Friday, 20 January 2017

Gamebook Friday: The darkest, most chilling Fighting Fantasy book yet!

That's what one reviewer had to say about my last Fighting Fantasy gamebook Night of the Necromancer:

"This book is probably the best Fighting Fantasy book since Vault of the Vampire. If you like dark eerie, mysterious and atmospheric gamebooks of this series, and you thought Vault of the Vampire was good, then you will definitely enjoy this book, it may be your favourite yet.

"Other ones you may prefer to read are Dead of Night, Night Dragon, Eye of the Dragon, Revenge of the Vampire, and Howl of the Werewolf.

"This maybe the best gamebook yet, alongside the much overlooked Knights of Doom and SpellbreakerSpellbreaker had the best story line and challenges and this is up there with that one.

"It seems Jonathan Green has a real talent for these books, being one of the younger writers to the series... Definitely take the time to give this a read."

Night of the Necromancer is still available through Amazon.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Steampunk Thursday: "Pulp Fiction of a Good Standard"

According to Amazon.co.uk, Thursday 2nd March 2017 will mark 10 years since the publication of my first Pax Britannia novel Unnatural History.

Bearing that in mind, it's always a pleasure to come across readers who are discovering the series for the first time. For example, here's an extract from a review written in September last year*:

"Steampunk abounds in a never-ending Victorian empire where Good Queen Vic has been kept alive way beyond her natural span... with technology and near the present day Victorian tech has shaped an alternative Earth.

"Green's particular skill is with his info dumps bringing us up to date on the Pax Britanna world... The underground has been superseded by an Overground, there are sort of steam powered robot police and lots of extinct animals have been found and put into Jurassic Park style zoos.

"Enter our hero, traditional action adventurer, in the Quartermain mould, Ulysses Quicksilver. He is assigned to investigate a strange death... but soon uncovers a plot by... a group that wants to bring an end to an empire they see as corrupt and past its lifespan...

"A readable style, which flows along nicely with enjoyable characters."

Remember, you can pick up Pax Britannia: Unnatural History for your Kindle for free here.


* Edited to make it more readable.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Warhammer Wednesday: Salvation Revisited

The Track of Words blog kicked off a new series of articles today, articles that will look back at classic Black Library short stories from way back when.

As well as featuring a review of the story in question, each piece will examine how each story fits into Warhammer and 40K as they are now, as well as how it stands up to scrutiny today.

And the first story to receive the retrospective treatment is my very own tale of Ultramarines vs Tyranids Salvation - written 20 years ago last October!

You can find out how Salvation has stood up to the test of time here.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tie-in Tuesday: Robin of Sherwood and the Knights of the Apocalypse

One of the more unusual, unexpected, and unforgettable gigs of my writing career (which is 25 years young this July) was being invited to write the novelisation of Richard 'Kip' Carpenter's unmade teleplay for Robin of Sherwood: The Knights of the Apocalypse.

Whilst writing it early last year, and immersing myself in all things Sherwood again, I was reminded of various landmarks in my life that featured the very best interpretation of the Robin Hood legend on screen, ever!

I was a teenager when the series was first televised. I remember balmy summer evenings, making sure I was back home after playing with my friends in the street to watch Robin of Sherwood, and having to draw the curtains to avoid the sunlight reflecting off the tiny TV screen. I was oblivious at the time to the fact that a fair proportion of the viewing public would be watching it for the tousled, '80s-mullet good looks of the lead actor(s)* - I tuned in to enjoy stories of action and adventure, of derring-do and dastardly deeds, of mysticism and paganism.

It was the magical and supernatural elements of the show that appealed to me the most, and what made the programme so different from all the other on-screen iterations. I thought the addition of the pagan shaman Herne was inspired, I couldn't quite believe the Baron de Belleme was about to carry out a satanic sacrifice on what was purportedly a children's show in Robin Hood and the Sorcerer, I was chilled by the appearance of Cromm Cruac, and I thrilled at the arrival of the gigantic wolf's head in The Time of the Wolf. I particularly delighted at the twist ending to the episode Rutterkin. But most of all I was blown away by The Swords of Wayland, with the angelic figure of Lucifer being summoned via the method of reversed-wax-melting.

When Robin of Sherwood was on, the Sunday morning after would find my friends and I in the local church choir dissecting the incidents of the previous night's episode when we were supposed to be getting ready to sing the anthem at the Eucharist.

Jump forward a few years and I found myself sharing a house with nine other young people in Leamingston Spa, all of us students of Warwick University. It turned out that I wasn't the only one upon whom Robin of Sherwood had made such a big impact. My friend Mike - who everyone called Bez at the time, as you do - was also a fan. Saturdays would often find us trawling the local video hire shop for shockingly-bad horror movies to watch that evening.

