The Last Days of Thunder Child

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

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Giving You the Amazing Sci-Fi Pastiche Story of Thunder Child

HMS Thunder Child fires people's imagination from the time of when H.G. Wells first wrote his epic science fiction story in Victorian times about a Martian invasion of Earth. It has been translated into many languages and had an epic musical written of the story too.

War of the Worlds is much loved and is still universal to this day. It will always be so. In the future, when humans do live in space; H.G. Wells will be ancient alongside Homer and Plato. I can imagine people, far off in the future, talking of such ancient writings the way we do of Ancient Greeks. 

Of course there will be many others too. The list will grow as the Science Fiction input grows. I think Jules Verne will be there and Philip K. Dick. Issac Asimov and John Wyndham to name but a few. Science Fiction is a relatively new genre, but in recent decades it has become more and more popular as interest grows at an astonishing speed. 

My early interest rapidly grew at high school when I read The Time Machine. I had seen the splendid movie and was rather surprised by the difference in the actual written story. Also, I was equally surprised by The War of the Worlds. I had seen the 50s decade American movie version of the story, which I enjoyed, but then upon reading the book, I had a stronger Victorian image of the story and, of course, the British setting amid streets and towns I knew of; brought it so much more to life for me. Especially HMS Thunder Child and her battle against three Martian tripods in Malden, Essex.

I've often looked out across the River Blackwater and tried to imagine HMS Thunder Child steaming into action against the colossal edifices of the Martian tripods. Its what made me start the project of writing an imaginary adaptation of my own. It was a very enjoyable project - like painting a picture with words. Knowing the finished product, but inventing a consequence to come to such a result. 

The Last Days of Thunder Child is available on createspace and Amazon as paperback. 

On Kindle USA ebook too. To be available in EU from August 2016. 

Giving You F1 Legend Jim Clark.

Jim Clark Lotus 1967

This was another ornimental gem that I could not resist. Jim Clark's Lotus stand proudly on the side board. Little nostalgic memories of my boyhood.

From the mind of a seven year old boy

My only memory of Jim Clark, as a young seven year old, was from his prestigious reputation. I did not know what F1 racing meant, but I knew what racing cars looked liked. Racing cars were different from ordinary cars. Even though ordinary cars did race if they had stripes, and numbers painted on them, and were put on racing tracks or in fields. They still were not proper racing cars though.

Real racing cars were different and they went faster and you only saw them on television because they did not drive on streets. I also had hundreds of toy cars and knew what racing cars looked like. I knew the name Jim Clark because he raced such cars. The UK in the 1960s decade was full of names in various and exciting iconic interests. Interests that came to us from pop stars, film stars, football stars, comics of great British war heroes - we were fed on a diet of great heroes.

In school, or somewhere, I knew of Jim Clark. He drove racing cars and won trophies of great prestige because he was a champion racing car driver. I had no idea what he looked like. But when we kids played motor racing cars in the school playground or out on the streets, everyone argued over who was Jim Clark.
"I'm Jim Clark."
"No, I'm Jim Clark."
Needless to say the toughest kid in the group was usually Jim Clark.

It was in the summer of 1968 when I went on holiday with my cousins, who were a little older then me. We were playing in the garden of a guest house, where we were staying, and decided to play racing cars around this huge boat that was being made in the garden. I'm not sure if it was in Margate, Ramsgate or Broadstairs because we always seemed to go to one of these places every year. This boat looked like a miniature ark and someone was in the process of building it. While we were at the guest house; whoever was trying to construct the boat, must have left the project, because we never saw anyone working on the partly completed boat. All the wood was new and I remembered wondering how they would get such a big boat off of its stands and to the sea.

We were running around this partly constructed boat playing and laughing. Then decided we were racing cars, and around the boat was the racing track.

