Monday, November 16, 2020

Science Fiction Tropes, Movie Inspirations, Top Christmas Horror Films, and Armored Saint: Punching the Sky Review

SciFi Trope: Space Travel is Easy

Sci-fi tropes can help us get to the heart of the story by sweeping issues like the difficulties of space travel under the rug. Unless a core element of a science fiction story is about space travel, it makes the most sense to deal in one of the trope methods.


Einstein-Rosen Bridges aka Wormholes aka Gates:
According to various articles, this may be the most scientifically plausible scifi form of travel. Seen in: Stargate, The Expanse, Thor, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Galaxy Quest, and Interstellar.

Closed Time/Space Bubble: Within a space bubble, the traveler can go anywhere on his or her own timeline. Most notably seen in Doctor Who with the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). This is close to the wormhole idea.

Warp Technology/Bending Space: By contracting space in front of the ship and expanding it behind, the ship rides a wave forward. Seen primarily in: Star Trek. This idea of bending space also shows up in Dune.

Hypderdrive/hyperspace/lightspeed/traveling through sub-space: While not considered plausible, this space travel trope shows up in Star Wars, Valerian, and Halo. The Starbursts in Farscape could fit here, too.

Jumpdrives/Teleportation: This takes out the “travel” factor by teleporting space ships or people from one location to another. Seen notably in: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek (Beam me up, Scotty!) and The Cassa Series by Alex J. Cavanaugh. (Thanks, Tyrean!)

What would be your space travel method of choice?


Liftoff: The Rayatana Series, Book 1

A spaceship in disguise,
An Earth girl searching for a sense of home,
And a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,
All collide on a summer afternoon.

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9889933-8-9
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9889933-9-6
Publisher: Wings of Light Publishing, Gig Harbor, WA, USA
LINKS: Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the Author: Tyrean Martinson is an author and teacher from Washington State. As a former fencer and kickboxer, she enjoys writing fight scenes in fast-paced novels and novellas. As a teacher and writing tutor, she loves to get students writing and reading comfortably by any means: talk-to-text, short writing assignments, short stories, novellas, and adventures. She wrote her latest novella, Liftoff, for herself during COVID, but realized it also fits a dream she’s had for a while: to create a short, fast-paced read for teen/YA readers who love popcorn movies, adventure, and sweet romance.
Author Links: Blog, Newsletter, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook


Elle Cardy’s Movie Inspirations

With the release of Well of Ash, a YA fantasy novella, Alex invited me to share my inspiration for the story in movies.


The Princess Bride:
My favorite film of all time. It’s full of adventure, excitement, and bravery. And it still has time for a little romance.

The Dark Crystal: Another favorite. A dark power across the land, brave souls overcoming difficult odds, a gorgeous setting. A mystery to unfold, and plenty of adventure.

The NeverEnding Story: A happy, helpful dragon.

The Game of Thrones: Magnificent dragons as companions to a powerful woman. I like the concept.


Well of Ash:
No one knows who built the Great Wells across the world or why. To linger near makes the skin crawl and the mind drift in nightmares. Yet this one calls to Ash in whispers that pull her closer. Soon she’s caught in a mystery that can kill. She must find the answers before she loses her sanity, or worse, her life.

If you like dragons, magic, and a fierce heroine with a mystery to unfold, then you’ll love Well of Ash, a YA Fantasy novella by Elle Cardy. Available now as an eBook and paperback on Amazon. OR, for a limited time, pick up a free copy when you join Elle’s VIP newsletter club.

Elle Cardy’s hang-outs: website, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads





Top Ten Christmas Horror Movies


The holidays and horror aren’t as far apart as you might think. And some of the best horror films have been Christmas-related. These often play on underlying family issues and stresses, with the jovial feel of the season counterbalancing the horrors on the screen.

