Why We Need Superheroes

 

Black Panther_Marvel comics
Black Panther: Source – Marvel Comics

The Superhero film genre is in overdrive at the moment, with at least one new movie every year. This year’s second superhero movie is ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in a franchise that started in 2012 with ‘The Avengers’, bringing Marvel comic characters to life. This follows the quirky and successful ‘Black Panther’ (2018) that cleverly introduces a sub-genre element by showcasing mainly non-white actors, thus broadening the superhero genre appeal to different ethnic groups.

The recurring theme in this genre is not new – mankind is under threat from a terrifying external power and need heroes with superhuman powers to defend it. This storyline goes back to early human society when primitive man had an intuitive way of interpreting the awesome and incomprehensible power of nature. The animistic gods of the Ancients are often part-human/part-animal incarnations that represent the main elements – earth, water, air and fire, or aspects thereof. These were feared, revered and appeased with offerings and sacrifices in the hope of favourable outcomes or protection from the uncontrollable power of Nature.

thor-marvel-comics-fanpop.com
Thor – source: Marvel Comics

It is no surprise that some ancient gods, most notably Thor from Norse mythology, have been incorporated into Marvel’s superhero stories. Although Thor is a god, he has human form and is the defender of mankind against ‘foreign’ enemies. They evoke familiar tribalistic defence mechanisms in an audience primed to circle the wagons at the first signs of danger from an unknown or unfamiliar predatory enemy.

The earliest human societies, pre-dating and including the recorded tales from Ancient Greece, invented creation stories that often involved superhuman god-like creatures who created the world and ruled over it in an age before the coming of Mankind. These gods became invisible forces to be invoked and appeased in ritual ceremonies as humans inherited the earth. It filled a powerful need in early Man’s consciousness to make sense of his surroundings, and pre-dates our Age of Science and Reason approach to understanding our world and beyond.

The blurb for the new superheroes movie reads, “’Avengers: Infinity War’ brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.”

The plot of this film centres on the concept of infinity or timelessness, through the infinity stones, or gems (six immensely powerful gems that appear in Marvel Comic stories known as the Mind, Soul, Space, Power, Time and Reality). This representation of attributes in physical objects harks back to ancient societies – objects to be revered or deified in the belief that they can affect desired outcomes. The stones are ancient artefacts, thus connecting the story to early human history and invoking the theme of the continuum of time.

Teenagers/Young Adults are the core target audience for this repeated narrative of humans with superpowers battling unknown or alien forces whose intentions are always hostile to human society. A show of destructive power by an evil character usually sets up the story, whereby one or more superhero will do battle, like gladiators, on behalf of a frightened and powerless population. Often the stakes are the highest imaginable – the fate of Planet Earth.

Charly_and_the_super_heroes group pic
Charly & The Superheroes

It is no surprise, then, that my own teenage daughter, Cathy, is thoroughly transfixed by superhero movies. She becomes engrossed in the latest story of heroic figures fighting on her behalf against external forces of evil who would destroy her home and family. She has no problem identifying with the ‘goodies’ – often male and female characters who represent ‘the best’ of humankind. When I asked her what our character, Charly Holmes’ next adventure should be, she quickly replied, “let’s make up a superhero story!”

And so, we have now completed our story – ‘Charly & The Superheroes’, based on Cathy’s idea that Charly, whilst on a film studio tour, is invited to substitute for a child actor in a superhero movie. The rest of the story developed from there. Our superheroes represent the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – but when a real disaster strikes, the actors are challenged to use their own knowledge and skills to help the group through a series of dangerous situations.

Charly paperback coverOur own homage to the superhero genre, ‘Charly & The Superheroes’, is available from 19th September in e-book and paperback formats from Amazon and other online stores. Suitable for children aged 10+, juveniles, young adults, teachers and parents:

Paperback (UK):

Paperback (USA/World):

Kindle

i-books, Kobo, Nook, Playster, Tolino and other platforms…

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Abandoned Re-loaded

I’ve just re-published a new, longer second edition of Abandoned, book one in A Light in the Dark Ages series. It addresses the complaints at the brevity of the original novella that told the story of Marcus and the defence of Calleva. This is now incorporated into a longer story that charts Britannia’s troubled journey from abandonment by the Romans to choosing a king to organise their defence from determined raiders.

Abandoned second edition ebook coverThe narrative thrust is loosely guided by the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 1136 work, The History of the Kings of Britain. The romantic in me likes to think there might be some credence in his account of events in fifth century Britannia leading up to the coming of King Arthur (now widely thought to be a composite of a number of leaders who organised opposition to the spread of Anglo-Saxon colonists).
I’m holding the e-book price at just 99p/99c – so please help me replace the lost reviews from the now unpublished first edition. Much work has gone into this upgrade from novella to novel – I hope you enjoy it!
http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FKT7W8J
http://amazon.com/dp/B07FKT7W8J

Happy Publication Day for ‘Curtain Call’

Fellow indie author, C.H. Clepitt, has launched her new book today – congratulations!

