Michio Kaku and Little Boots

Well, the talk at the Dana Centre on 'The Physics of the Impossible' went well, I think.  Michio Kaku turned out to be sweet, charming, and very open to answering annoying questions from authors on subjects such as Planck lengths and the holographic universe.  The audience were well up for it too, asking some serious questions.  My own ten minutes I recall only as gabble, with lots of handwaving.  I spent most of the time interviewing Prof. Kaku.  He's basically of the opinion that we're heading for Star Trek, with certain aspects being sooner to arrive and some further away.  He's anti-singularity (that is, the Terminator version), not neccessarily on the basis that it would require a number of unlikely things to happen in a row (including the human race saying 'yes, AI, off you go and play on the internet', AI being possible, AI not regarding themselves as part of human culture, etc.) but on the basis that there are physical limits to processing power and memory size.  Which is interesting.  The phrase 'whatever a mind is' came up several times in our conversations.  He's also unwilling to write off the idea of a conscious universe, for instance as a quantum computer that's running a program of some kind. I left with a spring in my step, having checked my mental impression of the current state of cosmology against the cutting edge, and found an interesting upgrade. 

Yesterday we popped along to the Wychwood Festival, the sort of homespun gathering for those with children, recreational vehicles and nostalgia about mud and ecstacy where the MC mentions wedding anniversaries onstage.  And you know, at my age, none the worse for that.  Twenty years ago I'd have been upset not to have some sort of mystical revelation on a festival weekend, not I'm just delighted to find easy parking.  We sat down in front of the main stage, and only moved to get ice cream and sombreros, falling asleep and reading Adam Roberts (note, two things not related, Yellow Blue Tibia very good novel indeed) in the gaps between bands.  The highlight of the earlier bands was Kissmet -

An energetic bhangra/rock fusion outfit that went straight for audience involvement, getting people up and dancing within seconds with those huge drum sounds of Indian dance, and a rock side that reminded me of nothing other than Primal Scream at their most e-generation point.  A recommended daily allowance of 'hare krishnas' to 'Theme from Peter Gunn' and a stonking bhangra version of 'Whole Lotta Love' were matched by the oomph of their own stuff.  They did turn the audience up to eleven and then try and keep them up there throughout, a feet I've only seen managed a couple of times (once, don't laugh, by Transvision Vamp), the sort of thing that the absolute master of stagecraft, Bruce Springsteen (at Glastonbury, he's not going to be satisfied until he's got everyone out of their crystal healing therapy, and he'll have to send Clarence to go lure people from other stages where they might be watching other bands) attempts, and so it must be said they stick around for maybe two numbers too long.  But still, excellent stuff, and I await the album.  

Oysterband were like sulky geography teachers ('maybe those of you sitting down could get up and dance like the rest of us').  The Beat mostly impressed me from a distance, me having initially written them off as a ska nostalgia act, but gradually being drawn back to the main audience by how modern/authentic they now sounded.  And they did that percussive two tone dancing thing with sounds like a combination between puffing your cheeks out and spitting, which I always like, and which there really should be a name for.  We were right down the front for Supergrass, and they were excellent, very rocky, getting the whole audience bouncing for 'Moving'.  And of course not playing 'Alright', despite the MC having mentioned it in the intro.  It would have sounded out of place in such a riff-filled set anyway.  But they're mostly my wife's thing, though I appreciate them.  

So I'd like mostly to talk about Little Boots.  She seems to have ditched her early image as quirky singer/songwriter, and has now revealed that she's nothing less than bloody Kylie.  Yes, that good.  No, I'm not being ironic.  That good.  A huge clutch of bouncing electro pop stompers, which she marched through, looking slightly nervous, which only served to charm the audience more.  There's Saint Etienne and Goldfrapp in the musical DNA here.  She did Freddie Mercury's (or as she introduced it, Giorgio Moroder's, and that says a lot) 'Love Kills', which was brave, and she did it very well.  It sounded like there were at least half a dozen hit singles here.  She may well get into the top ten tonight.  It's where she deserves to be. 

The Captain Britain and MI-13 Annual, which forms part of our last storyline, 'Vampire State', is out on Wednesday/Thursday, and the first eight pages of it, featuring some lovely Mike Collins art, can be found here:

And it's summer outside!  So all's well in the Cornell house.  Until next time, Cheerio!

