To enter in detail into the novel’s plot would be rather counter-productive, since the discovery of Sister Love’s mysteries is gradual in the novel. I can nevertheless say that the novel is of the “superhero” genre, anchored in our reality as much as possible. The largest part of the story takes place in 2014, and a chapter out of two is a flashback featuring the main character. At the contemporary time there are three main characters:
- Sister Love, a mysterious African woman who lived in the United States
- Steven Thorne, a powerful industrialist who lives in Washington
- Marianne Gaines, the girlfriend of Steven Thorne
Around them, obviously, there are supporting characters, but these three are the motors of the intrigue.
The price is around 4$. The e-book is available on Amazon’s Kindle, as well as in Epub format on Kobo.com and Lulu.com (which makes the English version also available on Itunes and Barnes&Noble).
Here is an extract of the first chapter, which I hope will interest you:
And finally, thanks to you, dear still unknown reader, to leave a positive comment where you got the book if you liked it. It will help to get it known, which is of the upmost importance, especially for an amateur author like me. If you didn't like it, you can of course post a comment too, but in all honesty I can't ask you to actually do it!
Facebook of Norman T. RAY : https://www.facebook.com/#!/norman.ray.737
Facebook page about Sister Love : https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sister-Love/210866549080079
Twitter of Norman T. RAY : https://twitter.com/NormanTRAY
Eight years ago on March 9th of 2012, John Carter was released in the US. Two days before, on March the 7th, I was at the first showing of the French release, my Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Cycle de Mars" omnibus in my bag. I hated the movie, for me it was such a wasted opportunity. Why invest 250 million dollars to not even respect the original novel, and adding clunkiness and plot holes that weren't even in it in the first place?
And then I began gradually to realise that the half-filled glass was ultimately more important to me than the half-empty glass. And probably for the first time in my life my opinion made a complete 180 degree, that reflected the emotional ride that represented the adaptation of my favorite novel on screen. Today, it's quite simply one of my favorite movies, in spite, or even because of its flaws.
Indeed, it wasn't perhaps the smartest move to cram all this exposition at the beginning of the movie, which even for me, an absolute fan of the novels, was a bit too much, neither was it appropriate to stop the action in the Thern temple to deliver explanations that probably would only have been useful in a sequel. Maybe Andrew Stanton and his pals, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon, should have trusted more the storyteller talent of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and maybe they should have made John Carter less reluctant to engage in the plot of his own movie, maybe, maybe...
But ultimately their way of doing things, even if clumsy at times, was driven by the best of intentions. Even if the works of Burroughs have been pillaged over the years, there is something in this movie that sets it apart from its contemporaries, an earnestness that shines throughout. John Carter, not only can be watched, it can be rewatched with the same pleasure, as I have always the same pleasure to reread Burroughs. The movie doesn't seem formulaic. And everybody loves Woola.
It's no mistake if each time the movie is aired on French tv, my page view counter explodes, in my modest scale, because viewers want to know about the potential sequel. It's also no mistake if John Carter is regularly cited in pages like "those movies which deserve a sequel" or "those movies that didn't deserve their failure at the box-office". Taylor Kitsch recently thanked Netflix, which seemed very happy about the views John Carter gathered on their streaming service, before it returns to Disney+ in April. And maybe at that time Disney will realize the movie's popularity on their own platform.
So what are the odds of seeing a sequel one day? And do I still believe it could happen?
My answers would be, respectively, "slim" and "yes".
John Carter is used to shout at the face of adversity "I still live!". And I would bet my shirt that Andrew Stanton also says so.
Andrew Stanton is a storyteller before anything else. He's an artist, who wouldn't satisfy himself with a story he would have told only the first tier. You have to see him in the "TED" conference about this subject mattter. He's utterly passionate about "storytelling". At one point during an event he was supposed to have revealed what could have been the sequels to John Carter. It never happened, why? Does he still believe in another way to tell the rest of the story? Medias outlets revealed that in his "Finding Dory" contract there was a guarantee of another live-action movie, which didn't materialise since 2016. Since then, Andrew Stanton only directed tv show episodes. Of course, my foolish hope is that this movie could be "John Carter 2 : Gods of Mars"!
Could that be possible? In fact, yes, if Disney understands the potential, to me very real, of the movie, which shows every sign of becoming "cult", a somewhat overused term in these days and age, but which in this precise case does seem warranted. Bob Iger, who never was, to say the least, a stanch supporter of the movie, steps back (at last) from his CEO position at Disney. The rights for John Carter are seemingly still available since they returned to ERB Incorporated. More important, maybe, Disney perhaps wouldn't even need to purchase the rights anews, since Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels fall into public domain in January of 2021 worldwide! Burroughs died in 1950, and in most countries, including France, their work fall in public domain 50 years after their author's death. Granted, the trademarks don't have an expiration date, but it would surely be enough for Disney to name their movie simply "John Carter 2". And frankly I don't picture ERB Inc risking a trial with the all-powerful Disney. That would even be quite ironic, since Disney as a compny does everything in its powers for decades to avoid the works of Ol' Walt to fall into public domain!
