The Momentum Blog

Six Halloween Costumes for Book Lovers

Posted October 30, 2015 by Stephen Jones

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Literary dress-ups are the best dress-ups. Here are some suggestions for the best costumes for those of a bookish bent.

The Raven – The Raven


Thanks to The Simpsons everyone knows The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and while Poe himself is a fabulous choice nothing says commitment to a costume like spending all Halloween dressed as an enormous black bird and only saying “Nevermore”.


V- V for Vendetta


Are you a member of a secret group of hackers and you already have the Guy Fawkes mask? Then you know what you’re going to be for Halloween.

While there are some people who would argue a graphic novel isn’t literature those people are wrong. Just, and this is only a suggestion, don’t be that person who quotes the speeches – trust me, restraint is key.

Or a SEXY V for Vendetta. I'

Or a SEXY V for Vendetta costume.

Lolita – Lolita


This is a cheeky little way to get your minx on during All Hollows Eve. This famous nymphette is the best reason to dig out your old school uniform and buy a lollipop.

Bonus points if you get someone to go as Nabakov – not Humbert Humbert, Nabakov himself.

Eh, this will do

Eh, this will do

Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind


One of the greatest histronic female  characters of literature (and thanks to the patriarchy there are many to choose from) Scarlett O’Hara means you get to wear a full debutante gown and talk like Foghorn Leghorn all night.

It also means that every time you go to get something from the snack table you get to declare that you’ll never go hungry again. Which is never not funny.


This is one of those costumes which would be fun for about two minutes and then awful.


Moby Dick – Moby Dick


If you’re into group costumes, both literally and internet literally, then get some friends together and go as the greatest white whale in literature.


Finding this costume is my very own white whale… j/k, you can buy this monstrosity on etsy:

The Portrait – The Picture of Dorian Gray


Not only is it a true challenge for anyone proficient in make up (how does one apply all the sins of the world in MAC Colourfast?) but you also get to wear a gold frame all night which will in no way get annoying after five minutes.













Love Halloween? Make sure you check out our SPOOKY SPECIALS and get some horror and paranormal ebooks for prices that will make you scream (with delight).




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Exclusive excerpt: Kraken Rising by Greig Beck

Posted October 19, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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Southern Ocean – Edge of the South Sandwich Trench – October 12, 2008

Five hundred feet down, the silent leviathan glided through the water. At that depth there was just the faintest trace of sunlight penetrating down to create wave-like ripples on its surface, but below it, there was nothing but utter darkness.

The USS Sea Shadow was an experimental design submarine. Based on a miniaturized Ohio Class design, the 188-foot craft had an electric drive and high-energy reactor plant that allowed it to navigate the seas in total stealth. In addition, nano-paint on echo-free tiles reduced the chance of detection from active sonar – it was effectively an ocean ghost.

For now, Shadow, as the crew affectionately knew it, carried only conventional impact torpedoes, simply to add test displacement weight. The rest of its armament stores were empty, but when the craft was fully operational, it would be crammed with enough weaponry to obliterate anything on or below the water. The new design submarine was fast and invisible, and as far as the navy was concerned, was a high seas game changer.

The test run was watched from naval command with a mix of pride and trepidation. Shadow was in international waters, which would have made it diplomatically awkward should it have been detected. Even though the closest high-tech power, Australia, should not have possessed the technical capabilities to see or hear it, training runs in this part of the Southern Ocean were necessary and extremely useful as the environmental conditions were as hostile as they could get. And if the Aussies could find them, then the project would be determined a fail.

Today’s exercises were to be carried out on the edge of the deepest trench in the region – the Southern Sandwich Trench, just off the Antarctic’s coast. Muddy plains, abyssal mountain ranges and crevices that fell away to 26,000 feet into the Earth’s crust, dominated the ocean floor here.

Captain Clint O’Kane stood on the command deck, shorter than the rest of his crew, but his authoritative presence made him seem like he towered over every one of them. His dark eyes were unreadable, as they reflected the green glow of the instrument panels.

O’Kane was relatively young, but had been a mariner for two decades. Still, he felt his heart rate lift as he passed over any of these deeper zones. It was the trenches that worried all submariners. These cold black voids were worlds of crushing depths, permanent blackness, and were most often shielded from them as the deep water made the liquid compress enough to repel most of their sonar pulses. And every now and then, when something did bounce back, more often than not it could never be identified. In that mysterious darkness, there were temperature fluctuations and flow variations that defied explanation, and every mariner felt there were things down there that saw them, without ever being seen themselves.

This trench had an additional reputation – it was the Southern Sea’s Devil’s Triangle. Dozens of ships had disappeared down in these stretches of water. And aircraft had also vanished, like the 1920 disappearance of Amelia J – a low flying spotter plane that gave a single fear-filled message: “It’s coming up”, before disappearing from radar, never to be seen again.

O’Kane would sail into the teeth of any battle that he was commanded to, against any odds, and never even blink. But he always slept better when they were well away from this particular deep-water stretch.


The single word was like a small electric jolt to his gut. He casually approached his sonar officer, standing just behind him, and outwardly radiated his usual calm.


The officer calibrated his sonar, and concentrated. “Five miles, coming up out of the abyssal zone.”

“That deep?” O’Kane grunted. “Biological?” He knew that sperm whales could get down to nearly 7,000 feet to hunt in the total darkness for the giant squid.

He waited. The officer’s face was creased in concentration. Beside him, O’Kane could see his screen, the winding sonar line passing over the long darker stain on the sensor. The man leaned even closer to his console and also pressed fingertips over one of his microphone’s ear cups. He shook his head and shrugged.

“Nonmagnetic signature, but unknown.”

O’Kane groaned. They had an online identification library of blips, pulses and pings for every deep-water biological creature and geological movement. Their library also stored the propeller sounds of the world’s entire naval fleets – they should have been able to isolate, and then identify, anything and everything below the water.

He remembered Fuller’s Law – nature provides exceptions to every rule. O’Kane ground his teeth. Meaning, he was back to relying on experience and his gut.

“Give me bearing and speed.”

“Sir, relative bearing is sixty degrees, three miles out over the trench and speed is at twenty knots, variable. Rising, and moving into a parallel course.”

O’Kane grunted his approval. Parallel was good, he thought. At least it wasn’t moving any closer. “Too fast for a whale,” he said.

The sonar officer half turned and pulled one of the cups away. “I don’t think it’s a whale, sir. It’s not making a sound … and it’s big, very big.” He frowned and swung back. “Doesn’t make sense.” The officer rotated dials and leaned forward for a moment, his face a sickly green from the monitors. “Whoa.”

O’Kane didn’t want to hear that word from his sonar man. He began to feel a sudden slickness as beads of perspiration popped out over his face and body.

The officer spun. “It just turned towards us, and speed increased to fifty knots.”

“Fifty knots? Not possible.” O’Kane’s jaw set. “Sound red-alert. Come to twenty degrees port bearing, increase speed to maximum.” He exhaled through clenched teeth. Anywhere else he would have immediately surfaced, but doing so here would mean exposure to the unfriendly satellites he knew were always watching. He could not risk breaking cover over a damn sonar shadow.

“Object now at 1.1 miles and closing. Collision course confirmed. Not responding to hailing, sir.”

O’Kane had only one option left – to fight.

“Ready all torpedo tubes. Come about eighty degrees starboard, and then all stop.” The huge steel fish yawed in the water as it moved to face its pursuer. O’Kane grabbed the back of the operator’s chair, as incredible centrifugal forces acted on the huge armor-plated body.

“On my order.” O’Kane planted his legs and stood straight, waiting.

“Five hundred feet, collision imminent. Closing to 480 feet, 430, 400 …”

It was too fast, and O’Kane knew it was probably already too close. “Fire tubes one and two. Brace.” He gritted his teeth.

“Firing one and two – brace, brace, brace …” The echo sounded as his order was relayed to the torpedo room.

The order was drowned out by klaxon horns. O’Kane felt the slight pulse that went through the superstructure as the torpedoes were expelled from the nose of the submarine. He held his breath, his eyes half closed as he waited for the sensation of the impact detonations, and the destructive shock wave that would follow.

Seconds stretched … nothing came.

O’Kane opened his eyes. “Status update.”

“Negative on impact, sir. Bogey seems to have, uh, vanished.” The sonar operator spun dials, and hit keys, his face dripping sweat now. “It just … ” He shook his head. “Something’s wrong.”

“Impossible. It must have dived.” O’Kane felt his heart racing. “Let’s give it some space. Full speed astern.” He felt the thrum of the engines kick in and looked to the inside wall of the submarine, as if seeing through the inches of steel plating. His gut told him it was still there.

“Come about, ahead full.” The USS Sea Shadow jumped forward as the high-energy reactor gave the drives immediate power.

Go, go, go, O’Kane silently prayed.

The operator suddenly jammed one hand over his ear cup again. “It’s back – a hundred feet, fifty …” He balled his fists and spun, his face contorted.

Where …” O’Kane almost yelled the words. “… where the hell is it?”

“It’s … on us.”

The crew and Captain Clint O’Kane were thrown forward as the submarine stopped dead in the water. He held on to an instrument panel and then started to slide, as unbelievably, the huge craft was tilted. The sound of metal under pressure immediately silenced the yells of the crew. There was nothing more terrifying to submariners than the sound of the ocean threatening to force its way in to the men living in the small steel-encased bubble of air below the surface.

O’Kane looked at the faces of his men, now all turned to him. There was confusion and fear, but no panic. They were the best men he had ever served with. For the first time in his long career he decided to break protocol.

“Blow all tanks, immediate surface.”

The order was given, and the sound of air rushing from a compressed state to normal atmosphere, as it filled the ballast tanks, was like a long sigh of relief throughout the underwater craft. O’Kane’s fingers dug into one of the seat backs as he waited for the sensation of lift. It never came.

“Negative on rise. We’re still going down.” The operator’s voice now sounded higher than usual.

The command deck tilted again – nose down, now leaning at an angle of 45 degrees.

“Full reverse thrust!” O’Kane yelled the command, and he immediately felt the engines kick up as the screws turned at maximum rotations. He leaned over the operator again and looked at his screen. He knew the result without having to see the numbers.

“Descending.”  The officer now calmly read them out. “800 feet, 825, 850, 880 …”

The USS Sea Shadow had been tested to a thousand feet, and could probably withstand another few hundred. But beyond that …

O’Kane exhaled as the sound of hardened steel compressing rose above the thrum of the engines.

“Something has us,” he said softly. It was every mariner’s nightmare – the unknown thing from the depths, reaching out and taking hold. He knew how deep the water was here, but it didn’t concern him. They would all be dead and pulverized long before they ever reached the bottom.

