The Last Days of Thunder Child

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

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

What Science Fiction Book Next?

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

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

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

Sunday, 25 February 2018

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

Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (My Goodreads Review)

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

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

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Journey - A Monumental and Historical Movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe by Sheila Patel (My Goodreads Review)

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fast-paced 100mph black and zany comedy about two sisters… well three really, because one is in Australia and appears via CCTV. Also a mad aunt. They visit a bar in the sister’s bedroom wardrobe. Yes - this wardrobe is in their bedroom. The bar is run by a man named Bachittar. This little fantasy world is quite safe because if anyone over 55 ventures into the wardrobe they end up losing their memories.

How cosy for the girls. They can get away with murder in the Secret Vodka Wardrobe. As the story trundles along, we are introduced to all sorts of neighbours that visit the sister’s corner shop run by their parents. The girls can see what is going on via the Vodka bars CCTV in the magic wardrobe. Sometimes Donny Osmond appears at the bar.

There comes a herd of mayhems. A Knickerless gate crasher bringing impending danger to the secret way of life. These mayhems bring comical and vulgar images. They manifest in your mind. Mistaking a quickie to be an offer of a James Patterson novel. The whole thing is like The League of Gentlemen comedy on Prozac.

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Dawn of Moonstomp/Skinhead.

The Dawn of Moonstomp/Skinhead.

I Remember.

It was about 1970 or 1971. I was nine or ten at the time. I was on a school trip to France. We had been staying at a small seaside town called Wissant. Our school teachers had organised a trip to Boulogne-sur-Mer. We children were in the town centre when two tall skinhead youths walked out of a shop doorway. One was eating from a bag. They had checked Ben Sherman shirts rolled up Levi jeans and Doctor Marin boot. Not forgetting the braces, of course. One of the school children called out, "Are you English?"
"Yeah," they both replied and stopped in their tracks. They walked back and exchanged a few words. I can't remember exactly what was said but they indulged us with some light-hearted banter about a how great France was. We had been enjoying the holiday. I remember the two skinheads laughed and replied, "I know, that is why we came over here." Then they walked off with cocky cockney swagger. Along the bustling pavement of shoppers. They looked clean cut and very smart. But by then skinheads were developing an ominous reputation. This was not apparent among the two skinheads in Boulogne-sur-Mer on that day. They seemed like a couple of Jack the lads. But they did not seem intimidating or threatening.

Moonstomp/SKA/Skinhead Girl.

The Exciting Times.

During the sixties decade, Britain went through a rapidly developing popular music phase. This gave rise to various trends and subcultures. All these dynamic and diverse things happened among the nation’s youth. One trend blossomed for a while and then transformed into something else. There were groups of youths who became Rockers. They travelled around on their treasured motorbikes and listened to fifties style Rock and Roll. There were Teddy boys and then there were the Mods who rode around on motor scooters. By 1968 a new culture began to appear.
The white working class of London saw changes through the 1950s and 1960s. Many Caribbean families came to London seeking work. There were social problems that have been widely reported. There were also other trends that entwined with the white youth outlook. There emerged a fascination with Jamaican Reggae music. Desmond Dekker, Symarip and others. There was not a particular name for all of this new emerging phase when it first started. Much of the fashion looked as though it came from the Mod phase. Fred Perry T-shirts were still the rage and Levi jeans were too. Though the jeans were rolled up to display the high raised lace holes of the Doctor Martin boots favoured by this new trend. The haircuts went in the opposite direction of the long-haired hippies. These working-class youths of London were having their hair cropped very short. I was only seven at the time, but I can remember seeing the teenage youth in Canning Town, Bow and Poplar districts of East London.

Keeping the Old Retro Image Alive.

Youths Enjoying the New Fashion.

Many of the fashionable Mod clothing shops were adapting to the new phase. Other items of clothing were also being favoured. Some of the youths called this new level, Moonstomp. This was because of the type of Jamaican music they enjoyed and danced to. It began to spread all across London. Many nightclubs began to cater for such trends. The word ‘skinhead’ was not used by the youth cult of this day, but often older people with a sense of humour would heckle the young lads as they walked through the district shopping centres of the city. People were heard to shout, “Skinhead,” jokingly. After a while, the name stuck.
The style began to take on a few new looks as well as the clothes I originally mentioned. The new working class youth were very much part of the new consumer society. This Moonstomp/skinhead group rejected the long-haired hippy fashion. Perhaps subconsciously, the hippy era was of the younger rebellious intelligencer. What many of the working class kids termed as student types. Maybe the more earthy kids did not identify with the ways of predominantly middle class, student type teenagers. Many of the Moonstomp/skinhead youth were working in manual jobs. Please do not think I’m trying to say these were thought out borderlines between the various trends and fads of the youth. I don’t think it was organised, but I think it was due to social influences of the time. It was a more sub-conscious development with the consumer society playing a strong role in the interesting trends of the time.
From my point of view, I thought some of the Moonstomp/skinhead fashion looked strikingly smart. The Mod style of tonic two-tone Mohair trousers was still to be seen. Also, the Stay Pressed Trousers looked exceptionally smart. Especially the cream colour. They also wore braces and button-down collared shirts. Ben Sherman and Brutus were very popular. There were black Crombie coats, bomber jackets and also a thin material lightweight jacket borrowed from a character in a U.S. TV series. It was very popular in Britain and was called Payton Place. An actor named Ryan O’Neal played this individual called Rodney Harrington. He wore such a jacket and a major fashion outlet in a trendy part of London nicknamed the coat, a Rodney Harrington Jacket. Many of the Moonstomp skinheads favoured the look with their neat cropped haircuts and stay pressed trouser look. After a time, the Rodney part of the jacket name was dropped and it is still known today, as the Harrington jacket.

The Origin.

London in the Sixties.

This decade was wonderful and vibrant in many ways. Especially living in London. There was music, the new freedoms of youth brought about by a recent and catastrophic war. There were all sorts of newfound liberties of expression from a young generation with better financial freedoms than age groups before had. I can remember my Grandmothers and Grandfathers bemoaning such ways that society was changing. I think there will always be such shock from elder generations. For it is the way of things in most human cultures.
I can remember the Moonstomp skinhead girls of the era. They also had cropped heads like the boys but with a feminine touch. They let the perimeter of their hairline remain long. They would have a fringe to the front. At the side, they would have the hairline long and combed neatly around the ears. The back of the head would have longer neatly combed hair growing from the back hairline. They often wore the button down collar shirts and braces but might sport a mini skirt with Doctor Martin shoes. Sometimes boots. Somehow they made it all look elegant and girlie. The whole expression was cool in my impressionable young opinion. There was a neatness about it.
In the clubs, the white working class youth and the Caribbean youth would dance to the Moonstomp sounds. For a brief moment, there was a fine intertwine with a common enjoyment of music. Then it all seemed to go wrong and change. By 1971, the skinhead cult began to be portrayed as intolerant and racist. It was a sad fact, but it developed into this more ugly culture. The original Moonstomp skinhead people may have moved on in life. For instance, getting married and having children, leaving the ways of our youth and coming of age. As we all do. The new up and coming youth were soiled by other outside and older cultures.

Skinhead/SKA Girl

The Football Culture.

Britain has always had a traditional working class sport from the turn of the century. It is enjoyed and followed by millions of people up and down the country. This is our football league. It is very much a working-class sport. All of our major cities and towns have football teams. We support and follow them with tribal enthusiasm. When our teams play away in another part of the country, we follow and go to watch them in big organised groups. This is akin to a religion or cult as many working-class people love football as a God. I’ve heard reports that the Northern towns became fascinated by the London/Moonstomp look when visiting London football teams played in their Northern towns. Also when Northern teams travelled to London to see their teams play, they would observe the Moonstomp/skinhead culture around the London streets.
I don’t think this was an organised or intentional thing, but the fad spread north and skinhead fashions were worn across the country. However, the Moonstomp Caribbean music seemed to be lost during the adoption process. News reporting of football violence between travelling fans often portrayed skinheads in conflict with police and society. The reputation for violence began to be attributed to the cult. In many ways it was earned, but not by the original youth who enjoyed the Moonstomp music of the sixties decade. I think the group was labelled innocently at first. By this I mean the name skinhead being called out by casual observers. Then these fashionable groups intermingled with the football culture. A culture already there and enjoyed by all generations. In this case, the mixture was to be toxic. It spoilt an enjoyable trend and smart fashion in my opinion.
Today most of us are wary of the stigma that is attached to the fashion cult of the skinhead. Political racist groups often contain people in such attire. There are some older die-hard Moonstomp skinheads that have a little get together at Britain’s seaside resorts. Even deviant musical older rock bands that sport the retro look. By and large, the skinhead image is corrupted despite the good intentions of many older people of today who wish to remember the good old Moonstomp days of their youth. In many ways, it is a sad irony. I thought many of the clothes and the music was splendid.
I think I should mention that the corruption is not the fault of football because many generations enjoy the sport. It is just youthful elements of the team following that were to blame. They became more tribalistic and confrontational during this period when the fashion was to dress in such a way. There would have still been football violence and racial tension without the skinhead fashion. Perhaps it was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Moonstomp/SKA/Skinhead Trend.

The Kind Revival.

During the late 1970s to the early 1980s, there was a brief revival of the old Moonstomp style of music. There was another word called SKA which described the musical scene. This seemed to be used more with the emergence of bands like The Specials, the Beat and Madness. The old-style clothing was back, though the wearing of braces seemed to be abandoned. The cropped hair was still short though a little longer than an actual skinhead. Again the musical scene of this era was enjoyable. The band Madness become a household name and they went on to enjoy great popularity worldwide.

Madness SKA Revival 1979.

The Vampyre by John Polidori (My Goodreads Review)

John Polidori, Author of The Vampyre

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lord Ruthven arrives in London. It is around the period of 1810 - perhaps a few years either side. He is gracious and debonair. He has a compelling aspect about him that high society ladies are drawn to. Many are willing to risk their reputations. Lord Ruthven ignores most and selects odd ones that he finds enticing.

He makes friends with Aubrey. He is a wealthy young gentleman and an orphan. Together Lord Ruthven and Aubrey travel to Italy. What ensues are serious of consequences that lead the two men to separate. Aubrey finds Lord Ruthven’s conduct questionable. The young gentleman travels to Greece. Here he meets an innkeeper’s daughter who tells him folk tales of vampires and areas that local people dare not go. More dreadful events happen and then Lord Ruthven appears again.

Everything leads to more intrigue and further paranormal conundrums as Aubrey leaves his late friend Lord Ruthven back in Greece. The victim of bandits in an attempted robbery. He is made the guardian of his younger sister’s wellbeing. He is also oath-bound not to speak of Lord Ruthven’s death for one year and one day. Then a more diabolical circumstance manifests. Aubrey is at a loss and suffers huge mental torment. An even bigger supernatural event is before him.

The story is good but it is almost constant narration. Well written but tedious even though it is short. I think much of the story could have been presented via dialogue. It would have made the novella longer and more exciting. The overall plot was good, but I can't help feeling that a tremendous opportunity was lost to make this a bigger and more classical novel than it is. Perhaps if John Polidori had lived longer, the story would have been revised with dialogue to create a better feel. After all, his friend Mary Shelly was able to improve Frankenstein. This group of people in Lord Byron's friendship wrote the stories participating in a horror story competition.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells (My Goodreads Review)

The First Men In The Moon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book that I had always meant to read but never got around to doing. Therefore, after 40 years, I decided to take this off of my 'things to do' list. I think I made a correct choice because I do not think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. I do not think it is as good as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine or The Invisible Man. However, I think these three mentioned novels are exceptional. The First Men in the Moon was very good. However, if H.G. Wells had only ever written this novel, I think it would stand in the pulp sci-fi sections like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Ervin Howard or Michael Moorcock. What I am trying to say is that the other novels put H.G. Wells in a classical writing frame. Whereas this marvellous novel seems to be more like good old pulp sci-fi. I enjoyed it immensely and would recommend it.