Plokta and the Physics of the Impossible

On Friday I wandered down to Cardiff for the Doctor Who wrap party, to thank David, Russell and Julie for all their efforts on the show, now that they're departing together.  It was a private party, so I won't offer a report, but suffice it to say: I had a wonderful time and caught up with a lot of old friends; the three stars got a send off that demonstrated how loved they are by the troops, and the whole lavish spectacle was paid for by Julie and Russell, none of it coming out of the licence fee. Which is typical them, really.  

I got back to my hotel in the wee smalls, and managed a whole three hours of sleep before heading on to Sunningdale, near Ascot, where the Plokta convention was taking place.  The event proved to be as cosy as the fanzine of the same name, and by the end of the weekend I felt thoroughly cosseted.  Still being ill (I have no idea what this is, just that I now seem to carry flem around in the manner of a cement mixer), the opportunity to sit on sunny grass slopes and throw balls to toddlers was just what I needed.  I participated in panels about Young Adult SF, and rebooting franchises, I read from the novel in progress and my short stories, I took part in a genuinely mind-boggling game of QI (came second, thanks for asking, with -28) and delivered a Guest of Honour speech that was more of a feverish wander through my workload.  Still, the audience were kind enough to laugh.  My favourite parts of the convention, however, were the outdoor events, like the live action video game charades (imagine a team impersonating Space Invaders on a hillside) and the glorious launching of Chinese lanterns into the early summer evening sky.  Sitting out there with Third Row Fandom, eating delivery pizza, I found myself considerably more relaxed than I've been for a while.

Speaking of mind-boggling, on Wednesday night I'm delighted to be contributing to a talk by the famed Michio Kaku, on the subject of his latest book, Physics of the Impossible.  Myself and Mark Brake are there to offer short commentaries once Prof. Kaku has delivered his lecture.  The event takes place at the Science Museum's Dana Centre, and I haven't mentioned it before because it sold out before I got onboard.  So I probably won't be seeing you there.  My own contribution will probably consist of frantically making notes, then going 'well, phew, yes, hmm, physics, eh?'  But I'm sure Prof. Kaku's lecture will be fascinating.  

Finally, Psych Ward, Marvel online's regular feature that psychoanalyzes one of their characters is this time devoted to Pete Wisdom, and Tim Stevens does a rather wonderful job of getting under his skin, I think:

Until next time, Cheerio.

Hugos and Eagles

Thanks very much to everyone who was so kind about Captain Britain.  But onwards and upwards. I'm honoured to have been asked to present the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form in Montreal this summer.  I promise, in the face of whatever pressures are put on me, not to fiddle with the envelopes.  And phew, this means I get into the Hugo party without having to pretend to be Lou Anders' date.  

Hugo voting is now open!

For those of you who've joined the convention, either as a full of supporting member.  And John Scalzi tells us that his voter packet of the majority of nominated material, free to those who've signed up (and making signing up such a bargain, given that you get a bunch of bestselling novels) has now actually grown!

I love the fact that there's been such a focus on the Hugos this year, across our community.  It feels like the nominated works have been thoroughly read and talked about this time round. I'm proud of the health of SF's central awards system.

The Eagle Awards, Britain's comics awards (although they apply to US, UK and other European titles), are without a ceremony this year, and in a process of rebuilding, but from the look of their website, they've started in the right way.  You have until Friday to nominate in the various different categories.  Why not pop along and nominate some of your favourites?

I hope to see some of you at the Plokta convention this weekend, which I'm very much looking forward to.  Hopefully, I'll have got rid of this throat condition, which makes me sound, as the wife put it, 'like Peter O'Toole'.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  Until then, Cheerio.

Goodbye Captain Britain

As you may have noticed, there’s no solicitation today for #16 of Captain Britain and MI-13.  That, unfortunately, is because #15 is the last issue.  A lot of books end without a word from their creative teams, but, with Marvel’s blessing, I didn’t want that to be the case this time.  There are, I think, a few things worth saying at this point.  

