Thanks Starman, RIP David Bowie

I’ve been in mourning for a few days now. It was unexpected and I struggled to understand it. I have finally realised a thing or two. Having lived with the creative legacy of David Bowie for years it dawned on me how influential his work has been on my life and my creative outlook. Musically and artistically. Being too young I was never a Ziggy follower, I caught up with cover versions, however David Jones crept into my creative subconscious by stealth.

Year in, year out, David Bowie has been a constant, like a distant star that blinks back at you from eternity. Periodically releasing new tracks and challenging listeners to adapt and listen. I never imagined he would stop making music. I never imagined he could physically stop. I mean, the Rolling Stones continue so why shouldn’t David Bowie? And now, sadly, he has moved on, out into bright stars he often wrote about. A Starman waiting in the sky. Thank you David Jones for your passion, music, art, films, cryptic lyrics, personas and creative ethos.

Re-watching Bowie documentaries and music videos I was reminded of how to create, how to push boundaries and envelopes. To challenge your subconscious. For example, the borrowed cut-out lyrics and randomise technique; the immersion in new cultures and knitting together of disparate strands; the refusal to stand still; and of course the ability to rock out too. It finally sank in how much David Bowie influenced me on a personal level. Musically, emotionally and in my writing.

The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger are two of the films David Bowie starred in. I love them both. Sure they are flawed, but they stayed in my memory and wound their way into my subconscious. They are arty, risqué for their time and thought-provoking. Perhaps though not the finished article by modern airbrushed standards. We can forgive this if we realise they would be unlikely to be made in today’s teen marketing world.

The Man Who Fell to Earth tells how an alien is trapped on Earth and struggles to return to his home world with much-needed water. People around him use his knowledge and effectively use him for their own ends.  The core of the story influenced part of what became Sean Yeager Adventures – the aliens trapped on Earth and looking for a means of escape.

The Hunger is a vampire movie, but what a movie! OK it is very eighties, however look at the coolness, the calculation of the characters. The smoothness of the scenes. The film considers aspects of the vampire myth which other stories paper over. Can love survive immortality?  What if you become bored? Jealous? If you push too far?

Musically there is so much to choose from in David Bowie’s back catalogue. So many hits and experiments. My personal highlights are:

Heroes live – it’s the love story and the sense of drama, their struggle against ‘the man’. A piece of Berlin history frozen in musical time. The tension and passion of the apparently doomed lovers with shots ringing over their heads. Why are they doomed?  Do they get out alive?  Are they Heroes for challenging the powers or for daring to love?  We hope they find their freedom and escape, it’s the rousing anthem for so many personal struggles and ambitions.

Ashes to Ashes – what moves me is the offbeat music, the swirling synths, the other worldly images with inverted lighting and the oblique lyrics. Again there is a strong story, this time of a struggle to clean up and leave behind the ‘little green wheels’ and ‘sordid details far away’.  The mother references echo through the song and the video where we witness a clown being nagged by his mum. Little surprise then that David Bowie also story boarded many of his videos with the key scenes he wanted to include. A drowning clown, a bulldozer funeral. Exquisite and bitter-sweet.

Hallo Spaceboy – the live version with NIN. David Bowie experimented and collaborated throughout his career. Lou Reed and Iggy Pop are two well-known recipients of his talent as a producer. What happens though when a great artist trusts another producer to evolve his own work?  Beautiful mayhem, noise and tension result.

Loving the Alien – is a hidden classic in my view. It masquerades as a bright and breezy pop song. Beneath the surface it is anything but. My perception is that Bowie comments on relationships, alienation, international politics and competing world religions. Or does he? Once again there is a collage of ideas and images to interpret. The music shimmies and glides effortlessly. Do I detect Red Dwarf’s theme tune pre-empted in there somewhere?

Of course I have selected only a tiny portion of the material in David Bowie’s catalogue. I could easily add: I’m Afraid of Americans, Where are we now?, Jump They Say, Thursday’s Child, Blue Jean, Suffragette City and John I’m Only Dancing.  I guess we all have our favourites among the recognised greatest hits and album tracks. With the advent of personal MP3s and smart phones we can shuffle and playlist to our heart’s content for as long as we choose. David Bowie’s spirit will never leave us.

Can you hear me Major Tom?  We are sure to  hear David Bowie’s work on the airwaves and in our playlists for many years to come, but for me at the moment planet Earth is indeed blue.

RIP David Jones, long live your creations.

