Centre and the world-famous Royal Pavilion are also within easy walking distance. Brighton has direct transport links from Gatwick International Airport and the centre of London, and is easily accessible for overseas visitors, especially those from mainland Europe. And if you want to extend your stay, then Britain’s annual National Science Fiction Convention, Odyssey 2010, is being organised near to Heathrow airport the following weekend. Come for World Horror and stay for Eastercon!

INGRID PITT joins Author Guests of Honour TANITH LEE and DAVID CASE, Artist Guests of Honour LES EDWARDS and DAVE CARSON, and Editor Guest of Honour HUGH LAMB. Best-selling author JAMES HERBERT is the Special Guest of Honour, and Mistress of Ceremonies is JO FLETCHER. Other writers, artists, agents, editors and publishers already registered as attending World Horror Convention 2010 include: ANGRY ROBOT BOOKS (UK), Kelley Armstrong, Randy Broecker, Edward W. Bryant Jr., Pat Cadigan, Ramsey Campbell, CENTIPEDE PRESS (USA), Basil Copper, Peter Crowther, Ellen Datlow, Scott Edelman, Bob Eggleton, Christopher Fowler, Jane Frank, Gary Fry, W. Paul Ganley, GRAY FRIAR PRESS (UK), Simon R. Green, Heather Graham, John Jarrold, JEMMA PRESS (Greece), Stephen Jones, Paul Kane, Nancy Kilpatrick, Allen Koszowski, Tim Lebbon, Samantha Lee, Brian Lumley, Dorothy Lumley, L.H. Maynard & M.P.N. Sims, Gary McMahon, Farah Mendlesohn, MORTBURY PRESS (UK), Mark Morris, Lisa Morton, Yvonne Navarro, Adam L.G. Nevill, NEWCON PRESS (UK), Kim Newman, Reggie Oliver, Weston Ochse, Sarah Pinborough, David Pirie, John L. Probert, PS PUBLISHING (UK), REBEL E PUBLISHERS (South Africa), Tony Richards, David A. Riley, Mark Samuels, SCI FI WIRE, SCREAMING DREAMS (UK), Steven Savile, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith, SNOWBOOKS (UK), Alexandra Sokoloff, David A. Sutton, TARTARUS PRESS (UK), TELOS PUBLISHING (UK), Lisa Tuttle, Stephen Volk, Ian Watson, Conrad Williams, and F. Paul Wilson, amongst many others.The Horror Writers Association’s prestigious annual Bram Stoker Awards for excellence in horror and fantasy fiction will be presented at a gala Fish & Chips Banquet on the evening of Saturday, March 27. This event will be one of the highlights of the convention, and will include past Stoker Award winners and our Guests of Honour as award presenters.And don’t forget, registered members of the convention can now vote for the World Horror Convention’s prestigious GRAND MASTER AWARD, which will presented at the Stoker Banquet. An electronic voting form is available on the convention website and a printed version was included in the printed Progress Report #1. A list of past recipients – who have included Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell and Tanith Lee – is displayed on the same page.All information about the convention, hotel and location is available on our, including an easy to use PayPal Registration Form (which will automatically convert your payment at the current exchange rate). Or you can print off the form and send it with a cheque (sterling only) to:

World Horror Convention,
PO Box 64317,
London NW6 9LL,

PLEASE NOTE: The registration price will increase on October 1st, 2009, so if you have not already – book NOW!

With numerous writers, artists, editors, publishers and booksellers expected to attend from all over the world, this is the one event that the dedicated horror fan, professional, collector or dealer cannot afford to miss!Wish you were here? Well, now you can be . . .


Friday, August 7, 2009

Porter's 'Dying Light'

I really enjoy Thriller writer and journalist Henry Porter’s weekly political column in the British Sunday Observer, as he often casts his eye over the growing erosion of our civil liberties in Great Britain. Though I am growing very concerned about the future of this great newspaper. Like most of print journalism, the Sunday Observer, part of The Guardian Media Group is under threat of closure if rumours are to be believed. Henry Porter is well known in London literary circles, as he has written for most national broadsheet newspapers. He was editor of the Atticus column on The Sunday Times, moving to set up the Sunday Correspondent magazine in 1988. He contributes commentary and reportage to The Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. He is the British editor of Vanity Fair and divides his time between New York and London.

