I’m happy to announce that I’ve got a new book out! It’s a collection of short stories written in the sub-genre of sci-fi known as ‘cli-fi’. The tales and their themes are relevant and important, asking the reader to reflect on where we might end up as a species if we don’t start doing something about climate change.
A friend of mine who works as a Risk Manager (Matt Beeson) was the real driver behind the book, and he’s written a wizard, science-based intro. I contributed a story set in Scotland titled ‘Unicorn Rising’, and edited half the collection. Do consider supporting our little project by buying a copy? You can find it on Amazon, of course.
This comedy-horror is destined to become a cult hit like Tucker and Dale versus Evil. Our hero is rushing to audition for a talent show (bit like Britain’s Got Talent), but various bullies and jobsworths contrive to get in his way. Things go from bad to worse and his dreams are shattered. It was his big chance at fame and fortune! Life is so unfair for the little man… until the little man decides he’s had enough and is going to get even, or die trying! Cue all hell breaking loose!
As you might already be able to glean from the above, this movie has important satirical themes concerning class, capitalist society (even the Church is on the make), social inadequacy, social welfare and, well, just about everything else too. It’s not just some idle piece of self-indulgent gore. It’s a film with both smarts and heart.
And the cast is absolutely stellar, including the cream of British comedic actors (e.g. Johnny Vegas, Kevin Bishop and Katherine Parkinson). June Watson (The Lady in the Van, The Death of Stalin, and more) plays Paul’s mum, and she is brilliantly poignant – definitely my fave character… although Mandeep Dhillon as the community police officer (and puts up with no end of grief for not being a ‘proper’ police officer) is equally fab.
I’m not too proud to confess I properly cried in both the middle (sad tears) and at the end (happy tears). Yet I laughed just as much as I cried. Like life, this film is a rollercoaster of emotions. I like ‘light and shade’ in my movies, as it generates that bitter-sweetness that is quintessentially British humour or irony (the latter term, ironically, can’t even be pronounced correctly by certain American critics, LOL!).
I believe the film also represents a bit of a breakthrough for the lead scriptwriter, one Matthew White (https://www.mattwhitescripts.com/), so it’s great to have a bravely fresh British ‘voice’ coming to the screen. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then get your life priorities sorted or die trying! The film scores a deadly 9.9 out of 10 from this enlightened critic!
Well, to answer the question… you know when – with your xmas lunch – you’ve had three large roast potatoes (the first three movies) and you know you reeeally shouldn’t have a fourth? You want it cos it tastes so good, but your stomach already hurts. And so you have it anyway. Then you’ve reeeally had enough! Well, The Matrix Resurrections is just like that extra spud. The tension between desire and fear is actually a theme of this latest movie, too.
Should they have made that fourth one? And should I have consumed it so eagerly? Hard to say. Someone get me an Alka-Seltzer.
Keanu still can’t act. But that was never the point, and it was never really that big a deal, so quit whining already. And, yes, there is an abundance of plot-holes (rabbit-holes would be a more appropriate term, given the White Rabbit theme of this latest offering). And we know that Keanu’s comedic timing is always off, and that he can’t deliver well written dialogue even if Carrie-Anne Moss is managing to get the wooden stage-set emoting more than him. BUT IT’S THE MATRIX! The visuals and high(ish) concepts are what it’s all about.
This new movie does offer some new scenarios, and the machines have had the sort of upgrade even Denis Villeneuve might nod at approvingly. The first 40mins, set in our fake real-world, actually resonate quite well (with the sense of social distancing, isolation and modern working-ennui), even if we do then keep jumping between worlds too frequently for it to be anything but annoying. It’s just a bit pell-mell really, with too many characters squeezed in, and one too many fight scenes. Yet the larger themes and meditations just about see us through.
Neo starts as Thomas Anderson, the famous creator of a game called The Matrix. Sadly, he had a mental breakdown and started to think of the fiction of The Matrix as real! Fortunately, he has an analyst who helps him realise The Matrix is just a delusional fiction. Phew. The end.
Fellow writers/scribblers, want to join some free writing-related learning events? Or find out about the latest writing competitions? Or complete a fun diagnostic quiz to discover what type of creative you are? No? Then you won’t want to sign up for the www.creativewritinghq.com newsletter, which will provide you with monthly updates!
Iwas lucky enough to get a sit-down interview with Nozomi concerning the story ‘Solomon’s Prime Key’. Here’s how it went down!
1. How did you learn to become a writer? Any major advice?
I’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember, across a whole bunch of different projects. It’s only recently that I’ve found stories that are worth telling, and folks who are willing to take a chance on them (thanks again!). In terms of advice, the fundamentals are always important, and you can find them anywhere. Write habitually, consume voraciously and so on. What’s been helpful for me, especially over the last 18 or so months, is to take that reading a step back and get to grips with the ideas behind the work that you love. I’ve done a lot of reading centred around different philosophies, histories, and modes of thinking, which has really helped me keep a firm grip on what I’m trying to say, and keeping me out of the weeds of aimless storytelling. If I ever get stuck on what I want to say next, I can revert back to that framework and figure it out.
