Friday, February 27, 2009

Artist Corner: Cyril Rolando

Posted by Harry Markov

Ashamed to have missed a Friday so shamelessly, I appear once again with a new treat and hopefully a Friday will never be spared a good art interview. *grin* So for today I have Cyril Rolando otherwise known as AquaSixio on DeviantArt in my virtual chair. The man of the hour is French and still an undiscovered diamond, but I wish him some great professional realization. Harry Markov: First of all thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. Your art has an enchanting and quirky quality, which sets it apart from everything else I have seen so far. So I would like to know what created this bright individual. What attracted you to art? What can you say was the first encounter with the art form to inspire you to become an artist?

Cyril Rolando : In 2003, my brother drew on oekaki board and I was curious to see how it worked. I didn’t know how to draw on traditional support, but I had a good sense for the color setting and intuition for the composition. My beginning was hard, but I am a persevering person and after months people started calling me an « artist » to mark my progress. But I don’t think myself as an artist. HM: Which artist so far has had an exceptional influence on your work? CR: It's not an original influence, but Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki are both the roots of my own world. I like the absurdity, the creativity and the enchanting universes, where colors bring more emotions than thousand smiles or a million tears. Miyazaki's team is really impressive. HM: Can you talk a bit about yourself? I attempted a trip to your website, but as I see it is under construction for the time being. Who is Cyril? A freelance artist or perhaps you have a day job and in that case, how does painting fit in your life? CR: My website is finally done. It gathers my drawings, old and new pieces. I'm uncomfortable speaking about me, but I know accepting to be interviewed, I can't escape from this part. I'm 24, I live in Paris and I started drawing five years ago, when I was a psychology student. I'm a freelance artist, who draws for fun with color and shares his point of view on the world. In my life, I am psychologist and I work with autistic children. HM: I noticed that you keep varying the number of pieces you keep on your DA profile, which leads me to believe that there is much more of your work hidden somewhere. Will it be revealed soon enough on your website? CR: Five years of drawings represent around 200 digital pieces. I don't really want to "hide " my works, but many of these pieces are quite... ridiculous (form and content). They aren't hidden, but available on my website. I want to see interesting artworks in my DA gallery, representative of who I am. HM: Now looking through your art I won’t label you as a fantasy artist, because there is quite the diversity of pieces, but still I have to say that most of what you do is surreal. Do you have affection towards fantasy to draw ideas from and what attracts you to the otherworldly? CR: I dislike the concept of a label for everything. I think the "fantasy" style don't reflect the soul of my world. On the other side, surreal art is not my cup of tea. It's an interesting question because I've never found a word (English or French) which could describe my "style" but reading "otherworldy" I think now I get it. HM: Though I think this is kind of racist, I attribute the fact that your work so far as exhibited ideas and viewpoints so different from most artists to you being French. And I mean that in a positive way. What do you use for an inspiration in the country of culture? CR: Er, hard question. I think I am proud to be French because this country inspires me many symbols (revolution, human rights, romantic love, culture of art, gastronomy...) but I don't want to promote France through my drawings. Overall being French doesn't improve my use of English, unfortunately. HM: Most of your work involves animals and I have to wonder where this love for the animal kingdom comes from? Also do animals carry some sort of hidden symbols? CR: Lately, I’m listening to the new song of Joshua called "animals.will.save.the.world". This is the kind of song I would write. I think humans are proud, mistrustful and self-centered. I want to hand over to the animals, to critic or play human roles. They don't carry hidden symbols; this is just a return to innocence, a naive vision of the world. This is a return to childhood, where animals can speak, dreams become reality and imagination rules the world. HM: Other favorites of mine illustrate a small child with a head piece on its head, which makes it look like an arrow has pierced its head. “The Secret Garden” is personal favorite of mine and over all I am interested who is that child? CR: Two years ago, I wanted to share parts of my life, point of view on love, sadness, happiness, and discouragement... all these emotions accompanying me everywhere. When I had to stage myself in my drawings, this boy, full of symbols, allowed me to play in the world I used to dream. The arrow represents a kind of pain, but without the arrow I can't travel in this world. It's like a key or a costume to join the fancy-dress ball. So, if you aren’t labeled as „otherworldly " you can't enter!

HM: Most naturally I would like to ask: Which was your favorite piece to paint? And in that line of thought which one gave you the hardest time? What is the hardest aspect in painting for you? CR: My favorite is "SAVE OUR SOULS"[first one posted on the left], because of the presence of many symbols describing the reality of my life, work, and personal quest. The piece which has given me the hardest time is "MONKEYS ARE SWINGING "[browse the site in year under 2006]. I was unable to fix the mistakes (perspective/anatomic/colors). I felt really discouraged after 38 hours of fighting. I want to see emotions in my pieces, in my opinion this is the hardest aspect in painting, because you could easily get a cliché or kitsch emo pictures. HM: An exciting moment for me is the art itself. Each piece seems like it’s done digitally and yet there is this hint of brushwork applied. What are the tools you most commonly use and how long usually does it take to create a piece from start to finish? CR: I feel the same as you, and I am really interested when artists add a step by step of their drawing to reflect the slow evolution. I do add my work-in-progress to show how strange blurred strokes could turn into a face or a tree. I did a lot of tutorials for explaining my approach. HM: Are there any genres, styles or techniques you would like to experiment with? CR: I am really impressed by janaschi's works, I will try to understand how she works and try to adjust it to my style / limits. HM: I also have to wonder what your current projects are. What can we expect? CR: Any project. I can work as a psychologist in the daytime and being an artist by night. I will keep on drawing illustrations and making tutorials to explain how I work. If a studio wants to work on my world, I would be glad to share my ideas/story/scenario, but it's not the case, for the moment.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giveaway! Far World by J. Scott Savage

