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Books To Give For Christmas: BATTLE CRY By Leon Uris, the Most Accurate Novel About the Marines Ever Written

If you happen to take my advice and give this book to someone, be careful to whom you give it; there may be unintended consequences.  All three of our children loved the book, especially knowing how much it tracked the WWII experiences of their “Grandpa Barrow,” who like Uris, served in the 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.   For all three, it was part of the inspiration to join the JROTC program in high school.  For our oldest, that didn’t lead to the Marine Corps, but it did lead to West Point, deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Bronze Star – and that was a daughter.

An Interview with Author Karl Gallagher

Karl Gallagher is a science fiction author and engineer like myself, but he’s a much more famous sci-fi author than I am. He’s the creator of the Torchship series as well as a number of fantasy works.

Why “Downton Abbey” beats the “The Mandalorian”

Thanksgiving weekend brought, interspersed with the food, family visits and football games, my first round of holiday season film watching. In addition to the usual offerings from the Hallmark Channel, Netflix, and Amazon (which vary from quite good to stupid and silly), I began with a couple of films that are not exactly season-oriented, but that I’d been waiting to watch.

The first was not a feature film but a new TV show. We don’t have Disney Plus, but there has been a big buzz about “The Mandalorian”, the new Star Wars series centered around a bounty hunter from the planet Mandalore. So, when we visited my sister Audrey’s family for Thanksgiving morning breakfast, and they wanted me to watch the first episode, I readily agreed.

An Interview with Author Louis Antonelli

I had the opportunity to meet Louis Antonelli at a local science fiction convention, and I recently had the honor of interviewing this science fiction, fantasy and alternate history author.

How to Make Your Characters Sound Puerile

I subscribe to a service that, for a monthly fee, provides playwrights with an extensive list of playwriting opportunities throughout the country (and sometimes the world).  In addition to the monthly listing, the service also sends email messages that are supposed to help playwrights improve their craft.  These helpful hints may be beneficial for fledgling playwrights, but for more experienced writers they are a little too basic.  As a result, I rarely read the tips and tricks.  This month I did.  And this is why I must write this entry.


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: The Mayflower Compact Goes West

In his National Review piece Kyle Smith notes that this movie is most famous for its cynicism of the press, and the puncturing of Old West mythology; its most famous line being “This is the West, Sir.  When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” In this view, the film was pioneer postmodern.  There should not be an abundance of joy in the destruction of myth. As Jordan Peterson often reminds us, shared mythology is part of the cultural cement that holds us together, just as the Arthurian legends instructed actual knights on the meaning of chivalry.

An Interview with Author Declan Finn

I had the honor of interviewing Declan Finn, author of the Love at First Bite series, A Pius Man series and the more recent Saint Tommy, NYPD novels.

Moby Dick: Allegory of the First Order

Why Howard Butcher, you old subversive, you, teaching Moby Dick or, The Whale  a scriptural allegory that makes C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan read like Joel Osteen – to our impressionable youth.  Fortunately for you, the story is so compelling and the characters so riveting and well-drawn, you will get away with it year after year.

Melville puts the reader in a biblical frame of mind straight off, before he even gets to the story, with his bizarre Extracts (Supplied by a Sub-Sub- Librarian) citing from the books of Genesis, Job, Jonah, Psalms, and Isaiah, among other quotes; which include lines from Pilgrim’s Progress and Paradise Lost.  To keep us in a King James Bible mood, characters such as the ship owners Bildad and Peleg, first mate Starbuck, and it is presumed, Ahab himself, are Quakers all, keeping in their dialogue the formal “thee and thou” for which that sect was famous.

Why Melville Still Matters

Celebrating the writer’s 200th Birthday

Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum is celebrating the bicentennial of Herman Melville’s birthday by offering a variety of programs and classes about the famous writer’s work. Part of the celebration included a marathon reading of Moby-Dick. Similar events have taken place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, the Firehouse at Fort Mason in San Francisco, and at Melville’s gravesite at the Woodlawn Conservatory in New York. These celebrations are a testament to the author’s enduring prominence in American literature. His work speaks to today’s generation and our current politics with remarkable prescience. In NRO Victor Davis Hanson recently alluded to Melville’s great novel in a critique of CNN: “But the better question is whether CNN—which has ruined its reputation and profits in an Ahab-esque effort to destroy the Trump white whale—is any longer a media organization at all, or a failing entertainment channel, or a boring Ministry of Truth.”

Book Review: “Space Traipse: Hold My Beer, Series 1”

A family friendly Star Trek parody that’s funny and pays tribute to the original – and it isn’t “The Orville”. It is “Space Traipse: Hold My Beer” by Karina Fabian.

I’ve long been  a fan of Karina Fabian’s work. We were both involved in the “Infinite Space, Infinite God II” anthology. I’ve reviewed several of her works such as her novel “Discovery” based on her Space Nuns stories. (These definitely ace the Bechtel test.) And I’ve followed her “Space Traipse” stories since the very beginning. That’s why I was honored to be one of her beta readers, though the first set of stories are now out in print and on Kindle.

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