Anyway, a lot of wishful thinking and a foolish hope is all I can offer! Happy birthday to the movie in any case.
We Still Live.
There's no such thing as "doing enough research"... The worst case scenario is when you DON'T KNOW you should have done research. I became a victim of that in the first ever version of "Who Is Sister Love?". One of my two known readers (in France, but not only, on a global scale also, not tomention the whole known universe), Vivien Prigent, had noticed such an impossibility: there has NEVER been a job of Governor of Washington, there's only a Mayor.
Before someone asks the question, let the answer be written here for posterity's sake: I was not thinking about Donald Trump while creating Steven Thorne. You would have to be prescient to have predicted his election in 2011...
Anyway, another singularity of Washington had visibly escaped me, the very nice skycraper of Thorne Industries had no chance to be located there, because as you probably know, skycrapers are all bot forbidden in Washington! And, not only had I placed there the building of Thorne Industries, but one of the final scenes takes place where there are, not one, but TWO skycrapers under construction. Moments like that leave you somewhat numb, I can tell you...
So I had to revise the first book. It turned out to be quite quick. On the other side of the Potomac is Rosslyn, in the Arlington County. It's a... town? (I put an interrogation mark because it has no ruling institution, it's what is called an unincorporated area); and that area does indeed have skycrapers. Problem résolved, at five minutes of driving from Washington, and that doesn't prevent Steven Thorne from living in Washington.
Another topic for the revision was to replace all "2014" mentions with "Nowadays". It doesn't make any sense to keep the story set in the year 2014, we're now in 2019, and all things considered, nothing I've written refers to that specific year. It dates the novel too much, and for no good reason.
I only heard about this project this morning, and it's already funded!
Babylon 5 is quite imply my favorite tv show. in a Top 5 that would also contain series like the original Star Trek and its Next Generation, Columbo and Mission: Impossible, this is quite an accomplishment.
The common ground between all these series for me is their quality of writing. Those series are very demanding in terms of screenplays, and series that are difficult to write for. And in that bunch, Babylon 5 is the only one to have been written at some 80% by just one man: Joseph Michael Straczynski. How do you know that you're a fan of jms, as he likes to be called on social media? Answer: when you can write his family name without checking Google. "Who Is Sister Love?" is dedicated to jms, for better or worse. It was while reading his Babylon 5 screenplays that came the idea of writing the one featuring Sister Love, that I turned later into a novel.
It shows the importance of Babylon 5 in my creative life. Is it to say that jms is my hero and/or an untouchable icon? Of course not, and I don't think he would like that either. Few things he did after had for me the sheer impact of Babylon 5, beginning with the horrendous Crusade, its sequel. His comics work never really convinced me. He gave me hope for a few Spider-Man issues with John Romita Jr, but I always found him more at ease with his own creations, than with breaking other people's toys (Sins Past, really??). His original comics left me cold, like Rising Stars and Midnight Nation. i think his words need flesh-and-blood actors. He also made the baffling decision to stop producing the "Babylon 5 : Lost Tales" after the first DVD, in spite of the apparent good will of Warner to continue the adventure. In spite of his talent, he never really made an impression in the Motion Picture world. I haven't seen Sense8.
Babylon 5 is as of today a thing of the past, without any real legacy. Its "revolutionary methods of production", which allowed the series to be made while respecting its budget (a rarity in Hollywood!), don't seem to be applied nowadays. The series will probably never be remastered in High Definition, forbidding most reruns, because the special effects were produced in standard definition, and in a 4:3 ratio. What's left is its powerful narrative, which in my opinion is still unique in the tv landscape, but will it be enough to ensure its future?
That's why it's important to me to preserve this unque time bubble. So many people that worked on the show have already left us. I bought everything I could find about the show, be it novels, comic books, making-of books, and almost everything B5 Books released about Babylon 5 (and about Babylon 5 only, not Crusade). A synthesis gathering all those scattered informations was missing, and I hope the Making-Of book will do that. I have all faith in Jason Davies' abilities to fulfill this task, after all he supervised most of the B5 Books releases.
the option "just the book" costs 50$. For 10$ more, you will receive a weekly email with various informations, some of which may or may not appear in the book. For crazy people like me, you'll have to pay double that amount, 120$, just to have your name printed in the book. the Kickstarter goes on until June the 9th of 2019.