2. What in particular inspired your story ‘Solomon’s Prime Key’ in The Book of Demons?
I think a lot of tales paint demons as inscrutable forces, inflicting their blessings on those who are brave (or foolish) enough to entreat them. I wanted to paint a different picture, and figure out what it would be like to slot demons into a world that is as close to ours as possible. How different would it be if, rather than call a service desk, you made an offering to a demon? As it turns out, not very!
3. What have been the high and low points of your writing endeavours to date?
A lot of my lowest moments have been coupled with periods of manic creativity; escapism to deal with whatever’s going on in the real world, as it were. As for high points, well – this interview is certainly one of them! I’ve never had the opportunity to answer questions about my writing before.
4. Has your own writing been influenced by any particular authors? How and why?
I want to show off some pretty nerdy influences here, so bear with me! I can credit Phillip Pullman and Lemony Snicket as getting me into writing when I was a lot younger. Their stories made me want to tell stories of my own. In terms of those voices who have most helped me hone my craft recently, I have to point my finger not at authors, but at writers in other media. Yoko Taro, for one, has a unique relationship to the craft of storytelling that encouraged me to take a view on how I was constructing my stories. I’d also like to point my finger at Natsuko Ishikawa, as a woman who has created some of my favourite stories in the past few years. They’ve been a continual source of joy and inspiration during some, shall we say, troubled times. Finally, I’d like to credit the work of Abigail Thorn for helping me be more honest about the kinds of stories I want to tell, why I want to tell them, and what they mean to me.
5. Why do you think fantasy and horror are so popular?
Abnegation is a powerful feeling, and it can be very tempting to point that way when it comes to fantasy’s popularity. I think they both create spaces to explore alternatives to what our world has to offer, both for goor or for ill.
6. What’s your next writing project going to be?
I have two on the burner at the moment, a science fantasy novel and a more contemporary fantasy piece of work. I haven’t figured out the best way to get them out there, but keep your eyes peeled!
7. How can you stay in touch with me?
Twitter is the best place to say hi, ask questions, and generally keep up to date with my online stuff. You can find me @NozomiOkumura.I also have a site that will serve as a hub for the majority of my writing; you can find that here!
Just finished watching the first spooky season of Evil. It stars Mike Colter (of Marvel’s Luke Cage fame) as a priest-in-training tasked by the Catholic Church with examining possible cases of demonic possession. He is ably assisted by a sceptical psychologist played by the feisty Katja Herbers. Think in terms of Mulder and Scully from the legendary X-Files and you won’t go far wrong. Certainly, there’s plenty of chemistry between the leads in the style of Duchovny and Anderson. Things get decidedly hot under the (priestly) collar, that’s for sure, especially when a dastardly demon (played quite deliciously by Michael Emerson) decides that our two investigators either need to be morally corrupted or removed from the game-board entirely. It’s just the fate of all humanity at stake, after all. I’m happy to say the series is far from formulaic, however: some episodes really are quite disturbing. It scores a nearly divine 8.5 out of 10 from me. And if it sounds like your sort of thing, you might also want to check out my new title, The Book of Demons, which provides you with a history of demonology and considers why the number of exorcisms being conducted today is on the increase: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Demons-J-Dalton/dp/1913562247/ref=sr_1_1?crid=AIITVR4LEM4R&dchild=1&keywords=book+of+demons+dalton+kristell+ink&qid=1628844655&sprefix=book+of+demons+dalton%2Caps%2C165&sr=8-1.
When I heard that this movie was coming out, I had to ponder the question ‘What’s it for?’ I mean, was it really gonna offer anything new, anything that hadn’t already been done in Marvel movies? Turns out, I should have had more faith. Where the Captain Marvel movie has similar themes to Black Widow, to be sure, Captain Marvel is quite confused in terms of genre, and the plot sees the lead become ludicrously omnipotent at the end (leaving it nowhere to go after that). By contrast, Black Widow seems much more grounded and authentic. I know, it’s an odd thing for me to say such a thing, especially when the movie’s full of impossible action sequences, and so on, but there’s more integrity and continuity to the emotional trauma and character development in Black Widow that makes the SFX of far less immediate concern. Indeed, there’s nice humour ridiculing the very choreographed, ‘posed’ and voyeuristic (‘male gaze’) style of action sequence that’s typical of Hollywood and traditional Marvel movies.
There can be little argument that Black Widow might/should be described as a feminist movie. It revolves around the central relationship between two sisters, exploring the nature of ‘sisterhood’. They’ve been stolen, emotionally neglected and physically abused by an evil patriarch (General Dreykov, played by Ray Winstone, with a very dodgy Russian accent indeed) who is hellbent on producing an army of obedient female super-soldiers so that he can rule the world. Yes, it’s a very cliched scenario (hence the movie doffing its cap bigtime to the Bond movie Moonraker). And, yes, the way I’m describing its themes risks making it sound like a very dogmatic or preachy affair. BUT fear not! The movie has a light touch (not much clunky exposition or lecturing at all), typical Marvel bantz (Joss Whedon style) even in emotionally fraught moments, and some nicely arranged fight sequences (ironically/knowingly done).
The ‘male’ tradition of superheroes is affectionately mocked – the Red Guardian character is an anachronistic scream. There’s no soppy hetero love story getting in the way. There’s only female drive and a lack of apology. And the story of the wider MCU is actually moved along. This movie pulls off a lot (with style) and represents a valuable contribution to the oeuvre. 8 out of 10 from me! Hurrah!