The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Could Windbots be the answer? ( NASA Looking into New Concept of Space and Planetary Exploration)

NASA is experimenting with a notion for robotic gliding devices that could cruise in the atmospheres of other planets, including gas giants like Jupiter. These robotic devices will not have wings nor hot-air balloons to stay aloft. NASA are flirting with the idea of using air turbulence to produce influence to make the floating robots stay airborne. The airborne devices are to be called Windbots.
These new type of robotic probes might be something like space travelling Cubsats, but these particular Windbots will be designed to remain within the fringes of a planet’s stratosphere. This will enable all sorts of exploration and monitoring of planetary gases, gravity and so many other things.
Plants that Gas giants lie Jupiter and Saturn have no solid floor upon which to land and sometimes the gravity getting closer to the core would be enormous. This would crush most types of probe that descend too close to the inner regions of such planets.
NASA’s scientists are looking at things like certain plant seeds that start to rotate when they fall, thus creating lift and allowing the seed to stay airborne for long periods at a time. Such natural designs could be used on windbots. Finding a consistent and light source of energy seems paramount. For this; planetary winds, temperature change and planetary magnetic pull could be used. Maybe small copters with rudders or something akin to a fly.
Even planets like Venus might benefit from Windbots because the surface is too hot and trapped under cloud cover. One might imagine small windbots or even larger manned ones too. Perhaps windbot fleets on some planets with stations high in the sky.

Margaret Thatcher's political end (Poll Tax Riots London 1990)

She was one of the best though she was a person with many faults. I think Maggie deserves recognition because she was a true patriot and many did admire her greatly.

Well, I would not mind betting that there are a lot of people shouting "No Way" But then there will be as many applauding. When I was 18 years of age, Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of United Kingdom and she gave the country a blooming big kick up the arse. The trouble was, I don't think she always knew when to stop kicking and many of us imagined we had bottoms that were constantly smarting. The reason I have picked Margaret Thatcher for praise is because I am  now 53 and I own my house because of her. I did not appreciate it at the time. I thought she was as hard as nails, which she was.

I worked in the Royal Mail (Post Office) throughout the 1980s decade and it seemed to be a rather turbulent time. I remember the unemployment and the clashes with the unions, most notably the miners strike. Everyone that confronted her was swept aside and I was one of the young who thought she was too harsh.

As much as it pains me to say this, I believe she got more right then she got wrong. I can visualise myself as a young man in his twenties - full of high ideas and morals - being disgusted with this older me, who is writing this. But if I could, I would like to reach down that time corridor and grab myself by the collar. I'd spit. "You are so full of Bull - you know nothing and she will do you right in years to come." She did, and to be fair on Maggie, she is one I did not appreciate at the time. I think a lot of us secretly miss her. Sometimes undesirable elements took the country on and I could not have wished such enemies upon a more formidable opponent. (I almost felt sorry for them)

If I could make one complaint to Margaret Thatcher it would be:

Why did you steam roller through the Pole Tax without properly reviewing such things. It could have been a good idea if you had taken the many variables of income into the equation. You really did drop the ball on that one and then it was the old; "And you to Brutus" from most of your ministers. It all stemmed from the Pole tax - I'm certain it did. You could have had a few more years, but for that.
No doubt, Mrs Thatcher would still hear none of this.

It is believed that the Poll tax signified the beginning of the end for Margaret Thatcher. She had stood her ground on many issues over 11 years and won. This, the hated Poll tax, was one she would loose, but only after her ministers manoeuvred her into quitting a short time later on other issues. However, the Poll tax was the original cause that began to really spiral out of control for her.

It is thought that the riot in central London, with the countrywide opposition to the Community Charge (especially vehement in the North of England and Scotland) contributed to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, who resigned as Prime Minister in November the same year, defending the tax when opinion polls were showing 2% support for it. The next Prime Minister, John Major, announced it would be abolished.

Giving You Titanic - How the Sleeping Colossal Edifice Became so Beautifully sad in Flawed Gods' Memories.

How the Colossal Edifice Became so Beautifully Sad in the Memories of Flawed Gods.

Cruel Time, soothing time, patient time and the sadness of time. What a wonderful, wretched, yet compelling picture of a colossal sad edifice – dead and so wretched – years after such terrible demise. To think this huge, aptly named, titanic construction of mighty steel, rivets and sturdy bulwarks sailed out from a harbour into the beautiful, yet cruel sea. Aboard were vast numbers of passengers like little ants walking down companionways and dinning in exotic restaurants. They would be care free and happy to be upon a journey to the USA. Perhaps indulging themselves in thoughts of future undertaking in a grand country while aboard a grand and imagined, tame personified structure that was completely under their control. What could go wrong? Nothing is the answer - so why bother dwelling on such things?

In this wonderfully clear image of the Titanic – dead and sterile upon the engulfing – all-consuming sea bed; we can see a small miniature sub shinning a spotlight upon the broken far side of the wreck. Little ants observing what became of the unsinkable, proud conception, made by flawed Gods – poor arrogant gods – sad well-meaning and yet, conceited gods.

The huge iron animal split into two parts and we can only see the decaying bow laying like a long dead monster. A docile being that served little ant-gods who walked within the iron beast, unafraid of the titan because it was built to serve them. Not knowing that there were far greater elements of the planet that the titan had no chance against. The sea.

The temperate sea that is heartless and old, frozen and cold. All consuming and engulfing – oblivious to all including the mighty Titanic and her minion Gods – the little chunks of walking apathy that would face the horrendous collective of watery indolence.

