Z for Zachariah
by Robert C. O’Brien (1974)

Z for Zachariah is a post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel that was published posthumously in 1974. The name Robert C. O’Brien was the pen name used by Robert Leslie Conly.
Set in the United States, the story is in the form of a diary written from the first-person perspective of sixteen-year-old Ann Burden, who has survived a nuclear war and nerve gas through living in a small valley with a self-contained weather system.

I’m sure I owned this book as a teenager, however I have no memory of reading it. In 2015 a film of the book was made.


Margot Robbie is currently up for an Academy Award as Tonya Harding in the film I, Tonya.  Chiwetel looked familiar. He was in ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016) and ‘The Martian’ (2015).

The film has lots of differences from the book. The main protagonist, Ann is 16 in the book and  about 10 years older in the film (Robbie would have been 23). The book has only two characters, the film three and judging from the description the book was much darker.

Shot at Port Levy, Pine was arrested by police near Methven after failing to pass a routine roadside breath alcohol test. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving on March 17 2014, stating that he drank four vodkas at a local pub.

The movie received generally positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 80% score based on 81 reviews. However low ratings in the USA meant it went straight to DVD and not to NZ cinemas.

It’s easy to see why. Despite being labelled as a Sci-Fi films, the only Sci-Fi element is the post-apocalyptic setting. It’s really about what happens when a girl, living on her own meets and lives with two men when they turn up in her valley. It’s slow moving and forgettable.



Coco is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, it is directed by Unkrich and co-directed by Adrian Molina.

The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera who is accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living.

Based around the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. A young boy (Miguel) wants to become a musician like his ancestor Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular actor and singer. Somehow Miguel moves into the land of the dead and he seeks out Ernesto to help get him back.

The design is bright and vibrant, with lots of eye candy and a sprinkling of action. The characters are all engaging enough, but it’s the plot really draws you in and provides the emotional resonance that  delivers an emotional ending.

Rating – 5/5

The first best movie of 2018.

Dark Matter

Dark Matter
by Brett Adams (2012)

Rasputin “Monk” Lowdermilk wanted to end it all. But when he is run down by a car on the way to his suicide, he finds that life is just beginning.

As he recovers from Chrysler-induced head trauma, he begins to discover strange new abilities. He can draw portraits so precise they look like photographs. He can remember with flawless clarity everything he’s ever seen or heard, no matter how trivial. He can read strangers so well it verges on telepathy.

This was obtained in an ‘Immerse or Die’ bundle.

First, it is well written. The prose is engaging and keeps you reading. Then, about a third through an second unexplained plot starts. OK I can go along with the unexplained so far.

The trouble starts around the half way mark where I get the feeling that the author doesn’t know where the story is going. Then, picking up the story one day I had no idea where I was in the story. It was at this point that I gave up.

Veep 5.10

Veep 5.10 – Inauguration

Tom James is set to be the new president. Selina asks for Secretary of State but is sidelined by Tom. In an unexpected turn of events, Vice President Andrew Doyle lobbies votes for Laura Montez in exchange for Secretary of State, and she becomes the new President of the United States.

Selina, who brokered a legacy-making deal with the Chinese government for freeing Tibet, has it snapped up by Montez’s team and declared as their first success in influencing foreign policy. Selina leaves, confused as to what to do next, and Jonah is diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Mike: Any chance Catherine and Marjorie want to get married? There you go, first White House lesbian wedding. That’ll put you in the history books.
Selina: Oh God. I can’t take that much acoustic guitar.

Dan: God, my phone is blowing up with these TV offers. Think I might need an agent. You know, someone who can take the Dan Egan brand to the next level.
Amy: Too bad Goebbels killed himself.

That’s it !

The final of the Fifth Season.

The sixth is currently being broadcast in the USA.



