A Writer’s Guide to…Surviving an Avalanche!

Writers can get people into and out of trouble with a handful of eloquent words and some convenient coincidences. It’s no wonder then that we are the first people you turn to for advice on how not to die and stuff. With this in mind, I have decided to take on the heavy burden of writing some guides for that very purpose – to save lives!

Disclaimer: Following these guidelines may result in death.

Next up on the list of things you, the hero, may get into trouble with is the icy wrath of the mountain.

Avalanche

Problem: Really fast snow. Like, stupidly fast
Goal: To not die
Description: White. Cold. Malevolent.
Difficulty: You’ll probably die

It’s just one of those freak occurrences: You’re out for a leisurely stroll through a supervillain’s mountaintop laboratory – where he/she/it is experimenting on kidnapped homeless people and puppies – planting explosives willy and perhaps nilly, when one of the seemingly infinite supply of henchmen (or henchwomen, if the supervillain is a fan of equal opportunity) spots you. A frantic shootout takes you back through the sterile white corridors – a sure sign of evil – to the exit and a convenient pair of skis and, finally, a heroic escape down the glittering alabaster slopes. But (dun dun DUNNN), the henchindividuals are on your heels, shooting at you and throwing grenades in flagrant disregard for the hazard signs; but that’s okay, because you still have that detonator in your hand. Inevitably, the mountain roars and angrily vomits at you in response.

So with a million tonnes of snow barrelling down the mountain behind you at over 100mph, how do you intend to not die? By being intimately familiar with the hero’s handbook of mountaineering, of course (in which case you’ll know that the sound of those grenades didn’t cause the avalanche – that’s a myth). Failing that…

James Bond, Parachute

Note 1: Pull your parachute and use your momentum to glide to safety. Do so before the wind pushed ahead of the avalanche reaches you or it will cause complications. If said parachute has your country’s flag printed on it, get +2 to your speed modifier.

Note 2: If you don’t have a parachute, determine what kind of avalanche is it. Dry snow or wet snow? Wet snow avalanches will travel much slower – perhaps 20mph. The good news is, you can ski at around three times this speed, so you should be able to outrun the avalanche. Do so at an angle to get out of its path. The bad new is, as the hero, it will be a dry snow avalanche chasing you. These average at about 80mph, but can reach speeds of over 100mph. You will not outrun it. While you have (very limited) time, you could try skiing to the side, but the avalanche could be extremely wide.

Note 3: If you have equipment with you, such as a snowmobile and even your skis, discard and move to the side of it so it doesn’t kill you and to minimise the weight pulling you under the snow. Sherpas do not count as equipment – do not discard. Unless you are ten feet from entering woodland and the avalanche is still way up the top of the mountain, don’t try to make for the trees – better to be prepared for the avalanche hitting you than for its speed to catch you by surprise.

Note 4: A fast-moving avalanche will push hurricane-force winds ahead of it, so be prepared to get hit before the snow actually reaches you. Don’t try to take cover behind rocks, trees, or vehicles – not only will the power of the avalanche almost certainly simply crush you with your choice of cover, but anything of that kind could cause some degree of slowing of the snow around it, and therefore cause it to pile up deeper over you. That said, if you can position yourself downhill from a tree, it may just protect you from some of the larger debris carried in and ahead of the avalanche. Alternatively, it may add to that debris and crush you. In the latter case, attempt a Michael Bay style snow-motion scene where it flies over your head, narrowly missing you.

Note 5: You are about to be enveloped by snow. The good new is you might get hit by debris first and die quickly. The bad new is it’s going to be loud, frightening, confusing, and painful. Crouch low, perhaps on your side to avoid being thrown like a rag doll, facing away from the incoming tidal wave of death, and cover your nose and mouth. Keep your mouth closed lest snow inappropriately invade your person.

Hand in Snow

As the slow builds up over you, move you arms to a position over and in front of your face to create an air pocket. Take a deep breath as the snow settles in around you, so as to give your torso some breathing room. Once the snow has covered you and doesn’t seem to be moving too much around you, extend your arm upwards. If you are near the surface, this will make it easier for someone to find you, and will give you a better chance of pulling yourself towards the surface.