"I'm Jim Clark," I shouted enthusiastically. My elder cousins were very tolerant and not like the kids in the playground and in the street. I had a good chance of being indulged and getting my way.
"You can't," replied my cousin Danny. "Jim Clark is dead."
"No he's not - he's a racing car driver."

He went on to tell me that Jim Clark was killed in a racing car crash, in a real racing car race, only a short time ago. I was stunned and shocked. Jim Clark was dead and I never even knew it, or what he looked like.

As years rolled by and other F1 names came and went from the sport, I learnt more of Jim Clark through watching interviews with Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill. He was a very special champion that was liked and respected in the F1 sport across the world.

Below is a link to a documentary of Jim Clark that is on YouTube. It's a very moving documentary.

Driving Jim Clark's Lotus

Driving Jim Clark's Lotus 25 would be a dream come true for anyone who enjoys formula one and its high octane, fuel injected, excitingly dangerous history. Where the thin line between winning glory and devastating acceleration into the afterlife can happen in the flicker of a blink.

Jim Clark tasted both sides - the euphoric adulation of winning while skimming the danger of death and finally the flip side of the formula one coin. His name now echoes in eternity and the thought of driving one of his actual cars is something close to the legend he has become. I would be too terrified to even contemplate racing in formula one, but to take one on a spin on an empty open track? Oh yes! I think I could manage that.

David Coulthard got to do just that, but then he is one of the many who have tweaked the nose of Formula one danger. I have a Lotus 25 diecast 1:18 of Jim Clark's 1967 Dutch Grand Prix car. It has pride of place in my little office room. I enjoy watching Formula One, but I get this interest in fads. I am going through such a fad of interest at the moment. It will settle down, but its Ron Howard, the late James Hunt and Nikki Lauda's fault.

For now, I'm enjoying going through a retro buzz  and the great Retro Brit names of the 50s and 60s are compelling me to look at the sport. Jim Clark, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Graham Hill, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart. That fifteen years was a golden age for British Formula One. Great days with only some of the vehicles of some of the ghosts that have left us.

Interview with the Legend

Jim Clark won the Formula One Championship on two occasions. 1963 and 1965. He was killed during a minor none F1 race in Germany 1968. Had he lived beyond his 32 years, I believe he would have undoubtedly gone on to win at least one other championship.

Giving You Formula One Legend Wolfgang Von Trips

Wolfgang Von Trips last race in this shark nose Ferrari

I saw a small shark nose Ferrari on sale via web and could not resist the ornamental buy. I have a fascination with old Formula one racing drivers and I had read a book about Phil Hill (USA) and Wolfgang Von Trips (Germany). Two Ferrari team mates who were neck and neck with one another in the 1961 F1 championship. These guys had come up through the 50s decade with many of the greats who had perished to the dangers of the sport. These modern day knights who flirted with death in every race. Most lived fast and died young. The shark nose Ferrari ornamental car above is Wolfgang's racing car as it was in his last fatal race. The Italian Grand Prix of 1961. He had some sort of minor collision or altercation trying to avoid Jim Clark (Great Britain) A new up and coming talent that would also perish to the sport in 1968.

Wolfgang veered off track and smashed into the barriers killing himself and several spectators. It was a very sad day for the sport and the passing of many spectators plus a fine gentleman F1 racer.

One of Wolfgang Von Trips Races - Millie Migllia 1957

In Italy of 1957, during the golden age of danger and dare; Formula One racing car drivers began to emerge from around the world to compete with the charismatic Italian racers and car designers. The world of fast racing cars was a small bubble of freedom in the developing world where regulation was held at bay.

Young men emerged, who were dashing, daring. Many were eager to skim the edge of death, then live to tell the consequences. After the race, they would talk to each other of such daring undertakings. Perhaps they were coming forth in search of adulation and prestige. This came with winning. They had a dire need for speed and to live on the edge for a few brief moments and then come down from the high adrenalin buzz, in each other’s company. Often they liked to discuss their deeds and desires in bars and restaurants. They spent racing seasons doing this from one racing event to another and each driver was moulded in a different way, with different views to come to grips with the constant danger they faced. Many lived fast and died young. It was part of the compelling aspect of danger that gripped some.

