HMS Thunder Child (H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds)

HMS Thunder Child (H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds)
The Last Days of Thunder Child - Adaptation Retro Sci-fi. For more info click the image.

Friday, 9 March 2018

The Last Colony by John Scalzi (My Goodreads Review)

The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I read the first few pages of the story, I began to think I would not like it. I stuck with it and I'm so pleased that I did. It just suddenly took off as the reader goes to colonise another planet with our wonderful characters. The humans are under instruction from the Colonial Union, but they are colonising in secret because there is a conglomeration of other races known as the Conclave. They have forbidden any form of colonisation unless the species are in the Conclave's conglomeration - a union of species. Humans don't seem too keen on this.

The story makes for a wonderful bag of political intrigue, super enhanced space troopers, and battle action. The dialogue and the characters are first class. One situation after another keeps the reader gripped as the explosive situation develops from one circumstance to another. This was book three in a series. I only realised this after I had read the book, but it stands well on its own. I will read others in the series after this.

The Last Days of Thunder Child

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The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells (My Goodreads Review)

The Island of Dr. Moreau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another science fiction story set in Victorian times. A man stranded at sea is forced to disembark on the island of Dr Moreau. The island host and dissatisfied guest are caught in a dilemma. The guest must stay until another boat nears the island. Such vessels visit around once a year. As sci-fi goes this was an enjoyable story and I would recommend it. The Doctor does diabolical experiments with animals. He tries to cross genetically enhance animals with human cells etc. Obviously, we do not go into too much depth about the scientific methods involved. We just know the island is running alive with Dr Moreau's discarded experiments of animal/human hybrid creatures.

Right, that part of the review is out of the way. I would like to add that this is an H.G. Wells science fiction tale and most of us know H.G. is one of the masters of sci-fi. Keep in mind, this tale is up against grand stories like War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man. On that basis, I think The Island of Dr Moreau lurks in the shadows. The other three, I mentioned; are more extraordinary stories. Suffice to say, if H.G. Wells had only ever written this novel, it would have been good at the time but by now, it would be unheard of. If he had written just one of any of the other three, then any of the three would still be around today. Therefore, I think the Island of Dr Moreau is preserved because of H.G. Wells other achievements. A good sci-fi story but a league division or two below the three I keep banging on about.

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Monday, 5 March 2018

1984 by George Orwell (My Goodreads Review)


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This author flicks all the switches for me with this excellent story. I read so many of his books. Orwell, I think was a searcher. By the time he wrote 1984 and Animal Farm, I think he had given up his quest. I wonder if his view changed when he was in Spain during the civil war.

1984 was the cherry on the cake of all his endeavours. It is such a clever book. It is demoralising too. Yet it is compelling. I don't think I have ever come across someone that is so depressing yet gripping. You want to turn the page. You have to stick with it. I think, perhaps, because we are shown someone searching for an alternative. A believer. We are always presented with a believer searching for something and gradually the dream starts to die. Orwell died in 1950. I was born in 1961. Yet when I read Orwell, I really feel as though he is inside me. Talking directly to me as an author. He can do this through his fictional characters, but there is still Orwell in the background getting his degenerating and defeated view across. I don't always like what he is telling me, but I can't walk away from him. I don't want to believe him because I want people to be more worthy then what he tells me. I think we are, but he still haunts. In this way, people like George Orwell are so necessary. Their thoughts and views will be with us as he talks to our species from the forever, where he has long gone.

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Saturday, 3 March 2018

Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson (My Goodreads Review)

Tarka the Otter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful tale of an otter's life in the rural woods and meadows of England. The daily joys of life and the imminent dangers too. It is many years ago that I read this. Back in the 1980s. It was old then. I think it is set in the 1920s or 1930s. Yet it is still poignant to this day. Today, I believe that otters are a protected species. Back when the book was written, there were otter hunters with trained dogs to pursue the animal. Otters were regarded as pests to be exterminated in the book's time setting.

