The Whispers: Give Us Your Children or Zero Hour Revisited

publicity poster for The Whispers
Three episodes into the ABC series The Whispers and it is clear that the network have a winner on their hands. In some ways the show feels like an odd twist on religion’s “Give us your children,” quote with a bit of Ray Bradbury’s Zero Hour revisited, which in essence it is, since the show is based upon that short story from The Illustrated Man. Other comparisons spring to mind, The Village of the Damned, sans George Sanders, alien impregnated small town wives, scarily high intelligence and a hive mentality look-a-like kids, or even, a perverse version of Drop Dead Fred, Phoebe Cates’ invisible friend, played by the late brilliant Brit comic Rik Mayall. One could even find a bit of Starman in this “kitchen sink” program that still manages to captivate.

Thus far, there are two couples whose lives are intertwined to an alarming extent. The reason for the word alarming is that one of them, Milo Ventimiglia (John Doe, who is really Lily Rabe’s character’s husband) is running around getting messages from the lights and helping an alien lead children into the sort of mischief that will not only get them in trouble but also blow up a large part of the US.

The show starts with a dark haired and cute moppet, who could almost be the new Dakota Fanning, she plays a game with invisible playmate Drill. This fun pastime consists of almost killing mommy, but the cute little girl is still happy as she, Harper, has won. Later, Drill will return to make the little one’s mother better.

Other children are approached, Minx, daughter of Kristen Connelly‘s character who hacks into daddy’s top secret account and allows the spawning of a possible disastrous event. The threads of all the characters and the plot weave together with the taut precision of a spider’s web.

Lena Lawrence (Connelly) and husband Wes (Barry Sloane) are on the outs because he had an affair with FBI coworker Claire Bennigan (Rabe) whose husband, Sean, (Ventimiglia) disappeared on a test flight and was pronounced dead. Now, Sean is back, but has no idea who he is or who Claire is, and he is taking orders from the same lights that the children are.

The clever bit about The Whispers is how all the kids that Drill approaches are a piece of “Sean’s” puzzle. One child, who lost his game by blowing himself to bits, starts the whole chain off. His “target” was a worker who intended on reporting a faulty pipe system in a nuclear reaction plant. Next in the puzzle is Harper (played by Abby Ryder Fortson who was a series regular on Transparent and really is the current Dakota Fanning crown holder, she is a delight to watch) whose game with mommy end with her in a coma in hospital and brings Harper’s nuclear head of safety father rushing home before possibly learning of the faulty pipe and Minx, whose access to daddy’s files ticks the final box of actions needed by “Sean.”

Right up until the scene in the petrol station toilet, with his hostage and unwilling aide de camp Dr. Maria Benavides (played brilliantly by Catalina Denis) it seemed that Drill and Sean were one in the same, but now it looks like Sean was appearing to the kids but following orders from the lights, just as the children were. If all that sounds confusing think Starman and it starts to make a bit more sense.

The last child approached is the formerly deaf son of Sean and Claire. He is given his hearing back and can now talk although “it’s a secret.” Grammy Starling (played by “ET’s mum” the iconic Dee Wallace) almost rumbles the kid when he’s playing an interactive game instead of sleeping. Just what Drill and daddy want Henry to do has not been revealed.

This is another of those shows to get excited about. When I first saw the trailers The Village of the Damned was my first thought, George Sanders thinking of a brick wall as the blond-headed super-genius kids try to crumble it, and, self admittedly, I passed judgement on the show pre-viewing and left it alone.

Big mistake. The show, created by Soo Hugh (The Killing, Zero Hour) has been tightly crafted and promises enough suspense and mystery, along with a hearty does of science fiction, to keep even the most jaded fan interested. The Whispers airs Sundays on ABC.

Watch it.

Exodus: Gods and Kings Ridley Scott Epic Moses (Review and Trailer)

Exodus: Gods and Kings Ridley Scott Epic Moses (Review and Trailer)

Out of the two religious themed films released this year, as in epic retelling of bible stories versus the feel good films also hitting theatres in 2014, Ridley Scott, with his epic tale of Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings, is to be congratulated for having the moxie, or belief in his subject matter, to allow his biblical vision to actually mention the “big guy” or God. The film, which the English director dedicated to his late brother Tony, feels almost like a homage to David Lean, another English director, sort of a Lawrence of Arabia meets Moses of Canaan, if you will.