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musings of a former hapless dad – a primer for new Dads

I’ve been fascinated with the recent news item in the UK about #HaplessDad Matt Coyne and his hilarious reports from the front line of being a new father. It reminded me of more than a few ‘Dad moments’ while caring and attempting to be competent as an untrained father myself.  Here are a few highlights / lowlights, with my tongue firmly in cheek and please note that all parties survived unscathed in our family. Even after the bouncing incident. Shhh. Need to know only.

Stay at the mum’s head end if you attend the birth, especially for a C-section. Unless you are medically non-squeamish this will prevent you bouncing on the floor when you pass out. Though you may be screamed at, slapped, squeezed etc. by mum. Passing out is embarrassing for you and expensive if they have clean up after you. I was parked on a stool head between knees feeling like a complete jerk. Involuntary Vagus reaction is my plea bargain. I did recover in time for the main event,  just about.

Prepare your answer in advance for ‘do you want to cut the cord Dad?’  No one warned me of this bizarre tribal ritual. Apparently the umbilical cord does not unscrew itself, surely this is an evolutionary oversight?  Do you want to keep and pan fry the after-birth? Clearly this depends on where you stand on cannibalism and ‘normal’ dietary sources of iron. Hopefully this is a rare question and we can skip over it. So let’s move on rapidly.

Keep out of the maternity ward as far as possible. The ladies there will be in various stages of near birth, post birth, waiting for birth and potentially screaming a lot. Not alone do you not understand, being a man, you also have never met the woman who has waited 18 hours to be induced and wants a natural pool birth which is being cleaned out in readiness. She will most likely be scary. Can’t say I blame her either.

Remember to catch the whole of your baby, not just the neck. Baby will be bright purple, pink or red. Apparently that’s normal. People will call it ‘baby’ so come up with a name really quickly if that irks you. The moment a nurse or doctor hands you your new-born is one you will remember for life. So prepare your forearm to support their neck, hands for the back and what ever you do don’t fumble the pass!  Your child will be tiny.

Don’t party on your first nights as Dad, get some sleep in!  Well do party a bit while Mum and child are in hospital becoming bonded, but remember you have two, perhaps three nights of sleep left before you become a zombie. I mean literally you will turn into the walking dead with a thumping headache and no idea which way is up. Kind of like having jet lag where the plane is constantly chasing new time zones. It hurts. Use your free nights to watch or do whatever you want within reason (football, films, guitar, tennis, drilling, drumming, clubbing). These are your last nights of freedom for a number of years. Ensure you also practice 8 hours of sleep so you can remember what it is like, when three months later your child is wide awake and demanding your attention at 12am, 1am, 2am, 2.15am and 3am.  On a good night. Remember it’s your fault and it’s your turn! Attend to your child.

Repeat after me ‘what do you think is best < insert partner’s name>?’  As a new Dad your partner will take it as a given that you have no idea how to look after her baby. You can fetch, carry, assist and read the books. You did read the books right?  The correct answer is ‘yes of course’. Remember though it is her baby and you are the helper in your infinitely flawed way for a while. It might be weeks, it might be years. You will make mistakes no matter how diligent you are. That’s ok, pat yourself on the back periodically. No one else will. You didn’t buy a bigger buggy?  A high chair?  An expandable crib? Ahhhh!

NASA, the CIA and Fort Knox must design and approve your baby’s first car seat. It will not fit easily into your car either. If an egg could crack in it at two miles an hour over heavy terrain it is simply not good enough. You scrimped and bought a second-hand seat?  Shame on you!  Baby will certainly catch malaria, typhoid, the flu and Martian baby syndrome from the unclean seat fabric. Ditch it. Don’t even think of selling it on you fiend!  It is an unwritten rule that all first-mums must have immaculate and new equipment. They don’t really need it, but it is more than your life is worth to disagree. You didn’t read that here ok?

Get an easily portable Moses basket with a stand.  I’m surprised you’ve not done so already, a furniture drawer and newspaper is not good enough!   Seriously though, it will make life much easier for you both. Your baby can be carried from room to room in said basket. By you. At all times of day and night.

Homecoming is surreal, prepare for ‘the momentary silence’.  So you’ve been through the birth, however closely or remotely it turned out. You have a child at home safely and no idea what happens next. For a few seconds there will be silence. No hospital ward bleeps, yelps and rumbling noises. Silence. You will say something like, ‘Wow isn’t he / she amazing?’ Treasure that moment. Shortly afterwards all hell will break out. Babies cry like fog horns without a coded message. Tired, ill, hungry, soiled, wanting attention?  Who can tell?  It will become obvious after a few days as you attune to the different demand calls from your son / daughter. They mostly eat, get winded, release overspill cheese, sleep and soil in a cycle. Sometimes they do all these things at once.