We all know how dangerous Formula One Racing has been and still is, but in the decades of 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, so many racers were getting killed in the pursuit of high-speed glory.

Still, young men came forward to dice with high-speed vehicles, constructed by the world’s top designers. Among the best of these designers in the 1950s was Enzo Ferrari. He wanted to make better and faster cars all of the time and needed such men to be daring enough to push his dream machines to the limit.

Among such drivers was one old veteran who had never won a major race, but had taken part in many. His name was Piero Taruffi and he was 51 years of age in 1957 and he had a wife and family. The great Italian Formula One race of the Mille Miglia was coming around for its annual staging, and Piero Taruffi wanted to emerge from semi-retirement to dance once more with the Mille Migila, the prestigious Italian race. He had attempted to win the race twelve times before but to no avail. There had always been more determined and better contestants. In 1957 there was a new breed of young men who were hungry for victory. Piero had often said to his wife he would retire if he could win the Mille Miglia endurance race that started in Brescia and went on for a thousand KM in a circle of roads around central Italy to finish back at Brescia, where it started. His wife must have been under strain and worry because like all racers Piero always seemed to need to achieve a goal that was just out of reach. At 51, he had lived longer than many. The law of averages was against him.

Among the youngsters entering the 1957 Mille Miglia were many great up and coming names, like Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Mike Hawthorn and others who were big names of the time.

In a small Italian restaurant, there was a gathering of such awe-inspiring names before the final dash toward Brescia and the finish line. They were young Ferrari teammates enjoying one another’s company. A group of young daredevils who would not live to be old. One was about to die, while the other two would see a few more races before coming to an untimely end.

One was Alfonso de Portago – London-born Spaniard of 28. He sat with Wolfgang Von Trips – a young German from Cologne who had overcome illness of polio to attain such fitness to drive a Formula One Ferrari. Then there was Peter Collins – a fine looking young fair-haired Englishman who was also in the Ferrari team. With these three young racers was an actress called Linda Christian – a beautiful looking lady from Mexico who had been married to Tyrone Power. She was engaged to be married to Alfonso de Portago, the Spanish driver. All three of these great drivers would fall victim to the Formula One circuit and pay for their love of racing with their lives. However, this was to be the last time Portago would indulge in such camaraderie with his good teammates Wolfgang and Peter. As said before, they would live for a few more years and races yet. It would also be the last time Alfonso and his fiancĂ© Linda would see each other. This little moment in eternity for a group of searchers and chancers.

These drivers went into the last part of the contest with many others equally determined to win the endurance race. It was the last 30-mile stretch that Wolfgang Von Trips and the old veteran Silver Fox (Piero Taruffi) got into a duel with one another. Each driver pushing his Ferrari for a little extra, wondering if there was a little more to the dream machine’s limit.

A few minutes behind was the Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago. Wolfgang and Piero had each thundered through the tiny village of Guidizzolo where spectators from the little dwellings had gathered along the roadway to watch the fast racing cars zoom past on the final run toward the finishing line at Brescia, some thirty miles beyond. They happily cheered, while Wolfgang and Piero zoomed through the humble little place. Each man was lost in their duel of speed, no doubt leaving the small village receding behind. Oblivious of the diabolical fame about to be bestowed upon the little Italian habitations. The two competing racer’s thoughts were upon the contest as pulsing pistons thrashed up and down willing the engines to motor the fine Ferrari vehicles towards the glory of the approaching finishing line that was over a few more hills and not so far away.

The village spectators waited for other racing cars to come charging passed. All were cheering and waving excitedly in eager anticipation. They saw the fast approaching car of Alfonso de Portago speeding down towards their little village at around 130 miles per hour. Many may have gasped in awesome dread expecting his vehicle to roar by.

