Dean Koontz

American horror and science fiction author Dean Koontz was born July 9, 1945 in Everett, Pennsylvania. he was regularly beaten and abused by his alcoholic father, which influenced his later writing, as also did the courage of his physically diminutive mother in standing up to her husband” In his senior year at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, he won a fiction competition sponsored by Atlantic Monthly magazine. After graduation in 1967, he went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, Koontz worked for the Appalachian Poverty Program, a federally funded initiative designed to help poor children.

During his spare time, he wrote his first novel, Star Quest, which was published in 1968. Koontz went on to write over a dozen science fiction novels. Seeing the Catholic faith as a contrast to the chaos in his family, Koontz converted in college because it gave him answers for his life, admiring its intellectual rigor and saying it permits a view of life that sees mystery and wonder in all things He says he sees Catholicism as English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton did: that it encourages a “joy about the gift of life”Koontz says that spirituality has always been part of his books, as are grace and our struggle as fallen souls

In the 1970s, Koontz began writing suspense and horror fiction, both under his own name and several pseudonyms, sometimes publishing up to eight books a year. Koontz has stated that he began using pen names after several editors convinced him that authors who switched back and forth between different genres invariably fell victim to “negative crossover” (alienating established fans and simultaneously failing to pick up any new ones). Known pseudonyms used by Koontz during his career include Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, Aaron Wolfe, David Axton, Brian Coffey, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Owen West, Richard Paige and Anthony North. As Brian Coffey he wrote the “Mike Tucker” trilogy [Blood Risk, Surrounded, Wall of Masks] in acknowledged tribute to the Parker novels of Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake). Many of Koontz’s pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name. Many others remain suppressed by Koontz, who bought back the rights to ensure they could not be republished; he has, on occasion, said that he might revise some for re-publication, but only 3 have appeared – Demon Seed and Invasion were both heavily rewritten before they were republished, and Prison of Ice had certain sections bowdlerised.

After writing full-time for more than ten years, Koontz’s breakthrough novel was Whispers. The two books before that, The Key to Midnight and The Funhouse, were written under pen names. His very first bestseller was Demon Seed, the sales of which picked up after the release of the film of the same name in 1977, and sold over two million copies in one year. From 1979 on, Koontz’s books regularly became paperback bestsellers. His first hardcover bestseller, was Strangers. Since then, 12 hardcovers and 13 paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 1997 psychologist Katherine Ramsland published an extensive biography of Koontz based on interviews with him and his family. This this often showed the conception of Koontz’s characters and plots from events in his own life Many of his novels are set in and around Orange County, California.

One of Dean Koontz’s pen names was inspired by his dog, Trixie Koontz, a golden retriever, shown in many of his book-jacket photos. Trixie originally was a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities Trixie was a gift from CCI in gratitude of Koontz’s substantial donations, totaling $2,500,000 between 1991 and 2004. Koontz was taken with the charity while he was researching his novel Midnight, which included a black Labrador retriever, named Moose. In 2004 Koontz wrote and edited Life Is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living in her name, and in 2005 Koontz wrote a second book credited to Trixie, Christmas Is Good. Both books are written from a supposed canine perspective on the joys of life with royalties being donated to CCI. Sadly In 2007 Trixie contracted terminal cancer that created a tumor in her heart. The Koontzes had her put to sleep outside their family home on June 30. Following Trixie’s death Koontz continued writing on his website under Trixie’s names in “TOTOS”, standing for Trixie on the Other Side. Trixie was also the inspiration for The Darkest Evening of the Year, about a woman who runs a golden retriever rescue home, and who rescues a ‘special’ dog, named Nickie, who eventually saves her life. In August 2009 Koontz published “A Big Little Life,” a memoir of his life with Trixie. In October 2008 Koontz revealed that he had adopted a new dog, Anna. It eventually was learned that Anna was the grandniece of Trixie. Sadly Anna died on May 22, 2016 so Koontz then adopted a new dog, Elsa, on July 11, 2016. As of 2006 Koontz lives in Pelican Hills on the Newport Coast, California with his wife, Gerda (Cerra). In 2008 he was ranked the world’s sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham, at $25 million annually.

Many of Dean Koontz’s novels have been adapted for film and Television including Odd Thomas, starring Anton Yelchin, Frankenstein; starring Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Michael Madsen, Vincent Perez, and Thomas Kretschmann, Black River; starring Jay Mohr, and Stephen Tobolowsky, Sole Survivor; starring Billy Zane, John C. McGinley, and Gloria Reuben, Watchers Reborn; starring Mark Hamill, Phantoms (1998); starring Peter O’Toole, Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and Joanna Going. Mr. Murder; starring Stephen Baldwin, Thomas Haden Church, and James Coburn. Intensity; starring John C. McGinley, Molly Parker, and Piper Laurie. Hideaway; starring Jeff Goldblum, Christine Lahti, Jeremy Sisto, and Alicia Silverstone. Watchers 3; starring Wings Hauser. Servants of Twilight starring Bruce Greenwood. The Face of Fear starring Pam Dawber and Lee Horsley. Watchers II; starring Marc Singer and Tracy Scoggins. Whispers; starring Victoria Tennant, Chris Sarandon, and Jean LeClere. The Passengers starring Jean-Louis Trintignant (French film adaptation of Koontz’s novel Shattered) and Demon Seed; starring Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, and Robert Vaughn as the voice of Proteus.