C H Clepitt has a knack for creating real, relatable characters, who face adversity with humour and humanity, and Curtain Call is no exception.

Covers (2)When an assistant to the director role turns into P.A. to her favourite film star, Jen can’t believe her luck. Eleanor Francis is charming, kind and funny, but she has a secret, and when tragedy strikes, things threaten to unravel at an uncontrollable pace. Despite being out of her depth Jen has to adapt to her new role quickly, to protect Eleanor, with whom she is rapidly falling in love.

This is a sweet, understated story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. If you’ve enjoyed C H Clepitt’s other books (including the witty, I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse) then this is not to be missed.

“The story is very well written and flows nicely… I would love to read more about the two main characters in future books.” – Simon Leonard – Black Books Blog

“Love blossoms in an unexpected place in this emotional short story. A change of direction for Clepitt but delicately written and heartfelt.” – Claire Buss – Author of ​The Rose Thief and other novels.

“The story’s optimism that makes it such a joy to read and leaves one feeling there must be hope after all.” A.M. Leibowitz – Author of ​Keeping the Faith and other novels

Curtain Call is available in e-book format at £1.99 from Amazon –

 

Dance Hall Days

June 1966 – England had just won the World Cup at London’s Wembley Stadium and a happy nation basked in the warm satisfaction of sporting success. Teenage boys in ironed white shirts, inch-wide ties and pleated trousers lounged against the wall outside The Ritz Ballroom in Camden Town on a balmy summer’s evening, eyeing up the girls in their colourful dresses – the hemlines having recently moved up to expose knees and thighs. The two groups exchanged banter in a timeless mating ritual – coquettish glances and shy giggles elicited macho poses from strutting cocks who combed up their Brylcreemed hair and dragged on their tabs, nonchalantly flicking the stubs in the general direction of the gutter.

dance hall days

Brian Smith knew whom he was after. A pretty little blonde girl he knew from school called Helen. She was one year his junior but was no longer a geeky schoolgirl – she had blossomed into an attractive young woman, and he was determined to ask her to dance. That was the protocol. Bundle inside, pay your sixpence at the box office, get a paper cup of fruit punch and line the walls with your mates – waiting for the hall to fill and the jazz band to strike up a familiar tune. Brian combed back his brown quiff and pushed off the wall, with a ‘good luck mate’ from a friend bolstering his nerve.

The crowds seemed to part before him as he crossed the hall. Her friends whispered and giggled as she looked up – it was as if she had been waiting for him. He held her wide blue-eyed gaze and asked, “Would you like to dance?”

“I can’t jive,” she said. Her friends laughed as if it was the funniest joke ever, buying Brian a few seconds to formulate his next move.

“Then let’s get some punch and wait for the next one,” he said, taking her firmly by the arm and leading her away from her friends. ‘Always try to separate them from their mates’ was the advice that came to mind, given by one of the older boys.

“Are you always so forceful?” she asked, sipping her drink and glancing over at her jealous friends.

“I’m no longer a kid. I’m joining the police next week,” he said. This was designed to impress her and it worked – responsibility and a steady job.

“I like this one,” she said, as the band played a popular hit. This time it was Helen doing the leading, as the infatuated couple found a space and held each other in a classic dance pose.

“It all seemed so easy,” Brian told his mates the next day. “As if it were meant to be. We’re going out now, so no comments or whistles.”

He transitioned seamlessly from hanging out with mischief in mind to police training college and being in a steady relationship. He even put his name down for a council flat. In those heady days of youth everything seemed possible, and his world was full of firsts. First girlfriend; first job; first pay cheque; first passport; first holiday and soon after, marriage and first home of their own.

Brian would twirl his police whistle in the pub for laughs, but cautioned his mates on their behaviour. He had the cocky confidence of his hero – football captain Bobby Moore – and each morning his feet slipped effortlessly into his size nine boots, as if this was always meant to be.

This short story is taken from Postcards from London by Tim Walker

http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B075C1M42Z

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Postcards from London

Postcards from London is a new book of 15 short stories by myself, Tim Walker, due for release on Sunday 10th September. Please ‘like’ my facebook page for news and updates, and to get the link to the FREE ebook download on the 10th and 11th September.

http://facebook.com/London-postcards

Postcards from London ebook cover_low res

 

The Dark Ages Illuminated

Britannia lay traumatised by the end of Roman rule and open to invasion from ruthless barbarians. Cruel tyrant Vortigern has seized control and chosen to employ Saxons in his mercenary army. But who is the master and who the puppet?

Enter Ambrosius Aurelianus, a Roman tribune on a secret mission to Britannia. He is returning to the land where, as a child, he witnessed the murder of his noble father and grew up under the watchful eyes of an adoptive family in the town of Calleva Atrebatum. He is thrown into the politics of the time, as tribal chiefs eye each other with suspicion whilst kept at heel by the high king.