Note 6: Now that the snow has covered you, waste no time in starting to dig yourself out. Don’t wait for it to stop moving – once it stops and starts to properly settle, there will be very little you can do to save yourself. If you still have that magical katana blessed by the gods, use it to melt the snow around you and carve your way out. Otherwise, if the snow is loose enough, trying ‘swimming’ out. Spitting is one way you can determine which way is up, and also a filthy habit. You are unlikely to have any light, so you may have to spit on your own face to see which way it runs. Don’t mention this part in later heroic tales.

Note 7: If you cannot reach the surface before the snow sets, your goose is cooked, your bucket is kicked, your dust is bitten, and your chips are being cashed in. Breathe as normally and as calmly as you can and pray. At least you died a conquering hero. Unless the supervillain got away or you forgot to evacuate all the homeless people and puppies, in which case perhaps this is better than returning a failure.

Of course, if you earlier had a blazing row with your sidekick, now is when he or she will plunge his or her hand into the snow and pull you out with no indication as to how the hell he or she found you or got to you in time but who cares.

Note 8: Honestly, you’re probably dead at this point (RIP), but if not, yay. Being the hero that you are, you probably dragged yourself through the quickly setting snow and burst through the surface layer just as it became like concrete around your ribcage. As soon as you feel fresh air on your face, you can start heroically and gruffly calling for rescue (don’t do this if you are still buried, as the snow will muffle the sound and you’ll waste your air). Again, the idea of noise causing avalanches is a myth, so don’t worry about that. Unless you’re in a film.

Note 9: If you were not alone when the avalanche hit, you’d better get to rescuing. Ignore the henchpeople who shot at you – they quite literally brought this on themselves. It will be difficult to pinpoint the last place you saw your companion/s, as the landscape will have changed and you’ll have no idea how far you have been moved by the snow. However, do your best to gauge where they were last and carefully work your way just downhill of that spot. Look for their equipment, as they will almost certainly be in line with it.

Note 10: If you don’t both have probes and transceivers, chances are you won’t find your chum, but at least you kind of tried. Then again, using your powers of heroism, you will probably happen to dig in just the right place. If you can hear them, dig frantically – just below them and in towards them rather than on top of them and straight down – throwing the snow downhill. If you can’t, it means they are buried too deep. Or dead. Or somewhere else. In this case, dig quickly but steadily, expending as little energy as you can so that you can dig further before collapsing of exhaustion – this will be about the same time as you uncover their face and one of you delivers a witty one-liner. Be careful not to accidentally kill them with your shovel.

Once everyone is pulled from the snow/left for dead, carefully make your way sideways and off the settling avalanche, avoiding ambush by Yetis. Seek some kind of rescue type people if you want or need, or stumble across a secret mountain civilization and learn the secrets of immortality and kung fu.

Avalanche Sign

Congratulations: The cold superiority of the mountain has been sneered at; its million tonnes of snow and ice are nothing compared to your foetal position head sheltering. You lived to tell the tale, reluctantly, to the younger generation who speak in whispered tones of your heroic exploits. And you’ll think twice about skiing again.

Next time on A Writer’s Guide…another thing!

A Writer’s Guide to…Surviving the Wilderness!

Writers can get people into and out of trouble with a handful of eloquent words and some convenient coincidences. It’s no wonder then that we are the first people you turn to for advice on how not to die and stuff. With this in mind, I have decided to take on the heavy burden of writing some guides for that very purpose – to save lives!

Disclaimer: Following these guidelines may result in death.

Next up on the list of things you, the hero, may get into trouble with is surviving the deathly grasp of nature.

Mount Baker

Problem: The great outdoors
Goal: To not die
Description: Wild. Scary sounds. Outside
Difficulty: Difficult

Disaster! The private jet carrying you and your promising but ruthless protégé has flown through a swarm of angry ducks, blowing out the engines! In a terrifying blur, the metal tube has plummeted to the ground and crashed in the middle of Endor/a large forest, a hundred miles from anywhere. Upon waking, the first thing you see is the dead pilot (because when do they ever survive?); the next is your protégé running at you with the fire axe that all jets definitely have aboard. A minute of dodging, screaming, and appealing to what little humanity still resides in this rabid stockbroker/your daughter’s gold-digging husband leads you to a fall over the inevitable cliff edge into the even more inevitable fast flowing river. Thrashing, swimming, and not breathing water eventually saves you and you emerge from the water miles downstream with one singular thought: you have to get the holy hell out of there; also why do jets have axes; and also are there bears in this forest; additionally, did you remember to insure the jet.

