Dickens meets Tolkien?

I was absent-mindedly perusing the internet recently when the following headline caught my eye:

Tolkien and Dickens grandsons join for book

I don’t wish to seem overly vulgar, nor do I want the integrity of my digestive system to be called into question, but upon reading those words I more or less shat all over myself.

“The heirs of Tolkien and Dickens collaborating on a book?!” I thought, giddy as a girl with a new pair of shoes. “This will unquestionably constitute the best thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind!”

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Thorin Joke-enshield: The Hobbit trailer reviewed

I should begin this piece with an apology.

The trailer for the upcoming Peter Jackson film, The Hobbit, was released weeks ago.  It has been and gone.  Critics have reviewed it – offering up their predictable and (some might say) banal opinions – and fanboys have drooled all over it, their Pepsi-rich saliva dissolving parts of it, like nerdy versions of the Alien.  Yet still Johnny Fisher has not commented on it.  As a prominent Tolkien expert, this represents a grievous professional shortcoming on my part, and I therefore offer up the necessary apologies:

Sorry for not reviewing the trailer for The Hobbit.

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We need to talk about Henry

A colleague of mine was trawling the internet last week when he stumbled upon a recently-published children’s novel called Horrid Henry and the Zombie VampireHe was struck by the title, fearing that this novel might be an unauthorised re-working of my own story, Vambie Zompire: The End of Days, and so immediately alerted me. Had I fallen victim to plagiarism (again)?

Based solely on the title of the novel I understood why my friend had raised the plagiarism alarm.  However, even though I had not read it, I must say I did not share his concerns that my Vambie Zompire idea had been ripped off for the story.

The offending novel

As I pointed out to him, even if the author was pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, it was very unlikely that a publisher would release a children’s novel centred around a night-long supernatural slaughter-fest, featuring rectal-impalement, brain-eating, and one case of suffocation with dismembered testicles.

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American Clods: A scathing rebuke of Neil Gaiman’s bafflingly successful American Gods

The Hugo Awards, the Nebula Awards, SFX Magazine, the International Horror Guild, the Geffen Award, what do they all have in common? They’re all idiots who unjustly lauded Neil Gaiman’s sprawling, turgid American Gods.

In aforesaid novel, Gaiman (whom I was pleased to recently discover, has not fallen victim to nominative determinism) posits a situation where the broadly contemporary United States of America are littered with destitute gods, brought over by immigrants years previously, but now gone to seed through lack of reverence and observance.

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The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbelievable Lapper

Recently I found myself in the unusual position of having time to kill, following the collapse of a musical project I had been working on.

The project in question was Siegfried Bassoon – a musical autobiography of Siegfried Sassoon (for Bassoon). I had poured hours into a promising first draft of the piece, but the project collapsed when it transpired that Britain’s foremost bassoonists consider themselves too important to travel to Carrickfergus for a weekend of intensive development work, despite my assurances of an 8% share of any future profits. I suppose I will now have to focus my efforts on Wilfred Bowin’ – a musical autobiography of Wilfred Owen (for Cello). I hear cellists are a much more reasonable breed, equipped with the sort of foresight that is foreign to the mind of the eminent bassoonist.

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