Nothing except a deep wash will remove the cheese smell from your baby’s overflow. Baby will gurgle, smile sweetly and chunder all over your best work clothes and shoes without warning. This will happen, I guarantee you.  It will smell like Parmesan and only the best cleaners can remove it. The same goes for the sofa, carpet and your cherished possessions.  Best to keep baby in an easily cleaned zone and to wear combat fatigues. Do not be tempted or tricked into holding your baby in full work regalia just prior to rushing off to an important appointment or commute. You have been warned. Also nappies must be secured tight to your child’s body with tape at all times, don’t ask why it’s not a nice answer.

Babies drink and breathe to trap air and need to be burped after every feed. It’s almost a given. They drink, they hold their breath and trap air. No burping is a bad thing, it means they will scream later and you’ll have no idea why. The coded scream for trapped painful wind is often combined with tears and a look of reproach. ‘How could you force all that air into my tummy parents? Just wait until I’m a teenager! When I choose your care home I’ll remember everything.’

Changing a nappy requires breathing through your mouth. It can stink. Especially if it’s all the way up baby’s back. Bright yellow, runny. I hope you’re not eating anything right now. Fortunately you probably have the parenting gene to get on with it pretty quickly. Mop up, seal the mess away and prepare for the inevitable open-air wee all over the place. Yep it’s gonna happen. Usually while your child is chuckling and waving their limbs around in a happy way. They fool you into lowering your guard and then they let rip.

Prepare to learn about projectile vomiting and cleaning products. Watch the Exorcist and read up on cleaning materials for fabrics and carpet. A metre or more of splatter zone is often a personal best for baby, I’m sure they know aim for this. While mum is tending your recovering child, you will be returning the splatter zone to its former glory, for hours. I recommend breathing through your mouth a lot, loads of paper to lift the debris and a couple of bin bags. Plus carpet cleaner, bucket and cloths. Yuck. But they pay you to be a parent right?  LOL.

Babies become a whole lot more interesting to us men when they can communicate. In other words, whisper it, they can be a bit boring until they become attentive, smile, laugh, chuckle, walk, earn a living, leave home. In the early days they sleep a lot, eat a lot and recycle their waste in new and exciting colours. If it seems dull to you, it gets better. You are not evil for thinking that a child waving its limbs around on a mat is not as great as a football match. However, do not share this with your partner! Grin and bear with the dull months. Tickle and play with your child. Teach them what great music sounds like and how the government is going wrong; who should be selected for your sports team. They will have no idea what you are talking about. It’s the tone of voice and attention they like. At 3am try anything that works. Elvis worked for us. Thank God.

Most babies are podgy and change looks significantly over time.  I’m sure there are exceptions, but as a general rule a healthy baby will plump up and eventually thin out as they grow into a toddler and child. Pretty, ugly, like someone in your family?  In the early days it is anyone’s guess. Their hair arrives, vanishes and grows back. It’s probably best to agree with everyone about who your child takes after. It also saves a lot of time. They could look like anyone from Al Capone to Mr Blobby as a young baby. Pinkish, breathing?  That will do thanks.

They really are cute, amazing and life changing. Only the hardest of heart could deny that a bright-eyed baby will not melt your heart. And potentially twist you round their little finger. Your life will never be the same. Most likely it will be a whole lot richer, though with less sleep and less available money. A lot less sleep. What was that ‘free time’ thing again?   Your own child is not like other children. They are cuter, brighter, prettier, look like both of you and so on. Oops spoiler alert for (possible) subsequent articles.

Well that’s all for now about the early months. I had a lot of fun reminiscing about the early days. Like the film said you have to take some time out to reflect every now and then or life passes you by (Ferris Buehler’s Day Off).

So you’ll be relieved to know I’m not planning to write any parenting books, instead I blog about a variety of topics and keep the published writing to film-scapes for intelligent children (i.e. all of them). It is amazing how quickly they grow up and how much children’s imaginations can stretch beyond books, films and TV. If you have older children (7 to 14) check out some free chapters here. The short-hand labels are: middle grade, action, adventure, sci-fi. It was a whole lot of fun to write these books, but that is another story.

Best of luck if you are a new parent, you’ll be great. Repeat that mantra three times a day before meals. Sedatives may be required and all have side-effects. You do not want a hangover with young children around. Trust me, it is something you only do once.

