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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Witch Killer of England - Mathew Hopkins - Witchfinder General

The Evil of Mathew Hopkins Witchfinder General 1644 – 1647.





In the 1640s there was an easy and guaranteed way for unscrupulous and religiously bigoted men to make money. They had centuries of proven results behind them and the discovery of (what they termed) witches was an easy way of diverting people's attention from other problems, concerning social and political health of a down trodden and fearful society.

In local communities, you had to prove constantly that you loved God and were devoted to the Christian cause. Local priests watched and monitored church attendance and it did not do to stray from expectations of the religious dogma of the day. It was especially bad for women as the aged and if they were widowed. They, especially, became targets for Witchfinder Generals. One of England's most proven zealots of this time was Mathew Hopkins.

During this time, Britain was living through the horrendous decade of the civil war between the Crown forces (Royalists) and the Government forces (Parliamentarians). For the poor every day folk of Britain there weren’t much to choose from among these self righteous people who each had a complete conviction of their own vanity. God was on the side of the righteous and both sides were very self righteous. The laymen’s suffering during these times was dreadful, especially for a single lady – maybe widowed and with no strong male to speak up for her. Life could be very dangerous indeed for such an unfortunate.


The land from the northern tip of Scotland to the Southern tip of England was awash with a scourge of evil self indulgent religious extremists called Witchfinder Generals. These men wandered from one town or village to another searching for people they believed served the Devil or people that might dabble in witchcraft. So prevalent were these men, no place could hide from their dreaded attentions – especially in Scotland where their presence and case charges in numbers was second, in all Europe, only to Germany – a country with a population almost twenty times superior.

During this period of time and in the South East of England over 200 executions were associated with a man called Mathew Hopkins – a Witchfinder General, who in our day and age might be called a legalised serial killer. In my home English town of Leigh-on-Sea he brought a case against a lady called Joan Rowle who was drowned in a duck pond in 1645. She was innocent because she did not float. There were poor wretched single women like this all over the country who could be charged with witchcraft just because they lived alone and had a cat or a goat. They might be widowed, but that would not help them, especially if they had any skin ailment or defect about their person. It was a hopeless situation for them. Confessions could be got through sleep deprivation or other methods of torture. Mathew Hopkins went from one town to another selecting such people and putting them through all sorts of trials in attempts to get convictions.

This religious fundamentalist was a vile man who condemned a large number of wretched folk to death on trumped up charges of witchcraft and he became one of the most notorious of all Witchfinder Generals.


Soon, influential people and brave clergymen denounced the singularly cruel Mathew Hopkins and got parliament to curb the man’s tenacious searches until finally in 1648 he vanished from the scene. Some say he went back to his own village and died of consumption, but others say retribution was brought upon him by another institution and he was tried by his own tortuous methods and met a ghastly end while undergoing his own trial.


In the late 1960s, a low budget fictional movie was made about this Witchfinder General with Vincent Price as Mathew Hopkins.



Friday, 29 January 2010

HMS Thunder Child Fights the Martians Tripods

Join the crew of H.M.S. Thunder Child. Go on the journey that brings the brave little ironclad face to face with three Martian tripods. Go into battle on board her with the brave crew.

In print and on a super saving Kindle download.





What About George Orwell

I think George Orwell devoted his talent to such morose and depressing subjects, yet I could never put down anything he wrote. He was so compelling. I just had to read on despite his pessimistic narrative. I suppose good writers have a special signature to their work and this is keeps a reader turning the pages.

Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in London and Paris was a terrific description of social injustice. It was something base and vulgar. I thought the book was horrid but I would recommend anyone to read it. You feel as though you are actually inside George Orwell’s head looking out through his eyes, whilst feeling his revulsion and shame at what is going on around him. If you have never read this book then please do. It is a crass experience that you will be glad of – relieved you read the work, but never again. You’ll always remember things from it and shudder. Honestly, I could not recommend a disgusting account so highly.


