To Chesterfield And Beyond – New Sci-Fi Show Set For Chesterfield Debut


Captain QuasarCreative opportunities may be few and far between in the Derbyshire Peak district, but that didn’t stop one Chesterfield resident reaching for the stars.  Graphic design graduate and former performing arts student Andy Buckland had a vision; A vision of stars, intergalactic heroes and phallic shaped space craft. That vision became The Amazing Adventures Of Captain Quasar,  a spoof, sci-fi, web based series promising to pay homage to, as well as poking gentle (or not so gentle)  fun at vintage sci-fi.

With this noble mission in mind Andy recruited a group of like minded friends to his cause, including college friends Emily Upton and Nick Lewis.  Such was Andy’s dedication to making Captain Quasar a reality, that he went so far as to convert his kitchen into a spaceship! (Dedication, or an elaborate excuse? ) This is homemade sci-fi fun on a shoe string budget; one the boys of The Big Bang Theory would be proud of.

As well as playing the lead role of Captain Quasar himself, multi-tasking Andy has written, directed and edited the project too. This really is a labour of love for this enthusiastic bunch.  Hopefully they will serve as an inspiration for other intrepid creative types, thinking of venturing into the world of independent film.

Captain Quasar – Episode one makes it’s debut at 8pm on Friday 4th of October at Chesterfield’s Winding Wheel Theatre, admission is free!

I hope to be able to bring you a review after the show, with more details.

Why not show your support by checking out the official Captain Quasar trailer here:

* WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT THEMES* ( Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉 )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6btBwmO42qE

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Atlantis -First Impressions


Last night saw the Launch of the BBC’s new Saturday evening fantasy drama Atlantis. This is the show that is now in the slot previously occupied by Merlin *sob*. Much of the Team behind Atlantis are the same team that brought us Merlin and they have used a similar template here. They have taken an existing myth set and shaken it up and turned it around.  This post is my take on episode one.

Atlantis charts the story of a young man called Jason.  In modern day England Jason goes in search of his missing father only to find himself washed up (naked) on the shores of the mythical city of Atlantis. Understandably he’s a bit confused.

For episode one they adopted the story of the minotaur. The King  of Atlantis (King Minos) is about to sacrifice seven of his people to the great beast in tribute to the gods in exchange for the safety of the city. With the help of mathematician Pythagoras and the not so heroic Hercules.  Jason takes on the Minotaur. He also has more than a little help from the very forward and rather flirty Princess Ariadne.

Anyone who’s read any Greek myths will probably remember the story of the Minotaur and if they do they will probably remember that it was Theseus that did battle with it not Jason.  This is one example of the way they are shaking up the Greek myths as they did with the Arthurian.

Mythology fans may also notice that although the temple of Greek god Poseidon is referred to, Hercules is known by his Roman name rather than his Greek name of Heracles. Of course that’s probably because he is better known by his Roman name.  Just an interesting point I noticed; well I thought it was interesting anyway.

*POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT*

Was anyone else left after last night’s episode asking, where does this leave Dionysus and Medea and the Corinthian princess?

*SPOILER OVER*

So did I like it yes I did but then I have a fascination and love for mythology. If I had one minor criticism it would be this: They’ve gone to the trouble of giving the story of the minotaur to a different hero, they’ve changed the character of Hercules and thrown Pythagoras into the mix but perhaps in that case the actual story of the minotaur should also have had a bit of a new twist. In fairness though there was a little bit of a twist in there but was it enough?

I surprise myself by saying this because I normally hate it when they mess with a story. It was a concern I had when Merlin  started but to my surprise I liked it because it made the story new and more  unpredictable. Perhaps Atlantis felt a little bit in limbo in that respect not quite the myth as we know it and not quite original enough to be truly different. All that though was an after thought though and a very small point.

Of course my reference to Merlin must bring me to the point of the inevitable comparisons that are being made amongst the Merlin fan base. I have seen some positive comments on Twitter about the show but sadly also some negative ones. I say sadly not because I expect everyone to like the show because I do but because I wonder if the judgements are being made fairly. Some of the remarks are to the  effect that they knew it wasn’t going to be as good or better than Merlin, nothing can ever replace Merlin and so on.

Of course some people were honestly not taken with the show and that’s fine it’s all about personal taste. Some of the comments though left me wondering if some Merlin fans had already made up their minds to hate it before it ever aired.

It leads me to the question, is Atlantis being judged on it’s own merits and demerits or is it being judged solely on the fact that it’s not Merlin? I suspect that there is some bitterness around the fact that the creators of Merlin are the ones who pulled the plug on the show and they have now gone on to create Atlantis. I loved Merlin too but it’s over and let’s remember the cast  were also ready to move on. You can’t expect people to stay in a job they don’t get as much out of anymore just for your entertainment.

I do wonder if Atlantis would have received the same kind of comments if it had been on a different channel with a different team behind it? The fact that It’s in Merlin’s old slot with the same team of creators means such comparisons are inevitable; but Merlin had five years for us to love it Atlantis has had one episode. It’s a different show , let it stand on it’s own two feet. Let’s give it a fair chance and see where it takes us.

 

Uncle Silas by J.S Le Fanu – A Review


A few weeks back I read Uncle Silas a tale of Bartram Haugh  by J.S Le Fanu; I had intended to write a review after finishing it but unfortunately as you may have gathered from an earlier post I’ve not felt up to it. I’ve been totally unable to write lately so I though I’d break the ice with a brief review.

