Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Tran Gang Case

Do you like the above image? It's taken from the set of the new Dredd film. Our first taster! Give it a click for a bigger version.

In the meantime, here is a new story by me. I wrote this for the latest 2000 AD short story competition, details here.

The story is supposed to be 500 words at most, so I'm going to have to edit it down drastically considering this is well over 800! I think editing down will lose something though, so I've pasted the full version here. It's an old gag, but I think it's still amusing.

Dredd was on his way back to base when he got the call. Justice Department had allowed a few hours worth of snow fall 'in the spirit of the season'. Justice Department didn't usually concern themselves with such things but considering the mayor's post was yet to be filled, and the fact there was a wave of bad feeling engendered by the recent crackdowns, the Department thought it would soothe matters to offer a munce pie to counterbalance the day-stick.

Frankly Dredd found it a nuisance. His lawmaster had already skidded twice during crucial moments almost losing him an arrest and an execution. On the other hand, if a bit of atmospheric sentimental nonsense kept the citizens happy and less likely to commit crimes, who was he to judge?

“Dredd, this is PSU. We've got a trace on that transvestite Gang.”

Dredd suppressed a sigh. He'd been on the streets for hours, and frankly he was exhausted. For once he was looking forward to the regulation monthly eight hours scheduled tonight, but duty called. The so called 'Tran Gang' had left a trail of murder and mayhem over the last month. The judges had executed two members (They always resisted arrest and were judged accordingly.) leaving six still at large. Besides, maybe cracking a few heads would cheer him up. Not that his happiness was relevant. Whatever the season.

“Shoot,” he replied.

“An informer called it in. Apparently they just entered 1999 Dudley Clarke Block.”

“On my way,” said Dredd.

“Be careful Dredd. Don't let their attire fool you. These are real scum, and you'll be on your own. The weather had caused some riots, so back up won't be available for a good while.”

“I'll make do.”

“According to our contact they've wired into their Block surveillance system so they'll see you coming,” continued PSU. “We've spoken to Frank. You know, the guy who used to work for Wally Squad who disguises himself as a dirty Santa Claus all year round? He has a rather unorthodox plan which might just work. I don't think you'll like it though, Dredd.”

An hour later the hulking figure in a gingham dress punched '1999' in the intercom of Dudley Clarke Block and peered surreptitiously from under a large bonnet at the wall-cam.

“Yes?” said the voice from the intercom.

“It's Miriam. Let me in,” said the figure in a cracked high pitched voice.

“Miriam? Really? Thought the Judges punched your ticket, girl!”

“Nah, they just winged me,” replied Miriam. “Been lying low.”

“What's wrong with your voice?”

Miriam clutched his throat. “Um, judges winged me in the throat.” Dredd winced. This kind of improvisation wasn't really his forte. “Had to get a bionic larynx implant in a back street clinic. That's why I was lying low.”

There was silence for a few seconds. Then the click of the door unlocking. “Good to see ya' girl. Come on up.”

Dredd entered the building. So far so good. Course, he'd never past scrutiny up close but by then his mug (or at least the lower half of it. He was still wearing his helmet under the bonnet,) would be the last thing they'd see. Assuming they played to form and resisted arrest of course. He made his way to apartment 1999, drew his lawgiver and kicked in the door.

The six female forms sat in a circle, knitting. They glanced up at him in mild surprise.


“Can we help you young man? I do hope you'll pay for that door frame. That's very rude you know, interrupting our knitting circle without even ringing the bell like a civilised person,” replied one individual.

Dredd had a moment of doubt. That voice was very feminine. No, what was he thinking? That one over there hadn't even shaved off his moustache.

“I won't tell you again, creeps! Any more lip and I'll add resisting arrest to your sentence.” Not that that would make much difference. They'd never leave the blocks with their current sentence anyway. For several lifetimes.

One particularly plump 'lady' stood up and confronted him. “And what exactly are we supposed to have done, young man? And may I say that's a very pretty bonnet.”