The Road to Wigan Pier
The road to Wigan Pier is set during the depression of the 1930s and it is, again, full of dismal conditions concerning unemployment of the working class masses. George Orwell seemed to have this great belief and affection for the working class masses and at first he seemed to think there was a way of improving their circumstance. He did other works and essays that supported this, but I think he began to realise that such things could not be done because the weakness and strengths were in individuals, not a mass entity. There would always be leaders that would come to the surface and nothing can be equal. At least that’s what I think his thoughts were when he did his final works.




Homage to Catalonia
Because I always feel I’m inside George Orwell’s head, looking out through his personal thoughts, when I read his work; it seems that his outlook on people became less hopeful. In Homage to Catalonia he goes off to fight for the International Brigade against Franco’s forces during the Spanish civil war. He very quickly becomes disillusioned by the ideals of the anarchists he is fighting for and is shot in the throat and invalided out of the war.




Animal Farm

After this experience, I think he reassessed the way he thought of peoples collectively and became even more pessimistic, but much more decisive. His writing changed for the better. He wrote this tiny novella, which was an absolute peach of a story. Animal Farm is brilliant. Most people have read it but if you haven’t; please? You must.

1984
In 1948, he wrote his final work and turned the four and eight around for 1984. It seems the masses would always be, in some shape or another. But to think they could rise up and change things collectively and fairly was a futile and over optimistic hope. Things would always be the same. Like Winston Smith in 1984, he settled down and went with the flow, knowing the end was near - for Winston Smith, an assassins’ midnight call and for Mr George Orwell, tuberculosis. He died in 1950 aged 46.
I think his two final works made an icon of him in the literary world and because of this I believe his earlier work got read by a wider audience afterwards. By this, I mean if he never wrote Animal Farm or 1984, his other fine collective work might have faded into obscurity. The final two books make fabulous final touches to a terrific monument of his short life's work.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

Why Hope for Aliens? (Science Fiction)

Why Hope for Aliens?

Why do we hope and prey that there is extra terrestrial life? It is something that fascinates us in our on going quest to understand ourselves. We gobble up any little bit of information that might suggest life. Is it because of a divine creator or scientific mathematical probability? After all, in eternity every mathematical consequence must occur once. Or does it? Where do we begin? We search for anything that will give us an opening into a more enlightening universe. Then we discover there are more questions. It is in our instinct to pursue and explore all. And does it help if we fantasise and make up stories? Sometimes such tales motivate us to search. Even if it is to pour ridicule and scorn on such yarns at a later date.

During the middle ages there were all sorts of trials pertaining to an act of God that could get a person freed or executed. An accused could be tried by walking ten paces holding a hot iron then having their hands bandaged for a set amount of days before being removed at an appointed time. If the blister burns remained or were subdued; would depend on judgement of a person’s guilt or innocence.

Are we only just beyond this and do some of our learned people of today feed us theories as outrages as the trial by ordeals of yesterday? Today we do not believe such things because they have been disproved, but many of our academic and most learned people of the middle-ages believed such was true. Today we like to indulge ourselves that we are more enlightened, and I think we are. However, many of the scientific theories we are given, continuously get disproved or challenged by equally well educated people with new ideas.

It seems that anything is possible and for most of us laymen who enjoy being fascinated by such things, it gives us a chance to fantasise and enjoy science fiction stories that we can model to our own needs. We all hear the theories of light speed being the fastest of all things. Nothing can exceed it, so we fantasise about ways of getting around such miserable constraints.

In the story of Dune, humans get around light speed and vast distances by consuming a spice from a planet called Arrakis – a desert planet where giant worms secrete and protect this strange substance. It allows humans to enhance their conscience and fold space. They theoretically put a ship outside of space, fold the universe and bring the designated space towards them and place their ship within the target area. Through folding back into shape, the ship is at the other end of the fold – travelling the vast distance without moving. What a wonderful theory for a science fiction/fantasy novel.

Of course in Star Trek they go into warp and just blow the whole (Nothing can exceed light speed theory) out of the water. Some stories cryogenic ally freeze people for long distance space travel or, on other tales, go through black holes. If we can imagine these things then surely it is our destiny to find such ways around these obstacles.