Firstly, and most importantly, I wanted to say a huge thank you to our loyal and enthusiastic fans.  People like Mark Roberts (known as The Sword is Drawn), Dave Wallace, John Mosby, the guys at I,Fanboy, and all those others who’ve been so vocal for us on the internet, who have created and run banners in support of the book, and those who just bought the book and enjoyed it... you lot rock.

Secondly, I’ve been honoured to have had my scripts graced throughout the life of this comic not just by the talents of our various stellar fill in artists, and our special guests on the Annual, Marvellous Mike Collins and Awesome Adrian Alphona, but by the regular brilliance of Leonard ‘Captain’ Kirk.  He’s been worth his weight in gold, and is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this run so much.  It’s entirely possible our association isn’t over, and thank goodness for that.  Plus, one of the lovely things about this book is watching everyone step up, from colourists like Eager Beaver Brian Reber and Canny Christina Strain to our many talented inkers and letterers.  Maybe it’s the effort it takes to make the British visuals work that does it.  It’s been a delight to see so many people taking their work so seriously.

And, of course, where would I be without Naughty Nick Lowe and Daniel ‘Danny’ Ketchum?  (And back at the start, Nick’s first Assistant Editor, Will Panzo.) Nick was the first editor to take me on at Marvel, and he’s been a continual source of support and inspiration.  And deadlines.  I know for a fact that we’ll continue to be working together, and thank goodness for that too. 

Thirdly, you know that time when the whole internet thought we were cancelled?  We genuinely weren’t.  The book coming to an end now isn’t a revelation that the rumours then were ‘true all along’.  If it had been true then, I’d have told you then.  I think that controversy, and the extremely welcome reaction from fans, ended up doing a lot of good.

Lastly, and this is really important, while we didn’t know this would be the last arc until comparatively recently, I had it in mind that it was possible it would be from the time I started plotting it.  Indeed, the end of this arc marks the end of what I had planned for the book when I started.  One of the images right at the finish is what I always felt I was heading towards, and I’m very pleased I got there.  So: you will get a real, thorough, proper, ending, not just of ‘Vampire State’, but of the whole run.  It hasn’t been rushed to fit the space, it hasn’t been compromised, it won’t just suddenly cut off: it’s what I intended.  I think the Annual and the two remaining issues finish off one of my best stories in any media, and that story is actually the entirety of Captain Britain and MI-13.  You’ll see what I mean a bit more next issue.  This is a comic with a proper ending. 

I’ve enjoyed writing a monthly comic more than almost anything else I’ve done as a writer.  I’ve enjoyed collaborating with all these talented people.  I’ve particularly enjoyed becoming one of the gang at Marvel.  Please don’t desert us as we approach our ending.  I see it as the last three episodes of our last season.  So tell your friends, see if they want to catch up, and please join us for an ending where, as I think you saw last issue, literally anything can happen.

Thanks again for your support.  See you for the Annual on June 3rd.  And Cheerio.

Saint Etienne, Go Kart Mozart and Bass Guitars

We went into London yesterday, mainly just to get away from our thesis and writing responsibilities for a day.  Which led to an afternoon of me wandering around book shops while Caroline tried six different bass guitars in as many different shops in Denmark Street.  I remember when this was a scrappy little street with a tiny comic shop (the only one that stocked fanzines) down an alley, but now it's found its heritage as tin pan alley and is lined with music shops, some like carefully stylised front rooms, with tired sofas that surely must have been on other duties when none of this was here a decade ago.  However, what they deliver is authentic, and Caroline was soon in conversations with knowledgeable assistants that, being bass blind as I am (my condition being so advanced it includes the fish of that name) I really couldn't even hope to paraphrase.  She's looking for a... no, sorry.  I know it's quite old.  And sounds better than these others she tried out.  Apparently.  