What a chilling beauty as she lays there upon the ocean sands – consumed and slowly digesting within the planets huge watery belly.

What wonderful little chunks of apathy we are to marvel at the results and doggedly try to learn from such catastrophes. We wonder and stand in awe of the failure and drink in the demise, knowing that such mistakes will happen again, but we push on never the less. It makes me marvel that we are so durable and it also terrifies me that we are also very vulnerable.

The Titanic will always be a story more colossal than the mighty assembly of steel and flawed Gods that she was. But the huge saga will echo within the shadowy continuum of vaults that our sea consumes. Perhaps to echo in the eternity of human memory too.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Stigmata wounds. (Poeple with the scars of Christ)

Marie Rose Ferron
It does not matter if you believe or don't, but Stigmatists do fire the imagination. So I'm trying to write this little blog as neutral as possible because I think sometimes things are difficult to explain. Religion is something I struggle with and sometimes scientists can be arrogant in their own theories of what is or what is not. As priests were dogmatic about things in the middle ages; how do we know if some of our scientists are not as bigoted in their views. That is not to say all scientists are like this, but many might be - different and dismissive in their opinions as middle-aged religious orders were about things. Therefore many scientists, like ancient priests, often insist on telling us that things are; when they might not be. There are millions of wondrous things to discover and many theories that will, one day, be blown out of the water.

So science aside for the moment; Stigmatists are people who bare the same wounds suffered by Christ during his crucifixion. These comprise of wounds to the wrists, where Christ had his arms raised and nailed to the cross - plus nail wounds to the feet. Also, there can be scars to the head, where the crown of thorns was placed, lacerations across the back and the scar in the ribs, from a stab wound of the spear that was thrust into Christ as he lay dying, nailed upon the cross.

It would be relatively easy for a determined person to find horrid and ghastly ways of imitating such wounds. No doubt, on some occasions, people do try.  

This condition of Stigmata is found mainly in Roman Catholics and in eighty per cent of cases; suffered by women. It is said that the Vatican sends out agents across the world to examine such unexplainable cases - many are scientists that are still religious. It is believed that the vast majority of the time, the level-headed priest can discover a hoax and most are explained away for one reason or another. Sometimes from self-infliction by a person mentally unstable.

The Roman Catholic church is evolving to discoveries of the new world and often finds itself in conflict with many issues. The last thing it wants is to go on a fool's errand and be seen to be tricked by unbalanced hoaxers. 

However, now and then, even a level minded examiner, searching for hoaxes or trickery can come upon a composed person, or perhaps, seemingly so. For there occurs occasion when Vatican agents can find no rational explanation as to why such wounds occur. They can find no evidence of self-infliction and no reason as to why such wounds appear. This leads to speculation of supernatural, Godly or diabolical powers bringing about such a phenomenon.

 St Francis of Assisi was said to be a Stigmatist and it is believed he bore the wounds I speak of. Still, he lived in times when such things could be tricked or lied about. In his time, the church was executing innocent people for all sorts of things. If a person suffered epilepsy or Tourette's syndrome, they could be accused of being possessed and from this point subjected to torture for confession of treating with demonic forces etc. Wounds of a Stigmatist were conveniently placed - perhaps making them acceptable and not viewed in such dreadful ways.

Marie Rose Ferron was a young woman who raised such questions and she lived in the more enlightened times from 1902 to 1936 and died at the age of 33. She is often called the Little Rose and was an American-Canadian stigmatist. This fame comes from the wounds she bore and the time she lived in. I think this makes her interesting and I'm not dismissing her Stigmata, or believing either. I don't know what to make of this, except she is remarkable and interesting.

What makes Marie Rose Ferron compelling is the fact that she is someone close enough to our time, but just out of reach to be examined properly, having died in 1936. There are photographs of her, as above, and she would have been examined by reputable people of the Roman Catholic church during this time. She is a young woman that falls into the category of speculation where no one could find an earthly explanation for her stigmatist wounds. This caused her to be revered by some Roman Catholics.

She was born in Saint-Germain-de-Grantham, Quebec, as the tenth child of a large family which moved to Massachusetts 1906 and then to Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 1925, where she lived the rest of her life. Her stigmata (including a crown of thorns) were repeatedly photographed and she is considered the first American stigmatist.

Of course, there have been others like Marie Rose Ferron and it is highly likely that there could be a rational explanation, but sometimes one can't be found, even by examiners who are trying to disprove such things. Marie Rose Ferron was one such case.

Had she lived in this same area of the world three hundred years earlier when the country was ruled by the Presbyterian fundamentalist orders of England and Scotland after the civil war, Marie Rose Ferron might have been subject to the more dreadful attentions of the witchfinder generals that were about in that day and age. Especially being Roman Catholic. After all, it is a region where the Salem witch trials were held.

Lady Pirates of Calico Jack's ship.

Mary Reid, Anne Bonney
and Calico Jack Rackam
 An English pirate called Calico Jack Rackam (1682-1720) was active towards the end of the Golden age of pirates between the years 1717 - 1720. He had mediocre achievements but enjoyed a colourful press because he dressed in fancy cheap bright clothes and had two female pirates in his crew. 

These two ladies were, Irish born, Anne Bonney and, English born, Mary Reid. He had formed a relationship with Anne Bonney but was ignorant of Mary Reid's gender because she dressed as a young man when first coming aboard ship.