10. Jack Frost (1996): Just saw this one for the first time last year, and it’s one psychotic ride. Unexpected and cheesy. While there’s humor in it, I wouldn’t put this in the same category as other horror-comedies mentioned.
9. A Christmas Horror Story (2015): Unlike the other films on this list, this one’s an anthology of shorter horror stories wrapped into an overarching story line. The Santa in this one is a bit different than the norm. Each of the stories is a slow burn, so sit back and enjoy.
8. Better Watch Out (2017): A terrifying home invasion turns out to be something completely different. While babysitting a young boy, the babysitter has to deal with a crush she doesn’t reciprocate while arguing with her boyfriend via text. Strange things start to happen, including noises upstairs in the house. It’s not Santa up there. Soon, a twist reveals itself.
7. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984): An orphan who saw his parents murdered by a man dressed as Santa is required to play Santa at the toy store where he works, bringing back bad memories and trauma that spur him into a murderous spree. A classic that you should watch at least once, it has its cheesy moments, but all horror should have a little cheese.
6. Anna and the Apocalypse (2018): It’s a Christmas Zombie Musical, you guys. Funny, sometimes gory, with real heart behind it all, it’s a fun watch for the holidays.

5. Rare Exports (2010):
This Finnish film involves a boy finding Santa’s tomb, only Santa isn’t the man you think he is. With bits of humor and plenty of horror, this one is all about finding the children going missing.
4. Scrooged (1988): Though not strictly horror, this is certainly a dark comedy. Bill Murray is the Scrooge in this situation, a television producer (I believe), who has a blackened heart of coal. The ghosts, including a hysterically psychotic Carol Kane, visit him and show him what will happen if he continues on in this way. Set against the backdrop of a ridiculous Christmas special with scantily clad dancers, an employee who’s been fired and loses it, and a lost love.
3. Gremlins (1984): Who doesn’t love Gremlins? A small town is beset by gremlins, who get into everything, wreaking havoc and mayhem. Phoebe Cates’ character delivering a dramatic monologue about her chimney is a top moment, but the pure ridiculousness of these creatures who kill with glee and sense of humor is not to be missed.
2. Krampus (2015): I saw this one in theaters, which was perfect. The film itself is tongue-in-cheek, while dealing out some real frights. A young boy struggling with his parents’ rocky marriage and the invasion of nasty relatives tears up his letter to Santa and makes a wish that comes true in the worst ways possible. The opening montage of a mall leading up to Christmas is crazy and sets the mood for the rest of the film.

1. Black Christmas (1974):
This film features Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey as students in a sorority. Kidder’s role was a lot of fun, with her being on the naughty list, while Hussey’s character is decidedly at the top of the nice list. A caller keeps calling to harass them, with the girls being picked off one-by-one. The caller’s voice and the things he says are maniacal and raised goosebumps the first time I saw it.

I hope you enjoy at least one Christmas horror film this year. While you’re at it, check out my holiday horror collection of short stories! Releasing November 20, it will be widely available online. You can pre-order the Kindle version now!

Find Happy Ghoulidays: A Collection of Holiday Horror Short Stories on Amazon
Find Shannon at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon author page


Armored Saint – Punching the Sky Review


Armored Saint is one of those blue-collar bands that earned a rep for no nonsense straight up hard rock. They are a criminally underrated band that has been making music since 1982 (minus a six or so year split while lead singer John Bush joined Anthrax).
I became a fan in 1991 when they released ‘Symbol of Salvation” which earns a place in my catalog because it’s a beast. So many catchy tracks! I lost track of them for a time after they reformed in 1999, but I’m so glad I rediscovered them. These guys know how to write a great song. So, thirty-eight years since they formed (let that sink in for a moment) they have just released their eighth studio album and it does not disappoint.
This is not an old band just phoning it in, this feels fresh and crackles with great musical energy. “End of the Attention Span”, “Bubble”, “Do Wrong to None”, “Fly in the Ointment” and “Never You Fret” are killer tracks. Hats off to the band for their commitment to creating quality tunes that stick in your brain. These guys are passionate about their craft with great musicianship and quality production. Here’s to thirty-eight more years of rock from Armored Saint.


What’s your favorite way to travel through space? What movies have inspired you? Favorite Christmas horror films? Fan of Armored Saint?
To my American friends, have an awesome Thanksgiving. I will see you again on December 2 for the next Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting – last of 2020! (Feels good to say that, doesn’t it?)


54 comments:

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

What a fun post!
Thanks for including me. I love all the movie tie-ins.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - lots to consider here ... movies I'd no idea about (normal for me!). Great to see Lynda, Shannon, Tyrean being featured ... about subjects I've no idea about - tried to read Dune years ago - failed dismally. You, Alex, have opened my eyes a little through your books; So good luck to you all with your books ... and to all who are off for Thanksgiving - have peaceful family times.