Anger suddenly burned in his gut. But not yet, he thought. O’Kane spun. “Get a Cyclops out there, now.”

Hands worked furiously to load and shoot the miniature wireless submersible that was a torpedo with a single large eye for a nose-cone. Inside the fast moving craft was a high resolution streaming video camera with remote operational capabilities.

“Cyc-1 away, sir; bringing her back around.” The seaman worked a small joystick, turning the six-foot camera craft back towards them.

O’Kane leaned closer to the small screen, waiting.

Sea Shadow coming up on screen, should be … oh god.” The seaman’s mouth hung open.

O’Kane stared, feeling his stomach lurch. Nothing could ever prepare any man or woman of the sea for what confronted him on that tiny screen. O’Kane pushed himself upright, and slowly looked down at his right hand, spreading his fingers, then closing them into a fist. In the hand of a god, he thought.

Into his head jumped a few lines of a 200-year-old poem by Tennyson, and much as he wanted to cast it out, it sang loud in his mind: Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea; His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep; The Kraken sleepeth.

No, not sleeping, thought O’Kane, now awake.

He raised his eyes back to the screen and continued to stare at the thing that engulfed his entire submarine. Rivets popped in the skin of the vessel, and then the super-hardened hull started to compress. The 33-foot diameter submarine began to buckle, and he saw that the automated distress beacon had been activated.

“We’re gonna breach.”

The shout came from behind him, and he spun, roaring his commands. “Sound general quarters, increase internal pressure, close all watertight doors, shut down everything nonessential, and watch for goddamn fires.”

The hull groaned again as they continued to descend into the darkness.

“What do we do?” The seaman at the screen looked up at him with a face the color of wax.

O’Kane could feel the crew’s eyes on him; he could feel the fear coming off them in waves. His hand went to the key around his neck. The high tech, prototype submarine had self-destruct capability. He alone could trigger it.

“What do we do, sir?” The man gulped dryly, his face twisted.

If there was one thing O’Kane was sure of; while there was life, there was hope. His hand fell away from the key.

“We pray.”

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2014 Aurealis Award Finalists

Posted March 2, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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The finalists for the 2014 Aurealis awards have been announced – and we are super excitedto count FOUR Momentum authors amongst them! So before the winners are revealed – we thought we’d tell you a little more about the great reads that are in the running.


Greig Beck – Book of the Dead

9781760082437_Book of the Dead_cover

When a massive sinkhole opens up and swallows a retired couple from Iowa it seems like a freak occurrence. But it’s not the only one. Similar sinkholes are opening all over the world, even on the sea floor. And they’re getting bigger.

People living near the pits are reporting strange phenomena vibrations, sulfurous odors, and odd sounds in the stygian depths. Then the pets begin to go missing.

When people start disappearing as well, the government is forced to act. Professor Matt Kearns and a team of experts are sent in by the military to explore one of the sinkholes, and they discover far more than they bargained for.

From the war zones of the Syrian Desert to the fabled Library of Alexandria, and then to Hades itself, join Professor Matt Kearns as he attempts to unravel an age-old prophecy. The answers Matt seeks are hidden in the fabled Al Azif known as the Book of the Dead and he must find it, even if it kills him. Because time is running out … not just for Matt Kearns, but for all life on Earth.



Amanda Bridgeman – Aurora: Meridian


Their hardest battle will be fighting the enemy within …

Captain Saul Harris has found himself at a crossroads. Haunted by dreams of the dead, he fights to keep his soldiers safe as events spiral out of his control. But has his search for the truth led him to discover there is more to this mission of chasing Sharley than meets the eye?

Meanwhile, Corporal Carrie Welles seeks revenge. Consumed with demons from her past two missions, she goes rogue in the hope that her actions will end all the pain and suffering the Aurora team has endured. But will facing the enemy free them all from Sharley’s cruel grasp, or has she condemned herself to a suicide mission?

As the mystery of Sharley and UNFASP unfolds and lives hang in the balance, Harris and Carrie are forced to search deep inside themselves, and what they find will shock them.

Nina D’Aleo – The White List

9781760081218_White List_cover

Chapter 11 is watching you.

Silver is an intelligence operative working for an agency that doesn’t officially exist beyond any government and above the law. Chapter 11 is the kind of place a person can join but never leave. And it keeps a third of the world’s population under constant surveillance. At work. On the street. In their homes.

Why? Because of Shaman syndrome.

One in three people are born with Shaman syndrome, which endows them with abilities they cannot control and do not even know they have. It is Chapter 11′s responsibility to cap and surveil these walts as they are known to ensure their talents don’t turn ugly for the ordinary people around them.

After Silver’s partner, Dark, is seriously injured by a walt, Silver is driven to investigate. What starts as a routine investigation isn’t as clear-cut as it seems, especially when she discovers there’s a price on her head.

Chapter 11 might be watching the world, but it can’t see the division in its own ranks. Someone wants the white list the list of every known walt that Chapter 11 has capped but for what purpose? Silver needs to find out the secret behind Shaman syndrome, before it’s too late.

Graham Storrs  – Foresight: Book 3 in the Timesplash series


Jay and Sandra are back fighting to save a world on the edge of destruction.

In the middle of a bizarre global catastrophe that looks suspiciously like the mother of all timesplashes, Sandra Malone discovers that the corporation she works for is spying on her. To find out why, she sets off to track down the culprits. What she discovers catapults Sandra, her daughter, and everyone around her into a deadly struggle to prevent a disaster.

Now working in European Military Intelligence in Berlin, Jay Kennedy begins to suspect that the shock that hit the world was something more sinister and dangerous than even a timesplash. In the midst of the chaos that has engulfed the world, Jay learns that Sandra is in danger and that their daughter has gone after her. This turn of events threatens to distract him from solving a puzzle on which the fate of the whole world might hang.

With time running out, Jay is torn between the possibility of losing Sandra, and the desperate need to stop a new kind of time-travel technology that could destroy the planet.


Read the full list of finalists HERE. Winners will be announced on the 11th of April.

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Six Lovecraft tales to drive sleep from your door

Posted December 22, 2014 by Momentum

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We’re joined on the blog today by Daniel East, writer and Lovecraft enthusiast.

Like that dead rat in the wall, Lovecraft’s legacy is something you know of long before you discover the body of his work. At his best, his stories haunt the reader with an unearthly pall of doom. At his worst, they just stink. Here are six of his best, though be warned – these are works that have not just changed the way we write horror, but have altered our very definition of what that word means.

6. The Shadow over Innsmouth

Two words: fish people. This one’s also great because many of Lovecraft’s other stories exist within the same universe, and it’s nice to know when someone drops a line about, ‘Them thar peeple from Innsmouth,’ you can be all like, ‘oh yeah, that’s on account of all the fish people.’


Mike Bukowski has a project going in which he is illustrating each and every creature found in the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

Also one of my favourites because it is essentially three long, expositionary monologues followed by a parade.

5. The Rats in the Walls

I prefer Lovecraft’s longer stories to his short, but this one takes a lovely turn and is a good example of how quickly the universe of a Lovecraft story can go from ‘slightly peculiar’ to ‘HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT?’

Also there’s plenty of cats in it. Lovecraft was definitely a cat person (by which I mean he preferred cats to dogs, not that he was a star-born feline abomination.)

4. The Call of Cthulu


Probably considered by many to be the best introduction to Lovecraft, this story doesn’t top the list due to Lovecraft’s hackneyed detective technique. It’s a good thing people wrote letters and took death-bed dictation classes back in the 1920s instead of Instagramming everything, otherwise this story would be three tweets and a photo of the eponymous sunken god with the hashtag #FML.

Also: Lovecraft is really, really racist. It becomes pretty clear in this story but it’s the kind of overt, damaged grandpa kind of racism. Just fyi.

3. The Colour out of Space

Recently, my wife went to New Zealand. ‘Read a Lovecraft story,’ I suggested, ‘they’re excellent!’ She was pretty steamed when she couldn’t sleep at 4am, stranded in a strange, sodden country where the locals were like us but strangely affected somehow.

I really like the monsters in this one because they’re right on the edge of comprehension. It’s one of the best examples of Lovecraftian horror where the creature really isn’t describable.

Also also: gotta love his titles. Always do what they say on the tin.

2. The Dunwich Horror


My definition of a great short story is one where comprehension dawns on the very last sentence. (See: Salinger’s Nine Stories) Unlike the compactness of Salinger, this 40-page tale has enough going on to fill a very excellent movie. In each of the sections the dread just keeps ramping up until you have one of the most memorable monsters in all of fiction just melting small-town folks from New England.

One downside is that there are long tracts of exposition in really bad New England accent.

 1. The Whisperer in the Darkness


It’s Lovecraft’s cosmological horrors that compel me the most. A lone wizard or a cult of inbred cannibals is interesting, but Lovecraft really shines when he starts to outline the terrible surgery of a race of winged insects from Pluto. This story does it all: turns on the last sentence, has great monsters, a palpable ramping of dread and also one of the best ‘bad idea’ moments of all Lovecraft’s prose.

Hint: if your pen-pal claims he fears for his life, then suddenly sends you a letter saying everything is totally cool and you should come hang out and oh, also, bring all those photos and documented evidence I sent you – DON’T DO IT’S A TRAP.


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Cover Reveal! Greig Beck’s Book of the Dead

Posted November 21, 2014 by Michelle Cameron

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When a massive sinkhole opens up and swallows a retired couple from Iowa it seems like a freak occurrence. But it’s not the only one. Similar sinkholes are opening all over the world, even on the sea floor. And they’re getting bigger.

People living near the pits begin reporting strange phenomena—vibrations, sulfurous odors, and odd sounds in the stygian depths. Then the pets begin to go missing.

 When people start disappearing as well, the government is forced to act. Professor Matt Kearns and a team of experts are sent in by the military to explore one of the sinkholes, and they discover far more than they bargained for.

 From the war zones of the Syrian Desert to the fabled Library of Alexandria, and then to Hades itself, join Professor Matt Kearns as he attempts to unravel an age-old prophecy. The answers Matt seeks are hidden in the fabled Al Azif—known as the Book of the Dead—and he must find it, even if it kills him. Because time is running out, not just for Matt Kearns, but for all life on Earth.

Book of the Dead comes out on December 11 in all good ebook retailers!

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Zombies are the new black

Posted November 11, 2014 by Momentum

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Justin Woolley, whose zombie dystopia A Town Called Dust is coming out soon, joins us to talk about the living dead.

