I went to see Robin Hood this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. As with most people I went to the movies with my own preconception of what a film version of Robin should look like, should say, or should be.
I sill am haunted by my younger version of Robin Hood, as a swashbuckling, arrow shooting adventurer who robs from the rich and gives to the pore. Haunted I say because I loved those sword fights, and would practice for hours with a small bow and arrow trying to split an hour (I never accomplished that). But as I got older and realized I was never going to split the arrow, a part of the story didn't sit well with me. Robin Hood robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, although I don't want to see people stare and would hope that one day poverty didn't exist, the concept or robbing from the rich and giving to the poor was criminal. After working may way to a middle class level, I'm always one paycheck away from being in the poor house, but as a member of the middle class I'm suddenly looked upon by some as being rich. So the message is; that it is ok to steel from the rich – anyone above poverty – and give to the poor. I don't think so, and here is where I became haunted by my vision of Robin Hood, which is it is ok to steal as long as you give it to the poor. Uggh, and that is a horrible lesson to be teaching kids.
Along comes Ridley Scott's version or Robin Hood, and I'm very happy with the message he is giving. No longer is wealth stolen from the rich, but the message is more that every man is created equal and deserves liberty and justice, which sounds very much like the Declaration of Independence. Men should be free to do what they want in order to provide for their livelihood with out interference or servitude, via taxes, to the state.
To me the story was a reflection of the current times and the current political situation. In the movie Prince John (Oscar Isaac), inherits a war ravaged England from his brother King Richard who is killed in battle, the men of England are away, the economy is in ruin, and taxes need to be raised to fix the mess King Richard left. King John and his first act is to appoint a new Marshall, Godfrey (Mark Strong), who goes about collecting the taxes King John desperately needs to in a very ruthless manner. In doing this Marshall Godfrey turns the people of England against there king. The king discovers he was duped, because French troops are on the shores of England. After the battle with the French, the Barons were appeased to follow the King because of his willingness to sign a charter that would give rights to all men – much like Americas Constitution. The King reneges on his deal and burns the charter in front of all the Barons and announces Robin Hood to be criminal of the crown.
As far as my biased is concerned Oscar Isaac portrayed Obama, oops I mean King John to a tee, and most indicative of this is the final speech he gives. Check out the movie and pay attention to the speech and can see it coming word for word out of Obama, oops I mean King John.
Written in first person and having the feel of someone telling a tall tale, this story gives an immediate insight into the mind of Sailor Steve Costigan. I enjoyed the story and the main reason for that is how Howard writes. He writes very simply and very formulaic, with great visuals and style. This story is a good example to follow for fight stories, which is; Set up, fight, and unraveling.
The biggest part of this story is the writing, and takes up several pages, but it doesn't get boring. Howard has a knack at telling the story of the fight using Costigan's voice, making believable, exciting, and truly feeling for the character. In addition Howard tells about the fight from someone who has been in the boxing ring, and actually taken the punches. A little bit of research into Robert E. Howard shows that he actually did train and boxed in and around the area of Cross Plains Texas.
It is interesting to note that at the time Howard was writing these stories, boxers were the superstar athletes of the day. And fight stories were very popular; in fact many of Howard's fight stories appeared in Fight magazine. However, the boxing world has not aged as well as these stories, boxers do not hold the status they did in Howard's day, and it is hard to find a current story based on boxing or on the more popular Ultimate Fighting competitions. What we do have are these stories that were written almost eighty years ago that are still fun and enjoyable to read. Take a chance and pick up one of the stories a kindle reader and you will probably start reading all of them.
Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)
Here come the spoilers so if you don't want to know what happens stop reading any further.
