Guest Post: Let’s Hear it For Reluctant Heroes by Gail Z. Martin

We at JFJ are proud to be a part of the Days of the Dead blog tour by the fantastic Gail Z. Martin. You’re going to love this guest post from her and if you want MORE (and we think you will) then you can find out about the blog tour and more at the bottom. Enjoy!

Let’s Hear it For Reluctant Heroes
– by Gail Z. Martin

I’ve always been a bit mistrustful of people who are in too much of a rush to be heroes.  They’re a bit like Major Glory in Justice Friends, or Mighty Mouse, with his “Here I come to save the day!”  When someone wants to be a hero too much, it makes me wonder if he’s the arsonist setting the fires so he can help put them out.  Hey, I’m cynical.

Don’t get me wrong―I believe in heroes.  Maybe more so than is currently fashionable.   I think there are plenty of real heroes―first responders, military folks and their families, national guard, hospital personnel and plain-old-regular-Joes and Janes who see a bad situation and take responsibility to do what they can to fix it.  They show us the best that humanity can be.  And yes, by self-selecting those careers and training for them, they have “volunteered” to be heroes, in a certain sense.  But real heroes don’t make sure they get their close-ups. They aren’t in it for the glory, and often, they’re the ones slipping away when the news crews show up.

Reign of FINALWe’ve seen the dark side of wanna-be heroes with trigger-happy cops and neighborhood watch patrols, cases of mistaken identity and bad assumptions, and the deadly effects of people who have watched a few too many Clint Eastwood movies. (“Do you feel lucky, punk?  Well, do ya?”)

Which is why as an author, I tend to favor reluctant heroes.  These are men and women who look around hoping there’s someone else to do what needs to be done, only to realize that it’s up to them.  They have a hard choice to make, and they make it, stepping in to take action when they’d rather be anywhere else.

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Exclusive Daniel Polansky & JFJ Event in London tomorrow!

SWWThis is quite possibly the coolest thing I’ll get to say all year.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday 30 October) I shall be interviewing Daniel Polansky, live in front of a crowd in central London – and it’s completely free!

Oh yes! As if the coming festivities of World Fantasy Con or the multiple fantastic events set up by those fine fellows at Pornokitsch weren’t enough, JFJ have teamed up with Hodder & Stoughton to bring you this exclusive event.

I hope you’re excited because I am!

So what’re the details?

Right, it’s tomorrow night, Weds 30 Oct and it starts at 7:00pm sharp and will be held at:

The Old Crown, Upper Floor, 33 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1BH

All you need to do is rock up, grab a drink from the bar and enjoy the proceedings. Easy peasy.

So what’s going to be happening

TTK coverIf you’re a fan of fantasy then you’re going to love this event and if you’re a fan of Polansky (and you really ought to be) then you won’t believe what’s hit you.

There will be discussions between Daniel and I, there will be Q&As with the audience where you can ask anything you want (just keep it semi-clean), there will be a reading from the latest Low Town novel She Who Waits AND Daniel will even be signing!

Plus you may, just may, be able to pick up a copy of She Who Waits before it’s even officially released.

Seriously, it’s going to be an incredible night!

But who is Daniel Polansky and what’s this Low Town malarkey? Continue reading

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The Fictional Man by Al Ewing – Book Review

The-Fictional-ManWhen I picked up this book in Waterstone’s Oxford Street it was next to a sign that said “Cult is a nice way of saying nobody likes you”. Well, don’t worry The Fictional ManI like you! As protagonist, Niles Golan would say, “You’re a good Joe.”

Let’s start with the books premise, The Fictional Man is set in an alternate modern day where the latest movie craze isn’t 3D, it’s to have your own genetically engineered character called a “Fictional”. Human cloning is here and it’s relatively inexpensive for a Hollywood budget. Obviously cloning people is unethical… It would take a pretty crooked industry to find a loophole in the law and start doing it… Hence why, it’s Hollywood that has been successfully cloning people since the 1980’s. Fictional characters are brought to life in genetically engineered body and have every detail of their personalities embedded by talented scriptwriters. Fictionals are actors but they are already 100% in character. Ultimately, they are acting as themselves. When the filming is done, Hollywood can throw them out with a big wade of cash, a film friendly personality and a fictional back story but no new script to follow. Al Ewing takes a giant swing at Tinsel Town in this satirical story and successfully highlights all its narcissism and superficiality. And while doing so The Fictional Man is a whole lot of funny!

