All posts by crownjulesb

Gadget Girl, LCA practitioner, MBA, Scientist, TV/Film enthusiast, Music Lover, Geek, Nerd, Lunatic #Kaniac #Browncoat #Hiddlestoner #Cumbercollective #Fannibal - totally #Loki-ed. Wish I had more time to read, watch and write more stuff! It's a work in progress.

EM-Con Worcester – Event Report


On Sunday 8th April 2018 the city of Worcester played host to EM-Con which took place at the University of Worcester Arena.  I’d never been to a convention by this particular company before, and I’m glad to report that it was a very enjoyable day, and well organised.

I also took my Uncle (Chris) with me this time, which was his first ever convention.  He definitely seemed to enjoy himself!

Right at the beginning, I managed to get myself accosted by some of the JUDGES from 2000AD!  There are photos and a video (via Chris)!

The celebrity guests were from a good variety of shows and movies, in particular (for me) some of the cast of Red Dwarf, Robert Llewellyn, Norman Lovett, Danny John-Jules, Chloe Annett, and Mark Dexter ; and from Stargate Atlantis, Rainbow Sun Francks.  Slowly I’m completing my collections!  Other guests included John Rhys Davies (Lord of the Rings/Indiana Jones), Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who/Legends of Tomorrow), John Challis (Only Fools and Horses), Colin Baker (Doctor Who), and several more.  There were also a selection of artists.

It was a relatively small and intimate venue, which made you feel much more relaxed than some of the larger events, and you had more time to chat to the guests and browse the merchandise stalls.

Chris, as a Red Dwarf fan, got his Holly T-shirt (which he was wearing) signed by Norman Lovett!  Great fun.  We also sat in for the Red Dwarf Q&A session in the afternoon.  Many laughs were had by all.

A small selection of my photos are below, for the rest see my Full Flickr Album:

EM Con Worcester
Worcester Cathedral. Opposite my hotel.
EM Con Worcester
You couldn’t miss the entrance to EM-Con!
EM Con Worcester
Colin Baker
EM Con Worcester
Norman Lovett
EM Con Worcester
Fantastic Cosplays!
EM Con Worcester
Obligatory Stormtrooper.
EM Con Worcester
Red Dwarf Q&A. Norman Lovett & Danny John-Jules
EM Con Worcester
Red Dwarf Q&A. Mark Dexter & Robert Llewellyn.

For information on upcoming EM Con Events visit: em-con.co.uk

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The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski


The Last Wish (The Witcher, #1)The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun and fantastical world. I picked up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Xbox a few years ago, and was immediately drawn to the complex characters, the huge open-world map, and the wide ranging story lines. When I then discovered that it was based on a series of books, I just had to get my hands on them!

The Last Wish is the first in the series. It feels very much like a set of video game main and side quests in narrative form. The main character is Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher, someone who has been trained in the art of tracking and hunting monsters, and has had physical mutations given to him to enhance his physical and magical abilities. Whilst recuperating from an injury he recalls his previous exploits in conversation with his nurse/priestess and his long time friend and troubadour Dandelion.

We also learn how he met the woman who is destined to be his future love, despite trials and tribulations (from what I gather from the video game story line); Yennefer of Vengerberg – a sorceress.

The best part about Geralt is that he’s a very discerning protagonist. Despite often being asked to just “kill a demon” or “hunt a vampire”, he will instead get to the bottom of the curse creating the situation or the motivation behind the “demon” and it’s antics; therefore making the story so much more interesting. The only thing that stopped me from giving this a 5-star rating, is the fact that as a compilation of shorter quests you only touch on the backstories of certain characters, whereas a single story novel would give more room to develop all the people. Which I’m sure, is what takes place in later novels in the series. I’ll get on to those soon!

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Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath


Whiskey Sour (Jack Daniels Mystery, #1)Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent crime novel, my only criticism is a standing one of most crime fiction: Why is violence towards women ALWAYS sexual violence? Men *just* get killed (with exceptions, of course), women get killed, raped, and tortured in hideously graphic ways – pretty much every time. This does, I suppose, reflect reality up to a point, particularly in reinforcing the fact that rape is a crime of anger and NOT attraction. So it works both ways.

Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels is a police Lieutenant in Chicago. A string of (sexually) brutal murders of women by the self-proclaimed “Gingerbread man” are the focus of Jack’s and her partner Herb’s investigation. The FBI in this novel are portrayed as incompetent, coming up with off-the-wall criminal profile details, which (if you read my review of Mindhunter by John E Douglas, and the book itself) shouldn’t be how a profile is generated; but it serves the purpose of this story. Jack and Herb follow the evidence, as an investigator should. Jack, being a “woman” ends up becoming the focus of the Gingerbread man’s rage, and is therefore taken off her own investigation (officially). Which does lead to the men in the story essentially being awarded all the credit, despite Jack being both lead investigator and target. She saves her own life more than once!

The details of the crimes are quite jarring as described, and the pace of the novel is quite fast, keeping the reader moving forwards at a steady rate. Jack is a competent investigator, and deserves more credit for the work she put in! Hopefully, when I read further novels in this series, she gets the accolades that should be coming her way.

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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman


Good Omens

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bit of fun at the end of the world. A collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett sees the antichrist being born into the world, and through an all mighty cock up gets adopted by the wrong family. Intended to be the son of an influential American diplomat, he instead grows up in the village of Tadfield Oxfordshire, England. No one saw that coming, not the Angel Aziraphale, not the Demon Crowley, only a long dead witch by the name of Agnes Nutter who wrote a book of Nice and Accurate Prophecies, which didn’t sell precisely because it got things right.
Pursued by heaven and hell, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the incompetent Witchfinder Army; Aziraphale and Crowley work together to stop, or indeed start the end of the world.

Initially a riveting read, it got very “middle” two-thirds of the way through. When all the disparate characters were each finding their way to the same location, it was no less funny, but a little repetitive. However that’s a small niggles in an otherwise enjoyable read. The irreverent yet satirical humour of Terry Pratchett is offset by the historical fantasy elements of Neil Gaiman.

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“Pretty Ricky” The Honorary Fannibal at Red Dragon 4 – Con Report


What is now considered an annual love-in for us faithful Fannibals (fans of Hannibal), the Starfury Red Dragon conventions are a weekend outing with no equal. I’ve been to all 4 so far, Red Dragon 1, Behold the Red Dragon, and Red Dragon 3. Celebrity guests this year included the always lovely Katharine Isabelle and Kacey Rohl, the insightful Rutina Wesley, “scarf dad” (!) Tom Wisdom, the brilliant Vladimir Jon Cubrt, the fun Joe Anderson, and the unexpected joy of Ricky Whittle. Ricky, who is Shadow Moon on Neil Gaiman’s/Bryan Fuller’s American Gods (watch it on Amazon Prime in the UK), became immediately one of the Fannibal Family (despite having not, YET, seen Hannibal!), exuded constant enthusiasm and had the ability to make everyone feel included and important. Very little was off-limits with that naughty boy… check out all the various photo ops with the fans on twitter, instagram, and tumblr. My photo is included below… you get the picture.

It definitely was THAT kind of party!

A selection of my photographs are presented throughout, the rest can be found in my Red Dragon 4 Album on Flickr.

Amongst the guests there was a dance-off at every possible opportunity! Who can forget the constant “battles” between Vlad and Ricky?! With a stunned Kacey in the middle at one point.

But the most important element in this fantastic convention are my fellow Fannibals. The fan attendees are by far the nicest bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Massively creative, talented, and generous. The amount of gifts exchanged within and between the crowd is unmatched by any other fan gathering. People spend hours… days… weeks… months even, on art projects and jewellery, and so many other things, that are just shared with love. No other convention does this, and it came out of nowhere from the beginning. Fannibals are simply generous and kind… considering the subject matter that brought us together, you might have expected the opposite!

