In case you missed it, here is the interview I recorded on 13 July for The Authors Show, in which I talk about writing and Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate:
Category: science fiction editor
The results are in for the poll: Which is the Best Scifi Vehicle Ever?
1. Sulaco spaceship from Aliens (Movie 1986)
2. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek (1966 TV Series)
3. Thunderbird 2 from Thunderbirds (1965 TV series)
Here are some interesting facts about the podium winners!
The USS Sulaco was a Conestoga-class troop transport ship in service with the United States Colonial Marine Corps, assigned to 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. It was most notably used in the investigation of the Hadley’s Hope colony on Acheron (LV-426) in 2179, when it was manned by Lieutenant William Gorman’s combat unit of Colonial Marines.
The Sulaco is basically a big gun (according to ash)
When the set crews were looking around for floor grating to use on the Sulaco set design, they asked a local set design manufacturer/shop if they had anything of the sort. Indeed they did, an immense pile of old floor grating had been sitting out in the back of their shop for the last seven years. It was left there from when they tore down the set of Alien (1979).
2. The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) from Star Trek (1966 TV Series)
In the hallways of the Enterprise there are tubes marked “GNDN”, these initials stand for “goes nowhere does nothing”.
In the original series, the ‘arrowhead’ badge worn by the crew of the Enterprise was meant to be an insignia for the Enterprise only. If you’ll notice on any ‘guest’ Starfleet character, they all wear different symbols on their uniforms
When the launch sequence of Thunderbird 2 was shot, pilot Virgil Tracy was shown being taken to the craft in civilian clothing. When the completed sequence was cut together, he was seen to have mysteriously gained a uniform. To provide continuity, a scene was later shot and added showing his uniform appearing in the cockpit.
Two episodes, “The Man from MI.5” and “Attack of the Alligators!”, feature the full Thunderbird 4 launch sequence shown from inside Pod 4. In other episodes featuring Thunderbird 4, we have only seen Thunderbird 4 emerging down the ramp from outside the pod door. “The Man from MI.5” is the only episode in which Thunderbird 2 gently rests the pod on the surface of the water and then rises clear of the pod with lifting jets, whereas “Attack of the Alligators” shows Thunderbird 2 lifting from the pod several minutes after landing. Normally, the pod is simply dropped on to the water.
Brains designed Thunderbird 2, as he did all their vehicles.
Thanks for voting! Whether you disagree or agree with the results, your comments will be welcomed below.
Now you can vote! 3 votes each. Vote closes 5pm Monday 29 June. Enjoy!
There were 2 nominations:
अब आप मतदान कर सकते हैं! 3 वोट प्रत्येक। मतदान सोमवार 29 जून 17:00 बंद कर देता है। आनंद लें!
Jetzt können Sie abstimmen! 3 Stimmen je. Vote schließt 05.00 Montag, 29. Juni statt. Viel Spaß!
Maintenant, vous pouvez voter! 3 voix chacun. Clôture du scrutin 17 heures le lundi 29 Juin. Profitez!
Ahora usted puede votar! 3 votos cada uno. Voto cierra 17:00 Lunes 29 de junio. Disfrute!
اب آپ ووٹ دے سکتے ہیں! 3 ووٹ سے ہر ایک. ووٹ کریں پیر، 29 جون 5pm کے بند کر دیتا ہے. کا لطف اٹھائیں!
Another great vote this week; which is the best scifi vehicle of all time?
The choice is HUGE but below are just a few suggestions to get you started. Please nominate your favourites by commenting here or tweet me @Lazlo_F or message me on Facebook. The nomination deadline will be 22 June at 5pm. Then we will vote!
Ein weiterer großer Stimme in dieser Woche; Welches ist das beste SciFi Fahrzeug aller Zeiten?
Die Auswahl ist riesig Gewinn Hier sind nur ein paar Vorschläge, um Ihnen den Einstieg. Bitte benennen Sie Ihre Favoriten von hier zu kommentieren oder tweet ich Lazlo_F gold Nachricht auf mich Facebook. Der Nominierungsfrist wird am 22. Juni 17.00 Uhr sein. Dann werden wir abstimmen!
Un autre grand vote cette semaine; qui est le meilleur véhicule de scifi de tous les temps?
Le choix est énorme, mais ci-dessous sont quelques suggestions pour vous aider à démarrer. S’il vous plaît nommer vos favoris en commentant ici ou tweet moi Lazlo_F ou un message moi sur Facebook. La date limite de mise en candidature sera de 22 Juin à 17 heures. Ensuite, nous allons voter!
