Blast from the past breathes new life into a beloved franchise.

I went to see Spectre on opening night along with thousands of other Bond fans. Daniel Craig proved once more that he has a tight grip on the character of James Bond and in Spectre we get the Bond film we have been waiting for since the departure of Pierce Brosnan.

There have been a few missteps along the way, Casino Royale was a good start, it promised much but they left out certain trademark features that the fans including myself, were disappointed with. All in all though it showed much promise especially if they planned to return some of the elements missing that made the films notable successes. That wasn’t the case though and we had the biggest misstep of the franchise and the largest threat to its continuation with Quantum of Solace. This was more Bourne than Bond and although it was packed with action and derring do there was little of the old Bond we had grown to love. Skyfall began to redress the balance and was beginning to show what they could do to deliver what we, the fans wanted. Skyfall was an unmitigated success becoming the first Bond film to gross one billion at the box office alone. Brosnan was the first Bond to gross a billion but it took him four films, Skyfall did it alone. Throughout the film we got a taste of what was to come and for me they delivered it in the final scene when Bond and Eve return from the roof of the building to her office. The moment they walk through that door you know, finally we are in familiar territory and Bond is back. Spectre picks up from that scene and carries on with a joyious celebration of all things that are Bond. Everything is back as it should from the opening gun barrel sequence which had been missing from the previous outings right on through to the reveal we all knew was coming, I don’t want to give too much away but any Bond fan will know what I mean. There were so many little tidbits that paid homage to previous films that I lost count as I immersed myself in the experience that was Spectre. If from this you get the impression I liked the film then you are mistaken. I loved the film. I gave us what we have been waiting for for far too long and how the makers thought they could do things differently and still please the fans is beyond me. There’s an old saying ‘if it aint broke, then don’t fix it’ Bond was never broke, he never needed fixing and now with Spectre the point has been proven. Skyfall set up the play, Spectre knocked it out of the park.

Multi tasking

The title of this blog mentions ‘other works’ and I’ve never mentioned what those other works are or even if there are any. I think I should set the record straight on that right now.

I have two pieces in the works that I’m working on at the moment as well as the next book in the Col Sec series. The first is a book I wrote back in 2002 and published through in 2008. The original title was Rogue; Dangerous Game. It was a spy novel set in the present and it sank without trace. I have always had a fondness for this book though and now that my writing has improved I re-visited the story and decided it was time to give it a second chance. There are some elements of the story that will have to change and any mistakes due to bad craftsmanship will be rectified before it sees the light of day once more. Hopefully if it gets good reviews I will carry on with the sequels I already had planned for it.

The other book will take a little more work though. This one saw the light of day as a novella under the pen name of Mark Strong and called ‘Paradise Cove’. It was set about fifteen years into the future and I was going to release the second part shortly after and then so on with the rest. Now I’ve decided to pull it from production and finish off the second segment, change parts of the first and make it all one book. This one and the first I mentioned will be released under a pen name, not Mark Strong, I’ve decided to retire that one to prevent any confusion with the actor of the same name. The reworking of Rogue will be the first one out, not sure exactly when, but that will be the first one to be released and I will keep you informed as soon as I have more news.

The Col Sec series will continue. I have two books already written that are just waiting for the final touches before they come out and like I said earlier I’m working on another. I have more ideas than I have time to execute but if this takes off like I know it should then I can devote more time to getting them out earlier. Until then I will continue as I am now and hope you like what I do.

Is Grit really necessary for Super heroes?

There is no doubt that the super hero genre has been going through some changes recently, probably not so recently. Most people not familiar with the genre will have undoubtedly heard or seen the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy of movies and it is widely considered that this is when the change began. This may be the case for movies but the Dark Knight began his change to a more realistic story line in 1969, when writer Dennis O’Neal and artist Neal Adams took the character back to his roots. The comics had followed the camp version of the tv series starring Adam West but when the show was cancelled the comics went into a decline. This pair made a conscious effort to turn things around. The stories took on a more realistic tone taking Batman back to his roots as a dark avenger and more of a detective, something the movies seemed to neglect.

My problem with this is simply a personal one. I grew up reading these comics and I marveled at the fantastic things these characters could do. My introduction to them was Superman, quickly followed by the rest of the pantheon of DC characters. I soon discovered Marvel and found that their story lines were much better because they dealt with real people, people we could relate to in a better way. Yes they were still fantasy figures and ran around in brightly coloured costumes to hide their identities but they seemed more real. Why do we need to make them fit into our society of today? I could never understand why the Dark Knight Trilogy was set in realistic setting, why Batman was made to appear as if this could actually happen, I mean come on people let’s get real here. Batman is a vigilante who dresses in a rubber suit made to look like a six foot bat and drives around in a tank like vehicle in the film creating more mayhem than any of the villains he fights. Can no one else see the absurdity of this. How can someone like this be taken seriously? He would be deemed mentally unstable and he would have a task force on his back as soon as he saw daylight. Now like I said earlier Adams and O’Neal returned the character to his roots in 1969 and it was a huge success, it revitalised the character and the comics were successful once more. They had a dark tone but to me they never lost sight of the fact that these were comics, basically fantasy, dark fantasy I accept but fantasy none the less. The Avengers movies have taken some of this realism and run with it but they never lost sight that these characters are fantasy. I know some of you will bring up the subject that there are a bunch of costumed crime fighters in the real world inspired to do good in the streets. These are not super powered beings nor are they billionaires who cause mayhem blowing stuff up. These are real people who want to make a difference but who act within the law, not vigilantes.

Like I said at the start, this was a personal thing and I’m sure there are plenty of you who would disagree, look at how many people think the Nolan Dark Knight series was fantastic. I thought they were good movies that featured characters based on Batman, they were not Batman movies, there’s a difference, subtle I know but important to me anyway. If you would like to add anything to this then leave a comment.

Man on the Moon again?

I recently saw a report that the European Space Agency along with the Russian Space Agency are planning a return to the Lunar surface. This time though they plan to land a manned craft there. It is said to be a prelude to a permanent Lunar Base. Recent research into the Moon has discovered amazing new details that show that water ice has been found there, among other substances of interest. With this discovery interest has been sparked and a plan to land on the Moon the Russian Space Agency postponed back in the seventies has been looked at once more.

If the two agencies can work together and pull this remarkable feat off then the twenty first century will be when Mankind returns to space not only to explore but to colonise.

Science fiction once more becoming science fact. Many writers including myself have stories that feature moon bases and other world colonies. Now it seems we are getting closer to the time when all this will become a reality.

I for one can’t wait and if they televise the event I can guarantee that, like last time, I’ll be glued to my tv.

Author Spotlight

Recently I have been working with the extremely talented people at BookStalkers in regards to publicity for my book series. The first of our endeavours together is their newsletter in which I feature in their Author Spotlight segment. The link features below, check it out and see what you think.

See you soon with further updates.