The Last Days of Thunder Child

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

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Science Fiction's HMS Thunder Child from War of the Worlds - An Adaptation.

Science Fiction Lovers Indulge This Thought.

Imagine, if you will, how it would have been to be a Victorian sailor from 1898. You are on board HMS Thunder Child and the ship is picking up strange semaphore messages from the shore stations. Invaders from Mars are striding about and destroying the entire fabric of your nation. Would you believe such outrages things? The entire ship would be alive with speculation and disbelief. These sailors were destined to see three and confront the colossal edifices in battle.

As an impressionable young lad, I always found myself pondering such things.
I would walk about in my dream thinking, “If I was in that story, I would do this or that.” I found myself wishing for all sorts of adventures.
When I read H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, I remember getting a tremendous lift out of the short excerpt when an ironclad called H.M.S. Thunder Child attacked three Martian tripods in the River Blackwater to save a paddle steamer full of refugees. 
It was not more than half a page and the uplifting and brave event was short lived. Yet it achieved great admiration from me as a young and impressionable avid reader. Anyone who has read War of the Worlds or listened to Jeff Wayne's musical adaptation will know. 
In my mind's eye, I wanted to know more of the crew and the bold ironclad. I found myself reinventing a small section of the story from a whole new perspective. I wondered what it would have been like to be on such a ship that cruised into legend, blazing away at the Martian abominations in defence of mankind.

Why Do We Enjoy Steampunk?

There is so much more to steampunk than dressing up in Victorian style clothing. It is developing in various fields of interest and carving out a signature in music, movies and literature. It can cross a multitude of topics and the boundaries are constantly expanding. Because these boundaries are always being pushed and explored, steampunk is becoming more diverse and varies in a number of fan's imaginations.
One might enjoy the fashion or clothing. Another might enjoy fantasy stories set in Victorian style realms or futuristic alternative Gothic/steampunk worlds. There are also various steampunk style ornaments. I've even seen a lavish looking bathroom complete with toilet and tiling in the wonderful steampunk style.
Steampunk of today appears to be an alliance of Victorian age coupled with science fiction. It seems to have a ruled structure yet an invitation to meddle and redesign while maintaining that old world vision of clothing, steel and rivets. 
Although steampunk has a signature of an old Victorian world, there remains a twisted and alternative futuristic feel as well. Each person looks unique in their attire and each vehicle or contraption seems unique too. Nothing is uniform except the old Victorian world concept somehow reinvented. It seems and feels as though we are looking back in time to the Victorian era while flirting with a wished for, science fiction and futuristic look and feel.
(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 centre. 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 life forms 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 pursuing devastation.
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 semaphore 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.
War of the Worlds pastiche
Britain in 1898.
The Martians really came and this is the alternative history of that dreadful event. Join the crew of HMS Thunder Child as she prepares to embark upon her doomed voyage, before her demise and courageous battle with three Martian tripod fighting machines at the River Blackwater in the county of Essex, England, UK.
Captain McIntosh and his brave crew can hardly believe the semaphore messages sent from the shore stations. The news is so uncanny and fantastic that none can accept the stories of Martians falling from space. All hands of HMS Thunder Child must keep a dreadful appointment with destiny as they cruise towards the dire outcome awaiting them.
The War of the Worlds first terrified audiences in book form in 1898, as the first-person narrative tells us the adventures of an unnamed protagonist and his brother as Martians invade Earth. But there were other characters with stories to tell.
C. A. Powell delves into H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and offers fans of the original novel a brand new perspective on the invasion of Earth. In The Last Days of Thunder Child, we see this classic through the eyes of the Royal Navy crew members of HMS Thunder Child and the land based Ministry of Defence. With this pastiche novel, you will have an even greater understanding and appreciation for the original classic. 
Find out what happens and read: The Last Days of Thunder Child By C.A. Powell
Prepare for the voyage of HMS Thunder Child as she cruises towards her destiny.

