Saturday, January 28, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The Dark World by Henry Kuttner was originally published in 1946. Although it is still not widely known there are enough of us around interested in Kuttner’s work that it was reprinted by Paizo for their Planet Stories series of reprints. With a plot that mirrors A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (at least at the onset), The Dark World is about Edward Bond, a World War II airman who finds himself transported to an alien world where he shares the body of his identical twin from an alternate dimension, the evil wizard Ganelon. Told entirely with a first person narrative, Bonds travails are fantastic and implausible and very much like the pulp fiction it was meant to be, except better. The writing is imagistic, packed with verbs, laced with action, and ultimately highly entertaining. For those interested in literary trivia this book influenced Roger Zelazny when he began his famous “Amber” novels and astute readers will recognize a similar cynical and world-weary tone in the narrator’s voice, among other superficial resemblances. The Dark World may be Kuttner’s best and there is a modest revival and appreciation of Kuttner’s work today. Contrary to what some bloggers have stated when reviewing this book, The Dark World is NOT heroic fantasy. This is hardcore noir science-fantasy with a plot that chainsaws wildly. The action is plentiful and the ending is perfunctory as befits a pulp fiction adventure story. One of my favorites, if you haven’t read any of Henry Kuttner’s books this is a great place to start.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Hellhole makes a nice introduction to the work of Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson if you are unfamiliar with either their superb solo work or Dune continuation-collaboration novels. Hellhole is a great page-tuner and one of the best science fiction adventures I’ve read in quite some time. The planet Hallholme, better known as Hellhole because of its challenging environment, is home to defeated General Tiber Maximilian Adolphus who had lost his war against the corrupt government of the Constellation. Exiled on Hellhole he plots a fresh battle against the Constellation. But Hellhole is not all that it seems. As Tiber Adolphus prepares his plans for redemption other factions are at work that will either hinder him or assist him. Planet Hellhole is a melting pot of desperate characters, spies, plots and counter-plots, and most remarkable, the resurgence of an ancient alien race. I couldn’t put Hellhole down. The sub-plots are intricately woven and the entire story is mesmerizing. When I met Kevin Anderson for the first time at a recent book signing he told me Hellhole will be a trilogy with a shocking ending (I’m paraphrasing him) so if you’re interested in good old-fashioned space opera this is it. Hellhole is at the top of my list for recommended books this month.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Here’s a classic science fiction novel from the legendary Andre Norton. This is the Ace paperback edition I encountered in the early 1970s. It’s all about ex-colonel Simon Tregarth who is persuaded by the mysterious group known as Siege Perilous, the ancient stone of power, who determines what value his life holds and then transports him to a world where his mind and spirit would be content. Witch World was unlike anything I had read at the time and remains a standout piece of writing from Miss Norton – and she was always good. The characterizations, dialogue and descriptions are memorable. The imagery is lush and laced with medieval trappings, mysticism, and pulp science fiction. I’ve never quite read a book like this one before or since, unless of course it was written by Miss Norton. She possessed an enviable talent for blending genres –science fiction, fantasy, noir thrillers and historical romance. Witch World is all of that and more. I believe this book is long out of print and deserving of a reprint as are so many of Andre Norton’s fine novels.
Monday, January 16, 2012
I never had the pleasure of meeting Howard face to face but we corresponded via e-mail and Facebook. He was supportive and encouraging of all writers and treated everyone with respect. He was a jewel among the Black Horse Western writers and a friend to all. I am shocked and saddened to learn of his passing. Below is the official notice:
Howard Lance Hopkins
Old Orchard Beach
Howard Lance Hopkins, 50, of Old Orchard Beach, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, January 12, 2012, inBiddeford. He was born in Biddeford on December 12, 1961, son of Frank and Lynne Dion Hopkins. He was a graduate ofScarborough High School. The superheroes of Howard’s youth, Doc Savage, The Avenger and The Shadow, influenced his decision to become a professional writer. For the past 24 years, Howard has written numerous books including Westerns for Hale Publications, graphic novels such as a Sherlock Holmes series and a widely known children’s series called the Nightmare Club. Most recently, he focused his energy on writing the Chloe Files, a character derived from his novel Grimm. Howard was an avid reader of superhero comic books, including Wonder Woman, Superman and The Hulk, to name a few. He will be remembered as a devoted, loving and very supportive husband. He will be greatly missed not only by his loving and caring wife of 22 years, Dominique Morency Hopkins, but by many, especially his nephew Steap and niece Sam, who he loved, mentored and guided as his own.
Mr. Hopkins was a member of the United Methodist Church.