Ambrosius Twitter PromoAmbrosius finds that the influence of Rome is fast becoming a distant memory, as Britannia reverts to its Celtic tribal roots. He joins forces with his adoptive brother, Uther Pendragon, and they are guided by their shrewd father, Marcus, as he senses his destiny is to lead the Britons to a more secure future.

Ambrosius: Last of the Romans is an historical fiction novel set in the early Dark Ages, a time of myths and legends that builds to the greatest legend of all – King Arthur and his knights.

http://myBook.to/Ambrosius

A Black Hole in Our History

The Dark Ages is the period in European history ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Britain was thrown into a period of tribal conflicts and desperate resistance to invaders from the year AD410, when the last legion sailed away and Roman administration ceased. Early Briton kings, Vortigern and Ambrosius battled each other for the traumatised island, whilst what was left of the remaining Western Roman legions tried to stem the tide of Franks rampaged across Gaul.

Ambrosius presentation4This was also the year that Rome was sacked by the Visigoths under their king, Alaric, as barbarian tribes from the east swept across Europe. Roman authority was briefly restored after paying off the barbarians, but they would not go away, and the final collapse came in 476 when the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by Odoacer, whose father was purported to have been an adviser to Attila the Hun. The sun had set on a civilised and ordered way of life, to be replaced with tribal warfare, economic ruin and insecurity for the peoples of Europe.

Initially, historians used the term ‘dark’ to denote the fact that little was known about this period as there was a lack of written history, and it was felt there was little order or human development. It was the Italian Scholar, Petrarch, who first coined the phrase, ‘Dark Ages’. He used it to express frustration with the lack of Latin literature during this time or other cultural achievements. The Dark Ages were a tumultuous time: roving horse-borne invaders charged about the countrysides, slaughtering villagers and taking what they wanted. As a result, fewer crops were grown and famine and disease followed.

Ambrosius presentation5To some extent, the period of the Dark Ages remains obscure to modern onlookers. The term employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the ‘darkness’ of the period in question with earlier and later periods of ‘light’. The tumult of the era, its religious and tribal conflicts and debatable time period, all work together to obscure it from our eyes. Scarcity of sound literature and cultural achievements marked these years, and barbaric practices prevailed. The leaders of the time are merely names without faces; nor are there accurate records of their deeds.

However, stuffy university academics, in a move to justify their status, have decided it wasn’t such a dark age after all. Plenty was going on, between the running and screaming (in isolated enclaves) as they uncover some evidence of art, culture and learning. It is now thought that some of the barbarian leaders, when taking time out from torture, rape and executions, became patrons of the arts (amassing treasures looted from palaces and churches) and in time converted to Christianity, embracing more civilised values. This has altered perceptions of this difficult period and some historians now prefer to used the term, ‘Early Middle Ages’ to denote the post-Roman period in Europe. Bully for them.

Ambrosius presentation2In our own time, some believe we are entering a new dark age, characterised not by the absence of written records, but by a plethora of false information aimed at confusing and distracting us from real events. The World Wide Web was given to us by its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to encourage the free exchange of information. But we have failed to safeguard it, and it has now been hijacked by thieves and those with extreme political agendas whose aim is to enslave us and strip us of our rights and dignity. ‘Fake News’ is a tactic used by unscrupulous politicians to terrify and confuse, leaving us susceptible to exploitation and undermining our democratic systems with lies and false promises.

Our age may be characterised by intellectual and technological advances, but our moral framework, egalitarian and empathetic values, are being eroded by the new cult of the individual that has replaced self-policing family and community groups. Socially, we are regressing as economic priorities trump those of citizen welfare. Corporate bullies have replaced barbarian warlords as we are brow-beaten, exploited and driven into poverty.

We live in an all-consuming media age, but we are blind to the dangers around us that are undermining our society, leaving us vulnerable to exploitation. Personal wealth accumulation and the trappings of a privileged lifestyle are dangled before us to tempt and incite us to embrace a culture built on greed and one-upmanship. Are we defeating ourselves, as loneliness, emotional repression and lack of purpose dog our ‘progressive’ secular societies? Our self-destruction seems assured.

Where is the new Ambrosius to organise us to resist the forces of darkness? Who will ride to our rescue and flush our enemies out into the open where we can confront them? Whilst pondering these questions, look for inspiration in this new action-packed historical fiction novel – Ambrosius: Last of the Romans. History comes in cycles – we are challenged to read the signs and be ready to oppose tyranny…

Part One of A Light in the Dark Ages series, Abandoned! Is a free download from Amazon Kindle on Wednesday 8th March

http://myBook.to/Abandoned

Part Two, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans has just been released and is at the discount price of £1.99/$2.99

http://myBook.to/Ambrosius