Those of you who check in on this blog every so often will know that I’ve had a new book in the works for some time now. Well today I am pleased to reveal that the new book is Time Rep: Continuum – the sequel to Time Rep!
Time Rep: Continuum will be released on May 24th 2016, which is quite a long way off, so if you have a time machine at your disposal, I suggest you use it to jump forward to next year and grab yourselves a copy right away! For those of you without your own time machine, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to wait. In the meantime however, I can tell you that Time Rep: Continuum is set two years after the original Time Rep, and sees Geoffrey Stamp whisked off on a brand new adventure through time and space.
Here’s the cover:
And here’s the description that will appear on the back of the book:
Imagine you’ve just discovered you’re the most significant person who’s ever lived.
You saved the world from an alien invasion. If it wasn’t for you, everyone would be dead.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
That’s exactly what happens to Geoffrey Stamp, but there’s just one problem – he can’t tell anyone. You see, Geoffrey is a Time Rep – a tour guide for the 21st Century, meeting people from the future who travel back in time for their vacation. Everything he does needs to be kept a secret from the people in his own time, otherwise he risks changing the course of history.
And that caused enough trouble in the last book.
But now a new company called Continuum is offering holidays to the past, and they allow people to go back and change whatever they like. For Geoffrey, this sounds like a dream come true, until a future version of himself appears out of nowhere with no memory, a bullet in his back, and a Continuum business card in his pocket. Geoffrey soon finds himself in a race to solve his own attempted murder, but begins to wonder if his investigation is the very thing that nearly got him killed.
What is the truth behind Continuum, and after saving the planet, why would anyone want him dead?
Anyway, that’s my announcement. I hope you’re excited to see Geoffrey back in action!
So I was driving home from the supermarket the other day and saw a billboard advertising the upcoming film Pan. (I assume this film is something to do with Peter Pan, rather than an anthropomorphic biopic set in a kitchen where all the pots and pans come to life, and there’s one pan that everyone picks on (let’s call him, I don’t know… Pan?). Pan would be really down on his luck – Teflon would be peeling off his griddles, there would be bits of burnt bacon stuck to his edges, and he feels totally worthless. He also really fancies the sexy Cafetiere that lives in the cupboard with the glass door above the kettle, but doesn’t think he has a chance with her because he’s all rusty and smells a bit. He’s also constantly bullied by a rolling pin called King Pin. However, one day a contrived set of dire circumstances manifest themselves in such a way that puts everyone at risk, and only Pan can save the day! He does so by using all his characteristics that were previously thought of as flaws to overcome the odds, and in the end the Cafetiere falls for him and the owner of the kitchen throws out King Pin because she gives up on baking.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – the poster for Pan. It looks like this:
Looks fairly innocent, right? Well look again. What does it say at the top?
“From the studio that brought you HARRY POTTER”
Now, call me cynical, but I think this link between Pan and Harry Potter is a little bit tenuous. What’s happened here is that Warner Brother’s PR team all sat in a room and had a conversation that went something like this. (Incidentally, to help you picture the scene, I’ve called my two PRs ‘Bliss’ and “Trev” :
Bliss: “Harry Potter was really successful. If we convince the people that saw that film to see Pan, it would be super-super-amazing!”
Trev: “Yes, but how do we do that?”
Bliss: “We need to think about what these films have in common, then point it out to people!”
Trev: “But what do they have in common?”
Bliss: “Well, they’re both fantasies, they both feature a boy with special abilities as the main character, they’re both fish-out-of-water stories…”
Trev: “They both have P’s in their title…”
Bliss: “Yes yes… but what else? What else?”
Trev: “Wait a minute! Why don’t we say something like “from the director of HARRY POTTER”?
Bliss: “We can’t, because the director of Pan didn’t direct Harry Potter.”
Trev: “Oh, I see. Well, are any of the cast the same?”
Trev: “What about Rat Pac Entertainment and Berlanti – you know, the production companies? Were they involved in Harry Potter?”
Trev: “Okay then, what about the writers? The producers?”
Bliss: “Well, the Exec Producer Tim Lewis was involved in the last four Harry Potters…”
Trev: “What’s an Exec producer?”
Bliss: “Exactly. We can’t say “from the exec producer of some of the Harry Potter films” – that sounds ridiculous. But I tell you what – Warner Brothers made all the Harry Potters, right? And they’re also the studio making this!”
Trev: “Yes, but… Warner Brothers make thousands of different films. Is that really a connection?”
Bliss: “Shut up. I’ve got it – We say “From the studio that brought you HARRY POTTER”!
Trev: “Do you really think people will fall for that?”
Bliss: “I do! I really do! Waiter – can we have a third bottle of wine for the table please? All this creativity has really sapped me!”