I was a little out of it anyway, in that condition where most of my head wants me to go away so it can think about plot, and it'll call me when it's come up with something.  You'd think I could have fun while that happens, but it seems whatever fuel fun requires is one of those things it needs.  (Yes, I am still of the opinion I need a holiday, why do you ask?)  By the time yaki soba was eaten and we were on the way to the evening's venue, a lot of that work seemed to be done, and it was making regular reports, which, a day later, having been written down, still seem to make sense.  Said venue was the Bloomsbury Ballroom, which is terrific, and eccentric, the only sign that a gig was on that night, or indeed that this was a place where any sort of gig might be held, and not, say, a museum of some kind taking up one edge of Bloomsbury Square, being a sheet of paper attached to a door, which said who the bands were, when the doors to bar and venue would open, when said bands would start and finish their sets and by what time everything would be done.  Which seemed a very civilised way of doing things, and not the sort of thing you'd expect by say Guns 'n' Roses live at the Budokan.  

The Bloomsbury proved to be just as interesting inside, with a 'long bar' that was a corridor with tables down the side leading to a more normal sort of bar, and the hall itself being a ballroom with a proper sprung floor and curtains at the windows, of the sort where one might expect dance cards and romantic misunderstandings.  We ran into the lovely Ed Russell, of TV's Doctor Who, and indeed the crowd reminded me of the demographic of Who fans, albeit those brave members of that tribe who could face not watching Eurovision.  Richard X was selecting the pre-set music, which (the theme from Monkey excepted) could best be described as the dancier parts of Terry Wogan's playlist, circa 1978, or the sort of thing Gareth Roberts would line up.  I'm saying there was Chicory Tip and Quantum Jump doing 'The Lone Ranger'.  Which suited me fine.  

The support act for the evening was Go Kart Mozart, who've been going about a decade now, but struck me as fresh and vital.  They're the current band of the man who, when I was reading NME, was always described as 'Lawrence from Felt', and had a welcome bouncy pop sensibility, all big chorus/blamming drums/Seventies keyboard solos.  They also looked so disparate, in a Roxy Music 'what did you think the theme of the fancy dress party was?' way that it was hard to imagine how they might have met.  Their keyboardist, for example, was like a wildly grinning combination of Andy Partridge and one of the Partridge Family, there was definitely Partridge DNA of some kind in there anyway, while Lawrence had a leather jacket with 'kill' in sequins on the back, and the rather mature guitarist looked like he'd come straight from the wedding at the start of Licence to Kill.  They rocked.  They filled the ballroom, and they got huge cheers like they were the headliners.  One of the best support acts I've ever seen.  And I've seen the La's supporting All About Eve.

But what we were here for, and what the ballroom filled floor to ceiling for (I speak of the very tall man who ran in front of me and stayed there), was Saint Etienne.  Doing their first album, Foxbase Alpha, from start to finish.  I love Saint Etienne.  Thanks to their support musician and general fixer Gerard (who tonight goes onstage in a lab coat to prepare his tape loops, while his wife Maria dances with us in the audience) I've got to meet them a few times over the years, notably when, wonderfully, Gerard brought Sarah Cracknell along to sing at our wedding while he accompanied.  'Hobart Paving' is thus still a special song for us.  (I remember Matt Jones gasping 'there are pop stars at your wedding!'  I also recall, relevant to nothing, the aforementioned Gareth displaying his copy of Doctor Who and the Daemons in the pews, like the panto Aleister Crowley and national treasure he is.) This audience were clearly all fans, and went wild as soon as the French introduction to the album began.  The band made some wise decisions with the material, distracting from 'Wilson' by having Sarah throw sweets to the audience, and offering more dance-friendly versions of several tracks.  During the instrumentals, Sarah and loyal backing singer Debs sat down at a little table at the front of the stage and played snap.  Sarah picked up a clipboard to read the rap in the middle of 'Girl VII'.  And after 'Etienne Gonna Die', she told the crowd 'we're better than that now'.  Which is rather disarming honesty coming from a pop group.  'Nothing Can Stop Us' brought the house down, and 'Like the Swallow' formed an epic conclusion.  Throughout, some fabulous graphic projections illustrated the songs, including pagan sacrifice imagery making 'Swallow' rather more sinister a prog dance number than it's felt like in the past.  