एक अन्य महान वोट इस सप्ताह; जो सभी समय का सबसे अच्छा scifi वाहन है।
Landmaster from Damnation Alley (crap film but good vehicle)
The Tom Cruise Audi from Minority Report (this is a view from the front)
I could go on all day but now it’s over to you. Nominate your favourite!
Superhero or Everyman?
I woke up this morning wondering what to blog about and I decided the best post would be about the subject of my pondering at the moment; what makes a good hero?
Everyone (well, in the West anyway) will know who Marlon Brando is, possibly the greatest and certainly one of the greatest actors of all time. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in the recent Hobbit films.
I am as big a fan of Bilbo as anybody and nobody can deny Bilbo is the hero of The Hobbit. What is more, he is an ‘everyman.’ What that means is that everyone can identify with his situation because he is just a normal guy. Brando, on the other hand, rarely plays normal guys; from The Wild One to Superman and Apocalypse Now, nearly all his characters are superhuman or out-and-out rebels; men on the edge of society.
Here are my reviews of two of his films that I watched recently. After you have read these, I will ask the question again:
Marlon Brando in The Young Lions
I have been trying to view this 1958 film since my father watched it and recommended it, about ten years ago. He is not a huge fan of Brando and not one to recommend films very often so my interest was piqued. The film proved hard to find; a trip to Virgin and HMV in Oxford Street(at the time) produced nothing and not been able to stream it on-demand since. I tend to watch films when I am in the mood; one day a film might be just what I want, the next day what I definitely don’t want so ordering it from Amazon just wasn’t gonna work for me. A friend finally got it for me and so I was set.
The film starts promisingly enough with Brando, as Christian, a young German ski-instructor, wooing the delicious Hope Lange. But then we are ‘treated’ to nearly half an hour of very mundane acting by Dean Martin (only recently out of his partnership with Jerry Lewis) and a struggling Montgomery Clift. I have seen Clift acting well but for the first hour in this film, he is wooden or overwrought by turns. His tone is so misjudged, I found it hard to watch and Martin is of course not an actor of even Clift’s calibre.
I was beginning to lose hope that we would see Brando on form but he finally reappeared, now as an SS officer in Paris. He meets a friend who sets him up on a blind date with a French girl, whose husband has been killed by the Nazis. “Okay; fireworks! ” I hear you say and you’d be right, She throws the wine Brando just bought her in his face and Christian, with his oft-employed stoic look, listens to her rant without comment for what must be a couple of minutes of screen gold.
Of course he is so tolerant and charming that she has to forgive him in the end and they strike a flame together. Christian has to arrest a Jewish boy but reacts by refusing to make any more arrests and risks a firing squad when ge confronts his commanding officer.
“Ah this is the Brando we love!” I thought. “A rebel within the SS! What a gem!”
His commanding officer takes pity on Christian’s humanity and sends him on an errand to deliver a silk nightie to his own wife, back in Berlin. Brando is happy to get some leave and thus meets the gorgeous and Deitrich-like May Britt. With half-lidded eyes she tells him he can sleep on the couch and help himself to as much schnapps as he can hold while she beds a general.
Christian takes up her offer and later beds her but he doesn’t like her and nor does she care for him.
The strange relationship tension between Christian and his commander weaves a thread right through the film to near the end when Christian has to deliver another gift to Britt’s character in a ruined Berlin. This time, he can’t even find pity for her and takes out his pent up rage about the pointless war on her.
Of course Martin and Clift have parts which run parallel to Brando’s but while theirs is the simple story of all-american-boys making good in the war, albeit a Jewish underdog in the case of Clift, these only serve to highlight just how unusual and complex Brando’s part is. No doubt he worked hard to accentuate this but he hardly needed to; his acting alone lifts the film far beyond what it might otherwise be. He looks the part as the blonde-haired SS uber-soldier but of course he has a weakness in the eyes of his superiors – he is human.
The final scenes play out in, and around a liberated concentration camp. The film is poignant for the inclusion of Clift’s Jew liberating such a horror and Brando delivers a final scene that tops even that (as you would expect) and I am not giving it away.
All in all, well worth a watch if you like a war movie with a little Brando to spice it up! Oh and watch out for a very early performance from Lee van Cleef as a drill sergeant.
I watched this 1997 film simply because it is one of the few Brando movies I haven’t seen and it was available on Youtube. I didn’t expect too much from this, the only full-length Johnny Depp directed film to date, although it also has Johnny Depp in the lead role and a cameo from Brando so I expected to at least be competent.
I quickly realised that this film was so obscure and unloved by Hollywood that I could watch it free not because it was bad but because of the subject matter. It’s certainly not an uplifting movie and no doubt the distributors and marketing people had their heads in their hands on this one!
