Friday, December 28, 2012

Spirit Bears, A Rainforest and 1st Nation Protests

A species is threatened, an environmentally sensitive area is in jeopardy, and the Canadian First Nations people are voicing concerns.  Is there a connection between these three items?

Seals in Coal Harbour, Vancouver, by DG Hudson

Spirit Bears

A recent research study of the impacts of tanker traffic on the habitat of the British Columbia's white Spirit bear indicates Gribbell Island, south of Kitimat, would be in direct line of the tanker route and any subsequent spills that could occur.  The route also passes by the Great Bear Rainforest.

A current population on Gribbell Island of 100 -150 Kermode Bears contains 40 percent white spirit bears.  That rate drops in other Kermode bear habitats.  These bears would be at risk through their contaminated food (fish, seabirds) as well as the toxicological impacts (soiled fur, organ failure) to their own bodies.

The white Spirit Bear became an official symbol of B.C. in 2006, designated by the Lieutenant-Governor.  Spirit bears are prominent in oral stories of the Canadian First Nations and American Indian populations. Native groups oppose the pipeline and the danger it poses to the survival of the Kermode white spirit bears. 

What takes precedence when business and environmental concerns don't agree?


Newspaper reference - The Vancouver Sun, Dec3/12, Breaking News. 'White spirit bear's habitat in danger, biologist says', by Larry Pynn.  Kermode bears


The Great Bear Rainforest

Also known as the Canadian Central and North Coast forest, or simply the Central and North coast, the Great Bear Rainforest is part of the Pacific temperate rain forest eco-region.  That translates into towering evergreens, heavy rainfall, and abundant salmon runs.  This the largest remaining intact coast temperate rainforest in the world, and it extends to the areas around Kitimat, B.C.

The proposed Northern Gateway project will travel through this region.  Accidents, spills, and leakages in the ocean could impact the forest, the coast and the islands along the route.  Winter storms, and other inclement weather could affect the ability of the tankers to safely navigate.  Consider this:  a salmon from the ocean travels up the rivers providing food for people and animals.  If that salmon dies in the ocean, and doesn't go up the river, many species who rely on this food will suffer (human, animal, and birds of prey).


Newspaper reference - Vancouver Sun, Dec 2012, Commentary section, Enbridge cannot deny islands, Great Bear Rainforest, by Art Sterritt, Coastal First Nations executive director. - Great Bear Rainforest


Detail on Totems in Stanley Park, Vancouver, by DG Hudson

1st Nations Protest - Native rallies and a grass-roots campaign

Across Canada, 18 -Idle No More- native rallies sent a message.  Aboriginal sovereignty is an issue, as well as environmental concerns about our oceans and our rivers. New laws outlined in the budget bill remove environmental regulations from thousands of lakes and streams in Canada.

Why remove these restrictions?  Who will benefit?  Is this in the interest of protecting our resources?


Newspaper reference - The Vancouver Sun, First Nations Protest, We have to march until we see change, and Idle No More, T. Kappo.


What do you think?  Are resources worth protecting (in any country)?  Or, is it too early to be asking such a tough question?  Do you read newspapers anymore? (online or tangible?)  Please share in the comments and thanks for dropping by!

Best wishes for 2013 and thanks for visiting and commenting in 2012!



A Lakota story about a bear: The Bear with Two Shadows, by Roland Yoemans, author, at his Writing in the Crosshairs blog.

Previous post on Spirit Bears:


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Juliette Gréco and Fifties France

A singer in tune with the times, she never lost her bohemian edge. . . 

Juliette Gréco, a French singer and actress born February 7, 1927, started her career as a chanson singer in 1949.  Jean Cocteau, a writer-director who also met Juliette during this time, offered her a part in a movie, Orphée.  It was the first of several movies in the fifties and sixties. 

During her childhood, her maternal grandparents cared for her in the south of France, as her parents worked for the Resistance during the Occupation.  She moved to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the Latin Quarter of Paris in 1946, after her mother left France for Indochina. 


In the Latin Quarter, a church from 542 A.D., towers over the square. . .

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, by Green Eye

Emerging on the Paris scene in the years following the Occupation, Juliette became part of the café society regulars in the Latin Quarter.  Many artists and intellectuals were infatuated with Gréco's dark looks, long hair, black attire and intellect. Her sultry singing voice and acting ability didn't hurt her chances, either. She was part of the  existential group which included Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir.

Gréco spent the post-liberation years at the St. Germaine cafés immersing herself in the bohemian culture and its philosophy.  As a regular at these venues, she met many of the musicians, including Miles Davis. They had a bittersweet relationship, thwarted by the mores of the decade.

Home to Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore  (shown below), the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area was the epicenter of the existentialist movement.