We wake in the middle of the night to the sound of sirens and car alarms. The phones are dead. The TV is an endless emergency broadcast about remaining in our homes. Outside the dead are rising. We’re all screwed. Time to bust out the shotgun. The zombie apocalypse is here.



Zombies aren’t exactly pleasant. They are withered, decaying, slack-jawed corpses, with pieces of flesh periodically falling off, leaking body fluids from every orifice and smelling like the possum that got stuck in my grandparents’ chimney for three weeks. They have the conversational skills of an avocado and if you invite them over for coffee they just keep trying to suck your brains out of your eyeholes. So why do we love them? What is it about zombies and the zombie apocalypse that seems to spawn a never-ending collection of films, books and video games? Why are we fascinated with a plague of rising dead that will destroy civilisation and leave us, the gritty survivors, to make what life we can in a world where our brains are the most sort after delicacy?


Zombies are hot property. From films like Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, 28 Days Later, Zombieland to books I Am Legend, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, World War Z, Patient Zero to video games Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, The Evil Within and now TV with The Walking Dead, zombies are a pivotal part of pop culture and a stable of the horror genre but they aren’t exactly as new as we might think.



The zombie legend has its roots in African and Haitian voodoo in which a voodoo practitioner would raise a newly deceased person from the dead to act as their slave. These zombies are a lot more like a convenient corpse-butler than the contagious brain-eaters we know and love today. Zombie-like creatures known as ghouls are also referenced in Arabian literature as far back as the 9th century. These creatures were known to have influenced Mary Shelley when she wrote what might be the most famous piece of zombie literature, Frankenstein. Much of the early zombie tales focused on the animating of a single corpse, the rise of a single monster. We really have Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend and then George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead to thank for bringing us the idea of the relentless zombie horde.


So, what is it then about the zombie horde that seems so enduring? I believe the appeal of the zombie apocalypse is two-fold, the zombie horde frightens us, but it also holds a mirror up to humanity.


The zombie horde is terrifying not necessarily in the pure grossness of zombies, they aren’t winning any beauty contests obviously, but their true horror is in the fear of the overwhelming. We all feel overwhelmed sometimes, that we have too much to handle, that the world is going to crush us under the weight of our circumstances. The zombie horde is simply this feeling amplified. The idea that you kill one zombie and ten more take its place. It is a flood we realise we cannot hold back. What is frightening about zombies is how committed they are. They’re not going to stop off for a power nap or quick coffee, they don’t procrastinate, they just keep coming. It’s impressive really isn’t it?


From a metaphorical standpoint the fear of zombies is also the fear of facing of death. The zombie apocalypse provides a scenario in which you quite literally face death; the living dead are coming at you from all angles. If you can kill enough zombies you overcome death and you get to live a little longer. Then, once you inevitably fall to the unstoppable zombie horde you become a walking corpse too, trapped in death forever. What a cheery thought.


Zombie fiction strips away all that we usually consider safe. Everywhere we usually turn for support is gone. Suddenly your Mum wants to eat your brain, society offers no protection and even death is worse than usual. But even with all that the zombie apocalypse is also appealing to people because it is the type of apocalypse we can fight. A killer plague, run-away artificial intelligences dropping nuclear bombs, an big old asteroid sending us on a one way ticket to extinction, all these things leave us powerless but a zombie, hell, I’ve played loads of computer games, give me a shotgun and a baseball bat and let me at them.


Of course, like all good stories, the zombie apocalypse reflects a side of humanity. In a very real way zombies are simply humanity boiled down to our primordial, destructive nuts and bolts. The zombie wants to crack open your skull like a boiled egg and doesn’t much care for the ethical, moral, environmental or political dilemma of this. Zombies don’t care for anything except fulfilling their insatiable need to feed. Zombies, like humanity, leave a trail of destruction in their wake. In the end perhaps we believe humanity is the real horde.


We love the zombie apocalypse, or any post-apocalyptic fiction for that matter, because it allows us to ask questions about the nature of humanity. If our civilisation is torn down and the rules are gone, what do we become? Will humans become vicious creatures willing to kill each other to survive? Or will we hold on to some semblance of law and order? In the end zombie fiction such as The Walking Dead explores the idea that the real danger existing in a world full of zombies might just be the humans that remain.



So, perhaps there is deep metaphorical meaning to zombie fiction, or perhaps zombies are just plain awesome. Either way, stock up on canned food and ammunition, because I don’t see zombies dying any time soon.


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Monsters vs. Men

Posted June 19, 2014 by Stephen Jones

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So excited am I by the new Greig Beck Arcadian book I’ve combed through my e-library and have created the ultimate Monster and Men showdown list. Behold, humanity, your champions!

All heroes must face the ultimate monster at the end of the story and defeat it, or else their Hero Card (which gets you 10% off at Rebel Sport) gets revoked and you have to go back to the farm you grew up on.


Nope, no adventure for you

So, the following are, in my opinion, the best of the best of literary face-off between monsters and men. I’ll be looking at their strengths and weaknesses and deciding if the author got it write (Hah! Deliberate!) All the arguments stem from the original source material, not from the sequels, re-makes, adaptations etc.

Also, spoilers. Duh.

Round 1

Polyphemus vs. Odysseus from The Odyssey





  • Son of Poseidon
  • Giant
  • Musician


  • Depth perception and, after the face off, any perception
  • Totes gullible
  • Eats his guests




  • Great-Grandson of Hermes
  • Cunning
  • Smart


  • Having the last word
  • Asking for directions
  • Lots of murdering


Odysseus loses some hero points for eye-gouging with a fire sharpened stick, but Polyphemus did start it by eating his guests and in Greece eating one’s guests is a greater faux-par then blinding so I’m saying Homer got this one right. If Odysseus had just kept his big mouth shut then the rest of his journey would have been much quicker but he wouldn’t have had all that sweet Circe lovin’ so…swings and roundabouts.


Round 2

Cerberus vs. Hercules from The Twelve Trials of Hercules





  • Three heads, mane of snakes and lions paws
  • Guardian of the Underworld gates
  • Giant freaking three headed dog


  • Action by committee – never a great start
  • Not a fantastic guardian of the Underworld gates, not so much gates as revolving door
  • At the end of the day…still just a dog.




  • Son of Zeus, so…physically, lots
  • Smart (ish)
  • Looks great in lion-skin which not everyone can pull off


  • Has an eternal enemy in Hera, Queen of the Gods
  • Easily succumbs to madness (sent by Hera, Queen of the Gods)
  • Kills readily and with divine ease (like, for example, Hera – Queen of the Gods).

Cerberus was the 12th labour of Hercules to atone for the slaying of his wife and kids. He faces off with Cerberus without any weapons and bests him, taking him live before King Eurysteus.


Hercules then became immortal and was accepted to Mount Olympus. I’m guessing he left the giant three-headed monster dog for the king to deal with? The literature isn’t really clear but Eurysteus had been a bit of a dick to Hercules so he totes had that coming.


Round 3

Dracula vs. Van Helsing from Dracula





  • Control over weak minds
  • General super-strength
  • Sexiness, both having and inspiring it


  • Things that cleanse e.g. fire, sunlight etc.  (Ajax?)
  • Predictable actions- tends to turn the female best friend of the protagonists fiancée
  • Starring in terrible films (looking at you, Dracula 3000)

Van Helsing



  • Knowledge of Dracula’s weaknesses and predictability
  • Passes this knowledge on through generations/lives a really long time
  • Can fashion a cruciform out of anything


  • Being human (compared to Dracula)
  • Taking too long to connect any, and all, dots pointing to the fact that his constant and almost eternal arch-enemy is back, again, and getting his vampiric vengeance on
  • Co-starring in terrible films (still eyeballing you, Dracula 3000)

Dracula and Van Helsing have been facing off through the centuries ever since Van Helsing was summoned to help identify the mysterious illness Miss Nina was succumbing to (hint: it’s vampire). Since then it’s been Van Helsing winning.



Which I personally disagree with. With Dracula’s specific skills (hint: VAMPIRE) he should be kicking arse and taking names, and as the name is always Van Helsing he’s all outta names. I’m available to write Dracula 4000, by the way.


Round 4

Creation vs. Dr. Frankenstein from Frankenstein





  • Dedicated and focused to the task at hand
  • Has read and can recite passages from Milton’s Paradise Lost
  • Undead/not quite alive/somewhere in between?


  • Being ugly (not a personal judgment, read the book. It’s seen as his greatest flaw.)
  • Constant recitation of Milton’s Paradise Lost (it’s pretentious and gets kinda annoying)
  • Being a virgin

Dr. Frankenstein



  • Being a doctor, because an education is important. Stay in school
  • Can mix chemistry and alchemy
  • Creation of life, itself!


  • Poor decision making skills
  • Changing his mind quickly (serious flip-flopping)
  • Dying of pneumonia

Classic eye-for-an-eye behaviour from the central characters leaves everyone without a mate. The doctor decides not to let his creation have a wife to run away to Brazil with and so, in an understandable fit of anger, the creation turns around and doesn’t murder Frankenstein but Frankenstein’s new wife Elizabeth.

Annex - Karloff, Boris (Frankenstein)_12

Because why not? Then the doctor hunts down his creation, and his creation is hunting down the doctor and it all ends in the frozen north with them both dying virgins.


There is a lesson in there for everyone.


Round 5

Moby Dick vs. Capt Ahab from Moby Dick


Moby Dick



  • Big white whale, so lots of privilege in modern society
  • Big, whale
  • Just a huge freaking white whale really


  • None, due to being just a big white whale.

Capt. Ahab



  • Finding big white whales
  • Knowing the names of his crew
  • Determination


  • Determination, above and beyond the call of duty
  • Needing vengeance
  • Losing, really badly

Yeah, Ahab loses. He loses everything. For more information feel free to watch Star Trek: First Contact which is my favourite, therefore THE BEST, adaptation of Moby Dick. Except the ending, which is different. You know what? Read the book.



An ancient evil awakens….GORGON by Greig Beck, available now where all good ebooks are sold



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GORGON by Greig Beck – Excerpt

Posted June 11, 2014 by Mark

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City of Uşak, interior Aegean region, Turkey

The Uşak rug bazaar was one of the largest in the country, with buyers coming from neighboring provinces to select the best, which they would sell internationally at greatly inflated prices. Before dawn, hundreds of sellers crossed the Lydian Cilandiras Bridge over the Banaz Stream, to compete for space in the bazaar and for the buyers’ attention. It was still dark, but soon the sun would rise, and the cacophony of hawkers’ voices, haggling traders, and playing children would turn the park-like grassland into a riotous circus of sound and color.