Doctor Who – the collection – season ten

Doctor Who: The Collection’ Season 10, is being released on Blu Ray. It features Jon Pertwee as the iconic Time Lord. All five stories over 26 episodes are newly restored for Blu-ray and the Blu Rays are packed with hours of new and existing bonus material. Episodes in season ten include:

  • The Three Doctors
  • Carnival of Monsters
  • Frontier in Space
  • Planet of the Daleks
  • The Green Death

The First episode of the classic science fiction series Doctor Who episode The three doctors was originally broadcast on 29 December 1972. It features William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. It begins when A powerful superluminal signal is beamed to Earth, carrying with it an unusual energy creature that cause chaos. Meanwhile Gallifrey the homeworld of the Time Lords is also under siege, with all power being drained through a black hole. Trapped and in desperation, the Time Lords summon three incarnations of Doctor Who.

Unfortunately, the First Doctor gets trapped in a time eddy, However the Second And Third Doctor are able investigate the origins of the creature and the black hole, while UNIT headquarters faces an attack by gel-like alien creatures. The black hole turns out to be a link between universes and The two Doctors Dr Tyler, Jo Grant, Sergeant Benton and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) then find themselves drawn into an antimatter universe.

Once in the Anti-Matter universe They are then captured by more gel-like alien creatures and are taken to meet a legendary Time Lord named Omega. He was a former Solar Engineer for the Time Lords who created the Supernova which powers Time-Lord Civilisation but was thought by the Time-lords to have perished in the supernovA. However instead of perishing he has managed to survive in the Anti Matter Universe by using his immense scientific knowledge to create a domain for himself. Unfortunately though he is trapped in the world of Anti-Matter and is very angry that the Time Lords abandoned him to his fate. Now Omega wants to escape and get his revenge on the Time Lords. It is then up to the three Time Lords to stop Omega’s villainous plan….
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Carnival of Monsters features the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his travelling companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning). It starts when The TARDIS apparently materialises aboard the SS Bernice, a ship that suddenly disappeared while travelling the Indian Ocean, however things are not what they seem. Upon leaving The Doctor and Jo eventually find themselves inside the circuitry of some sort of giant machine, luckily they manage to escape, however they find themselves in mortal peril when they are chased by huge swamp-dwelling carnivores, named Drashigs.

They discover that they are trapped inside a miniscope, a device used by the showman Vorg (Leslie Dwyer) and his assistant Shirna, to shrink life forms and put them on display for entertainment, which were banned by the Time Lords. Vorg and Shirna have just arrived at the planet of Inter Minor where they are suspected of being spies and are on trial. However Two of the tribunal members, Are plotting to cause the president’s resignation. By letting the Drashigs escape from the machine and wreak havoc


Planet of the Daleks was first broadcast 7 April 1973. It starts with the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) sending a distress signal to the Time Lords after a recent confrontation with The Master. Delirious, he falls into a coma, so the Time Lords control the TARDIS remotely When it lands they find themselves on a strange Jungle planet populated by aggressive and highly poisonous plants who attack Jo as she leaves the TARDIS to explore. The plants also rapidly cover the TARDIS leaving the Doctor in grave danger. Jo, in the meantime, discovers a Thal spacecraft in the jungle with a dead pilot. Elsewhere The Thal Spaceship crew includes Taron, Rebec and Codal who find the TARDIS and rescue the nearly asphyxiated Doctor and explain that they are from the planet Skaro. The Doctor learns that his old enemies The Daleks are also on the planet and he is captured and taken to the Dalek base for interrogation.

Meanwhile, Jo is found by an invisible local named Wester who treats her wound and explains that she is on the planet Spiridon and that his people were invaded by the Daleks who released deadly bacteria which killed off most of the population and the remains of his people are trying to fight back against the Daleks, who landed on Spiridon hoping to find out the secret of the Spiridon’s invisibility and reproduce it for their own evil use. He informs Jo that the Doctor and Codal have been captured and taken to the Dalek base. Jo is determined to try to free them.

