Tag Archives: vampire

Extant casts wide net; may come up empty

image from globaltv.com

image from globaltv.com

It’s Alien.

It’s ET.

It’s Predator.

It’s AI.

It’s Extant, and it’s having trouble deciding what it wants to be.

[Tweet “#Extant is having trouble deciding which #SciFi sub-#genre it wants to be.”]

Extant is the story of astronaut Molly (Halle Berry), her husband, John (Goran Visnjic) and their “son”, an android–called a humanich–named Ethan (Pierce Ganon). After spending 13 months in space, Molly returns pregnant. Half-human, half-alien, the baby is removed from Molly’s body and incubated in a secret facility ran by the Yasumoto Corporation, which also happens to be John’s employer. Molly’s friend and colleague, Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neil), is in charge of the project.

This week, Sparks escapes the facility with the hybrid (known as the Offspring) and goes to an isolated resort where he can be alone with the visions of his deceased daughter the Offspring shows him. He calls his ex-wife to join him in the reunion. In order to maintain enough energy to produce it’s illusions, the Offspring must feed on humans (calling to mind Defiance’s Irisa and Atlantis’s wraith). The people survive the feeding in order to do Alan’s bidding.  Meanwhile, John and Ethan are essentially held captive by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) at his house along with Odin (Charlie Bewley), a member of an anti-humanichs group, pretending to be interested in John’s assistant, Julie (Grace Gummer). In a third sub-plot, Molly is handcuffed inside a truck by one of Yasumoto’s men who supposedly wants to help her find, raise and protect the Offspring.

Are you confused yet? I can’t say as I was, but it is an awful lot to take in, the net result being that I have a lot of questions.

[Tweet “#Extant asks more questions than it answers, which is an awful lot to take in.”]

Alan is a die hard professional, determined to see the project proceeds in a by-the-books manner. In this episode, his character moves to the opposite extreme. He is now a devoted father, determined to spend as much time as he can with a facsimile of his daughter, which–on some level–he knows is an illusion produced by the Offspring. Nevertheless, he does his level best to protect her. He feeds the Offspring, not for the creature, but to maintain the illusion of his daughter. Alan is a scientist. Why does he fall so easily for something he knows is in the domain of the heart and not of the head?

Molly is a smart woman. She goes to space hoping absence will make her heart grow fonder for her husband. She knows Alan is working against her even when he insists he’s on her side. She figures out why friend Sam (Camryn Manheim) turns against her and uses Sam’s predicament to work in her favour. Why is she so quick to believe the  ruse Yasumoto’s man portrays about putting all of his employer’s resources at her fingertips once they recover the Offspring?

Ethan is part android, part child. He is inquisitive like a child, but shows incredible logical and analytical deduction ability. Why is he so quick to believe Odin’s bologna  about parents not being trustworthy and shun John as a result? Every character–and I mean EVERY–is a scientist. Why is someone like Odin able to outsmart them all?

My last question deals with the focus of the show. Why can’t Extant decide which sub-genre of science fiction it wants to be? Rather than decide, it tries to be all sub-genres at once. This week alone, Extant covered the following sub-genres: parasitic infestation; vampires; androids; paranormal investigation; mind control and conspiracy theory. And I’m probably missing a few more. I really like Extant. In addition to having two of my favourite actors (Visnjic and Manheim), Extant is refreshing for it’s focus on future families striving to stay together in spite of the perils that threaten to tear it apart, rather than on sci-fi elements alone.

As of this week, I can no longer say that about Extant.

Extant taken on too much? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

[Tweet “Has #Extant taken on too much? Extant casts wide net, comes up empty.”]

Abraham the Vampire Slayer? Review of “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”

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Image from ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNjY2Mzc0MDA4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTg5OTcxNw@@._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

I had the opportunity to catch Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on Space last night and I was surprisingly impressed. What I thought was going to be a campy movie turned out to be entertaining with amazing CGI.

In case you haven’t seen it, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hypothesizes that former President of The United States, Abraham Lincoln, was a trained vampire hunter. After he witnesses his mother being killed by vampire, Jack Barts,  young Abe is trained by Henry to wield his silver-tipped axe to kill vampires. Abe wants to use his training to exact revenge on Barts, but he makes a vow to Henry only to kill those Henry chooses. After learning that the King of Vampires, the aptly named Adam, plans to take over the U.S., Abe take him on.