Cafe de Flore, Latin Quarter, Paris, by DG Hudson


In the late 1960s, Juliette was cast in the tv serial, Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre.  She was also in the cast of the French fantasy film of the same name produced in 2001.  The film, Phantom of the Louvre, was the first feature film to be shot inside the famous museum.  Other movies:  Bonjour Tristesse, and The Night of the Generals.

To see Juliette Gréco in her early years, click the link below: - early film clips, no soundtrack

Have you heard of Juliette Gréco, the French actress and singer?   She inspired many artists, musicians, and writers. Sometimes, the timing is perfect.

If you have time, check out the Christmas Scenes post on my 21st Century Blog.  You can also click on the top photo in the right sidebar.

Best Wishes for the Holidays and 2013 !

References: Juliette Gréco classic, Sous ciel de Paris, Youtube. Movies with Juliette Gréco An interview with Juliette Gréco, including her relationship with Miles Davis.  The Guardian, Thursday, May 25, 2006.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cheers! Cavanaugh Blogfest - Dec 10 - 12


Welcome to an alternate universe of Alex J. Cavanaugh, where anything is possible. . .

Flash fiction:  Trouble at the Black Hole Cafe

Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Ninja starship pilot, hung his Gibson guitar in the locker of the silver Cosbolt, before strapping himself in the First Pilot position. After the IWSG meeting, he borrowed the flyer to teleport to The Black Hole Café. I’ll be on time, no problem. Byron trained me to do this jump.

At The Black Hole, a little-known literary café in the Carolinas, characters and authors rendez-vous in an Overlap Gap, but their time is limited. Athee said she would be there, she wanted to talk to Alex about Byron. It’s going to be strange meeting her, she looks like my wife.
To be cont. . .


Alex called this, "The Day the Ninja Died blogfest", but I think not. He'll enjoy the various ways we imagine Alex J. Cavanaugh, and learn how much we appreciate his support. Cheers!

FOUR Hosts:

These are the minds that came up with the toast/roast for Capt'n Alex: Mark “The Madman” Koopman, ”Marvelous” Morgan Shamy, Stephen “Breakthrough” Tremp, David “Kingpin” Powers King. The originators of this blogfest want to know how many variations we can offer for the following questions. Don't miss the BONUS points for a comment to Mrs. Cavanaugh.

Questions: (I did this part interview style)

1) What does Alex look like?

DG: Alex looks like Byron in Cassastar. A 40-something male humanoid, with dark hair, clean shaven. He may wear glasses.

2) Who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead.)

DG: Tom Cruise, or maybe Kevin Bacon. Depends on hair colour.

3) Who does Alex remind you of?

DG: Data. (Next Generation?). Hence, the ability to reach massive numbers of bloggers and comment on their posts, a feat few accomplish.


To: Mrs. Cavanaugh

We’ve heard hints about you, the woman behind the man, an enigma like Alex. Now, after reading book 2, I wonder if Athee’s attributes reflect those of a beloved wife. BTW, we're glad you're understanding.


Visit as many participants as you can from the linky list, but first:

How long have you known Alex? If he's new to you, be sure to check out the Captain's blog.
Please leave a comment here to mention the blogfest, so I can visit back. Thanks for stopping by.


Alex's post re the blogfest (aka, the Day the Ninja Died)

Sorry if the font shows incorrectly, let me know.  Thanks.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Wilde Book Review - The Picture of Dorian Gray

For a literary look at Victorian life, try reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This is the era of British history between 1837 and 1901, paralleling the reign of Queen Victoria. 

The author . . .Oscar Wilde


The Story. . .

The time was the turning of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, when new ideas about science and society were becoming popular. Knowledge was more accessible.  More people were reading.  Dorian Gray, a playboy by today's standards, was idolized by the young men in Victorian London as the epitome of sophistication and style.  (Photo Credit for photo of Oscar Wilde at end of post).

In the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray meet, the painting has just been completed. The artist, Basil Hallward, claims it as his best work. Dorian curses himself and the painting when he sees its beauty, his reactions evolving from self-love to self-pity. So begins his downward slide from society's parties into the world of illicit pleasures. Familiar Oscar Wilde quotes are found throughout the dialogue. I enjoyed this story of a man who found a high-cost way to stave off aging. It worked for a while.


BONUS short story review:

Included at the end of the novel above, was a short story by Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, about pre-ordained destinies and how knowledge of that information can affect the recipient's life.

One of the characters is a cheiromantist, similar to a psychic. What this man tells Lord Arthur changes his outlook on his happiness. This is London in the time of Sherlock Holmes.  The term, cheiromantist, may have gone out of use, but it generally means a 'seer who reads hands'. It's the first time I've come across the term.


Have you read the book or seen the movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray?  Have you ever had your fortune told?  Do we really want to know?  What do you think?  Please share in the comments?



Book Credits: Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish poet, dramatist and author.