The Thals meanwhile learn that there is an army of at least 10,000 Daleks in suspended Animation hidden somewhere on Spiridon, so Wester, the Third Doctor, Jo Grant, and the small group of Thals set on a dangerous mission to find the Dalek army and stop it from being revived by sabotaging the Dalek operation. The group find themselves fleeing down the corridors with the Daleks pursuing them while trying to figure out a way to keep the Dalek army from reviving. Elsewhere The Dalek Supreme arrives on Spiridon to oversee the final stages in the revival of the Dalek Army. Meanwhile The Doctor Rebec, Taron and Codal face a race against time trying to stop the Dalek army from being revived.


the Classic six part 1973 Doctor Who episode The Green Death, features The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) joins Jo Grant(Katy Manning) and The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) at U.N.I.T. to investigate a series of unexplained deaths and a strange green glow at a coal mine in South Wales. Their investigation leads to a multi-national petrochemical company named Global Chemicals, Which is run by a Super computer called The Boss, that seems to have a rather sinister hold on the the Managing Director Stephens (Jerome Willis), who is strangely reluctant to co-operate.

He informs the Doctor that Global Chemicals are working on a renewable and more powerful energy source to replace Petrol. However he fails to mention that the process is also creating large amounts of hazardous toxic waste as a by-product which Global Chemicals are quietly dumping down a disused mine shaft without telling anyone.

Elsewhere a dashing young environmentalist Professor has been protesting against the ecological damage and pollution caused by Global Chemicals after finding some rather alarming evidence in the soil. His suspicions are later proved correct when Jo and The Doctor discover that the hazardous toxic waste is having an alarming effect on the insects which are living underground as larvae. To make matters worse Jo and The Doctor find themselves trapped underground with the insect larvae, when the roof caves in on one of the unsafe tunnels which they are investigating and find themselves in mortal peril from giant mutant killer maggots which are gradually making their way to the surface before metamorphosing into highly aggressive adults….
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Brand new bonus features, in the Blu Ray disc set also includes:
• OPTIONAL UPDATED EFFECTS AND 5.1 SURROUND SOUND For Planet Of The Daleks
• DOCTOR WHO AND THE THIRD MAN A new feature-length documentary covering the Pertwee era
• KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES’ Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan return to Wales
• THE GREEN DEATH 1973 OMNIBUS REPEAT Available for the first time
• And more

Kenneth Grahame

Scottish Writer Kenneth Grahame sadly passed away 6 July 1932. He is best known for writing The Wind in the Willows and the Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted for film and Television. Kenneth Grahame was born on 8 March (1859) in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he was a little more than a year old, his father, an advocate, received an appointment as sheriff-substitute in Argyllshire at Inveraray on Loch Fyne. Kenneth loved the sea and was happy there, but when he was 5, his mother died from complications of childbirth, and his father, who had a drinking problem, gave over care of Kenneth, his brother Willie, his sister Helen and the new baby Roland to Granny Ingles, the children’s grandmother, in Cookham Dean in the village of Cookham in Berkshire. There the children lived in a spacious, if dilapidated, home, “The Mount”, on spacious grounds in idyllic surroundings, and were introduced to the riverside and boating by their uncle, David Ingles, curate at Cookham Dean church. This delightful ambiance, particularly Quarry Wood and the River Thames, is believed, to have inspired the setting for The Wind in the Willows.

He was an outstanding pupil at St Edward’s School in Oxford. During his early years at St. Edwards, a sports regimen had not been established and the boys had freedom to explore the old city with its quaint shops, historic buildings, and cobblestone streets, St Giles’ Fair, the idyllic upper reaches of the River Thames, and the nearby countryside.Grahame wanted to attend Oxford University, but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of England in 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health, which may have been precipitated by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank in 1903. Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed. While still a young man in his 20s, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St. James Gazette. Some of these stories were collected and published as Pagan Papers in 1893, and, two years later, The Golden Age. These were followed by Dream Days in 1898, which contains The Reluctant Dragon.Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899; they had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”) born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.

On Grahame’s retirement, they returned to Cookham where he had lived as a child, and lived at “Mayfield”, now Herries Preparatory School, whewhere he had been brought up and spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do—namely, as one of the most famous phrases from the book says, “simply messing about in boats”—and wrote down the bed-time stories he had been telling his son Alistair. Tragically Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May 1920. Out of respect for Kenneth Grahame, Alastair’s demise was recorded as an accidental death. Kenneth Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire, on 6 July 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Grahame’s cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: “To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time”

The Wind in the Willows focuses on the adventures of four anthropomorphous animal characters in a pastoral version of England. It is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley. The story starts during Spring, when Mole, decides to do a bit of spring cleaning but gets bored so he sets out to enjoy the sunshine and take in the air above ground instead. He ends up at the river, which he has never seen before and meets Ratty (a water Vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Rat teaching Mole the ways of the river. One summer day shortly thereafter, Rat and Mole find themselves near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to their incorrigible friend Toad.

Toad is rich (having inherited wealth from his father): jovial, friendly and kind-hearted but aimless and conceited, he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them as quickly as he took them up. Having only recently given up boating, Toad’s current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. In fact, he is about to go on a trip, and persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him. The following day (after Toad has already tired of the realities of camp life and sleeps-in to avoid chores), a passing motor car scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rat threatens to have the law on the motor car drivers, Toad however now decides he now wants a Motor Car. The three animals journey to the nearest police station to make a complaint against the reckless drivers and then to a blacksmith to retrieve and mend the caravan. However Toad makes no effort to help mend the caravan and decides to order himself a motor car instead.