Best

D.M. Jarrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars turn & dice based board game

Hi, here are the rules (revision 1.2) for an easy ‘do it yourself’ Star Wars turn and dice based board game we invented.  We played this over Xmas and had great fun, it is really cool to use Star Wars tokens on a designed board. We used a Stratego board for convenience and are designing our own custom boards for various planets. You could also play on a chess board or a hexagonal gaming board.

This game is a mixture of strategy and luck. It will be familiar in style to seasoned gamers. You can use any board and any suitable tokens (card, discs or thick paper will also work).

Star Wars turn based dice game in progress

Star Wars turn based dice game in progress

 

 

 

 

 

You will need:

  • Two equal sets (10 each) of Star Wars tokens or small toys
  • Two sets of six ‘attack / defence’ dice
  • One pyramid four sided ‘fate’ dice (OR use a standard dice)
  • A board with big enough squares for your tokens (8×10, 10×10 12×12 etc)
  • Two strips of squares with 3, 2, 1 written on for Repairs in Hangar
  • Two players
  • Print out these rules

BATTLE SCENARIO:

Our scenario is either a space battle between the Empire and Rebels or  a land based battle (as per the picture). The objective is to destroy the Flag Ship of your opponent. The game ends when this is achieved. You can adapt this game, it is intended to be  straightward and strategic.

FLEETS / ARMIES:

We use tokens from Hasbro Micromachines because they are small and cool. Printed board (glued) or disc tokens will also work. Also figures & vehicles for ground battles (1 flag vehicle, 6 troops, 3 heavy troops, same rules).

REBELS:

  • 1 x Millenium Falcon as Flag Ship  (Transporter for land battle)
  • 6 x X Wing Fighters as Fighters (5 Troops / 1 Jedi for land battle)
  • 3 x Y Wing Bombers as Bombers (3 x Snowspeeders for land battle)

EMPIRE:

  • 1 x Star Destroyer as Flag Ship (Troop lander for land battle)
  • 6 x various Tie fighters as Fighters (5 Troops / 1 Sith for land battle)
  • 3 x Tie Bombers as Bombers (3 x AT STs for land battle)

GAMEPLAY:

You commence with only each Flag Ship on the board in opposite corners. You agree any no-go zones on the board with your opponent. You aim to destroy your opponent’s Flag Ship in any way you choose. You can deploy any number of your craft or none. The choice of strategy is yours. The game ends when one Flag Ship is destroyed.

Throw a dice each to decide who goes first, if you tie keep rolling until someone wins.

In each player’s turn:

  • Move or Deploy up to two craft
  • Attack with up to two craft – indicate which targets
  • Repair damaged craft in your hangar by one turn

REMEMBER:

MOVE / DEPLOY;  ATTACK;  REPAIR on each turn.

MOVES:

To any empty square in any direction (vertical, horizontal or diagonal or a combination), up to the maximum move squares per craft. An occupied square is blocked, you can not jump over an occupied square. This means that blocking is a tactical option.

DEPLOY:

To any empty square adjoining your Flag Ship and in total up to the maximum move squares per craft. A craft can enter the board and move in the same turn. You may not deploy a damaged craft until fully repaired. You can move the same piece twice in one turn. You do not have to use all the maximum squares per move. You do not have to deploy craft unless you want to. Deployment patterns are a tactical decision as are the squares used per move.

Maximum craft squares per move (and Deploy):

  • Two craft per player turn in any combination
  • Flag Ship – one square
  • Fighter – up to three squares
  • Bomber – up to two squares

ATTACK / DEFENCE:

Attacks are announced after the move (or Deploy) stage in a player’s turn. Craft can attack any adjoining squares at the distances indicated. Players throw the number of dice indicated per craft for each attack and defence. You can only attack over two squares in a straight line (horizontal, vertical or diagonal)  if there are no craft blocking and if your craft has the range to do so.

Depending on the craft you throw different numbers of dice. It is only the highest number on any one dice which matters. In the event of a tie both players roll again until there is a clear winner. If the defender wins, the attack fails. If the attacker wins, the Fate Dice is thrown by the attacker. (See examples below.)

REPAIR:

A craft damaged in battle goes directly back to their hangar for repairs (lift from board to 3 or 2 position in your hangar). They are out of the game until fully repaired. Use your strip to count down the turns from 3, 2, 1  to ready for deployment. A craft can be repaired multiple times. If you forget to move your repair craft down a level in your turn that’s your loss! Remember Move / Deploy; Attack; Repair.