Halim watched his mother and grandmother unroll a pair of enormous rugs, their best. Pressure was on all of them to sell their wares early and then be off home. There was death about, a grotesque illness sweeping the countryside. The whispers hinted that the army had collected the bodies of the afflicted, and whole families, whole towns had been wiped out. The newspapers had urged people to stay indoors. A djinn, his grandmother had whispered knowingly. Other old women had picked up the word, and made the sign of the evil eye over their faces, so the devil would not see them this day.

Halim’s mother held his shoulders tight and stared into his face as she laid down the law to him: he was to stay close to her or his grandmother. Halim hummed and drew on the ground with a stick, watching his mother smooth the rug’s edges, and then work with a fine pick to adjust any thread that dared to lift its head above its brothers. He knew why she paid the rug such fussy attention – it took many months to weave, dye, and then dry, but a single sale could deliver enough money to keep the family comfortable for the next half-year.

Bored, Halim said he was going to have to pee, and headed off to the tree line. Once out of sight, he changed course and instead made for the bridge. His mother would scold him if she knew, and his father would more than likely thrash him for disobeying her. But this time of year, snakes, frogs, salamanders, and all sorts of wonderful creatures came out to bask in the day’s warmth. If he could catch one, it would keep him amused for the entire day.

He leaned over the side of the bridge, and waved at his dark reflection. He had the stream to himself, save for several large dragonflies, about a thousand chirruping crickets, and a few small birds warbling in the trees hanging over the water. There was a chill on the back of his neck – cold, but not unpleasant. Halim had collected a handful of stones, and now he dropped them one at a time into the cool swirling water, causing a few minnows to dart out of the reed banks to investigate, before vanishing in flashes of silver and green. He hummed tunelessly in the pre-dawn. He knew if they didn’t make a sale early, they would be there all day and long into the warm evening, before grandfather came with the truck to carry the three of them back home for a late supper. Until then, it was dry flatbread with pickle jam – luckily, he liked pickle jam.

As he watched the water, chin on his hand, the air misted and became cooler – like smoke lazily drifting across the stream surface to dull its sparkle. He looked skyward, expecting to see clouds pulling across the sky – which would be a tragedy for his mother, and all the rug sellers. Three hundred and sixty-four days a year they prayed for rain, but on the day the rugs were unfurled in all their brilliant dyed glory, they prayed for it to be dry. Today there were no clouds, just the same thin mist drifting in from the east. He squinted; it seemed thickest down the road, as if his grandfather’s truck was backing up, blowing exhaust fumes. But there was no truck, no noise, and even the birds and crickets had grown quiet.

Halim angled his head, his face creasing as he concentrated. In the center of the rolling mist, something was taking form, rising up, solidifying, a dark center appearing as if the cloud was denser at its core. The shape was tall, moving toward him, but gliding rather than walking. He grimaced, rooted to the spot. Something about the dark mass instilled dread in the pit of his stomach.

‘Hello?’ His voice was weak, betraying his nervousness. Speak like a man, his father would have said. Halim regretted wandering away from his mother and grandmother. He had the urge to turn and flee, and not stop until he was hugging his mother. But he couldn’t move.

The mist began to clear, and just as the form became a figure, something warned him to look away. He spun, crushed his eyes shut, and placed his hands over his face. He leaned far out over the bridge, holding his breath while he waited. He could feel it now, freezing cold on his back, every hair on his body standing erect, his skin prickly with goose bumps. There was no sound; it was like he had stuffed cotton in his ears, the air muffled and silent around him.

He couldn’t take it any longer and opened his eyes, looking down into the stream. He saw himself in the water, and looming up behind him, something so monstrous, so horrible and terrifying, that he immediately voided his bladder into his trousers. He felt bile in his throat and an explosion of pain behind his eyes. The warmth down his legs unlocked his stricken throat and he found his voice, screaming so long and loud he thought he would never stop.

He did, when consciousness left him.

When he awoke, his head hurt, and there was a needle-like pain behind both eyes. His senses slowly returned – he felt the sun hot on his face; he heard the stream slipping by underneath the bridge, crickets singing, dragonflies zooming about, their iridescent wings and green eyes like tiny jewels.

Halim had never owned a wristwatch, but the sun was well above the horizon – hours must have passed. His mother would skin him alive. He got to his feet, staggered a few steps, then began to run, back along the path, through the trees and into the bazaar. But instead of the swirling dust, riot of color, and noise of hundreds of people haggling, fighting or laughing, there was nothing. A silence so total, he had to rub his ear to make sure he hadn’t been struck deaf.

‘Mama? Nana?’

People everywhere, but all so still. Some were lying down, others were kneeling or sitting, many with hands thrown up trying to shield their faces. Halim saw that all were a ghastly white, even their eyes were the bleached blankness of dry sand.

He found the small square of ground marked out by the beautiful reds and blues of the rug dyes his family preferred. Mama was there, sitting crosslegged, one arm out, the other hand over her face. Nana was kneeling, tiny as always, her hand in front of her face, warding off the evil eye. It hadn’t worked.

‘Mama?’ He touched her – she was as hard as stone.

He nudged his grandmother, and she toppled over, her body remaining in its pose, stiff and unbending.

Halim crouched next to his mother and edged in under her outstretched arm. ‘I’m sorry, Mama. I fell asleep. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’

His head ached terribly as he leaned against her, feeling the hardness under her clothes. The familiar feel and smell of her, of her warmth, perfume, and love, was gone. A tear rolled from his cheek, to splash onto her leg. It dried quickly on the stone.



GORGON is available now where all good ebooks are sold

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Podmentum: Scary Books, Game of Thrones and Romance Edition

Posted April 24, 2014 by Mark

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This week we talk about the books that have scared us and what makes them scary. We also discuss the return of Game of Thrones, the under-representation of romance at writers’ festivals and discuss the books we’ve been reading this week.

What we’re reading


Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman


SCP Foundation website


Dark Palace by Frank Moorhouse


Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis



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2013 Aurealis Awards

Posted April 7, 2014 by Gillian Polack

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The Aurealis Awards are fun. All kinds of authors and editors and publishers (and maybe the occasional critic) dress up finely and hand out and receive awards. Judges read for months and months, hundreds and hundreds of works. And it all comes together in an evening of glitz, this year on 5 April in Canberra.

It ought to be dull, but it never is. This year was particularly not-dull. The MCs were Simon Brown (Momentum author! also one of the nicest people in the writing world) and Dr Sean Williams (writer, humourist and fine human being). Together they crafted a narrative that led us all through the evening, one where all the presenters had different timelines into the far future and distant past. One particular presenter tagged dinosaurs with barcodes. And this is where I admit, right up front, that I had the honour of presenting the Children’s Book Award. And to barcode dinosaurs. I nearly did it while only wearing one shoe. (Best not to ask about the shoe.)

Momentum didn’t hijack the evening, but we really should have, retrospectively. It would have been a lot of fun. (Joel – why didn’t you organise us?). Amanda Bridgeman was there, and so was Simon and so was I. The real Momentum stars of this year couldn’t make it, but were cheered loudly in their absence: Greig Beck and Graham Storrs were shortlisted for their 2013 books. Given the extraordinarily high quality of this year’s short lists, it’s a high achievement. Every single book and story in every single shortlist is worth a look, or two, or three.

Rochelle Hernandez from Harper Voyager with Momentum author and co-host of the awards, Simon Brown

Rochelle Hernandez from Harper Voyager with Momentum author and co-host of the awards, Simon Brown

And now, since it’s late at night and a whole bunch of my writing friends are busy getting drunk while I’m writing this (never go to a big event in your home town – you go home and work while they explore the breadth of a bar’s whiskey collection) I shall give you some notes that I scribbled in between demented bouts of frenzied clapping. They’re random notes, I’m afraid. This randomness has nothing to do with the number of times I dropped my pen. Or the fact that it’s 2 am.

Note 1: The best science fiction short story was won by a major horror writer (Kaaron Warren).

Note 2: I loved it when the publisher of the children’s book winner was so excited that she told me five times “Kirsty will be so excited!”

Note 3: When a spider swings across in front of a projector at an awards ceremony,  Simon Brown is your person. He gently rescued the spider from imminent death (or possibly only a minor crashlanding) and saved the ceremony (or possibly only the spider).

Note 4: If horror writer Rob Hood goes on a revenge rampage, it will be because of the codpiece Sean Williams ascribed to him in the introduction. He was the only presenter to open with zombiespeak. Fortunately he translated for the non-zombies in the audience.

Note 5: Rochelle Fernandez was greeted with a ‘Spock salute’ (she works, after all, for HarperVoyager) which I’m afraid may return to haunt her.

Note 6: Jay Kristoff thanked Margo Lanagan for not having any stories in his category this year. Margo wasn’t there to accept his thanks, unfortunately.

A quite different rundown is here:

And you can find a more sensible list of who won what and where, here:

Both of these summaries miss Sean Williams’ sign-off, though.

In a very distant future, he said, “Somewhere, there’s an Australian making shit up and then going to get shitfaced.”

Not a dignified lot, us speculative fiction writers, even when dressed up to the nines. We do know how to have a good time, though. Also how to do Spock salutes while wearing cocktail dresses.


9781743340455_Ms Cellophane_cover

Gillian Polack is the author of Ms Cellophane, available now for $1.99

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What is the point of reading scary stories?

Posted April 3, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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Why write horror stories?

Why write something that is designed to induce fear? Designed to scare? Designed to shock and upset and haunt and terrify?

And why indeed do we read these stories? Why do we watch them?

It is a strange thing for me to find it the genre that I have settled into, that I have found comfort in, both as a reader and a writer. It’s certainly not through education, or carefully guided study. I basically fell into it by accident, having not really thought much of the genre or the writers within it.

Recently, Neil Gaiman spoke at BIL 2014 (a kind of anti-TED talk conference; BIL & TED, geddit?) and he discussed why he tells scary stories to children. Gaiman describes his reason as ‘inoculation’, a way of acclimatising readers to the difficulties and challenges in life.

Gaiman says that his fiction stories are ways of getting ‘to deal a little bit with the things that scare and hurt and damage us.’ He goes on to describe how he signs countless copies of Coraline to now-adult aged readers, and how that has enabled a conversation with his readers about how they have dealt with horrible things in their lives, and that the book became a comfort for them. The story, which deals with a young girl’s misadventures in a parallel world with parallel parents who attempt to sew black buttons over her eyes, is aimed at a younger audience, and is extremely dark, Gaiman clearly labelling it as a horror story for children.