Mason Canyon said...

Congrats to Tyrean and Lynda on the new releases. I never realized there were so many Christmas horror movies.

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, ALex!

I enjoyed reading those space travel tropes. Seems to me that teleportation is the best method because it saves money on gas. :) I tend to avoid Christmas horror films. Therefore the only one I have seen is Gremlins because I am a Phoebe Cates completist. Thanks for reviewing the latest by Armored Saint.

Have a great week, good buddy Alex!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think a jump-drive would be a great way to travel! Nice in the time of COVID, too. :)

Joanne said...

amusing post covering pretty much nothing I know. Christmas plus horror - not enticing, my friend. Then again, with not much out, I might have to give it a go. The holiday season itself is a horror right now. Cheers and humbug!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lynda, you're welcome! The three of you worked well together for one post.

Hilary, thanks!

Shady, I'm all about the teleportation. And on that list, I'd recommend Rare Exports as it's just so unique.

Joanne, very true!

Birgit said...

I think I would choose teleportation, the last o e to travel back in time. Right now I am watching Quantum Leap which is so fu. To revisit these episodes. I am not one for Christmas Horror and you know but I am aware of all these films. I have seenJack Frost which was ok and Scrooged which is good especially Carol Kane. I did find Bill Murray a bit over the top when he finds Christmas in his heart. It was a bit overacting to me. Ok that last sentence is crappy but it’s Monday morning.

kaykuala said...

Teleportation seems the ideal choice as it is like getting in and out of a bus on earth. No Christmas horrors as Xmas is to be celebrated. Merry Christmas Alex!

Hank

Natalie Aguirre said...

Have a great holiday, Alex! What a fun post. Congrats to everyone on their new books!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Congratulations, Shannon. Best of success with your new book. Thanks for sharing such a fun post, Alex. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Next week. I'm a bit ahead of myself.

Lynda Dietz said...

I liked Tyrean's tropes list! The only thing she forgot when listing hyperdrive/lightspeed was ludicrous speed, of course.

Great guest segments, and the horror movie list (in some cases, just "not a happy Christmas" list) is fun. As always, there's something for everyone here.

Hope you're well, Alex! Have a blessed Thanksgiving and hopefully some time of rest.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I believe I'd go for the wormhole, Alex. And, I'm happy to say the only Christmas horror story I have seen or will ever see is Scrooged. I'm not a big fan of adding horrible memories to happy holidays.

Andrew Leon said...

You know, warp drive is already being worked on by physicist and can be done on a very small scale at the moment.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I have an "alien" book I wrote ages ago, but haven't published (yet) and I used the worm hole method of travel.

As for favorite Christmas horror films, I've only seen two on your list: Scrooged and Gremlins. Hubby isn't into horror, but he did watch those. Funnily, he loves Gremlins. Go figure!

Jacqui Murray said...

I like the Einstein Rosen Bridge. I actually dug into it for one of my thrillers (To Hunt a Sub). It's almost simple enough to understand without a PhD in Physics. Didn't know Stargate used it (or forgot).

Great article.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - Thanks for hosting my post and my book! I really appreciate it, and I'm honored to be among such awesome company.

Lynda - love your new book! Congratulations!

Shannon - Congratulations! I like Scrooged, and I'll definitely have to check out some of those other movies.

Hilary - It's fun to read in other genres and find new stories.

Mason - Thanks!

Shady - yes, teleportation seems like it would be the best!

Elizabeth - yes, a jump drive would be really nice right now. :)

Joanne - Thanks for stopping by and Cheers!

Birgit - Teleportation would be nice. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Kaykuala - Teleportation seems like it's the favorite choice today. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Natalie - Thank you!

Joylene - Happy Thanksgiving!

Lynda - yes, ludicrous speed! :) Glad you liked the list.

Patricia - Wormholes do seem possibly safer than teleportation. Maybe we'll find out someday. :)

Andrew - I didn't know. I read up on it, but saw mostly Popular Science type articles, which weren't that in depth.

Stacy - looking forward to reading your alien book someday!

Jacqui - Stargate doesn't call it that, but it's essentially based on the same principles. Thanks for stopping by!

Elephant's Child said...