The story begins with Sailor Steve Costigan getting kicked off the Sea Girl by the Captain because he chooses not to put his dog off the boat. He ends up at a French bar and gets into a fight with, unknown to him, the heavyweight champion of the French Navy. The fight is long and goes on for several pages, Costigan is all but beat up and ready to fall down, but because he is so like the bull dog, and doesn’t know when he is defeated he keeps going back in again and again. Due to his amazing recuperative powers, and his hard headiness he defeats the Frenchman. At the end of the bout the Captain of the Sea Girl, as well as many of the crew see come up to Costigan delighted that he defeated the Frenchman. The Captian welcome him and Mike, his bull dog, back as part of the crew.
A while back I picked up some old Robert E. Howard Stories, and the Sailor Steve Costigan tales jumped out at me. For the most part I haven't read anything like these stories in current fiction, and after a brief search online I was unable to find anyone that is currently writing "Fight" stories of any kind. This just fueled my desire to keep reading these old stories written by the master of tall tales Robert E. Howard.
I must mention that if you decide to jump into these tales, be warned. Howard was writing during a different time in the history of the United States, and what we view as indisputably racist or sexist, to Howard and many of his time, it was just the norm. I'm not agreeing or condoning the stories for how other sexes or races are portrayed, just passing on a warning as best I can.
What I enjoyed about these stories, is that they are different from what is out their today, and told in such a manner that they are easy and exceedingly fun to read. They are quick and they are simple, and that is that, they are just a great escape into the world of the early nineteen thirties.
Additionally I have been reading these stories in the order in which Howard wrote them, and his development as a writer and story teller is easy to see. I have made my way through about half the stories and start off here with my first review of, "The Pit of the Serpent" by Robert E. Howard. The review is short but as they go on they get longer and more in depth.
For the second warning: I also tell if Sailor Steve Costigan wins the fight and how he does it, so yes the reviews contain spoilers.
This is the first story with Howards character Sailor Steve Costigan. The story is easy to read, and written in first person. The outline is simple, Sailor Costigan steps of his ship the Sea Girl and feels dread. He goes to a dance hall meets a girl, Bat Slade the champion boxer from the rival ship the Dauntless comes in and starts a fight, the two men are taken out of town by an "promoter" and their bout is staged in an old snake pit. After a long bout, Sailor Costigan wins, although barely, and the two fighters are reunited at the dance hall where they both are still hoping to win the affections of the girl that started the row between them in the first place. She has already moved on to a Spanish Naval Officer, the two men knock him out and end up at a bar sharing a drink. At the end of many platitudes from Slade about brotherly friendship, he tries to sneak a punch in on Costigan, but Costigan faster than Slade with a bottle he swiped from the bar, knocks him out.
The story was very simple easy to read. It is told from the first person point of view with Costigan as the main story teller. The most technical aspect of the story is that of the boxing scene, that is shown in fine detail. This is where Howard really shines; the fight has emotion, action, and brutal detail. It is very evident that the story was thrown around what Howard thought was the real story which was the fight.
Alternative Coordinates (AC-Mag) a production of Zefram Media LLC and edited by Jeff Cochran, published the Fall 09 issue recently. I was very happy to read through the many fine stories published in this issue. My two favorites are "The Ferryman" by Tom Brennan and "A Good Boy" by Desmond Warzel.
I have mentioned before here on my blog, that the online e-zine world is here we will find the next Robert Howard, Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. I haven?t found an author of that caliber yet, but we are getting close and with this issue of AC-Mag we are coming even closer to finding a name that will lite the fantasy and science fiction world on fire.
If you haven't yet picked up this issue, do so, and enjoy the stories. Following are my reviews, and yes these are my opinions so if you like one story over another, and think my reviews are lousy. Feel free to start your own blog, they?re free.
The search for the next big name in SciFi and Fantasy is still on, so good hunting. But for now the big name in bringing SciFi and Fantasy to us is AC-Mag. I can't say enough fro this e-zine, this is where the pulps of yesteryear are here today.
Child of the Pact by C.L. Holland
This is an interesting story about a boys struggle with becoming who and what he is destined to become. It is a fantasy story told from a first person point of view, that flows easily and reads quickly. It is evident that the classic hero?s journey is effortlessly used to tell this story.
