TV Review:Love, Death + Robots 2/3

Love, Death + Robots is an anthology series from David Fincher and Tim Miller that is available on Netflix.

Beyond The Aquila Rift

Directed by Léon Brélle, Dominique Boidin, Rémi Kozyra, and Maxime Luère

Animation Studio: Unit Image

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Beyond The Aquila Rift is the story of a space freighter that goes off course and ends up a long way from where it’s meant to at a remote space station.

Each one of these episodes has really good animation, but with this one they hit the nail on the head throughout the episode. There are a few moments where it is extremely stunning. There are a few moments in it where it’s almost like watching live action.

But it’s not just a short film that looks good. The story is first rate. You feel for the characters who’ve found themselves at the far end of the galaxy and as the story progresses you really get pulled into what they’re going through. Cinematically I think this is one of the standouts of the series.

Good Hunting

Directed by Oliver Thomas

Animation Studio: Red Dog Culture House

Based on the short Story by Ken Liu

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This story takes place mainly in Hong Kong around the time when it was being colonised, but with a steampunk taste to it that grows as the story progresses. Stories from this region of the world rarely grab me, but this one did. The first few minutes felt a little slow at first, but that pace served the story well and it never feels rushed. As the story moves into Hong Kong I really got pulled in.

The animation style fits the story and adds to the humble feel of the story. By the end of the story I was invested in these characters and it didn’t escape me the message of the story.

The Dump

Directed by Javier Recio Gracia

Animation Studio: Abel & Baker

Based on the Short Story by Joe R. Lansdale

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This is the star of an old man who doesn’t want to leave his home, despite a city inspector  telling him he has to.

This is one of my favourite stories in this season of Love, Death, and Robots. I love the vibe it has. The story is pretty straight forward but quite infectious. It drew me in really quickly. The animation is so perfectly fitted to the story that when you add the voice talent, especially Nolan North‘s Ugly Dave, it just works so beautifully.

This was my first real experience of Joe R. Lansdale’s work, and I really loved it. I’ve heard Brian Keene talking about Lansdale on his podcast (The Horror Show with Brian Keene), and after watching The Dump I am definitely checking out more of Lansdale’s work.

I will just mention that I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about the first season of Love, Death and Robots as a whole and they were not very complimentary about this episode. I won’t name the podcast, because they were just sharing their opinions, but it struck me that because this episode has this type of characters, and the tone of it they dismissed it. I just got this sense of it wasn’t worth their time, which is a shame because it is a super fun story. For me its up there with Suits as a favourite episode of this debut season.

Shape-Shifters

Directed by Gabriele Pennacchioli

Animation Studio: Blur Studios

Based on the Short Story by Marko Kloos

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

The short synopsis of this one is the U.S. marines are using werewolves in conflict zones.

Again, animation is stunning here, especially in the final fight. There was a great point of view short at one stage. The story itself it good, has a likeable protagonist and lots of underlying depth. It is a little predictable, but I’m a strong believer that the journey in more often than not more important than the ending.

There is a transformation moment that is stunning, I hope the person who did that got at least a pat on the back!

A good story that I likes, and added a different taste to the season.

Helping Hand

Directed by Jon Yeo

Animation Studio: Axis Studios

Based on the Shorty Story by Claudine Griggs

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

This one is about a woman who is working on a satellite and gets knocked into space by flying debris. Her air and propulsion are both damaged and she’s drifting away from both the satellite and the small spacecraft she’s used to get to the satellite. She goes to an extreme length to save herself.

Now, I do like this one. It’s a good atmospheric piece that really plays the tension card well. One part of it really made me flinch! I like the fact the story makes this woman job of fixing the satellite routine and a one person job despite the risks.

I do have a question or two about some of the physics and medical elements of the story, but they weren’t enough to stop me from enjoying the story. There is one safety precaution that would have solved all of the problems she has, but again, I can live with it.

Again, another episode with fantastic visuals.

Fish Night

Directed by Damian Nenow

Animation Studio: Platige Image Studio

Based on the Short Story by Joe R. Lansdale

Adapted Script by Philip Gelatt

Fish Night is about two travelling salesmen whose car breaks down on a road in the middle of an American desert. As night rolls in the ghosts of the fish and so on come alive as that area would have been an ocean once upon a time.

This story has a heart to it that gets shattered by the end of the story. You feel the elation and devastation in this story. The relationship between the older and younger men, how they handle being stranded differently and how they react to the ghosts coming out to play when the sun goes down builds a beautiful narrative. This is only strengthened by the strikingly beautiful animation.

This is another Joe R. Lansdale story and I’ve got to admit, it’s a totally different tone to The Dump, but still as good as it. Just on a very different level.

Check in tomorrow for part 3/3

Top Ten Of The Year 2018

Here is my Top Ten Books Of 2018. These aren’t books that were released in 2018, they’re the ones that I read. Some of them I have reviewed and will link in those reviews with the respective books.

Going off my Goodreads challenge I read forty-nine books in 2018. I had a few moments during the year where I was finding it hard to read so hopefully this year I’ll hit and pass the fifty books I’ve set in my challenge for 2019.

Lets get stuck in to the list:

Number Ten: Off Season By Jack Ketchum

I brought this one on audio after Jack Ketchum sadly passed away. I’d heard about him and an interview with him on The Horror Show With Brian Keene podcast. It was a choice between Off Season and The Girl Next Door. I kinda tossed a coin and went with Off Season which I’m really happy with, although The Girl Next Door will be checked out this year. Off Season is a fantastic tale that isn’t scared to give gut punches and as a reader you take it because Ketchum writes the story beautifully and you just keep turning the pages, or listening in my case.

Number Nine: The Malignant Dead by CL Raven

The Malignant Dead brought tears to my eyes but it also made me laugh. That’s something CL Raven do, they flip that coin really well and The Malignant Dead does that very well. They also transport you into the city of Edinburgh beautifully, you feel you are there and can easily picture these characters in these locations. It is a heartbreaking story but thats because CL Raven bring these characters to life so thoroughly.

Number Eight: Forest Underground by Lydian Faust

This was one I went into without no real knowledge of it. I’d seen people speaking nothing but good things about it and I saw that Pippa Bailey was the narrator of the audio book. I’d met Pippa at the launch of the Sparks anthology that we both have stories in and I wanted to support her as well. The story itself is two that are woven together very well and gives a great outcome at the end of the book, but it still left me wanting more. The characters keep you guessing and there were a few moments where I wasn’t sure what one characters reality was.

Number Seven: White by Tim Lebbon

White was a fun and fast story to read. Tim Lebbon gives a very tight and well told story of an apocalypse that has left people stranded and how these people deal with their plight. The bleakness of this one struck me. If something is bleak it doesn’t tend to get my attention but Tim Lebbon puts in just enough hope to keep that bleakness at bay.

Number Six: The Log House by Baylea Hart

I first heard of The Log House while at Bristol Horror Con in 2017. Baylea Hart was on a panel and gave a brief description of her book and it sounded good. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a post-apocalyptic story which has a protagonist who I didn’t like as a person, but I was quickly hooked on the journey she was taking and the world she was part of and what happened in the characters past. Baylea Hart builds a world that is very seductive and easy to fall into.

The author who I read the most in 2018 was Brian Keene: City of the Dead, The Complex, Ghoul and Dark Hollow.

Number Five: Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski

Where do I start with Billy and the Cloneasaurus? In my review I said it was 1984 meets The Lego Movie, and I still stand by that. It’s got this optimism to it that masks the real problems. This book had me hooked from the first sentence. It’s got a great energy to it, and has left a lasting impression on me. Even if the ending was a kick in the gut!

Number Four: Dark Hollow by Brian Keene

There are so many reasons why Dark Hollow spoke to me. From how the story is structured and paced to the multiple conflicts of the protagonist. Brian Keene really does build this character beautifully and its also very raw in many places. I’d recommend reading this one and then listening to an episode of The Horror Show with Brian Keene were he talks about this story. The big bad of this story is something I’d not come across before and found it fascinating. This is another story where the ending was a blow to the gut. So far it’s my favourite Brian Keene story.