Like all paranormal hunter/slayers, Abe has his own “Scooby Gang”, composed of “Watcher” Henry, friends Will Johnson, Joshua Speed and wife, Mary Todd. I liked the dynamic between members of the gang, but would have liked to see Mary slay a few vamps of her own, no matter how out of character for the time. I also liked the revisionist history in the movie that draws a parallel between the fight for emancipation from slavery and the fight for the emancipation of the U.S. from becoming a country enslaved by vampires.

Benjamin Walker plays the part of Abe Lincoln well, and looks strong and sexy twisting his axe like a baton as he slices through attacking vampires. I was glad to see Rufus Sewell again, a favourite of mine since Eleventh Hour and Pillars of the Earth, who plays the evil Adam with great aplomb. Deserving equal billing with the actors are the CGI effects. There is an impressive scene in which Abe chases Barts on the backs of a stampede of wild horses. Equally impressive is the climactic scene on top of a speeding train and the final showdown on the burning bridge.

Though the title sounds like it promises to be a groaner, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a movie worth watching.

Overcoming Writer’s Doubt

This blog post represents my entry in the “Overcoming Writer’s Doubt” Writing Contest held by The Positive Writer.

[Tweet “Read Elise Abram’s entry in the “Overcoming Writer’s Doubt” #Writing #Contest.”]

“I wish I could write like that,” I said to my husband. We were in the car heading home from the theatre having just seen “The Mummy Returns.”

“You can,” he told me, and for the first time, I shared the story that had been tumbling around in my head for the twenty or so years prior.

The rest of that summer was spent in the eye of a perfect storm of creative fury, spurred on by my love for science fiction, the abundant resources of the Internet, and the fact that I had been tasked to teach Writer’s Craft that coming September. As I researched the finer points of structuring plot, character, imagery and theme while preparing my lessons, the trickle of words I’d only ever been able to muster soon became a deluge. In my dreams I saw my novel on the shelves of bookstores and on bestsellers’ lists worldwide.

Nearly ten years passed before my masterpiece was complete and I was ready to shop for the perfect venue for my book. Back then, few publishers and agents were accepting submissions via email. Printing out my novel and mailing it was cumbersome, not to mention expensive. I soon succumbed to doubt and gave up on my writing career before it had even begun.

Then the next idea took root.

I ignored it at first, reluctant to take another ride on the writing roller coaster. Before long, the incessant chatter of the characters could not be silenced by anything other than my transcribing their story.

[Tweet “I ignored the idea, reluctant to take another ride on the #writing roller coaster.”]

Five years later Phase Shift was finished. A few more publishers and agents were accepting unsolicited manuscripts than before, but not many. After a year of fighting the good fight, and another twenty or so rejections added to my pile, I realized my submissions had amounted to nothing more than expensive lottery tickets. Actually, I’d convinced myself, I probably had a better chance of winning the lottery than getting published.

I took time to lick my wounds, wallow in writer’s doubt and decide if the writing life truly was for me.

I was teaching grade ten English at the time. Over a period of about three years, I’d listened to near a thousand student presentations on young adult novels. Every semester my awe at the torture YA novelists foisted on their characters grew; global apocalypse, false accusation, abuse, addiction, pregnancy, murder–no topic was sacred.

In my discussions with them, the librarians at my school encouraged me to write YA. At first, I had no clue where to begin. I’d always wanted to write a vampire story, I thought, so I began where I’d begun almost every project I’d ever tackled–doing research. It was during the  research phase I discovered revenants, kissing cousins to vampires in traditional lore. I soon realized I’d stumbled upon an untilled field of possibility. As little was known about revenants, I could shape them into almost anything I wanted.

Coincidentally, Nanowrimo was not far off that year. If I could force myself to stick to the regimen the contest demanded, I could bang out most if not all of my first draft in as little as thirty days. In spite of the demands of my job and my family, I “won” Nanowrimo and spent most of the next six months finishing and polishing my manuscript.

I felt good. I’d written my best work yet. I was going to be published by a traditional publishing house, but not before a knock-down drag-out bidding war between publishing bigwigs for the rights to my book. I was going to be the next Stephanie Meyer! The next J.K. Rowling! Bigger!

And then I began to send out queries.

When the responses started to roll in, elation was replaced with the first buds of writer’s doubt.