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Friday, 2 March 2018

The Grand Replicated Spanish Galleon - El Galeón

The Grand Replicated Spanish Galleon - El Galeón


Carole and I got up one morning, expecting our ship, the Ventura, to dock in Ibiza. The day did not look too bad and we were rather excited. Carole and I had never been to the Spanish Island before. We went up onto the top deck towards the big canteen for breakfast. I could not help noticing how windy it was in the open. We were glad to enter the sliding doors of the self-service restaurant. As we sat down to eat, the Captain came over the speaker and said they were having trouble entering the harbour to dock. The wind was 32 knots and they needed it to be below 28 knots.
As time went on, the pilots attempted on three occasions but had to abandon the idea of Ventura docking at Ibiza. It was no good. The wind would not drop to within the safety limits. Eventually, the Captain came on the speaker again and said we were heading back to the Spanish mainland and towards Cartagena. We were a little disappointed. Cartagena was our next port of call and we were obviously going to get there a day beforehand.
To our delight, Cartagena would prove to be a big bonus for us. The port was a lovely place and there was a special replica Spanish galleon in the arena. It is a museum ship that sails the world on a sort of moving celebration of the old Spanish exploration days. The ship is just referred to as, El Galeón. Of course, we had no idea that the ship would be in port. We caught the show by luck.

El Galeón in Cartagena

Cartagena at Night.

It was night time when the Ventura arrived at Cartagena and berthed. We were allowed to disembark and go for a walk because the town centre is very close to the dock. The high street was pretty with a very Christmas feel. All the shops were open and the Spanish were doing last moment shopping. It was a splendid sight and we enjoyed walking about the many shops. My imagination was already gripped because prior to crossing the road into the shopping centre, we had come across the Spanish Galleon in the dock.
I filmed my night time walk about the moored historical ship on the mobile phone. We had all the next day to explore. As I walked about the shopping centre at night, I was wondering and hoping that the grand Spanish Galleon would be open to the public. There was a bridge ramp for the vessel. Obviously, it was closed at night, but I felt sure it would open in the morning. I do enjoy looking at ships. Especially historical ones. I had seen a replica Portuguese ship of Christopher Columbus times and now this Spanish Galleon would be the cherry on the cake for me. I would learn that the ship is called El Galeón San Pelayo. The design was based upon a ship that was sent on a mission within a fleet back in 1565. Florida was part of Colonial Spain’s possession and the French had formed a settlement there in violation of international treaties. The Spanish sent a fleet in response that was led by Captain Pedro Menendez
These ships of the day would return to Spain and come back to the Americas on many occasions. Maybe they were among the Spanish Armada some twenty odd years later. If not, ships of similar design were. I was awestruck by the galleon because it seemed so small. Our huge cruiser was moored a short distance away. It made El Galeon look like a rowing boat. However, once the observer got close to the historical vessel, I don’t think many would fail to be impressed by the craftsmanship and work that went into the ship. We had passed through a 100-knot wind and storm upon the Ventura. I had developed some idea as to the power of the sea. My mind boggled at the thought of the sailors from such times being aboard El Galeon in a storm. I even thought of this modern day replica. It sailed the world and the devoted historical staff that manned the museum ship would also have been through such weather. How did any of them cope? Especially if one had to climb the rigging in such dyer weather conditions.

From the Stern.

The Strange Looking Yacht was Huge.

