The World According to Charlton Heston

I watched Soylent Green the other day, thinking it was appropriate to watch a movie about 2022, where climate change destroyed the world and people were fighting for food, water, medicine, a place to sleep and ate a cracker made from dead humans. Wow, how appropriate, right?

But it got me thinking about the world according to Charlton Heston. As an actor, Heston (1923-2008) was well known for his roles in Biblical movies: The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, etc. He was quite the versatile actor, starring in disaster flicks, westerns, and war movies. I remember him mostly for the post-apocalyptic, dystopian future movies. These sci-fi classics resonate with anyone who grew up in the 70’s.

I doubt there isn’t a person born before 1970 who doesn’t go to the zoo and look at the apes and chimpanzees and think, “Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” It’s a classic line that makes us all think of Armageddon, the State of Liberty and a world of talking apes. But it also reflected a lot on the time period. In the 70’s and into the 80’s, everyone was worried about destroying the planet, whether through nuclear war, a killer virus, or environmental catastrophe. Now, fast forward to 2020.

When we look out at the world today, these movies seem almost prophetic. It’s funny how movies of the past looked ahead to the future and, some got it wrong, but others… well? I mean think about it. Were in a pandemic that’s cutting off food supply (Soylent Green) and, if left untreated, could very well lead to a zombie apocalypse (Omega Man or I am Legend for the remake) and then, potentially, lead to nuclear war with China and, voila, talking apes (The Planet of the Apes movies).

I know that’s a bit of a stretch, and a bad one at that, but that’s what makes these movies so good. Since Jules Verne first put pen to paper, science fiction and fantasy writers have looked into the future to see potential, both good and bad. It was here that the stories of travelling to the stars, nuclear power, devastating weapons of war, genetically-modified diseases, etc. It’s the essence of these classic movies, and movies like this need a charismatic actor to carry them. That’s where Heston comes in.

These movies all had other memorable moments, actors, cinematography, and special effects, but what stood out the most was Heston. He led these movies all the way, from the pestilence of New York to the deserted sprawl of Los Angeles, to the futuristic Ape City. He commanded the screen and told the story, making it so real for all of us. 

That’s why the “World According to Charlton Heston” is a much darker, twisted view of the future, almost like the mainstream media wants us to believe we’re in right now.  But I have seen the dark future, through these movies, and this isn’t it. We have better technology, science, and fortitude behind us. We have a better chance of surviving this than the movies would have us believe. After all, it’s all “Hollywood” magic, right?

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Star Wars novels are better than the movies (except the original trilogy)

Star Wars – The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide: Ruin Cover by Tsuyoshi Nagano.

This being International Star Wars Day (#Maythe4thbewithYou), I thought it best to reflect on one of the best epics in science fiction. The problem is, the books are better than some of the movies, video games, and television series out there.

How many of us wanted to see movies made from Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” trilogy? Or salivating at seeing the Yuuzhan Vong and their bio-engineered weapons on the screen. These stories are some of the best out there, but not all are canon. This makes them just a memory, not part of the mythos that is Star Wars.

The first Star Wars book I ever read was “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” and it was a gem. After seeing the original, I wanted more and couldn’t wait for more. This book have us fans more insight into the workings of the force, before we heard about midi-chlorians. It was also the first time we heard about a kaiburr crystals, which is weird because it’s not related to kyber crystals (i.e. lightsabers) but it’s close.

I am a huge fan of the man series, from the New Jedi Order through Fate of the Jedi. I mean, in this series we had the death of Chewbacca, Anakin Solo and the journey of Jacen Solo from Jedi to Sith. It was an amazing series and, to be honest, it brought me closer to the Star Wars universe.

Novels expanded our knowledge, from characters, planets and races to the new insights into characters we barely knew anything about. The best example of that is Boba Fett. We barely knew anything about him after The Empire Strikes Back, and now we have the entire legacy of the Mandalorians to go with his legend. And it’s all from the books.

The Star Wars universe may have started as movies, but its canon… It’s TRUE canon is written by the authors who have taken us to “a galaxy far, far away” and beyond! It’s one of those many reasons why I became a writer.