Mole wants to meet the respected but elusive Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood, but Rat -knowing that Badger does not appreciate visits – refuses to take him, telling Mole to be patient and wait and Badger will pay them a visit himself. Nevertheless, on a snowy winter’s day, whilst the seasonally somnolent Ratty dozes unaware, Mole impulsively goes to the Wild Wood to explore, hoping to meet Badger. He gets lost in the woods, sees many “evil faces” among the wood’s less-welcoming denizens, succumbs to fright and panic and hides, trying to stay warm, amongst the sheltering roots of a tree. Rat, upon awakening and finding Mole gone, guesses his mission from the direction of Mole’s tracks and, equipping himself with a pistol and a stout stick, goes in search, finding him as snow begins to fall in earnest.

Attempting to find their way home, Rat and Mole quite literally stumble across Badger’s home, and, warmly welcomes Rat and Mole to his large and cosy underground home and hastens to give them hot food and dry clothes. Badger learns from his visitors that Toad has crashed six cars, has been hospitalised three times, and has spent a fortune on fines. So they decide to protect Toad from himself. Upon the arrival of spring, Badger visits Mole and Rat to do something about Toad’s self-destructive obsession. The three of them go to visit Toad, and Badger tries to make him see sense eventually putting Toad under house arrest, with themselves as the guards, until Toad changes his mind. Feigning illness, Toad manages to escape, steals a car, drives recklessly, accidentally crashes and gets arrested by the police and sent to prison for twenty-years.

During Toad’s absence Badger and Mole look after Toad Hall in the hope that Toad may return. Meanwhile in prison, Toad gains the sympathy of the Jailer’s Daughter who helps him to escape disguised as a washerwoman and he comes across a horse-drawn barge, whose Owner offers him a lift in exchange for Toad’s services as a “washer woman”. However This does not go well and Toad finds himself tossed into the canal although he manages to steal the barge horse, which he then sells to a gypsy, Before flagging down a passing car, which happens to be the very one which he stole earlier. The car owners, not recognizing Toad disguised as a washerwoman, permit him to drive their car.

Unfortunately Once behind the wheel, Toad gets road rage and drives recklessly before declaring his true identity to the outraged passengers who try to stop him. This causes an accident, and Toad flees once more. Pursued by police, he runs accidentally into a river, which carries him by sheer chance to the house of the Water Rat. Toad now hears from Rat that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets from the Wild Wood, who have driven out its former custodians, Mole and Badger. So Badger formulates a plan to drive the unsuspecting weasels out while they are holding a party in honour of their leader, and reclaim Toad Hall.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis carroll

English author Lewis Carroll ( Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) told Alice Liddell and her sisters a story that would eventually form the basis for his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland In a rowing boat on the River Thames from Oxford to Godstow, On July 4 1862.. which was subsequently published 4 July 1865. The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village Godstow. During the trip Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

The novel starts with Alice feeling bored and drowsy while sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister who is reading a book with no pictures or conversations. She then notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole when suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled “DRINK ME,” the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key which she has left on the table. She eats a cake with “EAT ME” written on it in currants.

After eating the cake Alice grows alarmingly and her head hits the ceiling. Alice starts crying and her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well and tries unsuccessfully to talk to him. The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals reach the bank and a Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Then The White Rabbit appears and Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve some gloves but once inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals who hurl pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes and after eating them, Alice shrinks again.

Alice then encounters a blue Caterpillar on a mushroom smoking a hookah, who tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller while the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while the other causes her to grow alarmingly. eventually Alice brings herself back to her normal height and discovers a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height. She sees a Fish-Footman deliver an invitation to the Duchess, who lives at the estate a meets The Duchess’s Cook who is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby to sneeze violently. Alice is then given the baby by the Duchess which turns into a pig. The Duchess’s Cheshire Cat then directs her to the March Hare’s house.

Here Alice becomes a guest at a “mad” tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories. Eventually though Alice tires of all the inane riddles and leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to. Upon leaving the Tea-Party Alice enters the Queen of Hearts garden and encounters three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because The Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen, who is fond of saying “Off with his head!” For the slightest transgression. Alice is invited to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. The Queen is then prompted by the Cheshire Cat to release the Duchess from prison.

The Duchess is then brought to the croquet ground at Alice’s request, and The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon then suggests they play a game. So The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, and then the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court’s trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds to her alarms that she is steadily growing larger. Others Attending the trial include the Hatter, and the Duchess’s cook. Alice is then called upon to give evidence as a witness. Sadly though her increasing size causes problems and The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 (“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”). However Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave until the Queen of Hearts eventually shouts “Off With Her Head!”