Courtesy of Shadow Mountain Publishing I have a copy of Far World by J. Scott Savage to offer for giveaway. To be honest, I would LOVE to keep this one, but I have so many titles to get to, that I got permission to cross-post a review (coming soon) from another site -- so that means some lucky person is going to get the copy currently in my possession. Synopsis Other people may see thirteen-year-old Marcus Kanenas as an outcast and a nobody, but he sees himself as a survivor and a dreamer. In fact, his favorite dream is of a world far away, a world where magic is as common as air, where animals tell jokes, and trees beg people to pick their fruit. He even has a name for this place-Far World. When Marcus magically travels to Far World, he meets Kyja, a girl without magic in a world where spells, charms, and potions are everywhere, and Master Therapass, a master wizard who has kept a secret hidden for thirteen years, a secret that could change the fate of two worlds. But the Dark Cicle has learned of Master Therapass’s secret and their evil influence and power are growing. Far World’s only hope is for Marcus and Kyja to find the mythical Elementals-water, land, air, and fire-and convince them to open a drift between the worlds. As Kyja and Marcus travel to Water Keep, they must face the worst the evil Dark Circle can through at them-Summoners, who can command the living and the dead; Unmakers, invisible creatures that can destroy both body and soul; and dark mages known as Thrathkin S’Bae. Along the way, Marcus and Kyja will discover the truth about their own heritage, the strength of their friendship, and the depths of their unique powers. The rules are the same as usual. Simply comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Farworld" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Thursday March 12th. Please make sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Man, talk about marketing. I'll have to file bankruptcy after buying all the new Transformers once my son sees this one...

Winner! A Magic of Twilight by S.L. Farrell

I have randomly picked a winner for my "A Magic of Twilight" by S.L. Farrell giveaway, and the winner is: Best Fantasy & Science Fiction Congrats! Just send me your snail mail and I'll get this right off to you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke

Posted by Harry Markov

Title: “Inkheart” Author: Cornelia Funke Series: Inkworld Series, Book 1 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 534 Publisher: The Chicken House Summary:

This story is about the bookbinder Mo and his daughter Meggie, whose lives become an adventure one day. Mo is not an ordinary bookbinder. He has the magic talent to read aloud and call different objects or people from the books he reads. However this gift is too bitter since Mo has managed to read out the cruelest villain called Capricorn from a book called “Inkheart”, but also send Meggie’s mother to take Capricorn’s place in the story. The story picks up when Capricorn has adjusted himself to the new world and kidnaps Mo to use his talent for monstrous and criminal purposes.
Classification & Literary Class: “Inkheart” came as a rather generous present from my beloved friend Blogger Bellezza, who insisted I get my own copy. Thanks to her now I do and will cherish it. This is so to say my initiation in modern YA fantasy literature and I still can’t believe this is a rather new bestseller from the year 2003. It sounds like an already settled in classic to me like “Alice in Wonderland”. As everybody knows I really can’t continue a review unless I label the novel as a certain nuance of urban fantasy and in this case the right is fully mine, since pretty much we have extraordinary tales happen in an alternative and exact photo copy of Earth. But since this is a Young Adult title you can’t go without the typical Bildungsroman elements aka a coming of age story. As far as age goes “Inkheart” is originally meant for the audience 10-15 year olds, but for the people, who regularly indulge their inner child it is like any other good read, exciting. There was a certain kind of joy reading this book that left you in that pure innocent state of being an excited small child. Skillful illustrations and excerpts from famous published works that act as summaries only strengthen the experience, while Funke enchants with her magnificent style and prose. 500 pages passed like nothing I have ever read. Characters & Depth: Staying true to the age group, Funke approaches her characters in a more simplistic manner, though it is safe to say that characters don’t become two dimensional cardboard cutouts. It is also safe to assume that Meggie is the main protagonist and we see about two thirds of the story through her eyes. The curious thing with her character is that she experiences and learns about the world through the endless volumes of books she reads. Her inquisitive and curious nature has introduced her to the great woes and tribulations of heroes and introduced her to the dark side of the world, but books always sheltered her from really living the bad, so as the story progresses Meggie accepts the challenges throw at her and matures. This is an almost untraceable transition that feels so natural. The rest of the characters are more like overall symptoms. Mo shows a bit less character growth, but is a positive constant father figure, whose devotion to his daughter is inspirational and endearing enough to stay a constant favorite to young readers alike. Dustfinger is the antihero so to say, who has dubious morals and betrays the protagonists for a chance to return to his own world. In the end though he has a change of heart and does the right thing. He is the embodiment of the idea “it’s never too late to do the right thing”. Meggie’s aunt Elinor is the archetype of all book addicts. Her devotion to books surpasses the need to be around people and she is numb towards the joys of life with people. As the story ends we see staggering 180 degree change as she begins to long to be amongst people like she never before had. Her character in my opinion is a reminder that it is too dangerous and lonesome to shut yourself only in the world of imagination. Worldbuilding & Believability: Main worldbuilding here gravitates around the ability of Mortimer to read things and people out of and in books. This is like Newton’s third law of physics, perhaps the only one I know, that for every effect or force there is an equal counter effect or force. This equality in exchange from one plain to another is the key here. Whenever Mo has to read something out from a title, there is a price that has to be made and nobody knows what can disappear. This keeps the tension and the stakes high, plus the idea is quite cool. Many times I have had moments with novels, when I found myself wishing things out, but for better or for worse with no effect. The second part of this gift is that it can be controlled. It works with any written word and as the book suggests a skillful writer can derail a current story and change its course or create a new one just as easily. The suggestion of ultimate power or creative freedom is mind boggling, but as shown quite risky and to be used with caution. “Inkheart” is a lesson in moderation and the ageless “With power comes great responsibility”, but done in a very entertaining and possibly most original manner. The Verdict: To be honest I never expected that YA would be in my taste range. I still wouldn’t be comfortable with the genre as a whole, but the Inkworld series is one that must be read. For me experiencing something new every time is a way to keep out of the rut or fall into clichés, so if you are someone to enjoy a bit of diversity pick this one up. I will also be watching the movie soon enough.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Giveaway! The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

Thanks, yet again, to Penguin Books I have another great book to offer for giveaway. In fact, I have already read this one (review to come soon) and I can honestly say that fans of the "Black Jewels" series should like this one. The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop Synopsis From the national bestselling author- the new novel set in the "darkly fascinating world"(SF Site) of the Black Jewels. Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand-without a leader and without hope. Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Blood's code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again. If this sounds good to you, then either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Queen" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Tuesday March 10th. Please make sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach the winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!

WATCHMEN - Awesome....