Signet Classics, March 2007, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891.


W=Wilde Thing, (Oscar), A to Z Blog Challenge 2012


*IMAGE CREDIT: Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony, (Wikipedia, PD-Art)

This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. PD=public domain.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Iraq, A Gadling Tour with Sean McLachlan

The Great Ziggurat at Ur, by Sean McLachlan

Today I'm interviewing a special guest. Sean McLachlan, a well-known blogger from Civil War Horror, who is currently writing a series about his trip to Iraq for the Gadling travel blog.

Welcome Sean, and thanks for consenting to a few questions about a trip to an area previously known as the Fertile Crescent. Civilization was born in this area. Can you tell us how you wrangled this trip?  Then, we'll focus on some of the archaeology of the country.

Hi D.G.! Great to be here. I've blogged about travel and archaeology on Gadling for three years now. My editor and I have a good relationship but it still took me more than a year to pester him into paying for me to go to Iraq! I was in the country for 17 days and saw most of the major sites, including archaeological wonders like Ur, Uruk, and Babylon. I went with a small group of adventure travelers. I generally avoid group tours but individual travel is forbidden for security reasons.

Are historical sites and heritage buildings in Iraq being preserved?

The situation is much better than it was right after the 2003 invasion but still needs a lot of improvement. In the lawless months after the invasion, looters ransacked the National Museum, most regional museums, and many archaeological sites. Now all these places are guarded, but some looting still goes on. The main problem now is preservation. Some work is being done, but the continuing instability in parts of the country are keeping many NGOs away. Plus the country's fiscal priorities are for projects like fixing the electric grid, the sewage system, etc.

The processional way at Babylon, an early asphalt road.

Can you elaborate on some of the heritage sites or ruins that you visited?

I managed to see all of Iraq's Greatest Hits. I also saw many historic places less well-known to the outside world, such as the medieval Abbasid period sites in Baghdad. There were some real high points, like standing atop the Great Ziggurat at Ur. One bit of the past that really blew me away was the processional way built by Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BC) at Babylon. It was covered in bitumen, a natural asphalt. Imagine, an almost perfectly preserved asphalt road from more than 2,500 years ago!

How many total miles did you cover between stops?

It was a grueling road trip. Iraq is a big country, almost twice the area of the UK, and the sites are spread out. We went all the way from Basra in the south to Erbil in the north, a distance of almost 600 miles, with a lot of zigging and zagging in between. Saddam built a good highway system, but there are frequent checkpoints. The police search cars, check ID, etc. While this was necessary for obvious reasons, it did slow us down, especially in tense areas such as Baghdad.

What did you notice about the average person on the street?

That's a huge question! Here are a few observations. First off, virtually everyone was friendly in the Shia areas. In the Sunni areas this was less so, because they've traditionally ruled Iraq but that changed after the invasion. The Kurds, who suffered as badly as the Shia under Saddam Hussein, really love foreigners.

Who were the friendliest Iraqis? The kids of course! They were very curious about us. Since everyone gets English lessons at school, they all wanted to practice. When we appeared, you could see their curiosity fighting their shyness. Each kid would push their buddy in front and soon a crowd of kids would be wrestling with each other in a big giggling mass of chaos. This broke the ice and soon everyone would be talking to us.

Being a Muslim country, most of my interactions were with men. Some Iraqi women are well educated, though, and I did get to meet female professionals at businesses and at the National Museum. I also met female pilgrims from Iran at the Shia shrines in Karbala and Najaf. While Iraq isn't as relaxed about interactions between the sexes as I found Iran to be when I visited in the mid-Nineties, it's certainly better than Pakistan or the Gulf States.

Any food impressions (other than yum?)

Most of the food, whether at restaurants or street stalls, was excellent. The main dishes are felafel, lamb or chicken kebab, roast chicken (my favorite), and chicken tikka (a mediocre imitation of Indian cuisine). The problem was that most restaurants served only these dishes. It got to be a running joke with our group when the waiter would tell us what was available. We could go right along with him like it was the lyrics of a familiar song!

Potsherds are everywhere in Iraq's archaeological sites.

The ziggurat is an intriguing design for a building. Are they designed especially for a sandy environment? They have some similarity to Aztec and Inca buildings.

I love me some ziggurats! These stepped pyramids are more designed for a clayey environment. Iraq has a lot of clay in the soil. It's always been used for making bricks and still is today. Making bricks is simple and cheap. The ancients didn't even fire most of them, instead allowing them to dry in the sun. The sparse rains meant that unfired bricks would last years. Unfortunately, they erode after enough centuries of exposure, so many ziggurats now look like low hills. The better-preserved ziggurats were encased in fired brick, which was more expensive but recognized by the ancient builders as more durable. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the narrator boasts, "Climb Uruk's wall and walk back and forth! Survey its foundations, examine its brickwork! Were its bricks not fired in an oven?"

