Friday, September 15, 2017

Ranking the Stargate novels

It's odd that there were no cinematic sequels to Stargate. Not that it needed them, or that it likely would have been any good, you'd just think the studio would be keen to milk that successful blend of sci-fi, Egyptology, ancient alien conspiracy, white supremacy and dumb action movie until it was left as barren and arid as an Abydosian plain.

But there were sequels! At least in book form. Bill McCay was contracted to write five further adventures for Jack O'Neil, Daniel Jackson and presumably that old man who eats Daniel's chocolate bar and exclaims "bunny weh!" They may not be any closer to what a real sequel would have been like than Splinter of the Mind's Eye was to The Empire Strikes Back.

Why only five? Either interest dried up or Bill ran out of titles starting with 'Re-' and they ran out of colours to slightly differentiate the boring, identical covers. Join me on the other side as we discover The Top 5 Stargate Novels. I suppose there's a chance they might even be good?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ranking the Red Dwarf novels

I was first exposed to Red Dwarf by accident when I was about nine. My grandparents' telly inadvertently caught the end of a repeat broadcast of 'D.N.A.,' where the disgusting curry monster blows up. I probably enjoyed it more than they did. A week later, I caught the beginning of 'Justice,' where Lister's swollen, pus-filled head bursts. Needless to say, I had a new favourite programme.

I still hadn't seen any of the early episodes when I spotted the first sort-of-novelisation at the library a few years later. Not having my mental images diluted by claustrophobic grey sets, I was blown away by Grant Naylor's elaborate descriptions of the city-sized ship as they rewrote future history and indulged their newfound freedom from having to worry about budgets and practicality.

I got the abridged audiobooks of the first two novels a while later, and Chris Barrie read them to me over and over as I refused to drift off to sleep. I read Last Human once or twice as well. Don't know if I ever made it all the way through Backwards.

Returning to these adolescent favourites a lifetime and a literature degree later, will they still hold up as sci-fi comedy classics? Or will they be exposed as a string of reprinted TV scripts with speech marks and "said Rimmer" pasted in, linked by a tenuous narrative? Which of Grant or Naylor's solo efforts is slightly better than the other one? Do I ever find my singing tie-pin?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ranking the Andrew Michael Hurley novel

Contrary to appearances, I don't only like dead authors. But when you've committed to reading pedantically comprehensive bibliographies, for some reason, it's helpful to know for certain that the author in question isn't going to put out any more and challenge your flimsy deductions.

But then there are times like this, when I'm really eager to read something that's been hanging around in my ebook library for a while and don't want to have to wait until January to find out that I'm not allowed to read it next year either.

So sod me and my aesthetically self-harming rules – here's The Top 1 Andrew Michael Hurley Novel. If he does insist on writing more, I suppose I can bring myself to write another hundred words every few years.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ranking the Douglas Adams books

It must be over a decade since I've read a proper Douglas Adams book, rather than leftovers or pretenders. The Hitchhiker's Guides were a revelation in my late teens, and I've always wished I'd read them when I was younger and even more impressionable. But would they still hold up now I'm old and (even more) miserable?

I'm almost worried to find out. Don't panic! Or was that Dad's Army? Here's what I reckon about The Top 12 Douglas Adams Books and Not Quite Douglas Adams Books.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Best of 2016, Not from 2016, in August 2017

"Where's your annual, anachronistic round-up of the best things from 2016, not from 2016?" nobody asked. I actually got about half-way through writing this a while ago, before realising how much of a waste of time it was and deleting it. So now I had to waste more time writing that half again. Yes, I do have work to be doing. You knew this would happen, Dave. What have I ever done to you? Apart from all the self-destructive life choices. We've got cats now, things are getting better.

Here are my favourite things I experienced last year that probably weren't made last year, because that's just one of the many years available from history and we can't all have experienced it all the first time around.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ranking Bram Stoker's short stories

You can't top Dracula, but I wasn't expecting my second Stoker novel – The Jewel of Seven Stars – to be quite as bad as it was. It seemed there were reasons his other books aren't as famous.