Dredd pulled off the bonnet. “Quit wasting my time creep. You can't fool me. You don't even make authentic looking women. Look at you!”

He ripped open her blouse. Three feet of pink lady cushion popped out hitting him in the face.

A few minutes later, Dredd hastily left the apartment followed by several raised, very female voices. He should really arrest them for such unladylike language, but considering the circumstances he would let it pass. As the door slammed, he saw the last digit, '9', on the door wobble. Strange. Now he actually looked, he noticed that digit was slightly lower than the others. He pushed it round with his finger to show a '6' perfectly in line. Drokk.

Dredd strolled over to apartment 1999 three doors down and kicked the door in.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back again! Getting Creative.

Dear me. I really didn't keep to my resolution to post blogs more frequently did I? I never did write that review of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth.

Never mind. I'm back out of storage now. I actually hope to put more creative stuff on this blog, but I will probably do the odd review as well. I'll re-watch BtE soon and post up a review. It's late now, I know, but never mind.

As far as Red Dwarf news is concerned, there was a post on twitter a couple of weeks back by Doug Naylor (co-creator of Red Dwarf, and the main writer now) and it looks like there might be delays in the production. However he had a meeting and it looks like their at least putting the wheels in motion with hiring, etc.

I think there's a good chance there will be some more Red Dwarf coming within the next year or so but there's nothing definite. Still, it looked like there would be no more Red Dwarf at all and we got three new episodes in Back To Earth, so I'm hopeful.

As far as creative stuff is concerned, I fancy myself as a bit of a writer-droid, but I've done the odd bit of artwork too, although I've got quite a way to go with that.

Here's an example of a piece of writing to start with. This was my entry in a writing competition on the 2000 AD forum. The competition was called Tharg's School of Failure. The brief was as follows:
You can’t be the best all the time. Sometime, somewhere, even the greatest screw up. Tell us all about it!

The story had to be about a 2000 AD character having a bad day basically, and we had to keep to a maximum 500 word limit. I didn't even come close to winning, (I think I got about two votes!) but I was quite happy with it. Just don't look at it as typical work! I'd usually prefer to be more descriptive, but I had to keep it to the bare bones to keep it within the limit. I also prefer to write my own creations rather than what is essentially fan-fic, but it's all good practice.

Anyhow, it's a tale set in Judge Dredd's childhood before the atomic war.

The Cadet

The Warehouse- The Testing Ground

The front door of the warehouse was unlocked. He swept in, low. There were several dust covered crates that formed aisles throughout the facility. Facing him was a small robot. In it's claws it clutched a formidable looking weapon.

The Cadet leapt aside as several paint pellets flew past. A pellet splattered on the door frame, the splash-back causing a fine spray over his helmet visor.

The Cadet returned fire. Four rounds bounced off the droid's chest leaving dents. It gave out an electronic squawk and fled down a side aisle. He discarded his helmet and followed. He decided head protection would be of little use if he could not see properly.

Near the end of the aisle, he paused. He couldn't hear the droid's tracks. One of the shadows of the crates at the end of the aisle seemed out of place. Was the creep waiting to ambush him?

He set his weapon to 'ricochet', and aimed carefully at the wall, estimating the angle by the shadow and fired. There was a metallic pinging sound and the whirring of treads. As he rounded the corner he saw the door to the gents' toilet close.

Entering the toilet he suddenly noticed the figure aiming the gun his way. He fired, and the bullet cracked the mirror and ricocheted back at him clipping him above his right eye as he leapt aside. As the darkness took him he thought,“Drokk. Forgot to change the round setting.”

He awoke. His head throbbed. The little robot was standing over him, a comical look of surprise on it's metal face. “Did you just shoot yourself kid?” it asked.

“Seems so,” muttered The Cadet. Despite his embarrassment he felt vaguely proud that he was still holding his gun.