We went to bed that night knowing the next morning would allow more time to explore Cartagena. I knew there was a huge Roman Amphitheatre with a museum upon entry. However, that was one thing we decided not to visit. I wanted to see El Galeon during the daylight and walk her deck and forecastle. I made a note to take my camera.
The next morning came. We skipped breakfast and went on to the dock. There was another strange sight across the water. A huge yacht. Or at least I think it was a yacht. It was not much smaller than our cruise liner, Ventura. It must have had multiple decks with three enormous thick masts. I had never seen a vessel like it. It was painted a battleship grey colour. I also noticed that it had a British red ensign at the stern. A merchant's vessel. I found it perplexing and do not know what the yacht/ship was for. I asked during the evening dinner, but everyone else was puzzled by the grand yacht-shaped ship too.
It was still too early for El Galeon to open so we went for a walk about the streets. The winter day was incredible for us. It was warm yet it was the 16th December. A wonderful clear blue sky made it seem as though it was still summer. When we returned to the dockside, there was a lot of activity around the Spanish Galleon. It was open.
It was just five euros to go aboard. I also bought the booklet about the project of making the replica El Galeon. The ship had generated a great deal of interest from us British visitors from the Ventura. Also, the local Spanish people were visiting too. The ship had been around the globe, visiting far-off destinations. It had obviously attracted many people. The whole ship had a feel of stepping back in the past. As much as I admired the workmanship of the vessel, I also appreciated how difficult it would be to sail the tempest seas. The craft looked so small in respect of severe storms. Yet men braved such elements and reached the Americas. I was like a child in a sweet shop. I tried to photograph as many different angles as possible.
Even the Captain’s quarters looked cramped. There were side rooms before these quarters where other officers slept. This was at the stern of the ship. I liked the balcony area outside the Captain’s cabin. It offered something of relaxation in calm weather. It was also a railed walkway that went around slightly to the port and starboard sides. Down in the hold was where the rank and file of the crew quartered. It must have been very cramped for them. I think one would need to be made of a certain fibre to have sailed in such bygone days. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. At a lower level near the hull, there was a small screen which showed the visitor how the replica was made. The whole process was shown in stages. It was narrated in Spanish but was simple to follow the development via the visual presentation.
I stayed on board for some time. As for the Roman amphitheatre, I later regretted not paying a visit here. I heard from others, during evening dinner, that it was also a sight to behold. Still, I felt lucky from the maritime point of view. We had seen the Portuguese 700th anniversary with an old replica sailing ship of the Columbus era. Then in Cartagena, we were lucky enough to see this wonderful El Galeon. It all made for a great cruise holiday.

The Stern with Balcony from Captain's Cabin.

Aboard El Galeón

El Galeón The Open Deck.

El Galeón - Wandering Around the Ship.

El Galeón - Going to the Lower Decks.

El Galeón - Cannons.

Captain's Cabin.

All Officer's Cabins Looked This Way.

© 2017 colin powell

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

What Science Fiction Book Next?

H.G. Wells notion of the mass refugee crises was important. That is one of the things that I did not appreciate at first. I just took it for granted he would know because of what happened in the two world wars. Then I realise he wrote this in the 1890s. He purely speculated the mass panic and movement of people on this colossal scale. He seems to have grasped so many things.

I loved the novel, The Invisible Man. The whole presentation was excellent. Invisibility is now believed to be possible. Imagine an alien intelligence among us. An invisible race of watchers.

I think The Island of Doctor Moreau will be by next H.G. Wells. I've always avoided this novel, but I think the time has come. Something about the story repulses me. I know the concept but not the actual story.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (My Goodreads Review)

Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable science fiction story. Very compelling indeed. It is set about 2133 or maybe a few years later. The solar system has various colonies and the human race is monitoring asteroids. There has been a disaster on Earth in recent years along northern Italy. With outposts on Jupiter's moons and Saturns too, the human race monitors all asteroids entering the solar system.

A huge one is registered entering the solar system. As the stray projectile comes nearer the human race discover it is a perfect cylinder shaped. Some 50 kilometres long and twenty wide. They call this intrusive mass, Rama.

A ship is sent to investigate with an assortment of specialist scientists. They find they are able to enter the rotating cylindrical giant. Inside, they discover an inverted world. Plains. mountains and a cylindrical sea. The survey teams start to make one startling discovery after another as they try to fathom what type of alien intelligence could have sent such a world into their solar system.

