25 Jun 2012

Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) is the new lead singer of Kamelot

Kamelot 2012 lineup with Tommy Karevik as the new lead singer
Source: Kamelot

Good news, everyone!

Power metal band extraordinaire Kamelot have unveiled that their new lead singer is Tommy Karevik, who is also the front man for progressive metal band Seventh Wonder (he's the dude in the centre of the above picture).

I was introduced to Seventh Wonder by our Ninja Captain Alex in his first A-Z post of this year. They immediately blew me away with their concept, visuals and Karevik's vocals. That man can sing! A lot of thanks to Alex for introducing me to Karevik's voice in time for this awesome change.

Kamelot have been without a singer for over a year after their previous front man Roy Khan left the band for medical reasons. They've performed with a bunch of guest vocalists while on tour, but now that Karevik is the official lead singer they can start a new chapter. They've a new album coming out in September, and a World tour that comes to London in November (whoo!)

So the singer for my favourite newly discovered band is now the lead singer for my favourite all time metal band. This is going to be epic. You can read the official press release and a few words from Tommy.

Below is a track from the album Mercy Falls by Seventh Wonder so you can get a feel for Tommy's vocals. He'll make a perfect addition to the Kamelot family.

Any good news where you are that you want to share?

21 Jun 2012

Interactive zombie Google Maps mashup from Confused.com

Home Sweet Zombie - an interactive game from Confused.com
Source: Confused.com

I've done it. I've finally managed to extend my geekery to my place of work. For those of you who don't know, my day job is as a blogging wizard for Confused.com. These are the ones who are giving me the free donuts and making me too fat to run away from the undead.

I'm the guy who gets to write and blog about almost anything I want (the most recent things I did are James Bond's gadgets, Batman's Batcycle and the best Ancient Egyptian monuments you've never heard of). Considering that the company specialises in car and home insurance, I'd say I've landed myself a pretty sweet job (I don't even drive, but don't tell them that!)

Well, let's just say that they've noticed my 'enthusiasm' for zombies and post-apocalyptic fiction, and I've managed to infect them (pun intended) with the idea of doing something with zombies. Persistence pays off, since they've rigged up this kick-ass animation with Google Maps that sends a horde of shambling corpses to your street of choice (there's no embed function, so click the link or the image and give it a go).

Home Sweet Zombie - interactive game from Confused.com

It should work with any address you put in, and it shows a cartoon of a zombie attack on your street. It's pretty funny, and the use of Google Maps means that you can pop in someone else's address and summon an army of the dead to your enemy's house.

The zombies seem to be a weird mix of the stupid, shambling, Romero-esque undead and the rage filled, semi-cognisant infected of 28 Days Later. Also, how in the hell do zombies know how to bake a cake?! They chose to go with Home Sweet Zombie as the title, but I thought my suggestion of Undead Evil Zombie Residents of the Dead had a much nicer ring to it...

A favour to ask

I've a few more zombie/fantasy related ideas in the pipeline that more or less rely on the success of this video (fingers crossed they'll let me do a zombie survival giveaway or something). If you could share the link; Facebook, tweet, G+, review it on your blog, send to a friend via carrier pigeon, it'll all help my chances in zombifying the office a little more and getting more awesome stuff like this made in future.

If zombies invaded your street, where would be your first place to run? Do you have a first survival base already in mind?

18 Jun 2012

Monstrous Productions turns Cardiff into Ankh Morpork

Monstrous Productions logo
Source: Monstrous Productions

Thursday saw a little slice of Cardiff transformed into the marketplace of Ankh Morpork from Terry Pratchett's Discworld as Monstrous Productions, a local theatre group who specialise in stage adaptations of Pratchett's novels, held a fundraiser for their latest production of Carpe Jugulum. You may remember my review of Monstrous Regiment, their first Pratchett play that was so successful it enabled Monstrous Productions to be born.

A hoard worthy of the Discworld

Guided by signposts such as the Street of Small Gods to the marketplace, I was suddenly surrounded by geek finery, and I was very quickly separated from my money. I got myself some awesome looking steampunk cog cufflinks from The Assassin's Guild hosted by Celtic Rose Art, and a Legend of Zelda heart container badge and TARDIS fridge magnet from World of Oddy's Emporium of Whimsy. Add to that an authentic sausage inna bun from C.M.O.T. Dibbler's food stand and I was one happy geek. I also put a bid on an awesome hand knitted turtle made by the company's founder Amy. Fingers crossed I'll get it; if I do, I'll let you guys name it.

All for a good cause

Celtic Rose Art as the Guild of Assassins
Hand knitted turtleThere were some things I wanted to get but decided against, like the epic cupcakes that I could see and smell but daren't get too close. Luckily, the fundraiser was such a success that they're going to host one every month. The fact that it all goes towards helping the theatre company make their shows even more awesome, and they're putting on their performance in aid of Alzheimer's Research (the condition from which Terry Pratchett suffers) so everything works out brilliantly. 

