Book Lovers’ Week!

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I realized that I had somehow missed that August 9 was the day of the unofficial Book Lovers’ Day. So, I have decided, without any authority, of course, that I am declaring the entire week of 8/9/17-8/15/17 to  be the unofficial holiday of Book Lovers’ Week!

Why should we celebrate only one day?  Let us embrace the week as a period of declaring to the world that we love books!

If you are with me on this idea, please spread the word!

I love books!

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What are you reading?

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Occasionally, I write a post in which I ask this question, and it has been some time, so I wanted to ask all of you again: what are you currently reading?

I am reading Aggravated Momentum by Didi Oviatt;

In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson;

Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr;

and rereading for classes that I teach at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

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I wish Happy Reading to all!

A First Draft Finished!

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I have finally completed the first draft of Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book 2.  It is certainly not close to being ready to be put out into the world, but this step was essential.

I also have a plan of action for the revisions, which is something I did not have in my first book. I simply rewrote and made changes both major and minor as I went along. I hope with my focused revision process, I can lower significantly the number of drafts I will need. I am also hoping that I can still have this book out in time for Halloween! We will see.

On to draft 2!

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

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A while ago, I gave a brief post about The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, and I said I would do another post when I finished the book. I had completed it a while ago, but I simply forgot to do this post. So, without further introduction, this is a wonderful read, and  I recommend it highly!

Gaiman’s book is a collections of short pieces he has written for a variety of reasons, including people, films, books, writing, and life. If you love his books, then you should enjoy his book.

Here are a few quotations from this wonderful book:

“What speculative fiction is really good at is not the future, but the present. Taking an aspect of it that troubles or is dangerous, and extending or extrapolating that aspect into something that allows the people of that time to see what they are doing from a different angle and a different place. It’s cautionary.” (178)

“Ideas, written ideas are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our ideas from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over. ” (181-182)

“And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.” (459)

I give this book five stars out of five!

Gaiman, Neil. The View from  the Cheap Seats. HarperCollins. 2017.

Science-Fiction Films of the 1930s: Frankenstein

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The movie that I will discuss in this installment is Frankenstein.  This 1931 film was directed by James Whale and produced by Carl Laemelle, Jr. Universal Studios was following up its huge success with Dracula earlier in the year, so this film seemed like a natural choice to make. I have posted on Frankenstein before in my series on horror films, but like its namesake novel, it can also been seen as early science-fiction.

While the title and characters come from the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, it is a loose adaptation of the text.  Interestingly, the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, is a much more faithful treatment of the novel than this first film. This movie, one of the most important in horror film history, introduces Boris Karloff as the Creature. Karloff gives an impressive performance as the lost and lonely being who is unsure of who he is and his place in the world.  This sounds like so many teenagers and young people, and while frightening, Karloff also gathered empathy from viewers in his nuanced performance.

Bela Lugosi had been offered the part of the creature but apparently turned it down because of its lack of speaking lines.  Lugosi made a terrible career choice, because Karloff would supplant him after this film’s success as the top box office star and would continue to dominate Lugosi’s subsequent film career.

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The movie is powerful and atmospheric and is highly influenced by the artistic movement German Expressionism that had a stylistic impact on cinema especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Whale used large Gothic structures in the set and deep slashing shadows in creating the atmosphere of the film.

Jack Pierce designed the Creature’s distinctive makeup, which was an ordeal to apply and remove from Boris Karloff each day before and after filming. It is a work of design masterpiece, but it is completely different from the Creature’s appearance in the novel.

For those familiar with the novel, it is significant that not only the Creature’s appearance but also his personality and level of intelligence are vastly different from that of the character from the book. In Mary Shelley’s work, the creature is one of the narrators and is both intelligent and self-educated.  Both of those characteristics are missing from the inarticulate and not very bright film Creature. This kind of vastly different portrayal of characters and themes is something that is, unfortunately, typical of many horror films, or should I say, many film adaptations of books. That, however, should be the topic of another post.

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This movie incorporates the stuff of science-fiction, and we see Dr. Frankenstein and his then advanced technological equipment as he attempts to capture the essence of life. In fact, there is more such machinery in the film than exists in the book. So, is Frankenstein horror or science-fiction? I argue it is both.

The film was very successful financially for Universal Studios.  It is also considered by many cinema historians and critics to be one of the most important films made. It spawned numerous sequels and parodies, not limited to movies.  From Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to the character of Herman Munster in The Munsters to Young Frankenstein, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation have been fertile ground for satire and spoofing.

 

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Favorite Science-Fiction Films of the 1920s: Metropolis

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Metropolis is a brilliant science-fiction film (1927) directed by Fritz Lang. This movie, recently restored to its entirety, is a disturbing look at the world of the future through  the eyes of visionaries in the 1920s. It is based on the novel of the same name by Thea von Harbou (1925). The book deals with a city created on the backs of exploited workers and run by the capitalist upper-class. It is also a love story, and it is set in the year 2026.

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Metropolis offers a powerful and damning social commentary on the effects of the ruling class, the capitalist industrialists who rule the world by using and crushing the ordinary people who build and fuel their wonderland. While the workers live underground in squalor and destitution, the upper-class live literally in palaces high above the ground. There they explore and indulge in numerous amusements including those sexual and athletic. This film is not a simple polemic but drives its message through a compelling story that shows the love between the Master of Metropolis’ son Freder and Maria, who lives in the underworld and serves as a kind of saint to the oppressed.

Frankenstein, 1931, owes a cinematic debt to the mad scientist in Metropolis, Rotwang, and his equipment. There he creates a robot woman, using the life force of Maria. Clearly the novelist, Mary Shelley and her book, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, first influenced this movie.

Lang’s cinematic vision is exquisite and deeply influential to filmmakers who followed him in exploring the idea of future cites. His soaring towers and buildings, high bridges with fast cars, and aircraft flying near the buildings are based on the designs of the modernists and futurists, and this concept is a clear model for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Certainly an argument can be made that Metropolis is a foundation for many other science-fiction movies.

This film is extraordinary, and the full version is now available on DVD. It is an important piece of cinematic history, and I give it my highest recommendation.

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Happy Anniversary to JK Rowling and Harry Potter!

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It has been 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone. This extraordinary book and the entire Harry Potter series engaged the minds and imaginations of millions of readers around the world. I love this series, I teach it in several of my college classes, and I recommend it to anyone who has not read it.  It is also a book that can give the gift of reading to those who have not embraced the joy of reading. So, if you have not read this wonderful series, or if you have and love it, catch the express train to Hogwarts and have a great time!

Happy Anniversary and congratulation to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter!

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