Monthly Archives: March 2016
by Dave Roberts
I always thought that the first book I ever really enjoyed was at 12 years old when I first got my hands on the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy but this was untrue. I recently discovered that my previous favourite and the epicentre of my fear of being buried alive was three years earlier, in the shape of R.L Stine’s ‘One day at Horrorland.’ I genuinely believed that my love of media rested exclusively in the ‘comedy’ camp. It is only recently I’ve discovered it was equally divided between comedy and horror. So it was inevitable I would discover and enjoy ’Dead Funny’.
Dead Funny is a collection of short horror stories edited by (horror fiction authority figure) Johnny Mains and co-edited by (comedian, actor, writer and broadcaster) Robin Ince. The stories are written exclusively by comedians and though some of them will make you laugh briefly, (I’m fairly sure Richard Herring’s is an amazing story I heard him mention on a podcast) they are horror stories and not comedy.
Right out’ve the gate Reece Shearsmith writes a story so visceral that I remember it every time I go to a park, but it also had such a specific blend of dark humour that you would’ve known exactly who had written it even if it hadn’t been clearly stated. It made me feel very uneasy many times, such as making me want to kick a blind child into a fire. Sara Pascoe creeped me out so much I re-told her story to everyone I met for two days. Charlie Higson’s story is really satisfying and has a slightly higher quality that reeks of ‘I do this for a living now’. Robin Ince has a great twist on a thoroughly explored horror genre that has the hallmarks of a workaholic comedian who sits around thinking up horror stories every time he is left alone without a microphone. Al Murray does the equivalent of a creepy documentary and Michael Legge utilised his infamously bottomless well of frustration and rage to craft one of the most satisfying stories in the book.
For at least a couple of the authors I know this is the first time they’ve attempted to write anything like this. Some of them didn’t really work for me though some of the stories I loved really irritated other people. Dead Funny has resurrected my love for horror stories, and made me want to go mad so I can write some. It is a satisfying read with a lot more authors than I’ve stated, I can’t imagine you are going to be crying yourself to death after reading them but I enjoyed them a hell of a lot.
I have genuinely had nightmares for the whole week I was reading Dead Funny, though that’s probably a lot more to do with my decaying mental stability and impending breakdowns than with these stories. Except Sara Pascoe’s story A Spider Remember which creeped me out permanently and has supplied me with a semi-permanent twitch. Copies of Dead Funny, at the moment at least, are available in a very physically attractive small format hardback book, and there’s a sequel collection on the way so you should buy it even if you just want to look more interesting to other people.
by David Roberts
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Back in E3 when this was announced everyone went crazy with anticipation with the promises they were making, about controlling air strikes and tactical moves from an iPad so you didn’t have to alienate your friends entirely considering how huge the game was gonna be. Though they took that bit out.
The game is a lovely big open world that you can run around in and complete missions with anyone you feel like , you can invite friends in the usual fashion, or approach strangers in underground bars and ask them if they want to go and kill hundreds of cleaners with you. Which Incidentally is how I got fired from the bar in the janitors union. I know that isn’t funny.
The intro of the game is a very close to the bone news montage of real events such as Black Friday shoppers crossed with Bird Flu and Ebola reports, it seems the virus in question has been released at a shopping mall on Black Friday through the money and has destroyed the world. One of the major story selling points for me is that lack of mutations, a much more believable infectious disease than would be found in Resident Evil.
You can also, if you’re looking for direction in life, just press a button that causes someone who needs a hand at a random mission to teleport you practically into their pockets so you can just shoot misguided people in the face, something that you can do to each individual about five times before it affects them more negatively than a common cold. Something about Ubisoft games ,that I’m not sure is particularly negative ,is that every single thing available to come across on the map through exploring is highlighted making the possibility of adventuring essentially redundant. There is no need to go anywhere that doesn’t have a big glowing sticker on it, it feels like training wheels for adventuring. It’s like tricking stupid people into thinking they are adventuring around a map when all they are doing is the digital equivalent of fetching sticks. For people like me who like to complete things it makes it easier though as I’d probably have a strategy guide on my lap anyway when it comes to finding all the things on the map. It’s also perfect for anyone you might know that enjoys tidying. Like Jon Richardson.
In the book world Tom Clancy is the adult version of Andy McNab, in video game world Tom Clancy’s The Division is a less cerebral right wing version of the Last of Us. I didn’t feel particularly propelled by the story line in this which is basically that there is a virus of some respect that has almost but not entirely ended the world and everyone is very angry and most of them are killing each other. Because of these events a group of highly trained mercs called The Division have come in to Judge Dredd everyone into chilling out.
There’s a section of the map called the Dark Zone where you can get a lovely collection of powerful weapons that can assist you with killing the A.I and rogue agents. The element of the rogue agents that I like is that there would be absolutely no Rogue Agents in the dark zone whatsoever if people weren’t complete wankers. If we could all work together and play nice the Dark Zone would be clear and acceptable for people to live in in a matter of weeks, but of course take away rules and give people guns and they are gonna kill you and steal your stuff.
Most of the game can be completed by yourself but it is a lot of fun playing with other people and the different skill trees that you can equip in real time add a real fast paced dynamic to any battle. Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry have made, what I consider to be a vital mistake which is that they have saturated the player with so many quests and quests within quests that you never feel like you are progressing but just performing a collection of meaningless and near identical side quests, which leaves such a large gap between story cutscenes that I find myself forgetting what is going on and losing investment. It is also a record breaking game that everyone is playing, so if you like Destiny or Rainbow 6 or just killing people then give it a look.