Franz Kafka

German novellist and short story writer Franz Kafka was born 3 July 1883 into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer and, after completing his legal education, obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time. For the rest of his life, he complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling and regretted having to devote so much attention to his Brotberuf (“day job”, literally “bread job”). Kafka preferred to communicate by letter and wrote hundreds of letters to family and close female friends, including his father, his fiancée Felice Bauer, and his youngest sister Ottla. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.

Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime: the story collections betrachtung (Contemplation and Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), and individual stories (such as “Die Verwandlung”) in literary magazines. He prepared the story collection Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist) for print, but it was not published until after his death. Kafka’s unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika (also known as Der Verschollene, The Man Who Disappeared), were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe surreal situations like those in his writing. Kafka sadly passed away on 3 June 1924 but his literature had a big impact on literature and film making.

Metamorphosis concerns Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, who wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect (the most common translation of the German description ungeheuer Ungeziefer, literally “monstrous vermin”). Gregor’s mother becomes concerned when Gregor fails to go to work. His sister, Grete, to whom he is very close, begs him to open the door But he discovers that he can’t get out of bed. Then his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him. Unaware of Gregor’s predicament The clerk warns him of the consequences of missing work. Nobody understands a word Gregor says and they conclude that he is seriously ill. Finally, Gregor manages to unlock and open the door with his mouth. He apologizes to the office manager for the delay. Horrified by Gregor’s appearance, his mother faints, and the manager bolts out of the apartment. Gregor tries to catch up with him, but his father drives him back into the bedroom with a shoe and a rolled magazine. Gregor injures himself squeezing back through the doorway, then exhausted, falls asleep.

The next morning, Gregor’s sister comes in, sees that he has not touched the milk which she left and replaces it with rotting food scraps, which Gregor happily eats. This begins a routine in which his sister feeds him and cleans up while he hides under the couch, afraid that his appearance will frighten her. Gregor spends his time listening through the wall to his family members talking about the dire financial situation they find themselves in now and that Gregor can’t provide them any help. Gregor had plans of sending Grete to the conservatory to pursue violin lessons, however his incapability of providing for his family, coupled with his speechlessness proves a bit of an impediment Gregor also learns that his mother wants to visit him, but his sister and father will not let her.

Gregor grows more comfortable with his changed body. He begins climbing the walls and ceiling for amusement. Discovering Gregor’s new pastime, Grete decides to remove some of the furniture to give Gregor more space. She and her mother begin taking furniture away. However Gregor’s mother sees him hanging on the wall and passes out. Grete angrily calls out to Gregor – the first time anyone has spoken directly to him since his transformation. Gregor runs out of the room and into the kitchen. He encounters his father, who has just returned home from work. The father throws apples at Gregor, and one of them sinks into a sensitive spot in his back and Gregor is severely injured.

One evening, the cleaning lady leaves Gregor’s door open while three boarders, whom the family has taken on for additional income, lounge about the living room. Grete has been asked to play the violin for them, and Gregor creeps out of his bedroom to listen however Gregor is seen. As Gregor’s father tries to shove the boarders back into their rooms, the three men leave without paying. Grete, eventually tires of taking care of Gregor and the burden his existence puts on each one in the family, so she tells her parents they must get rid of Gregor…

Kafka is regarded by many critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism. His works, such as “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

Ray Harryhausen

American-British artist, designer, visual effects creator, writer, and producer “Ray” Harryhausen was born June 29, 1920 in Los Angeles, California. He spent his early years experimenting in the production of animated short films and was greatly inspired by the stop-motion animation of pioneer model animator Willis O’Brien on the film King Kong. So a friend arranged a meeting with O’Brien for him. O’Brien critiqued Harryhausen’s early models and urged him to take classes in graphic arts and sculpture to hone his skills. Meanwhile, Harryhausen became friends with an aspiring writer, Ray Bradbury, with similar enthusiasms. Bradbury and Harryhausen joined the Los Angeles-area Science Fiction League formed by Forrest J. Ackerman in 1939, and the three became lifelong friends. Harryhausen secured his first commercial model-animation job, on George Pal’s Puppetoons shorts, based on viewing his first formal demo reel of fighting dinosaurs from a project called Evolution of the World which was never finished.

During World War II, Harryhausen served in the United States Army Special Services Division under Colonel Frank Capra, as a loader, clapper boy, gofer and later camera assistant, whilst working at home animating short films about the use and development of military equipment. During this time he also worked with composer Dimitri Tiomkin and Theodore Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”). Following the war he salvaged several rolls of discarded 16 mm surplus film from which he made a series of fairy tale-based shorts, which he called his “Teething-rings”.

One of Harryhausen’s most long-cherished dreams was to make H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. After World War II, he shot a scene of an alien emerging from a Martian cylinder showing the fearsome being from Mars fatally succumbing to an earthly illness, contracted from the air the natives breathe harmlessly. It was part of an unrealized project to adapt the story using Wells’ original “octopus” concept for the Martians. In 1947 Harryhausen was hired as an assistant animator on what turned out to be his first major film, Mighty Joe Young (1949). O’Brien ended up concentrating on solving the various technical problems of the film, leaving most of the animation to Harryhausen. Their work won O’Brien the Academy Award for Best Special Effects that year.

