Monday 26 April 2021

New Release! Megacity - Part 3 of the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy


Out Now!

- M E G A C I T Y -

Click for Amazon (universal link)

Sequel to Hope and Wasteland

Operation Galton is named after Frederick Galton, a pioneer of eugenics in the 
late 19th and early 20th centuries; it was he who invented the term


The UK's new megacities: contented citizens relieved of the financial burden of home ownership, living in eco-friendly communities.  Total surveillance has all but wiped out crime, and biometric sensor implants detect illness before symptoms are apparent.

That's the hype.  Scratch the surface, and darker stories emerge.

Tara is offered the chance to become a princess amongst media influencers—as long as she keeps quiet and does as she's told. 

Aileen uproots to the megacity with some reluctance, but none of her misgivings prepare her for the situation she will face: a mother's worst nightmare. 

Radar has survived gang rule in group homes for the homeless, prison and bereavement, and jumps at the chance to live a 'normal' life.  But at what cost?

For all three, the price of living in a megacity may prove too high.

Megacity is the third and final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy, and is Terry Tyler's twenty-third publication.

'As long as some of us refuse to live as they demand, we are not yet beaten.  That's how we do it.  That's how we win.'

Thursday 15 April 2021

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV and film reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available in your country, this is a good site: Justwatch.  Just put the of the show into the search, and choose your country further down, from the drop-down menu.  It shows where you can stream, buy or rent.

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.

Please note the subtle difference between half star ratings; a 3.5 or 4.5 might be rounded up or down, depending on what I thought of the programme.

Series: Animal Kingdom Seasons 1-4 

(Amazon, Google Play, Sky Store)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About a criminal family in California, headed by mother Janine 'Smurf' Cody (Ellen Barkin) and her sons Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), 'Pope' (Shawn Hatosy) and Baz (Scott Speedman).  Smurf's grandson Joshua (Finn Cole) finds himself with no place to go, and becomes sucked into their world.

I got more and more into this as it went on; the heists are great to watch, the dysfunctional family politics grow more and more intriguing, I love how Joshua goes from nervous kid to quietly brilliant criminal mind, and Ben Robson as Craig is tongue-hanging-out gorgeous (see gif below trailer!).  Loved it - I missed them all when it was over.  Can't wait for Season 5 this summer; Season 6 will be the final season.

Film: Animal Kingdom 

(Apple, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Sky Store, Youtube online)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Australian film on which the series above was based.  Far less glamorous but still good - and Ben Mendelsohn plays the 'Pope' character - he's become a favourite actor of mine since he was in Bloodline.

Series: Genius: Picasso 

(via the National Geographic app, Sky Store, Amazon, Chili, Microsoft)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ten episodes, about the life, loves and art of Pablo Picasso, from his childhood in Spain in 1885 to his death in the South of France in 1973.  Alex Rich is fabulous as the young man, while Antonio Banderas plays the older version rather magnificently.

Throughout, it alternates between the later years and his earlier life, and these two thread move chronologically until the earlier life catches up - this works so well, and the years and places are always clearly indicated.

The scenery is just beautiful, particularly the Spanish and Parisian streets of the early part of the 20th Century.  I highly recommend this whether you have a particular interest in Picasso or not; I hadn't, but am now looking for the best biography of him!  This is part of the National Geographic's Emmy award winning series; I've started watching #3, about Aretha Franklin.

Series: Snowpiercer - Season 2 (Netflix)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

For those who don't know, Snowpiercer is a train of over a thousand carriages long that runs around the globe, and is the home of the last survivors in a frozen world.  You need to see S1 first :)

I liked this season better than the first - Sean Bean has appeared as the infamous Mr Wilford, bringing with him Alex, chief engineer Melanie's daughter who she left behind in the freezing world beyond the train.  If you loved the first season, you'll love this too.  The stand-out episode for me was no 6, in which Melanie, sure that the temperature is warming up, leaves the train to do a load of technical stuff to find out if this is indeed the case.... and, it shows the beginning, how Snowpiercer's journey began.

One of those that make you look up to see when S3 is going to be on, as soon as it finishes.

Documentary: No Safe Spaces (Amazon Prime)

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

US Comedian and podcast king Adam Corolla and radio host Dennis Prager expose the growing threat to free speech on university campuses and social media, and in your place of work - basically, anything outside that which is acceptable to those who subscribe to the far left woke culture.  Shows much footage of certain speakers being shouted down when invited to give talks at universities, even though open to reasonable, calm discussion.  

From Wikipedia: Some critics reviewed the movie positively. Alan Ng of Film Threat gave the film a 90 and wrote in his review, "When it’s all said and done, this film is offensive only to those who don't want to watch it." Variety's Owen Gleiberman praised the movie's defense of free speech, stating "the most head-turning point made by No Safe Spaces is that today's anti-free-speech radicals, who on many college campuses dominate the discourse, are going to be tomorrow's leaders."