Suddenly Alfonso’s speeding vehicle lost control and skidded into a huge telegraph pole. Alfonso was decapitated as the wrecked car lifted into the air and smashed into the spectators. Nine of the villagers were killed including five children. Plus others were injured too. The carnage and death were horrendous as shell-shocked spectators began to view the race, amid the destruction, in a less enthusiastic light. Their loved ones were hideously left dead and dying before their very eyes.

Up ahead, Wolfgang Von Trips and Piero Taruffi were unaware of the disaster behind them as they sped away from the village towards Brecsia. Neck and neck the old veteran pitted himself against the dashing young German driver Wolfgang Von Trips.

What went through Piero’s mind must have been difficult to comprehend. This one elusive prize that he had coveted winning and this was his final chance. They were upon the final run, still neck and neck. Piero’s car was beginning to cause problems as he was nearing the line with the gallant German still at his side. He is believed to have looked sideways to Wolfgang who was looking back at him. It is not known for sure what transpired between the young German racer and the underachieving Italian veteran, but Wolfgang decided to ease off slightly and throw the race in order that the old veteran should have his day of glory at the Mille Miglia. The Silver Fox crossed the line in first place with the noble young Wolfgang coming second.
Piero’s dream came true and Wolfgang congratulated the veteran racer upon getting out of his car amid the crowd of applauding people. The celebrations would soon be marred by the terrible news of what had happened back at the village of Guidizzolo.

The Bishop of Mantua would launch protests that went to the core of government in Italy. The Mille Miglia had been staged from 1927 until this final race of 1957. It would not be staged anymore because of the danger. It would only re-open in 1977 as a vintage show race. Piero Taruffi was the last Formula One driver to win the prestigious and dangerous race.  

Splendid book of Wolfgang Von Trips and Phil Hill

I loved this era of Formula one racing and Le Mans too. The 1950s was one of the most dangerous times during the history of motor racing. This book delves into the life of American F1 hero Phil Hill, German hero Wolfgang Von Trips and car designer Enzo Ferrari who had both the racers on his elite motor racing team. All the other great are featured as well, including Hawthorn, Collins, Ascari etc.

It is buzzing with excitement and eye witness accounts of many fatal crashes, including Le Mans 1955. Old time greats come into this historical account. I honestly could not put this book down. It was a cracking read. If you love the history of Motorsports; you'll love this. I have not enjoyed anything on par for a long time. We see Hill and Von Trips advancing up the rankings of the Ferrari team as those drivers above are killed.
We see the relaxation life of the driving superstars as they go around the world waiting for the next big race and who will be dining and laughing afterwards. These guys are speed gladiators and one of them: Stirling Moss survived all this. This is a real eye opener.

The Limit
Michael Cannell

How Formula One's 1961 Contestant Wolfgang Von Trips was So Close Yet Denied.

Wolfgang Von Trips was in a fierce competition against his Ferrari team mate Phil Hill during the Formula One world championship of 1961. Both drivers were close to securing the Formula One World Drivers Championship. For Wolfgang Von Trips it would secure Germany's first FI championship win, while for Phil Hill it would be a first for the USA.

There was just the 1961 Italian Grand Prix to go on the 10th September and if Wolfgang could finish third or better; the FI championship 1961 would be his. This was all he had worked for and like all F1 racers, who diced with death during every race, it was his dream to come true if he could clinch the third spot or better.

 Wolfgang Von Trips was born in Cologne Germany in 1928 and was a well to do family. They owned a castle outside of Cologne. As a lad of 14, Wolfgang caught polio and was treated. Once he had overcome this obstacle he was summoned and sent into the Hitler Youth. This was during WWII when Germany was under the rule of National Socialism. In 1944, he along with friends of the Volkssturm and Hitler Youth had to try and defend Cologne from advancing American troops.