Depp plays a Mexican Indian who is struggling to support his small family on a reserve that essentially survives by recycling stuff from the municipal dump of white people. In and out of jail all his life, he is offered the chance to ‘star’ in a snuff movie for Brando’s McCarthy. He takes the job, knowing it will pay to rehouse his family and educate his children but later regrets it.
The scenes in the rubbish dump are harrowing; Depp’s family sleeping in a tiny caravan, surrounded by waste and his trips further and further up river to find clean water, which he collects in plastic pales hung from a yoke over his back, turned my stomach.
His life is so bad, you can almost understand why he takes up the snuff movie offer… almost … but not quite. When he visits McCarthy in a downtown warehouse he sees the iron torture chair he will be strapped into for the first time. I could barely watch from this point on. Depp underplays his role, playing the stoic American Indian brave trapped in a sick world by uttering very few words, instead using facial expressions silence to communicate his feelings of entrapment.
Brando is incredible! He rolls himself into the warehouse in a wheelchair, while playing a sad blues tune on a harmonica (for real; Brando was a highly accomplished musician, drummer and dancer) and proceeds to take apart the whole concept of death, to the point that he makes it almost sound like a higher-calling. Of course Depp’s character isn’t fooled but he takes the cash and McCarthy tells him to come back in a week.
“Why would you trust me to come back?” Depp asks him (I am paraphrasing here)
“I have a feeling for people; a sensitivity. A man, such as yourself, a man of spirit, is a man of honour.”
This movie is well-worth watching if you care at all about the struggle of some communities to overcome prejudice and inequality. It is heart-breaking to watch what one man has to contemplate in order to provide for his family. I am not very tolerant of pain myself and McCarthy’s answer; “It depends on how much you can take,” when Depp’s character asks him how much he will get, really made me squirm. I simply cannot put this film out of my mind. Of course if you are a person who likes to see the world through rose-tinted glasses, don’t watch this film. But don’t ever look behind you again.
That’s the reviews over. Now back to the question. I am thinking about my next book and it often helps me to think of a Hollywood actor when planning the main character’s role. Here I have got a bit stuck; I see a plot with an old-time Hollywood actor called William Holden. I guess in some ways you could say he is like Martin Freeman in that you probably wouldn’t pick say he was a flamboyant character or would stand out in a crowd.
The trouble is, I worry that such a book would not have a wide enough appeal because the character is not larger-than-life. I get the feeling big epic themes need big epic characters and I wonder if a Brando/Pacino/Russell Crowe type character would work better.
Best Vampire or werewolf Acting?
In first place we have Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire.
In second place, we have Salma Hayak as Santanico Pandamonium in From Dusk till Dawn.
Tying for third place, we have Jack Nicholson as Will Randall in Wolf and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula in various Hammer movies.
Did you know?
Interview with the Vampire:
Tom Cruise and all the other vampire actors were required to hang upside down for up to thirty minutes at a time during the make-up application.
Johnny Depp was offered the role of Lestat.
There’s a scene towards the end of the movie where Louis is watching Superman (1978) in a cinema. This scene doesn’t appear in the novel because the book was written in 1976, two years before the film was made.
From Dusk till Dawn:
Salma Hayek did not have a choreographer for her dance. Director Robert Rodriguez just told her to feel the music and dance to it. Rodriguez would later use the same tactic with Jessica Alba in Sin City (2005).
If you look closely, when Cheech Marin is playing the Customs Agent, his name badge says, “Oscar Marin” which is Cheech’s real-life father’s name. His father was an LAPD officer.
Although the film is about a werewolf, that particular word is never mentioned.
Dracula movies of Hammer:
Watch out for another poll soon, this time on scifi movies!
Welcome to the last leg of the UK General Election Wacky Races! I am your host, commentator and reporter; Pedro Diamond.
Pedro Diamond: The last race was won by David Caravan when Ed Millipede crashed out while in the lead with grip problems. Here’s an interview I did with Ed earlier:
Ed Millipede: Yes Pedro; I had the wrong rubber on my brogues! The crowd were good and encouraged me so I managed to catch it before I hit the black stuff! It’s always difficult to choose the right rubber when the conditions are changeable. Dunlop have been great support, giving three different choices, but I understand David Caravan was on the hard compound on the day so he had an advantage. Lesson learned!
Pedro Diamond: All contestants are neck and neck as we come to the close of this competition. Only a few more days to go in this long-distance race. One thing that has got the crowd excited and commentators talking is the introduction of a new fuel; Liquid Intellectual Energy or LIE. Using the fuel is known as LIEING. It’s use is controversial but in a moment, you will hear the views of the four leading drivers on the new fuel.