What makes a book what it is?
Modern day Science fiction has a lot of things that the writers of the past had to quite literally make up. Computers, communication devices and space travel are all real. Somehow, though the creativity of the writers of science fiction today still pushes the boundaries of imagination that few other genres manage to do. However, it is not just science fiction, or more likely science fact, writing that has pushed the envelope when it comes to good storytelling.
Fantasy stories such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson have much of what Tolkien wrote about in the Lord of the Rings and that C S Lewis wrote about in the impressive and still hugely popular Narnia novels. Readers now as they did then need escapism, something to take them out of the humdrum or stressed out world we live in. Readers need to somehow believe that there is perhaps an alternative existence and hope they can close their eyes and wake up in a dream.
Jules Verne took readers on amazing adventures, under the sea and to the centre of the earth as well as to the moon. His stories were born out of a love for adventure and travel. The only one of his adventures that has not become a reality is to the centre of the earth. But still, we have not sent a man to the core as yet. The best writers tell stories of adventures in places in faraway places with the impossible being just part of the story in the fact that it is just or maybe somehow could happen. Modern day Clive Cussler stories have much of the adventure contained in a Jules Verne story. True they are aimed at a more mature audience but for the reader, his books are believable escapism with a perfect blend of possible, impossible and who knows if it could be possible. Raise the Titanic? It has been done with other ships so why not?
But what is it that makes a writer write a book than enthrals a generation of readers?
The popularity of Narnia and Middle Earth are still as popular today as they were in the mid-1900s when they were conceived and written. There was something in them that made each page come alive and something that is as real today as it was then.
The reason why the books were and are so popular is adversity. When Tolkien’s and Lewis’ books were written, the world was in a state of turmoil. The depression was ending when Tolkien published the Hobbit in 1937 and World War II had just ended five years prior to the publication of the Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe. People needed cheering up, times for most people times were hard, there was no TV, cinema was a treat and money was scarce for many forms of entertainment.
Books and reading became an affordable and enjoyable pastime that has remained today. Modern books in paperback or hardback outstrip sales of e-books despite the convenience of a Kindle but nonetheless, books are still popular. It could be said that many modern authors are heavily influenced by other writers and this is not surprising and despite this great stories still emerge even if there is a hint that we may have heard the story before.
 Yes, we live in a tough world but it is nowhere near as dark and worrisome as it was in times past. The world is not at war, countries are not being invaded and while the economy could be better, it is nowhere near as bad as it was in the 1930s. Writers of science fiction, fantasy and adventure have to dig a little deeper to find their inspiration and make a book a best seller, they need to find some adversity that the world can understand.
People want to read, they want good stories, and there are many great and lesser-known authors today who enthral readers. Harry Potter did a good job of getting kids to read and for many struggling writers the story behind J K Rowling gave them the courage to write. The reason for the success of Harry Potter was that it was a story like nothing before. Witches, Wizards and Muggles took the world by storm and the success is a story all on its own. It worked because of originality, some crazy almost believable storyline and it stretched the imagination of the reader to the perfect sweet spot.
Other authors can inspire writers and always will but it takes some form of adversity to create an original best seller. J K Rowling had long train journeys and nothing to do and Harry, Ron and Hermione popped into her mind. Rowling’s characters and theme was unique, other writers try to “write a book like” another author, Rowling didn’t. While a story may well be enjoyable, it is perhaps a little predictable, the sense of trying to be a Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burrows or C S Lewis and the fact someone is aspiring to this level is just too difficult to ignore. Those who imitate a style or rewrite the same or similar plot will sell, the escapism will always work but for success originality is the key, taking readers to new places in between the pages of their minds.
Writers over the generations have taken readers to places they could never imagine and places they would be too scared to imagine. Edgar Rice Burroughs took readers into the Jungle Tarzan and to Mars with John Carter, two extremes that were and still are in many cases impossible to live in reality. His stories are still popular and fresh today.
Not many people will know that Robert E. Howard a writer of what is commonly called Pulp Fiction died at the age of 30 in 1936. Howard was a prolific author of many books and stories that inspire thousands of authors every day. Howard took people out of this world in some of the most well read and well-known stories and themes specialising in Sword and Sorcery stories and ending his final years before his suicide writing westerns. Howard’s influence today in much of the fantasy and adventure stories is close to impossible to deny, he was a master who died too soon.
The combination of influence of other writers and some form of adversity makes for good reading. If a reader can relate and the imagination is pushed into a sweet spot of almost real readers will turn the page. It is hard to think where we would be today without the writers of the past who have blazed a trail for the writers of tomorrow who dare to dream and then put it down in words.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Kestrel Bird of Prey Hovers and Hunts Over the Fenland.