Okay, so Warner Brothers were the studio that brought us Harry Potter, but to infer that Pan has any creative similarities to Harry Potter just because Warner Brothers is behind it is a little bit disingenuous in my opinion. So what if they made Harry Potter? They also made such classics as Battlefield Earth (shudder), Catwoman (whoops), The Adventures of Pluto Nash (remember that classic?), Carpool (oh dear), and the god-awful remake of Arthur with Russel Brand.
Now, I’m not saying that Pan is a bad film – I haven’t seen it, so I’m not here to comment on that. I guess my point is that Warner Brothers is such a huge organisation and has such a broad reach over so many films, their involvement as the over-arching studio of both Pan and Harry Potter doesn’t really mean anything, particularly when the films only have a solitary exec producer as the common denominator. So it shouldn’t be touted as a selling point. To put this in context, It would be like me trying to convince Douglas Adams fans to read Time Rep by saying “from the species that brought you The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…”
I also like the tag-line at the bottom: “Every legend has a beginning.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but every whatever has a beginning, doesn’t it? Given everything has to start somewhere, the word “legend” is interchangeable, which could be potentially amusing. So to finish, Here are some suggestions for other films about something or other, using the “Every [insert the thing that has a beginning here] has a beginning” formula:
Every walk to the post office has a beginning
Every haircut has a beginning
Every beginning has a beginning
Every argument about who’s turn it is to buy the milk has a beginning
Every book about shopping in Tunbridge Wells has a beginning
Okay, I’m done. Until next time.
As you are probably aware from my post last week, I went to see The Martian recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, if there was one thing that spoiled the experience slightly for me, it was the sound of people all around me eating and munching and chewing and slurping and rustling and gulping and crunching and chewing and eating and eating. Now, aside from the fact that any sensory stimulation whatsoever coming from the people within the cinema completely breaks the immersion (asides from emotional reactions to the film, such as laughing or screaming, which I’ll accept), this is a film about a guy having to ration potatoes and bread to stay alive, so having the sound of the guy two rows behind me munching through his Doritos wasn’t the most appropriate of things to be hearing in this film!
I’ve come to the conclusion that many people just don’t understand that when they go to the cinema, they are not sitting in their own private living room, and therefore they cannot behave however they please. They are sharing a space with other paying viewers, and have a duty to display a degree of self-awareness and behave appropriately. Now, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo from Wittertainment already have a very good code of conduct here that details very specifically how one should behave in a cinema to ensures everyone enjoys the film. However, I would like to add my own thoughts to this, specifically around eating. Here are my rules:
- Really, really think about not eating or drinking anything in the first place
This sounds radical I know. I mean, the cinema is all about eating a box of popcorn as big as yourself, right? It’s all about paying an insane amount of money for a Coke, isn’t it? Well, maybe for some people, but for me it’s about going to see a film. Is it really so unbearable not to eat or drink during the film? Is it really that hard to have something to eat beforehand so that you’re not munching during the film? Or heaven forbid, just waiting until the film is over before stuffing your face? I don’t think so.
To be honest, if I was ruler of the world and took a particular interest in the food policy of cinemas, that would be the only rule: No eating. However, I do appreciate this is a little heavy-handed, so for those people who absolutely have to eat something during a film, here are some additional guidelines:
- Don’t bring your food into the cinema in a plastic bag…
Rustle rustle rustle. Rustle rustle. Rustle rustle rustle rustle rustle. Rustle. Russelrusslerusslerusslerusslerussle. This is the sound of someone hunting around for their Maltesers underneath the tins of beans, the loaf of bread, any everything else they’ve bought for later. If you need to carry your food into the cinema in a bag, make sure that bag is silent, like a nice Jute bag or something.
- …and the same goes for packaging…
News Flash people – a bag of crisps is noisy. A chocolate wrapper is noisy. The foil you need to peel off of your tube of Fruit Pastilles is noisy. I know this sounds obvious, but it if was, then why do so many people fail to realise this?
- …and the food itself
Here’s another thing that seems to be a surprise to some people – when you put something in your mouth that makes a noise when you bite into it (let’s say, a crisp), that noise does not stay within the confines of your mouth. Your mouth is not soundproof. You are not the only person able to hear the crunch of the crisp because you are hearing the sound coming from within your own head. Sound travels. Everyone else can hear it. So think about the food you are bringing into the cinema. Preferably, it should be silent food (like jelly babies, decanted into makeshift pouch constructed out of kitchen roll), but if it isn’t – if you really need to eat those salt and vinegar crisps – eat them quietly! Put one crisp at a time into your mouth, and suck on them until they silently disintegrate onto your tongue! Crisps taste better and last longer that way anyway, right?