Ray Harryhausen first film featuring his technical effects was The Beast from 20,000 Fathom based on a story by The writer Ray Bradbury, who was a long-time friend of Harryhausen. This was about a dinosaur drawn to a lone lighthouse by its foghorn. Because the story for Harryhausen’s film featured a similar scene, the film studio bought the rights to Bradbury’s story to avoid any potential legal problems. To film Beast from 20,000 fathoms Harryhausen used a technique called “Dynamation” that split the background and foreground of pre-shot live action footage into two separate images into which he would animate a model or models so seemingly integrating the live-action with the models. The background would be used as a miniature rear-screen with his models animated in front of it, re-photographed with an animation-capable camera to combine those two elements together, the foreground element matted out to leave a black space. Then the film was rewound, and everything except the foreground element matted out so that the foreground element would now photograph in the previously blacked out area. This created the effect that the animated model was “sandwiched” in between the two live action elements, right into the final live action scene.

In most of Harryhausen’s films, model animated characters interact with, and are a part of, the live action world, with the idea that they will cease to call attention to themselves as only “animation.” Most of the effects shots in his earliest films were created via Harryhausen’s careful frame-by-frame control of the lighting of both the set and the projector. This dramatically reduced much of degradation common in the use of back-projection or the creation of dupe negatives via the use of an optical printer. Harryhausen’s use of diffused glass to soften the sharpness of light on the animated elements allowed the matching of the soft background plates far more successfully than Willis O’Brien had achieved in his early films, allowing Harryhausen to match live and miniature elements seamlessly in most of his shots. Harryhausen managed to save money, by developing and executing most of this miniature work himself, while maintaining full technical control.

Harryhausen then began working with color film to make The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, experimenting with color film stocks to overcome the color-balance-shift problems. Ray’s producer/partner Charles H. Schneer coined the word Dynamation as a “merchandising term” (modifying it to “SuperDynaMation” and then “Dynarama”. Harryhausen was always heavily involved in the pre-production conceptualizing of each film’s story, script development, art-direction, design, storyboards, and general tone of the his films, as much as any auteur director would have on any other film, which any “director” of Harryhausen’s films had to understand and agree to work under. Only the complexities of Director’s Guild rules in Hollywood prevented Harryhausen from being credited as the director of his films, resulting in the more modest credits he had in most of his films.

Harryhausen’s often worked with his family His father did the machining of the metal armatures (based on his son’s designs) that were the skeletons for the models and allowed them to keep their position, while his mother assisted with some miniature costumes. After Harryhausen’s father died in 1973, Harryhausen contracted An occasional assistant, George Lofgren, a taxidermist, assisted Harryhausen with the creation of furred creatures. Another associate, Willis Cook, built some of Harryhausen’s miniature sets. Other than that, Harryhausen worked generally alone to produce almost all of the animation for his filmsThe same year that Beast was released, 1953, fledgling film producer Irwin Allen released a live action documentary about life in the oceans titled The Sea Around Us, which won an Oscar for best documentary feature film of that year. Harryhausen then worked on Allen’s sequel. He also met producer Charles H. Schneer, Their first tandem project was It Came from Beneath the Sea (aka Monster from Beneath the Sea, 1955), about a giant octopus attacking San Francisco. followed by Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. In 1954, Irwin Allen began work on a second feature-length documentary film, about animal life on land called The Animal World Needing an opening sequence about dinosaurs, Allen hired premier model animator Willis O’Brien and Harryhausen to animate the dinosaurs, many agreed that the dinosaur sequence of Animal World was the best part of the entire movie. (Animal World is available on the DVD release of O’Brien’s 1957 film The Black Scorpion).

Harryhausen then made 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), about an American spaceship returning from Venus. The spaceship crashes into the ocean near Italy, which releases an on-board alien egg specimen that washes up on shore. The egg soon hatches a creature that, in Earth’s atmosphere, rapidly grows to gigantic size running amok and terrifying the citizens of Rome. He refined and improved his animation techniques still further for the Venusian Ymir alien. Harryhausen then developed a technique to maintain proper color balances for his DynaMation process, resulting in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Among the film’s best sequences is an exciting fight between three actors and seven living skeletons, And the confrontation with Talos the bronze giant. Harryhausen next made First Men in the Moon (1964), his only film made in the 2.35:1 widescreen (AKA “CinemaScope”) format, based on the novel by H. G. Wells.

