In an Ever Changing Digital World How Well Informed Are We? Written by Daniel

In an age of  digital communication. Where everything is yesterday news as soon as it’s printed. With millions of tweets posted every second, YouTube videos uploaded every minute, and websites refreshing quicker than the speed of sound. Is there really a reliable source of information when wanting to make an informed decision.

I think the question we have to ask ourselves is do we really trust what we read in the press? In an era of fake news and death hoaxes, is there really a chance for professional journalism to take place. Where the average reporter must get something out into the world before the next jackal comes along and tears it from their cold dead hands.  Yes that is quite a gruesome picture to paint of the current state of affairs, and I am sure that is not the case in most circles. However I think we must begin to look into what we take for gospel when it comes to information gathering.

I mean I can guarantee you, if I looked onto my Facebook or Twitter feed right now, there would be millions of articles with so called “experts” giving their opinion on topics like the state of the oval office, to something as trivial as to why Jose Mourinho didn’t smile during the EFL Cup presentation. Clouding our judgement, and making us second guess our first impulses which in some cases may be helpful, but what do you have to do to be an expert.

Just take football for example, every so called expert is an ex player, and yes you could argue that they give the best insights, but can they really be unbiased or give us an informed choice if they haven’t been in that situation themselves. I for one know that I scream at the T.V when watching games or Match of the day (MOTD), because commentators and pundits alike, are at times unable to the severe ties of old club alliances, or rivalries when giving an opinion on current club affairs so can we really trust the “experts”.

I guess my argument to this question is, how on earth are we meant to keep on top of the flood of information that is thrown at us every minute of everyday. If even the so called experts cant give us the desired answer.  I mean just take the EU Referendum for example.

We had everything from live T.V debates, Question Time, numerous newspaper articles, and even in some cases all out wars over social media. It caused the whole of Britain to choose a side, and saw more votes cast from the general public than the last two general elections combine. But you ask most people at the time and you would still hear things like I am confused I don’t know what to vote for, and can’t somebody please just give me the facts. So could there be an argument that too much information is instead of giving us a clearer picture, is in actual fact just causing us to feel overwhelmed. I for one at the end of the EU Referendum just wanted the whole thing to disappear. It seemed to dominate every minute of my waking day, everywhere you turned you couldn’t get away. Whether it was someone sticking a leaflet in your hand, or a breaking news feed on my phone by the end I was just fed up.

So your probably wondering what is my point in writing this. Well I personally think yes there is still a place for responsible journalism and creativity. I am not talking about Facebook Live or somebody’s personal YouTube Channel, even tho there are some brilliant ones out there. What I am talking about is real journalism, going out there and talking to the people involved, doing your research, checking every fact, and in some cases following your gut. Not giving up until the story is there within your grasp and every box has been ticked.

Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy the internet and social media, I mean the average person spends four hours a day cruising through the latest gossip  finding out when their favourite celebrity could be near them next.  There could be an argument there that we all need to get a life. However lets be honest you cant beat the latest angry grandma video, or kitten cuteness to brighten up your day.

But coming back to the title how well informed are we. Well if you believe Mr Trump the press are all liars, and we should follow his lead. But for me we are better informed than ever before. I guess it just our responsible to make sure we gather all the facts from a range of sources so that we can get a range of viewpoints, and move on from there.  In a ever changing digital age what possibility could happen next?

If you like this please leave a comment and please share on any sites you may use so that more people will see it thank you.

 

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The Rise Of Fantasy in the Modern Age Written By Daniel

Why Fantasy? What has made us as readers and watchers gravitate towards this vast field of literature and screen. From the streets of Chicago filled with gangsters, werewolves, vampires, fallen angels, and a wizard that is to stupid for his own good in the Harry Dresden Series, to the Harry Potter phenomenon, we as an audience are reading and watching this material in our millions.

Yes you could argue that fantasy has always been there in some form or another. In the shape of Lord of the Rings, Dune,  Alice in Wonderland and even further back Greek mythology, and stories told around camp fires to scare children giving rise to folklore, myths, and legends, but what has caused this surge in people wanting to explore the world of fantasy.