Posted by Harry Markov

In light of the new movie coming out in May 2009 I decided to do a bit of reading and get acquainted with the “Watchmen” miniseries. To be honest it was a long slow read, but in retrospect I had the best time with a serialized graphic novel in my entire life. No wonder people keep repeating “most celebrated of all times”, plus I almost regret having to read it from my computer screen. I and “Watchmen” started on the wrong foot. Being from a generation, where comic book heroes look like Wonder Woman or Colossus. Seeing heroes represented as simple masked vigilantes with no inkling of powers and already middle-aged and disbanded and looking so ordinary doesn’t feel so good. But issue after issue I liked seeing behind the smoke and mirror tricks the public sees and get behind the scenes so to say. The team Moore, Higgins and Gibbons break the cliché and pretty much create a different brand of comic book hero genre. Another aspect to pay attention to is the name Moore, which you might have heard even though you can’t connect in an instant. It has its own gravitational field you can’t ignore and then again there is the artwork. I have to be truthful to my tastes that I never got used to it. Fat lines and more flat colors, grim and kind of noir look doesn’t appeal to me, but yet it had a powerful effect on reading experience and when art and story collaborate great things happen. And then again “Watchmen” is not about the story itself, but rather a lesson or exercise in the art of storytelling. The comic book format though treated lightly and with some sort of sarcasm by mainstreamers has the best capacity to accommodate a surprising quantity of symbols both visual and in content and the structure itself. I had to do some reading to check whether what I thought I found out has relevance. There is nothing worse than a dimwit know-it-all mess up a beloved classic. I confirmed my ideas, helped me develop them and got more than what I bargained for. “Watchmen” is the sort of work that has to be reread with extra care, patience and fervor to be decoded and grasped fully. I for one don’t have the habit, so I missed some elements, but what I learned was fantastic and most satisfying. Moore poses the question whether in a world where super heroes are realistic and ask ourselves whether we would be better off without them. The Watchmen are almost all past their prime, retired, share a nihilistic viewpoint and are more are less self centered, swallowed in their own problems. As Moore said it himself he simply deconstructs the super hero myth so that readers can reflect upon its significance. What engaged me more in the series happened to be the small touches like the yellow smiley face with the spot of blood above the eye, which is the most recognizable symbol in the whole series. I view it as the downfall of masked vigilantes in the large sense. Another interesting touch happens to be the motif of having a story within the story. “Tales of the Black Freighter” is a fictional comic book pirate series and one of its stories “Marooned” is being read by a black teen in “Watchmen”. This is a genius move to underline the main story in “Watchmen”, when Ozymandias attempts to save the world from a full out nuclear war on the back of thousands of dead people including his former teammates, the same way the young mariner in “Marooned” uses the corpses of his fellow shipmates to escape his island prison and in the process goes insane. The world and back story are also provided in the end of every issue apart from the last one with excerpts from books, letters and notes written by the characters or for them. There is far more going on in “Watchmen” that meets the eye and in any case I would recommend this to everyone or anyone. It has this quality of awesomeness, the ultimate conspiracy and the most tension filled exposition.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winner! Short Story Collection #5

I have randomly picked a winner for my Short Story #5 Collection and the winner is: Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag Congrats Lauren! Just send me your snail mail and I'll get these right off. Hope you enjoy the books.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Hugh Jackman Enough Incentive to Sit Through the Academy Awards?

So, the Academy Awards are almost here. Am I alone with the whoop-de-do feeling? I used to like to watch the Academy Awards. But then, I actually could claim to have seen the movies. Remember when "Titanic" was nominated? I don't know if the movie was as good as I thought it was, but at least I saw it. Last year the only movie I cared about was "No Country for Old Men." This year..... Well, I'd care if "The Dark Knight" had been nominated. And that's kind of the crux of it for me. The only draw to the awards show this year is to see if Heath Ledger wins for "The Dark Knight" and to see my favorite crush, who just happens to be hosting this year, Hugh Jackman. I guess I'm not alone either. While cruising the net today I came across this article about this year's show and the lack of interest-- even among the celebrities who were nominated. I can report that this year's producers are privately complaining that the biggest movie stars in the world like Jack Nicholson, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, and Kate Winslet gave them reasons galore -- some serious, some trivial -- for why they didn't want to present awards, once considered a huge honor. (For instance, Kidman said she [won't] appear onstage without the "right" hairdresser. George Clooney wouldn't reschedule his current visit to Darfur refugee camps in Africa. And Winslet, the Best Actress shoo-in, claimed she was too "nervous" to take it on.) One of the few bigtime actresses who didn't balk was Reese Witherspoon. These behind-the-scenes embarrassments are one reason why the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences took the unprecedented step this year of failing to make public the list of Oscar presenters. There's even talk now of bringing back those official $100,000+ Oscar baskets of expensive freebies that used to be given to the show's presenters and performers (before Uncle Sam decided to tax the giveaways) as a way to bribe Hollywood into lending its star power. And Meanwhile, a group of online bloggers has led an audience boycott of the Oscars among the predominantly male fans of The Dark Knight because of the Academy voters' snub of the $1 billion-in-worldwide-grosses comic book caper for a Best Picture nomination and its Chris Nolan for Best Director. And that's yet another problem that hurts viewership: this year, too, the most popular movies aren't in contention for the major category Academy Awards. That drives away younger viewers. So it's little wonder that ABC in this economic freefall scrambled to drop prices for 30-second ads and replace two of the key sponsors for its Sunday broadcast, General Motors and L'Oreal. Not even the prospect of 30+ million U.S. viewers could lure advertisers who've cut their TV budgets to the bone. Prices for Oscars spots averaged $1.7 million last year, but now are going for as cheap as $1.4 million. The result is that, in a departure from tradition, parent company Walt Disney had to let its rival movie studios buy time on the telecast. Wow. Where has all the glamor gone? I have stated before that I believe that the biggest problem with the way Hollywood passes out awards these days is that honest-to-goodness good movies aren't really in the running anymore; at least most of the time. It's become all about the vehicle movies like the yearly Holocaust films like "The Piano" and "The Reader" that are almost automatically nominated due to the fact that they have a Holocaust setting-- not based on merit. Perhaps the new breed of Holocaust films came into existence due to the wide respect movies like "Schindler's List" received, but just because a movie is set during the Holocaust doesn't automatically mean it's good. Ditto for suburban angst films. That isn't to say all the nominees are bad. I've heard that "Slumdog Millionaire" is really a good film; one that isn't in the dark, depressing mode of the majority of the other nominated films. Bottom line, I miss the days when movies like "The Godfather" and "Rocky" won the Academy Award. I would give anything for another "Silence of the Lambs" to be nominated. If the Academy could recognize "Titanic" then how can "The Dark Knight" be overlooked. Where did all the pretentiousness come from? I don't know. I just don't know. As much as I love Hugh Jackman, I may not watch. Well, maybe I'll watch long enough to see if Ledger gets a posthumous award. After that... I think I'll watch a movie on DVD. I hear "The Dark Knight" is good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Book Review: Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