I didn't have the willpower to take on all the other novels, but luckily he wrote shorter fiction too. Less luckily, it turns out that hardly any of that's worth reading either.

Listen to them—The Top 52 Bram Stoker Short Stories of the night. What music they make!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Revisiting Roy "Chubby" Brown's U.F.O. The Movie, Fart 2

I carried on regardless of interest or taste. In these dark times when a pretend, shapeshifting alien in a children's programme is allowed to be played by a woman of all things, we can take heed of U.F.O. The Movie's dire feminazi dystopian message and learn from the examples of its foul-mouthed, buffoonish hero. I hate you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Revisiting Roy "Chubby" Brown's U.F.O. The Movie, Fart 1 (NSFW)

In 1993, Polygram Video and some bloke called George Foster (not the baseball player) financed a shoddy straight-to-video spoof sci-fi film to capitalise on the underground popularity of blue comedian Roston "Roy 'Chubby' Brown" Vasey. It was as shit as you'd expect.

Well, that's my retrospective knee-jerk liberal literature-degree reaction, anyway. When I was about 12, and my dad bought it second-hand from Cash Converters, I thought its melting pot of lazy Star Trek gags, literal toilet humour, F-bombs and actual boobs was entertaining enough to sit through by choice a few times on custody weekends, and to describe enthusiastically to envious friends. Especially the bit where Chubby strains to push his baby out and a poo comes out instead, that absolutely cracked me up.

What's wrong with being immature? It didn't stop Monty Python becoming comedy gods. The film is unashamedly sexist, but it has characters point this out from the onset, so is it any worse than The Office? Could this even be an overlooked comedy classic?

I lasted five minutes. Maybe I'll continue if I'm in the mood for self-harming one afternoon. If someone chances across this blog around 2021 and comments "lol do more chubby!" I'll be compelled to continue.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ranking (the "best" of) the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stories

Faced with some of the tightest creative restrictions in the industry, officially licensed Star Trek novels were rarely any good.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have fan fiction that's beholden to no one and can do what the hell it likes with the characters, as long as that means turning the space adventure franchise into angsty smut. This also isn't my thing.

Somewhere between those two extremes (but still towards the safe end, because Pocket Books was publishing them) were the annual Strange New Worlds anthologies. For ten years, amateur writers from the U.S. and Canada were invited to submit their conservatively creative short stories set in the Star Trek universe for cash prizes and esteem.

I'm not sure why I never bought one of these books at the time, since I remember finding them intriguing. Presumably, spending my saved-up dinner money on two-episode VHS tapes and Smegazines was a higher priority. I got round to it eventually. Though I've mercifully limited myself to the stories ranked first, second and third by the editors of each book, rather than reading all 221 of them like some kind of Dave Warburton.

The cover images indicate which stories were awarded the Grand Prize in their respective collections. So let's see whether those all stack up neatly at the bottom, or if I have my own maverick opinions about The Top 30 Top 3 Strange New Worlds Stories.

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Top Ten Websites 2004

"I can't log on to this website to look at my friend's Nationwide-employed sister and imagine her in just her bra" - Me, apparently

Just to finish off this dooyoo trilogy that's been self-indulgent even by my standards, here's an absolutely pointless update of My Top Ten Websites 2003 from nine months later. It's the least anticipated sequel in history!

During that time, my original account was deleted when they noticed I'd been creating loads of fake accounts to click through all my reviews and fraud myself some extra dooyoo miles. I got my £40 Amazon voucher before that happened though, so pathetic crime pays. If they want it back, they can have it.

I came back under a new alias and behaved this time, which meant I also had the chance to give a second opinion on old topics and reveal the exciting progress of my boring teenage life. Fortunately, I'd leave for university five months later and my actual life could begin. During that time, I only dooyooed during the summer break when everyone else went home.

And here I am today, taking valuable time out of paid work to illustrate and [annotate] my old dooyoo reviews. Is that progress?