Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas in the Trenches

Stick your head above the parapet, pick up your football and wander into No Man’s World this Christmas.

For today only, the No Man’s World: Black Hand Gang ebook is 98p over at the Rebellion store as part of their Advent calendar event.

Grab a copy, and have a Joyeux Noël!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Suffragette City

The First World War proved to be a turning point in the advancement in Women’s rights, providing fresh opportunities for women, who found themselves drafted into new employment to replace the men sent off to fight. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act finally extended the vote to women over the age of 30, although it was another ten years before the voting age was lowered to 21, the same as men.

Prior to the war, the Pennine's own Nellie Abbott, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, ambulance driver and aspiring tank driver, was involved with the suffrage movement. Its members had campaigned long and hard for the Vote and were forced to resort to ever more extreme tactics in order to publicise their cause.

This  month sees the centenary of a Suffragette attack on Manchester Art Gallery, the kind of action which Nellie would have supported, if not actively participated in. On the 3rd April 1913, Emeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, was sentenced at the Old Bailey to three years penal servitude for inciting persons unknown to commit felony. In protest at the sentence, and in keeping with the Union’s motto, "Deeds, not words", a rash of militant actions took place across the country.

Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta and Lillian Forrester

In Manchester, three women; Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta and Lillian Forrester entered the art gallery just before closing and began attacking paintings with a small hammer, around which was tied a ribbon declaring, "Votes for Women" and "Stop Forcible Feeding".
"Two attendants ran into the Gallery and found three women, Lillian Forrester, Annie Briggs, Evelyn Manesta, running round, cracking the glass of the biggest and most valuable pictures in the collections. It had been well planned. Nowhere else in the Gallery were hung so many famous pictures, so close together."
 -Manchester Evening News April 14th 1913

They attacked and damaged thirteen works among which were: The Last Watch of Hero and Captive Andromache by Lord Frederic Leighton and The Syrinx by Arthur Hacker, works still on display today.

The Last Watch of Hero by Lord Frederic Leighton

Captive Andromache by Lord Frederic Leighton
The Syrinx by Arthur Hacker

The three women were arrested and brought to trial for malicious damage. Although all three protested that this was not a criminal but a political offence, Lillian Forrester was sentence to 3 months penal servitude, Evelyn Manesta to 1 month. Annie Briggs was acquitted.

Circulated police poster for Suffragettes Lillian Forrester and Evelyn Manesta

Following this initial attack, paintings became a prime target for suffragettes - and not without reason:
"There is to me something hateful, sinister, sickening in this heaping up of art treasures, this sentimentalising over the beautiful, while the desecration and ruin of bodies of women and little children by lust, disease, and poverty are looked upon with indifference."

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Accrington Pals

Like the Broughtonthwaite Mates, the Accrington Pals, were another northern Pals Battalion. Accrington, though, was the smallest town in England to field a volunteer battalion of a thousand men, a battalion that was effectively wiped out within the first twenty minutes of the Battle of the Somme. Barely anyone in Accrington was left untouched by the tragedy.

The Royal Exchange’s revival of Peter Whelan’s The Accrington Pals (17 Jan - 16 Feb),on its home turf so to speak, contrasts the experience of the men in the trenches of the First World War with the lives of the women at home.

Photo by Jonathan Keenan

The men volunteered for Kitchener’s new army in a spirit of bravado and comradeship, seeing the war as an adventure and escape from their daily toil.  Left behind, the pragmatic womenfolk of the mill town find themselves in a rapidly changing world that presents new hardships, opportunities and fears.
 "If there’s one thing that narks the men about this war its the way it shows them up for creating such mysteries round things.  My God! Providing both your eyes point forwards and your arms aren’t on back to front, anyone can drive a tram!"

Photo by Jonathan Keenan

The play is, by turns, poignant and funny and is underscored by dramatic irony; the audience is aware of the fate that awaits the men and the grief the women will face - but not meekly. Frustrated by rumour and newspaper propaganda surrounding The Big Push, the women of Accrington marched en masse to the town hall to demand the truth.

Photo by Jonathan Keenan

The cast are excellent, with great female characters shouldering the weight of the play, from Emma Lowndes as May, the single and independent market stall holder with her own private burden, to Sara Ridgeway’s ardent young Eva, Laura Elsworthy as the naive young mill girl, Bertha, Rebecca Callard’s earthy Sara and Sarah Belcher as the embittered Annie.