I don't have a screenshot of Sister Love where she was born, in City of Heroes, but here is instead a screenshot of Sister Love as created with the character creator of Lego Incredibles on Switch.
I made a really weird dream last night, I was about to direct the movie based on my novel "Who Is Sister Love?"! Good news? I’ll let you be the judge of that...
In fact I was entering a mini-van, in which there were a dozen people. Who was driving? Who knows, in any case the van starts to move. I have an hour (my lunch time from work) pour to get to know these people. Obviously I trusted one of these people, a woman, to organize a whole cast and crew from A to Z. Strangely, even if of course, I can’t see myself, I know I'm dressed in a rather "gothic" fashion, with a long black coat, and that I have long hair, kind of like Tommy Wiseau, the bad director of the film so awful that it became cult, "The Room", which I have never seen, but of which I saw parodies, as well as extracts of the movie made by and starring James Franco, devoted to this shooting: The Disaster Artist.
The casting director then introduces me to... the actress who will play Sister Love! This girl is small, plump whereas Sister Love is rather skinny, and her skin is whiter than mine, whereas Sister Love is a black-skinned African! She wears the colors of Sister Love, but inverted, a red jacket at the top and yellow pants at the bottom. Sister Love wears a yellow-dyed leather top, and crimson-red leggings! "Sister Love" asks me if I can shoot her tests the next day, and I am obliged to admit that I am an employee, and therefore not available the next day, and that I meet them today during my lunch break! So much for my professionalism as a director...
I know our destination is an hour away. How was I going to get out of this when I perfectly knew that my lunch break was an hour and no more? Only God knows. In any case, we are now in a warehouse, sitting on the ground. I then ask who does what on my production. My interlocutors are starting to moan for God knows whatever reason. One of them rants that this movie he heard about 10 years ago and nothing came out of it... We must be in the future, I wrote the first version of this story as a screenplay in 2011...
Flash-forward, this time on the set of the movie itself! I'm currently YELLING at the poor actress who plays Sister Love! "The others do things and you do nothing!" What an asshole I am... The scene seems simple. The superhero team is coming out of an elevator, in a building obviously under construction, as there is construction equipment everywhere, and the camera is zooming in on them. I think I recognized the clothes of another of my characters, Furnace, but what I see above all is the HUGE piece of yellow fabric with two holes for the eyes that is placed on the face of "Sister Love". During the 60s and 70s Sister Love wore a yellow mask, but she had given up on it in our era...
The scene seems simple, and yet nothing goes well. It's been at least three times that we redo the scene. This time, the camera zooms in, but on nothing, the "actors" are still in the elevator, and the dream stops there! Is it necessary to specify, but I will do it anyway, that the dream is 100% authentic? Otherwise what would be the interest? As it is, it’s embarrassing enough...
So, if this dream is premonitory, let’s take a rendez-vous in 2021 for one of the most amateurish and messy shooting of a movie possible!
David Yates' Legend of Tarzan, in France just called Tarzan, has been aired last night on the TF1 channel, the biggest French channel! John Carter had only access to a "smaller channel" W9, but the Lord of the Jungle has the A-list treatment!
The following quote is translated from the article linked above:
"This Sunday, February the 17th, Tarzan won the jackpot on TF1. The movie, for its first airing on a non-paying channel, starring Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie, untertained 5.78 million French viewers, 25.3% of the total audience present before their screens between 9pm and 11pm. The Ape-man took over essential marketing targets with 39% of the 15/24 years old, 36% of the 15/34, 34% of women of less than 50 years old and 32% of the 25/49."
An excellent result for this movie that confirms its popularity. What about a sequel? David Yates directed since both "Fantastic Beasts" movies in the Harry Potter universe. You could think Warner prefers to keep him at that job. Alexander Skarsgard is going to battle King Kong, and Margot Robbie has quite a dozen projects in the making! A future very uncertain, to be continued!
See below the chart of the audience this night. It's a screenshot from the toutelatélé.com website, whose link is above.
One of the Holy Grails of Dungeons & Dragons fans over the world is the first printing of Deities and Demigods from 1979, because this version included two pantheons that were never printed again in subsequent printings: the gods from Michael Moorcocks's Elric the Necromancer novels, and the Cthulhu Mythos pantheon from H.P. Lovecraft. One could assume that it was because TSR didn't own the copyrights (it had occured before after all, notably when TSR published Warriors of Mars based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs). But the truth is more complex, here are the words James Ward, the author, post once a year to settle the controversy once and for all:
"Deities & Demigods
I’m going to print this out once a year for the rest of my years. I absolutely hate it when ignorant people say TSR/me acted in copyright infringement for the Melnibonean and Lovecraft sections of the book.