CRAFT RULES : Attack and Defence Dice, Range, Lives:

For Space battle:

  • Flag ship – 6 dice, two square attack range, 2 lives
  • Fighter – 1 dice, one square attack range, 1 life
  • Bomber – 2 dice, two square attack range, 1 life

For Land battle:

  • Landing ship – 4 dice, two square attack range, 2 lives
  • Troops – 1 dice, one square attack range, 1 life
  • Jedi / Sith – 2 dice, one square attack range, 1 life
  • Snowspeeder / AT AT – 3 dice, two square attack range, 1 life

FATE DICE:

  • 1 – near miss, play on, defender escaped
  • 2 – damaged, return defender directly to hangar for 2 player turns
  • 3 – badly damaged, return defender directly to hangar for 3 player turns
  • 4 – destruction, remove immediately from the board, no repair, EXCEPT for first the hit on a Flag Ship – remove 4 defender’s dice from play

Note: if you don’t have a pyramid dice use the following with a 6 sided dice:

  • 1 – near miss – play on
  • 2 – damaged, return defender to hangar for 2 turns
  • 3 – badly damaged, return defender to hangar for 3 turns
  • 4 – destroyed – remove from board, EXCEPT for first hit on a Flag Ship – remove 4 defender’s dice from play
  • 5 – destroyed – remove from board, EXCEPT for first hit on a Flag Ship – remove 5 defender’s dice from play
  • 6 – Attacker weapon jammed – roll again

Attack / Defence examples:

  • Fighter vs Fighter at range of adjoining squares
  • Attack 2 on dice, Defence 4 on dice – result – defender escapes
  • Attack 6 on dice, Defence 6 on dice – result – re-roll all dice
  • Attack 6 on dice, Defence 3 on dice – result – roll fate dice
  • Bomber vs Fighter at range of two squares
  • Attack 2, 3 on dice, Defence 4 on dice – result – defender escapes
  • Attack 6, 6 on dice, Defence 6 on dice – result – re-roll all dice
  • Attack 4, 5 on dice, Defence 6 on dice – result – defender escapes
  • Attack 1, 4 on dice, Defence 3 on dice – result – roll fate dice
  • Attack 1, 5 on dice, Defence 5 on dice – result – re-roll all dice
  • Flag Ship vs Bomber at range of two squares
  • Attack  1, 3, 3, 5, 6, 2, Defence 1, 6 on dice – result re-roll all dice
  • Attack 1,2,4, 3, 4, 2, Defence 1, 5 on dice – result defender escapes
  • Attack 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1 – Defence 1, 2 on dice – result roll fate dice

Flag Ship two lives example:

  • First attack – Flag ship loses
  • Fighter vs Flag Ship at range of adjoining squares
  • Attack 6, Defence 1, 3, 4, 2, 5, 3 – result roll fate dice
  • Fate dice = 4 – destruction – remove 4 dice of Flag Ship defence
  • Second Attack – Flag ship wins
  • Flag Ship vs Bomber at range of two squares
  • Attack 1, 6, Defence 4, 5 – result roll fate dice
  • Fate dice = 4 – Bomber destroyed, remove Bomber from board
  • Third Attack – Flag Ship loses and destroyed
  • Flag Ship vs Flag Ship (already damaged) at range of two squares
  • Attack 2, 5, 6, 6, 1, 1, Defence 2, 5 – result roll fate dice
  • Fate dice =  4 – Defence Flag Ship destroyed and GAME WON

In Summary:

Games can be quick if Flag ships attack each other or longer if all craft are deployed. Fighters and bombers can skirmish or block. Bomber runs are an option. A lowly fighter could win the game, but the risks are high. Try out a mixture of tactics. How brave are your Fighters and Bombers?

I hope you enjoy the game, drop me a line when you play. Send pictures and I’ll post the best.

Happy gaming

D.M. Jarrett

Sean Yeager Adventures website

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star science dumbed down – spoiler alert

Like millions of people around the world I enjoyed the latest Star Wars movie. I have since been mulling over the writing, being a writer, and there is one aspect of the film that will not go away. And no, Darth Vader and Stormtroopers should never wear rodent ears it is not cool! (I refer to merchandise in Disney shops).

Note: this blog entry includes plot spoilers for Star Wars The Force Awakens.

To be clear, I enjoyed the movie and it is great entertainment, mostly because of the action sequences. I will now be critical. I make no apology for this because it was so avoidable. The science part of the new Death Star sucks really badly. It’s not great writing to re-write Episode IV so obviously, worse to dumb down science so much. Even in entertainment we need to respect our audience, that is an unwritten rule of writing.