We believe it is possible to get past these gigantic hurdles so surely, somewhere, there must me other beings. If there are, would they not come to us? Have they come to us? Ooh, more fantasy to enjoy – whether they have or not?

Martians! What about Martians? Our first aliens from our own star system and neighbouring planet Mars. We all wanted Martians to be real, even if they were very un-neighbourly like the ones in War of the Worlds or Quatermass and the Pit. We fantasise about them being brutal and subjugating – a formidable hurdle that we must transpire to overcome. Sometimes they are more benevolent and we are aggressive and they point out our short comings. Either way we want extra terrestrial life to be real. The thought of us being the only ones is too terrible to behold. We just don’t want them to be better then us because if they are so high and mighty we may not worthy of their attention or affection. These are all traits in ourselves, but we don’t want our aliens to have them. We want them to be impressed, but not patronising. Do we still want to be top dog, even among extra-terrestrials? I think secretly we do, because we are still tribal.

Are we a disease that wants nothing more then to colonise and expect outsiders to be grateful to us for it? Do we want to meet others because we want them to be impressed by us? Are we at the tip of our galaxies spiral arm because we are a quarantined life force? Are we on the fringe because nature is giving us a fighting chance before meeting something more terrible in the centre of the galaxy, where the stars are closely clustered and more interesting, leaving us un-noticed, for the time being? Perhaps uninteresting? Are we being left to mature for something unearthly and terrible? Something diabolical of intention and we await such attention at a later date and what might that be?
All these things are to be discovered. In the mean time let us fantasise and speculate with wonderful stories…



Sunday, 17 January 2010

Offering a War of the Worlds Adaptation - DONT BE SQUARE! BE THERE! With a most valient crew.




War of the Worlds adaptation on sale in USA. In print and on Kindle Download. Kindle users can acquire the downloaded novel for a stunning $2.99

Read the story of HMS Thunder Child. A small ironclad with a ram and out dated guns. Still she goes before the titanic monstrosities to deliver her potent sting.

Join the crew of HMS Thunder Child - DONT BE SQUARE! BE THERE! With a most valient crew.


Giving You Great British Science Fiction Post Apocalypse Books


During the 1940s to 1970s, I think Britain had a fabulous crop of sci/fi writers. As a youngster, I read many and was enthralled by some of the stories. Especially John Wyndham, who I think wrote three marvellous books. They are The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids and The Day of the Triffids. Yes, he did write other fine stories as well, but I loved these particular three.

   

I thought the writing was splendid and I was totally gripped by each story. As a youngster, I liked The Chrysalids best. However, over a period of time, The Midwich Cuckoos as gained stronger prominence in my mind.

During my youth at school, we had a great English Lit: teacher and she would often have the class reading allowed during the lesson while the rest of the class followed with their own copy of the book. Sometimes she would read for a bit and then she would single out a pupil to read. Gradually working round every pupil during the different English lit: lessons. We did two of John Wyndham's stories during that course. The Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalids. It was an all boys school and our teacher was female and not very strict, but she was able to get every adolescent boy's attention because of the way she had us reading and understanding these stories. She would pause now and then to explain characters and observations on the way the writer picked up on human themes. I don't think any of us wanted the bell to ring. By the end of the course, every boy lost his inhibition of reading allowed in the class.
                            

From these stories, I went on a mad journey of post-apocalyptic tales. I was captivated by them. John Christopher's The Death of Grass, George Orwell's 1984 and the original Daddy of them all, H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. I used to buzz with delight and my mind was working over time. I suppose I was a bit of a Geek for these type of stories.


      
Another author who seemed to do nothing more than write stories of various types of post-apocalyptic Britain was Edmund Cooper. He was probably a little pulpier than the others but he still did a lot of stimulating and far-fetched things that flicked a switch with me. Novels like: Who Needs Men, All Fools Day and Five to twelve. Two of these tales caused a stir with fem groups. Another good tale is The Cloud Walker. They always seemed to be about humankind trying to pick up the pieces after the world is destroyed.