- Time your eating with events in the film to disguise the sounds you might make
Are you watching a crazy car chase with the sounds of screeching tires, car horns and explosions blasting in your ears? Then now is a great time to rip open that bag of Skittles as noisily as you like, stuff as many of those sugary pearls in your mouth as you can, and chew like crazy. At the same time, when you’re watching a quiet, tender moment between two characters, don’t take that as a green light to rummage through your Sainsbury’s bag for the Minstrels. Michael Bay films are perfect for the conscientious noisy eater, since on average there’s usually a large explosion every 45 seconds, so they can munch and rustle and chew as much as they like.
- No-one wants to smell your food
Don’t you just love the smell of that pungent, artificial cheese they pour over the nachos you can buy in the cinema? Well, neither does anyone else, so don’t bring them in with you!
- Think about people with allergies
Yummy, peanuts! Oh wait – the person with a nut allergy two rows down has had to leave the cinema because their skins gets unbearably itchy, even if they are exposed to the scent of nuts in the air. Oh well, never mind – at least you got to eat those peanuts! I mean, you couldn’t have possibly watched the film without those nuts, could you? They make the whole experience!
Anyway, that’s it! Do you think I’ve missed anything in terms of guidance for eating in cinemas? Let me know in the comments section!
So I’ve just returned from having seen The Martian, and I have to say I rather enjoyed it. In fact, I would go as far to say I loved it. There are many great things to say about the film, from the witty script to the fantastic performances (particularly Matt Damon as the stranded astronaut Mark Watney), however one of the things I appreciated the most about it was all the things it chose not to do. So for bit of a change, I’m going to review this film by listing all the crap things it could have done, but chose not to do instead. It goes without saying that if you haven’t seen The Martian yet, this next bit contains loads of spoilers, so don’t read on if you know what’s good for you!
No, I really mean it. This next bit has serious spoilers in it, and I don’t want to hear any whinging about how you weren’t sufficiently warned. And if you haven’t seen the film and are thinking to yourself ‘well, I’m not going to see the film anyway, so I might as well read on’, that’s a bad idea. See the film. It’s great. Then come back here and read the next bit. It really is that good.
Last chance. Spoilers ahoy.
Okay, let’s go:
1) No protracted first act leading up to the bit where things start to go wrong
A lesser film might have decided to start at the mission launch, or the first touch-down on Mars with some emotional speech from the commander about how they are the first humans to set foot on the planet. Instead, The Martian ditches all that, and within two minutes the setup is complete – there are some astronauts on Mars, and everything is starting to go wrong.
2) No member of the crew goes insane / disagrees with their orders / tries to sabotage the mission
We all know this trope in sci-fi: everything’s going fine, but then a member of crew loses it and screws everything up. This film had ample opportunity to have a crew member go nuts (in particular when they take a vote about whether to spend another couple of years in space to get Mark Watney back), but it chose not to go down this road. All the astronauts just followed orders and did their job, which was refreshing.
3) No family for Mark to worry about
This was a great omission. There were no scenes of Watney welling up as he held a photo of his wife, or crying as he watches footage of his kids (I’m looking at you, Interstellar). He just cracked jokes and got on with surviving.
4) And he didn’t go mad either
Again, the film had ample excuse to have Watney slowly going mad, like Tom Hanks in Castaway. The guy’s alone on Mars for a ridiculous amount of time, so the filmmakers had every excuse to go down this road. But they didn’t, which is good.
5) No attempts to shoehorn in self-indulgent artistic shots for no reason
Like that bit in Gravity where Sandra Bullock adopts the fetal position. I mean really.
6) Nobody died.
I was really expecting at least one death in this film at some point, and a cheap death at that. Perhaps the captain would sacrifice herself to save Watney at the last minute to make up for the fact that she left him on the planet. Or some arbitrary accident would kill a member of the crew. This would have been deeply unsatisfying, given they all spent so much time going back again for the sake of one man, so losing one crew member would have rendered the rescue mission pointless, returning with a zero-sum total. I was really expecting someone to buy it, but they didn’t. Which was nice.
So that’s my list of everything The Martian could have done wrong, but didn’t. If you haven’t seen it, then I’m very disappointed that you have read this far, despite my warnings. I told you there were spoilers, but you didn’t listen did you? Did you?!?! Now go away and think about what you’ve done.
That’s right – I’m pleased to announce that those lovely people at Diversion Books are going to publish my third book! The release date is still TBC and I’m not going to give away what it is about for now, but if you keep checking my blog every now and then (every few minutes would be good so I can get my numbers up, but don’t worry if you can only do it hourly), at some point I will start dropping a few teasers, before finally revealing exactly what it is I’ve been working on…
For now I will give you three hints:
1) It’s a comedy
2) It involves time travel
3) It’s a sequel
Not a great picture (it was dark, sorry), but I did have the honour of being invited to Number 10 Downing Street today, due to the work I do with Comic Relief… Come on Red Nose Day!!!!