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The Torcian Chronicles

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Report from Devon ComicCon

Well, I’ve just come back from the first Devon ComicCon at Exeter University sports campus. I must admit the sports facilities at Exeter University were extremely impressive, all sorts of sci-fiesque heavy black machines lined the windows. You could not tell if the athletes were separate entities or just part of the machine, a cyber-athlete fusion, in perhaps an echo of future sport?

The ComicCon was run by Lisa from Moose Events which are always a pleasure to go to- you know it’s going to be well organised, with plenty of space between exhibits so we won’t all die if there is a sudden audience stampede. I had two helpers on my Torcian table – my daughters Sapphire and Jasmine, their support was wonderful. Sapphire actually drew the map of Torcia for me, which as usual had many admirers and several photographs!

There was a table top gaming zone and computer gaming zone which looked fascinating but as I was there to share the world of Torcia, I could not go off and play, which was rather sad. However, I did get squirted by a velociraptor which was quite a unique experience… There was one lone Storm trooper on patrol throughout the entire event but luckily for him/her no resistance fighters or they would have been in trouble. Interestingly enough there was no dinosaur-Empire fighting either.

The costumes from the cosplayers were magical. There were no Boxtrolls but a group of people who had invented their own world of furry creatures in a rainbow of colours. I always support creativity and individuality, so I was delighted to see such furry self-expression. Captain Jack Sparrow was also tottering around sans bottle, apparently all the rum had gone, which was a great shame. 

Some of the costumes were very impressive. There were two estate black shirted security guards complete with body vest and personal incident recorder cameras on their vests, who patrolled the building and car park. They had most realistic costumes of the day, but I couldn’t place their series at all, which was weird as I know my sci-fi. I thought it might be an indie horror. Obviously, I had to find out this unknown series. So, I caught them up and had a chat to them and found out they were actually university security guards sporting some pretty cool uniforms. They were lovely people and I left them taking pictures of the prop police cars. Exit stage left.

I had some almost old friends visit my fantasy table which was great. Old faces from some of the ComicCons I have attended throughout the year. It’s always lovely to catch with people like the impressive nuclear psychist Viking, the pizza delivering blue squirrel, the Welsh photography family, and many wonderful fantasy fiction fans.

I also had the great honour of Daniel Eghan, the Star Wars actor, giving me a limited edition signed poster which now has proud of place on my writing inspiration wall, as I do admit to having a slight lifetime Star Wars obsession…

The Saturday Sizzler

Origin Wars - A Review

 One of the great things about Netflix is that the choose of sci-films has increased exponentially. I came across Origin wars quite by chance, decided to give it a try and explore the new world it offered.

I must confess the start did not enamour me with the little girl narrating over world building images about her lost daddy and their family issues. I was very worried it was a gloried chick-flick wrapped up in an outer space setting. Fortunately, things did improve.

The plot was one of escape and evade. The evil corporation threatening to destroy a whole new world colony after a prison block riot unleashed genetically modified prisoner/monsters who killed everything in their path, in order to protect their company’s terraforming reputation.

The prison scenes were gritty, realistic, with filthy prisoners in a desperate situation gradually being worked to death while hearing rumours prisoners never returning from the isolation ‘tumble dryers.’ Their situation was then neatly spliced into the wealthy lives of the company people in charge of the orbital circling the planet and the prison colony below.

After the prison riot and the company’s’ decision to overheat the reactors and nuke Osiris it became a chase with Lt Kane and Sy a very descent prisoner trying to save Kane’s quite annoying 11-year-old daughter Indy. On their travels they meet a desperate bunch of vagabonds that seemed to have been beamed up directly from the deep south including the step sibling, druggie lovers and the gun shack owners. The fight scenes and running gun battles were great in this chase.

The flashbacks to the events that put Sy in prison were interesting and an important part of his character building, so you actually understood the reasons for his actions.  Lt Kane’s flashbacks were a bit more evasive – he seemed to have got drunk and failed to give correct orders to the men he was commanding and they all died. However, this was not enough to get him incarcerated instead he changed jobs. Then felt very guilty about being an absent father. A theme which cropped up with alarming regularity and spoiled the action sequences of the film.

Another issue with the flashbacks were that they were watching the film and suddenly the scene goes white and you get a chapter heading and Roman numerals completely covering your screen. Immediately, this has the effect of pulling you out of the world that Shane Abbess has carefully created.

If you can get passed the abrupt chapter changes and the Daddy Issues this was a good, solid sci-fi movie which is entertaining and fun to watch.

I recommend this film to sci-fi lovers.

