Good Omens

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is being made into a six-part humorous fantasy drama, for Amazon and BBC Two. Equal parts humour and horror, fantasy and drama, the series is written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods), who will also serve as Executive Producer

It is based on the internationally best selling novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett (Hogfather) and Neil Gaiman. The story stretches from the beginning of time to quite near the end of time. It stars Multi-award-winning actor Michael Sheen, OBE (Masters Of Sex, Passengers and the upcoming films Home Again and Brad’s Status) as the somewhat fussy angel and rare-book dealer Aziraphale”. It also stars David Tennant (Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) as the fast living demon Crowley, both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and of each other. However they find out that if Heaven and Hell have their way, the world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So The armies of Good and Evil amass, Atlantis rises, tempers flare. The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse make ready to ride and Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…

Good Omens is being produced by the comedy team at BBC Studios including Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy at BBC Studios and Executive Producer plusthe BBC’s commercial production arm, Narrativia under Rob Wilkins, Executive Producer and Narrativia MD, and The Blank Corporation, in association with BBC Worldwide. It was commissioned for Amazon by Roy Price, Head of Amazon Studios and Prime Video content globally, and for BBC Two by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two; Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning and BBC commissioning editor Gregor Sharp. Neil Gaiman, Writer and Executive Producer. It will be directed by acclaimed director Douglas Mackinnon, whose credits include Doctor Who, Outlander and the standalone Victorian episode of Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie last year.

Steig Larsson

Swedish journalist and writer “Stieg” Larsson was Born 15 August 1954. He is best known for writing the “Millennium series” of crime novels, which were published posthumously. Larsson lived and worked much of his life in Stockholm, in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. By December 2011, his “Millennium series” had sold 65 million copies; its last part, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010.Larsson’s first efforts at fiction writing were not in the genre of crime, but rather science fiction. An avid science fiction reader from an early age, he became active in Swedish science fiction fandom around 1971, co-edited with Rune Forsgren his first fanzine, Sfären, in 1972, and attended his first science fiction convention, SF•72, in Stockholm. Through the 1970s, Larsson published around 30 additional fanzine issues; after his move to Stockholm in 1977 he became active in the Scandinavian SF Society where he was a board member in 1978 and 1979, and chairman in 1980.

In his first fanzines, 1972–1974, he published a handful of early short stories while submitting others to other semi-professional or amateur magazines. SwedenHe was co-editor or editor of several science fiction fanzines, including Sfären and FIJAGH!; in 1978–1979 he was president of the largest Swedish science fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF). An account of this period in Larsson’s life, along with detailed information on his fanzine writing and short stories, is included in the biographical essays written by Larsson’s friend John-Henri Holmberg in The Tattooed Girl, by Holmberg with Dan Burstein and Arne De Keijzer, 2011.In early June 2010, manuscripts for two such stories, as well as fanzines with one or two others, were noted in the Swedish National Library (to which this material had been donated a few years earlier, mainly by the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation, which works to further science fiction fandom in Sweden). This discovery of what was called “unknown” works by Larsson also caused considerable excitement.

while working as a photographer, Larsson became engaged in far-left political activism. He became a member of Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers’ League), edited the Swedish Trotskyist journal Fjärde internationalen, journal of the Swedish section of the Fourth International. He also wrote regularly for the weekly Internationalen. Larsson spent parts of 1977 in Eritrea, training a squad of female Eritrean People’s Liberation Front guerrillas in the use of grenade launchers, but became ill and was forced to return to Sweden, Upon his return to Sweden, he worked as a graphic designer at the largest Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. Larsson’s political convictions, as well as his journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, similar to the British Searchlight Foundation, established to “counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power-culture in schools and among young people.” He also became the editor of the foundation’s magazine, Expo, in 1995.When he was not at his day job, he worked on independent research of right-wing extremism in Sweden. In 1991, his research resulted in his first book Extremhögern (Extreme Right). Larsson quickly became instrumental in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organizations; he was an influential debater and lecturer on the subject, reportedly living for years under death threats from his political enemies. The political party Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) was a major subject of his research.

However soon after Larsson’s death, the manuscripts of three completed, but unpublished, novels – written as a series – were discovered. He had written them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, and had made no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. The first was published in Sweden in 2005 as Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – literally – Men who hate women. It was titled for the English-language market as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and published in the United Kingdom in February 2008. It was awarded the Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006, and was published in the United Kingdom in January 2009. The third novel in the Millennium series, Luftslottet som sprängdes (“The air castle that was blown up”), published in English as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, was published in the United Kingdom in October 2009, and the United States in May 2010. Larsson left about three quarters of a fourth novel on a notebook computer, now possessed by his partner, Eva Gabrielsson: synopses or manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in the series, which he intended to contain an eventual total of ten books, may also exist. Gabrielsson has stated in her book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me (2011) that finishing the book is a task that she is capable of doing.