My tip for the winner? I believe it will be a photo-finish and the final result a matter of who has the deepest Political Wallet.
Now to the LIEING interviews:
Pedro Diamond: Nigel Mirage; the new fuel, LIE, is boosting all the competitors’ performances. We believe you are using it too. Are you?
Nigel Mirage: No Pedro, we won’t be LIEING. We don’t need it! Our car is faster, stronger and more reliable than all the others.
Pedro Diamond: But you have repainted your car completely white? Can you explain this to the Wacky Races fans?
Nigel Mirage: That’s not true. In fact, if you look under the hood, you will see that the top of each carburetor of my old Austin Mini is blue.
Pedro Diamond: A car designed by an Italian.
Nigel Mirage: Well yes, the Italians do some things really rather well. I am very fond of a good Chianti.
Pedro Diamond: So the car colour has nothing to do with your racial views?
Nigel Mirage: I don’t have any racial views. I merely want to win this race and restore the country to the good ‘ol days of a Free Market Economy and Empire!
Pedro Diamond: Thank you Nigel. Now over to Nick Pleb. Nick, what will be your main tactic to get over the line first?
Nick Pleb Red lines Pedro. I have red lines on my gauges and I will not red line my vehicle anywhere. I am a great believer in sticking within red lines.
Pedro Diamond: But that’s not true, is it Nick? You have red-lined in every race so far. In the very first round, you crossed the red-line with your new Tuition Fees engine and blew up, costing you most of your fans.
Nick Pleb: Who needs fans? I only need to win. I don’t care any more what it takes. In fact, I don’t care any more about anything! There was a mouse. Where? There on the stair…
Pedro Diamond: Right Nick, but are you going to be LYING?
Nick Pleb: Oh sure. I guess. Everyone else is. In fact you can take my comment about red lines as a complete load of cobblers. Wasn’t there a cobbler in the mouse story? Or something like that. There’ll always be an England…
Pedro Diamond: Now let’s see if we can grab a chat with David Caravan. I can see the umbrella girls are starting to leave the starting grid, including Rebekah Brooks, who is wearing a rather fetching blue bikini. Oh look; she is whispering something into David’s ear, something about the Sun newspaper, if my lip-reading is up to scratch. Better not interrupt them. She’s going now so let’s move in. David? Can I have a word? You look rather busy.
David Caravan: Yeah Pedro, too many women, not enough time. Oops, should have said that with the wife around. Boris is much better at this sort of thing that me.
Pedro Diamond: Can I ask you what your main tactic to win will be?
David Caravan: Well, I think I have been rather clever. George Osborne is obviously finished; the little tike has really screwed up the economy good and proper, hasn’t he? I understand he is going to start a Magic Mushroom farm in Buckinghamshire with his father’s money. Not that he needs it after siphoning off most of the Country’s! Ha! Ha! Yes, as I was saying, announcing Big Bore Boris as my successor is one of the cleverest moves of my political life. I have zero charisma compared with him but now I have harnessed his to take me back into power for another 5 years.
Pedro Diamond: But wasn’t the announcement at his behest?
David Caravan: Behest is an interesting choice of word. But no, I would say I have outmanoeuvred him this time. Sort of like a double-agent.
Pedro Diamond: And what about LIEING?
David Caravan: Erm… we may be using the new fuel but I can’t really say on-camera. That would be giving too much away. Let’s just say; I will be economical with the truth. It’s better on the riff-raff, sorry, working classes; they are really not well-educated enough to think for themselves. It’s really not their fault…
Pedro Diamond: Some would say it’s yours.
David Caravan: Pedro. You are such a wit. Can I introduce you to Rebekah later? She is doing a wonderful line is gossipy Luncheon Vouchers…
Pedro Diamond: Well, I managed to pull myself away from David and we have one last grid slot to visit; pole position sitter Ed Millipede. Ed, can I have a word?
Ed Millipede: Bit busy Pedro, but okay, just a few words.
Pedro Diamond: So are you LIEING Ed?
Ed Millipede: It’s a relief to come right out with it and say; yes, I will be LYING. We will not be playing tag with other teams, using their slipstream to win but we have bribed a judge to allow us to amalgamate out team with another during the race so that our accumulated points will make us the sure winners! Genius!
Pedro Diamond: Do you care to tell us what that team is?
Ed Millipede: That’s a secret, as you probably guess Pedro. Let’s just say that my teammate, Gordon Brown, wants revenge and I intend to give it to him!
So the 4 competitors are under starter’s orders. And away they go! On the way-out Wacky Races!