There's something tremendously English about these three people.  Pete and Bob seem to enjoy their relative anonymity, Sarah to almost wish she could share it.  She's obviously delighted with the audience response, although there's more nostalgic swaying than actual dancing, but when over-enthusiastic males in the audience yell out anything ill-advised, she tends to blanch slightly, rather than like, say, Madonna, encourage it.  I think it's part of her charm.  And who else would tell the audience at the end of the Foxbase set, 'we'll be back in just five minutes, honest'?  I mean, rather like that sign on the door, your rock band is supposed to relish the drama, not give the audience clear information so they can make their life choices as sensible adults.  The second set, and this was quite a relief, because I was a little worried than this 'perform the old album' bit signalled their arrival as a nostalgia act, was almost all the most up to date material, and pleasingly the audience roared just as hugely at 'Burnt Out Car' as they had at 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart'.  They closed on 'He's On the Phone', as has been usual over the years (I recall a particularly wonderful time when they left two cheerleaders with pom poms dancing to it for several minutes after the band had left the stage).  And I, and I think everyone else there, was thoroughly entertained.  And taken back to a time when I rather, erm, blissed up, quite often.  I wish I'd got hold of one of those sweets.  But, as I was once told that this band, rather than indulging, took beta blockers so as not to get too excited, I suspect they'd turn out to be toffee eclairs.  

We missed the last train home!  So, again, like students (although, technically, my wife is still a student, and has been since I met her) we caught the Oxford Tube home.  And found it to be relaxing, highly organised and entirely charming.  Like the evening itself.  Cheerio!

PS: With added video (warning, contains feather boa action) from the event, courtesy of Alistair Burns!

Captain Britain Plays Cricket

Here's two pages of lovely Adrian Alphona art from the upcoming Captain Britain and MI-13 annual, with colours by Christina Strain.  

That's Brian Braddock at the wicket, with Spitfire keeping wicket, and O bringing out the weak lemon drink. One lovely detail added by Adrian is that Blade couldn't find the proper top, so (I think) is playing in a baseball shirt. I'm just hugely flattered that these guys put the effort in to make the game look so spot on. I hope you're enjoying the latest issue, and the first issue of Dark Reign: Young Avengers, both in your local comic shop today, if you're in the UK, and for which this blog, as always, will serve as letters page. Until next time, Cheerio.

A Sunny Morning

After the gloom of last night's post, I thought I'd point out that it looks rather nice out there this morning.  Hmm, Gloucestershire vs. Yorkshire at Bristol, starting at noon.  I could go to that.  No I couldn't.  Work to do.  

In other news, here's a preview of the first few pages of lovely Mark Brooks art from Dark Reign: Young Avengers #1, out on Wednesday.  And yes, the Enchantress' speech patterns are deliberate. She's trying too hard to sound Asgardian.  

Until next time, Cheerio.

The Weekend Past

Bristol Comics Expo turned out to be really enjoyable.  I think, for me, that was mostly because I made the decision not to be 'on duty', except when signing at the Panini table (they provided some very nice tea, and impressed me with their desire to collect all of Captain Britain in handy volumes, and the way they organise Marvel's output for British readers).  So I didn't feel an obligation to be entertaining, as I do when I exhaust myself doing panels, and got to just hang around with friends, unshaven, going 'hur hur' when they made a joke.  I've been feeling a bit of the old black dog, just at the edges every now and then, lately, for the first time in years, so, rather exhausted on Friday morning, I went down to Bristol early, hoping to catch a burst of sunshine.  I walked across town to Forbidden Planet, got back to the hotel and slept for three hours in the afternoon, which made me feel a lot better.  I'm sure a real holiday this summer (somewhere green, with forests and lots of action-packed things to do, and no work-related socialising... any suggestions?) will sort this all out.  I'm kind of jogging towards a distant finish line with the novel and a couple of other very important things, and I need to get them all done before I go off and hide from the world.  My enthusiasm may return with the next sunny morning, even, so don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom.  

I won Just A Minute at the Expo, against Budgie, Liam Sharp (who got progressively shyer and quieter as the game went on, bless him) and Peter Hogan (who I stupidly misidentified as Hunt Emmerson when I first met him, because he looks a bit like Hunt's caricature of himself and... well, I think he does).  So I'm doing rather well at that, across all conventions.  Friday night was marked by a big dinner out with Andy Diggle, the D'Israelis, Rob Williams, et al, and on the Saturday we went out with Rob again, plus a bunch of his friends from the world of comics.  I was helping to live blog the event for Cheryl Morgan, hence the rather prosaic nature of many of my twitters over the weekend: I felt the need to be informative!  Anyway, the smaller venue meant a greater density of punters, and actually a slightly heightened buzz, but what was worrying was the drop in the number of creators.  The bar, for the first time, didn't feel like all the gang were there.  And now I kind of expect them to be in Birmingham and Leeds.  I bought a new Genki Gear t-shirt, loaded up on collections and graphic novels, including Ian Edginton's new Hound of the Baskervilles, and it was a pleasure to meet Dan DiDio from DC Comics.  