If you live on a snow covered planet you will be millions of miles away from your nearest star. It takes a long time to travel that distance. Stars incidentally are enormous nuclear fusion reactors burning at about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. They tend to be way larger in volume than their nearest planets.  They tend to give out a lot of light, radiation and heat, which helps life exist in their solar systems. So how is it possible to suck fusion energy out of your nearest star, absorb it and blow it out again as a weapon?   And in addition to split that energy flow into three beams in mid-space to wipe out several planets?

Yes it is fiction, but does it have to be this dumbed down?  The entire concept of the new First Order weapon is nonsense. It would need energy and a mechanism to suck anything from the star, the death planet itself would experience fusion reactions if it drew in that kind of energy / matter  (just like the target planets). The creative logic sucks, the science is plain wrong. How do you throw fusion matter / energy back out into space?  How does it split millions of miles out? Once you have drained the star what then?  You freeze to death, having previously been vapourised by the extreme heat. Even in film logic can we take it as read that a sun is hot?  It melts stuff? Including the First Order…  A fusion reaction inside your own planet?  Get out of here!!!

Time will tell, I find it annoying as a plot flaw because the Star Wars writers could have kept it plausible. For example, it could have been a weapon generating its own energy beam or launching meteorites. They could have avoided all this trashing of science. I don’t think dumbing down science works in science fiction. You tend to irritate people who have studied science, which is pretty much anyone from middle grade upwards.

It also reminded me how much they simply lifted from Episode IV and re-dramatised.  Not exactly moving the series onwards are they? We have the new Empire, rebranded ‘First Order’. Very Third Reich, very been there and done it. A new Skywalker Jedi, a new Death Star, a new Darth Vader. A new R2D2. A new Emperor.  Divided family loyalties – check. So where is the new plot now?  It’s a remake pretty much. It’s only the runaway stormtrooper that is new. And the ludicrous Captain Phasma who looks completely out of place (what were they thinking?) . Next time how about keeping it vaguely plausible and writing a new plot?

And then I saw the Disney shop merchandise with rodent ears. Yuck! Not cool, not funny! Not buying any of it!  Next there will be rebel  princess outfits….

Happy New Year.

D.M. Jarrett

website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars, The Force Awakens – A reboot in bigger shoes – fan review (no plot spoilers)

Hi there, I have just returned from watching the long-awaited Star Wars episode VII The Force Awakens. Here is my review, there are no plot spoilers so chill out and enjoy. I hope you find this review useful. By way of background I watched the original Star Wars movies ( IV to VI) in a cinema when they first came out and each film and spin-off since. I am somewhere between a fan and a fanatic. I liked the Star Trek reboot.

Is Star Wars, The Force Awakens worth seeing?

Yes, it looks great and it is entertaining.  JJ Abrams has rebooted the series in a way that fans of episodes 4 and 5 will love. There are parallels with A New Hope and in many ways it is a stretch of the original films with knowing references to the best aspects of the original Star Wars trilogy. Star Wars The Next Generation would be a fair summary. (And let’s forget all about the prequels shall we?)

How good is the plot?

Fast and furious with plenty of action, exactly how a blockbuster should be. Fortunately with some fun and humanity included. And equally fortunately without any daft creatures to irritate the audience. (Ewoks saved the galaxy?  Get out of here!)

In my view, The Force Awakens is better than episodes 1 to 3 and 6. I don’t think it is quite as good as the original Star Wars A New Hope although the visuals and 3D are very impressive. I say this mostly because there is a fair amount of repetition and open franchising included in The Force Awakens.  For example, a female Stormtrooper Captain adds little to the plot except to be more ‘PC’. A poser and another character for merchandising is about all she adds up to.

From a writer’s perspective the plot is a bit obvious given it is the usual good versus evil situation, with some twists that you can see coming.  Again The Force is all-powerful and neither Sith nor Jedi can die.  The parallels to the Third Reich are somewhat prevalent which I find tiresome. There is a one giant plot hole which relates to the sun. You’ll understand when you see the film.

Highlights / lowlights?

The best parts for me are the ruins and attack sequences, which are in abundance. There were plenty of plot nuances and knowing references to entertain. And one pretty obvious open question left hanging at the end.

The worst parts of the film for me were the repetition of themes and some implausible science. It is almost as if a ‘bigger and better’ ethos is the driving force here. Pun intended.  This is not a more realistic take on Star Wars it is good but not great. Someone could have checked out just how silly light speed is for example.  In other words suspend all disbelief.