He is survived by his wife, Dominique of Old Orchard Beach
His parents – Lynne and Frank Hopkins
His sister – Robyn Hopkins
His in laws – Madeleine and Victor Morency and Marianne and Michael Fleischmann
His goddaughter – Renee Whitehouse
Several Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews and Cousins
A Visiting Hour will be from 10:30-11:30AM Wednesday at Cote Funeral Home, corner of Beach and James Streets, Saco. A Funeral Service will be held at 11:30AM Wednesday at Cote Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco. Arrangements are by Cote Funeral Home, Saco. You may wish to send flowers to the Cote Funeral Home or a donation to your local animal shelter in Howard’s name. To send private condolences to the family go towww.cotefuneralhome.com
One of my favorites of his many outstanding westerns.
Rest in Peace
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson paid tribute to their legendary father, Ricky Nelson, in a sold out performance at the
for Arts in downtown Rau Center , Crystal Lake, Illinois Friday January 13 2012. Matthew and Gunnar jumped right into a lively set of their father’s earliest hits – Poor Little Fool, Stood Up, Hello Mary Lou, I’m Walkin – in a two hour show punctuated by brief video clippings from the Nelson family archives. Among the footage shown was a rare bit from The Ozzie and Harriet Show unseen for fifty years (It hasn’t been shown since it aired in the mid-1950s) of Rick Nelson doing an impersonation of Elvis Presely on Halloween.
Matthew and Gunnar shared numerous anecdotes between songs which added a personable feel to the event. Both Matthew and Gunnar are excellent musicians and singers as you would expect. Matthew’s vocal range appears identical to his father and Gunnar’s passionate solo on
was a crowd pleaser. Their guitar playing was generally right on. Internationally acclaimed for their own contributions to music, Matthew and Gunnar have performed for enthusiastic audiences worldwide. Among the highlights were superb renditions of Travelin Man and Garden Party. My personal favorite song of the evening, however, was not one of their father’s classics but a new song they wrote titled Just Once More, a beautiful ballad with a passionate edge. Lonesome Town
There is nothing like live music performed by creative musicians and Matthew and Gunnar Nelson delivered a truly fine evening of entertainment. Afterward they signed autographs and posed for photographs. I found them intelligent, humorous, humble and gracious. Rock on!
Visit their website HERE!
When visiting Crystal lake Illinois be sure to visit the Rau Center for the Arts
See their website HERE!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
This month's retro paperback is Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars.
I first encountered Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars in its early 70s Signet paperback edition. I paid 95 cents and tax. It remains one of my favorite science fiction novels. It was the first of Clarke’s novels that I read. Alvin’s quest to discover what lies beyond Diaspar left and indelible mark on my imagination. Originally published as Against the Fall of Night, Clarke expanded that early novel (his first) and The City and the Stars is widely regarded as a classic. The novel is short in comparison to modern science fiction novels, but Clarke managed to create a remarkable dystopian society with an expertise that was unusual for a first-time novelist. This is the book that really launched his remarkable career and it remains in print (as does the earlier version, Against the Fall of Night which some readers prefer). I still own the paperback I purchased off the book rack at a Wieboldt’s Department Store. Unfortunately, I don’t see many of Arthur C. Clarke’s books on the shelves, and I don’t know if they are available as e-books, but interested readers are encouraged to locate a copy of The City and the Stars.
Also recommended by the same author: Childhood’s End.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Some of the frequent questions that come flying into my e-mail are: “Was Errol Flynn a homosexual?” and “Was Errol Flynn a Nazi spy?” Occasionally some politically correct nitwit phrases the first question as “Was Errol Flynn gay?” The answer is NO to both questions. For the record: No, Errol Flynn was not a homosexual and Errol Flynn was not a Nazi spy. I no longer answer e-mails regarding Flynn unless they are professional inquiries from reliable sources. I routinely delete most e-mails from strangers after I or my assistant give them a cursory glance. So save your energy. I am posting this to put these questions to rest for you cyberspace explorers with all of that time on your hands.
Now let’s examine how these myths originated.
Charles Higham is largely responsible for creating the Nazi spy myth. His 1980 book, Errol Flynn: The Untold Story was an instant success and set the standard for sleazy biographies to come. But there was one problem – he made it all up. A close examination revealed that he altered some of the government documents and studio documents that he was quoting. He did this to advance his theories of Nazi complicity and homosexual activity. He also relied on unsubstantiated gossip. Most critics took issue with Higham immediately, but all the negative press simply helped sell copies. Thus was created what I refer to as the “water cooler effect” in modern culture. The unsuspecting public hears a five second quote on the news – “Author Charles Higham alleges that actor Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy....” – which gets translated at the office water cooler the next day as “Did you hear that Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy?” And so in a large sense the public is part and parcel to Higham’s lunacy. Over time the gossip gets accepted as fact. Photographs of Flynn wearing a German soldier’s uniform from the 1942 film Desperate Journey add to the illusion.