Marsbound by Joe Haldeman Imagine, if you will, being 19 years old and forced to leave everything behind to spend six years in the middle of a hostile desert with absolutely no pizza. Yah, I don't think I'd like it either. Carmen Dula is a young woman who should be setting off for her freshmen year of college, but her family entered a Lottery and trained their butts off so they could be some of the very few privileged to spend a six year stint at a colony on Mars. However, first she has to deal with two weeks stuck with 36 other people on a cramped space elevator, then six months on a cramped (but slightly larger) rocket with 26 of those people, and then six years with the same hundred or so people stuck in an underground Mars base with no swimming pool. Understandably, Carmen has her doubts about the entire affair - only slightly alleviated by a romance with the slightly older, but quite handsome, pilot of the John Carter of Mars. When she arrives on Mars, Carmen is forced to endure scarce bathing opportunities and a boring schedule of schoolwork (imagine how long it must take to ask your Earth professor a question if you're on Mars), chores, and, to top it all off, a colony administrator who seems to hold a personal grudge against her. However, I don't recommend running out alone onto the surface of Mars to get revenge against Authoritarian figures. Carmen realizes her mistake when she falls down a hole and breaks her ankle. Luckily, humans weren't the first 'people' on Mars and Carmen is about to get her own personal eight-appendaged, potato-headed Angel. This book is separated into three distinct portions of a fairly simple story. Haldeman is apparently a master of weaving real science into Science Fiction and the first part is heavily dedicated to describing the realities of how The Space Elevator might actually function. 50,000 miles of 'ribbon' from a rig near the Galapagos, up to GEO (geosynchronous earth orbit) and the Hilton Space Station, and then beyond. This is all described in gritty detail - from a terrifying, but routine, moment where a robot is deployed to repair a micrometeorite hole, to the utterly humiliating thought of a camera staring at your butt to make sure you don't miss the hole on a low-Gravity space toilet, oh and consuming your own urine because water is scarce up in space! Meanwhile, as you're treated to the wry commentary of young Carmen Dula on her highly technological surroundings, you also get to experience her anxiety about leaving earth and not being able to experience college like a normal person, and her nervous joy about her first real sexual experience and the restrained courtship that follows. The second portion goes into more detail about life on the Red Planet, along with their first contact with the 'Martians' and the problems that arise with such an encounter. The final portion shows the consequences of humankind's past, and how it might impact our future dealings with Alien life. This is a coming of age story at the core, both for Carmen and humankind. What was most fascinating, for me, was how easy to read the book was. It's relatively short in hardback, and in a largish print, so it really only took me a few hours to read. But it was also an easy read because of the simplicity of Haldeman's prose. His style was reminiscent of Heinlein or E.E. Smith. I actually described it as "bubble gum science fiction" to my father. It is very old school science fiction, and essentially came across as Young Adult material. However, don't let that at all dissuade you (if you're an Adult) from reading this. The complexity was not in the prose, nor the characters, nor the superficial storyline; the complexity of Marsbound comes from a very sophisticated exploration of a First Contact scenario and the inevitably catastrophic choices that humankind will likely make. With sympathetic characters all around (except for one truly despicable one that, though understandable in some ways, you'll just love to hate), and some of the best described/most logically designed 'Martians' I have ever encountered, Marsbound is a fantastic, light read that will leave you deeply pondering the future of humankind...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Giveaway! Signed Copies of "The Blood King" and "Dark Haven" by Gail Z. Martin

Thanks to author Gail Z. Martin, I can offer one set of signed copies of The Blood King and Dark Haven from her Chronicles of the Necromancer series for giveaway. How great is that? The Blood King The hugely anticipated second book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer series, following The Summoner, one of the most successful fantasy debuts of the year. Outcast Prince Martris Drayke continues his quest to seek retribution and restore his father’s honour. He must gather his allies and make a direct challenge to the armies of his brother, Jared. Meanwhile, Jared’s mage seeks to raise the spirit of the Obsidian King, and creates an imbalance in the natural currents of magic. Tris must learn to use his powers as a Summoner to fight the forces of evil plaguing the Winter Kingdoms. "Attractive characters and an imaginative setting." - David Drake, author of the Lord of the Isles series Dark Haven Matris Drayke, king of Margolan, is faced with the challenge to rebuild his shattered kingdom. With his wedding weeks away, Tris must address the trials and executions of those responsible for the atrocities against Margolan’s people. Jonmarc Vahanian, the new Lord of Dark Haven, and one of Tris's allies, faces trouble with the Blood Council, where there is defiance against the prospect of a mortal lord. And beneath Dark Haven, the Flow, the vast river of power damaged when Arontala wrested the Soulcatcher from Dark Haven’s foundation, is becoming unstable, threatening the balance of magic itself, and the future of the Winter Kingdoms. Don't these sound fantastic! To enter either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Necromancer" and I will pick a winner by Thursday March 5th. Please be sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach the winner within 48 hours I will pass the prize onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Thanks Gail! Good luck!