The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird has produced film versions of the Millennium series, co-produced with the Danish film production company Nordisk Film, which were released in Scandinavia in 2009. Larsson Sadly passed away on 9 November 2004 in Stockholm at the age of 50 of a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs to his office because the lift was not working. There were rumours that his death was in some way induced, because of death threats received as editor of Expo, but these have been denied by Eva Gedin, his Swedish publisher. Stieg Larsson is interred at the Högalid church cemetery in the district of Södermalm in Stockholm. Novellist David Lagencrantz has written further novels “The Girl in the Spiders Web” and “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye” which is due for release in 2017, both of which continue the Millenium Saga and remain faithful to Steig Larsson’s original novels.

 

E. Nesbit

English author and poet Edith Nesbit was born 15th August 1858. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co founoded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party.Nesbit published approximately 40 books for children, including novels, collections of stories and picture books. Collaborating with others, she published almost as many more. Nesbit was “the first modern writer for children”and unlike authors such asLewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, who turned away from tough truths, Nesbit dealt with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels.” Nesbit is also credited with having invented the children’s adventure story. Noël Coward was a great admirer of hers and, in a letter to an early biographer Noel Streatfeild, wrote “she had an economy of phrase, and an unparalleled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside.”

Among Nesbit’s best-known books are The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1898) and The Railway Children. This concerns a family who move to “Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway, after the father, who works at the Foreign office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home; he is eventually able to help prove their father’s innocence, and the family is reunited. The family also take care of a Russian exile, Mr Szczepansky, who came to England looking for his family (later located) and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel. The theme of an innocent man being falsely imprisoned for espionage and finally vindicated might have been influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, which was a prominent worldwide news item a few years before the book was written. And the Russian exile, persecuted by the Tsars for writing “a beautiful book about poor people and how to help them” and subsequently helped by the children, was most likely an amalgam of the real-life dissidents Sergius Stepniak and Peter Kropotkin who were both friends of the author.

The Railway Children was also adapted into 1970 British drama film based on the novel by E. Nesbit. The film was directed by Lionel Jeffries, and stars Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter (who had earlier featured in the successful BBC’s 1968 dramatisation of the novel), Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins in leading roles. The film was released to cinemas in the United Kingdom on 21 December 1970. The film rights were bought by Lionel Jeffries. It was his directorial debut, and he was also responsible for writing the screenplay for the film. The Railway Children turned out to be a critical success, both at the time of its release and in later years. It has gone on to gain a place in several surveys of the greatest films ever made, including surveys conducted by the British Film Institute and Total Film magazine. The Railway Children was later remade with Jenny Agutter playing the Mother of the three children.

Nesbitt also wrote The Wouldbegoods (1899), which recount stories about the Bastables, a middle class family that has fallen on relatively hard times. The Railway Children is also extremely well known. Her children’s writing also included numerous plays and collections of verse.She created an innovative body of work that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects – what would now be classed as contemporary fantasy – and adventures and sometimes travel to fantastic worlds. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children in The Magician’s Nephew. Michael Moorcock would go on to write a series of steampunk novels with an adult Oswald Bastable (of The Treasure Seekers) as the lead character .Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories. Nesbit sadly passed away on 4 May 1924, but has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some great novels and Poems.

V. J. Day

Victory over Japan Day (also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, V-J Day, or V-P Day) is commemorated annually in the UK ON 15 August. To mark the day on 15 August 1945 on which Japan surrendered in World War II, in effect ending the war. However because of time zone differences, it is also marked on August 14, (when it was announced in the United States and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands), as well as to September 2, 1945, when the signing of the surrender document occurred, officially ending World War II. The name, V-J Day, had been selected by the Allies after they named V-E Day for the victory in Europe. On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. In Japan, August 15 usually is known as the “memorial day for the end of the war” (終戦記念日 Shūsen-kinenbi, the official name for the day, however, is “the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace” (戦没者を追悼し平和を祈念する日 Senbotsusha o tsuitōshi heiwa o kinensuru hi). This official name was adopted in 1982 by an ordinance issued by the Japanese government.