For Gaiman, the horror story offers possibility, and hope, but not in the usual way. It talks to the reader, without talking down to them. It doesn’t try to hide, but instead reveals uncomfortable truths, truths that the reader is afraid to deal with. And the inoculation he speaks of is the fact that the reader knows they can get through it. They can get through the difficulties. If the horrific aspects of life are depicted in a story, then they’re manageable, they’re navigable.

Even if the characters of a horror story succumb to the terrors that lurk, even if the ending is a negative one, the reader still survives. They are the witness to the horror, the friendly ghost that accompanies the characters into the haunted house, and are able to walk back out again.

Terry Pratchett, who wrote the glorious end-of-the-world novel Good Omens with Gaiman, acknowledges this process between the horrified and the horror in his book Hogfather. The book itself is part of his Discworld series, which is primarily a fantasy-themed series, but in this particular story Pratchett deals instead with the fantastical things children believe, and what their terrifying reality is. In Hogfather, there really are monsters under the bed and in the cupboard, the Tooth Fairy travels with pliers, and the bogeyman actually exists, though he is upset as nobody believes in him anymore.

Pratchett has his characters confront the terrifying make-believe, often with improvised tools like fireplace pokers, and contrasts his heroic characters who can make sense of their fears with those who succumb to them and give in to the terror.

In the dedication at the beginning of his enormous horror novel, IT, Stephen King writes to his three children, then aged fourteen, twelve and seven.

‘Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists.’

The novel itself deals with a group of children who are confronted by unspeakable horror during one summer. Two decades later they reunite as adults to not only remember what had happened, but also to finally confront and defeat the horror in their lives. It’s a powerful structure, and one that acknowledges how horror works for readers.

As children, we are afraid easily. We scare at the coat on the back of the door, the noise from the floorboards, the cellar with the broken light. As children, so much of the world is unknown, undiscovered, and strange and unusual. We scare because our imagination overruns our knowledge. Our conscious gives way to the unconscious, and terror reigns. We are scared because we don’t know any better.

As we age, so our knowledge grows. Things stop mystifying us, we reason our way out of our fears. We know that the shape is just a coat, the noise is just the house cooling after the warm day, and the cellar is dusty and dank because we haven’t cleaned it this year. We think too much, and imagine too little.

It pains me that horror can be maligned as a genre, or misjudged as ghastly and disturbing preoccupations of writers and readers. For me, a horror story works when it tricks the reader, it fools them into believing something they know cannot be true. A horror story does something I think no other genre can do, by not just utilising your imagination, but letting it loose and allowing you to see the world as more than the sum of its parts.

One of Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest short stories, The Curious Case of M.Valdemar, managed to create a scene for readers where a person was both alive and dead at the same time, terrifying and fascinating us all at once, by using words to extend the reality of the known world.

A great horror story is about believing, and in this belief we can confront more than we can in our waking lives.

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The Walking Dead season 4 episode 16: A

Posted April 2, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

This week the focus of the show is directed back on Rick in a major way. Rick has spent the last season or so trying to be someone else, and that’s shown to great effect in this episode.

The show begins with flashbacks to the beginning of the season, with Herschel trying to turn Rick into a farmer. They’re safe in the prison, and Herschel knows how crazy Rick’s life had become and is trying to save him from himself. It’s nice to see Herschel again, and his presence is a reminder of what the character brought to the show, and much his loss is still being felt.

These flashbacks then lead to a sequence in which Rick, Michonne and Carl are finally discovered by Joe’s group. It’s late at night, they’re isolated and defenceless and Joe is out for brutal vengeance. Daryl arrives on the scene and begs for Rick’s life, offering himself up as a sacrifice – if blood needs to be spilled, let it be his. By Joe’s twisted rules, Daryl’s defence of Rick is a lie. He gives the order for Daryl to be beaten to death, and then he tells Rick that he’s going to rape Michonne, and then Carl, and then kill them all.


It’s a very confronting moment that the show pushes right to the edge – Carl is pulled out of a car and pinned on the ground by a member of Joe’s crew – before Rick snaps. He manages to struggle with Joe, and in the fight he bites into Joe’s jugular, tearing out flesh and spitting it away while Joe quickly bleeds out. Michonne takes the opportunity to disarm her captor and shoot the remaining members of Joe’s crew, saving Daryl as she does.

One man is left standing, the man who was attempting to rape Carl. Rick kills him with a knife, stabbing him over and over and over again while Carl watches on.

From this experience, Rick realises he was never meant to be a farmer. He embraces his inner psycho, because it’s his inner psycho that has kept them alive and Carl safe so far. Rick finally accepts that the old rules don’t apply anymore, and that their survival depends on his ability to channel his violent tendencies into action.


The episode then follows Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carl as they complete their journey to Terminus. They sneak around the back, rather than coming up the tracks, and surprise some of the residents. Gareth, the spokesperson for the Terminus residents welcomes them, and brings them to Mary, who is to ‘prepare a plate’ for them.


And then Rick notices that one of the Terminus residents has Glen’s watch, and another is wearing his riot gear. Crazy Rick rises again, and what follows is a tense shoot-out, where Rick and the others are herded through terminus by sniper fire. As they run through they find many disturbing things that lead to the conclusion that the residents of Terminus are cannibals who eat those who arrive.

The episode and the season end with Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carl being locked into a train carriage to await what comes next. But in there with them are Glen, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Eugene, Abraham, Rosita and Tara. A grim reunion that sets up a great premise for season 5.


Joe and all his men, some random in a field, that guy Rick held hostage.

Best line? 

Rick: “They’re going to feel pretty stupid when they find out…”

Abraham: “Find out what?”

Rick: “They’re fucking with the wrong people.”

Best moment with a walker?

When Rick and Carl witness a random dude being killed by a walker herd.

What’s going to happen next season?

Obviously they’re going to have to face off against the cannibals. Tyreese and Carol are still on the way to Terminus, so maybe they’ll be helping them escape? Also the whole getting Eugene to Washington storyline will be addressed.

Season 4 reflections

Season 4 was uneven and suffered from massive pacing issues. In season 3, the Governor showed how well the show can function with a villain, and from this point on they really do need one. Battling walkers each week is only interesting for so long, and then it starts becoming mundane. But they didn’t want to introduce a new villain too quickly, so there needed to be some space. So the first half of the season was great – the return to power of the Governor and the slow-build of his plan to take the prison was intertwined with the horror of the disease that was spreading through the prison, and the fact that there seemed to be a murderer in the prison population.

Once that had all been resolved in the fantastic mid-season finale, the pace slowed. The characters were all split up and spent most of their time wandering around in the wilderness facing off against walkers and their own personal demons. Sometimes the episodes were strong, and sometimes they were terrible. But the lack of tension was noticeable and it was clear they were killing time before introducing a new storyline.

Despite that, this season was definitely worth it. The strengths outweighed the weaknesses and the set-up for season five promises another batch of strong episodes.

That’s it for now! We’ll be recapping The Walking Dead when it returns for season 5 in November. In the meantime, Craig will be writing weekly recaps of Game of Thrones.




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The Walking Dead season 4 episode 15: Us

Posted March 28, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

The penultimate episode of season 4 finally starts drawing all the story threads together. For much of this half-season the show has spend entire episodes focussed on one or two groups of survivors after the prison assault scattered everyone. This has not always worked, as some episodes have tended to drag, in stark contrast to the beginning of the season which was relatively fast-paced and plot-heavy.

This week opens with Glen’s group finally discovering one of the messages that Maggie left painted by the side of the railroad leading to Terminus, which leads to Glen running towards the camera in a rather inadvertently goofy shot. But it’s nice to have some sense of hope after last week…

The focus of this episode is on Glen’s quest to finally catch up to Maggie, and Daryl’s life in the new group he seems to have been conscripted into. We also see Rick, Carl and Michonne, the only group left out is Carol and Tyreese.

First to Daryl: Daryl is having a hard time adjusting to his new group. The leader, Joe, has a few rules that everyone must live by. Some of the rules make sense (don’t steal) but others (shout out ‘claimed’ and whatever object you see is yours) prove tough for Daryl. He butts heads with another guy in the group, and it all comes to a head when Daryl is accused of stealing. But Joe knows that Daryl is innocent and has his accuser brutally beaten to death.


But later there is a revelation. Daryl’s group are looking for someone. Turns out, they’re the group who invaded the house Rick was in a few episodes back, and they’re looking for Rick and have a thirst for revenge. As a reminder, Rick killed one of them and let him reanimate as a walker to provide a distraction that allowed him to escape. So Daryl is now headed to Terminus, too. Although Joe makes another claim – that Terminus is not the sanctuary everyone is expecting.

Glen and Tara are closing in on Maggie, Tara even volunteering to continue without rest despite a knee injury. They part ways with Eugene, Abraham and Rosita at the entrance to a dark tunnel – Abraham thinks it’s too dangerous to go in, but Glen is convinced Maggie went through.

Turns out, part of the tunnel has collapsed and trapped a bunch of walkers. Once he’s established that Maggie isn’t one of them, Glen tries to sneak around them, but Tara gets stuck in the rubble. It looks like they’re done for but suddenly a bunch of people appear from the other end of the tunnel with machine guns – Eugene drove around to the other end of the tunnel and came across Maggie, Sasha and Bob.


Glen and Maggie reunite! And Maggie makes Glen burn that polaroid of her! Nice moment. And Tara is given the chance to begin again, Glen doesn’t tell anyone where she really came from, just that he met her on the road and she saved him.

So Glen, Maggie and friends go on and are the first to arrive at Terminus, which is strangely deserted. There’s evidence of life, with vegetable patches and gardens, but the only person they see is a mysterious woman named Mary (holy shit, was that TASHA YAR???) who bids them welcome. Something is not right, though. She just seems…off.



I can’t remember the character’s name, but the dude who tried to frame Daryl for stealing.

Best line? 

“Hi. I’m Mary. Looks like you’ve been on the road a while. Let’s get you settled and we’ll make you a plate. Welcome to Terminus.”

Best moment with a walker?

The whole tunnel sequence.

Which regular cast members will die this season?

Tara’s story arc (redeeming herself for the prison attack by helping Glen find Maggie) is now done. Carol was most likely going to die at Tyreese’s hands but now that’s not a thing. Glen and Maggie have had a happy reunion…maybe it was TOO happy. I’d say definitely Tara.




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The best fictional diseases. Wait, worst. The worst fictional diseases.

Posted March 19, 2014 by Mark

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Flu season is almost here so I thought it would be a good time to look at some horrible diseases from fiction. Most of these will get you a lot more than three days off work…



Captain Trips (The Stand by Stephen King)

A highly contagious, constantly mutating flu-like virus that is fatal in 99.4% of cases. Starts as a cough and ends in brutal death. Originally developed as a weapon.