Now if I don't eat for the next week or so, I'll be able to afford that limited edition Death statue I saw when I was there ...

What item from any book would you like to have in the real world as a souvenir?

13 Jun 2012

Short film: The Saga of Bjorn

The Saga of Bjorn
Source: The Animation Workshop

It's been a while since I showcased a short film on here, and as luck would have it I stumbled across a corker of a short film a few days back.

The Saga of Bjorn is a film created by The Animation Workshop, and it tells the story of a Viking warrior doing his best to earn an honourable death in order to reach Valhalla. Despite his best efforts, however, he never quite manages it ... You can watch the video below, and please do. It's hilarious.

Video source: The Tripatorium

A film by: Benjamin J. Kousholt, Daniel D. Christensen, Mads Lundgaard Christensen, Jesper A. Jensen, Jonas K. Doctor, Steffen Lyhne, Pernille ├śrum-Nielsen, Frederik Bjerre-Poulsen, Jonas Georgakakis

If you had to seek out your own demise to reach Valhalla, how would you do it? Bonus points for snark and creativity as always.

7 Jun 2012

Introducing Sketcher Girl Studios by Vic Caswell - Book covers galore



If you don't already know Vic from Hairnets and Hopes, one of the most awesome bloggers around, then shame on you. Go fix that now.

Vic designs superb book cover art, and today is the grand opening of her new site Sketcher Girl Studios. Vic specializes in freelance book cover design (although she's happy to work on tattoo design, podcast art, any kind of illustration you care to name), and she's designed the covers of Emily White's Elemental and Kimberly Ann Miller's Triangles

What I like about Vic's approach to book covers is that she will read your book to get a proper feel for the story beforehand, meaning that she can capture the essence of the story in a single image. Also, she won't use stock photography so you can be assured that your book cover is 100% unique and it avoids any legal pitfalls when using the book cover on merchandise.

In celebration of the grand opening, Sketcher Girl Studios is hosting a giveaway. All you need to do is pop onto the Contact Us page and enter the secret word - mischief - and you'll be entered into the giveaway. With free swag such as free books, gift cards and free labour on your own book cover up for grabs, you'd be a fool not to.

What's the most epic book cover you've seen?

3 Jun 2012

Jubilee special - Top five contributions to fantasy by the British


This weekend, the entire of the UK is going absolutely nuts in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, and in celebration of everything that's great about being British. With that in mind, I give you the top five contributions to fantasy fiction by British authors. It's no small coincidence that over half of this list are also on the list of top best selling books of all time, and I've had to leave a lot of excellent authors on the cutting room floor for this list. Don't worry, you guys in the US. I also plan on doing a list of American authors for 4th July.

C.S. Lewis author photo
Source: Wikipedia

C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia

A close friend of Tolkien and the author of one of the best known fantasy series' in the world. The Chronicles of Narnia is important because it serves as an excellent introduction to high fantasy, especially for children. The cuteness of talking animals and adventure overlay a very serious conflict with heavy themes such as temptation, warmongering and religion. The Narnia series is a classic that is still loved by fantasy fans, even sixty years onward.

Neil Gaiman author photo
Source: Melissa Douthit

Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere, Stardust

Neil Gaiman is the man that every British geek aspires to become. He is world renowned for his craft and his love of fantasy in fiction, film and comics. His novel Neverwhere introduced me to contemporary fantasy and showed me that it doesn't always have to be about swords and wizards. Gaiman has a skill for embracing fantasy in any media and making it work that many authors can't hold a candle to.

Terry Pratchett author photo
Source: The Independent

Terry Pratchett - Discworld

If anyone can do fantasy and comedy, Terry Pratchett is your man. His Discworld series has that certain kind of humourous charm that you can't help but find yourself giggling maniacally to. Pratchett has a knack for taking very serious themes and dealing with them in a way that makes you laugh  as well as think. It's no wonder there are entire conventions dedicated solely to his creation. He was the UK's best selling author, overtaken only once the Harry Potter series hit the shelves. Speaking of Potter ...

J.K. Rowling author photo
Source: The Picky Girl

J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter

No one actually knows just how many copies of the Harry Potter series have sold, but everyone agrees that it's a hell of a lot. It's been translated into most literary languages in the world (and even Latin) and it's responsible for getting a nation of children picking up books once more. Not only do the Harry Potter books rank in the top 5 for best selling books, but all of the film adaptations are in the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time. 

J.R.R. Tolkien author photo
Source: Strange Horizons

J.R.R. Tolkien - Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit

Often lauded as the Father of Modern Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien gave us a brand new mythology, a rich world filled with culture and history, and languages to boot. Tolkien brought together the myths and folktales of Europe and from them created something altogether new. Almost every modern fantasy trope can be traced back to his works, and he has greatly influenced the other four writers above. Were it not for him, this list, and likely this entire blog, wouldn't exist.

Do you have a favourite British fantasy, in books, movies or even TV?