It was rumoured that Anne Bonney was taken by Mary Reid - thinking her a young man. Calico Jack Rackam became jealous of his loved one's attention towards the young deck hand. When he decided on a reckoning; Mary Reid made her identity and gender known. This came as a surprise to Calico Jack and Anne Bonney but he kept her in the crew alongside Anne Bonney. Both women wore men's clothing during attacks on government vessels and then dressed in ladies clothes on other occasions. It is not known for sure when Mary Reid was born, but some put it at about 1690. Anne Bonney was younger and born in 1702.

Their vessel was captured in 1720 and the entire crew were put on trial in Spanish Town, Jamaica. Calico Jack was hanged with other members of his crew, but both Mary Reid and Anne Bonney claimed to be with child and were spared the hangman's noose. Mary Reid was said to be pregnant by the ship's artist and Anne Bonney by Calico Jack.

Mary Reid died in prison during child birth in 1721, but Anne Bonney survived and vanished from the history books. She was rumoured to have got away and lived out her life in South Carolina and died in 1782 at the age of 80.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Why I Don't Believe in George Orwell's Simplistic Sheep and Pigs View of Society Wrongs and Rights.

During the final years of my high school from about 1974 to 1977, I became an avid reader. I was well and truly hooked on all sorts of pulp adventure novels. I discovered Sven Hassel and Leo Kessler pulp war stories. I then began to drift into sci-fi and fantasy. Some of these writers were Andre Norton and Edgar Rice Burrows. There were, of course, many more. After a while, I got snooty and decided that these things were pulp and I should be reading more acclaimed written works. This was very wrong of me. I hold my hands up. It was just me being the very young me.

During our English literature classes, at school, we had a teacher who managed to fuel us with enthusiasm for reading. She was not too strict yet was able to control a classroom of adolescent boys very well. Every one of us would be reading the same book during the English literature lesson. Even those who read slowly. None of us mocked our fellow student because the teacher had managed to instil a belief and confidence that the only way to improve one’s voice and confidence was to go through the ordeal of reading in class in front of all. It worked. Gradually the slow and less confident readers became less inhibited and the reading began to flow to an extent that all of us lads were chomping at the bit to read. We were doing it for ourselves.

Our school English teacher was named Mrs Foster and she had a flowing way of speaking. Sometimes she would stop us mid-way through reading and ask us questions concerning characterisation or what we thought might be the author’s aim of a certain type of narrative or dialogue. She began to draw our attention to metaphors, personification and things like onomatopoeia. She highlighted points that were so obvious, yet I could never see the wood for the trees.

We read many classics like Charles Dickens, John Wyndham, George Orwell, Anne Frank, and John Steinbeck. The list, of course, went far beyond. I name but a few. For me, this was a very happy time because I felt as though I was being brought alive. It was like a grand coming of age. I had never had the time to indulge myself and read such books. It seemed like a laborious thing to do. Really I was too blooming lazy.

However, these English lessons became an absolute joy for me. We had to do, at least one lesson of English, and one of Maths, every school day. Our class all began to look forward to English. Especially the days when we would be reading our latest novels.

I particularly enjoyed John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and The Chrysalides. We also enjoyed Great Expectations and The Diary of Anne Frank. However, Animal Farm by George Orwell was like the heavens of literature opening up before us all. It was as though we were inside the author’s head as he got a wonderful point of view across in the most simplistic way. I was most impressed by him then. Sometimes we put writers upon platforms and believe everything they say is correct.

After these classroom reads, we were given a list of titles that we could choose and then review in our own written way. The list was mouth-watering. I chose another George Orwell title called; 1984. My mind was blown away as I once again enjoyed the idea of being inside the author’s head. The horrid idea of Britain in a dystopian future on par with North Korea. In many ways, I found Orwell so negative yet utterly compelling. I have since read so many of his works. Animal Farm and 1984 were his last labours of pen and upon reflection, it seems the man started his journey in a life full of optimism and in search of some sort of ideology where the downtrodden should have some sort of equal voice. He wrote essays that were riveting, yet as this great man journeyed through life, I get the impression that he failed to find what he was searching for. Some sort of Utopia where everyone was equal. He certainly witnessed the squalor of destitution in; Down and Out in London and Paris. The abandonment of people in; The Road to Wigan Pier. Everything seemed so negative, yet I could absorb everything he wrote as though I was a sponge for his writing. He was so negative and very depressing yet I admire him so much. I don’t believe his particular negative views concerning societies today because everything is just too negative in one direction. Yet he asked so many questions that remained unanswered. In Animal Farm I get the impression that he gave us a mini Utopia for a brief period of time, but then the cream of the society surfaced and the whole process of being downtrodden started all over again. The sheep remained sheep. The pigs did what pigs always do. At the time I thought the simplistic presentation was wonderful and very true. I still think the novel is fabulous, but I think more nowadays. Why did the sheep not become lazy and rely on the chickens to lay eggs for them? It is another variable in the equation of society. Why not have the sheep always pretending to be victims? It is another variable in our society. Why not have the chickens complaining that they work and don’t get a decent shed to live in because the sheep need it? It is another variable in our society.

I don’t believe all sheep (in Orwell’s Animal farm sense = plebiscite) are the same, but I think I would be one of his sheep or chickens in society. We don’t all go around being stupid or hoodwinked. We put up with a lot and the pigs are not all taking. Many try to balance the important things that can be done against the staggering costs of such political undertakings. Today, I don’t want to believe some of the things Orwell said. I realise how simple it all is. The map is too rough. There are no contours or rivers. It’s a basic map of a nation perimeter. Nothing more. It’s too simplistic and misses too many problems when trying to make good rough contours.