We zoomed off early on the Sunday and got back in time for me to lie around and mope a bit more, so I finished off watching Frau Im Mond (rather wonderful, actually, if very very long and very very emphatic in a silent movie way, with loads of brilliantly correct assumptions about space travel... which all go to pot when our heroes and their oddly Hitler-esque evil companion (no, it was 1929) land on a moon with an atmosphere and seemingly normal gravity and go off to find water with their divining rod), read a bit of the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and finally perked up a bit.  Thank goodness.  

A bit of sunshine in the morning tomorrow, that's all I ask.  Anyhow, here's a preview of Captain Britain and MI-13 #13, in which huge and terrible changes happen, sorry, which is out this Wednesday, along with the first issue of my Dark Reign: Young Avengers, and for which, as always, this blog will serve as lettercol.  Hope you like them when you see them, and until next time, Cheerio.

Star Trek, Word Magazine, Bristol Comics Expo

Phew, well, it's been an exhausting few days, but very pleasurable with it.  Last weekend, Simon Kavanagh and Tom Hunter's team, with me in it, actual came joint first in the Sci-Fi London quiz, and, thanks to Tom shaking his legs around in the dance-off finale (seriously) we nearly won it outright.  It was a pleasure to hang around off-duty, so to speak, with that bunch, and hey, we beat Third Row Fandom!  (Who, I know, I used to play for, Simon put an early bid in, hush).  The day before I'd been on a panel about comics which maybe wandered a bit too much off the point, but had the virtue of Bryan Talbot showing some pages from his latest graphic novel.  I'm actually finding myself getting tired while on panels now.  There's something about trying to give value for money to an audience which drains me a bit while I'm in the middle of writing stuff.  

That evening, I got back to home in time for the last Fifteen Minute Club of Sam the landlady's tenure at the Crown.  We'll miss her, she's done a lot for live music in the town.  Now she's off to run a night club in Gloucester.  The Fifteen Minute Club, we're assured, will continue, and I must pop in and meet the new landlords.  But last Sunday was a celebration, packed house, many bands, including The Follys, on top form, with new bouncy material, a scratch band involving Neil Dwerryhouse and our host David Reynolds, and the Zen Pigs, who as always, rocked considerably, and got the place jumping up and down, but went on way past their fifteen minutes, to the point where I couldn't wait for my friend Mel's debut as a solo singer and went home.  The wife rolled in considerably later, however, and reported an excellent solo set from Neil, as well as Mel impressing.

Good to hang about with fan mates and home mates on the same day.  I'm working so hard at the moment, and with such focus (the end of the novel actually coming together, two short stories on the boil, TV stuff), that I'm genuinely neglecting my friends here.  All I can say is, I'm doing what I have to do right now.  And with Caroline up for her selection conference, to see whether she can train as a vicar, this July, everything's up in the air as to whether or not we leave this wonderful place behind.  A party of some kind will have to be arranged.

It is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year, with the cricket season in full swing and England ruling the first Test.  I think we have a new team now that might have a really good chance against the Aussies.  

I'm in the middle of Adam Roberts' excellent Yellow Blue Tibia, which  so far is one of the few novels that deals with Fortean matters, specifically UFOs, with the same romance they hold for me in 'real life'.  That is, I don't think they are neccessarily in real life, but I find the stories about them being so highly romantic.  And it's tough to conjure up that specific sense of spooky wonder in fiction.  