The bad news is, yes, there are bears in this forest. Of course there are bears in this forest. The good news is the jet’s insured and there aren’t any tigers in this forest.

Note 1: You are wet. In your fright and rush of adrenaline, this might not seem too terrible. It is. It is terrible. Night will soon come and even if you are lucky enough to have crashed somewhere decently warm during the day, wet clothes at night will be bad.

Note 2: First things first. Drink plenty of water from the clean river and collect any if you happen to have a container. Take a swig from your hip flask you think is secret but everyone knows about for warmth, then empty it and fill it with water. Avoid standing or slow-flowing water, as it will possibly kill you. If it is standing up, it may be sentient. Boil water where possible, collect rain and dew, tie a plastic bag around something nice and leafy and collect its sweat.

Note 3: Second things second. You need to find somewhere to spend the night so you can recover and set out at first light. The plane would have been a decent prospect if it weren’t for the madman who wants your head and subsequently your job. Head for higher ground. Ideally, you want to find a balance of natural shelter from the elements and distance from natural dangers such as falling rocks, branches that may fall on your sleeping head, cougar nests, etc. Go higher to avoid flash floods and mole people.

Note 4: You need two things to stay alive and dry out overnight: shelter and a tumble dryer. Failing the latter, a fire will suffice. Use branches against a boulder or tree to create a lean-to, then use smaller sticks and branches to fill the gaps. Finally, use moss, grass, leaves, etc., over the top of it all, cementing it with mud or clay if possible (be careful not to make it too heavy). Now coat the inside floor with more branches and leaves/moss/grass so that you won’t be sleeping on the cold, damp ground. Also hope lightning doesn’t hit the tree.

Note 5: Build the fire. If you are a man, society would have you believe you should inherently know how to do this; if you are a woman, society would have you believe you’re &%$! out of luck and should find a man. They’re wrong. You’re a hero: you either know it all, or you know nothing but it magically works anyway. Unless everything is wet. Then you’re &%$! out of luck. Place a larger log or two on the ground, which you have cleared of anything that will catch fire and spread it, and away from same. Place tinder – dry grass, leaves, moss will do – between the logs and have small twigs ready.

Light the fire with your lighter, laser eyes, lesser arcana, dragon’s breath, or matches. Failing this, do you have a battery you can short with steel wool? Why the hell not? Flint and steel? Something like glasses to harness and concentrate the sun’s mighty power? Well, then it’ll have to be the drill method. Get a straight stick and either cut a notch in something big, like a thick branch, or gather heavy rocks to fashion a slot that the stick can go through. Place your tinder in and around the notch or under the slot, followed by the stick, which you will roll quickly and smoothly between your hands to create friction at the tip. Better still, use your shoelace and a bendy stick to make a bow. Hold down the straight stick with a rock and use the bow to spin it.

As the fire catches hold of the tinder, help it to spread throughout with gentle blowing. Stack small twigs over the logs and tinder, allowing room for oxygen. As the fire grows, add larger twigs and sticks. Eventually, you will be able to add larger logs. Dry thine clothing.

Note 6: Eat edible plants. Don’t eat poisonous plants. Dandelions are edible, so are lettuces. There is usually no need to go after animals, but you are unusual and the hero. Fashion a hunting bow. Mine nearby ore, smelt, blacksmith. Forge a mighty sword. You will probably need it for that bear of unusual size and aggression who has caught your scent and is hunting you for miles upon miles entirely against its nature. Also the protégé who went mad with bloodlust surprisingly fast – remember him? Perhaps the two problems will take care of each other at the last moment.

