Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Hey all! Here's my annual free Halloween horror short story! This year it's GRIM HOUSE. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, then please do share it with your likeminded friends!

WARNING: Due to extreme violence and adult language, "GRIM HOUSE" is not suitable for young readers.

GRIM HOUSE by Andrew Hawnt

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


According to a breaking story at, Disney are in the process of acquiring Lucasfilm in its entirety, including rights to the Star Wars universe, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, the works. This is a very interesting move with many aspects to consider, but the main one right now is the fact that Disney/LucasFilm will be releasing STAR WARS EPISODE 7 in 2015, with an unknown number of further Star Wars films to come.

This could go either way, really. While Disney's recent forays into Science Fantasy (Star Wars ain't Science Fiction, folks), namely stuff like the terribly marketed and cumbersome JOHN CARTER, have flopped spectacularly, the pull of the Star Wars universe, even tarnished by the trilogy of risible prequels, is still strong.

A new set of films would help to introduce a new generation to one of the most important cinematic franchises in history, while giving long-term fans a whole new slew of merchandise and whatnot to collect and enjoy. With classics now becoming ever more distant into the past, a new, fresh take on Star Wars could be good.

At least it's not going to be a bloody remake.

I'm guessing these films will take a direction of their own, thus completely invalidating decades of Star Wars Expanded Universe material. Or would they? Who knows? This story is still developing, so keep 'em peeled.

It could all turn out to be an even bigger train wreck than nonsense like ATTACK OF THE CLONES, so let's hope that the possible STAR WARS EPISODE 7 has more going for it than a Death Star shaped like Mickey Mouse.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012


This weekend is going to rock. Lots. I'll be there as part of the POWERPLAY ROCK AND METAL MAGAZINE team. I hope to see you there!

Social Media Scores Can Get You A Job (Infographic)

An interesting infographic I was passed by What's your opinion? Social Score Infographic

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Well, that was lovely. We just watched “Trojan”, the first episode of the new RED DWARF series, aka RED DWARF X, and it was splendid. As many old Smeg Heads did, I feared the worst after the poorly received 'BACK TO EARTH' miniseries which served as the 9th season, but this episode had everything that made Red Dwarf great in the first place.

The script was lovely, the episode low-key and very much in keeping with the spirit of the classic episodes which are so much loved by so many people. Yeah, the sets have been updated along with the effects, but the mix of old-school comedy and pitch-perfect characters with updated production values was a delight.

The fact is, it didn't try to be something that it isn't. It hasn't been supercharged with sex, endless swearing or elaborate effects, hasn't becoming knowing and self-referential and aside from it feeling weird to have an ad break in a Red Dwarf episode, it was like welcoming back old friends.

The format has returned to the direction the show was doing so well before series 8 ruined it in previous years, and after a long and tiring day, I am most grateful that Red Dwarf X has begun with such a beautifully old-fashioned, very funny and thoroughly entertaining episode.

Yes, the cast are all looking a bit older, but they were back to their best in this and it was like they'd never been away. What a pleasure to watch. Welcome back, Red Dwarf. We've missed you. Seriously, we really have.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Nightwish with now ex-vocalist Annette Olzon
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a huge fan of Nightwish, and I don't care one bit if people want to mock me for it. Nightwish are an incredible band, and while their latest album, “Imaginaereum” didn't grab me as much as its predecessors, they remain a band which I hold very dear. The news of Annette Olzon's departure from the band (Five years on from the ousting of original vocalist Tarja Turunen) came as something as a shock, so what the hell happened?

The story is all over the internet if you want the full details, but in brief, a few days ago Annette was hospitalized with a selection of horrible health issues. She was unable to play a Nightwish show due to recuperating, but the band went ahead with the gig by calling in Kamelot's two backing singers to fill in. The show was played, with the band and audience taking equal turns to perform, be it full songs with the ladies or as giant karaoke sessions.

Annette wasn't pleased about this, and posted some words to that end on her blog (which has been a great look at a working musician's life for a long time now, incidentally). She played the next show with Nightwish and did her best after recovering from being ill, but then the very next day there came the press release stating Annette and Nightwish had parted company.

...and a replacement (albeit temporary) was already in place.

Floor Jansen, vocalist of ReVamp and formerly of After Forever.

Floor Jansen - the new Nightwish vocalist (for this tour, anyway).
WOW.  This is IMMENSE.

The internet went mad with both pieces of news. There seem to be three ways the fans are taking this: Some love Annette, some are STILL going on about how the band should bring Tarja back, and a huge number (me included) think that Floor should stay on permanently.

First let's deal with Annette and the breakup – Annette never had an easy ride of things as a part of Nightwish, thanks to her voice being a very straightforward (but very good) rock/pop voice and not the classically trained soprano voice of Tarja. Her two albums with the band, “Dark Passion Play” and the recent “Imaginaerum” are both great albums, if not utterly classic, and she really didn't deserve all the hate that people piled on her. The split is a good thing for both sides. For Nightwish, the band can now claw back some ground lost over the past few years (venues have shrunk quite noticeably since the heady days of their “Once” tour), and Annette will be able to move onto other things.

Nightwish circa 2004, with original vocalist Tarja Turunen

Second: Should Nightwish try and bring back Tarja Turunen? No. Never. The band should not get back together with Tarja, as I believe it would be the end of the band altogether. An album and tour would come, but I believe that it would tear them apart. Too much time has passed and too much has happened for both parties now, and that era should be left perfect and beautiful as a part of their collective histories.

Third: Floor Jansen. To be quite frank, getting her in to do the rest of the tour is a BRILLIANT, WONDERFUL and PERFECT idea. Floor has one of the greatest voices in music, not just metal, as well as a huge personality, a great stage presence and boundless charisma. Will she become the permanent new Nightwish singer? I kinda doubt it, but I would absolutely LOVE it to happen.

I've seen Floor play live (with ReVamp, and then duetting with Epica vocalist Simone Simons on the same night!) and she is utterly captivating as a performer. What's more, she's a really sweet person, as I discovered when meeting her that night (see awful phone photo that accompanies this piece). She fits PERFECTLY. There are a few YouTube clips of her first Nightwish show up, and they're stunning (even in low-res) – the band is on fire.

Myself (I'm glad I've lost weight since then!) with Floor Jansen herself
(ReVamp/Epica tour 2011, Nottingham show)
So for the rest of this world tour at least, Nightwish have a vocalist who can perfectly perform Tarja era tracks as well as those from the Annette albums. Where they go next is up to mastermind Tuomas Holopanien.

I for one, as a long-term fan of the band and admirer of Floor's work, would like to see Floor Jansen join Nightwish permanently, as the band would finally be able to prove to the naysayers that the band can prosper without Tarja at the microphone. Long live Nightwish. If Floor stays on as singer, then the world won't know what hit it. Floor Jansen joining Nightwish is literally a dream come true for many fans of this particular genre.