The Phage (Star Trek: Voyager)

A disease that kills off organs and other body parts, the only effective treatment is replacement of the infected organs.



Greyscale (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin)

A flesh-based disease that leaves its victims disfigured but can lead to madness and/or death.



Bone-itis (Futurama)

“My only regret…is that I have…bone-itis!” It’s a horrific disease that, if left untreated, kills you by snapping every bone in your body.



Solanum Virus (World War Z by Max Brooks)

A virus that attacks the human brain, killing the host and then reanimating them as a flesh-eating zombie.



The Pulse (Cell by Stephen King)

Another brain-attacking virus, this one also turns the host into a flesh-eating zombie. But this one is spread by a mobile phone signal. Most phone companies would charge extra for that.



Rage (28 Days Later)

The rage virus is highly contagious and develops in seconds, turning the victim into a mindless rage machine, driven to violence and nothing more.


Richard Matheson_1954_I Am Legend

Vampirus (I Am Legend by Richard Matheson)

This diseases causes light-sensitivity, tooth growth, and compels its victims to drink blood and appear in bad Will Smith movies.



Meningoencephalitis Virus One (Contagion)

A flu-like virus that starts as a severe cough and ends with brain haemorrhage. This movie’s tag line should have been, ‘Nothing spreads like fear. Except meningoencephalitis virus one.’




Dave’s Syndrome (Black Books)

If a sufferer of Dave’s Syndrome is exposed to a temperature over 88°F, they’ll go on a Hulk-like rampage, usually involving a loincloth of some sort. Heat-be-gone-booties are not good at preventing an episode.



Irumodic Syndrome (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

A neurological condition that degrades the synaptic pathways leading to memory loss and confusion.



Uromysitisis Poisoning (Seinfeld)

A potentially fatal illness that’s caused when the victim fails to relieve themselves.

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The Walking Dead: season 4 episode 14: The Grove

Posted March 18, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

After a disappointing handful of episodes, The Walking Dead truly recovers its form this week. Two of the major story arcs from this season have been wrapped up, clearing the way for the season finale (part one of which airs next week).

The episode opens with one of the best shots you’ll find in the history of the show. A record is playing. A kettle is boiling in a rural house. Through the window a couple of girls are playing. As the camera focuses on the view outside the window, you realise that you’re not watching girls at play, you’re watching a girl playing with a walker. The strangeness of the moment, they way the viewer is given very little in terms of context and is just deposited in the middle of this moment that is almost normal, and then confronted with horror, represents what this show often strives for, and often doesn’t achieve. It’s a powerful moment that is made all the more powerful once you reach the episode’s grisly conclusion (which I will definitely be spoiling, so keep reading at your own risk).


The Grove focusses on Carol, Tyreese, baby Judith and the two girls, Lizzie & Mikah. On the road to Terminus they take a brief break to find some water and stumble across an isolated house in a pecan grove. It’s abandoned, the occupant having died and reanimated some time ago, and after he’s put down, the group moves in.

The idea is to stay for a couple of days but that, and Terminus, are quickly forgotten as they begin to believe they could stay for a long time. None of them are ready to be around other people. Carol is still full of pain and guilt over Karen and David, Tyreese is having nightmares and cannot find it within himself to trust strangers (side note: Chad L. Coleman does a better job convincing us of Tyreese’s feelings for Karen in this episode than he did when she was alive). And the Samuels girls could benefit from the isolation, too. Lizzie is…well, there’s something not quite right about her. And Mikah is too nice, to soft, still a little girl at heart, and not able to cope with the horrific reality of the outside world.

Here they have food, water, and an easily defensible location. They could stay here. They could have a life, a dysfunctional, post-apocalyptic family.


…Lizzie stabs Mikah to death. Turns out that not only is Lizzie a weirdo who gives walkers names and feeds them rats, she’s also the psychopath who tortured the animals at the prison. She doesn’t see the walkers as a threat, just different, and is upset when they are killed. She kills Mikah to prove a point – she’ll reanimate and still be Mikah, just different than she was before. She would have killed Judith too, but Tyreese and Carol find the gruesome scene just in time.

Shocked, unsure what to do, Carol and Tyreese talk options. Lizzie clearly needs help, but where she can get it in this world? She can’t be near Judith, she can’t be left by herself. In the end, Carol takes her out to look at some flowers and shoots her.


In the horrible aftermath, Carol finally confesses to Tyreese that she killed Karen and David in an attempt to protect the prison from the illness. She waits for Tyreese to kill her, but instead he forgives her. At the end of the episode they leave the house together, presumably to continue their journey towards Terminus.

This is another story that echoes a plotline that unfolded in the graphic novels. One of the kids in the comics turns out to be a psychopath, but it’s dealt with differently. I’m sure anyone familiar with the graphic novels was prepared for this story, but I wonder if people who only know The Walking Dead as a TV show will easily accept it. It’s a huge thing to swallow, and I’m not sure they did a good enough job establishing just how deranged Lizzie really was.


Lizzie and Mikah.

Best line? 

“Don’t worry, she’s going to come back. I didn’t hurt her brain.” – Lizzie when Carol and Tyreese find Mikah’s body.

Best moment with a walker?

Has to be the burnt walker attack. Through the episode there’s a strange column of smoke in the distance (presumably from the Moonshiner’s shack that Beth and Daryl set alight). And there comes a point in this episode where crispy walkers, still smoking and fresh from the flames approach the house.

Which regular cast members will die this season?

Hm. Beth.

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The strange world of David Lynch

Posted March 14, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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Something strange always seems to happen in David Lynch’s films.

Ever since the first drones of white noise crept into our ears and the first flicker of light among darkness peeked out at us from his bizarre art-student project/B-grade midnight movie Eraserhead, Lynch has found a way to unsettle audiences even in the most ordinary of ways. His films have a way of drawing you into even the most banal of events – a cup of coffee, overheard conversations, even the flicker of an electric lamp is charged with significance and meaning – that there’s interesting lessons to be gained from watching his films, for anyone trying to tell a story that merges the ordinary with the extraordinary.

Eraserhead itself comes across as some nightmarish projection of fatherhood – Lynch’s alter-ego (played by his long time friend Jack Nance) stumbles his way from a vague relationship into a horrific child-rearing scenario, set against a barren industrial cityscape and a pencil-making factory. There are dreams of a lady who lives (and sings) underneath the radiator, and visions of a man far off in space (or deep within the earth) who pulls leavers and seems to control the world.

The child Nance has to raise is possibly one of the most horrific things put on screen: a wailing, gnashing, swaddled phallus – Lynch has famously refused to say what he used to actually create the monstrous baby, though there are some fairly disgusting rumours.
Eraserhead is akin to Kafka’s The Trial, except the protagonist here is not detained and charged for a crime, but persecuted into paternity. This is Lynch’s common theme: making the home-life into something unusual, something dark and mysterious, and often terrifying. He’s probably never as blatant with this as he is in Eraserhead, and it’s a shockingly effective introduction into his films.

There’s a term commonly used to describe Lynch’s work: unheimlich. Closely related to uncanny, the term is more literally translated as ‘unhomely’. The familiar and the comfortable is rendered something different, something strange.

After the wondrous and saddening The Elephant Man (for which Lynch was nominated for an Oscar), and the bloated and tonally confused Dune adaptation, Lynch returned to his own stories and his own tastes with Blue Velvet. If you haven’t ever seen Blue Velvet, it’s worth not reading ahead and just tracking down a copy immediately. Possibly the most pristine of his visions, it is as classically Lynchian as Psycho is Hitchcockian.

Blue Velvet follows the steps and missteps of Jeffrey Beaumont (again alter-ego, this time Kyle McLachlan) as he journeys from his idyllic white-picket fence lifestyle, complete with aw-shucks innocent girlfriend, into the dark and mysterious underworld that lurks within his neighbourhood. The world of light is mawkish and naive compared to the dark personified by Dennis Hopper’s psychopathic, nitrous-inhaling Don, and again Lynch pushes the viewer to examine just how closely the strange is to our everyday lives, if we scratch the surface but a little.

The themes and ideas set up in Blue Velvet were then writ large in his TV series Twin Peaks, followed by the film (prequel and sequel) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Lynch held audiences for (almost) two seasons, as they fell in love with the search for the answer to Who Killed Laura Palmer? There was murder in the household, while everyone drank their coffee and ate their cherry pie. It was the forerunner to The X-Files, and then to other high-concept long form narrative that now populates every inch of our TV screens.

Wild At Heart took the cornerstone of American pop culture – The Wizard of Oz – and fashioned it into a grand road trip narrative across weird and wild middle-America. It crass and disturbing, but only Lynch can make the sentiment that ‘there’s no place like home’ still work in a 90s film full of thrash metal and Elvis Presley tunes.

However, to really feel the force of Lynch’s unhomely aesthetic, it’s worth watching Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. Both films inform each other, and turn everything Lynch had offered before on its head. Gone is the sentimental and hopeful underpinnings, gone is the innocence. The light and the dark aren’t as clearly distinct in these films and what at first seems like the naive and innocent is suddenly revealed to be the dangerous nightmare.

If Eraserhead was about the fear of being a father, Lost Highway is almost a film about the fear of jealousy. The protagonist here discovers he is the antagonist, and that it’s not enough to hit the road and run away from danger – as Lynch’s heroes had in the past – because the danger is always there, the darkness is within. Take a look at this scene where Pullman’s everyman meets the manifestation of his inner rage:

The terror is at home, it is inside the home, and it’s there because it was invited in. Totally terrifying.

Mulholland Drive started life as a TV pilot, lost financial backing, and was then given a boost to turn it into a two-hour feature. Lynch ran with that, and the film literally turns on its head two-thirds of the way through, challenging the medium and the constraints of traditional narrative as the audience has to decide what is real and what is a nightmare. That he set this in Hollywood, and the world of actors and directors and filmmaking, is evidence enough of how Lynch eschews mainstream narrative (as much as he appropriates it at the same time).

In Lynch’s Hollywood, one loses oneself, one’s image is repeated infinitely until the soul disappears, and we become the ghastly creation we imagine out of our nightmares. Mulholland Drive is a film of broken dreams, where good intentions meet bad ends, and it becomes impossible to see just where any of us have a chance to stop it, as there’s always someone making life bad for us, just like in this scene here:

Lynch’s stories are worth watching, not for their weirdness as far too many cinema students are wont to do, chuckling at the non sequiturs and false irony. Rather, they’re worth seeing because of how they treat story, traditional stories, and how Lynch nudges them into unexpected places. He borrows from horror, and mystery, and crime, and presents road movies and bildungsromans and stories from our past that have faint recollections of familiarity.