Brown Bear

Note 7: The bear is Man’s greatest foe. When Man is faced with a hungry, angry bear, anyway. Do not attempt to cuddle it. When you finally come to the final showdown with the bear, do not try to run. That is cowardly, and also it will outrun you. Assess what kind of bear it is and recall the different approaches that you memorised for no reason:

  • Black bear – These are more timid than other bears. Make lots of noise and they will often lose interest. Fighting back when one actually attacks may also cause it to give up. Don’t bother trying to climb trees to escape – they are better climbers that you.
  • Grizzly bear – This will be the kind of bear you encounter, as it is most heroic. Probably a Kodiak. Back away carefully, without turning or running. The bear may charge you, but it may be a bluff. Stand your ground, you’ll probably be fine. The further back the bear’s ears are pushed, the more likely it is to be attacking. If it is attacking, drop to the floor in the foetal position and play dead. It will probably leave after throwing you about a bit. Stay down, as it may be hiding behind a tree, ready to jump out at you when it sees you’re not actually dead.
  • Koala bear – You will die.
  • Polar bear – What the &%$! is it doing in a forest?!

Naturally, this is a merciless killing machine that wishes to feast on your insides, so your only option is to fight. Use your sword. Good luck.

Note 8: If you are still alive, it means your protégé conveniently attacked you at the same time and is now in the bear’s stomach and it no longer cares about you. Now you can concentrate on being rescued. Find north by pointing the hour hand of your magically-still-working watch at the sun. The midway point between the hour hand and 12 is south. Hopefully you will have memorised a map and this will be helpful. If you intend to try hiking out, go back to the plane and build an arrow in the direction you are heading, using stones and stuff. Now that the bear and protégé have been fought, however, rescue should be arriving any moment.

Note 9: If the forest canopy is particularly thick and the rescue planes and helicopters won’t see it, head again for high ground. Find somewhere high and clear of trees. You can build a signal fire here and it will look particularly dramatic when you are rescued. The signal fire will be built the same way as the campfire, but…bigger. When you hear an aircraft, pile on anything that will make smoke. Technically, you could also use the signal flare from the jet.

Note 10: Remember to collapse to the ground laughing like a cringe-inducing idiot when the helicopters swoop in.

Signal Fire

Congratulations: Nature are stupid and you is smart; killer bears are laughable and nobody laughs at your jokes. Your daughter will be happy to hear that you helped a bear eat her gold-digging husband who tried to chop you into firewood. You’ll return home realising there’s more to life than money and you’ll live life to the fullest from now on. Except the after-credits scene shows the bear coming across your address book in the plane’s wreckage: It will find you.

Next time on A Writer’s Guide…something else!

A Writer’s Guide to…Escaping a Sinking Car!

Writers can get people into and out of trouble with a handful of eloquent words and some convenient coincidences. It’s no wonder then that we are the first people you turn to for advice on how not to die and stuff. With this in mind, I have decided to take on the heavy burden of writing some guides for that very purpose – to save lives!

Disclaimer: Following these guidelines may result in death.

Next up on the list of things you, the hero, may get into trouble with is attempting to operate a vehicle in deep water.

Quayside Sign

Problem: Water (in your car and lungs)
Goal: To not die
Description: Wet and not dense enough to drive on
Difficulty: Difficult

We’ve all been there: We’re at a party in a generic approximation of the Hollywood Hills at some famous person’s party – perhaps our own – and got drunk, had a public argument with our lover or agent or (twist!) both, jumped/fallen into our Ferrari to have a drive to clear our head, and lo! a wide-eyed deer in the road makes us swerve and crash through the barrier into an inconveniently placed lake or reservoir.

The natural instinct is to panic. This is good. It means you’re alive, and it might sober you up just enough to keep yourself that way. Scream. Scrabble. Claw at the glass. If you cry loud enough, God might hear you. Conversely, something else might hear you, in which case be extremely careful with the wording of any deals you may make. Failing this, it is time to regain your Zen.

Many people die every year in car accidents involving a submerged car, so it is important to understand what is happening, and know in advance what to do. If this is not the case and you are currently sinking, you might like to take time to read this guide; however, remember that the car will sink in a maximum of two minutes and the average person cannot hold their breath for long even without the strenuous activity of trying not to drown, so speed read.

Note 1: As you scream at the rapidly approaching water, keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel to A) brace yourself, and B) ensure the airbag does not force your hands into your face and cause you punch yourself unconscious. This would be embarrassing.