Harryhausen was then hired by Hammer Film Productions to animate the dinosaurs for One Million Years B.C. (1966) featuringRaquel Welch in her second film. Harryhausen next went on to make another dinosaur film, The Valley of Gwangi. This is Set in Mexico, and features cowboys who discover a forbidden valley inhabited by dinosaurs and manage to capture a living Allosaurus and bring him to the nearest Mexican city for exhibition. However the creature, escapes and wreaks havoc on the town. Harryhausen’s next film wasThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad, featuring a sword fight involving a statue of the six-armed goddess Kali this was followed by Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Harryhausen and Shneer’s next film was Clash of the Titans featuring stars such as Laurence Olivier Ursula Andress, Burgess Meridith and Harry Hamlin and for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects. This features Perseus and his efforts to save the beautiful princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the fearsome Kraken by undertaking a perilous journey to the Isle of the Dead Where he confronts the equally fearsome gorgon Medusa. sadly more sophisticated computer-assisted technology developed by ILM and others began to eclipse Harryhausen’s production techniques, with MGM and other studios refusing to fund his planned sequel, Force of the Trojans, sO Harryhausen and Schneer Retired from filmmaking.

In the early 1970s, Harryhausen also published a book, Film Fantasy Scrapbook (produced in three editions as his last three films were released) and supervising the restoration and release of his films to video, laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray. A second book followed, An Animated Life, written with author and friend Tony Dalton which details his techniques and history. This was then followed in 2005 by The Art of Ray Harryhausen, featuring sketches and drawings for his many projects. In 2008 Harryhausen and Dalton published a history of stop-motion model animation, A Century of Model Animation and to celebrate Harryhausen’s 90th birthday The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation published Ray Harryhausen – A Life in Pictures. In 2011 the last volume, called Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook, was also published. Harryhausen continued his lifelong friendship with Ray Bradbury until Bradbury’s death in 2012. Another long-time close friend was “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine editor, book writer, and sci-fi collector Forrest J Ackerman, another friend was long-time producer, Charles H. Schneer, who lived next door to him in a suburb of London until Schneer moved full-time to the USA. Harryhausen and Terry Moore appeared in small comedic cameo roles in the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young, and he has also provided the voice of a polar bear cub in the Will Ferrell film Elf. He also appears as a bar patron in Beverly Hills Cop III, and as a doctor in the John Landis film Spies Like Us. In 2010, Harryhausen had a brief cameo in Burke & Hare, a British film also directed by Landis.

In 1986 Harryhausen formed The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a registered charity in the UK and US, which preserves all of his collection and promotes the art of stop-motion animation. In 2002, young animators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero helped Harryhausen complete The Story of the Tortoise and the Hare. This was the sixth and final installment of the Harryhausen fairy tales. The film was started in 1952 and completed in 2002, 50 years later and went on to win the 2003 Annie award for best short film and gained worldwide attention. Ray Harryhausen was also given a special tribute at The BFI Southbank theater which was attended by all the top visual effects directors and technicians and was hosted by director John Landis. At this event he was presented by Peter Jackson with a special BAFTA award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 2009, he released colorized DVD versions of three of his classic black and white Columbia films: 20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and It Came from Beneath the Sea, and of She (1935), in tribute to its producer Merian C. Cooper.In June 2010, it was announced that the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation had agreed to deposit the animator’s complete collection of some 50,000 pieces with the National Media Museum in Bradford, England.

The work of Ray Harryhausen was celebrated in an exhibition at London’s Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in 1990. In 2010 A theater at Sony Pictures Digital Productions was named in honor of Harryhausen. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Harryhausen in 2005, He also received the annual British Fantasy Society Wagner Award in 2008 for his lifetime contribution to the genre and in 2003, Harryhausen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2013, the RH foundation and Arrow Films released a feature-length biography of Harryhausen and his films called “Ray Harryhausen – Special Effects Titan” on Blu-Ray. Featuring photos, artifacts, and film clips culled directly Harryhausen’s estate and never before seen by the public. A major exhibition of Ray Harryhausen’s models Entitled “Ray Harryhausen – Mythical Menagerie” was held at the Science Museum Oklahoma and another exhibition took place at Tate Britain in 2017 featuring work from the Harryhausen collection and short film made by John Walsh on the restoration of a painting owned by Harryhausen which influenced his work. In 1992 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray Harryhausen a Gordon E.Sawyer Award to acknowledge His “technological contributions to the industry. He also made” A long series of appearances at film festivals, colleges, and film seminars around the world Harryhausen met many of

Ray Harryhausen sadly died on May 7, 2013 however his influence on today’s film makers is enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and Nick Park citing Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations. Peter Lord of Aardman animation also said that Harryhausen was “a one-man industry and a one-man genre”. Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright said “I loved every single frame of Ray Harryhausen’s work … He was the man who made me believe in monsters.” George Lucas also said, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars”. Terry Gilliam said, “What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” James Cameron also paid tribute by saying, “I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.”