What was Mark Hamill talking about at the premiere?

Who knows? Perhaps he was bored with being told what to do by the PR machine that is now Disney / Lucasfilm and all the big money men who will make fortunes from the rebooted Star Wars industry. My other theory is that he’s not overly keen on his part and bargaining for the future i.e. playing hard to get. Who knows?

In summary:

If you love the original Star Wars films rush out and see this one. If you disliked the prequels (Episodes 1 to 3) relax, this is far better. However, if you have not enjoyed the classic Star Wars films  I doubt this film will appeal to you. It is both a parallel and an extension, the same only more so. A re-boot in bigger shoes.

Happy film watching and season’s greetings

D. M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

Fast paced, action, adventure sci-fi set on a near real Earth, for middle grade and young adult readers.

Sean Yeager Adventures website

Fast-moving, action-packed and humorous – Jenifer C, Amazon

A great read for boys with all the toys! – Love2readUK, Amazon

A great story – we’re looking forward to the next one – Jollygood, Amazon

Make this into a movie now! – Dragonone, Amazon

This book is a must-read – Lavamitts, Amazon

This story reads like an action ride and I enjoyed the ride – Partyplanner, Amazon

 

Readers love Sean Yeager Adventures books

Sean Yeager books are written to inspire and excite readers. I often hear feedback from parents and I ask what their child likes and ‘why?’ Here are some highlights.

If you are considering buying a present for a child in your life (8 to 15) take a look at a free sample of the first chapters: DNA Thief and Hunters Hunted .

Verbal feedback about DNA Thief:

Mike:  My son raved about the DNA Thief, he said it was the best book he’s read. He loved the action and insisted on writing his own Amazon review. He’s quite selective about what he reads and he took his time reading it because he didn’t want to miss anything. I was taken aback, we’ll buy the second book as a special present.

Alison: Our son was up until late reading DNA Thief and he wouldn’t put it down. He finished the book within two days. He says it’s his second favourite to Percy Jackson. He loves all the gear and gizmos. He asked if there can be more machines and gear in the next book? He wants to know what happens next.

Anne: My son read both books from cover to cover in a few days. He’s now read it twice and raves about the characters. He’s been designing pictures of craft and bases inspired by  the book. He can’t wait to read the third book. He’s asked if there can be more jokes and lots of incidents. He loves the characters and wants to know more about what happens next.

Here are some Amazon.co.uk reviews in the words of the reviewers:

It is sci-fi and an action thriller rolled into one, and centres on Sean Yeager, who believes he is fairly ordinary until a burglary at his home reveals he is anything but. The boy is spirited away by a protector he didn’t know he had – The Foundation. From there the plot unravels at terrific speed, and reveals secrets about Sean’s Dad and his own status.
My only comment would be that the title and cover graphics might not be as enticing to kids as they should be – this book deserves to be read! The other character names, such as Major Clavity and Greerbo – are certainly spot on.
Both tongue-in-cheek and seat-of-your-trousers thrilling, it is cleverly written ‘take’ on the ‘Boy Fights World’ philosophy of more well known titles and, in my view, stands up just as well. Love2readuk

There was so much action in this fast-paced thrill ride that I kept seeing it as a movie in my head. Never sure where the story was going, I decided to sit back and enjoy the ride. What would have helped was to have put on some popcorn first! Although I understand that this is the first in the series I wanted to know more about Sean and indeed his mom who is quite the character and I laughed every time she shows up. I hope we see more of her in the series. What I also really liked was the fact that the bad guys really are bad guys and not some laughable buffoons like we tend to see in so many other kid stories. DragonOne

Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is a fast-moving action-packed novel containing lots of exciting, humorous and thrilling scenes. This book is a must-read and a worthy competitor for James Bond. The story is about an organisation that has set out to protect a boy named Sean Yeager, who has special powers. Although he is only a boy, a lot of trouble was spent to kidnap and protect him and it’s fun finding out why. This book has really excited me and I can’t wait until the next book comes out!:-) LavaMitts

And a review from Goodreads USA:

I will put this book into my reading cupboard for my high school students as they will enjoy it. This story had action and an interesting storyline and I want to know what is going to happen to Sean and why he is so important to the Founder. How do I get this next book?  A, Goodreads

 

Wishing you a great holiday season and a Happy New Year!

I’ll be busy preparing for the celebrations, while finding time to develop book 3 Claws of Time which is now plotted and in progress. There are so many ideas I’m struggling to fit them all in!

