Favourite Fantasy Films

Fantasy films were the first things I saw at the cinema (although my mother did also drag me to George Bernard Shaw’s ‘The Devil’s Disciple’). It started, as I imagine it once did for a great many people, with ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which was rereleased in London at least twice a year. At some […]

Another Thriller? I Must Be Mad

Of the many different genres in which I’ve dabbled, thrillers are the trickiest. From the mid-nineteenth century novels of Alexandre Dumas onwards there have been thriller rules established that remain in place today. The genre enjoyed a postwar heyday through Ian Fleming, but largely fell out of fashion (kept alive by Lee Child) until the […]

More On The Trouble With Anthologies

To be clear, a written anthology is a set of stories by different authors, often on a common theme. A collection is a set of stories by one author. Some publishers still get the distinction wrong on their covers. The advantage of producing a collection is obvious; the reader gets a kaleidoscopic view of the author’s […]

Pleasing The Crowds

In 2015 Public Policy Polling asked voters in the US primary elections whether they favoured the bombing of Agrabah. A third of Republicans said they did, with 13% opposed, the figures reversing for Democrats. Agrabah is a fictional town from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. It’s now known that people ignore science that doesn’t fit with their currently […]

The Trouble With Anthologies

The BBC created a tradition of filming a classic ghost story for Christmas (the best of their choices is now out in a collectors’ Blu-Ray edition) and the same problem that bedevils written anthologies is magnified on film. Some stories simply fail to create the intended effect, leaving weak spots in the overall series or […]

Now With Extra Weirdness!

I hope you’ll forgive me for banging the drum about forgotten authors again this week, but the paperback came out a few days ago, now updated and with new material, and I feel I should do a spot of advertising. Regulars, stand down. So, in case you’re new here, this is my most recent non-fiction […]

The End Of Clubbing

Just as Berlin is still famous for its nightlife (much of it existing in sweaty metalhead basements), London was once ranked beside LA and New York for clubs. While it still trumps everyone in the lists of world’s best bars, the clubs have shut up shop. A depressing article in the Evening Standard points out […]

Madness From Nowhere: ‘Killing Eve’

Autumn is a viewing-and-reading time for many people connected with media and the arts. October has ‘Super Thursday’, the day when over 500 books are published, more than on any other day of the year. The London Film Festival is on, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts is running all of its […]

Goodbye G&S

The writer Ray Galton has died at 88, following his writing partner Alan Simpson by just a year, and their passing marks the end of one of the great comedy partnerships. The writing team regularly voted the funniest in sitcom history created ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ and ‘Steptoe & Son’. The success of the Hancock show, […]

How The Bryant & May Series Works – Part 3: Where To Next?

(This is the last part of a 3-part article) )Having reached the end of a second arc – that’s two arcs of six books apiece – I once again felt I had peaked. I was especially pleased with ‘The Burning Man’ because it matched the mood of my city. I had got caught up in […]