[Tweet “When the responses started to roll in, elation was replaced with the first buds of #writer’s doubt.”]

“Your book doesn’t seem right for us.” I could deal with this kind of rejection;  the problem wasn’t me, it was them. I soldiered on, but with each successive rejection I started to realize maybe the problem was me. What if It was worse than me? What if it was my writing? I could always change a plot or write a new story, but if my writing was the problem…?

With each new rejection it became harder to navigate the waters of the river of writer’s doubt without slipping under.

I decided to focus on my next novel (which I tentatively titled I Am, Was, Will Be Alice), allowing The Revenant to stew on the back burner for a while. I liked my Alice novel. I liked The Revenant, too, but if it wasn’t meant to be then I’d have to write another magnum opus and try again. I believed in The Revenant, even if no one else did. I took a course on how to market a book, resolving to self-publish and run with it myself if no one had picked it up by the summer.

Then the gloriously unthinkable happened: one of the publishers I’d contacted was interested in publishing my book. A week after I’d heard the news I’d signed the contract. The stormy waters of self-doubt settled, the clouds parted, the sun came out. I might have heard harp music and choral angels sing.

I was going to be published!

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve managed to permanently banish writer’s doubt from my life. As long as my success hinges on how well others receive my work those thin tendrils of writer’s doubt, the ones that threaten to take root and sprout buds will always be there.

Let’s just say I’ve managed to prune back the branches for the time being.

The Revenant, a YA paranormal adventure novel by Elise Abram is set for a 10 July 14 release by Black Rose Writing.

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Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter F

 

 

 

is for Foil

 

 

 

Foils are characters that have opposing character traits and motivations.

An example of foils from classical literature are Macbeth and Macduff from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this example, Macbeth is driven by ambition to suit his own, selfish needs, while Macduff’s only ambition is altruistic in nature, to put the kingdom back to rights. Macduff and his wife’s relationship is a loving one, while Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s is adversarial. Macduff has a child while Macbeth has none. Macduff is allied with Malcolm while Macbeth is his enemy. These and other traits set Macbeth and Macduff up as near polar opposites in character and desire, establishing them as foils.

In The Revenant, Morgan and his brother Malchus are constructed as opposites. Morgan is the naughty child, Malchus the good one. Morgan tends his family’s farm fields while Malchus is apprenticed to the local doctor. Morgan has the gift of foresight, something he wishes would go away while Malchus actively seeks out and embraces his power in the Dark Arts. Malchus raises Zulu from the grave for nefarious means; Morgan saves him. Morgan finds a life of purpose embracing the good while Malchus loses himself in evil. For these and other reasons, the brothers are set up as having opposing personalities, desires and motivations, rendering them foils.

Can you think of any other foils in literature or television? Post your ideas in the comments below.

 

The Lure of the Vampire, or Why We Fantasize about Dead People

Vampire lore owes its popularity to Bram Stoker and the release of Dracula in 1897 at the height of the Victorian Era. At that time there were strict rules for how men and women should act in public, such as women never appearing in public or found alone with someone who wasn’t their father, brother or husband. Women’s clothing was generally quite restrictive with high necklines, bustles (to accentuate the behind) and corsets (to cinch the waistline). Necks and ankles were considered “sexy”, only because they were, for the most part, hidden from view.

In the novel, Dracula creeps into both Lucy and Mina’s rooms whilst they sleep to bite each of them on the neck. This challenged a number of social values including men and women being alone without chaperones and men seeing women in anything other than full dress. Women were expected to restrain their desires, yet the female characters in Dracula welcome his penetration (pun intended). The titillation factor was high as a result, which might account for the popularity of the novel in the long term.

Symbolically, blood and the drawing of it have sensual connotations. Blood signifies a woman’s coming of reproductive age. It is associated with the loss of her virginity and subsequent sexual awakening. It is also spilled with childbirth (Kella), all topics that were not discussed in polite company, yet implicitly referenced in vampire lore.

The main thing that’s changed since Dracula’s heyday on the literary stage is the degree of vampiric humanity. Most vampires are young and attractive. They are driven by their appetite for blood, their lust, and their emotions. Many male vampires (think Aidan from Being Human and Damon from Vampire Diaries) epitomize the leather-clad bad-boy popularized by James Dean in the fifties and which a number of ladies still find appealing.