Though when I was younger and more impressionable, I believed the black and white portrayal of pigs over sheep and chickens. I now feel sure he searched in the wrong places when journeying through his life where his nation was a declining empire and did not know it. He perhaps knew but started off in blind faith that all people would help each other and build some sort of all caring society. I hope we humans are more optimistic about following our different futures. Even if such things are forged by clever pigs (Orwell’s Animal Farm sense of political leaders.) The world of people (each an individual) is full of variable personal aims in life. The so-called pigs do their best, if elected, to make sure each individual’s liberty is protected to follow such pursuits. The pigs are not all good and some are definitely harsh, but we are lucky in my country. That is what I believe despite the complaining we do. The complaints are justified and we must never relent. It keeps the politicians from becoming too complacent or pigs in the Orwellian sense.

I think Orwell gave up on all his hopes concerning sheep and chickens when he wrote; Homage to Catalonia. I believe once he saw the futile ways of the anarchists, socialists and Communists up against Fascism; he realised that things could not be organised from his idea that all giving a voice and all lending an ear. When everyone on the team had a voice and had to be allowed to speak. It caused nothing but confusion despite how well-intentioned everyone was trying to be. Nothing functioned because there were too many debating different points of view and they spent more time fighting each other than the fascist party.

Today, in the UK, we have a slightly right of centre ground government that is trying to introduce certain types of austerity in our society little by little and very often. They realise that the National Health is something that must be protected (One very good thing from the more left-leaning governments.) and are trying to maintain this. They also know that national welfare benefits are spiralling out of control. Workers are footing enormous tax bills to maintain vast amounts of unemployed people living in rented houses that these ‘out of work people’ can’t afford to pay rent on. Those people in work, who could pay the rents and put money into local government councils, can’t get council houses because their incoming wages put them at the bottom of the priority list for people in need. This causes resentment because people from abroad that have not contributed to the system turn up and get accommodation and benefits. Not all, but a sizable amount. It also causes resentment with home-grown fellow Britons who are unemployed, yet have children because it puts them on top of the priority list for entitlements – i.e. Government council houses. Unemployed are more in need. Therefore, when employed people are forced to go to more unscrupulous private landlords; the government must be losing huge sums of money from rents that could be paid to them.

Therefore, young employed people who could pay rent are left to the mercy of more unscrupulous private landlords. This fuels further resentment. The unemployed living in council accommodation can’t afford to work because welfare entitlement gives them more than the people employed. It is ridiculous, but the problems of Britain today are far different from what Orwell envisaged. I wonder how George Orwell would have viewed the well-meant entitlement that has gone ridiculously out of control. What I think I’m trying to say is that we have advanced and tried to cure many of the problems Orwell highlighted and it has created more unforeseen ones.

God! I’m really getting started now. I better take a chill pill and calm down.

I can’t grasp how we got ourselves into this ridiculous situation, but our world is a lot better than Orwell’s one and the new problems are so different. He is wrong but could have been right because such things happen in other countries, I suppose. Anyway! Back to my rant and what I’m trying to say concerning not believing in Orwell’s sheep and pigs.

During the UK's general election, we had a political party that was promising to end some of the austerity. They were the ones who brought in much of the well-meant entitlements and inadvertently created the problems of mass uncontrolled immigration of unskilled labour and also the situation of people not being able to get housing accommodation unless out of work and destitute. They contributed to the UK having council estates, in many areas of the nation, where vast swathes of people are unemployed. Many are unemployed because they get more from national welfare entitlement then workers who pay their taxes to fund such entitlements. These people can’t afford to go to work in low paid jobs where austerity is causing low wages due to uncontrolled and very irresponsible mass migration of more unskilled labour and more people in need of accommodation. If you are from abroad, surely you can see how utterly ridiculous this is?

It has got to such an extent that a centre-right political party, which is deeply unpopular, is offering nothing but more austerity with a particular focus of welfare payments being capped and gradually reduced. None of their policies is liked but voters realise there needs to be something done about the financial cost of welfare entitlement payments. These are not Orwellian sheep, but people who can reluctantly see that well-meant entitlements are causing many to drift into a state of apathy. People are thinking for themselves individually, though some prefer to be Orwellian sheep and stay away from work. The only way to encourage and induce unemployed people to work; is to make sure it is more beneficial than relying on handouts. Not increase wages to such an extent. The reality is; this can’t be afforded and will not happen. I would personally love it to be this way, but we can’t afford it as a nation. Not now!

In the old socialist world, unions would have us strike to make it happen and it did in the 60s and 70s. It went too far that way and bankrupted the nation. We need to keep many of the good things about what the left did for Britain, but for Christ’s sake let us not be blind to the bad long-term effects of what was done.

I’m a dustman – a working class person who now lives in the Fenlands of England. I earn less than £14,000 per year. People on benefits are having their welfare entitlement reduced to £20,000. I can’t get my head around the left wing parties of our nation that condemn this. Where is the logic in such a protest? Why are the benefit’s claimer’s victims? Who is the victim? My taxes are paying for people who can’t afford to work because well-intentioned champagne socialists have brought such a circumstance about. I’m lucky because I’m older and have been fortunate enough to have paid my mortgage, but when I go to work, I see young men who work for the same wage and can’t get council accommodation. Even though they can pay the council rent into the government coffers. We empty bins in the area where these young men have lived all their lives. We empty bins of three bedroom houses where fellow unemployed British people live and talk to us like we are pigs because we have not put a bin back properly. (Not all, but some of the welfare claimants) We have people from abroad who can’t speak English yet berate us in foreign languages. (Again not all. Some are kind, but they still get priority over my workmates who are born and bred here.)