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Reading takes you to other worlds when you’re stuck inside under quarantine

Image result for quotes about booksThis whole pandemic has been hard on everyone. For writers, like me, it’s a time to work on your current manuscript. But for others, its nothing but binge-watching the news or the same old TV show with no end in sight for the quarantine. That’s where books come in. Now is the time to dust off your copy of “The Lord of the Rings” or “Gone with the Wind” and immerse yourself in a good book. Books are the escape we need in this time of crisis.

Stephen King said, “Books are uniquely portable magic!” And you know what? He’s right. Books are meant to take you to other worlds and beyond, from the Shire in Middle Earth to orbiting around Jupiter on a derelict spaceship to an express train to Hogwarts and (in my case) on a flying galleon above the island of Avalon. For many of you stuck inside with nothing to do, this is the time to rediscover books.

Books are as important to writers as they are to readers. Books are what inspires us, fills our imagination, and gives us our purpose as writers. We look to other writers for that inspiration to forge ahead in our own stories. For readers, books are the escape route. Books are to the older generation what TV and video games are to today’s younger generation. Now is the time to introduce them to the magic inside books.

There are countless adventures found within the pages of books. “Think, boy. What kind of an adventure would you have had if I brought you here with the turn of a page?” said the Pagemaster (The Pagemaster, 1994). “When in doubt, look to the books!” I know it’s kind of hypocritical, quoting a movie to talk about reading books, but the message is still the same.

So, I encourage all of you to dust of your bookshelves and pick up an old friend or maybe download a new novel to your Kindle, iPad, or Smartphone. This is the time to venture out from the doldrums of quarantine and find yourselves in another world of possibilities. And, I will take this time to put in a selfish plug for my own novels in the Forever Avalon series in the hope that you might enjoy a jaunt across the magical island of Avalon.

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The new season of Doctor Who has one foot in the Tardis, and one out!

The new season of Doctor Who started with a bang, a big bang! I mean, in Spyfall 1 and 2, we had the return of the Master, the world population being converted into computer harddrives, Nazis (never go wrong with Nazis), spies, and other dimensions. It was great. I thought Chris Chibnal was finally listening to the fans. But…

Then, in the next two episodes, it was the same old Chibnal trying to give us “teachable” moments about climate change (Orphan) and the evils of capitalism (Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror). We were back to square one… And then, a breakthrough.

In Fugitive of the Judoon, we got the return of Captain Jack Harkness, the foreshadowing of the return of the Cybermen, and another version of the Doctor. Wait, what? (I know, I can’t believe it myself). Here was another version of the Doctor, played wonderfully by Jo Martin, supposedly from the past, locked away in human form by the chameleon arch. And once she was unleashed, she was a bad ass. She reminded me a lot of the War Doctor. She even disregarded and mocked the sonic screwdriver, a tool for nearly every man/woman who has worn the mantle of The Doctor. Crazy, right?

So, here Chibnal has given us a proper mystery for the series. This I like. This is what I want. Not only the Judoon, who continue to display their absolute ferocity for the letter of the law, but also another look through the keyhole into the mystery of Gallifrey. Now, I have a theory here, so bear with me. If you’re new to the series, you may not understand this, but you only have to Google one word… Valeyard.

Image result for the valeyard

My theory is that the Jo Martin version of the Doctor is actually from the timeline of the Valeyard. The Valeyard, from the Sixth Doctor’s time, was the prosecutor during The Trial of a Timelord arc. He was a darker amalgamation of the Doctor’s persona, somewhere around his 13th regeneration. However, his plot was uncovered and the Valeyard was supposedly killed but he was seen, at the end of the episode, disguised as the Keeper of the Matrix. Since then, there have only been mentions of the Valeyard, here and there, but nothing more.

Now, we know that this  supposed timeline changed when Matt Smith’s Doctor got a whole new set of regenerations at his finale, The Time of the Doctor. So, did that change the future and the destiny of the Valeyard? If so, how? I think that is the story behind this fractured timeline that Jo Martin’s Doctor comes from. We’ll have to wait and see if it turns out that way, but it’s a definite possibility.

Image result for doctor who doomsday

No then, back to my rant. I want Chibnal to stop preaching to us about social issues. Yes, we’re all afraid that the world may be affected by climate change, but I’m old enough to remember the “second ice age” predictions in the 70’s and Al Gore’s 10 years until Florida is underwater in 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth. We have had dire warnings about the future from every dystopian book and movie for the past 100 years. Remember George Orwell’s 1984? How about Mad Max or Waterworld? I will admit, that Doctor Who has done it’s share of dire warnings about the future in stories (global warming mentioned in Doomsday Cybermen episode for example) but not “in your face” like Chibnal does.