Happy (and healthy) Thanksgiving to all my American friends.
For a variety of reasons Christmas comes with its own horrors for too many people. I try not to watch/see any more of it than I have to.

Patricia Josephine aka Patricia Lynne said...

A lot of great books on your blog today, Alex. Congrats to all of them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Birgit, you know I'd pick teleportation. And not crazy about that version of the movie either.

Joylene, thanks!

Lynda, same to you!

Andrew, very cool.

Stacy, get that story out there!

Jacqui, yes they did.

Tyrean, you're welcome.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this post! 3 of my favourite people & 3 fabulous books.
Loved all the movie tie-ins!
I think beaming would be the best way to go - I'd love to use it to see different parts of our world as well!

H.R. Sinclair said...

I think I’d travel through gates. Warp speed sounds fun but I’m sure I’d get motion sickness. :-) Oo, Rare Exports sound like fun. Imma gonna look for that one.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

So many movies I want to go watch now. I loved The Dark Crystal.

J E Oneil said...

I think Gremlins is the only one of those movies I've seen. Which is weird, since I'm usually a big fan of horror movies.

Liz A. said...

I think I most like the gate/bridge/wormhole travel method. You're less likely to end up in the vacuum of space that way (although it could happen).

Spacer Guy said...

Meeting lifeforms fascinates me which begs another question how long to get to another planet. You sure don't want a warp technology breakdown in space! LOL We haven't figured out a gravity field to stabilize us during long space voyages either, with the effects of space not for the faint hearted so I'd pick the fastest route, teleportation.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Elephant's Child - Thanks! I kind of think there could be a horror movie dedicated to Black Friday shopping.

Patricia - Thanks!

Jemi- It could be! :)

Diane -I like that movie, too. :)

JE - I think we don't normally put horror with Christmas in our minds, but given the terror I used to feel about Santa Claus, it makes sense to me. I think Shannon's onto something there.

Liz - I hope you're right! :)

Spacerguy - that seems like it would be best, if we could get it worked out. :)



Chrys Fey said...

Big Congratulations to Tyrean and Elle on their new releases!

Hmm...I know the Jack Frost movie from 1998 with Michael Keaton. I have a feeling the one from 1996 is very different. haha

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I choose teleportation with Byron. I know, Alex. I still choose men who aren't good for me. Sigh.

Be well.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Chrys - Thanks!

Rawknrobyn - nice choice! :)

Botanist said...

I called on wormhole travel in one book, and others use the idea of folded space in higher dimensions, basically taking a short cut in a direction we can't see. Not sure which category that falls into.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Congratulations to Tyrean and Elle! I can't wait until I can teleport anywhere I wanted to visit. Machu Picchu would be more accessible if one could teleport to the top. I love all the movies Elle mentioned, especially the first three since I grew up on those. Well, Princess Bride came a bit later than the other two for me.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Lynda and Tyrean, congratulations again! The three of us basically covered the range of speculative fiction. So fun!

Thank you, Hilary!

Mason, and there are so many more than what I've listed. Thanksgiving is far more limited, but they exist for that, too.

Shady, Phoebe Cates hasn't made a bad movie yet, has she?

Elizabeth, a jump drive would be fun.

Joanne, in terms of Christmas horror, Scrooged is a good one. Less horror than the others, it's more a dark comedy version of Scrooge, with Bill Murray learning some heartwarming lessons.

Birgit, Carol Kane is a favorite of mine, and she was delightful in Scrooged.

Hank, teleportation does sound easy. And no specialized ship would be needed.

Thank you, Natalie!

Thank you, Joylene!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thank you, Lynda!

Thank you for visiting, Patricia.

Andrew, interesting! I'll have to look into that.

Stacy, I saw Gremlins in the theater as a kid and was terrified. Of course, now it's one of my favorite films, and a must-watch each year.

Thanks for visiting, Jacqui.

Elephant's Child, I tend to suffer depression around Christmas, and, oddly, horror is one of the ways I get through it.

Thank you, Patricia!

Thank you, Jemi!

H.R., Rare Exports is definitely a fun film!

Diane, The Dark Crystal has always been a favorite of mine, as well!

JE, the world of Christmas horror is fun if you like a bit of cheese with your horror (for most of them, anyway). And I'm a big fan of cheese.

Hi, Liz!