A selection of selfies with other Fannibals, the wonderful gifts from various attendees, and my contributions, the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane Visitor IDs (complete your Hannibal scrapbook with a sticker from my RedBubble page!) and Calligraphy Invitations (congrats if you ended up with a gold one!). Click to enlarge:

Throughout the weekend there were various Q&A sessions with one or two of the guests at a time. My photos from these are within my Red Dragon 4 Album on Flickr. During which we learned that in an early job working in a hotel, Ricky secretly wished to be whisked off to a better life by a rich cougar, “Pretty Woman” style (hence the title of this blog). He also spoke at length about his experiences on Strictly Come Dancing (he was a finalist the year that Chris Hollins won, 2009). So I can check “hugging a strictly-finalist” off my to-do list! He laughs and jokes around 110% of the time, but also is very respectful to everyone around. Rutina Wesley fielded lots of very intelligent questions pertaining to her character of Reba McClane, revealing a lot of depth regarding the relationship between Reba and Francis Dolarhyde. She’s knowledgeable about Shakespeare, and a fan equated Reba’s character with Hamlet’s Ophelia at one point… very insightful indeed! Rutina stated that Reba was her favourite character to have played so far, particularly because she was chosen due to her own acting versatility, and not being typecast in any way.. big thanks to Bryan Fuller for being a fair and honest casting-genius! Tom Wisdom appeared slightly apprehensive at the beginning of the con (the crowd are fans of a cannibal.. what can you expect!) but quickly realised we’re all having a bit of fun, and became much more at home with the title “Scarf Dad”! He sent everyone #ScarfLove on twitter after the fact, and confirming on everyone’s autographs that indeed “it is that kind of party”. The funniest line from Tom, was probably in answer to the question “Why did Dimmond gravitate to Hannibal in the opening party scene on season 3?”. Answer: “Well, you saw the motorbike leathers right?!”. Say No More! I sadly missed much of the Vlad and Kacey talks, but as usual they are both very cute and fun-loving people; acting against each other must have been a blast. Vlad and Ricky seemed to have developed a bit of a competition of one-upmanship throughout the 2 and a half days.. crashing onto the stage of each other’s talks, the previously mentioned “dance-offs” were commonplace, and they were generally trying to each win over a larger proportion of the crowd. Joe Anderson spoke about enduring the makeup for Mason Verger, where taking it off was more traumatic (and smelly!) than putting it on. He frequently transitioned into the Mason voice when answering various questions, and did a few funny lines from the show (“spitters are quitters..!”). He also talked about another show “The River” that I had enjoyed watching a couple of years ago; as well as previous roles including where he’s had to play an extremely violent character, and how people react around you at the time. During Rutina and Katie’s Q&A on Sunday, Tom staged a faked fire alarm just to shake things up – whilst the ladies were trying their hardest to answer a sensible question! Katie, on the Saturday was unfortunately ill, but came back to us on Sunday (and gave us a graphic description of what she was going through the night before!). As a Red Dragon regular (along with Kacey), Katie is as enthusiastic today about Hannibal, AND our con environment, as she was from the very beginning. She says coming to Red Dragon is like “coming home”. She’s always a delight. Bless!

Oh, and to fill in a gap in Ricky’s knowledge… Leighton Buzzard is between Watford and Milton Keynes! He asked me where I was from during the Q&A, and he had NO IDEA where it is! Pop in for a cuppa any time… *wink wink*.

The rest of the weekend was spent lining up for photographs, and autographs, and catching up with my awesome friends, and handing out my own gifts of Calligraphic invitations (from Hannibal), and my ID Badges from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane! I did manage to get on the dance floor for a little while on Friday night, but I have pain issues, and can’t keep it up like all the others! On the Saturday night Ricky also made it onto the convention dance floor – you can imagine how that went…

My paid-for photo ops from across the weekend. Click to enlarge:

Sean Harry and the crew from Starfury put on a fantastic convention. They’re intimate affairs, and you get to know the guests on a personal level, and they also begin to get to know you all a little bit. Starfury have got more and more efficient as the years go on, and I can’t fault them for any tiny thing. The stewards are all volunteers, and they do a really brilliant job. Applause and love all round!

Red Dragon 4 #RDC4

Tickets for Red Dragon 5 are already available from starfury.co.uk!