Niles Golan is a professional writer and all-time douche. Reading any of his obsessive self-narrations can only lead to you to hate him. Niles is a middle aged, self-absorbed, C-grade writer primarily known for his character Kurt Power (an unoriginal ex-lawyer turned private eye) whose books include such titles such as Down to The Woods Tonight and Pudding and Pie: A Kurt Power Novel. Niles gets through life in a strange self-delusional grandeur that makes it increasingly difficult for him to understand reality. For example, why his books are considered trash, why his love life has failed or why his lifelong dream to have his own character translated into a Fictional is still mere fantasy. I’ve never read a protagonist this abhorrent but despite Niles many flaws, after seeing him reach rock bottom (deservedly) you can’t help rooting for the guy.

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Terrible Tuesdays – Awesomely Bad Monster Combos

When it comes to creating monsters to scare us filmmakers have a few staples they seem to love and rely on like a drunk who can’t quite quit his favourite sauce. Some of these scares are rather explainable, probably based on some evolutionary process far back in the past when someone realised that the bigger the animal attacking you was the less time you had to go ‘oh shit’ hence one of the staples of films like Godzilla, Cloverfield, AnacondaAttack of the 50ft Woman, etc is take something fairly scary and then make it HUGE!

Sometimes this doesn’t quite cut it though and in a pinch they’ll decide to just throw together two semi-frightening elements in an homage to quantity not quality.

Here are some of the strangest combinations to be found in pulp horror films. Just looking at how many of these are from the SyFy channel makes me think there’s got to be some other reason to make them…..maybe they’re tax deductible or something. There has to be an explanation!

Piranhaconda (2012)

Half Fish, Half Snake…All Death


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SF is alive and well; kicking it in TV-land

The big Hollywood blockbuster science fiction adventure is often used as the canary bird to judge the atmosphere or state of the genre. Taken as representative of the whole by the multitude of dabblers (used non-perjoratively), such movies are a shorthand easily referenced to denounce or applaud the genre while some truly great stuff floats by unnoticed. The bright shiny objects that are the summer blockbusters such as Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Oz the Great and Powerful (ly awful!), Jack the Giant Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman (how he should have succeeded!), etc are very distracting, so here are a few shows that may have slipped below your radar.

Without the massive marketing campaigns of the big films, many television series go unwatched, and, as audience size determines value and importance, are dismissed. Yet, television is the place to find some great SFF as producers are able to take risks and avoid kowtowing to the generics of mass-market appeal.

So, without further ado or to-do or whatever, here are a couple of cool SFF series you may want to check out:

UtopiaUtopia 1

This is weird, like really weird, yet not in a ‘I took some LSD and nothing makes sense anymore/Naked Lunch’ kind of weird. This is the great strangeness of normal life distorted and made unrecognisable by the revelation that there are things afoot and everything you understood, the safety you felt are all incredibly frail and can be taken away. Continue reading

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What we’re excited for in October! (There’s a lot!)

October is going to be a great month! There’s so much happening in the genre world that there’s no excuse for staying at home. From running with zombies and watching Ghostbusters to book launches and World Fantasy Con, we’ve got you covered!


Machete Kills Machete Kills full poster

From its conception as a spoof trailer in Grindhouse, I’ve loved Machete. I have high hopes for Machete Kills – only Robert Rodriguez can pull off this level of absurd! Danny Trejo is back as Machete Cortez along with an insane cast. Charlie Sheen plays the President of the United States, Mel Gibson’s a deranged billionaire and there are too many kick ass woman to count. Trailer HERE!

Release date: 11 October

Thor 2 Thor 2: The Dark World movie poster

Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba all in the same movie? YES PLEASE! I was pleasantly surprised with the first Thor movie. I loved the tongue in cheek take on the comic. Who knew Thor was so funny? And the science fiction take on Asgard is awesome. The visual team did a great job making a rainbow bridge look cool. Trailer HERE!

Release dates: 30 October (international); 8 November (USA)

Future Cinema – Ghostbusters Continue reading

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