Giveaway! Cybermage by Alma Alexander

Thanks to the generosity of author Alma Alexander, I have a copy of Cybermage, the concluding volume of her Worldweavers trilogy to offer for giveaway. This year at the Wandless Academy feels all wrong to Thea—in all ways, magical and otherwise—and that's before she discovers she’s an elemental mage, a category of magician so rare that only four others are known to exist. Now the Federal Bureau of Magic needs Thea’s help to unlock a mysterious white cube, which the dangerous Alphiri are also desperately seeking. To stay ahead of the Alphiri and the wiles of the FBM, Thea needs all her friends, including a new one: the cube's late maker, the only quad-Elemental mage in human history—a man they called the New Wizard of the West. If you're a fan of YA fiction, and I know a lot of you are, and you'd like to get your hands on a copy of "Cybermage," then either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "Cyber" to enter and I will pick a winner by Wednesday March 4th. Be sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach the winner within 48 hours I will pass the prize onto the next entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open in the U.S. only. Good luck!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winner! Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman

I have randomly picked a winner for my "Wings of Wrath" giveaway and the winner is: Drey. Congrats Drey! Just send me your snail mail address and I'll be sure to get this right off to you. Hope you enjoy the book.

The People VS. George Lucas

If you feel like you were ripped off by the last "Star Wars" trilogy, watch this video and then visit THIS SITE for a chance to give George a piece of your mind. I love this.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Artist Corner: Timothy Lantz

Posted by Harry Markov

This time I think I did it like one should do an interview. On the unluckiest day of all Friday the 13th I present you a man, who is not afraid of bad publicity, because of the accursed day and a man, who has been making readers scream of joy, whenever they pick up a book. I think it's pretty obvious that he is Timothy Lantz and that I have him here for your delight. Hear the answers of the guy that makes the coolest cover art ever. Harry Markov: First of all, thank you for accepting my invitation. I am excited to have you here on my virtual chair and sharing your trade secrets. So let’s begin with the obvious questions. What inspired you to become an artist? For that matter why did you choose digital art for the better part of your portfolio? Timothy Lantz: I was just one of those kids, the ones who are always drawing or creating things. I have a healthy imagination, which I fuel by reading comic books, watching television and going to the movies. On some level, I suppose it is really a desire to be a storyteller and to share some of the great tales that are forever spinning around in the back of my mind which lead me to where I am now. Over the years, I’ve always sought ways to share my creative vision, whether through traditional art, writing, or role-playing it’s just a part of who I am. Combine this with my love for technology and communication and going digital was a natural evolution for me. The digital tools (and photoshop in particular) have become a very natural medium for me. My familiarity and comfort with them affords a kind of relaxed state, where I have the freedom to just create and learn without frustration. HM: Via your biography page I know that your major influence has been the Symbolism movement. Can you explain what the specific traits of this movement are that shaped your work? TL: What I find most inspiring about the symbolists was their rebel attitude. At a time when the majority of artists’ work seemed to be centered around the themes of religion and Christianity, along comes this group of individuals who decided to strike out on their own path. They shared a love of mythology and storytelling and other non-traditional views and they defied what was generally accepted to just create works around their own passions. HM: You have a degree in art education and are a professional illustrator. You work on the cover art for several publishers, DC comics and illustrate for fantasy magazines. How did you launch your career and managed to land such assignments? TL: My career as a professional illustrator really started with the publication of the Archeon Tarot. Up until that time I had been a graphic designer and a web programmer, and my artwork was just something of a hobby. I was in the midst of a lot of life-changing events, prior to that… graduating college, moving, finding a new job, getting married… once that kind of settled down, I found myself in a place not unlike my childhood, where life had become kind of secure with the day to day concerns taken care of. This allowed me a great deal of freedom to just go back to the process of creating and experimenting. It was really here were I started exploring digital art, and that lead to the creation of the Archeon Tarot. Once people saw my work on that, I began receiving other illustration offers and it has continued to pick up steam from there. HM: The next question is probably obvious too. Since we are all fantasy or sci-fi fans on these blogs, we all had different reasons to love the genre. What in particular hooked you to do fantasy pieces? TL: I think the fantasy genre allows for storytelling on a primal or basic level, one which the audience can come at from a shared experience. There are certain symbols or tropes which are universal and allow you to convey your meaning but at the same time, there’s this broad canvas where you are free to just dream and create and add details which can enrich the whole experience into something far greater than a simple allegory. HM: It is clear that you use Photoshop for most of your work, but the base is always a photo of a female model. Do you do the photography yourself and if you do how do you find and interact with the models? TL: I wouldn’t say the basis is always a female model, but that’s going to be what most people are familiar with simply because I’ve done so many book cover illustrations recently. I do love working in that genre though, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing models who have really brought those images to life. As for the photography, since the publication of the Archeon Tarot, I’ve relied exclusively on my own model photography. I recruit my models from among my friends and other artists that I have worked with and additionally from talent recruitment sites like www.modelmayhem.com. HM: Is it easy to manipulate the pictures and how long does it take for a picture from start to finish? Consequently what are the tricky parts in digital art that may trouble beginner artists? TL: I wouldn’t say that it’s easy. There is a tendency to see digital art as a kind of shortcut or automated process, but it simply isn’t true. The computer is a tool, no different than a paintbrush or ink pen, it’s what the artist does with the tool that makes the difference. That being said, there is a lot of sub-standard work out there. People will run an image through a filter and declare it art. I think in the long run though, the audience knows when something is worthy of appreciation. This holds true for any creative endeavor. Ultimately, a work is judged on whether or not it speaks to the viewer in some way, not on how it was produced. My advice for beginning digital artists is the same as it would be for any traditional media artist… practice, practice, practice. The more you work at it, the better you will become. HM: Next I would like to ask you about your work in the comic book sphere. I bet that you use your illustration skills for DC comics, but what does that involve cover art or some additional tasks? TL: My work for DC Comics has so far been limited to just the Vs. Collectible Card Game. I worked on three cards for the World’s Finest expansion set and another three for the Legends expansion set. HM: Since we are all book lovers and one of the things we admire is the amazing cover art some of the novels have. Your work is also breathtaking. What’s the whole mechanism to making one? Does the publishing house specifically instruct you what to do or do they let you take the initiative first and consent or not? TL: Each publisher is different. It really comes down to the art director for each project and their established work flow. My experiences have ranged from being told to “just make something cool”, to a very detailed step-by-step outline of what the image was supposed to contain. For my tastes, I prefer somewhere in the middle. I like to have a rough starting idea and maybe some details of what the image should contain and then just go from there. The best art directors will work with you and help you to achieve a better image. HM: You are also responsible for a tarot deck already available on the market for quite some time. What triggered the idea to make one and how long did it took to complete it? Any additional comments will be appreciated. TL: The tarot was something I discovered in middle school, as a result of my involvement with role-playing and reading comics and such. Immediately, I was drawn in by the images and the symbolism of it all. My own deck was a result of my desire for a project and some fortunate internet surfing. Upon seeing the work of another artist whose take on the tarot didn’t fit with my vision, I decided to make one for myself. Honestly, I never expected it to grow beyond an afternoon’s indulgence; however the feedback I received from friends and family was so strong that I continued to pursue it. Within a short time I had completed a number of cards and a good friend of mine convinced me I should try and get it published. She really did the legwork and basically dropped the submission materials in my lap. So, with nothing to lose, I took a chance and was fortunate enough to land a publisher interested in my deck. It took me a full year to complete the deck once I was under contract. HM: Looking by some of your series such as the muses, I see you draw inspiration from literature. Is the written word a constant well of inspiration and where do you seek ideas for your work usually? TL: I have a lot of influences, literary and otherwise. I look at work from classical painters and modern masters all with equal eye. I listen to heavy metal and get lost in the lyrics. Movies and television shows fill my mind with their plots and characterizations. All of this and more somehow distills through my brain and ends up in my work. HM: From all that you have done in your career so far, which is the piece you liked most or enjoyed most completing? TL: I have a few favorites. My Silver Banshee illustration for World’s Finest is one of them. I was just really excited with how that turned out as she’s been a favorite character of mine for a long time. HM:I understand that you also do commission work. Do you get a lot of requests and how do you decide whether or not to take up a job? What are your criteria? TL: These days I rarely do personal commissions. Between my professional work and my own projects I have little time to devote to other works. That being said, occasionally I’ll get a request from a model who would like to work with me and if I can find the time, I’ll set up a shoot. HM: Have you ever dealt with some sort of art theft? It is a common threat that accompanies artists these days and I would like to hear your experience with the problem. TL: I haven’t really experienced a problem with this but I have friends who have been through some nightmares over it. It seems to me that a lot of the theft occurs when you’re working on licensed properties or popular characters and things of that nature. The anonymous aspect of the internet kind of facilitates this to a degree, but it’s also quite adept at catching those who are doing something wrong. Unfortunately, I think it’s also easy for people to be caught up in a kind of witch hunt too. That’s life in the information age though. HM:The year 2008 had a nice schedule of appearances for you and can you share how they went? Did you meet a lot of fans? Also will your fans in America have the chance to see you this year as well? TL: I’ve been doing shows and appearances since the Fall of 2005 and I love it. The reception of my work has been great and I’ve met so many people and made so many friends while being out there at the cons and galleries. I really love the travel aspect too. I’ve been to a lot of great cities the past four years and I’m looking forward to seeing more. I’ll be finalizing my plans for this year soon, and they will be posted on the website. HM: Last but not least what does the future hold for Timothy Lantz? Can you share some of your projects? TL: I have a few commercial projects scheduled for the Spring and I’m working on a couple of projects of my own which I hope to announce in more detail later this year. As for what’s upcoming, there will be two books out soon, Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti, published by Pocket Books/Juno and A Flash of Hex by Jes Battis, published by Ace. Thank you Timothy. So you see things are looking up for the Artist Corner. © All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner. The artwork in this post has been used according to the rules listed by the artist or at least I think I have.

Book Review: Black Ship: A Novel of Crosspointe by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Product Description Thorn is a member of the Pilot’s Guild—those who possess the magical ability to navigate Crosspointe’s deadly seas. When a malevolent master within the Guild bans him from the sea, it seems his life is over. Then he is kidnapped and forced to serve aboard the rogue ship Eidolon—pitch black from bow to stern—and Thorn finds himself battling a mad captain, a mutinous crew, and the terrifying magic of the sea. But there is a saboteur on board, trying to make sure the Eidolon never arrives safely in port. Thorn begins to realize his kidnapping may have been no mere chance— and that the cargo the black ship carries may seal his doom… I mentioned in a previous post that the allergy medication my doctor has had me on has left me somewhat scattered and unable to focus on books very well these days. The Black Ship is one of the very few books that was able to cut through the haze of the medication and hold my interest for any length of time. I attribute this to the fact that I can personally connect to Diana Pharaoh Francis' writing because her characters make sense to me. "The Black Ship" is the follow up to the first book in the Crosspointe Series, The Cipher, though the story follows a whole new set of characters only returning to the original cast occasionally. Sylbrac is a member of the Pilot's Guild. Pilots are the navigators for the ships that sail the incredibly dangerous seas of Crosspointe. From the magical substance known as Sylveth that can transform anything living thing it touches into deadly spawn to the sea monsters known as Koreions, a Pilot is the only person with a strong enough connection to the sea-- a magical connection-- who can safely lead a ship through the treacherous waters. But Sylbrac isn't well liked within the Pilot's Guild. His prickly demeanor, which masks a fierce honesty, alienates him from his peers. After being betrayed by another member of the guild Sylbrac is banned from sailing on a registered ship and then kidnapped and forced to serve on an unregistered ship-- known as "The Black Ship" due to it's unmarked, pitch black paint job-- on an illegal mission with an angry, mutinous crew and an unstable captain. Then, Lucy Trenton, an incredibly powerful magician introduced in "The Cipher" appears and dangles answers to unknown questions about Sylbrac's brother to cement his cooperation. After his betrayal Sylbrac leaves his old identity behind and takes the name Thorn as he tries to make sense of the situation that has been thrust upon him. Not knowing the cargo the ship is carrying, Thorn still tries to forge a bond with his captain and crew but a saboteur on board the ship undermines all of his best efforts and puts Thorn and the crew in even more danger. Facing "pyrates," tidal waves and sea monsters in addition to trying to complete their journey, the crew of The Black Ship is tested throughout their mysterious mission. I'm not sure why, but I love stories that are set at sea. There's something about the setting of a ship, the enforced intimacy and cooperation, that I find intriguing. But not every author can make it credible. I read Mad Kestrel by Misty Massey last year but never reviewed it because, while it's not a bad book, I couldn't fully buy into it. But Francis manages to draw me into the story and engage with the characters. She's not afraid to allow her characters to go through some grueling times but the situations always make sense. One of my biggest complaints with modern fiction is the tendency to throw in action just to keep the characters busy but Francis keeps the story moving forward with purpose and you want to know what happens next. But the best thing about Fracis' Crosspointe series has to be the magical system; a highly original, yet believable creation. Sylveth is a substance that is the primary source of magic. It washes up in silvery skeins from the sea and can either mutate a living creature into a monster commonly known as spawn or it can grant certain abilities. Magicars can also harvest the substance to use in crafting spells or creating items like the compasses the Pilots use to enhance their ability to feel the dangers and moods of the sea. Francis is steadily becoming one of my preferred authors. Her books feature characters with depth and motivation that evolve throughout the story. I have enjoyed both "The Cipher" and "The Black Ship," and I'm looking forward to see how she continues the story of Crosspointe in her next book, The Turning Tide, due out this May. For more info on "The Black Ship," be sure to check out SciFi Guy's excellent review HERE