Don’t believe me?Just check the New York Times or Sunday Times bestseller lists, and I will guarantee you there will be at least two fantasy books in the top ten. Whether it be Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Cassandra Clare, and Jim Butcher just to name a few, the range of choice never seems to stop flowing, with new voices and ideas coming to the forefront all the time, challenging what we think we know about the world of so called fantasy. I mean you cant even stroll down a couple of channels on which ever platform your using, without seeing some kind of fantasy based drama.

Just to put in perspective the sheer scale of the popularity, Westworld a HBO series which premiered in October 2016, has recently being ranked as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever. Grossing an audience on average of twelve million across all of it’s platforms, with a second season already commissioned. This is just one program in a mountain of shows, movies, and books that are planned for release this year. From Game of Thrones, to Stephen Aryan’s new trilogy set in the same world as the Age of Darkness, to the new Logan movie you couldn’t ask for a better time to be a fantasy geek.

But what is causing this shift? Is  it that we wish to be taken back to our childhoods where we become  knights and fight in a deadly duel against the fire-breathing dragon. Because lets be honest, that is how most people that don’t read and watch fantasy view it. It is usually the first thing that comes out of their mouth, when you breach the topic. ” Or I am not reading or watching that, all it will be is a load of dragons burning the place down”. Yes and to be fair in some cases they may have a point, because to be frank there are way to many dragons, but you got to love them. However I am please to say the arena of fantasy is constantly changing. We have vampires falling in love with mortals, Greek demigods roaming the streets of New York City, and the devil running a night club in downtown Los Angeles. I mean what more could you possibly want.

It is no longer good enough just to have good vs evil in fantasy. Readers and watchers want something more. As a reader and watcher of both urban and epic fantasy. I know that I stay more engaged with characters and plot lines, that show a range of different emotions, and not characters that are purely one dimensional. Lets be honest which human or creature in the worlds or environments, that we have been exposed to in both literature and on screen in recent years, would of only shown one personality trait it is simply impossible.

Think of your favourite characters from both literature and on screen, would you really of loved them as much as you do if all they did was saved the girl or kill the heroes family. Of course you wouldn’t you love them because you contact with them on both an emotional and human level.  Take for example Severus Snape in Harry Potter. J.K Rowling had fans in furious debates on forums, blogs,workplaces, and classrooms over whether Snape was bad or good and in the end in my opinion he is neither. For me he is in a word human we all have flaws and demons that we must face, and it the choices that we make that define us.

Some of the most hatred villains in history have shown that they have internal struggles. Torn between wanting to do good, but to entangled within the evil to change. A perfect example being Darth Vader, as shown throughout Star Wars as he fights against his former self but evil is slowly consuming him. This is what draws me back to fantasy and SCI-FI more than any other genre. The complexity of the characters, because in one moment you go from hating someone to feeling sorry for them. This is what has bought on the rise changing our perceptions giving vampires humanity, making the devil care, but also making what we usually perceive as good, a darker side from angels to gods we are seeing them shown in a different light, keeping us as viewers and readers guessing who to trust.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a good crime thriller, romance, and murder mystery as much as the next person. But the reason why I think fantasy, has seen such a resurgence in recent years is because it allows us to escape from the mundane routines of our normal lives. It allows us to become a powerful wizard, fall in love with a mysterious stranger that glows in the sunlight, and feast like kings in castles with the undead.  It helps us look at places where we live in a different way, making us wonder is a vampire around the next corner, or is our next door neighbor a werewolf, but also lets us dream of far away galaxies and worlds that mirror our own. Its is a genre that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing.

That for me is why we have seen a rise of fantasy in the modern age. What do you guys think?