The little robot laughed. “I've had many crappy jobs in my time, bub,” it said. “But this makes it all worth while. Say, ain't you one of them new clones? They engineer you with stoopid genes, boy?”

The Cadet raised his gun. “Nobody likes a smart-ass robot,” he growled. “Armour piercing.”

The Hospital

The Cadet awoke. He was lying in a bed. His head still throbbed. His brother was sitting nearby.

“Seems that creep got you good, Joe,” said his brother. “But they passed you.”

The Cadet said nothing.

Rico continued. “Still, you offed it pretty good. Be a while before tech put it back together.”

Joe pointed at his head. “How bad is it?”

“It's just a graze. Docs said the eye-brow probably won't grow back though, but they ain't gonna waste cosmetic surgery on you. Said it would teach you a lesson.”

Joe grunted. “It will that.”

Rico's mouth twitched. He rarely smiled, but this was close.

“You could shave off the other one to even things up.”

Dredd shook his head. “No. Think I'll just keep the helmet on from now on.”

Heh. You'll need to be acquainted with Dredd to get the last gag. I've written some other longer stuff too and hope to get something published soon. I actually plan to submit a Future Shock to 2000 AD very soon. The script still needs a bit more work but I see it as being near the final draft.

I have a few other scripts in early draft stage. A couple are fairly good and I'd like them published in somewhere. Others are not so good, but it's all practice. I have a couple of ideas for longer strips too, one creator owned and one I hope to submit to another publication. (Possibly CLiNT but we'll see.)

Anyway, I hope to be back soon. Not so long next time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Red Dwarf: New series is likely on the way!

(Image credit to Red Dwarf official site's Back to Earth Gallery.)

Ok, I said that I didn't want to just use these blog posts to pass on news but I think this is worthwhile. To quote Mr Llewellyn*'s twitter post:

"Series 10 of Red Dwarf announcement just been made at DJ 09. To clarify the scripts have been commissioned, wont be filming until 2010"

A bit more information on Ganymede and Titan, which is that there will be six episodes, possibly more depending on budget.

I feel like punching the air and yelling "WOOHOO!", but imitating the Simpsons is so cliché.

More news when it comes.

*He is a mechanoid in a parallel universe, doncha know.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Long Time

Been a while since I posted anything! I mainly stopped as most of my posts seemed to be a report on posts made elsewhere, mainly from the or dave. Since blogs shouldn't really be about redistributing news I decided to pause until things move ahead and make a proper review.

Actually, reading through my past posts, they're more opinion and speculation based than I thought rather than just posting news from elsewhere. Maybe I just slipped into stand-by mode for a while then. (That's the android excuse for being a lazy beggar.)

Well Back To Earth has been and gone now...(interesting to see how off I was in some of my speculation, especially concerning the 'simulant' involvement in the plot, heh) and I've left it late! I decided to wait until I got the DVD and saw the Director's cut before posting a review. I still plan to do this (better late than never right?) and I hope to make more frequent posts. (Not just on Red Dwarf stuff, although its still a very central interest of mine! I'm Particularly liking the hints concerning production of a new series.)

Anyhow all the best. I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Red Dwarf: Who is the new Kat?

(Credit to the official Red Dwarf website's Back To Earth gallery.)

Awful pun. Danny John Jules remains securely in his role of The Cat of course. I'm referring to the lovely new character Katarina who appears in Red Dwarf: Back To Earth payed by Sophie Winkleman.

Here she is, and doesn't she look lovely? Feel free to click on the pic to read the article.

So, she plays a hologram, and she hopes to replace Rimmer. Interesting.

This raises a couple of points. Red Dwarf supposedly can only sustain two holograms, and yet there are two (even if she eventually plans on replacing him.) However, they often found ways to get round that in the programme.

In series one, the ship sustained two Rimmers when all the extraneous systems were shut down. And Rimmer functioned just fine without Red Dwarf at all during their sojourn on Star-bug in series 6 and 7. That was never really explained, but we do know that they raid various derelict ships for supplies when need be. It's not much of a stretch that they encountered more advanced power sources. They're three million years in the future after all. Either way, they can easily get around the problem of two holograms.