Modern vampires are tragic figures who, lives cut short and often sired against their will, evoke pathos in their struggle against what they’ve become and what they’ve had to do to survive the ages. They are portrayed as broken brooders in search of the one person on earth who is able to fix them. Though they sometimes mate with their peers, they often desire human companionship. Even then they are forever doomed to play Romeo to a still human Juliet, taking star-crossed lover after star-crossed lover only to watch them grow old, perish and die unless he turns her.

In spite of the myriad books, movies and television shows, vampires are still hot, the object of fear and fantasy for so many of us.

Which vampire or vampire story is your favourite? What was it that attracted you to it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Dracula is a page turner

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the gothic horror story that put down roots for modern day vampire lore.

In Dracula, lawyer Jonathan Harker is sent to Transylvania to close a deal on the sale of a house for Count Dracula in England. Confined to a limited number of rooms in Dracula’s castle, Harker goes  exploring where he discovers siren-like creatures and Dracula’s dark nature. Harker eventually escapes, goes nearly mad, and convalesces in a hospital where fiance Mina Murray retrieves him and marries him. They return to England to find Mina’s friend, Lucy, mysteriously ill from blood loss. Harker and Dr. Seward enlist a retired Van Helsing for help. They replenish Lucy’s blood nightly to no avail. Eventually Lucy dies, her body claimed by Dracula. It’s not long before Mina falls prey to the same “illness,” with one strange symptom–she has a connection with Count Dracula. Harker, Seward and Van Helsing use this connection to ambush Dracula and kill him for good at last.

Fan of vampire stories that I am, I had always meant to read the original Dracula, but never got around to it. But after watching NBC’s Dracula, I needed to go back to the archetype to see which characters and events were borrowed from the original and which were new.

In NBC’s Dracula, the count assumes the name Alexander Greyson and pretends to be an American newly arrived in England on business. In a grand spectacle opening, Greyson holds a party at his mansion where he introduces his guests to free, wireless power which sends the oil magnates into a tizzy. At this gala is socialite Lucy Westenra who has invited her friend and medical student Mina Murray and Mina’s boyfriend, reporter Jonathan Harker. When Dracula sees Mina he sees his wife’s doppelganger and is determined to have her, but not by force. To that end, he hires Harker as his assistant, puts him up in a mansion and pays him enough to marry Mina and live happily ever after. The idea is to keep Mina close and gradually insinuate himself into her life. Pursued by the Order of the Dragon, an ancient organization whose members are involved in (among other things I can’t figure out) maintaining a power monopoly and killing vampires, Greyson’s goal is to punish members of the Order for their role in making him what he is today.

Other than character names and the time in which the story takes place, there is little comparison between the original book and the television show. In the book, Dracula has no alter ego and there is no mention of Mina the doppelganger. TV’s Renfield is Dracula’s manservant, a far cry from Stoker’s raving, bug-eating lunatic and Stoker’s Van Helsing is out to kill Dracula, not form an unholy alliance with him in order to seek revenge on the Order of the Dragon. Reading the book  also shed some light on other supernatural works, including  an explanation as to why the brothers on Supernatural bear the last name Winchester and the origin of the title “Vampire Diaries”, adopted because most of Stoker’s novel is told in journal or diary format.

The novel is a page turner at times, boring at others, but worth the time to read.

The series picks up pace midway through episode two and becomes the television version of a page turner. I binge watched the first three episodes and regret not watching the fourth as well (but Once Upon a Time was about to begin and priorities must be set).

Are you watching NBC’s Dracula? What do you think?

Being Human Send-off

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I hate this bittersweet time of year, the time when all my favourite television shows come to a climax and leave me hanging. This week I watched this season’s culminating episode of Being Human, a show about a vampire, a pair of werewolves and a ghost trying to subvert their supernatural sides and…well…be human. This season saw a vampire virus, Aiden siring a son, Sally’s transformation from shredded, limbo-confined ghost to flesh-eating zombie and back to ghost, and Josh’s journey from were to human and back to were. There was a lot of murder and mayhem and sex and a marriage, but no matter the excitement level of each episode (which was stuck in high gear for the duration), it never reached the high of the season finale.

