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How long should we live?


With our National Health Service beginning to creak under the weight of increasing numbers of senior members of society as people live longer, Pearl S Buck’s words have never been truer:

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.

I recently received a letter from my Godmother, who at 102 years old, apologised for not penning a longer letter!  I felt humbled. My husband said, “I’ve never held a letter written by someone who has had a telegram from the Queen.” I could tell that he was impressed, too. Old age need not be a time of helplessness or infirmity … it shouldn’t be.

My parents, who passed on aged 73 and 77 respectively, could probably never have imaged living for a century.  That infamous time-traveler, Doctor Who, has lived (fictionally, of course) for billions of years – he went ‘the long way round’ on more than one occasion!  Yet he has (so far) lost none of his zest for life, as evidenced by his date with River Song in the recent Christmas Special.  For ‘Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, longevity is a somewhat harder cross to bear… they are two characters at opposite ends of the spectrum, giving us some great story-telling along the way.

Old age (or finite life) is a theme beloved of science-fiction writers and film-makers since…. well, since the first piece of speculative fiction appeared (author Brain Aldiss cites Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ as the first example of science-fiction, and I can’t argue with that). In the society of William F Nolan’s classic novel, ‘Logan’s Run’,  ‘old age’ is deemed to be twenty-one. Neolithic men and women were lucky to reach forty.

C.S. Lewis had this to say:

How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete.

While Aldous Huxley took a different view:

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.

Personally, I’m with Aldous.  Well, as someone starting my writing career in my fifties , I need all the positivity I can get!

With scientists declaring in the spring of last year that quite soon, we might all be able to live ‘five hundred years or more’, it seems eerily appropriate that my first novel asks the question:  “How long do you want to live?”

‘The Methuselah Paradox’ makes no judgments, however.  It’s a story, primarily about people who have been caught up in the consequences of a discovery…  and there are many ways the story could have gone, many different scenarios that could have played out (and I probably tried them all, before settling on one).  I think it may be a theme I will return to… because really, the answer could be as simple as “as long as I have good health, so that I can live, and not just exist.” … and that’s probably the answer I would give, if I were to be asked the question.  But of course, it’s never quite as simple as that…

So… how about you? How long do you want to live? How do you think living ‘five hundred score or more’ will affect us, and our society – and of course, planet Earth?  I can’t promise to answer all those questions in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, but I hope it will give you food for thought.

Never one to miss an opportunity, before I go, I’m going to slip in a little plug for my crowdfunding campaign… if you’d like to help me create a trailer for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, why not pop over to www.ejjackson.org to see what cool, limited editions perks you can pick up in return for a little donation…

Thank you for reading!

EJ Jackson

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Film industry: if you ain’t got the money, take your broke a** home.


As an Indie author producing and casting my first book trailer, Tom’s world is one I have just barely dipped my toe into – I’ve discovered a huge well of talent amongst people of a similar background to my own (Dad was a maintenance electrician, I’ve never been to college or university) – I think Tom’s campaign is a brilliant and very much needed project.

Grit Journalism

The film, media and arts industry is facing a financial crisis. Not in box office terms, no. It’s no secret that breaking into the creative  industries is one of the hardest and most cut throat businesses one can venture in, wether you’re a creative graduate or a long term freelancer, a new director or a struggling actor, simply put if you haven’t got the funds – you’re in trouble. Even if you’re a woman, cracking into the business is a tricky one and not for the faint hearted – read about it here

Very recently the issue of being ‘privileged’ in this world can be massively advantageous, as we saw from this years Academy Awards. The very issue was spotlighted after the prestigious nomination of ‘Best Actor’ included public school educated Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne. Again, whilst there was no dispute of the actors deserving their nomination for…

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‘The Methuselah Gene’ Book Trailer now in pre-production


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THEY MADE IT! ‘KOSMOS’ IS GO!


You might recall this post I made almost two weeks ago, about an exciting new sci-fi drama project from ‘Third Contact’ creator Simon Horrocks – ‘KOSMOS’, a six-part web series. I’m very happy to say that with just a few days to go before the deadline, the target of £30,000 was met and ‘KOSMOS’ will go into production early in 2015, with delivery in June 2015. Terrific news and well done to Simon and his team – like all the other backers, I can’t wait to see the end result!