I enjoyed the ease of reading this story and the authors writing, but it didn?t grab me until the last few pages and the ending was rather abrupt. Basically the hero laid out his two choices and picked one, all in about two sentences.
The Ferryman by Tom Brennan
A very good story, that tells about a Ferryman that takes travelers to an alien craft, for what we believe is their final journey. It is never stated in the story that this is the journey between life and death, but it is alluded to. The story is about the Ferryman his struggle with doing his job, and his struggle with going back to his previous life or taking the trip across the lagoon to the alien ship him self. In the end he is tempted by a passenger to leave his gondola and go on the alien ship.
The Ferryman is a great model of someone stuck in between, and a good allegory to purgatory.
I enjoyed the writing and it read very easily and caught my interest within the first page or so. It did leave me wanting to know more about he main character, but then I guess that is the mark of a good story.
Gate Weaver by Z.S. Adani
This story never grabbed me, and I have to say that I liked it the least of the stories in this issue. The story is full of fluffy writing that shows a lot, but I was always asking myself, where is this story going.
The Alien Embrace - pt. 2 by Frances Pauli
I enjoyed this story and the authors ability to write and to tell a story. I was a bit put off by the "Humans are an evil world destroying race," point of view that seems to be overly present in a lot of writing and movies these days. But none the less the author can write a captivating story.
I would definitely recommend this for most readers, and hope to see other material by Pauli, just keep the hidden agenda out of it and tell a story.
A Good Boy by Desmond Warzel
This is a very interesting story, and in my opinion the strongest of the stories in this issue of AC Mag. It is about a man that has recovered a runaway boy is in a hotel room waiting to deliver the boy to his parents. Both characters are very well developed and the writing is very good. Some of the back story is easily woven into the tale and provides enough depth for the reader to come to the conclusion at the end of the story.
If anything is missing in this story is that I think Warzel told a very easy story, and is capable of much more. I look forward to seeing more from this author.
A Quiet Corner of Time by Paula R. Stiles
This is another very strong story for this issue of AC Mag. It has been a while since I have read a good time travel story, and this certainly qualifies as a good one.
The story is about a girl, Moira, in the distant future which is attempting to finish her PhD. She has already been in the past to do research, and is now trying to find a quiet place to finish her thesis. Along the way we learn that she escorted some time travelers from the past (actually they are actors traveling around different times to make movies) that basically turned her in to her supervising professor for doing unauthorized research in the past. Moira lands a plumb job as a temporal park ranger in the Paleozoic era where she has all the time she needs to finish her thesis and in the end dispatch the actors that have been popping in and out of her life.
The free massive multiplayer online game EVONY, has surprised me a great deal. I have been playing it now for a little over a month, my Lord name is Kallian, on server 58 and I?m a member of FIRE alliance. Three things have surprised me; it?s free, it?s fun, and it?s deceptively easy.
What attracted me was the fact it was free. I wanted to see for myself if this was true, and how a company could stay in business and make money if it was free. You begin as a young lord building a kingdom from scratch, and this takes time. In the early stages of the game a farm can be built in less than a minute (I mean a real minute sitting in front of your computer watching the progress meter tick down the seconds), but as building increase in level they take longer and longer to build. Certain awards allow the player to speed up construction. They are gained during the daily spin of the Aries wheel or purchased at the Evony store. Yes, here is where the company makes money. A player can purchase with real money items that will help them increase their level in the game faster than those who are just waiting for the progress bar to tick down the seconds. For the most part purchasing items to move the game along faster are inexpensive, starting at about 5 cents and going up. However, what is exciting about the game is that purchasing these items is not necessary, the game provides everything the player needs all the player needs is patience, but if they lack the patience, they can pay for the quick and easy route.
Evony is fun and exciting. Building a kingdom, an army, are central aspects of gaming. However, the real fun and exciting stuff happens when the player is of sufficient level to start attacking valleys or barbarian villages, at the point the player sees the results of their kingdom building. After that a player can join an alliance and be part of a war on another alliance or help protect their own alliance members from attacks. At this point the game turns into a true massive multiplayer online game and the players interaction with others is just as important as building their kingdom.
