I am reviewing the adventure novel The Hungry Sea by Wilbur Smith which is an excellent story that I bought from kindle. This book is around 500 pages so is a pretty decent length and Wilbur who grew up in Africa and has had his novels published since the 60’s goes on tours of Africa regularly to research his novels and generally his novels are set somewhere on the African continent. A ship called the Warlock is featured in the story and he has written a previous novel called Warlock that I assume prominently featured that ship. His books tend to be quite long and tend to be lengthy series featuring dynastic wealthy families. The plot to this story is a super tanker has gone missing assumed shipwrecked and there is a hunt on to secure the salvage rights. It is part of the what was a new breed of supertanker with crude oil on board and was on her maiden voyage. The company that owned her sank a lot of money into her and now look set to have the company sold by the owner to the highest bidder. There is apparently a law of the sea that human life has to always be preserved no matter what. La Mouette and Warlock are competing for the salvage rights and initially Warlock has to rescue lots of passengers from another ship hampering things. A lot of the action does take place in Cape Town where they set sail from and London where the owners are based. It is a good story with icebergs and the roaring forties causing problems. The super tanker does partially break up at the end but enough is saved to make a nice salvage profit. I think this is one of Wilbur’s better books and is a damn good adventure which is quite an enjoyable read.

 

The book I read to research this post was The Rough Guide To Languedoc And Roussillon by Brian Catlos which is a very good book that I bought on kindle. France is divided up into departements their equivalent of counties and this book looks at the region of France where they speak Occitlan and Catalan rather than the departements. This results in a larger area. Roussillon is in the extreme south right next to the Pyrenees. Languedoc is bordered by the more commercial holiday areas of the Loire Valley & the Cote d’Azur. This area is as interesting as these areas though in a less commercial way and the biggest city is Toulouse which is also a major railway destination with an interconnecting railway network as well as buses which tend to arrive to coincide with trains. This area is famous for the resistance during World War 2 and 44,000 were massacred in one go and also the Cathars & Hugeonts. It was a major protestant area which had incursions by the Inquisition & the French King which resulted in massacres. Major parts of the Airbus A380 were made in this region with roads having to be adapted to take huge loads. Montpelier is a major area for dining and nightlife perhaps only rivalled by the much bigger Toulouse. The Canal du Midi links the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and is very crowded in the holiday season with boats. There are also other inter-connected canals. This canal was a vital artery in the 19th century. Most tourists come here by air via Paris and Toulouse but particularly for those living in South East England & other parts of France there is the high speed trains the TGV’s and Eurostar. This is a great largely unspoilt area with quite a low population mostly concentrated in the main towns and cities. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I undoubtedly would recommend it if only to read about an interesting region as well as a potential holiday destination. In the middle ages Toulouse was a major stopping point going to the Holy Land and in more recent times there has been the controversial Rennes la Chateau said to contain the Knights Templars treasure. Actually if it does exist it has probably not been found.

 

I am reviewing the science fiction novel The Time Trap by Henry Kuttner which is a very good book that I purchased for free from kindle. Henry was part of a circle of authors including HP Lovecraft and does seem like a good author. I think this book is quite old and probably out of copyright hence it’s free. The plot is someone against the orders of the expedition leader in 1939 visits a lost city and gets zapped by a time machine that utilizes nuclear power into Ancient Egypt where they speak an ancient dialect similar to Arabic. He meets a lady who has similarly been zapped from 2150 along with her 2 leopard pets and she is now a high priestess. He then gets little choice but to serve the ruler initially who is hell bent on being served by humans rather than robots as they are more of a challenge. This ruler intends ruling the entire Earth through every time period thanks to the time machine and accumulate all the wealth. He sets out to thwart this and there are people willing to help. They do encounter a winged ant 25 feet long from the future and he has to rescue 2 friends from it. He goes through various time periods including the Sumerians and the Incas. The time machine lets him travel around as well as go through time. The book does maintain your interest throughout. It is quite an enjoyable fantasy romp and I might read more by this author. It is only around 220 pages. I think at the time this book was written nuclear power and robots were cutting edge technology and probably more of a novelty than nowadays. I did really enjoy this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It is the kind of book where the author reels you into his own little fascinating world or worlds.

 

I am reviewing the movie Terminator Salvation starring Christian Bale & Sam Worthington & directed by McG and which is a very good movie. This movie has been criticized for the script which was rewritten many times and the Arnold Scwarzneggar cgi because he was Governor Of California at the time but I think it is rather good. Christian plays John Connor who was intially a minor character and the main character was Kyle Reese his father but He wanted to play John as he thought it was more interesting. This was part of the reason for the rewrites. Sam plays a death row inmate sentenced to death and tricked into leaving his body to DynaCorp ands up a terminator who wants to be human and is used to capture Kyle although is a key character in defeating the machines. In the original The Terminator Kyle is sent back in time to defend Sarah Connor against a terminator also sent back and ultimately becomes John’s father. John knows this and must protect Kyle at any cost in 2018 when this film is set and when there is a war between humans and machines. This film is due to be part of a new trilogy amid lots of legal wrangling that has delayed things. It is over the sale of the rights to the film. McG is the director and he made the sequel to Charlie’s Angels as well as being the producer of the OC tv series among other things. The next film in the series is Terminator Genesys which has already started production and Arnold will have a more substantial but a young actor will apparently take the lead. This film is primarily about how the machines are defeated which is by destroying somewhere that they are controlled by wireless from. This film had a budget of around $200 million and grossed around $400 million. Of course anybody who has watched the other films will know John dies at the end of this film. I really enjoyed it and thought it’s well made. I think the special effects are the best thing about it. A lot of the things like the robots were actually built for realism and aren’t cgi.