This week’s episode saw Aidan form an unholy alliance with Blake to compel Kat to forget seeing Sally’s rotting corpse in her room; Sally’s return to ghostdom while linked to Donna the Souleater’s spirit; and Josh’s seeming inability to return to (for lack of a better phrase) being human after turning, following being bit by a full-blooded were. To make matters worse, a woman has shown up that looks eerily like Aidan’s long dead wife, there’s a mutated baby vamp on the loose that Aidan suggested to Josh he’d killed, and Werejosh is about to pounce on Humannora.

On the up side, I’m satisfied. This ending promised no fewer cliffhangers than any other episode this season. On the downside, I have to wait the better part of a year before I am able to ride the Being Human roller coaster again. Being Human is one of the better sci-fi shows featuring supes out there today. It lacks the soap of Vampire Diaries, and True Blood’s gratuitous sex and violence. The characters develop every season, and the relationships are believable, which can be attributed to the chemistry of the cast and the skill of the writing. Knowing the British production has been cancelled makes me all the more grateful that this was only the season—and not the series—finale.

To my dear friends Aidan, Josh, Sally and Nora: have a great summer, and try not to eat too many actual humans while on hiatus.

About the Author
Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!

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THE REVENANT – Plot Synopsis

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow. I am enjoying participating in the online forums on their web page at nanowrimo.org in the mean time. One of the forums asks that you post your plot synopsis for critique and then critique the synopsis of the person who has posted before you. In doing this, I came up with an amazing synopsis for the novel I plan to finish over the next month called THE REVENANT.

In case you don’t know, a revenant, is someone who has died as a result of violence with unfinished business and who comes back to complete the business. The legend of the revenant goes hand in hand with vampire lore in that many revenants were also thought to have been vampires.

In THE REVENANT, Janke, a farm boy, is thrown and trampled by his horse on the way to elope with Alma, his sweetheart. Shunned by his family when he rises after his funeral, he roams the country until he meets The Seer (a man who is able to see the future in his life span) in modern times. He reinvents himself as Zulu. Still searching for his beloved Alma, he joins The Seer in his quest to save the people he sees die in his dreams. At the same time, Malchus, The Seer’s brother, a powerful necromancer, is inadvertantly ripped from hell by teens experimenting with a Ouija board. Malchus has one goal in mind—to exact revenge on his twin brother Morgan—now known as “The Seer”—for killing him all those years ago. Joined by empath Kat, the group of three learns of Morgan’s resurrection and they gear up for the battle of their lives to save the city, and the world in which they live from Malchus’s evil.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!

 

My Biography

English teacher and former archaeologist Elise Abram is proud to announce the release of PHASE SHIFT, her first fiction publication. Abram has been writing ever since she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Having to research writing and the writing process gave her the confidence she needed to actually put proverbial pen to paper. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back. Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and try to publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

PHASE SHIFT documents the adventures of archaeologists Molly McBride and her husband, Dr. Palmer Richardson after they are given an unusual artifact with the ability to take them to a doppelganger Earth. Palmer Richardson, forensic anthropologist and head of the Archaeology department at the University of Toronto, is a character Abram first conceived in 1987 when taking a Science Fiction English course at The University of Waterloo (Clinton Johns, co-star of THE GUARDIAN was also conceived at that time). Writing a short story as the final assignment for that course was the first time she’d melded her passion for archaeology with storytelling.

Abram continues to write, no easy task, given the demands of teaching three English courses each semester, and raising three teenagers simultaneously. Currently, she is working on another Molly McBride adventure, tentatively called THE NEXT COMING RACE, and inspired by Edward Bullwer-Lytton’s classic “The Coming Race”, which melds known pseudo-scientific and paranormal phenomenon in a race to save the world from certain destruction after a device left behind by aliens in the future is activated by construction in the present. Also in the works is THE REVENANT, a take on the current young adult vampire craze, and CHICKEN OR EGG: A LOVE STORY, revolving around a time travel love triangle.

Look for the publication of eBook novellas THE MUMMY WORE COMBAT BOOTS, which follows Palmer Richardson in a case in which he consults for the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department to figure out the origins of an errant mummy found in the Royal Ontario Museum’s holdings, and THROWAWAY CHILD, in which Molly joins with Police Constable Michael Crestwood (also starring in THE MUMMY WORE COMBAT BOOTS and THE NEXT COMING RACE) to investigate a child’s skeleton found beneath a historic house.

Amazon author’s site: http://www.amazon.com/author/eliseabram