These prioritised people live in houses that my young workmates are not entitled to because they have low paid jobs. Some of my friends have children and have lived in the Fenlands all their lives. Born and bred here, but unemployed, none rent payers and destitute people, from home and abroad take the government housing and get benefit payments that work out higher than our wages. What the hell would all these wonderful writers like George Orwell think with, what now seems, cheaply acquired social integrity if they looked at today? Many such well-meaning people have berated low paid workers as racists, fascists and vilified anyone who complained?

I’m terrified of the do good political elitists who offer everything but run out of other working people’s money to borrow. Be they rich or poor. I’m also less admirable, splendid though the written works are, of many writers who were clever to rant against the leaders when they had not had not held such positions of responsibility themselves. It’s easy to complain and it comes free. It’s easy to say what people like. It comes free too. To give all that people want costs? The reality is that we don’t have enough.

The simplistic world of Orwell’s pigs and sheep does not take into account that sheep become devious and play the system, and the pigs have a huge mess to clear up because of unforeseen abuse of a well-intentioned welfare system that is failing.

I think the UK is a great country with a lot of decency. I do believe that many of the sheep in the UK animal farm have learnt how to play the system at the expense of those who continuously contribute to it. Writers present interesting ideas and they must be acclaimed. However, these people of vision, right fiction loosely based on truths. We must never forget that. Clever as George Orwell was, (My absolute hero as a young impressionable man.) he was not correct in the long run about the pigs. It’s the sheep we need to worry about. Too many people play the victims. It clouds things and real victims get missed.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Giving You A Novel Adaptation of H.M.S. Thunder Child's Defiant Stand - SciFi/Steampunk Pastiche Grand Adventure

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 favours, 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 hum drum 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 pastiche SciFi story was inspired by H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds set in Victorian Britain in the year of 1898. I suppose it crosses a number of genres in this day and age. Obviously Science Fiction, but also Alternative Reality and even Steampunk. 

I went on a journey of discovery trying to imagine what H.M.S. Thunder Child might have looked like and fell fancifully in love with the first revolving turret ship without sails. It was H.M.S. Devastation - blogs of which are featured here. She also had a sister ship called HMS Thunderer.

At first, these revolving ship's had muzzle loading guns with short stumpy barrels that barely protruded from the gun ports. I wanted to keep these on the ship of 1898. Even though they were obsolete by such times. I used poetic license to do such thing and used a credible excuse.

The whole endeavour of this written work was done during an evening school writing class and it sort of developed from there. It was a wonderful project that I found most absorbing. I got it edited properly and a front cover picture from an artist living in Cambridgeshire.

It cannot be published in the UK or the EU until September 2016, but the USA, CANADA, AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND are selling the novel now.

Read H.M.S. Thunder Child's adventure against the Martian tripods. Victorian Britain is now a dystopian land. The world has gone mad and the British Empire is exposed for all the weakness it has against an alien technology it cannot compete against. One small out dated ironclad steps up to the mark with a brave crew. In the River Blackwater, Thunder Child makes a defiant stand. Follow the crew and her last voyage.

Enlarge image and get better view of internal ship

My Pastiche novel about H.G. Wells' fictional battleship H.M.S. Thunder Child (The Last Days of Thunder Child) was based on H.M.S. Devastation. In my imagination, I could see this design for Thunder Child going into battle against three Martian tripods on the River Blackwater in the county of Essex, England, the UK in 1898.

Muzzle loading guns went obsolete around 1889. All Royal navy ships, including Devastation, were converted to Breech loading. However, I invented a political excuse to keep Thunder Child antiquated and still retaining the short stubby muzzle loading guns inside revolving turrets. 

This was to give Thunder Child a feeling of being behind the times, but still plucky when the occasion demanded. The diagram above was found in a library book and then I was fortunate enough to find it on line. This gives a great internal view of the working of H.M.S. Devastation and I used this plan for my vision of H.M.S. Thunder Child in The Last Days of Thunder Child by C.A. Powell. 

The book is only on sale in the USA at the moment but will be able to be sold in the EU and other places in 2017. On USA kindle, the novel is available for download and it can be bought in print too. Check out the advert below.

For reviews on USA please click here and scroll down.

By Brian on February 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Length: 2:48 Mins
Novels like this are like a painting inside of a painting, or a painting inside someone else's painting. C A Powell does a great job in both stepping into Wells world and handling the sea battle, which is probably the most challenging kind of battle to write. For more detail watch the video I made. 

H.M.S. Devastation in all her glory launched 1871 Portsmouth

The first recorded battleship to put to sea without the array of sail and rope was the Royal Navy’s H.M.S. Devastation. She was launched in Portsmouth on 12th July 1871 and was designed by Sir Edward J. Reed. She was the first of two Devastation class battleships – the other being H.M.S. Thunderer, her sister ship. She sat low in the water but her freeboard was raised above the stern and bow. The bow must have been awash with water when she ploughed through the high seas. In the above model, the waterline is roughly where the black paint meets the light brown. You can then imagine how much of the vessel sat below the water. At the bow, you can see the pointed ram, which is of course below the water line. The reason for building this ram was said to have come about after the successful ramming during the battle of Lissa in 1866. This was a battle that took place between the Austrian Empire and the Italian forces close to a small island in the Adriatic sea, close to Croatia. It was the first major battle between ironclads and one of the last to involve deliberate ramming. 

