Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: Parasite

This is the first of Ian Woodhead's work I have read, so what do I think? Well, it's certainly British.

So, I went into this one blind. Had no idea what I was going to get.

Well, it's not for children, I'll give you that.

Parasite: Blood Oath (the title I have) is the simple old story of "thing awakens" and fundamentally "kills everybody". Of course, no spoilers here so as usual, I'll stay away from a lot of the story. Set in the fictional village of Colbeck (perhaps named after Maurice Colbeck?), somewhere one assumes in Yorkshire or a fictional likeness of it, this horror story is very character focused.

Before I go any further, I might just add that if you find profanity a problem in your horror fiction then stop reading now. This certainly isn't for you.

I don't know what it's really like in the north of England, I'm in the south, but everyone is a little swear-y. (And nothing is too much.) Occasionally I found myself frowning at how much profanity there is in it, perhaps a little distracting at times, and yes, I swear like a sailor myself.

But anyway. I digress.

The book is presented well, the cover art is nice, it's well written and edited. That's always a plus with self published work, and it's long enough too. I couldn't tell you the word count, but it certainly rolls out at +novella length, another plus considering the price.

When reading it, you have to pay attention. It's not a story that begs to be put down for a week and then picked back up. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, it's about character, and therefore mood. You'd lose it if you left it for a week. And secondly, there are a good number of characters. Perhaps too many. It is easy to get a little lost with who is doing what.

So the main question: Does it do what it says on the box? Is it scary?

In short, I don't think I was ever *scared* as such, but the way the story is shaped is unnerving. I never felt like there was something in the closet waiting for me when I turned the lights out, more, it might be there when I wake up. It's hard to explain. I don't want to make the comparison, but it's more like reading James Herbert, than Clive Barker.

Which is never bad.

So all in all, if you can get past the language, it's certainly worth the read, and the cash outlay.

You can find it, and Ian Woodhead's work here:  US or UK

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Failing the Bechdel Test (The Accidental Misogynist)

The Bechdel Test:

What is now known as the Bechdel test was introduced in Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. In a 1985 strip titled "The Rule",[8][9] an unnamed female character says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:[4]
  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.
From Wikipedia.

I've been reading a fair amount about the test recently. It's all over social media. Every movie from last year has been tested. Most have failed.

So I'm not sexist. I'm not misogynistic. But I thought I'd look at some of my own work, just to see.



Okay. I get it. I really do. I see what they are saying. But no.

Taking aside my own work, which I'll come to in a minute, my question is WHAT? So I'm/we're/they're not allowed to write things that have no important female characters in?

Like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption?

Damn. I've been going wrong all these years.

You see, my problem is not that there are not enough strong female characters, or protagonists, or anything else, but that, well, sort of suddenly, I'm being judged for it.

My novel Shutter Speed? No. No strong female characters. But hey, it's about a bunch of dysfunctional young men - most of whom have enormous social issues - so yeah. I should put females in it. It's about a group of young male friends and their issues. Yes, there are females in the supporting cast. Mostly they're there to support how broken the main cast are.

The main cast are not nice people.

So I'm not undermining female tropes, I'm not stereotyping. I'm writing about broken people.

A broken test.

Complaints about misogynistic work in film, and writing, screenplays, etc. get my vote.

Judging a work by it's cast doesn't.

Do I need to list work that failed the test? Do I need to point out that the finger is pointing in the wrong direction? Did you know that "The Spice Girls Movie" passed? "Reservoir Dogs" failed?

Shouldn't the finger be pointed at the fictional works that support hate? Racism? Sexism?

Damn, the internet needs to focus.


So, here's a picture of a failure: