The Day of the Triffids

Last November I watched the 1962 film based on this book, and while I found it to be somewhat entertaining, I knew that it was not at all true to the book. And now that I have completed the book (in three days), I can confirm that the book is far superior.

Right from the first few paragraphs I was hooked, which explains why I finished it in only three days (I take weeks, sometimes months to finish a book). It was written in first-person present tense which is nice for a change. While the story was pretty grim stuff it was quite humourous at times, and had lots of thoughts and soliloquies from the main protagonist about the meaning of what was going on around him, and little nuggets of wisdom on everyday life.

What surprised me though was that the book was more about life after a cataclysmic event that incapacitated most of the human race, rather than about a species of plant that went around killing people, they were almost incidental for most of the story. This though did not matter as the rest of the story was just so well told and gripping in other ways.

One could easily see how this book could have influenced or inspired stories like any future zombie film or TV series, especially “The Walking Dead”.

The ending of the story may disappoint those who expect a final battle or concrete answers, but for me the ending was as it should be. It would have been possible to write a sequel story, but even that was not necessary.

I rate this book along with the “Foundation” series by Isaac Asimov, “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, and the “Rama” series by Arthur C. Clarke, as one of the best science fiction books I have ever read.

Next up on my Kindle is “The Count of Monte Cristo”, quite a book to get through.

Book count 2018: 3

The Courageous Exploits of Doctor Syn

This is the fifth book in the Doctor Syn series, rollicking good tales about smugglers led by the cunning “Scarecrow” of Romney Marsh.

Like the previous book in the series this was an episodic collection of adventures, although there was an underlying story of a brilliant naval captain sent to capture the Scarecrow.

The various adventures that Doctor Syn and his trusty sexton “Mipps” went through were all reasonably entertaining, but it was really just more of the same.

The story moved along at an odd pace at times. In some chapters the story would slowly plod along in great detail, building up to what should be an enthralling conclusion, only to be hastlily wrapped up within just half a page or so. Sometimes the reasons for Doctor Syn’s cunning escapes from certain capture were not explained at all.

The language as in the previous books was hard to understand at times. For example, I had to look up what “lawn sleeves” were (the sleeves of a bishop’s ceremonial garments), but it is all part of the fun of reading about 18th century smuggling in dear ol’ England, and educational to boot.

An entertaining read, but I hope the next book in the series, Amazing Quest of Doctor Syn, is as amazing as it proclaims.

Next up on my Kindle is The Day of the Triffids.

Book count 2018: 2

Antarktos Rising

I had this on my Kindle for quite some time, so to take a break from the Doctor Syn books I chose this as my next read.

It is a sci-fi thriller about a sudden shift of the earth’s crust, causing whole countries to suddenly freeze as they moved towards the poles, and other countries to get all tropical. It is pure silliness, but made for some good disaster reading.

The few countries and governments that survived found out that Antarctica had become a lush paradise, so they decided the first three countries to get to the centre of the continent in a race would be allowed to have one-third each of the total land for their citizens to relocate to.

The main character of the story is an American woman who is tasked to join the U.S. team as her father is a scientist who was the sole survivor on Antarctica when the world went to heck. He knows the land well and would be able to help the U.S. to victory and beyond. He is also an expert in the bible, which would come in very handy later.

So along with a bunch of gung-ho army dudes including a bad-ass female sniper they all join the race. Also in the race are the Chinese with their best soldiers, the European contingent, and the Muslims countries (stereotypically one of them was wearing a suicide vest).

Yes, it all sounds rather silly, but it gets even better. What they soon discovered was that after Antarctica thawed out there were some long frozen dinosaurs that had survived the freezing process and came back to life, and they were the nasty type.

But, that was nothing, as the Nephilim (biblical giants who hated humans) also woke up and set about busting human-ass.

There was plenty of action and adventures, but it also lay on the theology a bit thick. It was of course very pro-America, so the Chinese, Europeans, and Muslims were all killed off pretty quickly as they are not American.

It was silly and annoying a lot of the time, but I did enjoy the basic premise and some of the action bits. If this was made into a film, it would definitely star Tom Cruise, it is right up his alley.

I am now continuing on with the next book in the Doctor Syn series.

Book count 2018: 1

The Further Adventures of Doctor Syn

This is the fourth book in the Doctor Syn series, featuring the adventures of the charming vicar of Dymchurch, Doctor Syn.

Unlike the previous books, this one has no real story, each chapter is a story in itself and in no way connects to the next episode.

Most of the episodes follow Dr Syn (or in his smuggler guise is known as “The Scarecrow”) as he and his band of smugglers outwit the Dragoons, bandits, scallywags, and anyone else who threatens their nice little smuggling operation. If need be he does not hesitate to kill anyone who deserves it (murderers and thoroughly despicable men only), although never by his own hand, he is a vicar after all.

Some of the story is hard to follow due to the olde English used, such as the word “beadle” which I had to look up (a ceremonial officer of a church, college, or similar institution). It is also quite predictable as you always know that Dr Syn will out-fox and out-smart his enemies every time, although some of it was quite clever.

This is my least favourite of the series so far, and I have read that the next book, Courageous Exploits of Doctor Syn is very similar in nature. Still, they are rollicking good reads and have given me a hankering to try out smuggling of some kind, however I will need to learn how to ride a horse first.

Book count 2017: 5

Doctor Syn Returns

I have just finished the third book in a series of seven about Dr Syn, also known as Captain Klegg, and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

In this adventure we follow Dr Syn and his loyal sexton “Mipps” as they meet again after their adventures in the Americas, and settle down once again in Dymchurch, a small village on Romney Marsh (an actual place known for smuggling a long time ago).

Dr Syn is taken on as the Dymchurch preacher, but secretly also becomes the leader of the local smugglers. He rides on a fearsome horse named “Gehenna” and wearing the scary costume of a scarecrow strikes fear into the Dragoons (mounted infantry) tasked with stopping the smugglers.

It’s all rollicking good stuff, and has a few twists and turns on the way, with Dr Syn always coming out on top because he is a brilliant man who out-thinks all of his enemies.

A thoroughly good read, and I am going straight on to the next book in the series, Further Adventures of Doctor Syn.

Book count 2017: 4

A Couple o’ Books

In the last day I have finished reading two books that I started reading some time ago, both on my Kindle.

The first, which I actually only started reading a few weeks ago was “Alive and Worldwide” by Edward G. Talbot. I have actually known Ed Parrot and Jason Derrig (they write books under the Edward G. Talbot name) for some years now, and have designed several of their book covers and even their website. Like me they are amateurs, so they pay me by sending me their self-published books and ebooks. Actually, a package arrived from them a couple of weeks ago with this very book in softcover form. Here is the cover:

It is quite fun designing covers, but coming up with ideas can be a bit frustrating when I get book-cover-designer’s block.

The second book which I just finished this morning was “Doctor Syn on the High Seas” by Russell Thorndike, published in 1935. Here is the basic outline from Wikipedia:

It tells the story of how the young clergyman, Christopher Syn, loses his wife to a seducer. He embarks on a quest of vengeance, taking on the identity of the pirate Captain Clegg to hunt them down.

The story is quite simple, and it is swashbuckling stuff. It is very un-PC by today’s standards, and if it was to be made into a film it would be rather gruesome in places (stabbings, limbs being sliced off, shark attacks, etc). But, I like a good pirate story, so I rather enjoyed reading it.

While this book is the second in a series of seven, it is chronologically the first, and thus, it is a kind of origin story. For example we learn how he chose his pirate name, Captain Clegg (named after the Cleg fly, a blood-sucking type of Horse fly).

I read the first some years ago (and saw the film starring the perfectly cast Peter Cushing) which is chronologically the end of the story. I now have the third book ready on my Kindle.

Book count 2017: 3

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man

The first completed book of the year is this rather good one about Leonard Nimoy, written by The Shat.

It starts off with him admitting he had a great friendship with Leonard, but screwed it all up for reasons he does not completely understand. The Shat gets quite emotional about this in the book, it seems he just had no idea what he did wrong, but I think to other people in the know it must be quite obvious.

The rest of the book looks at their lives as they grew up, their early days in acting, then how they became best buds. It of course has lots of juicy bits about the Star Trek TV series, as well as the films.

The Shat can tell quite a good story, with the occasional joke here and there. He obviously thought a lot of Leonard, who really did seem to be a very decent, talented, and jolly nice chap. The Shat admits about himself at times that he is a bit of a buffoon, making him rather likeable too.

A good read overall, but I think I enjoyed Leonard Nimoy’s biography more, I’ll have to read that again sometime.

Book count 2017: 1