We took dotty dog Dotty over the Fens yesterday. She always gets excited when she watches Carole and I get the camera and the coffee flask. Once the back packs come out her hopes start to get the better of her. She begins to whine excitedly, hoping she is coming along for the trip too.

As soon as one of us goes into the cupboard for the lead, that is it! Dotty can no longer contain herself and starts barking excitedly. We have to strap her in the back of the car or she’ll just keep jumping about, still unable to contain her joy. As we go along the many canals and country lanes towards the Manea bird hide Dotty starts whining more excitedly.

Because the bridal path runs along a dyke with a river either side. (River Bedford and the River Delph) We are able to let Dotty run her heart out. And she does with great aplomb. If other dogs come along, we quickly put her on a lead. She is always most unfriendly with other dogs when first being introduced. However, other dogs in this remote area are far and few between.

I’m stopping here and there looking for the birds of prey. There are a number of Kestrels hovering over the Fens in search of lunch. Perhaps a mouse or a vole. One female Kestrel came close to the hide and I managed to get a few good photo shots of her.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Looking Glass War by John Le Carre (My Goodreads Review)

The Looking Glass War: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels Book 4)The Looking Glass War: A George Smiley Novel by John le Carré
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Cold War story from John Le Carre. It takes place just after his Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It is now 1965 and there is another British Intelligence department gathering dust and virtually inactive since its heydey during the war. They are resentful of the Circus where George Smiley and Control seem to get all the action against the Communist block countries. This other obscure intelligence gathering office is simply known as The Department. They are eager to get into the tussle of the Cold War and win some results of their own. Since the Second World War, they have been cut back and lack any clear direction. Some of the senior administrators have been there since the last war and long for the good old days.

While scratching about, they uncover some information or rumours of Soviet ballistic missiles being set up in East Germany close to the West German border. They employ a foreign airline pilot to stray off course and try to obtain photographs of the area. These photos are passed on but due to an accident in Finland, the photos do not get back to The Department. Anxious to continue with this fact finding mission they get the support of a senior political minister to grant them the right to send an agent into East Germany.

They need advice from the bigger organisation (The Circus) where the notorious and polite George Smiley works. The Department wants to keep the operation strictly under their control. The Circus readily agree and offer what support is required.

So the Department set up a team under the guise of a training exercise. The head of this is Leclerc and he chooses two men from his group to supervise the mission. One is Haldane the other is called Avery.

Haldane is a well-polished man from the war days about the mid to late forties while Avery is relatively new to the Department. He is thirty-two years of age.

They recruit a Polish man who was with the Department back in the war days. He is on the books but has not been contacted since the end of the war in 1945. Twenty years later he is tracked down and asked to do the mission for the Department. The Pole has no idea that the Department is run on a shoe string budget and is kidded up that is still as big and grand as it used to be.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Haldane in this story. He starts off as a very articulate yet negative man with a dislike for most around him. When he speaks he is precise and clear yet he is negative towards his work colleagues. As though he does not have much faith in them. Despite my dislike of Haldane at first, there is a certain reliability about the man. It is not necessary to like him. However, as the story develops and the mission preparations get under way, I think every reader would come to rather like the gloomy Haldane. There is a dependability about him and an honesty.

George Smiley has appearances like in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but his coming and going is important to the plot. If you like good old Cold War Spy stories, then I would highly recommend this splendid John Le Carre novel.

The Black and Tan Summer: Ireland's Turbulent Year of 1920

View all my reviews

Shadows Against the Empire by Ralph E. Vaughan (My Goodreads Review)

Shadows Against the Empire (Folkestone & Hand, #1)Shadows Against the Empire by Ralph E. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great Steampunk adventure set in an alternative British Empire with advanced steam-driven machinery and airships. We follow the adventures of Captain Folkestone and his Martian accomplice, Sergeant Felix Hand. The British Empire is policing colonies on Mars and Venus in the year of 1882. It's a wonderfully weird and wacky adventure of a retro sci-fi world from our past. An alternative British Empire in a bizarre space age. The image of Victorian machinery (iron and steam) in a space-age dreamed of by people with futuristic imaginations of the late 19th and early 20th Century. H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burrows type Sci-Fi. A story of ancient Dark Gods known to Martians and Venusians from their entwined pasts yet not to Humans who are newcomers building empires and colonies upon both planets. The restless natives of these colonised worlds are resurrecting taboo old Gods. Those that must not be spoken of. Their aim (The Dark Gods) to destroy the alternative British Empire of 1882 and bring vengeance upon humanity. Only the dashing Captain Folkestone and Sergeant Hand can thwart the evil as they travel on a quest from Mars to Venus following leads where humanoid and reptilian Venusians live. Plus some work back on Earth, in London, by Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Ethan Slaughter as he searches among London's immigrant population of Chinese, Laskers, Martians and Venusian workers in a quest for secrets of the Dark Gods too.