Note 2: As soon as you are in the water and the airbag has broken your nose and potentially caused you to inhale the toxic chemicals inside it, unfasten your seatbelt. If you have a knife handy, it may be more heroic and dramatic to cut yourself free and then place the knife between your teeth.

Note 3: If there are any children or anyone else needing assistance, unfasten their seatbelts and calmly explain to them that they need to refrain from panicking or else their selfishness will use up the air and kill you all. All the while there is air, breathe calmly and deeply, preparing your lungs for when you have to hold your breath.

Note 4: Open your window. This is particularly important to do as soon as you and your passengers are free because the electrics will stop working after two or three minutes (although, by this time you’ll have sunk anyway). Don’t bother with the door unless you have superhuman strength or are some kind of cyborg – you will not be able to open it.

Double Jeopardy Car Underwater

Note 5: If you are unable to open the window, you will need to break it. Side windows and the rear window are breakable, but the windscreen is not. If you are a real hero, you can punch it. If you are rubbish hero you can kick it close to front edge where it is weakest (like you). If you are a total basic, you may need to use a tool to break the glass.

Shooting it out may redeem you a little, but do so up close as the bullet will only travel a couple of feet. Otherwise, use something hard and heavy, like the hammer you carry around in your door compartment. Pulling out the headrest of your seat might give you access to a pointed metal spike of sorts. Aim your tool for the centre of the window and thrust hard, unafraid of glass shards because you are a hero. And because car windows break into neat, safe pieces, not shards.

Note 6: If you are feeling adventurous, wait until the car has entirely filled with water and it hits the bottom. Don’t forget to take a deep breathe while there is still air left. At this point, the pressure inside and out will have equalised, and you will be able to open the door. This is boring, so heroically break the window.

Do not attempt to breathe the water. Yes, it is more readily available than air now, but it may prove detrimental to your health.

Note 7: Children are dim. If you have any, make sure they take a deep breath before they submerge (unless you left them at home). If you have a self-inflating dinghy handy, give it to them immediately outside so that they can get to the surface easily. Failing that, ensure children too young or unable to swim are with an adult.

Note 8: Use light, bubbles, sinking objects, and anything else about you to determine which way is up, and swim in that direction. That is where air is. Also potentially your armed attackers. Remember, bullets don’t travel far in water, so don’t worry about being shot. Yet.

Note 9: Swim at a shallow angle to the side so as to avoid breaking surface near the mafiosos/terrorists/assassins/shark-bears with laser guns. Do not waste time feeling relieved at fresh air – get to land before exhaustion causes you to sink all over again or someone spots you.

Note 10: Take revenge. Or call an ambulance/flag down a passing car.

Underwater Gunfire

Congratulations: Gravity is weak and you are strong; water is…wet and you will be dry when someone gives you a towel. This will teach your spurned lover or agent, or unfortunate circumstance, or those meddling kids. Unless those airbag chemicals get you.

Next time on A Writer’s Guide…something different to this time!

A Writer’s Guide to…Escaping a Fire!

Writers can get people into and out of trouble with a handful of eloquent words and some convenient coincidences. It’s no wonder then that we are the first people you turn to for advice on how not to die and stuff. With this in mind, I have decided to take on the heavy burden of writing some guides for that very purpose – to save lives!

Disclaimer: Following these guidelines may result in death.

First on the list of things you, the hero, may get into trouble with is fire. This guide covers the likes of house fires, warehouse fires, fires in the villain’s lair because he discovered your intentions moments before you arrived and set a trap, but does not cover the supernatural fires of hell or magic.

Tombstone cowboys walking from fire

Problem: Fire
Goal: To not die
Description: Most often yellow and orange. Variably useful and ouchy. You’ll know it when you see it
Difficulty: Difficult

Note 1: A hero knows that danger lurks around every corner and under every cheerful welcome mat. He or she should be ready for anything, including instantaneous infernos. Plan the quickest routes to multiple exits and note the obstacles – the smoke my reduce visibility to zero. If you intend to start the fire, do so far away from your exit. If you are an action hero, windows between the ground floor and the fourth floor are acceptable exits, with the fifth and sixth floors viable when directly above a vehicle on which to land. If possible, know whom you will encounter along the way, which of these people can easily be shoved the ground and which will need to be dodged. If this is a house fire, Grandma will slow you down if you try to help her; but fear not, for the frigid embrace of the Reaper will soothe her burns.