We know we’re going to get taught a few things in Doctor Who… The horrifying deaths in the destruction of Pompeii, how the banana daiquiri was invented in France during the reign of Louis XV, and how the Empire State Building was built by mutated pig men and Daleks. Seriously though, Doctor Who was created to help teach kids about history with a few aliens thrown in from time to time. The Daleks themselves are a living metaphor for the aftermath of nuclear war. It’s been a great plot turn for more than 50 years, so don’t stop now. Leave the “social justice warriors” to the news networks and keep the Doctor  as the witty, time travelling, Earth-loving alien with two hearts for double the fun!

Teach us about the possible and the impossible!

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worthy of the legacy

It’s a Christmas tradition (at least in my house) to watch a Star Wars movie over the holiday. First, I spent the holidays thrilling over The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. Then, on Christmas Day, I got to see the end of the original series with Episode IX.

My son called me before I saw it to let me know he really didn’t care for it and I may be disappointed. I wasn’t fazed by his review. After all, he liked The Last Jedi.

BTW, NO SPOILERS HERE!

In any event, I think people seeing this movie will either like it or hate it. It’s that polarizing. The way the story of Rey, the Resistance, the First Order, the Jedi and the Sith, and the Emperor all came to a conclusion was a bit clunky. It was all over the place, from beginning to end, not sure which way was up or down, light side or dark side, etc. But even through all that, the story came to a close with a bang, not a whimper. It was brilliant.

The way this all started out, I thought they were taking Rey down the dark side, learn to control her emotions or end up like Vader and Kylo Ren. We all got that vibe from images in the trailer. Luckily, there was more to it than that. Rey’s story is the most complex within the movie, and I wish it didn’t take the whole movie to sort it out, but I’m glad it finally did.

The Rise of Skywalker ticked all the right boxes for a Star Wars movie… Epic battle scenes, beautiful vistas, balanced comedic and tender moments, and “edge of your seat” suspense. It was quintessential Star Wars.

One of the things I tend to hate about Star Wars movies is the over/under use of characters. Rose, who played a big role in The Last Jedi was so under used here. Likewise was Dominic Monaghan. You don’t bring in someone like him to Star Wars and give him four lines. I am thrilled they were able to work in the last scenes of Carrie Fisher. It was an appropriate end for “our” princess!

I loved the various cameos and the nods to characters from film, television, books and comic books. That’s one of the things that made this movie great for me. They didn’t forget where the story began and brought it to a close.

We can now look forward to new stories from the Star Wars universe, or so we’re told by our Disney Sithlords. Let’s hope we get more like The Mandalorian and less like The Last Jedi.

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I miss my Doctor Who Christmas specials

I know its Christmas when we put up our Christmas tree and I hang my Tardis ornament on its branches. This year, I got a K-9 ornament to hang right next to it. For geeks like me, it’s not Christmas without Doctor Who. But lately, that’s been missing.

When Jodie Whittaker took over as the 13th Doctor, some changes came (as usual) along with new showrunner Chris Chibnal. One of then was the end of the annual Doctor Who Christmas specials, replaced with a New Year’s Day special instead. Now, I enjoyed last years special (you can never go wrong with Daleks) and the new season debuts this year on January 1, 2020. But something is still missing.

It’s just not Christmas without aliens attacking Great Britain, a “space Titanic” threatening to crash into Buckingham Palace, or a trip to Frank Sinatra’s Christmas party with Marilyn Monroe. All done with the subtle humor and great storytelling Doctor Who is known for.

My favorite episodes are the Matt Smith specials, specifically “A Christmas Carol” and “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Matt Smith had the best comedic timing and was great at making you laugh and making you cry.

The Doctor: “Ah. Yes. Blimey. Sorry Christmas Eve on a rooftop. Saw a chimney, my whole brain just went ‘What the hell!’ Don’t worry, the fat fellah will be doing the rounds later. I’m just scoping out the general chimney-ness. Yes! Nice size. Good traction. Big tick.

Father: “Fat fellah?

The Doctor: “Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff.