Series: The Plot Against America (Sky Go, Now TV)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Six episodes, based on the book of the same name by Philip Roth. It is set in the US during World War II - but this is 'alternative history'.  Pilot, national hero and suspected Nazi sympathiser Charles Lindbergh challenges FDR for the presidency; FDR is pro-America joining the war, while Lindbergh is against it. Lindbergh is elected POTUS.  He says that it is England and the Jewish community that are trying to force American's entrance into the war.  Divisions in society culminate in the rise of fascism, particularly antisemitism.

The series follows the fate of one Jewish family, the Levins.  Schemes are begun to remove Jews to the rural heartland of America.  I imagined that we would see this taking place, with the new locations more bleak than had been promised, but it was only talked about.  Generally, the whole series was a little on the tame side.  There were reports of riots and violent incidents, protests, arson attacks, but we saw very little of this. The threat of danger was ever-present, but not a great deal happened - for instance, the main male character and his sons stop at a rural shop where they run into a Klu Klux Klan member, but he leaves them alone.

Then Lindbergh's plane crashed, they got a new president, and everything was all right again.  It was good, I enjoyed it and the idea was great, but it lacked impact.

Series: The Young Pope 

(Sky Go, Now TV, or buy as download on Amazon, Rakuten, Google Play)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jude Law has been chosen as Pope by Cardinals who think that, because he is relatively young and inexperienced, he will be easy to manipulate.  They're so wrong.  He declares that he wants to crack down on corruption, and the opening up of the Vatican to the public; the Cardinals are shocked to realise that he wishes them to live a life of modest and quiet worship.  Unusual and very, very good.

Series: The New Pope 
(Sky Go, or buy to download on Amazon)

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Actually Season 2 of The Young Pope, but it's got a different name.  Also stars John Malkovitch as the Pope John-Paul III while Pius XIII (Law) is unable to fulfil his duties (no spoilers!).  Both seasons deal with the subjects of corruption and the complicated one of faith, but it's all lighthearted... sort of.  The settings are stunning, and it's beautifully made.  Highly recommend both seasons.  Silvio Orlando as the Secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Angleo Voiello, was one of my favourite characters.  When I could stop ogling Jude Law, that is.

Film: Zack's Snyder's Justice League 

(Sky Go, HBO Max, Now TV)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Four hours long!  Batman (Ben Affleck) is determined to prove that Superman (Henry Cavill)'s last sacrifice was not in vain, so recruits other superheroes to fight against an approaching threat.  Jason Momoa as Aquaman was enough to make me give it a go ...  I thought four hours might be a bit much, but I enjoyed it all the way through.  Great escapism!


Film: Godzilla Vs Kong 

(Amazon, Apple - not free yet)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was a bit dubious about this film as I am not a monsters person (I haven't seen Jurassic Park or anything like that), but it was jolly good.  If you DO like this sort of thing, you'll probably love it.  

Series: Damien 

(Sky Go, Now TV, or buy on Amazon, Google Play, Chili, Microsoft)

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

One season only, sadly, from 2016.  Based on the film The Omen.  Ends just as it starts to get really interesting, ie, when Damien accepts what is happening to him.  Still worth watching, though.  Can't imagine why it was cancelled, it's much better than a lot of other rubbish that goes on and on, but there you go!

Trigger warning for Walking Dead fans:  Scott Wilson gets mauled to death by a group of satanic dogs. 😱😱😱

Series: The Walking Dead (AMC+, Amazon, Sky Go, Now TV)

Season 10x20 SPLINTER

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Season 10x21 DIVERGED

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Season 10x22 HERE'S NEGAN

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Full Review HERE

Documentary:White Riot (Amazon Prime)

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Rock Against Racism movement of the late 1970s - this was how such things were done then, with no social media or mobile phones!  Lots of archive footage and interviews with those involved, then and now.  Fascinating, and a great trip back in time for us oldies.

Film: The Toll (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu)

3* ⭐⭐⭐

Horror film about a woman who gets picked up in an Uber by a driver who seems a bit weird at first - until they break down on a lonely road and a lot of much more weird stuff starts happening.  Of its type, I thought at first that it was going to be good, but it got sillier and sillier.  It was okay.  If you like daft scary supernatural stuff, you may love it.

Thursday 1 April 2021

Review: #TWD S10x22 Here's Negan #TheWalkingDead

 Previously: Review S10x21 DIVERGED

 - S10 x 22  HERE'S NEGAN - 

Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Directed by Laura Belsey

Well, that's a big OMG from me—talk about saving the best till last!  One to watch again and again; I'd say it's up there with Morning Star, The Calm Before, Here's Not Here, This Sorrowful Life, No Sanctuary, No Way Out, etc.  So clever to have pulled an All Time Great out of the bag at the end of the bonus six.

If a piece of fiction ever showed how the post-apocalyptic world brings out the hitherto undiscovered best and worst in people, this is surely IT.   On the day Lucille heard news about people killing and eating each other, Negan discovered what was important in his life, i.e., her, and became the selfless, strong husband she knew he could be.  Later, although he'd given up the doctor and Laura's location because he had to get the medicine to Lucille, his basic decency and bravery made him go back to confront the thugs and do the right thing.