Number Three: What Good Girls Do by Jonathan Butcher

Okay, where do I start with What Good Girls Do? Like Forest Underground I went into this one blind. Part of it was I saw it was getting a lot of praise, another part is again I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the narrator, Tara Court, and wanted to show some support to her. Another part was it’s a The Sinister Horror Company book, like Forest Underground and I was impressed with that one. So I went in blind. This is the most brutal book, movie, tv show, that I’ve even consumed. It doesn’t hold back and deals with a topic that most people blatantly ignore. Those who do know about it don’t want to talk about it. Jonathan Butcher doesn’t baulk with this story, and in lesser hands I think it would have been a disaster. But Butcher handles such a delicate topic with a skill that I think few have. This is a fantastic book, but not one I’d say I enjoyed but. It is one I’m pleased I listened to because it is so beautifully written and deals with something I think we as a society need to be more aware of.

Number Two: The Human Santapede by Adam Millard

A big change of pace from What Good Girls Do, we have The Human Santapede by Adam Millard. This is a book I find myself reluctant to talk too much about because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. All I’ll say is Santa has a problem and sends an elf off to figure out the mystery. Adam Millard goes full speed with this one. It’s like he wanted to write the most out there Christmas book ever and had fun while doing it. I think I laughed at something on every page! This was definitely the funniest book I read in 2018, probably ever. If you want a giggle, buy this book!

Number One: The Silence By Tim Lebbon

Here we are, number one in my top ten of 2018. I brought The Silence on audiobook when I learnt there was going to be a movie of it and I wanted to check the book out first. This book rattled me. There was three distinct moments where I had to hit pause and stop listening to it for that day. I think part of the reason it struck me so hard was because it is set in the UK and peoples reaction to the threat in the story felt very real. It is strikingly well written with very real characters whose pain you feel as they make their journey. It’s written with a skill that I admire. Lebbon tears the lives of these characters apart with such a deft hand that it’s still brutal but the build up to the hardness of the story is as smooth as silk and this brings you into these moments without missing a beat. Its become an instant favourite of mine, I even brought a paperback which I’ve gotten signed.

There it is, my top ten books of 2018. 2018 was the first year I really started reading horror and it was quite a year. Lets see how 2019 compares.

Just to wrap up the post I wanted to give a few honourable mentions. If this had been the best fifteen books of 2018 these would have made the list.

In no particular order:

Bleeding Empire- CL Raven

Aliens:Bug Hunt- Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Fur- Matthew Cash

IT- Stephen King

Never Forget- Lisa Cutts

 

 

 

 

Waterstones

I needed to replace my dictionary/thesaurus recently (the kitten destroyed my old one). I was going to just pop onto Amazon and get it but I remembered I had points on my Waterstones card and decided to cash those in. It was only a couple quid and I doubt I’ll add to them in the near future simply because I haven’t shopped in Waterstones for a long time. Each time I go in there for a book I’m finding it very uninspiring. Dictionary aside, I can’t remember the last novel I brought in Waterstones. I think the last comic was the paperback of Civil War 2.

One of the reasons I don’t shop there is I never find anything I want to read. The Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy sections seem to be being squished into one which is dominated by Fantasy. And most of the books in the horror section are still the heavyweights in the genre, there was a lot of King.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those books deserve to be there. Stephen King is the writer of his generation and one of the all time greats, but there should also be room for other voices in the genre. The person who served me even agreed about how much of the big names were there and that was it. I can’t speak for Science Fiction as I haven’t read any in quite some time and I’ve never been a fantasy reader.

I’m also not reading much mainstream fiction at the moment. Most of the books on my to-read list have been books I’ve brought at Horror Cons or from discovering writers via podcasts like Arm Cast and The Horror Show With Brian Keene. Some of the more mainstream ones I’m listening to the audiobooks of anyway. And to be honest, most of the books I’m hearing that appeal to me aren’t in shops, definitely not here in the UK so most of the books I’m buying, outside of cons, are via amazon. You’re not going to get extreme horror, or books by small publishers or indie authors in Waterstones or, well Waterstones is the only real bookseller here in the UK now. We’ve got places like The Works and WH Smiths that sell books in addition to supermarkets but that’s about it.