Porter apart from his journalism is also an accomplished writer of politically charged espionage thrillers. In fact he won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2005 for his novel ‘Brandenburg’ from Orion.

I bumped into him in February at the Orion Authors Party, during drinks I asked him when his latest work would be released. He advised me that ‘Dying Light’ would be out this summer, and it touches upon my own concerns about us all sleep-walking into the pages of Orwell’s 1984.

Today Porter writes in The Independent about ‘Dying Light’ as well as why he is writing about his growing concerns about the role of state endorsed surveillance -

What is the certain evil that animates the contemporary spy writer now? Jihadism would be it, if terrorist actions and lunacy had not outstripped the imagination of any writer. Crime syndicates and arms dealers – possibly. Big business and the behemoths of the Internet age – certainly. Twenty years ago, a chief executive officer saying, as Google's chairman Eric Schmidt did, that the mission of his company was quite simply to organise all the world's information would have signalled some kind of mental disorder. That dominance will bring undreamed of opportunities for abuse in a world where more than ever knowledge is power, and I look forward to the first thriller set in a company like Google.

But it is the state, now so often propelled by the same controlling and monopolistic vices of big business, which has become the certain enemy. This is not new, but the technology at the disposal of the state is, and so is the collapse of liberal self-belief. As Russia and China developed what the Israeli academic Azar Gat described as "authoritarian capitalism", the West no longer needed to distinguish itself or define its beliefs in response to a totalitarian ideology.

We lost the use of a muscle and began to ditch the things that we stood for during the communist era. Governments, particularly in Britain, edged towards milder versions of this authoritarian capitalism, stripping the inventory of freedoms on the pretext of protecting the people, while extending the power of the state. So east and west have begun to draw inexorably towards each other, like Smiley and Karla on the bridge, which is why the conclusion of Smiley's People now seems so clever.

My last adult novel, Brandenburg, also ended on a bridge between East and West Berlin, but at the time of fall of the Wall and a moment of incredulous joy. The book describes the journey of a former Stasi agent through the October demonstrations in Leipzig and Berlin to the moment when East Germans burst into the light of a free society on 9November 1989. I was always fascinated by what had gone on in the six weeks before, and East Germans' defiance of the 80,000 members of the Stasi with their database and networks of informers.
My new novel, The Dying Light, is set in Britain of the near future and describes a society that is moving ever so gradually in the opposite direction; a country that has woken too late to a power grab by the state.

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While over at The Economist, Porter’s ‘Dying Light’ is reviewed and described as a very British Thriller –

OVER the past decade, Henry Porter has regularly produced a new thriller every two years. The long break since his last book, “Brandenburg”, is the direct result of his growing involvement in the fight over civil liberties and free speech in Britain, first under Tony Blair and now under Gordon Brown. Refusing to succumb to complacency, Mr Porter has become a rallying figure for concerned liberals, first through his pointed commentaries on the op-ed pages of the Observer and more recently as the organiser of the Convention on Modern Liberty. His worries about what Britain is becoming now fill his fiction.

His fifth novel, “The Dying Light”, is set somewhere in the middle of the next decade. Ever since the 2012 Olympics in London, Britain has become more and more of a database police state. Hotel guests have to fill in registration forms that are filed with the authorities. You cannot leave the country without informing them too. Sophisticated computer software tracks every purchase, every hospital visit, every car journey. Coroners’ courts, that traditional bastion of independence, are under secret political control. British subjects are routinely put under surveillance by flying drones or harassed by the police, the tax authorities and social services. “We do not want any mischief at this stage,” the prime minister explains. “Mischief”, which describes everything from anti-social behaviour to terrorism, is a word Mr Porter’s prime minister uses a lot

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Photo of Henry Porter taken at Orion Author Party Feb 14th 2009 London © 2009 Ali Karim