But why was she brought back? Considering the fact she is a science officer, I wonder if we will get a resolution to the cliff-hanger of series 8. Could Holly and Rimmer have brought her back to create an antidote for the virus eating away the ship? Does that mean she has a resurrected human version of herself that fled the ship with the rest of the crew? (I doubt we will ever see her!) Will we see all this happen, or will it merely be back-story, if the ages of the main cast are taken into account? Will she remain a permanent character should a new series be commissioned? (If two holograms can be sustained, there is no reason she need replace Rimmer after all.)

So many questions, and of course the answers will arrive next month. (Yes. Next month. Doesn't time fly?) It's fun to speculate in the meantime though.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Red Dwarf: Pre-Post-Production update

An interesting little update on the Red Dwarf site today. Rather than entering parrot mode I'll let you read it for yourself, here.

All this technical stuff is quite interesting, particularly the fact they're already working on post production work before they've finished shooting! Part of the wonders of digital video no doubt. And they're actually piping stuff over to Australia for some of the effects work!

When I read that Farscape's Mike Seymour was involved I assumed it would be over here. It's easy to forget how small the world is becoming even now in the twenty-first century! And to think of all the advancements you have yet to look forward to! Talking toasters! Little boxes that go Boom! Semi-intelligent computers sporting the heads of bald headed men and ditzy blonds! Stasis booths (good for a nice millennial long... well nothing really) and (not wishing to blow my own tooting device) android technology...

Which leads me to the picture up above. Did you see what is on the screen in the background? Go on, click on it for a bigger picture. It nearly made my optical sensors pop out, I can tell you. I'll engage stand-by mode while I wait....

[/stand-by]... and back. Did you see him? In the middle being apprehended by our brave Dwarf boys?

I waxed on at length about mechanoids in my introductory post. How us 3000 series got a raw deal due to the issue of the flat-top 4000 models despite being infinitely more handsome. Well... if the new models have a tendency towards pomposity and showing off their ludicrously enhanced attachments, at least they don't make a habit of dismembering people and making balloon animals out of their lower intestines.

That my friends, if my ocular sensors aren't deceiving me (they could be, I haven't had a service in decades,) is a simulant. The bad boys of the android world. In fact they have such a bad rep, we don't even class them as androids despite fitting the most predominant ("humanoid robot") definition of the word.* He looks like one of those old crusty looking models too, like that chap the Dwarfers encountered on the Justice World penal colony. Very nasty:

(Credit to the Red Dwarf Space Corp Database.)

Pretty boy isn't he?

It's obviously way too early to tell what is going on for certain, but is this lad responsible for the attack which leads to the crew members' return to Earth? Is he one of many responsible? Or is this just a ginger mackerel?** As a (sort of) wise man once said, "it will be a lot of fun finding out." Mind you he got pregnant a few months later, so you have to be careful when making such statements.

*I believe Kryten (one of those flat-top 4000s I mentioned earlier) put it succinctly when he stated: "The main difference between an android and a simulant is an android won't rip off a human's head and spit down his neck." He might look like a contestant in the 'Michelin Man lookalike of the Year' show, but you couldn't meet a wiser droid than old Kryters. Well... okay you could. But lets not put him down. He has had a lot to contend with these last few centuries.

** I suspect my piscine phrase database might have gotten a tad corrupted there.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Being Human

There is a lot of good sci-fi telly on at the moment. There is Lost, which I would highly recommended. (The new series is really cracking.) Then there is Battlestar Galactica, also a great watch as we gain more answers, and questions along the way. Heroes has also recently returned. I feel it lost it's way a bit last chapter, but it's still highly entertaining telly, and the new chapter has started promisingly. Last but not least, there is Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, another great show. And of course we have Red Dwarf's return in April, something I've kept on about in the previous posts.*

Another genre that has attracted my interest in my sojourn in this century is horror. Nothing like a good scare to get the diodes sparking, but also the story opportunities such themes provide are awesome.** Couple that with decent character development and some comedy thrown in, and you're onto a good thing.

