12 April Updates

Sneak Preview
Here is this week’s sneak preview. Well, it’s not really a sneak preview, but a free excerpt from the newly reworked and puplished The Jesus Monster. It has a lot more tension now and a better twist at the end.

A hand grabbed my wrist. It was horrible tight. I looked, and it was the stranger.
‘Oh no! Not again’, I thought.
“You must leave! Just go … Any place!”
I pulled my arm free. “But I can’t! I have a sister!”
“It doesn’t matter. She probably has it already,” the stranger said, seeing my fear.
“It’s the bug, isn’t it? But what can we do?” I asked, desperate. “We don’t want to just die! And if we do, there will be nobody left!”
He looked me straight in the eye. “Kill me! You must. I don’t want to live anyway. As a priest, committing murder is the worst thing I could do.”
I shook my head and turned to leave.
“Wait!” he shouted. “You must do this. One of you might survive, and there will be others. Eventually two people who cannot bare to kill each other might survive! Or the virus might die, or leave!”
“No!”
“It’s all in my journal! You … you must read it, son.” He tapped his chest pocket with his hand. He spoke quiet, like but then there was a fire in his eyes. It looked like he was looking up to heaven. Then his hand let go and he slumped, dead.

Other News
I published the third in my series of short stories this week: Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III). As usual, it includes the first chapters of both Ordo Lupus I and Iron I: Too Bright the Sun for free. I had my first review of the volume yesterday. I will be starting some work as editor this week so this may slow down my pace of writing a bit.

Elsewhere – Review of The Hobbit: Part I
I know just about everybody has had their ha’penny’s worth on this subject, so why not give mine? I watched it in HD on my tv so bear in mind , I would have missed the grandeur of a the large screen and better audio you get in a decent cinema.
On the whole, stepping out of my role as Tolkien Fanatic, it was good entertaimnent, although if you haven’t seen Lord of the Rings Parts I, II and III, you might miss some of the encoded messages which are now the Jackson staple; Gandalf psychically communing with Galadriel with expressions of childish guilt on his face being one (bad acting Ian).
But as a Tolkien Fanatic, I was disappointed. I was fine with the length – I even enjoined the scenery and I thought they made good use of backstory to fill out the almost three hours of screen time. My problem is Mr Jackson playing fast and loose – and even in places belittling the whole vision of Tolkien.

Two cases in point. The first was the rabbit-mobile of Radagast. Now, let’s face it, it is highly improbably that it would work anyway: I once worked out you would need 100,000 hamsters to pull a plough. I think you would need a least one hundred rabbits to pull even the lightest sled with a malnourished wizard on board. But having a modern concept like this in a medieval tale just makes fun of the whole thing. It mixes up history in the worst possibly revisionist way. I don’t think we are being fair to youngsters showing them these sort of scenes. Some of them will believe it and those that don’t will just feel insulted. It’s patronising.
The second example is not so bad: its the bit where they ‘toboggan’ down a series of precipices inside the goblin cave on a bridge-structure which has become detached. Its the same joke he used in Lord of the Rings at the seige of Helm’s deep when Legolas toboggans on a shield. It’s not so belittling, just silly.

I also think it’s perhaps a shame that the original simplicity and ‘lightness’ of the original tale is lost, but there are compensations. The tale is generally much darker here, and I think that works – sort of. I really love the characterisations of the Great Goblin (a joke missed here, though – Tolkien’s was better, too) and Azog and it was nice to see Chris Lee back; in early interviews he said he probably wouldn’t be involved because of the travelling.I also loved the dwarf song in Bag End and Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo.

I must say a final word about the ‘three movie’ debate. Yes, why three movies? The original nove is thin anyway. It is barely enough for one movie. Yes, here there is lots of backstory added that had to be left out of Lord of the Rings. But stil we have no Tom Bombadil and would have fitted in here just fine. My view is that perhaps two movies would have been the best format. Greed possibly took over here and I think a trick was missed. The money for the third movie could have been used to make an episode from The Silmarillion – perhaps The Children of Hurin, which is already a separate book. Yes, this would have been a big risk, but even if it had lost money, this would be more than compensated for by the other two. And if it had worked, even after only a few years, think of the possibilities! Warner Bros, MGM and New Line Cinemas would have had a franchise that could last forty years!

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