He was among the captured when the city fell. Once the war ended, he returned to the family castle to find it had been ransacked by allies. Obviously, his family had much restoration to do. He was motivated by occupying British and American troops to take up his interest in Motorbikes and cars. He had an obvious talent in this field. This was probably disappointing for his family because it was their intention that young Wolfgang Von Trips was destined to run the family farm. He did attend collage studies in agriculture and passed these in 1954. However he was buying cars and entering racing competitions and was talent spotted in 1956, by no lesser man then Enzo Ferrari.

Wolfgang began his F1 carrier during the 1956 season. All this effort and risk in the fast lane, like his fellow competitors, culminated in the grand standing of 1961's Italian Grand Prix at Monza. All he needed was the third place or better and the much-coveted championship would be his. 

As the race started the duel between Wolfgang and Phil Hill got under way. This particular Grand Prix was a dangerous one of significance and had claimed lives before. This was also during an era of formula one racing when deaths were very often happening during every season. The drivers that do this sort of sport are great thrill seekers and it is argued that many are misfits in some way - speed merchants that need the buzz of dicing close to the edge of death. Perhaps Wolfgang Von Tripp was such a thrill seeker who was coming so close to glorious victory; that he could taste it - go that extra yard for the all desired prize.

There was a new up and coming young Scot named Jim Clark in this race and on an all important bend of the Monza circuit, Wolfgang turned his Ferrari into the chasing path of Jim Clark's Lotus. At that moment Wolfgang's rear wheel clipped the front of the pursuing 'future British Champion' Jim Clark's car. The German driver went into a terrible spin-off of the track and onto the verge. His car lifted as it hit the crash barriers and killed 14 spectators. Wolfgang Von Trip was also killed in the crash as he was thrown from the cascading wreckage.

He was a gallant racer, and like so many before and after him. Wolfgang Von Trips died tragically in pursuit of the sport he obviously had a passion for. The terrible legacy was the death of the Italian spectators too. It had shades of the horrific Le Mans disaster of 1955

The USA's Phil Hill went on to take the Formula One trophy of 1961. Wolfgang went out in an explosive blaze of Formula One legend and gloried tribute. He is remembered with honour by those who love the sport.  

Wolfgang Von Trips Crash 1961 Italian Grand Prix

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Giving You A War of the Worlds Adaptation USA

Growing Interest in Adaptation

The Last Days of Thunder Child is a War of the Worlds adaptation on sale in the USA and to be sold in the EU from August 2016, seventy years after the passing of the great H.G. Wells - the master science fiction writer of the late Victorian age.

Fascinating new perspective.

The pastiche story goes aboard the battleship/ironclad and the readers sees the Martian invasion unfold via the crew's perspective. At first, just rumour and speculation from semaphore stations. The plucky battleship is destined to confront and fight the alien invaders, as in H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds the old retro sci-fi story. Today it is more of an alternative history as well as Science Fiction. It could also be a steampunk story due to its Victorian setting. It all makes for a fun read of Victorian battleship verses alien invaders from Mars.

The story offers two lines of adventure: 

1. The noble Scottish Captain McIntosh and his crew aboard HMS Thunder Child as they cruise around the channel into the North Sea and up along the south east England coastline.

2. On land, the shy and reserved English Albert Stanley, a minor administrator from the Ministry of Defence - the messenger who brings HMS Thunder Child's last minuet orders. Instructions that stop the ironclad going to the salvage yard.

The Final Outcome

The adaptation story has the alternative history - retro science fiction - steampunk feel about it. Readers can purchase the novel in paperback or on Kindle download USA.

War of the Worlds Fans

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 aMartian 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.

Giving You Wonderful Images For A Retro Sci-Fi Adaptation

The adaptation story of H.M.S. Thunder Child is in paperback and Kindle USA. It will be on sale in the EU from August 2016.

The story of H.M.S. Thunder Child is in paperback and Kindle USA. It will be on sale in the EU from August 2016.