This leads me to the new -but alas soon to finish- BBC3 series Being Human. It is about 3 people living in a flat together, one who happens to be a vampire, one a ghost, and one a (rather squeaky in his human form) werewolf. It started off as a pilot episode, and the programme almost got no further. However, due to fan reaction, the BBC decided they would commission a series after all. Some things were changed. The vampires are less Gothic and stereotypical, certainly an improvement. And there were 2 new actors playing the roles of the vampire and the ghost.

Having seen the pilot, I was delighted to learn of it's return, although I had misgivings concerning the change of cast as I rather liked the previous actors. I particularly liked Andrea Riseborough as the role of the ghost. She just captured that sense of lost soul so well.

I really needn't have worried though. The new actors' take on the characters is a bit different, but certainly not in a bad way. Lenora Critchlow's version of Annie (the ghost) is less spooky, a bit posher, but just as vulnerable and, very human.

Aidan Turner has also done a good job taking over the role of Mitchell the vampire from Guy Flanagan. And Russell Tovey continues as George the fussy werewolf. I'll admit, I had some doubts on his acting ability. He has a rather strange way of speaking. He... is... very.. much... into.. speaking.. slowly... and over...enunc...ia..ting and has a tendency to squeak when exasperated. And he screams like a girl when afraid or going through his 'change.' I wouldn't change (heh) him now though. He is very endearing, and the girly screaming has a lot of comedy potential. (That sounds awfully condescending. Point is, despite my misgivings the acting style really does fit with the character well, although it wouldn't hurt to tone it down a little bit.)

As for the plot of the programme, the sheer variety in the stories has kept me entertained, being funny one moment, sad and poignant the next, then suddenly pulling the rug from under you and going to a rather dark place.

I wouldn't be honest if I said there wasn't anything I was uncertain of. There were times when I felt they went a bit too far (the vampire snuff video that features in episodes 3 and (less) in 4 being a good example.) But the fact is, it is a very dark adult show and such uncomfortable reactions are to be expected. It isn't ALL what the show is about though, and it is the variety which is part of what makes the programme great.

If I had another criticism (and I suspect 'criticism' is too strong a word here) it would be that the episodes sometimes have a slightly disjointed feel particularly at the end. I think this is mainly due to cramming so much within each episode. You sometimes feel that the story is coming to a natural end, and then another bit of plot surfaces, sometimes with a twist. I'm not convinced this is a bad thing necessarily though. It feels a bit discordant at the time, but in retrospect provides a thread leading to the next episode and a reminder that all is not hunky dory in this world.

It was my hope that a new series would be commissioned. There was some doubt on this. There were rumors that executives in the BBC hated the programme and wanted it canceled. Whether or not this is just unfounded rumor based on fan paranoia, I don't know. However, I recently learned that a new series of eight episodes has indeed been commissioned! This is great news, as the six episodes we're having (episode 6 appears this Sunday) just isn't enough, (although to be fair it is reasonable for a first series).

In conclusion, it's great. And IT'S BRITISH!

For more information on the programme, blogs, and behind the scene stuff or if you want to catch up on the episodes, just go here.

EDIT- If you wish to add any comments on that site, for some reason Firefox will not links to log-in. Internet Explorer shows them just fine though.

* And three of those programmes all feature artificial life forms. A coincidence? I think not. [South African Mode]Once you've had mech there's no going beck.[/South African mode]

Sorry, that was an awful pun. I'm not sure what came over me then. I-I-I... Burr...


**It looks like I should provide examples here, but as this post is about a specific programme rather than the horror genre as a whole, I shall decline. I was slipping into waffle mode there. Introductions can be the most difficult stuff to write.