Twelve to five and Who Needs Men caused controversy among feminist groups.


Saturday, 16 January 2010

Quatermass and the Pit (More Martians...)

More Martians…


Quatermass and the Pit.

Quatermass and the Pit is a very good story that should be remade. It was originally done as a TV series in the 1950s with a complete running time of 180 mins. It was also made into a movie and was shorter.

To be honest the TV adaptation is the best because the slow build up and the gradual uncovering of information is great. It lends to the suspense and keeps the viewer hooked.

Even though it is black and white and set in the 1950s, this science fiction story is superior in its presentation then many of the more modern tales we have had since. This is because the plot concentrates on an archaeological dig, which allows the viewer to learn more about the alien spacecraft as the actors speculate and tell one another what they have learnt. The story moves in steps as one discovery after another is made.



The crashed spaceship is discovered by chance when a group of London Underground workman accidentally stumble upon human skeletons from caveman times. Archaeologists are called in to continue the dig only to find that the bodies are scattered about and within an extra-terrestrial space ship.

They soon realise that the ship must have visited the planet during the times of the cavemen because the bodies are actually inside. As the dig continues, they learn more chilling things about the visitors.

They are Martians! They lived long ago and their interest in humans is believed to be extremely sinister…






Friday, 15 January 2010

Could There Be Life On Mars?(What mystery does the red planet hide from us)

What mystery does the red planet still hide from us?



Could there be life on mars? Do we secretly hope so? If there really is such a thing, I would imagine it to be primitive bacteria or moss type life. All the while our scientist endevour to look closer at the surface of the Red planet with growing expetation that they will find something within the permafrost.

Nations are coming together with shared fields of expertise and as one they push the frontiers of exploration. Mars seems to be the first point of call. There is a belief that many of her hidden secrets are accessable. The red planet is now a real goal for exploration and a strong hope of discovering alien life.





Look at this photograph taken by Mars Express - the European Space Administration (ESA)
Want to know more?

http://www.esa.int/esaHS/





Are we the only ones in this Universe? I don't thinks so, do you? There must be intelligent lifeforms somewhere in space. Even basic alien bacteria or plant life. Some evidence supports the notion of life-forms living on the planet right next door to us - Mars.
Space probes are searching Mars in the belief that ingredients for life, including water, are there. The Mars Odyssey probe, launched in April 2001, detected huge frozen areas of permafrost, simular to that found in the Antarctic on Earth. This surface ice may hide something below and scientists hope to learn more about Mars' mysterious water cycle.



Learn more of the Mars Odyssey probe on the NASA website.







The Curiosity Rover is a huge project of NASA. They have organised, developed and built an exploration vehicle to land on Mars and explore the South Pole area of the planet. This is to determine if there was once life on the Red Planet. It will take a great deal of time, but much has been put into this project.

A multitude of Scientists are working from Earth and feeding programmes into the Curiosity Rover so that it can conduct all manner of experiments. This is one of the most exciting leaps forward since the first Apollo Moon landing.

Other probes and land vehicles have landed upon the Martian surface before, but these have met with very limited success and none where the search for alien life is concerned. Now this new robotic laboratory can roam the Martian surface controlled by NASA personnel on Earth after a most successful landing on the Red Planet's surface.





Theories

Scientists and Theorists will not give up on the Martian question of life. Many cling to the notion that Mars might be a dead planet that once sustained life. Gradually ideas are eliminated only to be replaced by new ones. The hope of 'once there was life.' remains and so many explorations and experiments remain. Unmanned space craft are sent to scratch the surface and find evidence of 'once there was life.'

Questions

Some of the rock formations puzzle geologists and pose questions that once water might have been there. Why did it all end if the planet was once on the journey to evolve carbon based lifeforms. Perhaps a violent ecological disaster might be the reason for the sterile landscape that teases of 'once there was life.'


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Science Fiction Fan's Pastiche Story.


The Last Days of Thunder Child.
(Science Fiction Fan's Pastiche Story.)