After the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9 August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. Then On 10 August The Japanese government decided to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but with too many conditions for the offer to be acceptable to the Allies.This news was enough to begin early celebrations around the world. Allied soldiers in London danced in a conga line on Regent Street. Americans and Frenchmen in Paris paraded on the Champs-Elysées singing “Don’t Fence Me In”. American soldiers in Berlin shouted “It’s over in the Pacific”. The Germans stated that the Japanese were wise enough to—unlike themselves—give up in a hopeless situation, but were grateful that the atomic bomb was not ready in time to be used against them. Moscow newspapers briefly reported on the atomic bombings with no commentary of any kind. While “Russians and foreigners alike could hardly talk about anything else”, the Soviet government refused to make any statements. In Chungking, Chinese fired firecrackers and “almost buried Americans in gratitude”. In Manila, residents sang “God Bless America”. On Okinawa, six men were killed and dozens were wounded as American soldiers “took every weapon within reach and started firing into the sky” to celebrate; ships sounded general quarters and fired anti-aircraft guns as their crews believed that a Kamikaze attack was occurring. On Tinian island, B-29 crews preparing for their next mission over Japan were told that it was cancelled, and could not celebrate.

A little after noon in Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of Japan’s acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people over the radio. Earlier the same day, the Japanese government had broadcast an announcement over Radio Tokyo that “acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation would be coming soon”, and had advised the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to U.S. President Harry S Truman via the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. A nationwide broadcast by President Truman was aired at seven o’clock p.m. (daylight time in Washington, D.C.) on August 14 announcing the communication and that the formal event was scheduled for September 2. In his announcement of Japan’s surrender on August 14, President Truman said that “the proclamation of V-J Day must wait upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan”.

Since the European Axis Powers had surrendered three months earlier (V-E Day), V-J Day would be the official end of World War II. In Australia and most other allied nations, the name V-P Day was used from the outset. The Canberra Times of August 14, 1945, refers to VP Day celebrations, and a public holiday for VP Day was gazetted by the government in that year according to the Australian War Memorial. After news of the Japanese acceptance and before Truman’s announcement, Americans began celebrating “as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941”, as Life magazine later reported. In Washington, D.C. a crowd attempted to break into the White House grounds as they shouted “We want Harry!”In San Francisco two women jumped naked into a pond at the Civic Center to soldiers’ cheers.

More seriously, thousands of drunken people, the vast majority of them Navy enlistees who had not served in the war theatre, embarked in what the San Francisco Chronicle summarized in 2015 as “a three-night orgy of vandalism, looting, assault, robbery, rape and murder” and “the deadliest riots in the city’s history”, with more than 1000 people injured, 13 killed and at least six women raped. Elsewhere the largest crowd in the history of New York City’s Times Square gathered to celebrate.The victory itself was announced by a headline at One Times Square, which read
“*** OFFICIAL TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***”;
The six asterisks represented the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In the Garment District, workers threw out cloth scraps and ticker tape, leaving a pile five inches deep on the streets. A “coast-to-coast frenzy of servicemen kissing” occurred, with Life publishing photographs of such kisses in Washington, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

The Wizard of Oz

The musical fantasy the Wizard of Oz was released On 15 August 1939. It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, with Charley Grapewin and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins, with Pat Walshe as leader of the flying monkeys.

The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy Gale who finds herself swept up on an magical adventure after a tornado transports her house in Kansas to the land of Oz. Here she encounters the local Munchkins and the Good Fairy Glinda and asks them how to get home. They suggest asking the Wizard of Oz to help, so she must travel the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz lives. Along the way she encounters the Tin-man a Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, who all agree to accompany her to the Emerald City.

However the evil Wicked Witch of the West is also after Dorothy because she inadvertantly killed the Witches’ sister when the house landed in Oz, so the Witch continually tries to stop Dorothy and the others reaching the Emerald City. Then the Witches’ Flying Monkey servants successfully manage to kidnap one of the group so they must mount a daring rescue attempt and defeat the Wicked Witch once and for all before Dorothy can return to Kansas.

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured in cinema what may be for the time the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects. Despite this It was not a box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, despite receiving largely positive reviews Wizard of Oz did not recoup much of the studio’s investment until subsequent re-releases when it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost out to Gone with the Wind. It did however win in two other categories including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” The song was ranked first in two list: the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs and the Recording Industry Association of America’s “365 Songs of the Century”.

The 1956 Television broadcasts of the film re-introduced the film to the public and subsequent broadcasts have made it an annual tradition staple and one of the most known films in cinema history. The film was named the most viewed motion picture on television syndication in history by the Library of Congress who also included the film in its National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. Designation on the registry calls for efforts to preserve it for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”. It is often included in the Top 10 Best Movies of All Time by critics’ and public polls. It is the source of many quotes referenced in modern popular culture. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The songs were by Edgar “Yip” Harburg (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music). The incidental music, based largely on the songs, was composed by Herbert Stothart, with interspersed renderings from classical composers.