Once upon a time, there was a popular blog called Just Geeking By, written by a fabled heroine of some great reputation, Heather. One day, Heather summoned forth a mighty list of questions, for aspiring heroes to write answers to post on their own blogs every sunday. These, dear reader, are known as Seriously Geeky Sundays!
Anyway, it’s that time again! This week is about stories, in case I didn’t tip you off to that in my (frankly ridiculous) preamble. I love stories of all kinds, I grew up reading books, my dad taking me to the local library every Saturday to pick another kid’s fantasy or sci-fi book to take home for the week and read at bedtime. It set me up for a lifetime of story absorption and saw to it that I have a seriously overactive imagination!
So, what is the official briefing from Heather this week?
September 13th is Roald Dahl Day, a day dedicated to the Welsh children’s author who’s known as one of the world’s best storytellers. His books personally had a massive influence on me as a child and were my doorway into fantasy. In the spirit of all things Roald Dahl this week is dedicated to our childhood, inner child and, of course, stories!
Question 1 – What Was Your Favourite Story During Childhood?
There were so many, but only one can ascend to the position of Most Enjoyed, the book I must have booked out of the library about thirty times…
Only You Can Save Mankind, by Terry Pratchett.
The late, great Terry Pratchett was an absolute genius, I have read most of his books and loved them all, but Only You has a special place in my heart. The story follows Johnny, an ordinary lad in the early ’90s who, one day, picks up a mysterious video game, the titular Only You Can Save Mankind. It’s a typical Space Invaders style affair which Johnny has fun with… until he begins to visit the alien fleet that makes up the baddies in his sleep. There he meets the Captain and her crew, reptilian aliens that just want to get home and have no taste for war.
And so Johnny ends up helping the aliens in his dreams, joined by his friends along the way. It’s not only a time capsule for the era of my childhood, but also a touching story with great characters.
I massively recommend it!
Question 2 – Who Was Your Favourite Character as a Child?
Mother truckin’ Smaug!
Yep, my first taste of fantasy was when a teacher read The Hobbit to us in primary school, for an hour at the end of the day. I mean sure, Bilbo was alright,the dwarves were fun and Gandalf was pretty rad, but none of them ignited my imagination quite like the greedy, arrogant and cruel dragon, Smaug. After his introduction, all I could think about for days was the idea of a massive, fire breathing killing machine that lived under a mountain, atop a hoard of gold and jewels.
He was also easily the best part of that particular movie trilogy by a country mile.
Question 3 – What Is Your Favourite Fairy Tale?
I’m not really one for fairy tales, to be honest.
If I had to choose one, I always liked the idea of the Big Bad Wolf. Just casually killing an old lady, assuming a (highly unlikely) disguise as her and then playing the role until her granddaughter rocks up so he can polish her off too.
I seem to remember the woodcutter gave him a real unpleasant send off in the original story, which has, of course, been made more palatable for the kiddies over the years.
They probably yeet him off TikTok these days, or something.
Question 4 – What Are Your Thoughts On Reimagined Fairy Tales?
I’m all for them!
Any changes to an old, well worn format that make it accessible to a modern audience is fine by me! It’s not about the style of writing or small details, it’s the story that counts!
I also enjoyed movies like Maleficent, which are cheeky enough to retell classic stories but totally skew the narrative, ie what if the wicked witch was just kind of angry and misunderstood?
Question 5 – How Do You Feel About Remakes and Reboots?
For the most part, I really don’t get it. Most reboots completely miss the point, or are just plain awful. RoboCop, Total Recall, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, all have received the treatment and all came off so much worse than the original pieces.
It’s all opinion, of course, and your mileage may differ, but I personally think they mostly belong in landfill.
Question 6 – What is Your Favourite Story Right Now?
In recent years, it would have to Sergei Lukyanenko’s Night Watch, a dark supernatural thriller and observation on life in the Moscow of the late 1990s.
The hero of the story is Anton Gorodetsky, a low level Night Watch officer who gets embroiled in a conspiracy and has to go up against a great magical disaster at the same time, hindered in his quest by the officers of the Day Watch. Whilst they are forbade to go all out against each other by an ancient treaty, it doesn’t stop them from sneakily causing hell for each other.
I massively recommend this book to anyone who likes modern fantasy and enjoys strong characters. The sequels are all very good too!
And that, my friends, is the end of the story. For further adventures, why not check out the other writers setting out on quests under the #SeriouslyGeekySundays hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, for great quests await there!
See you next week for the sequel, not the reboot!