But one particular day we made a diversion to WHSmith, where we found Robin of Sherwood on sale in VHS format. Being poor, impoverished students, we decided to go halves on The Swords of Wayland two-parter. Taking it back to our rented house, we watched it for the first time since it had been on TV half a decade or more before - and it was just as good as we all remembered, if not even better, because our mutual friend Dave had a much bigger TV than my parents did at home.

When the time came to leave university, I somehow managed to inherit The Swords of Wayland (I'm still not sure how or why) and it inspired me to shell-out some of my hard-earned cash (I was a published author by then) to buy all three series on video, which were replaced, in time, by DVD box sets.

Robin of Sherwood had a big impact on my writing career, long before I came to write The Knights of the Apolcalypse novelisation. My first published book, the Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebook Spellbreaker, features a band of outlaws, each bearing a moniker that could have easily described one of Kip Carpenter's Merries - Outlaw Leader, Scarred Ruffian, Staff-Wielding Outlaw, Veteran Brigand - and their leader just happened to be in possession of a magic swords. My second book, Knights of Doom, featured a Mercenary Champion, who looked suspiciously like Nasir when he was taking part in Owen of Clun's death game, and even some dodgy mummers.

Later, when I was working as a teacher in West London, I wrote a Christmas production about the history of Christmas**. One scene featured a mummer's play; I adapted the mummer's play from the Robin of Sherwood episode The Lord of the Trees, finished it off in the same style, the play having no ending in the show.

And the tone of the show, the quality of the writing, its heart, its warmth and its humour, has stayed with me ever since. Every couple of years I watch the shows again, in order, and I'm looking forward to introducing them to my children next time. (I listen to Clannad's soundtrack album Legend even more often***.)

Having loved Robin of Sherwood for more than two-thirds of my life (and 'loved' is not a word I use lightly) I am always wary of new adaptations and wonder how some people can dare to do Robin Hood again when the definitive version was produced back in the 1980s. But that said, I have an itch to tackle the legend myself, in my own way, by putting a spin on things. Will it be ready by the time the third Hooded Man convention takes place in 2018? Who knows, but the thing is, it doesn't really matter, because I'm the lucky so-and-so who got to write Robin of Sherwood again, 30 years after the show ended.

Talking of which, because The Knights of the Apolcalypse novelisation wasn't available anywhere outside of the original Indiegogo campaign to fund the audio version, there's no one convenient place for people to leave their comments and reviews. If you would like to do so - and reviews, no matter how brief, are always very valuable and helpful for authors - please feel free to do so in the comments after this blog post. After all, nothing's forgotten...

Here's to you, Mike! :-)


* Something which only really dawned on me when I attended my first Hooded Man convention back in 2014!

** Sound familiar?

*** The show is also responsible for my life-long love of Clannad. I think I possibly wrote Spellbreaker whilst listening to their album Legend on loop!




Monday, 16 January 2017

Thought for the Day

"We provoke a shark every time we enter the water where sharks happen to be, for we forget: The ocean is not our territory - it's theirs."
~ Peter Benchley, author of Jaws


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Shakespeare Sunday: Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu - a new review

The following review of Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu first appeared on Amazon.com:

"The concept is a good one to base an anthology of short stories around. The premise is what if Shakespeare rather than Lovecraft had discovered the Great Old Ones and in particular Cthulhu. So the book is based on stories written by the great bard, but all with a Lovecraftian bent.

"I enjoyed reading the book, but it also one I was pleased to enjoy in hard copy rather than in Kindle form, and that's down to the format and the typesetting. The design is taken from play manuscripts of the time and adds a sense of visual aesthetic to the read. It also helps ground the stories it contains...

"The story about Henry V really shone for me. It was also interesting to see how the different authors tackled the blend in stories. Some were more explicit than others, while some simply took inspiration and followed their own path. The Twitter sonnet at the end was a nice construct.

"While the variance in quality can be expected in an anthology like this, it's strength also stems from that variety. The range of stories from Shakespeare is impressive, as is how they were handled. There's some lovely craft here."

You can pick up your copy of the Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu anthology here.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Sharkpunk Saturday: The SHARKPUNK 2 Kickstarter launches 2 weeks today!

The Kickstarter to fund the SF, F and WTF? anthology SHARKPUNK 2 launches two weeks today, at 12:00pm GMT* on Saturday 28th January 2017.

The Kickstarter includes various limited rewards as well as a number of Early Bird rewards that will only be available for the first week of the Kickstarter's run.

More about what those rewards are will be revealed over the next fortnight, so make sure you join the SHARKPUNK 2 Facebook group today, to be kept up to date with any updates.


* Which is 7:00am in New York and 11:00pm in Sydney.