(Cerberus Group #1)
by Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis (2015)


For three thousand years, the Herculean Society has preserved the legacy of the ancient hero, Hercules, protecting history’s fragile relics from humanity, and humanity from the dangerous truths behind the legends. Now, the Society’s new leader, archaeologist George Pierce, faces his first test: the Cerberus Group. The shadowy organization has two goals: the collection and distribution of black market relics, tech and secrets, and the purge of those deemed unfit for survival.


This starts like an archaeological history lesson. Very Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones. Then after a few chapters, the Jeremy Robinson gene kicks in and it’s the usual  world touring action adventure genre fans will love.

There is less of the out-there science fiction and mythology in the Jack Sigler stories that this is closely related to.


3 Bills

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A 2017 drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. McDormand plays a mother who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder.

It’s easy to see why this film has critical appeal. It’s a dark and twisting tale of what happens when a bereaving  mother takes matters into her own hands. It may be labelled ‘black comedy’, but there isn’t anything to laugh at here. It’s more like a morality story.

As the 19 year of love interest of McDormand’s ex husband says.. Anger Begets Anger.

The film is currently at the Oscars for Best Picture, Lead Actress and Supporting Actor (Harrelson & Rockwell) and original screenplay.

ST:D 1.13

Star Trek Discovery 1.13 – What’s Past is Prologue

This is a big, explosive and exciting episode that feels like a season ending. But there are 15 episodes (2 to go) and now they are back in the ‘real’ world with an ex-emperor and a new Captain.

It’s nor clear why Burnham brought Georgiou back with her. What does this achieve ? She is not her friend.



I, Claudius (1934) is a novel by Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. It includes the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC to Caligula’s assassination in 41 AD.

It was followed by Claudius the God. The novels were popular when originally published, and gained literary recognition.

The two books were adapted for television in 1976 by Jack Pulman and it was a DVD of this I viewed.

There are notable actors playing parts:
Derek Jacobi – Claudius
George Baker – Tiberius
John Hurt – Caligula
Brian Blessed – Augustus
Patrick Stewart – Lucius Aelius Sejanus
Ian Ogilvy – Nero Claudius Drusus
John Rhys-Davies – Naevius Sutorius Macro
Stratford Johns – Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso
Peter Bowles – Caratacus
Bernard Hill – Gratus
Guy Siner – Palades

Unfortunately it’s all obviously done in the studio and has the feel of a play. The script and acting is rather stilted. In the end it comes off a a minor melodrama about a family, not the world influencing machinations of an empire in decline.

Adding to the problems  is someone’s decision to edit the entire series together as one 4 hour episode. Hence there is little variation in drama, and almost no action. In the end, rather boring.

Except for…..

Veep 5.9

Veep 5.9 – Kissing Yous Sister

This episode is filmed in the style of and presented as a documentary, with Catherine providing the narration, direction and most cinematography (all of which is in character). The House votes on who will be president, but Jonah might not be there for it and the staff plans on firing Mike.



Jen Flood

Flood Rising
(Jenna Flood #1)
by Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis (2014)


Fifteen year old Jenna Flood’s discovery of a bomb—ticking down from sixty seconds—is the first in a series of explosive revelations that destroy her understanding of the world and her place in it.

Jenna believes she is an ordinary teenager, busy with schoolwork and helping her father run a Key West charter boat. But when a team of killers show up, intent on erasing her from existence, she learns the unbelievable truth: she is not who she thinks she is.

Alone and on the run, betrayed at every turn, Jenna’s path takes her from sun-drenched Key West to the alligator-infested Everglades, the streets of Miami and the Caribbean islands. Along the way, brutal criminals, deadly assassins and the forces of nature conspire to end her life, unless she can rise to embrace an impossible destiny and unleash her own lethal potential.

Everything Jenna has been told about herself is a lie, and the truth is a secret that may destroy the world…or save it.

Another cracking fast paced read from  Robinson. It’s a more conventional thriller and most of the story is am exciting chase between Jenna and the unknown forces trying to kill her. Around the half way mark, things slow down for some backstory and exposition before heading off in an unexpected direction.