I am reviewing the science fiction horror movie Pitch Black starring Vin Diesel & Radha Mitchell that is an excellent movie. This film was made in 2000 and had mixed reviews from critics probably like a lot of horror films although I really enjoyed. It was made by director David Twohy on a budget of $23 million and made a decent profit as well as spawning 3 sequels with one of them being animated about the adventures of anti-hero Richard B Riddick. This was the first film in the series & I think the 2nd film The Chronicles Of Riddick lost money and was a big budget feature. Casting Vin Diesel as Riddick is inspired. The film also features Claudia Black famous for Farscape & Stargate SG-1 in a minor role. The plot is a space ship crash lands on a planet after comet debris passes through the ship causing damage and killing the captain. Fry the 2nd in command and played by Radha Mitchell tries to jettison the cargo including passengers in cryonic sleep but the mechanism jams in order to level the ship to land although is able to land. This comes back to haunt her when the passengers find out. They land on a strange hot planet with 3 suns and long nights when winged nasty creatures come out. Riddick is a prisoner being taken for a reward by a bounty hunter but is the only competent pilot among them so when they find another ship they make a deal with him. They do have to take fuel cells to the new space ship they find at night when they are terrorized by the winged creatures. Most of the characters do die in various ways. The bounty hunter is unethical and makes out ¬†that Riddick is a serial killer to get the other’s co-operation and takes drugs which he is addicted to. Riddick was held prisoner on a constantly dark planet and his eyes have been modified to see in poor light although don’t work well in normal light and he has to wear tinted goggles. Certainly if this film is on television or you see it cheap on dvd I recommend it.

I am reviewing the Dreamworks animated film Megamind which is an excellent film featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tiny Fey & Brad Pitt. The animation is excellent & this is a great film particularly for children. The film like a lot of fairly recent movies has a flawed villain who eventually comes good. The baddie in it is Megamind who is sent to Earth from another planet along with Metro Man. Metro Man finds a decent family and gets a good upbringing and becomes a hero. Megamind on the other hand lands at a prison and is brought up to be evil by felons. Megamind breaks numerous laws and gets 85 life sentences and is incarcerated. Metro Man goes on to be a hero and has a museum built in his honor. Megamind escapes from jail and kills Metro Man and it heralds a period where evil rules in Metrocity. Megamind then gets bored because he has nothing to do and nobody to defeat. He creates a super hero who then turns out in fact to be evil and abuses his powers by doing things like robbing banks. Megamind when he realises this gradually becomes good and realises kindness pays along with capturing the heart of a girl dear to him. I think the message of this film is nobody is completely bad especially if they have a bad upbringing. It is a real feel good movie. This film was released a few years ago and I think especially if you see it for sale on dvd cheaply is probably worth checking out. It’s the kind of film which was successful when released but nonetheless is a bit under rated.

I am reviewing the new 2014 version of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles starring Megan Fox & Whoopi Goldberg, which is an excellent film. Both Fox who plays April O’Neal a reporter who is trying to uncover the story of the Turtles & Goldberg who plays her sceptical boss who fires her at one point are excellent in their roles. The special effects and make up are top notch. Apparently Michael Bay whose production company co produced the picture did fall out with Fox when she compared him to Hitler, a few years ago. It is thought that is connected to her getting fired from Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon. It is claimed part of the deal in her getting the part in this film was she had to apologize personally to him. This film is a really big budget affair. The plot is ¬†April is a run of the mill reporter looking for a break. She comes across some gangsters who are ex special forces doing a break in at a dock yard one night. The Turtles sort them out and she briefly sees one but thinks it is a vigilante. She then uncovers there have been lots of incidents with vigilantes. Later she photographs the Turtles but they take her camera and delete the photo. They do meet up and she is fired from her job because her boss doesn’t believe her. Another male reporter desperate for a date helps her. He isn’t convinced until he actually sees one of the turtles. They uncover a plot by the company who accidently created the turtles and the mutant rat who cares for them. April finds out she rescued them as babies. The company are going to poison New York and then offer to solve it at an inflated price. They have a toxin & an antidote. The manufacture of the toxin is what created the Turtles when it was tested on them. The company has a robot which has superior strength to the Turtles. I was quite surprised how good this film was. The original film in the franchise wasn’t very impressive. Apparently they are planning on making 2 sequels.