Early in my review, I mentioned that Evony is deceptively easy. Anyone can log in and start building a kingdom with little research or help. Just log in and hit build. After that, it is an easy step to figure out that you need a barracks to build soldiers. Quests are a big part of the game, they lead the player in what construction, and research can be undertaken in order to get their kingdom up and running. Once again, this is easy, deceptively easy. About this time, the player wants to start attacking and here is when the deceptively easy part shows how deceptive it can be. Attacking can be easy, but winning a battle is harder. Here again is where the massive multiplayer aspect of the game and Alliances shine. As a member of an Alliance, the player has a built in network of experts, which I have found to be, eager to help their members. With an Alliance players do not need to attack a valley multiple times with different combinations of warriors to determine the best approach, for the most part it has already been done.
I enjoy Evony without spending a lot of time or any money on it, if you have to build something that takes twenty hours, just click build turn off your computer and check back tomorrow. I am excited about Evony because with it, I see a direction for gaming that is yet to be uncovered. I see potential for a company to make money by offering a free product, and I see the potential of spin off products, such as stories written in the Evony world.
Try Evony if you do not like it, you are not out anything other than the time you put in to it to find out for yourself whether it works for you or not.
The debut issue of Dynamite?s Thulsa Doom! Proudly announces "From the pages of writer Robert E. Howard".
STOP the presses!
This should be a warning to all Howard fans.
This is your spoiler alert.
This is your warning to stay away from the issue. Don?t buy it, don?t pick it up, and don?t read it.
Ok, now that you know where I am coming from I will explain a little more. Even though the comic claims to be "From the pages of writer Robert E. Howard," the comic book reads nothing like a Howard story, nor does its main character Thulsa Doom come near to resembling the character created by Howard. This may seem minor, but Thulsa Doom is supposed to be a skull faced necromancer, not a steroid pumped up warrior.
What angers me most is that Dynamite has attached Robert E. Howards' name to this comic, implying that this story is canon and follows with what Howard created. This story should not be associated with or compared to anything produced by Robert E. Howard. I don?t have anything against Dynamite or the creative team that developed the story I just wish they would have named the main character something else, taken Howards' name off and let the story rise or fall on its own merits.
To give credit where credit is due the comic was written by Kull writer Arvid Nelson and illustrated by Lui (Red Sonja) Antonio, with Alex Ross as the cover artist.
Well I haven't been posting my reviews lately, and they are piling up. I haven't stopped reading, just haven't been writing. At least I haven't been writing reviews.
What I have been working on lately is story. The story revolves around the Mirrorman aka Stanley Robinson. In the story he is attempting to rescue a young girl that was sold to the zombies. So far his obstacles are getting into the zombie zone, which is present day Compton, CA, and then into the zombie tower. Once in the tower he must confront the zombie lords. The zombie lords are too powerful for the hero, that is Mirrorman, so he gets help from an unlikely source, I haven't quite decided what the source will be, but that is part of the fun of writing.
Anyway I'm about half way through the rough draft and I'm pretty happy with it so far. Here is the opening paragraphy.
"A shadow stretched across the city like the head of an axe cleaving the breast of a bloated beast. For the vigilante that stood watch over the city it loomed like an ancient threat portending doom and destruction. The building rose from the cityscape like a jutting spear out of a rotting corpse, the upper reaches of the tall tower reflected the final rays of sun, while the lower levels were already bathed in gloom."
I'll review some comics and stories soon.
I did go see "The time travelers wife". I was surprised and enjoyed the movie, I went in with some apprehension since I'm always leery of science fiction that has been written by someone who is not a fan of the genre, they just use it because the vehicle works. I liken it to someone who detests gambling but win a big jackpot and doesn't give it away. Anyway the movie was much better that G.I. Joe a true spit on America movie if I ever saw one.