He takes what we know, and what we’re comfortable with, and challenges us to change, and to do something different. For writers, and for storytellers, it’s worth experiencing.


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The Walking Dead: season 4 episode 13: Alone

Posted March 12, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

Fortunately The Walking Dead bounces back a little bit this week, after last week’s nothing episode about Beth and Daryl.

The opening scene is a flashback to Bob and his first meeting with Daryl and Glen, after they find him wandering the wilderness by himself. It’s a nice way to set up this episode, as we’re finally going to see more from some of these minor characters after more than half a season of them just filling out the cast.


“This situation is really fogged up. Geddit?”

Post-credits, another extremely effective scene in which Bob, Sasha and Maggie face off with a herd of walkers in the fog. It’s another very simple set up for an action sequence and it works really well. And while season 4 has had its fair share of disappointing moments, the action has become much more interesting.

This episode follows two groups of survivors. The first group are Maggie, Bob and Sasha. Sasha wants to stop moving, and find somewhere safe and secure to settle for a least a little while. Maggie still wants to find Glen. When they stumble across the train tracks leading to Terminus (the ‘safe place’ that everyone is slowly heading towards), Maggie decides to go there, despite how far it is, as she’s convinced it’s what Glen would do. Sasha doesn’t want to go, and that leads to Maggie striking off on her own.

Bob is then torn. Sasha definitely wants to stay in the first safe place they come across, and Bob has feelings for her. But he also knows how hard it is to be out in the world alone, so he wants to catch up to Maggie, to help her in her quest, and to not lose the sense of community he’s just found.


“Beth, please stop. Your singing is literally killing me.”

The second storyline follows Daryl and Beth…again…but this time something actually happens. Discovering a funeral parlour that offers some safety, they decide to rest. There are some nice touches to this setting, the place has been well-kept, and is obviously someone’s sanctuary. Whoever it is has also been doing their best to embalm and care for the dead walkers they’ve encountered. Are there still good people alive?

Daryl starts to mellow a little more. He’s less annoyed with Beth than usual, and eventually proposes that they try staying there – when the person whose sanctuary it is returns, they’ll try to team up and make it work.

BUT then there’s a late night knock at the door. Daryl opens it expecting to see the dog who triggered their makeshift walker alert system earlier in the day. Nope, it’s a herd of walkers. Daryl tries to lure them away from Beth, telling her to meet him outside on the road. Once he finally loses the walkers, Daryl makes it out and finds Beth’s backpack, and a car rushing off, presumably with Beth inside.


Youth assaults on the elderly skyrocketed after the apocalypse. Bloody Gen Y.

Meanwhile, Sasha, Bob and Maggie have split up. Maggie is heading to Terminus, killing walkers and writing messages in blood for Glen. Bob is trying to catch up to her, and Sasha has stopped at a secure building. She looks out the window and sees Maggie lying in the street, about to be taken out by a walker. She runs down to help, and the pair repel a walker attack. Maggie then tells Sasha that she can’t do it alone, and convinces her to help her make it to Terminus. They then catch up to Bob and it’s all nice and happy (won’t last).

And Daryl, desperately chasing after the car that took Beth, winds up confronted by a group of men. They seem like bad guys, but Daryl teams up with them. They want his bow skills, and if he refuses it looks like they’ll kill him.

The final shot of the episode is Glen discovering a sign pointing to Terminus. So if he has Tara, Abraham and the others in tow, it means that the only people not headed to Terminus are Beth and Daryl. I assume that the season will now end with everyone reuniting at Terminus (there are only 3 episodes left now). If the show vaguely follows the structure of the comics (which it has thus far), Terminus may be the next place where everyone finds sanctuary, and will become a huge part of the series going into season 5 and beyond.




Best line? 

“I thought I couldn’t ask you to help me, but I can.” Maggie convinces Sasha that their journey is about more than just finding Glen.

Best moment with a walker?

Maggie using them as pens is pretty good, as is her decapitation of one with a road sign. Maggie, if you never find Glen, give me a call, ok?

Which regular cast members will die this season?

I’m changing my prediction that Maggie and/or Glen will die this season. It seems like they’re going for a happy ending there. Maybe the Bob/Sasha storyline is headed for tragedy instead?




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Cover Reveal: GORGON by Greig Beck: Alex Hunter Returns

Posted March 11, 2014 by Mark

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Bestselling author Greig Beck (This Green Hell, Black Mountain) is back, and so is Alex Hunter, the Arcadian.

An ancient evil awakens…

Alex Hunter has been found – sullen, alone, leaving a path of destruction as he wanders across America. Only the foolish get in the way of the drifter wandering the streets late at night.

Across the world, something has been released by a treasure hunter in a hidden chamber of the Basilica Cisterns in Istanbul. Something hidden there by Emperor Constantine himself, and deemed by him too horrifying and dangerous to ever be set free. It now stalks the land, leaving its victims turned to stone, and is headed on a collision course with a NATO base. The Americans can’t let it get there, but can’t be seen to intervene. There is only one option – send in the HAWCs.

But Alex and the HAWCs are not the only ones seeking out the strange being – Uli Borshov, Borshov the Beast, who has a score to settle with the Arcadian moves to intercept him, setting up a deadly collision of epic proportions where only one can survive. Join Alex Hunter as he learns to trust his former commander and colleagues again as the HAWCs challenge an age-old being straight from myth and legend.

GORGON will be available worldwide on 10 June 2014, where all good ebooks are sold. Pre-order now, and check out Greig’s other bestselling titles from Momentum:



9781743342718_First Bird Omnibus_cover

The First Bird 


Black Mountain: An Alex Hunter Novel


This Green Hell: An Alex Hunter Novel

9781743340820_Arcadian Genesis_cover

Arcadian Genesis: An Alex Hunter Novella


Return of the Ancients: The Valkeryn Chronicles Book 1


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The Walking Dead: season 4 episode 12: Still

Posted March 7, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

Seriously, Walking Dead. What the hell?

In ‘Still’, Beth decides she’s tired of doing nothing with Daryl and goes off to find…something to drink. She’s never had alcohol before, so she’s going to go an find some, whether Daryl likes it or not.

She finds a golf club where she could get a drink but Daryl, finally feeling sorry for her, decides she needs a ‘proper’ first drink, and takes her to a little shack where there’s lots of moonshine. They get drunk, share their emotions, realise that they both do care about the people they’ve lost, and then burn down the shack.

That’s it.




Best line? 

Beth: “My dad always said bad moonshine could make you go blind.”

Daryl: “Well, there’s nothing out there to see anyway.”

Best moment with a walker?

Golf club to the face that splatter’s the new white cardigan Beth found with gore.

Which regular cast members will die this season?

I really hope it’s Beth.




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The Walking Dead season 4 episode 11: Claimed

Posted February 28, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

This week was probably the best episode this half-season. It follows two threads, one featuring Michonne, Carl and Rick, with the other following Glen and Tara who are now with Eugene, Abraham and Rosita.

In the first thread, Michonne and Carl are having a rare light-hearted moment, discussing the pros and cons of soy milk. Carl starts to say that he’d rather drink Judith’s baby formula, and then reality crashes back in as they both realise how much they’ve lost. They decide to go on a supply run and leave Rick to rest.

But while Rick sleeps, the house is invaded by newcomers. A group of heavily armed men, presumably on the hunt for supplies, has found the house and decided to take up residence. Rick barely makes it under the bed before one of the men claims the bed and falls asleep on it.


Meanwhile, Michonne agrees to tell Carl a few things about herself while they clear a house. Among a few other things she reveals her son was named Andre Anthony. However, this brief moment of friendship and opening up is disturbed when Michonne discovers that the family that lived in the house killed themselves in the daughter’s bedroom. It’s a surprisingly emotional moment that’s been earned as Michonne and Carl work through their grief.


Rick is still stuck under the bed, and knows Carl and Michonne will be returning soon. When one of the new people comes upstairs and disturbs the one who was sleeping, there is a fight, resulting in one being strangled on the floor, seeing Rick under the bed, but being able to do nothing about it as he looses consciousness. It’s a nice, tense moment, and adds to several inventive set-ups The Walking Dead has carried off this season.

Rick manages to escape, and kills one of the men he finds in a bathroom, leaving him there to reanimate, which he does soon enough, giving Rick the opportunity to escape and stop Carl and Michonne from becoming victims. By the end of the episode, they find themselves walking the very same train track that Carol, Tyreese and the kids did…


Meanwhile, Glen is stuck in the back of Abraham’s truck. Via this storyline, we find out a bit more about the newcomers. Abraham and Rosita have a thing going on. Abraham likes killing. Eugene is some sort of scientist, and knows what caused the outbreak, they’re on a mission to Washington to ‘save the world.’

Seriously, Abraham says ‘save the world’ about 1000 times this episode. It’s awkward.

One thing leads to another, there’s a fight, a zombie attack, and their truck gets disabled. Glen and Tara go back to find Maggie, and Abraham, Eugene and Rosita follow.


I like your idea, I’m going to mullet over

The pace was picked up a bit this week, and the episode included some nice emotional and action beats. It looks like the Rick/Carl/Judith reunion is just around the corner, but Glen is now further away from Maggie than he’s ever been.


Random dude in a bathroom that Rick kills.

Best line? 

Abraham: “So tell me how in the hell you managed to kill this truck?”

Eugene: “A fully amped-up state and an ignorance of rapid-firing weapons.”

Also when Eugene is through telling Abraham why they should follow Glen and Tara: “Trust me, I’m smarter than you.”

Best moment with a walker?

Rick killing a dude so that he reanimates later, creating a diversion se he can escape.

Which regular cast members will die this season?

Still saying Carol and Glen and/or Maggie. Oh, and Tara seems disposable.




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Why I won’t be watching Wolf Creek 2

Posted by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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On Wednesday night, ABC’s show At The Movies decided to not present a televised review of Greg McLean’s locally produced sequel to his 2005 film Wolf Creek.

That David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz chose not to review the film among the four presented on the show is their choice. An interview with McLean and leading actor John Jarratt was provided on their website, and Stratton had earlier reviewed the film for The Australian, giving it two stars.

McLean took to Twitter to express his feelings about the omission from the show, claiming he was ‘curious’ to see their review of Wolf Creek 2, though expressing surprise that they didn’t review it, saying that it was a ‘first’, as if all locally-made films have a right to be reviewed publicly on At The Movies. Jarratt later complained that it was snobbery, and elitist behaviour from Pomeranz and Stratton, saying it’d have a better chance of acknowledgement if it was a subtitled film – again ignoring Stratton’s earlier review of the film.