I haven’t wondered around a bookstore in awe for a long time. That excitement of searching for something to pull me into a new universe hasn’t been there for years. I get that buzz from going to the cons and finding books at those to read. That, to me, is where I’m getting the fix I need.

13th August 2018

Just a really quick little post before I get off to sleep. I’ve written 540 words today. A few words here, a few there and boom! A decent word count for a busy day.

If you scroll down my feed you’ll see a post I reblogged from The Horror Show With Brian Keene where the guest was Matt Hayward. Hearing his story was really fucking eye opening and inspiring. It really got me thinking and I really need to up my game. I need more determination and focus. I do get these things but I loose them easily so I’m going to focus on keeping them. The way I’m going to start is with a simple and small list of five things I want to do this week. I won’t list them here, simply because it’s late and I’ve not got it to hand, but these five things are very achievable if I keep my head.

So that’s what I’m doing.

May 12th 2018

Today I only wrote 174 words but I edited a couple of hefty scenes which only required tweaking it here and there.

I did this on and off during the day as I was listening to the second annual The Horror Show with Brian Keene Telethon for the Scares that Care charity. Brian, Dave, Mary, Phoebe, and Lombardo set out to earn $20,000 in 24 hours, and they did it with about fifty minutes to go, I chipped in what I could. At the end of the 24 hours they’d got a total of $21,591. It’s worth checking out the #BrianKeeneTelethon tag on Twitter as there is some one pictures and videos from the event on there. A lot of the conversation on there about the event is fantastic as well. Well worth checking out. I would love to have listened to the whole 24 hours but I needed sleep and miss about four hours of it. From a writing point of view there was a lot of interesting conversation about many aspects of writing.

I’m glad I took the time to listen. I worked it so I had some vacation time while it was on so I could be a part of it. Just sitting here and listening and interacting with the other listeners. It was great hearing the updates and when they hit targets. I cheered big time when they hit the 20k.

Please check the Scares that Care page out through the link. It’s a great charity who do a lot of good.

Tomorrow I’m going to dive into the edit/rewrite I’m woking on.

Horror That’s Getting Under My Skin

Up until recently I’ve rarely seen a horror movie that got under my skin. I say movie because I’ve only started delving into horror novels recently.

Aside from being grossed out by the odd scene here and there I’ve never really felt uncomfortable in a way that I now know horror should do. The first I noticed this was last year when I saw The Ritual. This is a film that was based on the novel by Adam Nevill. When I watched that film in the cinema I remember feeling a long way out of my comfort zone, but I still got through it and really enjoyed the movie (I’m looking forward to reading the book itself soon as well).

This week I’ve started listening to The Silence by Tim Lebbon. Tim Lebbon is a name I keep seeing pop up, and after meeting him at Bristol horror con last year and hearing him on a couple of podcasts (Three Guys With Beards & The Horror Show With Brian Keene) I knew I needed to check out some of his stuff. At the con I brought off him his book After The War, but knowing what a slow reader I was and that The Silence will be released as a movie sometime this year I believe, I wanted to read that one. So I got it on audiobook and although I’m only half way through it, it’s got under my skin. I thought The Ritual had an unsettling affect on me, but The Silence has gone deep. I almost stopped listening to it a quarter of the way through. It is so carefully crafted to trigger the readers own fears, even to the point where it feels like Lebbon’s written it just for me. Some of the elements here feel personal in a way I’ve not felt from a book before. That’s not to say books haven’t had an effect on me, because they have. Hell, a few have had me chocking up while others I’ve been punching them air in triumph and celebration.

As I was listening today I was thinking I’ll be finished it by the time I finished work at 3pm tomorrow, but I had to leave a day between the quarter way point of it and where I got to today, so I might resume it Monday and let the events in it sink in a little.

This book is really getting under my skin, and although it’s making me feel this way that’s what I feel is good horror. For horror to really work it has to make you feel how this is feeling. If I had to give this a rating right now it’ll easily be five stars.

I don’t have any ideas how this book will end, but I’ll be going in headfirst to find out.