Sunday, 12 August 2018

War of the Worlds update

Following my last piece about the new War of the Worlds sequel, I have found out, through the Radio Times TV listing magazine, that the BBC is making a new version of the original H.G.Wells book for showing 'later this year'.

According to the article this version will be firmly set in and around Edwardian London, will be a three part drama, and faithful to the tone and spirit of the book while also feeling contemporary, surprising and full of shocks. A collision of Sci-fi, period drama and horror.
Eleanor Thomlinson (Poldark's Demelza and Rafe Spall play the leads while Rupert Graves and Robert Carlyle have major parts.

I look forward to the CGI tripods and HMS Thundercloud.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Massacre of Mankind - Book Review




I've just finished this book, which seems to have s lipped onto the local library shelves fairly quietly. From the pen of Stephen Baxter, an author I know as collaborator with Terry Pratchett on his 'Long Earth' series, but I see from the list of his works is a prolific Science fiction writer; the book is, as it states on the cover, a sequel to H.G.Wells' original 'War of the worlds', and is starts in 1920 (the original set in 1907) in a world where history is not quite the same as reality.

For example, the authorities have been working on the leftover Martian technology and have developed new metals, one of which enabled the great liner Titanic to survive collision with an iceberg on her maiden voyage. The military have been trying to get the Martian heat ray guns to work without much success (we find out the reason during the story), and Britain is still suffering from the destructive affects of the earlier invasion.

Other little changes are often throwaway comments. Lord Baden-Powell runs a quasi-military group called the Junior Pioneers. The suffragette movement is now illegal and women do not have the vote.

One of the main, understated changes, is that WW1 has not happened as it did. Germany certainly started a war, with a lightning strike through Belgium putting France out of action before turning her full might onto Russia (an Eastern Front which is still fighting). The United Kingdom had previously made a non-aggression pact with Germany and abandoned her ostensible allies at the crucial time. This 'Schlieffen War' uses tactics and technology developed from alien artifacts.

The story starts with a new invasion of England by more cylinders than the 1907 landings, with sightings of more to follow. It turns out that the Martians learned from their earlier failure, as their methods have changed and mankind is still unprepared and helpless against the machines.  A number of characters from the original book appear again, and it is refreshing to find that the central character is not the gung-ho hero as usual, but a fairly normal though resourceful lady journalist.

I won't go into detail of the plot, but the book does end on a sort of will they, won't they come again question, and a plan by Winston Churchill to take the action to Mars.

An interesting read, probably worth rereading the original first, for background, and could give those of you who have gamed the Tripods some new ideas and themes.





Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Another one bites the dust.

I've just received the BMSS interim newsletter via my computer and see that another old supplier has gone.

Pat Campbell, owner and producer of Replica Models has passed away. A name that may not be familiar to some of you, Pat had a large range of recasts from the early days of Britains and Johilco, all priced very cheaply. I had a lot of his figures for round about £1.50 each in an unpainted state, and once painted up they were practically indistinguishable from the originals, apart from the weight that is.

 Pat had a photocopied catalogue illustrated with line drawings, and was very helpful if you wanted something special. I enquired at one time about Victorian rifle regiment figures with plumes rather than ball on the shakos, and he sent me a sample he'd rigged up from a standard running soldier at the trail and a head from (I think) a Belgian figure.

Sad to hear of his passing.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

There But Not There - The Ten-inch Tommy

Another month gone with little happening, a general apathy seems to have struck me, probably because of the weather and time of year. Still, I can write about something that may not have come to your attention.

There is a new charity on the block. It is called "Remembered" and is a forces charity taking advantage of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice and end of the First World War, a date now used to commemorate the fallen of all subsequent wars as well. The aims are to help keep the memory of those lost to duty in the minds of new generations, who may not have the immediate family connection to those who served in WW1 and WW2 that some of us have. My grandfathers and father served in these conflicts, and I know the names of various relatives who died in them, but my grandchildren do not have this link. The charity also helps current sufferers of forces related disabilities.


One way they are commemorating 1918 is by using 'ghost' soldiers. One such installation is at Penshurst, (photo above, taken from the Rochester Arts Mission website). Here they have taken each name from the village war memorial and placed a Perspex silhouette on a church seat. It is a reminder that that person is not just a name on a plaque, but lived in the village, worked there, went to church there, etc. , and makes the viewer think more deeply of the 51 people (in Penshurst) who went off to war and never came back. Further installations are in planning.

Another way of bringing the anniversary to the attention is similar to the 'poppy' field at the Tower of London in 1914. This time there will be life-size silhouettes of a Tommy situated at strategic places throughout the country.
 

 
Similar to the poppies, it will be possible to buy your own Tommy. Not the full size figure but a small 10 inch version. It is also possible to get a plaque with it bearing a name that you may wish the figure to represent. These cost £29.99 plus postage, and can be found on the website at- Remembered. There but not there, under the heading of Buy Your Tommy.
 



 
A project worth supporting.
 
 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Charley's War


Having nothing interesting to report, I thought I'd keep the entries going by bringing this to your attention. Because I once purchased a few Dr Who miniatures from them Forbidden Planet send me regular weekly updates on new merchandise. Among this weeks collection of Marvel Superhero comic books and others I noticed this book.

For those of less mature years, and possibly non UK viewers, I should tell you that this is a comic strip that originally appeared in the weekly comic 'Battle'' starting in 1979 with young Charley Bourne lying about his age to enlist in the army, and works it way fairly chronologically to the British intervention in Russia after the armistice.

I have the original book versions, all ten volumes, and re-read them fairly regularly, even though they are not necessarily easy reading. The strips are sometimes heavy going, as the stories do not glorify the war in any way. They seem to show the mud, blood and ferocity of the Western Front in all its horror. They also show the stupidity and arrogance of officers, the pressures of war, with soldiers suffering mentally and physically. There are even nods to real figures. In one strip there is a recognisable figure in the foreground while in the background are a couple of officers saying "...private Adolf Hitler is the best runner in the unit...". During one of the stories we digress to following one of Charley's brothers in a naval battle.

The series ends in 1933, when Charley is unemployed, like many others at the time. He is walking down the street having just met his old sergeant ruminating on the futility of the War and that politicians must have learned their lesson, while on the corner a newsvendor is shouting that Hitler has just been elected German Chancellor.

Ah well, now back to the model railway track laying.