Anyhow, yesterday, apart from an awesome meeting, I had lunch on Andrew Harrison, who writes for The Word Magazine, one of my favourite journals of record, who also do one of my favourite podcasts.  He interviewed me, between me eating stuff, for the issue after next, on sale in June, which I'll make a considerable fuss about when it rolls around.  Then I went to record a few interview segments for a classic Doctor Who DVD, the title of which I am unable to tell you until it's announced, and had fun doing that as always.  On the way in, I ran into Pertwee era Who producer Barry Letts, who's doing a lot better after his recent health worries, I'm glad to say, and he was kind enough to congratulate me on my work.  I was greatly humbled by that.  What a lovely chap he is.  

And in the evening, after all that, we went to see Star Trek.  Which I adored.  Hugely.  (Spoilers coming!)  It's not actually as radical a new Trek movie as maybe people were expecting.  The biggest new thing it does is just treat these characters in a modern way.  The exact same set ups and jokes as the old movies would have done, only at hyperspeed.  And the villains, the design of them, the motivation of them, their dialogue: all could have come from those movies.  Uhura, incredibly, still doesn't get a lot to do when compared to all the others.  It has maybe thirty per cent more wryness in the knowledge of its references, making the audience laugh with its enthusiastic redshirt.  But apart from a modernity that might have come anyway (but is done with excellence by these creators), it breaks through to somewhere new on two points: simply recasting, so I get the intuitive, tactical, wry, bedhopping James T. Kirk I adore without him being an (however awesomely talented) old man.  (And how deeply enjoyable are the new McCoy, the new Scotty?) And, most importantly, having its time paradox reset the clock on Trek, so none of the old shows (apart from, incredibly, and explicitly, because of the beagle reference, Enterprise) happened!  But doing it in such a way as to say that the old shows and movies... once happened!  So, clean slate!  New adventures!  Off we go into space!  Now, I'd say that modern Doctor Who has done that already (the episode 'Dalek' just can't have 'happened' that way now, and I'd say a lot of the classic episodes can't have 'happened' at all) but it hasn't actually told its audience that it has, and the joy of having no canon means that such issues are vastly abstract anyway.  But with a property as established as Trek, this was bold, and possibly the only way to save it.  I have two more small caveats: Kirk didn't get to do a big clever trick, which should be number one on the list of Trek things for a sequel.  And oddly, in this exciting new world, the whole matter of Spock, his world, his people... feels very old Trek.  He was the pivot they boldly spun this around... and he remained not nearly changed enough by it.  Hopefully that plot with Uhura and he and the mating rituals and actually having her have some adventures is just waiting to happen.  But ten out of ten.  Eleven next time, with added Uhura.

And yes, dears, I shall be at the Bristol Comics Expo this weekend.  I'm doing it very low key so I can treat it as time off, without any panels or anything.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't say hello, and oh, I did volunteer to do a signing of Cap trades for Panini.  I think.  Anyway, you know I'm always open to signing anything.  Hope I'll see you there.

Interview about the Captain Britain and MI-13 annual below, with lovely Mike Collins art, and indeed some pencils from the artist on the back-up strip, who isn't Mike (can you guess who it is?)  

Until next time, Cheerio!

This Weekend in London

I couldn't make it to the Clarke Awards, unfortunately, because I was exhausted, and because that would have been four days in London out of five, since I went into town for dinner yesterday, starting in a rather wonderful club at the top of the Centre Point building.  Handy, I thought. Lovely views.  I'd popped in to Forbidden Planet and Orbital Comics earlier, and got the new Moore/Reppion Sherlock Holmes first issue and the fourth collection of Queen and Country.  A pleasure to hear the girls at the till in Orbital chatting about Dave Sim.  When my wife went in to their manga store once, the staff ended up singing the Keroro theme at her.  They must hire for fannishness.  Danie in FP told me she had a guitar out the back, and I only could only back away, having flashbacks to my RockBand experience.  

Anyway, this weekend, I'm going to be in London twice, firstly at 2.30pm on Saturday, at the Apollo West End cinema on Lower Regent Street, to talk about comics on a panel with Bryan Talbot, amongst others, as part of the Sci-Fi London Film Festival:

And then again the next day, to take part in their quiz.  This year, my agent has organised a team of superbrains to take on all comers, with a post-eschaton reality link to the mind of Arthur C. Clarke.  Or maybe just me and Simon Gilmartin, let's see how it goes.  Anyhow, if you come along to either, do say hello.  Cheerio.