Jarratt has form for this kind of reaction. After the run of the original film, it was nominated for a large amount of AFI awards (now renamed as the AACTA awards), however Jarratt missed out on a Best Actor nomination. He took to the press over perceived injustice, in a similar fashion to his comments yesterday about the non-review.

Jarratt seems to have lost the plot over his involvement in what is now the Wolf Creek series, claiming hypocrisy from Pomeranz and Stratton, citing their campaigns over the years for the right to screen highly controversial and subversive films. This is ridiculous. The right to see a film is wholly different to the desire to review it. Reviewers are not held to a mandated responsibility on geographically relevant films. To align reviewers with ‘support’ of the local film industry is a fallacy, and Jarratt should really stop complaining about the industry that has provided him with a living.

McLean is different, in that he is clearly seeing this as further promotion for an already heavily promoted film. At The Movies’ decision to not review the film is not censorship, nor snobbery, nor is it remotely controversial. It’s a matter of taste, which is what reviewing essentially is about.

For me, this changes nothing. I see no reason to go and watch Wolf Creek 2, just as I saw no value in my experience of watching the original. Made on a small(ish) budget, and making a healthy profit, Wolf Creek was a horror film of its era. Exploiting its connection to the Ivan Milat backpacker murders, cynically referencing other, greater horror films, and eschewing any meaningful plot development for a lop-sided two-act stream of unrepentant gore, Wolf Creek tapped into the endurance horror experience of the mid-2000s. Not really concerned with scares or terror, McLean crassly showed his audience time and time again what was horrific, forcing the audience to watch torture, as if this was entertainment.

I hated it. I hated everything it aspired to be. But I acknowledge that it’s just my opinion and personal taste. I want more from horror. Actually, no, I just want horror. Wolf Creek wasn’t it.

I don’t try to hide that I despise what has happened to the horror genre in cinema in the last decade, and that I hope we’re through it now and can go back to something that engages the audience and engages story more. Unfortunately McLean seems to be committing the cardinal sin of sequels, in that he’s fallen in love with the hype around the original, and has inflated that aspect for the sequel.

Wolf Creek 2, by McLean’s own admission, is more focused on Jarratt’s character. He’s made the film about the villain – ludicrous for a horror film. The audience knows who this character is, from the beginning, they know what he does and what he likes – so why make him the main character? There is no room for development, no arc, no change. Stories need to show change. Otherwise what do you have? Torture, on screen, for two hours.

Australian cinema has more to offer than this. Horror cinema has more to offer than this. McLean has tried to claim this is his political statement, that the film is thoughtfully commenting on the state of the union in our country. Crap. Layering a mock-nationality test over a torture scene is base, facile reasoning about the world. If McLean really wanted to make a statement about Australian politics, he wouldn’t love his monstrous creation so much. If McLean thinks making two films about torture is tantamount to the Jerilderie Letter, then he’s more of a fool than I thought. He might think this is a Big Political Statement, but the audience isn’t going for that. They’re feeding off Jarratt’s violence, and McLean’s voyeuristic camera.

Wolf Creek 2 is the death of ideas. It is the nadir of originality. I don’t need to see it to know this. After the original, McLean made Rogue, a derivative Jaws-knock off about a giant crocodile. Made for $26 million – an enormous budget for Australian cinema – it made just over $4 million back. Returning to Wolf Creek is a sign that there isn’t much else. Everything has been amplified. More villain, more torture, more gore, more more more more. Why? Because racist Australians? Come off it.

If Australian cinema wants to be celebrated, then it needs to celebrate ideas. New ideas. Something rather than flogging old ones to death in a torture pit, severing their spines and gloating over their corpse while charging $20 a ticket.



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Nine reasons to be excited about Jurassic World

Posted February 27, 2014 by Mark

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The long-awaited fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise is about to start filming. If you’re anything like me, this fills you with a joy so profound you can’t really describe it. Here are a few reasons you should be getting excited.

1. It’s been a really long time since there was a good dinosaur movie


21 years to be exact…


2. Chris Pratt is the lead actor


I’d love to see him do the role as Andy from Parks and Recreation.


3. It will form part of the 2015 orgy of nostalgia


Between this and Star Wars Episode 7, we’re all going to feel like 12 year olds with no friends again!


4. The director is Colin Trevorrow


Who made the charming time travel film Safety Not Guaranteed, with another Parks & Rec star, Aubrey Plaza.


5. It’s not the ‘mutated dinosaurs being trained for the military’ storyline that was talked about a few years back


While the exact details of the story aren’t known, it’s definitely not that.


6. It promises to show the park as a successful, functioning theme park


You were always curious as to what the park could have been had it succeeded and now you’ll know!


7. It’s a sequel, not a reboot


Although the suits at Universal would have been tempted to go for a complete do-over, this way there’s still a chance that Jeff Goldblum or Sam Neill could turn up.


8. The screenplay is based on a script by the writing duo behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Now there was a reboot that offered a fresh, inventive take on an established franchise.


9. Velociraptors 


Clever girl.



9781743342718_First Bird Omnibus_cover

In the mood for more dinosaurs? Greig Beck’s The First Bird is  Jurassic Park meets The Walking Dead and has just been nominated for an Aurealis Award for best horror novel! 



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The Walking Dead season 4 episode 10: Inmates

Posted February 19, 2014 by Mark

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This is a regular column in which I recap this season’s episodes of The Walking Dead. It comes out later than everyone else’s recaps but it will be more sarcastic and contain more errors. 

After last week’s relatively slow mid-season premiere, we finally get to find out what happened to characters who aren’t Carl.

In this episode we catch up with four groups of prison survivors, Beth and Daryl, Maggie, Sasha and Bob, Glen and Tara, and Tyreese, who is with the kids Micah, Lizzie and Judith. That’s right, baby Judith is alive and well, although how long that lasts is an open question as her cries attract walkers, and Lizzie clearly wants to kill her.

And this episode is significant for another development, the return of Carol…


Nothing much is happening with Beth and Daryl, they’re running through the countryside, going in the same vague direction as the others, and feeling generally depressed. This episode did a nice job of showing Beth and Daryl first, even though their story takes place after everyone else’s.


Maggie is with Sasha and Bob, but is obsessed with finding Glen, who she assumed left on the bus. Once they track down the bus (only to discover that it’s full of zombies), Maggie kills every single zombie just to make sure none of them were Glen. Also all the zombies were the last of the Woodbury people who came to live at the prison at the end of season 3. They were ‘all good people’ or so Bob says.


Meanwhile, Glen wasn’t actually on the bus, and wakes up in the prison by himself. Upon spying that photo of Maggie he snapped earlier in the season, he collects his gear and takes off to find her. Along the way, he finds that Tara is still alive and he enlists her help, even though she was a part of the prison attack that cost him so much.


Tyreese is stuck with the kids, including Judith, who keeps crying and attracting walkers. It’s revealed in this episode that Lizzie is the one mutilating rodents, and there’s a moment where she almost suffocates Judith to keep her quiet, and seems to enjoy it. Lizzie is a psycho, better be careful. This is consistent with the comics, where there was a psychopath child (I won’t spoil what happens with that plot line, but it will be interesting to see how far the show pushes that storyline).

Tyreese and the kids also stumble across Carol, who has apparently been tracking them. Tyreese still has no idea about Carol’s involvement in Karen’s death, so that will make for an awkward conversation later on. They are then directed by a dying man to follow the train tracks to a ‘safe place’. It seems that there’s another town, but is it another Woodbury?

And finally, three new regular characters are added in the final moments as Glen and Tara are found by Eugene, Abraham and Rosita, who are major characters from the comics.


A couple of randoms who are bitten and tell Carol & Tyreese about the ‘safe place’ before they die.

Best line? 

“Faith? Faith ain’t done shit for us. Sure as hell didn’t do nothin’ for your father.” Daryl being all nice and sweet to Beth.

Best moment with a walker?

Probably a tie between Glen walking through a swamp of walkers in his riot gear, and Maggie killing every walker on the bus.

Which regular cast members will die this season?

Carol. Tyreese is going to be pissed when he finds out what she did (or what she claims she did), also wouldn’t be surprised if Lizzie does some more killing.




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Aurealis Award nominations

Posted February 17, 2014 by Mark

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The Aurealis Awards are Australia’s premier awards for speculative fiction, showcasing the very best in Australian horror, science fiction and fantasy in its various forms. This year, two Momentum titles have made the shortlists in their genres.

9781743342718_First Bird Omnibus_cover

Best Horror Novel: The First Bird by Greig Beck


Matt Kearns, linguist, archaeologist and reluctant explorer from Beneath the Dark Ice and Black Mountain returns to help save the world. And this time he doesn’t have Alex Hunter to save him when the stuff hits the fan.

When a fame-hungry scientist brings an impossible, living specimen of a creature long thought extinct back from the wild jungles of South America he unwittingly brings along a passenger. Something with the potential to destroy every living thing on our planet.

The infestation begins, rapidly overtaking medical resources and resisting all treatment. One woman knows the danger, Carla Nero, chief scientist of the Center for Disease Control. She makes Matt an offer he can’t refuse and together they join a team heading to the deep jungle in a desperate race to locate the hidden place where the specimen was taken.

Only by finding the location of the specimen can the team – and the world – hope to uncover the secret of how to survive the ancient, horrifying parasite that has been released.

Click here to purchase from your preferred ebook retailer


9781743342640_True Path_cover

Best Science Fiction Novel: True Path: Book 2 in the Timesplash Series by Graham Storrs

The most wanted man in America is about to destroy the entire nation… or save it.

It’s 2066 and Sandra has kept a low profile for 16 years, working as a tech in a quiet British university, hoping her past would never catch up with her. But it has.

When Jay hears Sandra has been kidnapped, he drops everything and goes to the U.S. to find her. But Sandra’s kidnapper is not an ordinary criminal. He’s America’s most-wanted terrorist – a man driven to to free his country from religious oppression at any cost. Sandra, still suffering from the fallout of earlier timesplashes, refuses to help create the biggest timesplash ever, which would unleash a wave of destruction that the rebels hope will kickstart a new American revolution.

When Cara, Sandra’s teenage daughter, is taken by one of the many factions on the ground in Washington D.C., Sandra’s resolve is shaken, and Jay is forced into a race against time to stop the deaths of millions or save Sandra and her daughter.

Sandra and Jay must ultimately decide between what is right for them and what is right for all in this thrilling continuation of the Timesplash series.

Click here to purchase from your preferred ebook retailer


Congratulations to Greig, Graham and all the other wonderful authors who made the shortlists! 

Find out more about the Aurealis Awards here



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