There were, of course, coal driven ships, made of iron, about and they had been for some time, but for a ship to rely exclusively on steam engine gear as a means of propulsion; this was a first. She had two horizontal trunk engines – a design of John Penn of Greenwich and each of these engines drove screw propellers that moved the vessel at 13.5 knots (25.6km/h)

She could hold around 18,000 tonnes of fuel and this gave her a range of 5,500 miles, which was very good in 1871.

Note the small muzzle loading cannons barely protruding from the turret ports. They would be replaced with longer barrelled breech loaders in 1890. Also, note the gantry ladders leading down from the bridge on to the top of the turret. There was a ladder fixed to the back of the turret so crewmen could climb down onto the deck. The same could be done on the rear turret.

What gave her the look of the future battleships to come were her revolving turret guns, which we are familiar with when visualising battleships of the two world wars. However, her first guns placed inside the revolving turrets were muzzle loaded and barely protruded from the gun ports. The two guns to each turret would be rolled back on a small rail and the front would be tilted down so the muzzle was to the deck, where an opening leads to the deck below. Here, the armourers could load the guns by thrusting charge and shell up ducting and into the waiting gun muzzle. When this was done the guns were levelled and wheeled forward towards the gun ports.

It is said that this particular turret and gun design were the same as those used in an earlier invention by a man called Captain Cowper Phipps Coles. He had the same turrets on the ill-fated H.M.S. Captain – a ship that had masts as well as the steam engines and iron turrets. She sank off of Cape Finisterre with many of the crew including Cowper Phipps Coles. Only 18 men of a compliment of 500 survived the terrible event.

H.M.S. Devastation’s revolving forward and aft turret guns gave the ability to fire at 260 degrees. She never saw action, though there is an American blog that states she did during the Crimean war. This, of course, is untrue because she was not built until 1871 and the Crimean War was in the early 1850s. There was, however, an earlier H.M.S. Devastation sailing ship and maybe she is recorded as having seen action at this time.

The turret battleship, H.M.S. Devastation was sent out to represent the UK in the Mediterranean and she was a very common sight in the island of Malta with her twelve-inch guns inside the strange turrets when other ships still displayed their broadside guns. She had a crew compliment of 410 men.

Her sister ship, H.M.S. Thunderer suffered a terrible accident during a firing practice drill. It was in the aft turret – as both guns were rolled forward with charge and shell rammed down into each muzzle – the gunner ordered to fire. The gun crew covered their ears as both guns fired. However, just one gun went off and the other remained dormant. The gun crew, who cover their ears to mask the roar of the guns were unaware that one of the guns had not gone off. Each cannon was then wheeled back and dipped down to the loading opening in the turret floor which lead down to the deck below. Another shell and charge was rammed home – shell and charge sitting on top of another unexploded shell and charge. They were wheeled forward once again and when the gun master ordered the crew to fire, it was to be their last act as the explosion within the confines of the turret would have been dreadful. All men of the turret were killed. The consequence of this horrific accident hastened a change in all ship’s turret guns. The old muzzle loading cannons were changed to the longer barrelled breech loading guns. In 1890 H.M.S. Devastation was refitted with these new guns and other modification and then re-assigned to the First Reserve Fleet which was based in Scotland. By now she was old and there were many more modern and more powerful turret ships.
In 1908 she was sold for scrap and broken up, which was a shame, being as she was the first of her kind.

Other historical and navy stories:

First Submarine success of any war

H.M.S. Thunder Child

CSS Alabama

China's civil war that claimed 30 million lives

Ship of the first Opium War

Cyclops class coastal defence ships

Victorian Royal Navy accident

Graf Spee commerce raider of WWII

What would it have been like for the crew of HMS Thunder Child? The fictitious ship from the War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. 

I had a fascination with Victorian ironclads and the first revolving turret ships. These steel beasts of the British Empire never really saw the action of note because, during this day and age, the Royal Navy was very advanced with many ships to call upon to serve its vast empire. It was never put to the test until the time of the dreadnoughts in WWI. There was a 100 year period when Great Britain's navy cruised, at will, around the entire planet. Nothing of substance could face it upon our Earth. Nothing of note did. These wonderful ships came and went during that period of peace at sea, for Great Britain.

Then, to my delight, I read H.G.Wells' fabulous SciFi novel set in the Victorian era. This author created the ultimate for me. Nothing on Earth could face this proud navy. So he brought us 'off world aliens' from Mars in gigantic machines that roamed, at will, on three legs. The story contained a small exert of an old ironclad called HMS Thunder Child. It lasted but half a page within the novel, but gave me cause to wonder.

I wanted the ship (Thunder Child) to be like HMS Devastation or HMS Thunderer the sister ship. They were among the first revolving turrets ships without sails. I wanted the old fictitious ironclad (HMS Thunder Child) to be like one of these. It would have been built in 1971 and therefore would be old by 1898. For poetic licence I wanted it to have retained its muzzle loading guns with short stumpy barrels that barely protruded from the revolving turret's ports. I needed to invent a reason for the old (and by this time) obsolete guns to still be in use. Muzzle loaders were changed for long barrel breech loaders across the Royal Navy in the 1880s decade, after a terrible accident with HMS Thunderer.

All this was created to give fictitious HMS Thunder Child an excuse to still have the muzzle loaders, years after them becoming obsolete in the Royal Navy. It lent the ship a vulnerability, to my mind, as I decided to write a pastiche novel set in H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds Universe. I wanted to go aboard Thunder Child in the days prior to her encounter with three Martian tripods in the River Blackwater, off the Coast of Maldon in Essex, England, UK. The River Blackwater is a small tributary that leads out into the North Sea. What happened in the days leading up to the dramatic event?