Uncle Silas,

what is the books about? :

The book is the Story of Maud Ruthyn; Maud lives a solitary and quiet life, but a happy one. She lives with her father, a quiet  man of unorthodox religious opinions and solitary habits. Her mother died when she was young and so the main female influences in her life are the maid and the housekeeper, both of whom she is very fond of.

But Maud’s peaceful life is interrupted suddenly when her father decides she is in need of a finishing governess. The woman he chooses brings terror and mystery to the nervous Maud. Another female influence also enters her life early on, cousin Monica, a wealthy widow who speaks her mind and does as she pleases.

Early on in the book we learn of Maud’s fascination with the portrait hanging in her home of a handsome young man of fashion. The portrait is of her Uncle Silas in his younger days. Her fascination with the mysterious character of the uncle she has never met grows with the reticence of those around her to talk of him. What she does learn is told in half disclosures and hints.

Eventually she comes to learn the story of Silas Ruthyn and the events surrounding his isolation from his family. All these events go on to play a part in Maud’s future life; When Maud eventually comes into the path of her mysterious uncle she is faced with many dilemmas of trust and loyalty.

Is it worth reading?

Yes

What did I like about it?

The story itself is a good one, aside from writing style and other considerations. I liked the character of Milly, Maud’s cousin. She is less educated than Maud and clearly neglected by her family. Although the book is a little bit harsh on those not trained to reserved Victorian society such as Milly, she is one of the warmest and most genuine characters in the book. At the other end of the scale is her cousin Lady Monica, she is well versed in the social graces but she takes no prisoners once she sets her mind to something.

There is a creeping sinister feeling throughout the book, peoples motives aren’t always clear and the isolated houses involved add to that feeling that Maud is totally at the mercy of others.

What didn’t I like about it?

It may have served the tension in the story well for those in the know to not reveal everything at once to Maud but rather to drip feed half disclosures but it does sometimes lead to frustration. I found myself being annoyed with the characters from time to time. They would tell Maud just enough to frighten her but not enough for her to be able to prepare herself to face what was coming. As a result it did sometimes feel like she was left flailing around in the dark while someone was hiding the candle.

What are the main elements of the book?

A locked room mystery, a mysterious uncle, a family scandal, a vulnerable girl, a large inheritance and an isolated house.

A good old fashioned Victorian gothic novel this; One that’s worth a good read. Don’t look it up on Wikipedia first because it tells you the entire plot and that really spoils the fun doesn’t it?

 

Neglected Lady Ghost Story Writers


When talking about ghost stories the writers whose names get bandied about a lot by myself and other fans of the genre are usually male.  I was pleased to find this volume on Amazon The Lady Chillers  –  The story introductions are by Mark Hankin. so I thought it would be a perfect start to broadening my experience of these talented ladies. With that thought in mind I invested the heady sum of 99p and set about reading. I actually discovered during the course of reading this book that I had in fact read a couple before as part of various anthologies. You know how it is though, you read a story think ‘that was good’ and then can’t for the life of you find it again to re-read it because you’ve no idea what it was called! Anyway all the stories in this book are very worthy in their own right. Some were creepier than others; some not altogether satisfactory but that’s all subjective. This post is basically a chance for me to share with you a couple of my  favourites. I may even get around to finding some more works by the ladies in question so here are my personal favourites:

  1. The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell- Not so much a locked room mystery as an open door mystery! I really like this one; it’s got a touch of humour, suspicious deaths, missing wills, strange nocturnal visitors and a door that wont stay closed, despite the best efforts of many people.
  2. The Shadow In The Corner by Mary Elizabeth Braddon – A good old fashioned haunted room story, complete with innocent young girl, cynical servants and sceptical master and family disgrace. Good and spooky this one.
  3. The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell (of Cranford fame) – Guilt, immorality, shame, snow storms, a haunted organ and a ghostly child. Oh and it’s Christmas!

Of course these are just three of the 15 stories in the book, I enjoyed reading all of these stories, though you could probably skip the first couple of pages of the haunted organist or Hurly Burly by Rosa Mulholland. Personally I found the opening dragged a bit. I thought it detracted from an otherwise pretty spooky story. Anyway I’d recommend a look at this book if ghost stories are your thing. I’m not sure that there is a physical version of this book but I’m sure if you haven’t got a Kindle you can find the stories in other anthologies.  

Eyam – A Tale Of Sacrifice


Yesterday my friend and I went for a wander around Eyam. She was my tour guide for the day as she knows the village layout better than me, though I’m a Derbyshire lass too!

Eyam Village Stocks

Eyam Village Stocks

Sheep roast

Eyam Sheep Roast

Eyam DelfBeing brought up in the Derbyshire Peak district means you can’t not have heard of Eyam’s past. It’s a well known story and many of you may well know it already. That said I’m going to tell it anyway for those who don’t or those like me who like to refresh their memories so let me set the scene….

Let me tell you a story. It’s September 1665; Oliver Cromwell has been dead for 7 years,  Richard Cromwell has been driven from power and the newly restored monarchy is still in its infancy. Charles II has been in power for just 5 years.

The last of the major outbreaks of the great plague to hit England is sweeping through London and the King and his court have fled the city.

Meanwhile, in the Derbyshire village of Eyam, so tradition has it,  tailor George Viccars Is tasked with unpacking a newly delivered parcel of cloth from London. On opening the parcel he discovers the fabric is damp; the cloth is therefore hung up to dry in the cottage. A few days later George Viccars is dead.

It is believed that the fabric from London was infested with plague carrying fleas. The great plague had come to Eyam.

Plaque outside the residence of the first plague victims

Plaque outside the residence of the first plague victims

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