Spacer Guy, I'm all about teleportation, too.

Hi, Chrys!

Hi, Robyn!

Botanist, I've long been fascinated by wormholes.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

A lot of great stuff here today! I'll be borrowing that Christmas movie list!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Holly, that film is twisted fun.

Spacer Guy, same here!

Chrys, the RiffTrax guys riffed that version and it's nothing like the Michael Keaton one!

Robyn, too funny!

Ian, but would folding space take us into hell like it did in Event Horizon?

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Are wormholes portals? I like that idea.
No horror Christmas movies for me--especially this year.
Thanks for the fun and informative information!

XmasDolly said...

Okay, I'm sorry, but I have to say this first becaue I am a definite Christmas person. First of all, I love the Lord and second of all I love Santa, Rudolph & the whole gang. To me you need to keep the HORROR out of Christmas. How does that saying go, "There's a place for everything, and everything in it's place"! Catch my drift myfriend? I do like Stargate, but the ones when they first started is when I watched. It was kinda cool way back when because we never saw that kinda stuff happening. Where you find the time for books, videos and everything else boggles the brain for sure, but I do know you are definitely DAM GOOD at it! You go dude! So happy we're friends! Take care my friend and be healthy, happy and safe for you & yours!

XmasDolly said...

By the way, anytime you want to advertise, use or recommend to your fellow readers that my "Show Off Tuesday" is good advertisement for their books or whatever they have including giveaways, reviews and (recently added) recipes to feel free to use it. I sure would appreciate it. Also, how who or how or where do you get your .com and how much do you pay may I ask. I have to find a new home. Let me know please. Thanks!

Truedessa said...

Hi Alex,

I'd like to do some teleportation about now! Horror and Christmas are not a good mix for me. I am a sap for a good Christmas movie and a box of kleenex. lol

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

I will check out the music.

Lidy said...

My space travel method of choice is traveling through a wormhole or teleportation.

Congrats on the new releases!

I've seen only one of the Christmas horror movies listed, Gremlins.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maria, thanks for letting me know. No one here had a giveaway but I will keep it in mind when someone does.

Truedessa, same to you!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I don't understand all this space stuff. Guess that's why I write contemporary stories. Will have to check out the Christmas stories. Interesting.

Sandra Cox said...

All kinds of fun thoughts/information today.
Scrooged is one of my favorite Christmas movies:)
Have a great one.

Pat Hatt said...

Still gotta give Anna and The Apocalypse a go. The new Mel Gibson Christmas one looks fun. Can't go wrong with Gremlins. Be nice to travel super fast, but a lot of them don't seem plausible when you think about it. I mean you have to get turned to bits to go through the stargate and put back together.

kimlajevardi.com said...

Hi, Shannon!

I love The Neverending Story, Princess Bride, and Game of Thrones!

Jennifer Lane said...

You're famous, Alex! Congrats to Tyrean and Elle.

John Wiswell said...

I adore Gremlins and Gremlins 2. Better Watch Out was a big surprise. I expected something much cheekier, but it had a visceral and psychological quality that got me on the edge of my seat. Love the ending.

Sandra Cox said...

Wormholes are a fascinating concept.And LiftOff sounds like a fascinating story as does Well of Ash and Happy Ghoulidays.

Susan Kane said...

I'd take the TARDIS/space bubble for cross space journeys.

Scrooged is my all time favorite Christmas "horror" film. First time I saw Krampus, I'd missed the first 15 minutes. So the whole movie was a bit of mysterious, until I watched it again.

Happy Christmas, Alex. Rejoice in Christ's birthday!

Michael Abayomi said...

The only Christmas horror film I've seen from your list is Gremlins, so I'll definitely need to check out some of the others ones soon.

mail4rosey said...

I've still never seen the Gremlins movie!! Now THAT is me being waaay outdated. I have seen Scrooged though, and I always enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I never realised there were so many Christmas horror stories! My horror story would be being ready to go home and someone suggesting a game of Monopoly - arghh!!

G. B. Miller said...

I think the time leap would be my favorite way. Always loved watching Quantum Leap and it was interesting to see Scott Bakula ultimately was leaping all around his (so to speak).

Not much into Christmas horror movies, as my taste leans towards those that are a bit darker/noirish, like "Lost Christmas" with Eddie Izzard.