And here’s Simon’s unique response to the good news (WARNING – don’t be holding any spillable liquids as you read it – you might just end up drowning your keyboard!):  http://enterkosmos.com/

And here is Simon to tell us about KOSMOS:  http://goo.gl/RtZzWM

Merry Christmas!

from Elaine Jackson

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LAST TRAIN TO BUDAPEST


Just wanted to share this…

msthomason

Last Train to Budapest (2010 dir. Lee Deaville) was a short film documenting the life of one Hungarian trying to escape the oppressive regime during the Hungarian revolution in 1956. When composing this score I tried to use traditional Hungarian folk music as inspiration, for example in the piece “Variation on a Weeping Willow”, I took the theme from “Weeping Willow” which is a well known traditional song composed by Bartok. Bartok is considered as one of Hungary’s greatest composers, so I immersed myself in his work whilst I was composing this soundtrack. The violin/fiddle parts he often used were supposed to represent the sound of birds singing sporadically and often atonally, which I tried to replicate on pieces such as “For Bem”. For the short piano pieces I used repetitive themes in 3/4 waltz timing which would lend themselves to archive footage, acting to add atmosphere rather than dominate or…

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Why we should never give up on our dreams… why crowdfunding works


from here to infinity and beyond

If someone had told my fifteen-year-old self that I would one day create an appreciation society for a favourite science-fiction show (a club which is still going strong thirty-four years later) or that I would be invited to visit the set, go to sci-fi conventions and meet authors, directors and actors, write a novel, and have the opportunity to help create a new science fiction web series, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. I probably didn’t even know that I wanted to do all those things then. But I’ve always loved science-fiction; looking to the future has always been my thing (although I’ve enjoyed looking back into my family’s past – the Family Tree has been an ongoing project for the past twelve years, and now my son has taken up the mantle).

I created an appreciation society for ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’  in 1980 because I wanted to join one…

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John Simm receives Royal Television Society North West award for his performance in Prey


Great news! And not before time – he’s one of the very best actors of his generation, nice to see him get some ‘official’ recognition.

John Simm Society Blog

Prolific North
17 Nov 2014
David Prior

Full list of winners from the Royal Television Society North West awards

rtsawardslogo

Indies from across the region were recognised on Saturday at the Royal Television Society North West awards.

Red Production Company took home the Judges’ Award and also saw performers in two of its hit dramas of the year – John Simm in ITV’s Prey and Sarah Lancashire in BBC1’s Happy Valley – walk off with the main acting awards.

Blakeway North took home two categories, including the best current affairs programme for E.D.L Girls – Don’t Call Me Racist, while Citizen Khan claimed the comedy prize and Jimmy McGovern’s Common won the drama award.

The ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester on Saturday 15 November and hosted by Citizen Khan star Adil Ray and TV presenter Helen Skelton.

Alex Connock, Chair of the RTS North West Centre and…

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Matters of Life and Death – ‘Dr Who’ & ‘Intruders’ explore the afterlife – SPOILERS!


Television seems to have something of a fixation with matters of life and/or death at the moment, doesn’t it? Along with all the ‘zombie-fayre’. We now have ‘Intruders’ (from the novel ‘The Intruders’  by Michael Marshall Smith, adapted for television by ‘X-Files’ writer Glen Morgan) and the two-part season finale of ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Dark Matter’/’Death in Heaven’.

‘Intruders’ is properly adult television, pulling no punches and definitely not pandering to those who want tobe spoon-fed answers. It’s a complicated plot in many ways, but at its heart it asks the same question via the lead character, ex-LAPD cop Jack Whelan -ably played by British actor John Simm in his first US outing- as the season finale (and perhaps the whole season, if you look carefully!) of ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘Do we live again? What happens after we die?’  It is a question that mankind has been asking since we were first able to frame the question, and always makes for fascinating –and often creepy- television.

In ‘Intruders’, the answer is ‘Yes – some of us do live again – because in the beginning, there was death.’   The Immortals here ‘get another go’ by cohabiting a body with its original owner – and by pushing them out.  (This isn’t terribly spoilery by the way – my husband got that much in episode 1!)  Part one of the two-part ‘Dr Who finale seems to concur with the second part of ‘Intruders’ own answer to the question; Danny Pink discovers in the ‘afterlife’ that death is not the end of existence; that truly, ‘In the beginning was death.’ It’s a great premise for any drama, isn’t it?

For a Time Lord of course, death is never really the end, providing he/she has another regeneration left. It occurred to me whilst watching ‘Dark Water’ that Time Lords could almost be the original Qui Reverti – their consciousness -albeit slightly altered in terms of personality quirks- reappears in a different body. (No suggestion that they kick out the original owner, though – but who knows, perhaps that might be the theme of another episode one day…?) Indeed I almost expected to hear someone say ‘In the beginning, there was death’…

I was slightly perturbed to see a couple of critics voice the opinion that ‘Dark Matter’ was in “poor taste” because it might upset recently bereaved viewers.  In my humble opinion, this is nonsense. Recently bereaved viewers will be upset by all manner of things – I’ve been there several times, so I know! – a tune the departed once loved,  a programme or film you enjoyed together, a place you visited, a meal you use to share, the sight of a hearse, or the death of a character on TV – nothing can stop that, and nothing should, it is all part of the  grieving and acceptance process.  There will always be recently bereaved viewers, and good art will always reflect life. For any drama (whether it be for children or adult viewers) to skirt around the most fundamental question of all (to recap: What happens when we die? Is there life after death?) is to miss an opportunity not only to entertain, but to get people thinking about their own mortality and –at rock bottom- how very important it is to make the most of your time as a thinking, functional being.  Don’t waste a second of it!