Ray Harryhausen left his collection, which includes all of his film related artefacts to the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, set up in 1986 to look after his extensive collection, to protect his name and to further the art of model stop-motion animation. The trustees are his daughter Vanessa Harryhausen, Simon Mackintosh, actress Caroline Munro who appeared in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and film maker John Walsh who first met with Ray Harryhausen in 1988 as a film student of the London Film School and made a documentary entitled Ray Harryhausen: Movement Into Life narrated by Doctor Who actor Tom Baker (who also appeared in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The Foundation’s website charts progress on the restoration of the collection and future plans for Ray’s legacy. In 2016 the foundation launched The Ray Harryhausen Podcast. This included never before heard audio from Ray Harryhausen. Hosted by Collections Manager Connor Heaney and John Walsh.

J. J. Abrams

American film and television director, producer, writer, author and composer, Jeffrey Jacob “J. J.” Abrams was born June 27, 1966. He is an best known for his work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. Abrams wrote and/or produced feature films such as Regarding Henry (1991), Forever Young (1992), Armageddon (1998), and Cloverfield (2008). He created or co-created a number of TV drama series, including Felicity (co-creator, 1998–2002), Alias (creator, 2001–2006), and Lost (co-creator, 2004–2010), ” Fringe” (co-creator, 2008 – 2013). His directorial film work includes Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Mission: Impossible III (2006),Super 8 (2011) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015),

Abrams’ first job in the movie business started when he was 16 when he wrote the music for Don Dohler’s film Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment. Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams’ first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and James Belushi. He followed that up with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote with Mazursky the script for the comedy Gone Fishin’ starring Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. In 1994, he was part of the “Propellerheads” with Rob Letterman, Loren Soman, and Andy Waisler, a group of Sarah Lawrence alums experimenting with computer animation technology who were contracted by Jeffrey Katzenberg to develop animation for the film Shrek. Abrams worked on the screenplay for the 1998 film Armageddon with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. That same year, he made his first foray into television with Felicity, which ran for four seasons on The WB Network, serving as the series’ co-creator (with Matt Reeves) and executive producer. He also composed its opening theme music.

Under his production company Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001,Abrams created and executive-produced ABC’s Alias and is co-creator (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) and executive producer of Lost. He later co-wrote the teleplay for Lost’s third season premiere “A Tale of Two Cities.” As with Felicity, Abrams also composed the opening theme music for Alias and Lost. In 2001, Abrams co-wrote and produced the thriller Joy Ride, and wrote an unproduced screenplay for a fifth Superman film in 2002.[citation needed]In 2006, he served as executive producer of What About Brian and Six Degrees, also on ABC. Abrams directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost and remained active producer for the first half of the season. That same year, he made his feature directorial debut in 2006 with Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. Abrams spoke at the TED conference in 2007.

In 2008, Abrams produced the monster movie Cloverfield. In 2009, he directed the science fiction film Star Trek, which he produced with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. While it was speculated that they would be writing and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series of novels, they publicly stated in November 2009 that they were no longer looking to take on that project. In 2008, Abrams co-created, executive produced, and co-wrote (along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) the FOX science fiction series Fringe, for which he also composed the theme music. He was featured in the 2009 MTV Movie Awards 1980s-style digital short “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”, with Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell, in which he plays a keyboard solo. NBC picked up Abrams’ Undercovers as its first new drama series for the 2010–11 season. However, it was subsequently cancelled by the network in November 2010.

In 2008, it was reported that Abrams purchased the rights to a New York Times article “Mystery on Fifth Avenue” about the renovation of an 8.5 million dollar co-op, a division of property originally owned by E. F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, for six figures and was developing a film titled Mystery on Fifth Avenue, with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions,and comedy writers Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky to write the adaptation. According to the article, a wealthy couple Steven B. Klinsky and Maureen Sherry purchased the apartment in 2003 and live there with their four children. Soon after purchasing the apartment, they hired young architectural designer Eric Clough, who devised an elaborately clever “scavenger hunt” built into the apartment that involved dozens of historical figures, a fictional book and a soundtrack, woven throughout the apartment in puzzles, riddles, secret panels, compartments, and hidden codes, without the couple’s knowledge. The family didn’t discover the embedded mystery until months after moving into the apartment. After Abrams purchased the article, Clough left him an encrypted message in the wall tiles of a Christian Louboutin shoe store he designed in West Hollywood

Abrams also wrote and directed the Paramount science fiction movie Super 8, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011. In 2013 Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, in before directing Star Wars: episode VII The Force Awakens in 2015. This lead tO speculation concerning his future with Paramount Pictures, with whom he has released all of his previously directed feature work and which has a first-look deal with his Bad Robot Productions. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore stated that Abrams will continue to have a hand in the highly successful Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises going forward. Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Conference that Bad Robot has also made a deal with Valve Corporation to produce films based on the video game titles Portal and Half-Life.

In 2013, Abrams released a film based on the novel, S., written by Doug Dorst. Abrams’ frequent creative collaborators include writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, composer Michael Giacchino, cinematographers Daniel Mindel and Larry Fong, and editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.