The Royal Exchange knows its space well and its set designs are always inspired. This time, designer Johnathan Fensom sets the scenes with  simple cobbles, a tram line, a market stall and a water pump. Being performed  in the round,  there is an immediate intimacy with the audience that a proscenium arch often can’t match. If you get the chance, go and see it.

Besides, you can’t go wrong with a theatre that looks like the set  for a TARDIS interior.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

We Will Remember Them

Today marks the ninety-sixth anniversary of the disappearance of the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers.

On November 1st 1916, at Harcourt sector on the Somme, 900 men of the Broughtonthwaite Mates vanished in what became known as the Harcourt Event.

The Harcourt Crater, the biggest crater on the Western Front, is a lasting memorial to their fate, a fate film footage, found by a French farmer in 1926, would have us believe had them fighting for their survival on an alien world. 

Today in Broughtonthwaite, as for the past 95 years, wreaths were laid at the foot of the war memorial before St Chads at 7.30am, in memory of those who vanished on this day, at that time, in 1916.

The Heroes of Harcourt. We will remember them.

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Alleyman Book Launch

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11th, 2012  
7.30pm - 9.00pm

THE ALLEYMAN is the third book in the No Man's World series from Abaddon Books.

To celebrate, join author Pat Kelleher and the boys from Abaddon at Fab Cafe in Manchester as we travel to another world where World War One Tommies are trapped on an alien world and must fight for survival.

Tea! Sing songs! Readings! A small nip of something! Buy signed books! Tally ho, we're taking the Best of British to the heathen aliens - ABADDON BOOKS NEEDS YOU!!

Entry is free, so ENLIST TODAY!  come along!

On November 1st 1916, 900 men of the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers vanished without trace from the Somme battlefield only to find themselves on an alien planet.
Now Lieutenant Everson finds he must quell the unrest within his own ranks while helping foment insurrection among the alien Khungarrii.
Beyond their trenches, Lance Corporal Atkins and his Black Hand Gang are reunited with the ironclad tank, Ivanhoe, and its crew to face the obscene horrors that lie within the massive Croatoan Crater, a place inextricably tied to the history of the Khungarrii and native urmen alike.
Above it all, Lieutenant Tulliver of the Royal Flying Corps, soars free of the confines of alien gravity, where the true scale of the planet’s mystery is revealed. However, to uncover the truth he must join forces with an unsuspected ally.

 Praise for No Man’s World:
“Meticulous historical detail with a pulse-pounding pulp plot” - Red Rook Review
"Rip-roaring fun from beginning to end" - SFX Magazine
"All the attributes of great pulp fiction, but with a 21st century edge" - Boston Book Bums
"Blazes with action and suspense" - Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
"Abaddon are onto a real winner"  -Total Sci-Fi

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

From WW1 to WOW!

In 1928, two years after the discovery of the silent film showing the Pennine Fusiliers on an alien planet, the British Government secretly funded Nikola Tesla in an attempt to contact the stranded soldiers to no apparent avail.

Almost 50 years later, a SETI research project received a signal.

On August 15th 1977, at the Big Ear Observatory in Ohio, one of the two detectors of the football field-sized array picked up an anomalous signal originating from a dead area of space somewhere in the constellation of Sagittarius.

The Big Ear Radio Telescope

Reviewing the paper logs, Dr. Jerry R. Ehman recognised a strong candidate signal for extraterrestrial communication. He circled the anomaly on the print out and, in the margin, scribbled a note; one word -

Ehman's scribbled remark

The series of numbers, 6EQUJ5,  indicated an extremely powerful radio transmission. It lasted for 72 seconds before fading away. Passing through the same patch of sky minutes later, the second detector found nothing. It was as if the signal had stopped transmitting.

An intensive search for the signal, now dubbed the Wow! signal, failed to find a repeat transmission and the signal has not been detected since.

There are those who believe that the signal was sent in answer to Tesla’s original radio transmissions half a century earlier and perhaps similar in content to those allegedly recorded by the Dutch electrical engineer, Julius Wendigee, at the turn of the last century.

Could the Pennines have been attempting to send a reply? If so, what did the message contain, and why did it suddenly cease transmission? We may never know. However, there are those today who, despite the odds, still listen for English out of the void.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Shape of Things to Come

Pye Parr's stunning re-creation of an old cinema lobby card from the 1951 film, Space Tommies, itself inspired by the Hepton Footage of the Pennine Fusiliers, now adorns the cover of The Alleyman, the third book in the No Man's World series from Abaddon Books. 
Out 9th October (USA & Canada) and 11th October (UK)

Lieutenant Tulliver of the Royal Flying Corps takes to the air to solve the mystery of No Man's World