Writing - The Last Days of Thunder Child - a pastiche story 

It took me upon a fantasy of my own and an enjoyable adventure. It was a wonderfully engrossing project. If anyone reads H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds or even listens to Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation of the book, they will delight in the tale of Thunder Child's grand moment as the brave ironclad attacks the Martians to save a paddle steamer crammed with refugees.  I decided to go back a few days hence the confrontation and join the crew on its journey that would lead to the ultimate meeting. 

Images below of Thunder Child and HMS Devastation - the way I imagined the fictitious ship from War of the Worlds.

Model of HMS Devastation
Another view of HMS Devastation
Artist's impression of HMS Devastation in Malta
Impression of Thunder Child battling Martian tripods

A Sci/Fi artist's great image of Thunder Child.
To enjoy The Last Days of Thunder Child - a pastiche from War of the Worlds please check out.

HMS Thunderer's starboard boiler
exploded in September 1876

H.M.S. Thunderer was the sister ship of H.M.S. Devastation. She  was an early British Victorian battleship  that suffered two major accidents in her early years. The first being an explosion on the 2nd September 1876.

One of her two boilers was over heating due to pressure valves corroding in the upper section. This was on her starboard boiler. Also, this boiler's pressure gauge was out of order so it was simply shut off. Such a thing is inconceivable today and its hard to think it was then, but as the starboard boiler began to over heat, the men in the engine room were unaware of the serious and deadly conditions they were working in. The commanding officer was down in the engine room at the time. (Perhaps he was there because of the fault.)

Starboard boiler after explosion
While the commanding officer was in the vicinity, the top half of the boiler exploded killing 15 men instantly, including the commanding officer. A further 70 men were seriously injured, of which another 30 of these would die later from the wounds they suffered. 

As a result of this accident, new protocols were introduced concerning engine checks and stability - careful monitoring that had to be maintained and procedures concerning engine shutdown.

Then on 2nd of January 1879 the second accident aboard H.M.S. Thunderer, brought about further changes within the Royal Navy. This time with the phasing out of muzzle loading turret guns to breech loaders with longer barrels. On this particular day after the New Year's Day, H.M.S. Thunderer was in the Sea of Marmora on a gunnery exercise.

H.M.S. Thunderer was testing her guns when the left-hand cannon of the fore turret had misfired. The right-hand gun had gone off but the left had not. The gunners inside the turret may have held their ears as the two guns were fired and so be unaware that only one gun had fired. When the muzzle loaders were wheeled back inside the turret, each gun barrel was lowered to hatches in the floor where ducting led down to the armourers below. They would slide a charge up the ducting into the waiting muzzle followed by a shell.
Fore turret destruction by left-hand guns doubles loading.
The gun crew and the armourers below deck would have been unaware that as the guns were rolled forward out of the turret's gun ports, the left-hand cannon had an explosive and shell sitting upon another explosive and shell. It was double loaded.

The order to fire was given and as the guns ignited the left-hand one exploded in the turret. The 12" gun of 38 tonnes of steel in the confines of metal walls was horrendous. The luckless gun crew inside the revolving turret did not stand much chance. 
Testing right-hand gun at Woolwich Arsenal
As a result, 11 men were killed and 34 wounded. At first, the crew was not sure what happened and the ship returned to Britain. The remaining right-hand gun of the fore turret was dismantled and taken to Woolwich Arsenal in London. The cannon wheeled inside a tunnel of a mounded hill composed of dirt and sand bags - an armoured cell of containment. It was double loaded to create the same condition. When the gun was fired it exploded in the same way and upon checking damage they were able to prove that this was the cause of the accident - double loading the barrel.

As a result, the admiralty brought in a directive for all ships to have muzzle loaders withdrawn and replaced with breech loaders. This would prevent an accident of such nature occurring in future.

HMS Thunderer (British Royal Navy Devastation – class battleship)

This Victorian battleship brought about two major changes during the time of Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy because of two terrible accidents. HMS Thunderer was the sister ship of HMS Devastation – an ironclad revolving turret ship designed by Edward James Read. The ship was launched in 1872. Some of the innovations on Thunderer were regarded with suspicion by other designers. This would become well founded because of the horrendous accidents she would suffer.

On 14 July 1876, there was a disastrous boiler explosion. Forty-five people were killed when one her eight box boilers burst. HMS Thunderer was cruising from Portsmouth Harbour doing a full power trial.

The terrible explosion tore through the hold and killed 15 people instantly. Among the dead was the ship’s captain. He was in the boiler room when the explosion occurred. About 70 others were injured besides the initial 15 killed, but a further 30 crewmen died later. In all 45 men lost their lives. The explosion brought a swift end to the boilers in use. They were replaced with Scotch cylindrical boilers.

The second serious accident occurred in January 1879 when one of the guns in the forward turret exploded during firing practice. This resulted in the deaths of 11 crewmen with 35 injured. The accident happened when a muzzle-loading gun was accidentally double loaded after a misfire. The gun crew inside the turret would cover their ears as both guns fired. Only one gun went off and the gun crew did not realise. They loaded another charge and shell on top of the one still inside the barrel. The consequences were terrible.

After this dreadful accident, the Royal Navy changed to breech loading guns. It brought about better loading procedures. HMS Thunderer was re-equipped with longer barrelled breech-loading guns.

Other ships of simular build that caught my attention

Cyclops class ship
There is something about this coastal defence ship that I like. It was not really up to much and did not need to prove itself during its time in service with Queen Victoria's Royal Navy. It was an odd shaped little vessel and was rather ugly - yet it still flicks a little switch for me. HMS Hecate was one of four Cyclops class ships that Parliament wanted building because of the Franco - Prussian war in 1870.