It was amazing and heartwarming in “A Christmas Carol” when you hear the beautiful singing voice of opera singer Katharine Jenkins singing the song to calm the shark (long story, watch the special) and at the end when she opens the clouds. It was equally incredible when you see the Doctor spend Christmas with the Ponds after two years apart at the end of “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.”

That’s what sets these Christmas episodes apart from the regular season episodes of Doctor Who. They not only bring the humor and action we fans expect from Doctor Who, but they also accentuate the spirit of Christmas. It’s the total package.

So, we dont know what awaits us in the new season, but I hope the folks at the BBC will listen to the fans and bring back the Christmas specials. It would be a shame to end traditions here.

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Do your research when it comes to weaponry, both medieval and modern

Whether you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, the accuracy of the weapons being wielded is as crucial as the characters and the setting. You wouldn’t take a long sword on a dungeon crawl (for a visual, watch the first episode of the anime Goblin Slayer) nor would a U.S. Special Forces carry an AR-15 in combat. This is where your research as a writer is critical.

You can be flexible when you mix in science fiction, like steampunk or dystopian, when you mix and match weapons together. Even in some fantasy aspects, weapons have been creatively produced, like “Stormbringer” from the Elric saga or Xena’s chakram… Functional weapons but not easily wielded.

I can honestly say that my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons gave me an edge in fantasy writing. When you have calculate the length of your weapon to wield it in a dungeon, it makes you think. (Remember, in these instances, size does matter!) Add to that, my military career gave me some much needed knowledge in military weaponry, from automatic weapons to aircraft and missile technology. I know the difference between an F/A-18 Hornet and an E-2C Hawkeye, a Sea Sparrow and a CWIS.

This was my problem while I was writing my latest novel, The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series. The story begins in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, when Avalon suddenly reappears, causing disruptions on both fronts. The U.S. Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic, on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, as military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war.

I have already written two books with people using various medieval weapons, so that wasn’t the issue. Now, I had to incorporate the medieval fantasy world of Avalon with the U.S. and Russian Navy as well as special forces. This took a lot of research on my part. As a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, I served on three aircraft carriers so I was quite familiar with the aircraft, weaponry, and terminology. It was a little different in researching Russian ships, weapons, and aircraft, but necessary for my story.

Here’s an excerpt from The Outlander War demonstrating an exchange between modern military forces and medieval weaponry.

# # #

His voice trailed off as his eye caught something different on the horizon. Hunter knew how keen the eyesight of an Elf was and tried to see as well. It was a clear night, the moon waning as a small sliver of a crescent high in the sky.

“What is it?” Hunter asked. “What do you see?”

“There’s a new ship out there, one I’ve never seen before.”

“Are you sure, Feredir?” Eadric asked. “Those metal contraptions look all the same to me.”

“I have observed all the same ships for the past few weeks, that one is new.”

Try as he might, Hunter could barely make out the ship in the darkness. “Can you describe it?” he asked. “Do you see any writing on it?”

“It looks like the other large warship… the aircraft carrier, I believe your father called it, but the front of the ship is curved upward like a ramp,” Feredir said. “There is some writing on the side of the main structure but I’m not familiar with the language.”

“Show me!” Hunter demanded. Feredir took a dagger and wrote a few letters in the dirt next to the fire. Hunter didn’t understand the words, but he recognized the language. “That’s Russian, I think,” he said. “It must be a helicopter carrier of some sort.”

“Are those the machines with the spinning blades on them?” Feredir asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Because there are four of them headed our way!”

Feredir drew his bow. Hunter turned to two of the younger knights standing with them. “Pass the word down along the coast that invaders are coming toward Avalon,” he commanded. The two men took off in opposite directions to warn the other outposts. “Henri, go tell my father what’s going on! We need him here immediately!” Henri dropped the teapot and he took off running toward the main encampment.

Hunter reloaded his Lancer with two new spellshots as he and Sir Eadric crouched low behind the protection of some rocks. Feredir acted as lookout.

“How far out are they?” Hunter asked.

“Three of them are holding their position about six furlongs off shore,” he said, scanning the horizon. “I’ve lost the fourth one.”

“What?” Hunter exclaimed and jumped up to look. Eadric followed suit.

“Where did it go?” Eadric asked. Before Feredir could answer, the three men heard a whirring sound from just off the cliff. From below the edge, a helicopter rose up in the air in front of them, threatening them with a rotary mini-gun.

The three took cover as the helicopter opened fire, pelleting the ground around them with rapid-fire spray. Feredir notched an arrow and readied himself. The firing stopped for a moment and the Elven warrior stood up and fired off an arrow. The aim was true, a perfect shot at the helicopter pilot, but it ricocheted off the front windshield. Feredir got a second arrow off, but it had the same result. He dove behind the rock just as the pilot began firing again.

Feredir cursed. “My arrows won’t penetrate that infernal machine!” Hunter weighed all the options and he came up with an idea.

“I think I can help you there,” he said. He pulled up his Lancer, ready to fire. “After I shoot, hit him again. Your arrows should penetrate this time.”

Hunter took a deep breath before he popped up and fired his Lancer at the helicopter. His spellshot—a combination of magic and alchemy loaded into a cartridge the size of a shotgun shell—fired a freezing spray at the helicopter, coating the front of the aircraft in a layer of frost. The windshield froze instantaneously, and the pilot stopped firing.

Feredir quickly popped up and fired another arrow at the windshield. This time, his arrow shattered the glass and pierced the pilot through the chest. The aircraft pitched to the side and the co-pilot tried to regain control. Feredir didn’t give him a chance and he fired another arrow, killing the co-pilot instantly with an arrow through the throat.

The helicopter spun out of control as it flew over the three warriors and careened toward the ground. The engines shut down just before impact, then it crashed, exploding in a giant ball of fire. Sir Eadric and Hunter roared loudly at their victory. Feredir just stood there silently, there was a hint of a grin on his face.

# # #

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I love library book sales!

Image result for book saleI’ve always been a book lover,but even more so lately. I just want to fill my bookcases with every novel I’ve ever read and loved. In fact, I warned my children that, when I die, their inheritance will be a library of books. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s not. Heinrich Mann said, “A house without books is like a room without windows.”

I use to sell my old books at yard sales because I thought, “well, I already read these so why keep them?” Then I moved to Alexandria, Va., and discovered something wonderful… Library Book Sales. I never knew that libraries sold their old books and books donated to them to raise money to support the libraries. So now, I am not only benefiting my own mind and soul, as an avid reader, but I’m also benefiting the community by supporting the local libraries.

The problem is, I buy more than I read. I think I’ve spent about $200 in the past two years on books, but we’re talking more than 100+ books. I’ve bought classic novels, completed whole series, and found lost stories I read long ago and want to discover anew. I mean, where else can you find the complete set of hardback George R. R. Martin novels for under $20! Seriously!

“It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can’t do anything else, read all that you can.” — Jane Hamilton

Image result for robert heinlein booksYou can find books that people seem to have forgotten about. For example, I found old Robert Heinlein paperbacks from the 50’s for 25 cents each! He is one of the premiere science fiction authors and to see his work, discarded in a box, was a shame. I haven’t read anything by him since high school, so this was a big find for me. These books are a part of the legacy we, as authors, share.

You can find practically anything at these book sales, from classics to romance, science fiction/fantasy to historical and political dramas. Even cookbooks, self-help books, and graphic novels. The best book sales are at the bigger libraries, but you can often find a few gems at smaller ones. I’ve gone to George Mason University library and a small Catholic school book sale and made great finds at both. While I search for sci-fi/fantasy novels, my wife is looking for historical fiction and thrillers. There’s something for everyone.

I know ebooks and book readers make it easier for people to read nowadays. I myself read on my phone on the my daily grind on the DC metro sometimes. Often, it’s easier than carrying a big book in my briefcase; and yet, it’s the feel, the smell of a book, that makes it all worthwhile. As an author, one of the biggest thrills in my life was holding my own book in my hands for the very first time. It’s magical.

So, this is my plug for you to go out and support your public library through local book sales. There’s a great website for finding local book sales, www.booksalefinder.com. It’ll give you a listing of all the book sales in your area. Use it to fill your library with more books than you’ll ever get to read.

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

These anime need a second season… PLEASE!

Anyone who follows my blog knows I am a huge anime nut. If I wasn’t married with kids, you’d probably see me as an “otaku” for sure. Anime has been a part of my life since the 60’s. I mean, I watched the original anime in Speed Racer, Gigantor, and Astro Boy. It helped form my own imagination, my views on fantasy, science fiction, and storytelling as a writer. You can’t watch a Hayao Miyazaki movie and not be moved by the visuals, the music, and the story. That’s how much anime has influenced me as a writer.

