Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Guest Post Andrew Man - Dystopian Adventures vs. Conspiracy Thrillers.

Over the last few years, young adult dystopian fiction has seen a spike in popularity with several young authors writing trilogies like The Hunger Games and Divergent which have become best-selling books and films. These ideas are in contrast to past conspiracy thrillers from writers like Dan Brown and the thought-provoking espionage novels of John Le CarrĂ©. Based on this rise in popularity between the two genres, I decided to write a fiction series which would be a modern day conspiracy thriller, with some of the dystopian ideas from the future. In this way, the reader is able to relate to the characters, in our current world and read about the same characters in a world fifty years in the future. ‘Tego Arcana Dei’ is a three part thriller series which follows the protagonist through his adventures in his past working life, up to the present day. These three books are both exciting and mind bending, as shown in the book trailer for Forces of Retribution, leaving the reader wanting to know more. The final book will debut later this month, so let’s take a closer look at this three book series.

Book 1 - Keeping Gods Secret (2011)
The British hero James Pollack meets a young American on a train in London who shows him events which he will have to do in his future life. Britain is suffering under a recession and James leaves to work for a bank in Switzerland– only to return to the Caribbean island of Antigua for a meeting. Her name is Gina; her client is the Commander of one of the world’s most powerful agencies. As the couple plunge into a dizzying, mystical adventure, American powers collide with secrets at the Vatican summer palace. James is helped by Deepak his guardian who shows him a circle of wormholes leading from Rome down to ancient ruins in Lebanon. Meanwhile, the antagonist Elizabeth tracks his banking activities and his travel with unusual friends. The story takes James back to the shadowy corridors of Italian Banking, his excitement heightened by memories of his escape in Rome with Alexei a young legal assistant. This leads him on to the Russian Natasha at an archeologically dig on the coast of Lebanon, where they find an ancient artefact. A magic blade enabling him to time travel to other dimensions, and so the real adventure starts.

Book 2 - Forces of Retribution (2013)
In this story’s most powerful, and heart stopping novel yet, James is at a hospital in Geneva, after major surgery from his time travel experiences. Locations move back to Lebanon, London, and onto the pyramids in Egypt in a desperate hunt to find the secret of quantum weirdness. The hunter is the passionate and resourceful James Pollack, an ex-Swiss banker who has an interest in science, the paranormal and women. His quarry is the young Italian Alexei, who has given up on her life and seeks his help to time travel from a Centre of Science in Switzerland, to the very heart of our Universe, fifty years into the future.

This story picks up where the first book left off continuing to follow the Russian Natasha trapped in another dimension in the South of Lebanon. While Natasha is on the run in a warzone she is given an ancient Madonna doll which James finds he can open with his magic blade. Inside they find a mysterious time travelling medallion, similar to the one used by their Indian guardian and needed by his friends to return from the future. We get a glimpse into how string theory can explain multiple universes and some of the theories as to what the pyramids in Egypt really are. There is a very anthropological dialogue about the origins of humans and the evolution from Mitochondrial Eve. The benevolent guardian Deepak again appears to control who and what appears and where to help James solve the mystery of instant communication.

Book 3 - Beyond the Rest of Us (2015)
The final book is set in the current decade, when James now retired is kidnapped at a Geneva hotel for crimes he doesn’t understand and an Italian cruise ship crashes into rocks in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A respected American scientist disappears into thin air, but when the mist clears, we see mind control and astral travel in their dreams. Elizabeth the antagonist from the previous books is still following a trail of corrupt power in this third book featuring Andrew Man’s aging male protagonist James Pollack.

In this story, when James is kidnapped back to 1814 he has to use all his skills to uncover the corrupt European operation, against the backdrop of a disintegrating and unscrupulous world. The story mentions the crumbling European economy and the conflicts in the Middle East and the part the West had to play in them. We cross continents, eras and astral planes on this journey and meet a variety of James’ friends and enemies, before the characters return to the temples in Lebanon to finish the series.

The title of the series Tego Arcana Dei roughly translates to “Begone, I conceal the secrets of God” and is an anagram of “Et in Arcadia Ego.” This was represented in a painting by Poussin in the early 1600’s called ‘The Arcadian Shepherds’, which is a common theme throughout the three books.

