A Review of London Falling by Paul Cornell

14 02 2013


Paul Cornell is an author I have always been rather fond of as a comics writer. Marvel’s Captain Britain and MI13 is one of my all time favorite comic book series and his handling of British characters coupled with a keen grasp of culture and cultural phenomena  leads to some wonderfully interesting storytelling. This is the reason I wanted to read his novel. As a fan of his previous work in other media I was curious to see how his writing came across without the support given by the visuals you find in TV and comics. And so the book was read.

I must admit that to start with I was a little taken aback by just how British the characters are. And not just British but London British. I thought at some points that if I hadn’t known certain words and phrased before reading this book I might not have had the faintest idea what was going on. However, after a relatively short period of time I found that the “London” feel to the book and the writing was perfect for the story being told. This is a story about London after all. And not just London as a place but as an entity in it’s own right. With an identity which is perfectly captured and portrayed through the writing style.

That isn’t to say that the writing is perfect however as at points it was very hard for me to quite “get” what was going on. Especially in the earlier parts of the book when the supernatural elements were being establish. At these points I found that the descriptions (or lack there of) didn’t give me a good idea of what it was that a character was seeing or experiencing. There were clear emotional reactions from the characters but the thing that was causing the emotions alluded me at times. It made me think that, yes, I can see that this is a book written by someone who is used to working with a visual artist to establish clear visuals.

However, once I got through the beginning of the book and into the meat and potatoes of the story I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. The sense of place is superb and the feeling of weight that lays on the shoulders of our 4 police officers making up the covert unit on the trail of a serial killer who has been operating for longer than anyone could possibly imagine is huge. The story offers a wonderful combination of crime thriller and  the supernatural with so many twists and turns you won’t know where the next surprise might come from. Well worth sticking with to get the end.

The result…

“Great”Well worth sticking with what is a brilliant crime novel infused with a supernatural mythology that only London can offer.


Alas My Mouse – A Multi-linear narrative path

30 01 2012

One of my projects during my masters was the creation of an interactive narrative based on a fairy tale. The fairy tale was chosen at random from a book collecting a number of translated Spanish Fairy tales and is called ‘The Mouse with the Long Tail’. You can see that original story in the images below:


From this story I began to pick out the key plot points which could be used as nodes for my interactive story graph. Nodes are different sections of story that are all linked together. In this case each node ends with a choice for the reader/user which progresses the story along a path specific to that choice. In some stories the nodes and their paths may branch of any number of different times. In some cases this may just be one choice or variation that results in the story ending in a different way. Others (like the story I created) may branch of again and again and again to form what is known as a narrative tree. The original story (above) is a linear story meaning that it has one path through it; this path became the first path in my multi-linear narrative (a multi-linear narrative being a story with several linear paths) and from each node in the story I gave the reader the option to move the story in an alternate direction. Doing this created the narrative tree you can see below. As you can see, I created the tree using post-it notes to represent the nodes of the story and masking tape arrows to show the connections and the direction of the story. The yellow nodes represent the path of the original story whilst the blue and pink nodes represent story elements which I created as alternates springing off of the original path.

Having completed the story graph I then set about creating the story as an interactive piece; this first meant typing up each node and it’s relation to the other nodes in a way that could be understood and put into Flash. I did this with a sort of numbering/lettering system which allowed me to create a kind of transcript of all the story options and paths. This was then translated into the final interactive piece which, whilst not visually evocative, demonstrates the reader experience produced by a story graph of this type. You can view the interactive piece (Which I re-named the story “Alas My Mouse”) by following the link below.

Alas My Mouse – By Jayms C Nichols