Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Make Love*

Make Love* The Bruce Campbell Way by Bruce Campbell

"Hail to the King, baby" - Bruce Campbell as Ash, Army of Darkness

Bruce Campbell, author of If Chins Could Kill, the most original autobiography out of Tinseltown, has struck again with an "autobiographical" fiction, an implausible "what-if" with a premise to shake the very pillers of heaven...Make Love* The Bruce Campbell Way asks that most singular of questions -- What happens when a schlock-heavy, lantern-jawed, quip-laden B-Movie star like Bruce Campbell lands an "A" film?

Unexpectedly landing the lead role in a new Mike Nichol's romantic comedy (called Let's Make Love), Campbell is cast as a wise-cracking Southern doorman, dispensing sage relationship advice to a star-crossed Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger. He immediately starts making his presence known, researching his role as a doorman; running afoul of Colin Powell; teaching Richard Gere how to stage a real knock-down, drag-out punch-up; sourcing stunt cars for Nichols; dispensing unrequested advice to Renee Zellweger on sexing up her wardrobe and generally and liberally spreading his B-movie wisdom about like lawn fertilizer.

Broadly written but servicable, Make Love* The Bruce Campbell Way doesn't pretend to be literature. Campbell is, however, very, very funny, in his own peculiar twisted style, and Make Love* The Bruce Campbell Way, while it is never going to win an literary prizes, is something that most prize winners aren't - a fun and enjoyable read. Just don't expect Tolstoy.

For more info on Bruce Campbell and his multitudinous filmography, check out the always excellent Internet movie Database (IMDB) (Did you know that Richard Gere's middle name was Tiffeny?), or drop by Campbell's own website for an excerpt from the book and some words of wisdom on life in B-moviedom. You can also check out his work as Coach Boomer in Sky High or as the irritating theater usher who refuses entry to Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2.

Comments. links and feedback are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Old Man's War

Old Man's War by John Scalzi


There. Now that "that" is out of the way, John Scalzi's Old Man's War is a gripping, enjoyable military science-fiction novel who's sole major fault is that it feels too damnably short.

The title is unfailingly accurate - it is the story of an old man's war. Join the Army, see the Galaxy, meet exotic aliens...and, well, kill them. Seventy-five year old widower John Perry takes a second shot at life and abandons Earth to enlist in the Colonial Defense Forces. Conveniently dropped into a new enhanced body, Perry is soon hip-deep in a decidely Darwinian conflict between various sentient species for habitable planets. The story arc follows the predictable set-up - boot camp (of a sort), first combat, the progressive hardening of the character through more varied combat experience.

Though the story arc is a familiar one, Scalzi has peppered his work with an abundance of nifty concepts, social commentary, technology and some interesting twists on the usual aliens, as well as tight writing and good characterization (and a slightly sick and off-beat sense of humor).

Aside from the story length, the only quibble I had plotwise with Old Man's War was the black-and-white, everybody versus everybody vision of the OMW's universe. This reads as a bit shallow and unbelievable - not because I couldn't believe in a Darwinian universe - but because I would have expected that the conflict would not be quite as simplistic as it seems portrayed here. I would have expected more alien species using different evolutionary tracks to succeed (i.e. some parasitical etc.) rather then just straight-forward violent competition...but hey, that's me.

If you are looking for more military science fiction to read, check out the Baen Free Library, courtesy of Baen Books (Note: not the publisher of OMW - that would be Tor Books) . The Baen Free Library includes works from such authors as David Drake, John Ringo, and David Weber (for the excellent Honor Harrington Series). I also recommend the old classic Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein if you haven't read it yet (note: I've linked to the version with the classic cover, not the trashy movie cover version) and as a bonus, I recommend my personal favorite Heinlein - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

I also recommend avoiding Paul Verhovan's film version of Starship Troopers which, although I know some view it as a great exercise in satire, utterly and steadfastly manages to avoid any of the elements that make Heinlein's book a good read.

If you are interested, check out Scalzi's own website at www.scalzi.com and read the "Whatever" for some occasional scathing commentary, interesting tips on writing (and selling your writing) and info on other upcoming works. As I understand it, the sequel to Old Man's War entitled The Ghost Brigades is complete and heading for release in 2006. I for one will be waiting.

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*UPDATE* - As I am now starting to gather irritating amounts of spam in the Comments (i.e. see comment 1), I have activated Blogger's comment verification system. This should stop future spam but annoyingly Blogger offers no editorial control over existing individual spam postings so I can't delete those existing suckers....Please feel free to now post your pithy, erudite and thoughtful comments in a spamless environment.

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