Andrew Man is an independent author, of books about politics, science and conspiracy theories. He lives and writes in Switzerland. In addition to his writing, he has formed the Geneva Creatives Group with www.stage32.com and can sometimes be found at a cinema centre, discussing new projects over a glass of wine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Guest Post by Spencer Blohm - Dystopian Adaptations Continue to Dominate the Big Screen.

Over the last few years, young adult dystopian fiction has seen a spike in popularity with a number of adaptations making it to the big screen. Trilogies like The Hunger Games and Divergent were not only best-sellers, but also came out on top dominating the box office upon their on screen debuts. This rise in popularity could be attributed to audiences being able to relate so closely to the characters, or it could purely be the entertainment factor of watching a dystopian world played out. Either way, these stories are both exciting and mind bending, and leave audiences constantly wanting more. In anticipation of the fourth and final installment in the Hunger Games franchise premiering this month, let’s take a look back at the top five adaptations of the genre.

Ender's Game

Ender's Game takes place in the distant future where young boy named Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is said to be a brilliant strategist and fighter. During the course of the film, his incredible skills are mastered and he is successful in destroying the planet Earth is at war with. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Ender is sparring with a friend in a zero gravity room above Earth, the cinematics of the scene are truly breathtaking. Even though the author played a role in the adaptation, fans of the book agree the movie lacked in terms of plot and character development. But what the film compensates for the lack of substance by delivering stunning visuals and a condensed version of the tale without compromising the lead character or core message.


Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off continuing to follow Erudite leader Jeanine on her mission to dominate the factions and an end to all divergents. Tris and Four are on the run from Jeanine and her army of evil, and appear to be the only ones capable of saving the world and revealing the truth about the Erudites. While both movies in the series, currently on demand through DTV & Hulu, have streamlined the story on screen, Insurgent took far more liberties and altered the driving force behind the story. In the movie, there is a mysterious box that can only be opened by a divergent, Tris, after passing sims of all five factions. However, this box does not even exist in the book, and Jeanine’s hunting Tris in order to make a serum. These alterations in the storyline left fans wondering what this meant for the Allegiant adaptation and where we will see Tris and Four next.

The Giver

The Giver is a story of a young boy named Jonas who lives in what appears to be a utopian society. Jonas and the rest of his neighbors live in a peaceful area that is protected by a council of elders. Far more intelligent than other children his age, he is selected to be The Receiver of Memories upon graduation. While in his new position, he quickly discovers that people are basically being brainwashed, arranged in marriage, and even euthanized. The movie does a good job of taking the major points of the book and putting them on screen. Other than there being a few film differences that are actually celebrated by fans of the story, the movie does a great job of telling a story full of ethics and complex issues without being too heavy-handed.

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner follows Thomas as he wakes up in transport to an unknown location. After a short time, Thomas discovers that he is trapped in a large maze. His goal is to escape and save the others that are stuck in the same predicament. The film adaption of The Maze Runner did its best to stick to the main plot of the book, but there are still a few changes that took place. Thomas begins to remember things from his life very quickly in the film, Alby and Thomas are friendly with each other, and Teresa doesn’t spend half of the time in a coma. The book version offers much more intimate and in-depth character building throughout, but that’s almost to be expected. And in comparison to reactions to the changes made from the source material in The Scorch Trials adaptation, fans were relatively pleased with these.

Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1

The Hunger Games series is arguably the greatest dystopian film franchise of all time. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 takes place after Katniss is rescued from Quarter Quell. She wakes up underneath District 13, and she learns that her home, District 12, has been destroyed. As Katniss is saddened by the news of her home's destruction, she also learns of a rebellion taking place in order to dethrone President Snow with herself as the leading symbol. Burrowing deep into the concept of a revolution, this film is a standout among the series with few notable differences from the book. Katniss visits the destroyed city of District 12 much later in the film, and Peeta’s physical description is altered, but we get a better emotional understanding of Katniss and a clear showing of the power of propaganda cleverly put forth by Snow.

It’s never easy adapting a book to the big screen and full capturing every detail to fans expectation. While these strayed from their sources, there no denying the high levels of entertainment put forth by each. With this genre more popular than ever, it’s only a matter of time before another dystopian adaptation is in the works.

Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.

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