Happy reading

D.M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

Sean Yeager Adventures website

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An alternate plot for Star Wars Episode Seven

As a bit of fun I have imagined a crazy continuation for Star Wars Episode Seven…. Hope you like it.

Luke has turned to the dark side mostly because he was bored and the evil ones always get the best chicks. He dons a mask and pretends to be a dark Lord. No one else knows who he is and he enjoys the anonymity. The pay is better and his ship goes faster. Gathering the remains of the Empire around him he goes in search of the last Jedi, secretly hoping it is a lady Jedi that he can get friendly with.

Meanwhile, Princess Leia has become a feminist and having defeated countless enemies she has thrown away her light sabre in disgust at their weakness. Unable to find a real man, she now runs a health food shop and is heavily pregnant with a surrogate child. Actually twins (blame her mother). She pines for the days when she ran her own nation.

Han Solo hit the bottle soon after breaking up with Princess Leia. She was too much of a handful so he hit the space highway. He makes a living smuggling illicit fast food and soft drinks from planet to planet, much to Leia’s disgust. The Millennium Falcon is now way past its best and limps from place to place scraping by heaps of space junk that drift around.

Darth Vader is still alive and in a home for retired villains who became sort of good again. He didn’t really die, it was all a bad dream. They put his helmet back on and he survived. Far from being in a Jedi heaven he is now a resident of a home for alien elderlies and dribbles a lot into this breakfast cereal. All his midi / metachlorians have left for the beach and he no longer has any powers. Ahhh. However he still remembers all his past glories and delights in recalling them to anyone within earshot.

Chewbacca is now father to twenty young Wookies. Overrun and overworked, he escapes to his job every day he can. He earns a living guiding tourists around Kashyyyk while explaining the finer points of philosophy, the meaning of life and the supreme being with his trademark ‘raroorowwwwull!’  Strangely no one understands a word, but the scenes are pretty.

A faction of 10,000 clones have learned about their true past and rebelled. Wearing their old uniforms they have escaped servitude and opted for a life of leisure and indulgence as hippies. They set up a commune and roped in some local females on the paradise planet of Ylesia. Everything was going really well until they upset some local fanatics and ended up in a never-ending war all over again. Fortunately they kept their uniforms and blasters…. They all answer to the name ‘Bob’.

Luke succeeds in finding the last Jedi who turns out to be his own child, created by artificial means while he was in hospital,  and who has been parented  by Lando Calrissian (who had a secret crush on him for years) with a slave girl he freed from Jabba the Hutt.

The last young Jedi is a girl (naturally) who enjoys drag racing, arm wrestling and bungee jumping. When told about her powers she says ‘yeah, so what, they can keep the Galaxy for all I care’ and elopes with a hunky dune biker in the direction of the nearest horizon. Luke tries to stop her and she uses the force against him.

Luke calls on Leia for support and together they talk his daughter into a life of selfless dedication to the Force. She agrees to this on condition they buy her a guitar, a pimped out space ship and take her snow boarding three times a year.

The galaxy meanwhile is a total mess. Space junk clutters up most hyperspace lanes and each planet has long since given up on being ruled by an Empire that did not work. Everyone is happy again and dances to non-disco music in their own dialects.

The Death Star project has long since been downgraded to the Intergalactic Communications Monitoring project, due to lack of funds. The majority of previous employees of the Empire were laid off years ago and most make their livings from vehicle maintenance, dentistry and working as security guards.

The Sith formed a heavy metal band and tour regularly wearing their costumes. They have a following on most planets and have tired of ruling the galaxy. ‘We could right, if we wanted to, but then some Jedi dudes would come and chop us up, so whatever.’

The Skywalker clan relocates to a far flung planet and become Vegans. Han Solo shunts a space station and ends up in jail with a broken wrist. No more drinking for him. Chewbacca becomes a linguist. Lando Calrissian volunteers to be the Skywalkers’ housekeeper, which they accept reluctantly. Darth Vader bores everyone to death with his stories of galaxy domination and Death Stars, until someone slips a poison into his Horlicks. The galaxy survives the whole episode largely intact. The Ewoks do not feature at all and save no one from anything. They play in the trees like little teddy bears in a nursery rhyme and look after a princess figurine of their own. Ahhh. Everyone lives happily ever after (well mostly).

The End.

D. M. Jarrett

www.seanyeager.com

 

 

 

Buy Sean Yeager Adventures books

Sean Yeager Adventures website