1984

1984A week or so ago I attended a school production of 1984. With a small cast, limited props and basic lighting and sound, they did an excellent job of bringing George Orwell’s classic novel to life. As I was watching, it struck me how relevant and frightening the story remains today (in fact, just about the only thing that’s dated about it is the title) and I immediately dug out and re-watched the most recent film version starring John Hurt and the late Richard Burton. This bleak and powerful film is my movie recommendation for this week.

1984 is a remarkable novel which has, of course, had an enormous cultural impact since its publication in 1949. I could write reams about the continued (increasing?) relevance of Orwell’s nightmare vision, but this is neither the place nor the time. Instead, the purpose of this post is simply to draw your attention to a beautifully made adaptation of an extraordinarily important book. Here’s a trailer. Click the link below for my thoughts.

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Time for an update

Hello. I hate not posting here regularly, but there are times when it’s unavoidable. Now is most definitely one of those times. I’ve truly never been busier, though you’d be hard pushed to know given the gap between posts on this site. That’s not likely to change in the next few months, but I think some kind of update is long overdue.

Last weekend I finished writing KAI, a middle-grade novel. I say finished… what I mean by that is I got the book into good enough shape to be able to fire it over to my agent for his feedback, and I’m now waiting nervously for him to get back to me. I’m keeping the story close to my chest. For now I’ll describe it as a weird hybrid of ET and Godzilla, and I’ll leave it at that.

Next week I start a new novel – the first book in the SPACES BETWEEN series (at long last). It was called TOMMY, but it’s now been re-named ELYSIAN FIELDS. I’m in the habit of teasing future projects by referring to their influences, so how does Blade Runner by way of Breaking Bad by way of Nordic Noir with more than a touch of Quatermass sound?

I’ve managed to catch up with Wayne Simmons a couple of times recently, and we’ve been busily plotting and planning the future of Infected Books. We have a few IB releases scheduled between now and the end of this year, but much of our time has been spent working on something massive for 2016. That’s the whole of 2016.

It’s funny – there are some books which never seem to want to go away. That’s a good thing, I think. One of those books is HATER, and it’s been occupying a lot of my time again recently. I have a meeting scheduled for later this week. I can’t say too much just yet, but for those of you who’ve given up hope of ever seeing HATER on the big screen, don’t. More news as and when I’m allowed to share.

And a quick question to whet your appetites/ test the water… going back to HATER again has given me the spark of an idea for a (non-Danny McCoyne) standalone HATER novel. It’s almost four years since THEM OR US hit the shelves, so is that something you’d still be interested in reading?

Original HATER artwork by Tomislav Tikulin 2009

Original HATER artwork by Tomislav Tikulin 2009

So that about sums up what I’ve been doing in the first four months of 2015. It’s heads down again now, but please do keep checking back. I have plenty of film and book recommendations planned, the return of WHAT WORKS FOR ME, guest posts and much more. And if you want the scoop on any of the projects I’ve just mentioned, this is where you’ll get it!

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave-of-the-Fireflies-1988Are you happy? In a good mood? Having a good day? If you are, you might want to give this week’s film recommendation a miss. That said, you’ll be missing out on an astonishing movie if you do. Today I’m recommending Studio Ghibli’s 1988 film, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. It’s bleak, grim, heartbreakingly sad, and completely superb. As always, a brief synopsis is below, followed by a trailer. Hit the jump for my thoughts.

A devastating meditation on the human cost of war, this animated tale follows Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi), a teenager charged with the care of his younger sister, Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi), after an American firebombing during World War II separates the two children from their parents. Their tale of survival is as heartbreaking as it is true to life. The siblings rely completely on each other and struggle against all odds to stay together and stay alive.

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Free ebooks via Bitlit

By now I guess you know my philosophy – I only want people to buy the same book once. If you buy a paperback, I want you to be able to download the ebook version for free. Similarly, if you buy an ebook then wish you’d bought a print edition, I think you should only have to pay the paperback cost less the price you originally paid for the ebook.

Economics and practicalities sometimes make achieving these aims difficult, but I’m always on the look out for ways to simplify the process. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Bitlit.

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Bitlit is an app, available for iOS and Android. It’s beautifully simple: you take a shelfie with your camera (ie a picture of your bookshelf), and the app scans the titles you’ve got, identifies them, and directs you to free or low price versions of the books you already have in print (where available). I’m pleased to say that we’re making Infected Books titles available free via the service, and you can now download STRAIGHT TO YOU, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, TRUST and STRANGERS for free from Bitlit (as long as you own a print version, of course).

Don’t want to use Bitlit? Already own the ebook? Visit the Infected Books site for more information.

28 Weeks Later

28wlBack in January I wrote a piece about 28 DAYS LATER. The film went down reasonably well with my kids and we soon settled down together to watch the sequel, 2007’s 28 WEEKS LATER.

Interestingly, if you look back at my earlier piece, you’ll see that I enjoyed 28DL more than I had previously. I felt like it had improved with age. 28WL had the opposite effect, however, and I didn’t warm to it as I had the earlier film. As always, a synopsis and trailer follows, and my thoughts are after the jump.

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

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The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad – out today

91PFJaRHh8LToday sees the release of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ABROAD, which contains my short story A CONCURRENCE OF COINCIDENCES. From the back cover:

“In this wonderful anthology of new stories, Sherlock Holmes travels to the far ends of the Earth in search of truth and justice. A host of singularly talented writers, while remaining respectful towards Conan Doyle’s work, present a new and thrilling dimension to Holmes’s career. A full list of contributors include: Simon Clark; Andrew Darlington; Paul Finch; Nev Fountain; Carole Johnstone; Paul Kane; Alison Littlewood; Johnny Mains; William Meikle; David Moody; Mark Morris; Cavan Scott; Denis O. Smith; Sam Stone and Stephen Volk.”

As I mentioned previously, writing this story was a completely new experience for me, and it was one I enjoyed immensely. I’m really pleased with how my short turned out, and I hope you enjoy it.

The book is published by Constable and Robinson in the UK, and will hit the shelves in the US on July 15 from Running Press. Pick up your copy from: AMAZON.COM / AMAZON.CO.UK / The Book Depository / Waterstones / Barnes & Noble / Indiebound.

The Machine

themachineIn between writing, meetings and loads of other stuff, I’ve been catching up on a few movies I managed to miss over the last couple of years. THE MACHINE is a film I’d had my eye on since I saw it on the schedule of Grimmfest back in 2013. I finally got to see it last week, and I have to say, I was impressed. Stylish and smart, the film has an effortless Quatermass meets Blade Runner vibe which I couldn’t resist. Here’s a synopsis and the trailer. My thoughts follow:

Two computer programmers fall in love as they create the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, which is designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD steal their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon.

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