Note 2: Stay low to the ground to avoid smoke inhalation. Smoke and chemicals will rise, so the cleanest air will be closest to the floor. Since visibility will be better down here, you could try shooting the ankles of random henchmen to counter the big-sissy-ness of crawling along the floor.

Note 3: As in any situation in which you are in a house with Macaulay Culkin, you must check door handles before you open doors. Do so with more sensitive skin, such as that on the back your hand or a small child if available. If the handle is hot, there is most likely fire on the other side, and you should not open it. When you do open a door, do so slowly and with your shoulder braced against it in case of pressure differences, and be prepared to close it again before the fire spots you. Fire cannot open doors.

Note 4: If you find yourself trapped, call your team of ex- special forces soldiers of fortune, a friend with superpowers, or the fire service. Do not hide under beds or behind curtains – the fire will look for you there. Douse any material you have handy in water and hold it over your face. Altering the pressure with which you do so will cause the sweet release of death will come for you or keep smoke inhalation to a minimum.

Note 5: Remember, do not use the elevator in the event of a fire. Wrap your shirt sleeves around your hands and shimmy down the elevator cable instead. Avoid falling elevator cars and do not climb as far as the basement. Alternatives include the stairs.

Die Hard Elevator Shaft

Note 6: Locked doors can be kicked open by driving the heel of your foot into the door as close to the lock as possible. If the door opens towards you, don’t be stupid. Close doors and windows as you go. Rather than allowing smoke to escape, they will fuel the fire. It will also slow the spread of the fire. Fire can’t go through doors, stupid; it’s not a ghost. Shoot a hole in any fire extinguishers you pass, thus creating your own sprinkler system.

Note 7: If you must go up rather than down, as the best heroes do, try to pick up an incapacitated civilian along the way. Should the fire catch up to you, dropping the civilian will slow it down and give you the chance to escape. Alternatively, once you reach the roof, news helicopters will record your heroics. On the roof, leave the door open to help clear smoke from the building, and walk towards the wind, so as to give yourself the best chances of survival. If a strange bald man has been telling you you’re The One, now is the time to jump to another building.

Note 8: Once out of the burning building, do not, under any circumstances, let anything stop you from re-entering. Firefighters may get in your way and will only slow you down. They cannot possibly carry out all their heavy gear and the little girl crying for help from the top window. But they do have ladders, so maybe wait to see if you can procure one.

Note 9: The penultimate consideration is health care. During a fire, the average person will have breathed in carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, cyanide, soot, various aldehydes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, acid gases, toluene, benzene, styrene, metals and dioxins. As a hero, you are not an average person, and should belligerently wave away any paramedics and light up a cigarette.

Note 10: Fire engines are fast and people get out of the way of their sirens. Should you still need to give chase to a villain, they are a good choice. Ensure no firefighters are still in or on the vehicle, and if possible cut the fire hose being used to fight the building fire, or it will trail behind you and get caught on something or cause the city millions of dollars in damage, and you may have to hand in your badge until you are the only one who can stop the next villain and have to come out of retirement. After all, you were the best damn whatever you were that someone or other has ever seen.

Con Air Fire Truck

Congratulations: The fire has been outsmarted and your spouse/partner/mentor/cat has been avenged!

Next time on Writer’s Guide…something else!

Jedises? Ben & Rey Skywalker?

The Last Jedi first artwork

The small bits of Star Wars: The Last Jedi artwork that we’ve seen have got people talking again – as though anyone needed an excuse to talk about Star Wars. Who is/are the last Jedi? Who are Rey’s parents? What is the connection between her and Kylo Ren? Why the hell did R2 magically wake up for no reason at all?

The most popular theory seems to be that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. I’m in two minds about whether I like the idea of the galaxy revolving around the Skywalker family, but if she is to be a Skywalker, I’d rather it was maternal. In the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, Han and Leia have twins (and a third child, but who cares about him?): Jaina and Jacen Solo.