Have you ever enjoyed H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, an all time classic Science Fiction story written in 1898? It tells of a Martian invasion that begins in Britain in the County of Surrey just South West of London. Close to a town called Woking. In fact, if you ever visit the town there is a statue of a Martian tripod in the shopping center. If you have read this story, you will know of the ironclad H.M.S. Thunder Child that is forced to defend the paddle steamer full of refugees. Do you wonder what it would be like to join the crew a few days before the event? You could follow the brave men on their terrible journey around the coastline and up the River Blackwater to Maldon and the final confrontation with three Martian tripods? 

From Mars, the meteorites shot through space bound for Earth and conquest over all lifeforms that live there. The Martians were unfeeling towards mankind as humans are to sheep or other lesser creatures.

The meteorites land in fields and woodland. After a time, there emerges the terror of mankind. Colossal tripods, before which, humanity flees as the onslaught of the fighting machines begins. People are destroyed by heat rays and black toxic gas. Those that survive are forced to flee the persuing devestation.


Aboard H.M.S. Thunder Child, the crew are blissfully unaware of the savage terror. Only the new Captain knows and only upon the journey, at sea, do the crew begin to learn the unbelievable news from semephore stations.


Fear grips the population and hordes of refugees make for the coastline to flee the country. Their world is gone and only death and destruction follows. Ships of all nations and sizes must aid the mass evacuation...

Amid all of this, the mighty little ironclad, H.M.S. Thunder Child must play her role to the full and rely on the bravery of a small crew.

Find out what happens and read:
The Last Days of Thunder Child
(Look inside and read the first few pages)
    on KindleUSA download.

By C.A. Powell (For KindleUSA version - CLICK HERE!)

For Book version - CLICK HERE!



Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Last Days of Thunder Child.


E-readers compare a multitude of fabulous fiction books to read. One can sit on a train or bus and go online to the various e-book suppliers and roam the online bookstores. The online fiction book market leaves the commuter spoilt for choice as the individual searches through a multitude of fine fiction books to read online.

With the various publicity stunts and huge sums of money in advertisement applied to some of the best-selling books, the reader is not always presented with the best fiction books on offer. There are thousands of books to read online and whatever the reader favors, there is bound to be a multitude of choice in any genre.

I’m trying to target the reading fan who likes to compare best historical or sci-fi books to read. It is not always the best-selling fantasy books that can excite the reader and take them away into a fantasy world – away from the humdrum motion of the rocking train. Sometimes it can be the most obscure titles that become top fantasy books to read.

I would like to propose this Science fiction book to read online. Of course one can buy it in paperback, but I’m targeting the work commuter who wants to use the e-reader and compare benefits of reading great online fiction.

Try this Sci-Fi fantasy book set in Victorian Britain. An adaptation of a Martian Invasion from a top selling Sci-Fi story of all time. It is on sale throughout the USA NOW! It will be on sale throughout the UK and rest of EU from 2017.


Read the great online Sci-Fi adaptation in the USA NOW: The Last Days of Thunder Child


This is a pastiche story set in Britain during the year of 1898. It is an alternate reality/Science fiction story from War of the Worlds. It is set aboard the ironclad H.M.S. Thunder Child a few days before and leading up to her confrontation with three Martian tripods in the river Blackwater off the town of Maldon.

The story moves from the crew of the ship as they try to make sense of the unbelievable messages coming from land-based semaphore stations, and Mr. Stanley, a reserved man from the ministry of Defense who is charged with overseeing semaphore stations set up along the coastline. He is linked with the ship because he delivered the orders to Captain MacIntosh before H.M.S. Thunder Child sets off on her voyage. 



Read the build-up to the final confrontation as the brave crew test their resolve to the utmost, preparing for the supreme sacrifice.

This book is for sale only in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
(It can also be bought in ebook formats too...) On Kindle USA the ebook download is .99 cents.


Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble
Mobipocket ebook
diesel-ebooks.com
and many more retailers...


Not for sale anywhere in the EU...