...but then the Negan we met in Last Day On Earth was born out of the flames of Lucille's funeral pyre.  The Negan he had always suspected lurked within, as he explained to the guy who'd tied him up.

'There were consequences to me seeing red; seeing red was a bad thing then...but now no-one's suing anybody ... now it's just a matter of what I am capable of, and I am starting to think that I am capable of damn near anything.'

In Walk With Us he said this to Alpha: 'When she was gone, I didn't feel much of anything anymore. I didn't feel scared, I didn't feel happy, I was just ... here.  And that is my strength', which made it sound like he was dead inside because of the pain of losing Lucille, but in this episode he delved deeper, and we found out there was so much more to it.

He said he made himself not feel anything because he didn't want to face his shame.  The shame about banging his ex, about Lucille not feeling able to tell him she had cancer, of acting like a rebellious teenager after he'd lost his job, but most of all, for leaving her alone at the end when she'd asked him not to.  

He referred to the Negan of the Sanctuary years as a 'clown', and a 'cult of personality with no cult' - so were his actions and how he presented himself partly down to self-hatred?  Was Sanctuary Negan a mask he wore, to disguise the real him from others, but also from himself?  

It's as though the two sides of him are constantly in conflict.  He seems satisfied with himself when he's Bad Negan, but maybe it's only a superficial satisfaction.  Then again, when he's been Good Negan for a while, he misses his dark side. 

His 'bad self' said that he was 'nothing without her'—this, I believe, is the root of the conflict.  His fear that without (wife) Lucille, Good Negan is gone forever.  But without (bat) Lucille, he has no strength.  And he rather liked being King.


The actual scenes in the cabin between Negan and Lucille were such a pull at the heartstrings; the emotion, the sadness.  So beautifully played by Jeffrey and Hilarie.  I loved that they had that time of happiness before she died.


I was pleased to see Lindsley Register in the titles at the beginning, as I thought she was one of those shouldn't-have-been-killed-off characters, especially as we now know she must have been the original Savior; it was a cool surprise.  And of course there was this historic moment they were yet to know was so important:

At the beginning, when Carol took him out to his new home, he made two mistakes: thinking that the good he's done over the past couple of years might have made his 'less recent history' not so prominent in people's minds (Daryl, Aaron, Rosita and Eugene were there on that night, never mind Maggie), and also telling Carol that she owed him.  Carol doesn't owe anyone anything.

So did the council really vote him into exile, or was it just Carol's decision, as Negan suspected?  Carol is the one person who is a mental match for him. They're alike; they both carry pain and shame with them, all the time, and Carol is capable of damn near anything, too.  Including giving him a chance, but not doing anything to help if Maggie does decide to kill him.  No, she doesn't owe anyone anything, and she was always bound to put Maggie first.  From the farm, to the prison, to this moment now, not as strangers—as family.

Lucille seemed like she was pretty tough, too.  Not unlike Carol.  Hiding her cancer from him, AC/DC on in the car, using the last bullet (the one that was meant to put her out of her misery?) on a Walker that her husband couldn't kill.

More great moments... 

  • Maggie and Hershel walking along, talking about Glenn had a real feel of S5 and 6 about it (see under picture for clip of opening minutes).

  • This scene - wonder if he was thinking of Carl?

  • The glimpses of Rick and Michonne 😍 
  • I love seeing the 'back at the beginning' bits in flashbacks, in the world when there were still vehicles with petrol, when people didn't know how to and were scared of killing Walkers, and further back, when there were just these weird reports on the news (reminded me of Shane telling Rick how it was at first, just a few reports...)
  • How, once Maggie had said good morning only to Barbara, Hershel sang the line 'please don't take my sunshine away' as the camera followed Negan.
  • Now we know where the 'shitting pants' speech came from... bit different when you're playing those video games for real, though.

  • That he and Lucille had obviously looted a wig shop :)

Lucille said that she could always see the man he was even when he wasn't; maybe if she shouldn't have given his jacket back!  It's become so symbolic, like he puts it on and becomes Bad Negan again.  Then again, he swaggered into Alexandria without it on at the end, still looking like the old him.  Which made me wonder about the symbolism of him burning Lucille Bat in the fire—does this herald the beginning of a new Negan?

I suspect that in S11 we are going to see a cross between the king of the Sanctuary and the guy who picks tomatoes in Alexandria.  A little of one, a little of the other.  What do you think?  And will Maggie kill him?  If anyone is going to, it has to be her, surely?

Thank you so much to Angela, Jeffrey, Lauren, Melissa, Norman, Seth, Ross, Paola, Khary, Hilarie, Seven, David Boyd, Laura Belsey, David Leslie Johnson McGoldrick, Kevin Dieboldt and everyone else who has brought these six episodes to us while we wait for Season 11!

*drums fingers waiting for late summer...*

Negan and Lucille's song :)

Other TWD posts (gif/picture posts)

Thank you, TWD Actors!