Journalist William Donati documented Higham’s deception and his groundbreaking text can be found as an appendix in My Days With Errol Flynn by Buster Wiles. This book is now considered one of the primary sources on Flynn as well as being noted for Donati’s outstanding investigative journalism. Tony Thomas, one of Flynn’s first (and best) biographers countered all of Higham’s claims in his superlative Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was. This book should also be considered a primary source on Flynn. Interested readers will find both books a fascinating examination of not only Flynn but of a con-man named Charles Higham.
The homosexual myth was recycled by David Bret with Errol Flynn: Satan’s Angel which has been re-released as Errol Flynn: Gentleman Hellraiser. No matter the title the book is full of nonsense. To read my account of shooting this book click HERE. David Bret is well known for cranking out venomous diatribes on his blog and his many books are equally reviled for their lack of historical content. David Bret clearly doesn’t know the difference between a primary source and a secondary source, but the real problem is a lack of caring. I’m talking about a man who fancies himself a baritone but who intentionally warbles like a pre-menstrual prima donna.
So there you have it, an Anatomy of Injustice. For serious readers interested in Errol Flynn I strongly recommend the following books. Although some of these are minor bibliographic entries I’ve included them because in some way they managed to add to our knowledge of Flynn’s life and career. Future work by Louis Kraft, Robert Florczak and others will amend and add to our growing knowledge on Flynn.
with Tedd Thomey; The Big Love, Florence , Lancer Books, 1961. New York
Bassoff, Lawrence; Errol Flynn: The Movie Posters, Beverly Hills, California, Lawrence Bassoff Collection, Inc., 1995.
Conrad, Earl; Errol Flynn: A Memoir, New York, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1978.
Connelly, Gerry; Errol Flynn In
, Northampton Corby, , Domra Publications, 1995. Northants, England
Cother, Bonney; Master of Errol Flynn’s Yacht Zaca: Captain Patrick C. Cother, Publisher Veronica J. Cother-Bentley, 2007.
Fasano, Debra; Young Blood: The Making of Errol Flynn; privately printed,
, 2009. Australia
Fegerl, Joseph, editor; Errol Flynn - Dr. Hermann F. Erban: A Friendship Of Two Adventurers, 1933-1940, Joseph Fegerl Publisher,Vienna, Austria, 1985.
Flynn, Errol; Beam Ends, New York, Longmans, Green and Company, 1937.
Flynn, Errol; Showdown,
, New York House, 1946. Sheridan
Flynn, Errol; My Wicked, Wicked Ways,
, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1959. New York
Flynn, Rory; The Baron of Mulholland: A Daughter Remembers Errol Flynn, Xlibris Books, 2006.
Freedland, Michael; The Two Lives Of Errol Flynn, New York, William Morrow & Co., 1979.
Godfrey, Lionel; The Life and Crimes of Errol Flynn,
, New York St. Martin’s Press, 1977.
Hamann, G. D., editor; Errol Flynn In The 30's,
, Filming Today Press, 1994. Hollywood, California
Haymes, Nora Eddington Flynn, with Cy Rice; Errol And Me,
, Signet Books, 1960. New York
Matzen, Robert with Michael Mazzone; Errol Flynn Slept Here;
, GoodKnight Books, 2009. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Meyers, Jeffrey; Inherited Risk: Errol and Sean Flynn In
and Hollywood , Vietnam , Simon and Schuster, 2002. New York
Moore, John Hammond; The Young Errol: Flynn Before
, Hollywood , Angus and Robertson Publishers, 1975. Sydney, Australia
, Pyramid Publications, 1975. Errol Flynn, New York
Norman, Don; Errol Flynn: The Tasmanian Story,
, W.N. Hurst and E.L, Metcalf, proprietors of the Errol Flynn Theatre of Tasmanian History, 1981. Hobart, Tasmania
Norman, Don; A Tasmanian Life: An Autobiography,
, Don Norman Publisher, 1994. Hobart, Tasmania
Parish, James Robert, with Alan G. Barbour, and Alvin H. Marill;
, Cinefax, 1969. Errol Flynn, New York
Thomas, Tony, with Rudy Behlmer and Clifford McCarty; The Films Of
, The Citadel Press, 1969. Errol Flynn, New York
Thomas, Tony, editor; From A Life Of Adventure: The Writings Of ErrolFlynn,
, The Citadel Press, 1980. New York
Thomas, Tony; Errol Flynn: The Spy Who Never Was,
, Citadel Press, 1990. New York
Thomey, Tedd; The Loves of Errol Flynn,
, Monarch Books, 1962. Derby, Connecticut
Valenti, Peter; Errol Flynn: A Bio-Bibliography,
, Westport, Connecticut Press, 1984. Greenwood
Wiles, Buster with William Donati; My Days With Errol Flynn,
, Roundtable Publishing, 1988. Santa Monica, California
And for those interested in my take on Flynn visit my website HERE.
You can order my book HERE.