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Giveaway! A Magic of Twilight by S. L. Farrell Contest Closed

Thanks again to Penguin Books I have an extra copy of A Magic of Twilight to offer for giveaway. From Publishers Weekly Farrell (the Cloudmages trilogy) entices fantasy readers into the lush—and dangerous—land of Nessantico, where aging ruler Marguerite ca'Ludovici prepares to celebrate her Jubilee. Marguerite's son, Justi, schemes to take her place, while Jan ca'Vörl, a powerful noble at the edge of the empire, plots armed rebellion. Archigos Dhosti ca'Millac, leader of the Concénzia Faith and Marguerite's staunch ally, struggles to control fundamentalists like Orlandi ca'Cellibrecca as they clamor for action against the Numetodo heretics, who claim the magic talent called Cenzi's Gift has nothing to do with religious faith. Trapped in the middle of all this is young priestess Ana cu'Seranta, whose impressive magical ability has made her a pawn in the multilayered power struggle. Farrell easily wields an immense cast of characters, many of whom take narrative turns. Readers who appreciate intricate world building, intrigue and action will immerse themselves effortlessly in this rich and complex story. The rules are the same as usual. Either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969(at)gmail(dot)com under the header "twilight" to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Wednesday February 25th. Be sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Quondam" by Jayel Gibson

Posted by Harry Markov

Title: “Quondam” Author: Jayel Gibson Series: Book 4, Ancient Mirror Tales series Genre: Heroic Fantasy Pages: 328 Publisher: Synergy Books Summary: A murderous queen: Bound in mortal flesh by an angry god, a once ethereal nymph murders Quondam’s king and seizes the throne. All who do not bow before her die in the agony that is dragons’ breath. But, there is threat of a challenger to this brutal reign, a legend’s promised savior. Fearful, Queen Karid has the suspect captured, condemned and sentenced to an eternity alone. A condemned dragonspawn: Born of man and magick, cursed at birth by his terrified mother, a young Dragonspawn is branded a demon, a threat to Quondam’s queen, and sentenced to a millennium of solitude. His only freedom now found in dreams, he searches among a universe of sleepers for a woman born beneath the sign of the dragon, a woman believed to hold the key to his release. And the woman thrust between them: Her family and homeland destroyed by an otherworldly assassin’s fire, Cwen of Aaradan, niece of the Dragon Queen, escapes through a mysterious portal into Quondam. There, Cwen discovers her fate and an imprisoned dragonspawn’s are intertwined in ways that will drag her, heartbroken and vengeful, into the midst of a devastating war. United: With the help of an elder wizard, and the sorceresses B’rma and N’dia, the dragonspawn and Cwen of Aaradan embark on an epic journey to undo the folly of a god, stop the mad nymph queen, and return peace and magick to a war torn world. Classification & Literary Class: I never imagined I would read a novel from this subgenre of fantasy and it not be published before the transition towards urban fiction. Heroic Fantasy is simple enough, uses elements from High Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery genres, but within its simplicity lays the greatest trap. Have a protagonist of royal blood on a quest to save his land from an evil usurper sounds like easy enough to get right, but not few have managed to screw it up. My greatest concern was whether this would pull through or sink into cliché. Thankfully it didn’t. But first there a couple of things I would like to mention. Even though “Quondam” is already a number four in this series, there is no cause for concern. It is self contained and can be read as a standalone. I find Heroic fantasy, because it translates direct life into a story. Fighting battle, purging evil, suffering defeats and then earning victories until you take the throne. It’s all an allusion of our life path until you find your own spot under the sun and come into your own right. However it all works well in theory and can hardly be achieved these days. Again I say, thankfully Gibson manages to avoid the obvious tropes and clichés. The quest for justice is refreshed with slight moderations here and there, but keeping the spirit of the genre, so that fans can find the good old thrills as well as something new. Gibson pays attention to the ups and downs, shows euphoria at the victory over small foes and the crisis of heart, when nothing is certain as well as asking all those fundamental questions beneath the magic, magic creatures and battles with swords. The plot’s driving force instead of being the legends and prophecies falls on the characters, which lead to some interesting turns. The prose isn’t the best in the world, but it stays true to the tone of the genre and conveys the medieval feel. The strength here is that “Quondam” tells an adventurous story and the same time speaks to the reader through his/her own experiences. Characters & Depth: I won’t get in great detail about characters here. I found all to my fancy. Some play greater part in the happening, some do not, but when you look at them, you can’t say that they are two dimensional. They interact between each other; they have their own goals and questions of their own to answer, prove something to themselves and set doubts to rest. There is diversity in tempers and worldviews, which also enhances the story and raises interest. Best of all like real people they make mistakes; they lie and do things before thinking driven by deep emotions. Of course each character stands for an idea and a human archetype. The protagonist D’raekn portrays the man on a crossroad, while Cwen is the woman with hollow heart, devastated by life. What’s not to like. Plus the authenticity is spot on. The line that stuck with me goes like this: “Why am I surrounded by the dimwitted?” You know the modern expression and you see how smoothly it is translated into the time and spirit of the novel. Now I know that people are already fed up with love and romance being thrown everywhere, so to the people, who are already irritated not a single relationship in a novel these days looks real, I say “Here it is done decent.” Gibson does it the way it naturally happens. Two people meet and interact, become friends, then friends with benefits and before they know it and can admit to themselves they are in deep love. There is not a love at first sight or manic possessive behavior that leads to bickering. Love is a bumpy ride with no road map to show you the short cuts to happiness. I think “Quondam” does this idea justice. Worldbuilding & Believability: Since this is a Heroic fantasy you will get a lot from the same tropes. I am talking about enchanted weapons, cryptic artifacts left with no apparent purpose, special gifts that must be gathered on a typical quest. You can’t escape from these things, even if you want to. But a lot more can be expected. Quondam as a world offers different magical races that play a vital part in the legend to free the land from evil. There are omens, curses and blessings that have set the turmoil in motion, which also tie every element to another. The world is organic and it interacts with the story, both remaining flexible. With one word, it’s not that bad. The Verdict: The greatest compliment that can be said for “Quondam” is that it’s not predictable the way most books are. And I am not talking about the ending itself, I am talking about the way the characters will reach the ending. For there were some interesting turns and that is a good enough reason to recommend it. Other than this the pacing was right. It built steadily to the climax and the story had me totally oblivious to the technicalities and if there were small details that I didn’t like they faded in the bigger picture. The novel is worth the shot.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Official David Moody "Hater" Book Trailer AND First Two Chapters