The reader is drip-fed a catalogue of interesting and scientific discoveries, as the explorers uncover as many secrets as possible. Splendid sci-fi story and I would recommend this to any science fiction fan.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (MY Goodreads Review)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Extraordinary Voyages, #6)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a story we all know of. We have all watched the movie, but many of us have never read the book. I always told myself that one day I would read it. After many years of keeping this on my bucket list, I finally decided to take the plunge. I am so pleased that I did because this is an absolute peach of science fiction! A glorious adventure from the 1860s decade. Jules Verne must have had some vision to write this splendid novel. It was gripping. The story takes the reader on a journey of a lifetime. All sorts of discoveries await the reader's attention. If you are a lover of H.G. Wells type fiction than France's Jules Verne is a must. This man is the original pioneer of science fiction and his stories still pack a punch in this day and age. It is like reading a superior steampunk novel. A total triumph and a story that will echo forever.

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (My Goodreads Review)

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very absorbing tale. Because I have seen so many versions of Frankenstein on TV. Hammer House Horror, the old Boris Karloff style movies. There are so many different presentations that I did not know what to expect. The way it all began was splendid and the whole experience was glorious and Gothic. Victor Frankenstein creates an eight-foot-tall man from dead body parts. The scientific project is a hideous creation that Frankenstein finds himself disgusted with. The crux of the story is that this wretched eight-foot monster can't accept his creator's rejection.

The monster comes back to haunt Frankenstein and shower misery upon him with devious and murderous means of close relatives. Frankenstein is caught up in a battle of his own conscience as the ghoulish giant monster blackmails him for his own contentment and happiness. This story is a fabulous masterpiece. I am so pleased I read this.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Journey - A Monumental and Historical Movie.

 Colm Meaney as Martin McGuinness and Timothy Spall as the Reverend Ian Paisley.

The Journey was a very poignant film about a simple car drive from the celebrated St Andrews golf course in Scotland to Edinburgh airport. Here a private plane is waiting to take an important political dignitary back to Belfast for his 50th wedding anniversary. 

The political figure is the Reverend Ian Paisley. He is the head of a Loyalist (pro-British) political party in Northern Ireland. This part of Ireland has been fighting a vicious civil war for almost forty years. It is 2006 and the British Government along with Ireland’s Taoiseach government are trying to get the warring factions of the north to agree a peace settlement. If so, they could bring peace to the troubled province of Northern Ireland. 

The rural St Andrews golf course is the private venue and the peace talks are deadlocked into a stalemate. Tony Blair and Enda Kenny are exhausted. Sinn Fein leaders, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams also seem lost for a breakthrough on the peace agreement involving power-sharing. There is a desire for the re-opening of Stormont. The sticking point is the loyalist MP – the Reverend Ian Paisley. The man is a rigid and religious disciplinarian who detests the people of Sinn Fein and is very reluctant to engage in power sharing and dialogue with a group he regards as terrorists. 

There is this wake of political bigotry on both sides of the argument. Then in the middle of the talks, the respective Prime Ministers of UK and Ireland have to stop the meeting for the Reverend Ian Paisley. He wants to go home and be with his wife for his 50th Wedding Anniversary. This is agreed to, but Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuiness pulls a rank of protocol matter and requests he wants to travel in the car and plane with Ian Paisley. Two protagonists on either side of a bitter and murderous conflict. 

The British secret service or some other security outfit see an opportunity for a breakthrough. If Martin McGuinness can reach out to the firebrand loyalist, the political deadlock might be broken. What follows is a car journey that has monumental and historical significance. The chauffeur is bugged with cameras so that the security unit can watch the journey via a spy camera. 

We have Tony Blair, Enda Kenny, Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley Junior all watching this nail-biting and at times bitter discussion between former IRA leader and a pro-British loyalist MP.  A truly marvellous movie. Very gripping in parts. Also very moving too. A total must watch.