That said, there are a lot of great anime series out there that only got one season. For some reason or another, the studios decided to stop after just 12 episodes. I think it’s a shame that these anime didn’t get a few more under their belt, especially for their fan base. Here’s my top five choices for renewal into a second season.

Image result for in another world with my smartphone In Another World with my Smartphone — This is really a “guilty pleasure” anime but it’s also quite imaginative in its design. Fifteen-year-old Touya Mochizuki is accidentally killed by God. As an apology, God allows him to be resurrected, but since he cannot send him back to his old world, he instead reincarnates him into a fantasy world along with a single special request. Touya uses his request in order to bring his smartphone into the new world with him. The premise sounds ridiculous, but the storytelling is infectious. You have an awkward 15-year-old thrust into life as a adventurer, engaged to four cute, yet very resourceful girls, and one his way to becoming one of the most powerful beings in his new world. Like other anime, I have been reading the light novels associated with this series, and I would love to see it brought back in anime. It’s witty and full of fantasy. Yes, Touya is OP (over-powered) but his naivety brings him down to Earth, as does his relationship with his four (nine by the end of the novel series) wives.  It’s just a delight to watch and I wish they’d make some more episodes.

Image result for knights and magicKnight’s and Magic — Most of my favorite anime’s are “isekai” or where the main character is transported to another world. This one is no exception. Knight’s & Magic is set in a world where medieval knights use giant robots called Silhouette Knights to fight against demon beasts, magical ravenous animals that devour everything on sight. The protagonist is Tsubasa Kurata, a mecha otaku from Japan who gets killed in a car accident. Tsubasa is reincarnated in this new parallel world as Ernesti Echavalier, a boy born into a noble family. Tsubasa’s previous otaku memories inspire Ernesti into creating his own Silhouette Knights in order to defend his kingdom. This one doesn’t have the sex appeal of In Another World with my Smartphone, but it does have giant robots. It’s actually weird how all the girls fall for talented genius Ernesti, but he ignores them all. He only loves his giant robots. I love how this anime infuses technology with magic, something you don’t see a lot. Most standard fantasy stories stick to the straightforward fantasy yarns, but magic and mechs is a great plot twist. They even explain how it works using scientific principles. It’s astounding. I want more, please!

Image result for Restaurant to Another WorldRestaurant to Another World — This is one of the more unusual anime, and to be honest, I only watched it recently but I enjoyed it tremendously. The Western Restaurant Nekoya is a restaurant situated in a mundane corner of an undisclosed Tokyo shopping district which offers a lot of Japanese versions of Western dishes. It opens during usual business hours though closed during holidays and weekends. But secretly it is also open on Saturdays, as on this particular day it creates doorways to another world inhabited by elves, dragons, animal men and other fantastic creatures, who enter the restaurant and partake of its exotic food, with many of them becoming regular patrons. It’s really an exotic idea, introducing Japanese cuisine using a fantasy genre to tell the story. I mean, serving Tofu and Nattō to Elves because they’re vegetarians? It’s brilliant. I don’t get into the cooking anime prevalent in Japan, but this one got to me. It’s interesting how the cook knows exactly what to make them, and it brings the different races together to visit their favorite restaurant.

Image result for log horizon Log Horizon — Okay, technically, this series has had two seasons, but it needs a third really bad, so I’m including it in my list. Log Horizon revolves around the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Elder Tale. During the release of its twelfth expansion pack: Homesteading the Noosphere, thirty thousand Japanese gamers who are logged on at the time of the update suddenly find themselves transported into the virtual game world and donning their in-game avatars. In the midst of the event, a socially awkward gamer named Shiroe, along with his friends, Naotsugu and Akatsuki, decide to team up so that they may face this world, which unfortunately has now become their reality, along with the challenges and obstacles ahead of them. There are quite a few “ikekai” anime series that revolve around video games becoming a real world to the players (Overlord, Death March to a Parallel  World Rhapsody, How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, etc.) but they are not Log Horizon. This one is the whole package with smart characters (Shiroe), cute characters (Akatsuki) and the coolest character (Chief Nyanta). I also like how it’s not just about going on adventures, but how they have to live and survive in a real world based on a video game. I mean, they have to worry about money and food, not just fighting monsters. It’s really broad in its scope and the characters make it fun to watch.