Jaina and Jacen SoloJacen turns to the dark side, while Jaina remains in the light, so Kylo and Rey taking an approximation of these roles would be a decent nod to this. Plus, Jacen kills Luke’s wife, which would add to the justification of Luke running off to sulk in the films.

The downside to this is that there’s little likelihood that Han wouldn’t know that Rey is his daughter. Sure, they could have been split up like Luke and Leia, but there would have been no reason to do that, or to keep her secret from Han. Plus she was around six-ish when she was dumped on Jakku – though this is probably about the right age to hide her to keep her safe from Kylo and Snoke.

Failing this, I’d quite like her to be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. His relationship with Satine in The Clone Wars is canon, so it’s a vague possibility. The downside to this is it still leaves room for the absurd Rey/Kylo romance people seem so desperate for.

As for The Last Jedi, we seem to have confirmation that it is meant as a plural. It’s possible that the foreign language versions were simply translated as plural but not actually told that it was, so I’m not taking it as a fact. But it seems likely. Even if Luke is the last at the beginning of the film, if he trains Rey to be a Jedi, there would be two of them by the end. But, given that Snoke is supposedly an ancient being, is it plausible that he was at some point a Jedi? Could The Last Jedi refer to Luke and Snoke? (No, I do not in any way count Leia as a contender.)

And who’s to say Rey will become a Jedi anyway? Perhaps the old ideas of Jedi and Sith are over, at least for a time. It would be interesting to see her become a balance of light and dark, rather than the extreme of either. This is a concept used in the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and it would be interesting to explore beyond just the realms of Jedi = light side and Sith = dark side.

What do you think about these questions? Who is Rey? Who is Snoke? And seriously, were they that lazy at writing that R2 has no actual reason for waking up?! Will Benicio Del Toro be Boba Fett’s son?

Wonder, Marvel, and Survival

wondermarvelsurvival

For me, when a female-led action movie is done well, there is something a little extra special about it. Perhaps it’s because they are comparatively rarer for the time being. Let’s put aside the obvious Star Wars Episode VIII and Rogue One, the brainlessly whitewashed Ghost in the Shell, and some others. There are three main, female-led potential blockbusters that I’m very much looking forward to.

These three not only have the potential to be brilliant movies, but also to show the morons- powers-that-be that there is just as much a market for female-led movies as there is for male-led ones. That market is, of course, people who like good movies! These idiots powers-that-be seem to be about the only ones that don’t realise that it doesn’t matter who leads a movie – what matters is that it’s entertaining, exciting, thrilling, funny, sad, GOOD.

But that’s not the point. The point is, these are those three movies.

Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot seemed like an odd choice to play Wonder Woman at first. While the likes of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck were busy growing to twice their normal size at the gym so they could look the part, a spindly model only really known on screen for her part in a Fast & Furious movie was cast as the third of the Trinity. But out marched Batman v Superman, and it was terrible. But Gadot’s Wonder Woman was, for the brief appearances she made, one of the best things about it.

Granted, how good she was will have been exaggerated a little by how terrible the eponymous leads were. She didn’t whinge and whine and boo hoo her way through her cameo scenes; she was there for a reason and she got on with it. She was, as far as anyone can be in such a short time, Wonder Woman. (While the leads failed utterly to be Superman and Batman, but that’s beside the point).

Sadly, Zack Snyder still has his grubby hands on June 2017’s Wonder Woman solo outing, with IMDb listing him under ‘story by’. But he isn’t directing (that’s Patty Jenkins) and he didn’t write the screenplay, so there’s hope yet. The trailers keep looking better and better, and there’s a slightly Marvel flavour to them, which isn’t a bad thing after an okay Man of Steel followed by two woeful outings from the DCMU.

I’ve always considered Wonder Woman to be Superman’s equal. While he has more raw power, her being a magically-created demigod and warrior balances the scales. When Superman goes bad, who do you call? Wonder Woman (also Batman, obviously). So far, it’s looking as though Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is going to be that equal, with the actress  easily embodying Power, Grace, and Wisdom.

Captain Marvel

I don’t actually know all that much about Captain Marvel, being neither a comic reader nor a Marvel fan outside of the screen, but I look forward to her introduction to the MCU more than most of the other Marvel movies coming up.