 

 

 

 

Review of Magpie Murders By Anthony Horowitz Written by Daniel

From the author who brought us the best selling Alex Rider Series, two Sherlock Holmes books ( House of Silk and Moriarty) including numerous other works. as well as being the creator and writer on ITV’s Foyle’s War. Comes a new who dunnit mystery which has all the hallmarks of Holmes brilliance and Poirot cunning.

The book opens with editor Susan Ryeland about to sit down to read the latest manuscript in the Atticus Pund series, a detective series written by  the fictional writer Alan Conway. Susan has worked with Alan for many years and has a love hate relationship the love being that she adores his novels, but cant stand the man. However as the story continues she begins to notice frightening similarities between the fictional world in which Conway has created, and what is taking place within the real world. This takes her on a path that will change her life forever.

What makes this story unique however is that it is two murders within one. Told from two separate narratives. One being Atticus Pund the brilliant detective, sent to investigate a suspected suicide of a villager everyone disliked for as  we later discover her observations of each inhabitant in the sleepy little village of Saxonby upon Avon are true. The other being Susan Ryeland the editor charged with helping us understand what is occurring. This can get some getting used to, as you try to keep up with the frantic pace in which both stories are delivered. But once you do this allows for a tale that will have you staying well up into the early hours of the morning, as you become your very own Atticus Pund taking to solve the case.

This story is everything you need in a murder mystery. Red herrings, multiple suspects with so many dark secrets that seem to tangle you up into a web, and a detective that has you glued from the moment he is introduced.  Now yes a lot of Agatha Christie’s work is used to inform Conway’s work, but this only helps add to the character in which Anthony has created.  Conway is so well written that you feel like he is someone you could meet in a bar.

This story takes us as readers back to the golden age of crime writing. Murders, villages with dark secrets, and a magnificent detective who they all try and escape. It a delicious mix of Midsummer murders meets Poirot and for me it is a must read.

Tell what did you like about Magpie Murders or didn’t like? what would you like to see next from Anthony Horowitz? Also let me know what you thought of this review in the comments below thank you.

 

 

 

Review Of Curse Words By Charles Soule and Ryan Browne Written by Daniel

Now when you see on the back of a comic the lines once upon a time, There was a wizard then it all went to hell. You cant help but grab it with both hands excitement surges through your veins, you turn and see the counter insight before you know it your running faster than Usain Bolt.

The shop owner stares at you with  bewildered eyes as you charge forward nearly knocking over every customer.  You take a moment to compose yourself,  reach inside your jeans pocket and remove your wallet and kindly ask if you can purchase this object you desire. Waiting patiently as every second feels like an hour as it scanned through the till. You don’t even ask for a bag you just scoop it up and exit the shop as fast as your legs can carry you turning the first page as you go.

This is what curse words is the new ongoing series from Charles Soule ( Daredevil, Death of Wolverine) and Ryan Browne ( God hates Astronauts) a rip roaring ride that has you laughing out loud from the moment you turn the first page. A wizard has appeared in New York, and he is casting spells getting rich and famous everyone thinks it wonderful. What they don’t know is that this wizard isn’t all as he seems, he is  actually a bad wizard and bad things are on their way.

As a reader we are told this from very early on just read the back of the comic. However it is done in such a way that you cant help liking wizord anyway. I mean he is like the anti Merlin bearded motorcycle riding magic junkie that you want at any party because you know for a fact something cool will always happen. But who is Wizord well as the comic develops we see him go from a wizard for hire with three rules no wars, no cures, and no love to wanting to the destroy the world which takes a number of days, in which time we see him exploring the city attracting far to much attention through his use of magic. As this first issue draws to a close it leaves us wants more giving us a glimpse into Wizord’s past, showing us where he came from and who he used to serve.

Another aspect I liked was the way in which Charles and Ryan worked together. As Ryan’s artwork adds a delightful blend to the adventure from the epic fight scene between Cornwall and Wizord, to drawings of the adorable Koala that is Margaret who can talk but we have no idea what her relationship to Wizord is at this stage. I mean she even has her own hashtag TeamMargaret what more could you want.