Related imageChivalry of a Failed Knight — My final entry is, without a doubt, my favorite anime that I’m desperate for a second season. The story is set in an Alternate Earth world where humans called “Blazers” have supernatural abilities. These Blazers can materialize weapons known as “Device” which are made through a person’s soul. At Hagun Academy, Blazers are selected as representatives for the Seven Star Sword Art Festival, an annual tournament event held by the seven Mage Knight Academies in Japan to determine the strongest Apprentice Knight. Ikki Kurogane is the academy’s “F-Ranked” Blazer and is considered “The Worst One” for his low magical abilities, but Stella Vermillion, the princess of the European country Vermillion, is one of the top “A-Rank” Blazers. The series follows their adventures as they train to qualify as the school’s representatives for the festival. This series is the whole package… Romance, fighting, magic, adventure, intrigue, you name it. Everyone discounts the underdog hero who wins through skill, grit and determination, not power alone. There are great sub-stories within the series that makes this even more exciting to watch.

There are a few others I could mention here, like Trinity Seven, Hundred, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and The Irregular at Magic High School, although a couple of them had follow-on movies and another season is said to be coming. If I missed any that you want to see a second season of, tell me in the comments below. Until then, keep watching!

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

R.I.P. Rutger Hauer, one of the best actors fans loved to watch

Related image“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” — Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner (1982)

There are many actors remembers for their performances in sci-fi and fantasy films, but to me, there was no one better than Rutger Hauer. His performance in Blade Runner is, without a doubt, one of the greatest scenes in the history of science fiction films. Sadly, he passed away on July 19 at the age of 75.

Rutger Hauer was a Dutch actor, writer, and environmentalist. In 1999, he was named the Best Dutch Actor of the Century by the Dutch public. He has been in more than 104 film (three of which are currently in post-production and will be released posthumously) and 38 various television productions, as well as voice talent in two video games (he was the voice of Master Xehanort in the 2019 video game Kingdom Hearts III, replacing the late Leonard Nimoy). He has had many roles, but some, like Roy Batty in Blade Runner, are what he’s well known for.

He played the villain so very well, and yet, there were times that we felt sorry for or compassion for his character. He had a way of making you understand why his character was that way, whether it was good or bad. It was said he only took roles that interested him, so this makes his various roles a sight to see. Another interesting aspect of Hauer was that he was a pacifist, and yet he played very violent characters at times. He was born in the Netherlands during the German occupation in World War II. He stated in a 1981 interview, “I was born in the middle of the war, and I think for that reason I have deep roots in pacifism. Violence frightens me.”

Next to Blade Runner, my other favorite movie of his is LadyHawke.  Whereas Roy Batty was the villain, although a sympathetic one, Etienne Navarre was the consummate hero. He fought for his love, his friends, and his people, everything you would expect of a knight. And yet, he had many flaws that Hauer brilliantly brought out. The scene where Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer (playing his love, Isabeau) see each other briefly at dawn before they transform is one of the best scenes in a fantasy movie.

He had roles in a variety of films just as memorable, such as The Osterman Weekend (1983), The Hitcher (1986), Escape from Sobibor (1987), The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), and Blind Fury (1989). In the 1990’s on, Hauer moved into low-budget films, and supporting roles in major films, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Batman Begins (2005), and The Rite (2011). He also made a return to Dutch cinema, and won the 2012 Rembrandt Award for Best Actor for his lead role in The Heineken Kidnapping.

Outside of acting, he founded the Rutger Hauer Starfish Association, an AIDS awareness organization. He also supported the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was a member of its board of advisers. In 2013, he was made a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

Hauer was one of those actors that fans love to watch, not for his physical prowess or amazing stunts, but rather for bringing his characters to life. I remember the roles he played because they were inspiration for me, as a writer. He gave life to characters just from the written word, and he did it better than anyone else (in my opinion). God bless you, Rutger Hauer, and rest in peace.

“Good guy or bad guy, hero or anti hero; doesn’t matter to me, what role I play, only the character have something magical.”–Rutger Hauer

###

SKU-000941753

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.