Great adventure for all fans of Steampunk Sci-Fi where even Victorian London's back streets are awash with inter-planetary multi-culturalism. The whole story moves well with its wonderful alternative Victorian feel combined with retro steam-powered machinery from a mythical, dreamed of, age.

The Last Days of Thunder Child

View all my reviews

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Call for the Dead by John le Carre (My Goodreads Review)

Call for the Dead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first of the George Smiley stories, set in Britain during the late 50s I would imagine. When talking in money terms, it is old pounds and shillings. It also has a wonderfully atmospheric feel of Retro London and a good old foggy pea souper.

I had read the Karla trilogy of George Smiley which takes place in the 1970s. I also read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in which George Smiley has a minor role. That is set in the 60s. Therefore, I was compelled to learn more of this wonderful character called George Smiley - a cultured and, perhaps, rather snobby English gentleman who works in the British Secret Service.

George Smiley is given a fine introduction in the first chapter, allowing the reader to know all about his beginnings and how he is a rather reserved yet intelligent man - quiet and polite with a softly spoken educated English manner. In some ways, most people might find George Smiley boring – a short tubby man with white hair and glasses when the story actually begins. He is middle aged and has been taken for a ride by his estranged and beautiful wife. No one who knew the Smileys could understand how such a marriage union could have happened in the first place.

We have this boring reserved man (George Smiley) whose wife has run off with a dashing Latin lover. This adventurous lover drives motor racing cars and lives in Cuba. Yet despite all of this, somehow this hopelessly smitten man (George Smiley) is our great hero with a modesty and vulnerability that makes him appear hopelessly week. He is a contradictory type of hero with a certain type of negative view of the world. He trusts virtually no one and has a gift for seeing deep inside people and the ability to keep everything to himself. When he does pick friends or confidants they are rare but usually well chosen. He works in an old and drab London office among clerical staff that all seem equally as cheerless. However, once the story gets going, these dull grey offices and the dreary corridors fade into obscurity. Suddenly, the dower and softly spoken English gentleman will become anything but monotonous.

George Smiley is an absolute peach of a British Agent who can decipher and adapt to his opponents well - very well indeed. In this wonderful story, we are introduced to Smiley for the first time as he tackles the suicide of a colleague and the subsequent involvement of East German field agents. Our little tubby man investigates and unravels with great aplomb. This is an absolute peach of a read and I would highly recommend this first George Smiley story.

The Black and Tan Summer: Ireland's Turbulent Year of 1920

View all my reviews

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Volunteers by Douglas Reeman (My Goodreads Review)

The Volunteers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my mind’s eye, I could see this as something like a black and white matinee flick that one might have seen in the fifties. The story takes place from 1943 to 1944 with an epilogue etc in 1945.

Three men decided to put in for a marine service special ops group. They are on MTB and MGB boats doing missions or raids upon enemy occupied territory at various locations. One is a Canadian from the Atlantic convoys who is called Frazer, another is an English bomb disposal man (Allenby) and the final is an east end policeman. (Ives) They are recruited to replace others that have been killed in action.

As the saga develops we are introduced to some excellent characters and two wrens that are love interests to Frazer and Allenby. There are some great action scenes throughout the story as the fast patrol boats confront the enemy. The way the book is written gives a feeling of actually being there in those times of WWII when the people were said to be at their finest.

Great action and lots of wonderful characters – a read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys Naval stories and WWII based thriller.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Bees Are Doing Their Bee Thing with Flowers.

Just sitting in the garden watching the bees doing their thing with the flowers. Then I stray and look about the garden and watch all the other visitors over the fence and in the surrounding trees etc. 

Of course, the Sparrowhawk puts in a brief appearance but the fledgelings are no more. They have moved on into the big world. Perhaps they’ll return next year?

I sit here for a few hours sipping tea, reading a book and then pick up the camera to catch the odd interesting shot of the garden in bloom.