Synopsis Soon to be a major motion picture—produced by Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy 1 & 2 director Guillermo del Toro A modern take on the classic “apocalyptic" novel, Hater is similar in tone to the seminal works of H.G. Wells, as well as the recent films 28 Days Later and I Am Legend, and tells the story of Danny McCoyne, an everyman forced to contend with a world gone mad, as for reasons unknown, vast numbers of the human population suddenly become irrationally violent, killing all who cross their path. Chapter 1 SIMMONS, REGIONAL MANAGER FOR a chain of main street discount stores, slipped his change into his pocket then neatly folded his newspaper in half and tucked it under his arm. He quickly glanced at his watch before leaving the shop and rejoining the faceless mass of shoppers and office workers crowding the city center sidewalks outside. He checked through his date book in his head as he walked. Weekly sales meeting at ten, business review with Jack Staynes at eleven, lunch with a supplier at one-thirty... He stopped walking when he saw her. At first she was just another face on the street, nondescript and unimposing and as irrelevant to him as the rest of them were. But there was something different about this particular woman, something which made him feel uneasy. In a split second she was gone again, swallowed up by the crowds. He looked around for her anxiously, desperate to find her among the constantly weaving mass of figures which scurried busily around him. There she was. Through a momentary gap in the bodies he could see her coming toward him. No more than five feet tall, hunched forward and wearing a faded red raincoat. Her wiry gray-white hair was held in place under a clear plastic rain hood and she stared ahead through the thick lenses of her wide-rimmed glasses. She had to be eighty if she was a day, he thought as he looked into her wrinkled, liver-spotted face, so why was she such a threat? He had to act quickly before she disappeared again. He couldn’t risk losing her. For the first time he made direct eye contact with her and he knew immediately that he had to do it. He had no choice. He had to do it and he had to do it right now. Dropping his newspaper, briefcase, and umbrella Simmons pushed his way through the crowd then reached out and grabbed hold of her by the wide lapels of her raincoat. Before she could react to what was happening he spun her around through almost a complete turn and threw her back toward the building he’d just left. Her frail body was light and she virtually flew across the footpath, her feet barely touching the ground before she smashed up against the thick safety-glass shop window and bounced back into the street. Stunned with pain and surprise she lay face down on the cold, rain-soaked pavement, too shocked to move. Simmons pushed his way back toward her, barging through a small crowd of concerned shoppers who had stopped to help. Ignoring their angry protests he dragged her to her feet and shoved her toward the shop window again, her head whipping back on her shoulders as she clattered against the glass for the second time. “What the hell are you doing, you idiot?!” an appalled bystander yelled, grabbing hold of Simmons’s coat sleeve and pulling him back. Simmons twisted and squirmed free from the man’s grip. He tripped and landed on his hands and knees in the gutter. She was still on her feet just ahead of him. He could see her through the legs of the other people crowding around her. Oblivious to the howls and screams of protest ringing in his ears, Simmons quickly stood up, pausing only to pick up his umbrella from the edge of the footpath and to push his wire-framed glasses back up the bridge of his nose. Holding the umbrella out in front of him like a bayonet rifle he ran at the woman again. “Please...” she begged as he sunk the sharp metal tip of the umbrella deep into her gut and then yanked it out again. She slumped back against the window, clutching the wound as the stunned and disbelieving crowd quickly engulfed Simmons. Through the confusion he watched as her legs gave way and she collapsed heavily to the ground, blood oozing out of the deep hole in her side. “Maniac,” someone spat in his ear. Simmons spun around and stared at the owner of the voice. Jesus Christ, another one! This one was just like the old woman. And there’s another, and another...and they were all around him now. He stared helplessly into the sea of angry faces which surrounded him. They were all the same. Every last one of them had suddenly become a threat to him. He knew there were too many of them but he had to fight. In desperation he screwed his hand into a fist and swung it into the nearest face. As a teenage boy recoiled from the sudden impact and dropped to the ground a horde of uniformed figures weaved through the crowd and wrestled Simmons to the ground. LUNATIC. BLOODY HELL, I’VE seen some things happen in this town before but never anything like that. That was disgusting. That made me feel sick. Christ, he came out of nowhere and she didn’t stand a chance, poor old woman. He’s in the middle of the crowd now. He’s outnumbered fifty to one and yet he’s still trying to fight. This place is full of crazy people. Fortunately for that woman it’s also full of police officers. There are two of them down with her now, trying to stop the bleeding. Three more have got to the guy who did it and they’re dragging him away. Damn, it’s three minutes to nine. I’m going to be late for work again but I can’t move. I’m stuck in this bloody crowd. There are people bunched up tight all around me and I can’t go backward or forward. I’ll have to wait until they start to shift, however long that takes. There are more police officers arriving now trying to clear the scene. It’s pathetic really, you’d think they’d show some respect but people are all the same. First sign of trouble on the street and everyone stops to watch the freak show. We’re finally starting to move. I can still see that guy being bundled toward a police van on the other side of the street. He’s kicking and screaming and crying like a bloody baby. Looks like he’s lost it completely. The noise he’s making you’d think he was the one who’d been attacked. READ MORE...