Parliament regarded these ships as necessary because they were small and cheap with a shallow draft and offered coastal water defence. The, attack-minded, Admiralty thought that because of their shallow draft, they might make good attack vessels in shallow water ports of the enemy. However, the majority of people believed them unfit for open sea and heavy weather. The low fore and aft decks were often awash with sea even in conditions not regarded as severe.

Cyclops class like miniature versions of HMS Devastation.
Admiral George Alexander Ballard thought the armament was fine but stability in open sea questionable. He was known to have referred to the Cyclops class ships as 'full-armoured knights on donkeys.' This was perhaps cruel, but probably right. However, as coastal or river boats, they were fine little ships.

Not ideal for the open sea
HMS Hecate did make a journey across the North Sea and for this reason, I have a soft spot for her and the rest of these odd little ships. She had a compliment of 156 men was 225ft from bow to stern with a beam of 45ft. She had two engines and a fore and aft turret, each with two 10 inch rifled muzzle loaders. The little lady could pack a punch if an enemy vessel was to get in her way.

These four ships (Cyclops, Hecate, Hydra, and Gorgon) were smaller versions of the HMS Devastation class battleship. They had one funnel instead of the two that HMS Devastation had and looked like a miniature version of this first turret Battleship with no sails.

(Incidentally there is an Australian Ship called HMVS Cerberus that was in service three years before HMS Devastation and is still about - part submerged in a bay off the Australian coast. She is very much like the Cyclops class ships but was built earlier. There is a Save the Cerebus movement to protect and look after this unique ship. You can find out more on Friends of the Cerebus Inc. Please click link below.)

Below is a newspaper report of HMS Hecate from the Glasgow Herald on 26th December 1883:

Some important experiments were made on Saturday off Plymouth on board the Hecate, 4, double-screw iron armour-plated turret-ship. This vessel, together with Gorgon, Cyclops, and Hydra, her sister ships, was built on the same principle as the Devastation, but on a much smaller scale. It was discovered that they could in no way stand the rough weather, and the belief was that powerful as they were, they could only be used for coast defence. About twelve months ago it was proposed to erect a superstructure on one as a test, with a view to secure not only greater stability but better accommodation for officers and crew. The Hecate was selected to experiment upon, and in January last Messrs H. & R. Green, of Blackwall, who were entrusted by the Admiralty with the work took, the ship in hand.

The improvement made included the extension of the breastwork to the ship's side and the lengthening aft about 20 feet. The captain's apartments are now within the superstructure, instead of below the upper deck, and are well supplied with light and natural ventilation. The officers generally have the advantage of a commodious reading room. A sick bay has been fitted up, and provision made for carrying a quantity of patent fuel. Additional mess accommodation has been secured on the lower deck by the removal of the sick bay, and better cabins have been allocated to the warrant officers.

The sea-going qualities of the Hecate under her altered condition were fully tested on her way from the Nore to Devonport. Saturday's experiments were directed to firing the four guns in the turrets, to test the strength of the superstructure, which is composed of ½ inch steel. Another object **** was to discover the best places for fixing the four Nordenfelt guns with which the ship is to be supplied.

The vessel is armed with four 18 ton guns, two in each turret, both of which revolve. The four guns were first discharged with scaling charges. Then the left gun in the fore turret was loaded with a full charge of 44lb of powder and a common shell weighing 400 lb and was discharged bearing on the port beam, at a horizontal elevation. The right gun in the same turret was next fired under similar conditions, but bearing on the starboard beam. Upon examining the superstructure it was found that two rivets had been started on the starboard side. The guns of the same turret were then fired with a battering charge of 70lb. of powder each and 400lb shell, but the concussion did no damage. They were then discharged simultaneously. The final experiment was the firing of an electric broadside of all four guns at once, bearing on the port beam. The concussion was considerable, but beyond the two rivets started, after the smallest charge, not the slightest damage was done — not even a pane of glass.

Other things that flicked my interest

I saw a model ship from Victorian times in a military Museum in Norfolk as I drove along the coastal road back to my home in the Fenlands. It was a pleasant surprise because the museum had a little more to look at than I expected.

In one section I saw a number of model boats. One of them HMS Hornet of the Dreadnought class or just pre-Dreadnought. I wrote a pastiche novel of H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds. It is called: The Last Days of Thunder Child. Although in my book, Thunder Child is visualised as a ship looking more like HMS Devastation the HMS Hornet, the model's figures of the sailors on board would look the same. I loved the look of the superstructure and the wheel house and the figure standing about in their RN uniforms of the era.

I could not help but excitedly snap the model in order to get a look at the sailors aboard. It sets my old imagination going into overdrive.  

To my further delight, I saw a paddle steamer called the Waverly. This little boat still exists and goes all around the British Isles to various seaside locations each year. When I lived at Southend-on-Sea she often came to the pier and took people out on excursions. I based the paddle steamer on the one in H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds when I wrote the Thunder Child pastiche story. Therefore, I had to click all. I have the image of the sailors aboard HMS Hornet for the uniforms of the day, the paddle steamer Waverly (re-named Southend Belle) for the fleeing boat full of refugees and the model of HMS Devastation for my mind's image of the fictitious  HMS Thunder Child.  

The model of HMS Devastation with her short barrelled muzzle loading guns are what I imagined Thunder Child to look like. Outdated, even in 1898, but able to pack a punch for the people on the paddle steamer in the Last Days of Thunder Child.