When I was given the assignment for that book I listed the various pantheons that I wanted to use. Gary noted that maybe the Lovecraft and Elric sections might be a problem. He gave me the Arkham House and Michael Morcock addresses and I immediately wrote them explaining what I was doing and asking for their permission to include their material. Wonder of wonders I got two letters back giving me permission to use their work. I foolishly gave those two letters to the lawyers at TSR. They might still be in some lost file at Wizards. I would kill for them now.
Anyway we printed up the book and it sold great. We then got a cease and desist letter from Chaosium. I don’t blame them a bit, however they didn’t know about the two letters. TSR would have won a court case hands down. However, the company wasn’t rich at that point and Brian Blume didn’t want to go to California, get a California lawyer, and spend time and money winning the case.
I went nuts because I had done way more than I was supposed to in clearing the way for those two licenses used in the book I wrote. I even offered to write two more pantheons free of charge, but the Blumes didn’t want to bother. I fumed for years.
Now, when people talk on line about TSR in copyright violation it presses my maximum angry button. Maybe some of my facebook friends can pass along this word as time goes on so that my blood pressure levels can stay in the normal range.
Now this might seem like a rant and it is. However, when people say TSR was in infringement they are calling me a plagiarizer. I consider myself a very honorable man. I would never, ever steal material that was not my own. I will not put up with that moniker. Thanks for listening."
#DialCodeSantaClaus (36:15 Code Père Noël aka Dealdly Games aka Game Over aka Hide and Freak), a magnificent movie!
I don't know why, I was convinced that I had already published a blog post about this movie. Apparently it wasn't the case. And it's more than a little shameful, because 36:15 Code Père Noël (Dial Code Santa Claus, which is apprently the title under which the film is released these days on a limited run in the United States) is really one of my favorite movies. Released in 1989, I did at the time what too many potential viewers did, I stayed home, in spite of some good critics. But I was weary of critics at this point because of too many bad experiences. But in this instance, it turned out they were right in their appraisal of the movie!
I therefore saw it some years later in TV, and that was quite a shock. This movie was simply awesome! The story could be a part of the "Home Alone" series, released in 1990, to the point that René Manzor threatened to sue the producers of this movie for plagiarism. A young boy, (played by Alain Musy, whose real name is Alain Lalanne, the son of the director René Manzor, whose real name is of course René Lalanne), a little genius by the way, is alone in a gigantic mansion on Christmas Eve's day, with his very ill grandfather, played by Louis Ducreux. His mother, played by Brigitte Fossey, works in a store this very night. A homeless and obviously crazy person, incarnated, and that's not too strong a word, by Patrick Floersheim, who just got fired from his Santa Claus job, gets the adress of the boy, and goes there dressed as Santa Claus.
The first action of "Santa" there is to kill the dog, so we're not in "Home Alone" territory, and that's probably one of the reasons this weird movie failed of the box-office. It's impossible from a marketing point of view to sell it to anybody. It's too tense for children, but at the same time horror fans would find it too tame... The movie has its own tone, very unique. It blends a serious situation with improbable settings and traps, and all is on the shoulders of the incredibly charismatic young Alain Musy. He could have been irritating with his "little genius" side, but he draws immediate empathy, because he takes everything very seriously. We suffer with him, we are afraid as he is for the life of his grandfather. The identification is total, and there's no place in this movie for cynism and tongue-in-cheek.
René Manzor had directed one feature-length before, named "le Passage", but it was somewhat awkward and hard to watch for me, but the direction of Dial Code Santa Claus shows an impressive mastery, from beginning to end, a state of grace highlighted by the wonderful score by Jean-Félix Lalanne, mixing synth music with more traditional Christmas tunes. The cinematography is amazing, and the framing never loses en opportunity of "iconizing" young Thomas. He is filmed as would be filmed his hero, who inspires him through the whole movie, Rambo.
Way more than a simple down-to-earth silly confrontation between a psychpath and a child, what really is the focus of the movie on a secondary level is a thematic dear to my heart, the loss of innocence. Thomas will stay convinced during all the movie that he really fights Santa Claus, and the ending won't leave him unscathed. This Santa Claus, played by Patrick Floersheim in a masterful way, since is character is mostly mute, also has his part of innocence, even if in his case it's more related to madness. The bittersweet end song, "Merry Christmas", sung by Bonnie Tyler, is in this respect very explicit. It bookends very nicely a fantastic movie.
And so it seems that the movie is rediscovered by fellow Americans recently, and it has a limited release in the United States in a few enthusiastic theaters! Reviews are very good, as they should be, and if this movie could attain cult status, it would be well deserved, even after all this time.