Interstellar: Stop Looking for Holes and Enjoy the Story

Interstellar: Stop Looking for Holes and Enjoy the Story

There are a good many reviewers, critics and various scientists who are spending an inordinate amount of time looking for, and identifying, holes in the plot of Interstellar when they should be just enjoying the story. Unfortunately science fiction does tend to bring “experts” scurrying out of the word work chattering about real science versus what is used in the film to move the plot, characters and story forward. Perhaps this tendency to scoff and jeer at the devices used in the feature films to explain the rudimentary mechanics of physics and time comes from being too academic.

Perfect Flaw Edited by Robin Blankenship

perfect-flaw-cover-webversion

This science fiction anthology has tales from 17 different authors and despite the stories all being unique and interesting; not to mention very entertaining, they have one thing in common.

They indicate a future that makes 1984 and “big brother” seem almost benevolent by comparison. Each offer a vision of an Apollonian society gone wrong, tweaked and perfected until it has gone into a Dionysian free fall.

Smilers by Carolyn M Chang reflects a society that practises positive thinking to the ultimate level.

Cracks in the Concrete by Frank Roger tells of a government that has become paranoid and expects its denizens to be the same.

First Head by H S Donnelly is a nightmarish look at self-preservation gone horribly wrong.

These are just three examples of the brilliant stories in this collection.

If you are a fan of science fiction you’ll love this book. Each author has given his or her take on the future and all the various problems and societal ills that it might contain. Each story takes existing topical problems and forecasts their conclusions in the future.

I have always been a fan of Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury and Issac Asimov, just to name my absolute favourites. Perfect Flaw exhibits a great spectrum of authors who now fall into my list of “new and to be read” authors, whose existence was unknown to me before reading this book.

I have to give a “special mention” to author Michael O’Conner for his story The Choosing. This story took me by surprise by having an O Henry type twist in this tale that left me shaking my head. Although it is hard to pick a favourite out of this anthology, his was the one that stayed in my head long after I read it.

Perfect Flaw has been released by Seventh Star Publishing and is available on Amazon as well as other booksellers.

This is a real 5 out of 5 star book that entertained the hell out of me!

Editor Robin Blankenship
Editor Robin Blankenship

Thirteen for 13 an Introduction to Larry Underwood’s Short Fiction

41eQEEeLWLL._SL135_

I made the acquaintance of Mr Underwood on Facebook via mutual friends (like you do) and I noticed the other day that he’d gotten one of his stories, an excellent piece of Western horror flash-fiction, promoted by Amazon.com as a limited freebie.

I love free anything and I immediately shot over to the Amazon sellers and found that it was not free on the UK site. I sent Larry a quick line to say so. This generous and talented gentleman sent me a personal  copy and on top of that, he sent me copies of two more of his short stories.

All three are part of an ongoing project of his called, Thirteen for 13.

All three of these tales were different and entertaining.

Terror on the Plains deals with an Indian legend.

516BCPp0kTL._AA160_

Hiccup is a time travel tale with a sense of humour.

The Clothes Make the Man is just brilliant.

There is another story that is part of this project entitled Dreams. I have not read it yet as I wanted to quickly jot down my thoughts on his work thus far.

51hOatRWFsL._AA160_

The wonderful thing about all Larry’s work is its “visual” texture. I literally felt like I was “reading” episodes from some classic anthology program like The Twilight Zone or Ray Bradbury‘s Theatre. Any one of these stories would make a great adaptation to the small screen and I’ll be very surprised if that doesn’t happen.

The fact that all of the books are horror related should come as no surprise, if you read his Author’s Bio on Amazon. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ll pop it (in its entirety) below:

51CcypU17nL._AA160_

Larry Underwood is best known as an award-winning TV horror host in the Middle TN area where he introduced late-night creature features for 13 years as Dr. Gangrene. He has written articles for various magazines including Scary Monsters and Outre. He lives in Hendersonville, TN with his sons and four dogs. He can be found online at drgangrene.com 

All four of these tales are available on Amazon and worth the time spent reading them. 

Check them out!

Author Larry Underwood.
Author Larry Underwood.