 

P.J. Reed is the author of the dark high fantasy novel, The Torcian Chronicles.

The Red Shirt Effect

 

I do enjoy watching rather off-centre films particularly the sci-fi post-apocalyptic ones which are on offer on Netflix – I am also quite partial to the small budget, independent ones. They all have something to offer even if they are hated on ‘Rotten Tomatoes’. However, the last two films I watched, I noticed a slightly unnerving pattern occurring.

The colonies under attack were both led by elderly but physically strong, black men who mentored a younger, more attractive (white) male. In each case this proved disastrous as the elderly leader died protecting the colony and the younger male took his place. To be an elderly black male in these films seemed to be a death warrant with the life expectancy of s red shirt in a Star Trek expedition or as I call it the ‘Red Shirt Effect.’

Has anyone else noticed this trend?

I think while it’s great to have more ethnic diversity in films and books, the characters need to be real and natural.

I came up against this problem in my latest book ‘Welcome To Witherleigh.’ set in deepest darkest Devon where even people from the next village were regarded suspiciously as ‘bad’uns’, foreigners or even witches and this is set in modern times and based on a real village.

There seemed little chance of injecting ethnic diversity into my story, just no characters would naturally arrive in my story.

Fortunately, I then met Clem So at a Comicon.

He is the archetypal elderly Chinese baddie with long white hair who has been featured in many sci-fi films including Star Wars and Dr Who. Instantly a cameo character formed around him and the next day he was in my book, dropping quite a big story plot hint and hopefully being a completely real character who certainly does not die a wasteful, heroic death – you just do not want to get him angry as he is wielding a meat cleaver but then I am writing paranormal horror…. but hopefully realistic paranormal horror.

About P.J. Reed-

P.J. Reed is a writer of Warlocks and other Magical Creatures

‘Defiance’ the first instalment of The Torcian Chronicles, her dark fantasy adventure series is available in all good bookshops.

“Anyone who enjoyed The Lord of the Rings and all things magic will certainly enjoy The Torcia Chronicles: Defiance. Torcia, a peace-loving nation is under threat from the Mivirian hordes intent on the total destruction of Torcia and its people” H.E. Joyce

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Comments

Sounds like a great day was had by all. Hope you sold a few too :)

Great blog!

Inspiration Points

The start of a story, that moment when an idea begins to form and then explodes into a million different characters, places, and events is one of the most exciting times for an author.  It arrives naturally and sometimes you have to be patient but when the creative spark hits your life changes forever. You enter a whole new reality and embark on epic adventures. 


So where does this creative spark come from?
It could be a memory, gossip whispered by a friend, a daydream or even an image captured in your minds’ eye. Something in these events acts as a catalyst and sends your imagination into overdrive.
For example, one morning I nipped into Costa for a cup of tea and a slice of chocolate tiffin, as I am particularly partial to any food with chocolate in the title and my life changed forever.  A story unfolded before my eyes like a movie and I dived into Torcia, the first fantasy world I ever created.
 I saw the main character of the story, a warlock sitting in ragged clothes in a dingy, cluttered garret clutching onto the side of a medieval-looking wooden inn. He was sitting quietly on his favourite armchair by the fire, but something was very wrong in Torcia as even from the inside of his lodgings he could feel his people's suffering as the invasion of Torcia accelerated. It was all very exciting as I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I just sat down at my laptop and my fingers typed the images which flashed across my brain.  One hundred and twenty words later the land of Torcia and Mivir had been born.


After writing ‘Defiance’ the first instalment of The Torcian Chronicles I was set to write the sequel, which everyone told me was the most logical thing to do. Unfortunately, logic and creativity are distant cousins at best. When Brian, a Gothic poet, told me of how he saw a black cockerel hung upside down from a village signpost swinging in the midnight breezes.
I knew immediately that was going to be my next story. It was going to be based in Witheridge, a village in the moors which I changed to Witherleigh so not to offend the villagers. The first thing I saw in my mind when entering Witherleigh was a young man from London making a new start in the countryside, driving down the twisting country lanes in his ancient car. I later found out he was a church youth leader who no one trusted because of his antisocial habit of witnessing ghosts and demons. Writing this book has been quite challenging because of the research into the Bible, church organisation and services and the voyage into Latin. 


So far, the manuscript is at 31,000 words - complete with town map, a glossary of daemons, and a chronological list of missing curates. 
All this arrived from one comment about a cockerel! 


Therefore, when inspiration hits – grab that spark with both hands and prepare to entire a new, ultra-exciting universe. 

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