‘Dark Water’ also showed anyone who cared to pay attention just how important it is to be honest with the people you love. Clara hasn’t been honest with Danny (keeping her continuing adventures with the Doctor a secret from him because he didn’t approve and she didn’t want to choose one over the other – she wanted both men in her life), and in the end (I must assume, not having seen the second part yet) it cost Danny his life, because if Clara had not phoned him to tell him the truth when she did, he would not have walked out in front of the car and died. A deeply moving performance from Jenna Coleman – if, as rumours say, she is leaving the show soon, it will be a shame. But the idea of finding out exactly who she really is – because, remember all that business with ‘the impossible girl’? – is definitely a good reason to keep watching! (That and the brilliant Peter Capaldi…)

I’m not going to say anything about that big reveal at the end of ‘Dark Water’ – I’m saving that until I have seen part 2. Let’s just say, for now, WOW! Another case of a much-loved character coming back from the dead…

‘Intruders’ has been criticized by some viewers/reviewers as being ‘too confusing’, ‘too violent’, ‘too dark’ and ‘too slow’. Maybe I had an advantage, because I had already read the book before I saw the show; but my husband hadn’t, and he was riveted. He didn’t know what was going on either, just like Jack Whelan (Simm), and it is Jack who leads us through the story.  The viewer actually gets to know more than Jack does, because we see events that he is not privy to until much later in the story (if at all). It isn’t a drama you can afford to nod off in the middle of (although in my opinion it’s way too intriguing for that).

In the first episode, we have a young woman who appears to have been taken over by an entity who then forces her to kill herself; a mother and son are gunned down in cold blood when the gunman doesn’t find the person he is looking for; a man whose wife has been behaving oddly – not like herself- and who then disappears on a business trip; the husband gets a visit from an old school pal who raises questions about Jack’s wife and her connection to some dodgy goings-on in Seattle, and a young girl is approached by the same gunman, given a sand dollar (a type of clam shell?), and is then taken over by someone who likes to drown cats in the bath. Interestingly, the cat-drowning scene seemed to attract the most criticism, a number of viewers stating that they would not be watching any further because of it. It was upsetting, I agree – the ten-year-old actress playing Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) performed a difficult scene with great ability – but it was, in my opinion, a great way to show just how powerful her ‘intruder’ is. You find out why, and who has intruded on her, as the series progresses. (Interestingly, even the show’s fiercest critics are unanimous in their praise of young Millie – so watch it for her, if nothing else – you won’t be disappointed, she is a real talent in the making)

I like the fact that ‘Intruders’ takes time to tell the story; in the early episodes it gives you time to think – though not a lot! Trust me, it picks up pace from episode three onwards, and you really do have to pay attention! For those complaining about the ‘lack of character development’ in episodes 1 & 2, episode 3 has it in bucketfuls, and each subsequent episode reveals more about each character and how they are connected, the layers peeling back until you can see that they are all going to collide at the end, even if you don’t yet know quite how; and they certainly do collide in a very satisfying way. I feel sorry for those viewers who have bailed out early – they will never know what a piece of intriguing, intelligent television they missed.

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Into The Darkside


Great post, lots of food for thought here!

A.C. Melody

bigpreview_Good And Evil

After reading the rough draft of one of my books, my sister asked me how in the world I could stomach writing the part of my villain?  In this case, the villain happened to be human.  Yes, that matters.  There are different types of villains, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  I couldn’t really give her a direct answer.  It wasn’t easy.  It definitely took a lot out of me.  It kind of made me sick to my stomach, but not in a long-lasting kind of way.  Just as with any of my other characters, once I was done purging the villain out onto the paper, he was no longer in my system.  I didn’t dwell on it – and as crazy as it sounds, my villains come to me just as out of the void, by some cosmic stroke of something, as my protagonists and sub characters…

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The Key to Writing: Take Your Time


Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Tammie Painter

In a couple weeks the mad frenzy known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) will begin. During this month, during these 30 short days, writers are encouraged to write a novel. All I have to say is please don’t.

Now before you start throwing tirades at me saying NaNoWriMo is the most wonderful writing event on earth, keep reading to understand my point.

Writing a Book Takes Time

I would have no issue if NaNoWriMo would just change their name to National First Draft Writing Month. It’s not as catchy, but it establishes a more realistic mind set for the event.

Good books take time...and plenty of coffee. Good books take time…and plenty of coffee.

For those with superb time management skills, a first draft is possible within 30 days. You cannot write a “book” in 30 days unless you’re some kind of planning genius, you possess a supernatural writing talent that should be studied by scientists…

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