So far, all we know about the movie is that it is scheduled for release in March 2019, is being written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve, and will star Oscar winner Brie Larson (who I have only now realised was Abed’s girlfriend in Community!).

Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe, and according to the Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, the MCU’s version of her will not only be more powerful than the rest of the heroes ‘by far’, but will also be more powerful than fans are used to seeing her. So, she’s taking the Hulk’s heavyweight belt and then some.

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In the comics, as the character progressed through the usual iterations, she gained the ability to tap the power of a white hole, allowing her to manipulate gravity, heat, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Though she lost this connection, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel’s base powers include flight at around Mach 6 (light speed with the white hole connection), the ability to survive in space, superhuman strength and durability, a limited precognition, and the ability to blast energy from her fingertips. She can also absorb energy to augment her power to the point of unleashing a nuclear warhead level energy blast, and can throw a 92-tonne punch.

In short, even if these are the highest levels her power reaches in the film, she’s going to be insanely powerful. So with a strong choice of actress, good source material, and Marvel’s mostly solid track record, I don’t need a trailer to know that I want to see this, now!

As a side note, I’m interested in seeing how she’s used going forward. Up till now, Marvel has been mostly trying to keep a balance between the heroes’ power, with them coming out of every scrape pretty much equal (even if it doesn’t always make much sense): Captain America v Iron Man; Thor v Captain America; Thor v Iron Man; Iron Man v Hulk; Thor v Hulk, etc. So it will be interesting to see how Captain Marvel is incorporated in later films, which she will be given that she’s set to become one of the most important characters in the MCU. In the comics, she has had affiliations with pretty much everyone from SHIELD and the Avengers, to the X-Men, to the Guardians of the Galaxy, so we could be seeing a lot of her.

Tomb Raider

Again, we know very little about 2018’s Tomb Raider, except that it will star Alicia Vikander and will be based to some degree on 2013’s Tomb Raider game reboot and sequel. This is what IMDb currently says about it, if it means anything:

Lara Croft sets out on her first expedition to finish her father’s archaeological research and uncover ancient secrets in order to clear his disgraced name. Tragedy hits when her adventure turns into a fight for survival.

This sounds made up to me, but it would make sense. While the 2013 Tomb Raider game was about Lara Croft taking part in an expedition that goes wrong, its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider (yes, stupid name), was a more personal story about Lara trying to complete her father’s work and clear his disgraced name.

Written by Rhianna Pratchett, the reboots were far more story driven, and introduced a more human Lara Croft. Initially, she doesn’t believe in the more supernatural elements that gamers were used to her battling, she was barely out of college, and certainly didn’t somersault all over the place firing two guns at once. She was a young woman way out of her depth, concerned only with trying to rescue her friends, and has to adapt radically to be a surviver.

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While Angelina Jolie was a good choice for the big screen’s somewhat entertaining first attempt at the character, it’s easy to imagine Alicia Vikander (another Oscar winner) bringing the young, innocent, and vulnerable Lara Croft through the tragedies, tortures, and trials that will forge the Tomb Raider.


So these are, aside from Rey and Luke, the characters and movies I’m most looking forward to seeing in the next few years. If they’re done right (and I think at least Captain Marvel and Tomb Raider will be), they could be brilliant.

What movies, female led or not, are you looking forward to most before 2020?

Newsletter and Stuff

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Actually, no stuff. Just newsletter. You probably noticed when you came to the site that a pop-up asked you to subscribe to my new newsletter. I’m a little late to it, but I thought it was about time to start building up a list of people who might like to support me and who might be interested in new releases and, occasionally, whatnot.

The pop-up itself I can’t customise any more than giving it a 5-second delay, which is annoying because who’s going to know if they want to sign up within 5 seconds?

Anyway, the newsletter will be very infrequent: mostly when I have a new release or something changes with a current book, and in the rare event that I actually write multiple decent blog posts. I will also keep an eye out for other interesting news and stuff with which to fill them out. So, expect something like 2-3 per year…

If you closed the pop-up but this invigorating, rallying cry has changed your mind, there’s a link to the quick sign-up form at the top of the sidebar. Thanks for your support (not a guilt trip).