This comic is a delicious mix of Harry Dresden meets Watchmen meets Guardians of the galaxy, and it promises to be one great valley of destruction. It is a gonzo of darkness and light but above all just some epic magic and storytelling from two people that are on top of their respected games.

All I can say is Wizord has arrived Harry Potter you better be ready.

Tell me if you read this comic and if you have  what are you looking forward to next? What are your favourite aspects, and what is your favourite line within this first issue mine has to be you killed my horse Cornwall I liked that horse. Let me know in the comments and also tell me what you thought of this review.

and if you haven’t read it try it. It available on Amazon using this link  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Words-1-Charles-Soule-ebook/dp/B01M3VV2XP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486330295&sr=8-1&keywords=curse+words+1 and all local comic book stores and just for some added fun why don’t you follow Charles and Ryan on twitter @CHARLESSOULE and @RYANBROWNEART

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Lucifer Amazon Prime Original Show Written by Daniel

Based upon the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg. This series follows the original bad boy, god rebellious son, and the most famous fallen angel of all the devil himself Lucifer.

The opening credits to the show give us an idea of whats to come. From the beginning the angel Lucifer was cast out from heaven to rule hell for all eternity, until he decided to take a vacation.  This catapults us the viewer in modern day Los Angeles the city of angels, where Lucifer has become the owner of the mostly luxurious nightclub in Los Angeles called Lux.

Where every night he samples women,booze, and sex as mortals cant resist his charms revealing their deepest desires as soon as he peers into their eyes. Supported by his demonic protector Maze (Lesley Ann Brandt) he parties all day and night sampling all of LA’S dark side.

However when he sees a friend gunned down he vows to find her killer, and makes him begin to question whether he has some humanity after all. This puts him into the path of LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German). A hard nosed cop who does everything by the book, but what is most intriguing about her is that she is totally immune to Lucifer charms both in turn frustrating Lucifer and fascinating him all at the same time.

This leads Lucifer played by Tom Ellis to began to question his place in the world, giving us as viewers a different view upon what we believe the devil to be. A character that helps increase this is therapist Doctor Linda ( Rachel Harris) who enters into a deal with Lucifer for sex in exchange for helping him through his issues with his father, and how he is viewed by mankind leading to great viewpoints and perspectives on what him the devil is feeling.

The central relationship within the story is between Chloe and Lucifer as with each episode gets more and more complex, giving the writers a number of threads they can explore from Lucifer relationship with Chloe ex husband Dan (Kevin Alejandro), who is also a LAPD detective and holds a dark secret about Chloe past, to how they can coexist as Chloe struggles with Lucifer disillusions that he is the devil.

My only criticism of this is that some scenes seemed to be strained like they are giving to much away instead of letting the chemistry develop naturally, which can sometimes make you lose interest in the relationship and wait for the next scene involving action or angels or just something a bit more cool.

However this has allowed the writers to shift the focus onto other characters, as the show continues allowing for more detailed character development, and given more importance to the many subplots and agendas within the show.  One of the most intriguing characters within these subplots is Maze for as her character becomes more concerned for Lucifer, her priorities begin to change adding an extra lay to her character and also revealing a vulnerable side that you don’t usually associate with demons in these kind of shows.

This allows for greater story development moving away from the central relationship of Lucifer and Chloe, bringing in Lucifer’s brother Amenadiel (DB Woodside),  the first angel ever created who in the beginning of the series is a constant thorn in Lucifer’s side, trying to get him to return to hell. However as the series develops we begin to see multiple sides to his personality and his own personal battles that he must overcame, making him a character to watch, as he becomes a more pivotal character to Lucifer’s overall welfare.

Yes some may think this is just NCIS Los Angeles with Supernatural elements added to the mix, but you be wrong the characters are well defined, and the story has a fast pace keeping you on the edge of your seat from minute one and personally I cant wait to see what they have in store for us next.

Like this review if so please leave a comment, and let me know who your favourite character, what your favourite episode, and what are you hoping for out of the new series thank you.