The Last Days of Thunder Child

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Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham (My Goodreads Review)

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What I especially enjoyed about this memoir was the feel of a kid growing up in the sixties and seventies. I could identify with all the little retro things he spoke about concerning obsolete brands and TV programmes. Things that were all the rage. The fashion fads etc. Then through all this, is the oddball kid (Chris Packham.) Already beginning to develop a passion for the wildlife around him. The interests that make him detached from others as he lives in an almost solitary world of natural wonder. There are some strong and emotive points too. Especially about winners and losers. One needing constant challenges. Never give in but continue to strive. Always strive. The reader is taken to various time zones. Not always in order. We could read about something in 1966. Then 1975. Then back to 1968 etc. It goes along this path. Sometimes we see him through the eyes of others. Very well written and a splendid presentation.

Meeting Boudicca

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Day of the Martians - A Splendid Sci-Fi Audio.

I was hooked on this wonderful sci-fi audio from the word go. The narration is gripping plus the background music is haunting and atmospheric. The historic feel and the characters are marvellous. As the plot began to unfold, the story got better. It all leads to a fabulous climax and I would recommend this to any War of the Worlds fan. A splendid sequel.

Learn more. ClickThe Day of the Martians

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (My Goodreads Review.)

The Picture of Dorian GreyThe Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea of the paranormal path this story was going to take. I thought it would be something along the lines of social etiquette of the Victorian age. A little like Pride and Prejudice was to another time in history. I was delighted with the more dark aspect of what this story is about, began to dawn on me. I was soaking up all the dialogue of the artist and his friend talking about this exceptional looking young man who was to be the subject matter of the artist's attention.

Then the chat about how Dorian wished he could be like the painting forever and would never grow old and lose such looks. Then the whole thing began to take its sinister course. Fabulous!

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Sunday, 4 February 2018

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore (My Goodreads Review)

Lorna Doone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For escapism, this was a story that I did not want to end. I wanted to live with Lorna Doone in the happy ever after. I'm not usually one for romance. But Lorna knocked me out. She was heaven in my mind's eye. I was John Ridd and I would win her whatever it took. The story takes place in England at the around the time of King Charles II reign. Therefore the English civil war is over and the restoration time has begun. It then goes on over the years as John Ridd and Lorna Doone grow to adults.

The Doones are a displaced and rouge Reiver clan from the borderlands of Scotland and England. They are disowned by other aristocrats but they still have social standing in parts of high society. They are now in the south west of England living on Dartmoor. For almost eighty years the rogue clan has been on the run. They raid the surrounding hamlets and live like bandits. Because of their social standing, the English peasants or farmers can't get the local magistrates to confront the Doone clan.

Everything comes to a climatic consequence. It spans about a twenty year period with lots of trials and tribulations. This is a splendid read for anyone who likes historical adventure and romance. A smashing tale.

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Kine by Alan Lloyd (My Goodreads Review)

Kine (The Kine Saga, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this when it first come out. I had not long read Watership Down and Duncton Wood. Therefore, I was on a little roll with animal stories. If my memory serves me correctly, I think it is set in Kent during a warm summer. Kine is a Weasel living happily until a group of vicious mink invade the territory of the weasels. If you liked Watership Down, Duncton Wood or Tarka the Otter, I think you would enjoy this colourful tale too. I would certainly recommend it.

Meeting Boudicca

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Time for the Stars by Robert A. Heinlein (My Goodreads Review)

Time for the Stars

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this a long time ago. It was in my school's library and the front cover caught my attention. There were a few human visitors on board a boat. A rowing boat if my memory serves me correctly. In the background was a floating round spaceship. A sort of lifeboat from which the boatmen had left. There were tentacles thrusting up out of the water and they were about to attack the boatmen. I was captivated by space travel and dreamed of adventure on other worlds. The cover flicked the switches so I borrowed it from the library. I remember the book focused on twin boys. They had telepathic connections. One could go on the adventure to distant stars while one stayed home. The travellers could communicate by telepathy. As the ship got further away from Earth travelling in excess of light speed etc. The time lapse increases as the twins communicate. What seems like a day or two on board ship becomes months back on Earth. Lots of other concepts too. I remember I enjoyed the adventure when the travellers explored the new world they come across. Also coming to the part that the front cover depicted.