Anything else you'd like to say, Sean? 

First off, thanks for having me!  Besides blogging for Gadling, I run Civil War Horror, dedicated to dark fiction, the American Civil War, and the Wild West. Guest bloggers are always welcome there. I'm the author of numerous books including A Fine Likeness, a historical novel set in Civil War Missouri, and The Night the Nazis Came to Dinner, a collection of dark speculative fiction. The electronic editions are both on sale at the moment. You can also check me out on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and my Amazon author's page.

Would you like to see some of these exotic locations that Sean visited?
Do you like to read travel experiences? Please share in the comments. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to check out these links to some of Sean's adventures:

Destination: Iraq

Ethiopia: Back to the Beginning

Harar, Ethiopia: Two Months Living in Africa's City of Saints

Somaliland: The Other Somalia

Credit:  Photos courtesy Sean McLachlan, all rights reserved.

Sean McLachlan, freelance author and blogger
Twitter: @WriterSean
A Fine Likeness: Civil War novel
American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics (Osprey, 2009)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Show and Tell - Transitions by Jessica Bell

Click to add me to Goodreads!
Have you been told there's a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader's highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.

The author, Jessica Bell, also welcomes questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at

“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don't tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author

Purchase the paperback:
$4.40 on Amazon US
£3.99 on Amazon UK

Purchase the e-book:
$1.99 on Amazon US
£1.99 on Amazon UK
$1.99 on Kobo

About the Author:
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit: 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A View with a Window

A view needs a window to define it.  It's a point of reference.  Move ten degrees either way and the view changes.  Have a peek at these windows, and 'see what you can see'.

A window on old Paris 
Here we could sit and listen to the sounds of the city.  Leaning out over the wrought iron railing, we could see the view four floors above street level, up and down the rue de Rivoli. This window is in an eighteenth century building in old Paris.  How many other people have looked out that same window at that same location, at another time in history?  (During the revolution, this was the way to the Bastille where the monument sits today, and the march of Napoleon entered along this route. )

A Rue de Rivoli Window, Paris, by DG Hudson


Under the Pyramid at the Louvre
From outside in the daytime, you see a striking glass pyramid, but from beneath the pyramid, you view the fractured blue sky.  That's another wing of the Louvre Museum that's showing through the diamond shapes in the photo below.   On sunny days, the sun streams in, highlighting the lobby area beneath and warming the statues.

Through the Pyramid Glass at the Louvre Museum, by DG Hudson


The Back Gardens at Versailles
Looking out at a view of the back gardens provided another diversion for the guests and residents at the Palace of Versailles. Large windows cooled the interiors of the huge palace galleries, and allowed light to fill the dark palace rooms.  Strolling on the roof and in the gardens was in vogue at the time.  This garden was extensive to provide amusement for the royalty and nobles living here.

Versailles,window and balustrade by DG Hudson


Arched Windows, in the Hall of Mirrors
The photo below is a reflection in one of the mirrored walls.  Having mirrors in the long gallery make it seem wider than it is.  The gilt on the statues, the natural light from the windows, the chandeliers and the mirrors create a light airy effect.  It works.  Versailles can surprise the visitor, I'm glad it was restored.

Reflection, Hall of Mirrors,Versailles, by DG Hudson


Windows of Remembrance
Beautiful stained glass windows lighten the interiors of family tombs in Pere Lachaise Cemetery highlighting the fresh flowers placed there with care.  Some private tombs have limited access within for a quiet moment or prayers.

Stained glass Window, Pere Lachaise, by DG Hudson


Would you like windows that you could customize to any virtual scene you  wanted, as many science fiction novels have speculated?   A sensory package for smells, sounds, etc. would need to be incorporated. I'm sure they would create an app for it. 

Do you notice windows as a design element in architecture?  Windows can also play an important part in a story.  What do you think? Please share in the comments, and thanks for stopping by.



Rue de Rivoli Post

The Louvre Museum

The Palace of Versailles

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Coyote Cal Weird Western - Milo James Fowler

El Diablo de Paseo Grande

Sometimes, you don't want to know. . .

El Diablo, cover prop. of Milo James Fowler

At the beginning of the story, Coyote Cal is on the road with his sidekick Yap, a psychic, Donna, and a guide, Manuel.  Coyote has been hired to track down something that's killing the livestock.  It's killing them for a purpose.  A trap is set.

What would you do if you heard strange noises just over the hill, late at night in the middle of an unfamiliar rural place?  Walk towards the noise, or run the other way?


To celebrate Milo's two hundredth blog post AND a month chock-full of Creepy Freebies, Milo is offering "El Diablo" for free on Amazon from Sunday the 21st of October through the 25th.  Don't miss it!  Be sure to check out Milo's Blog for other special treats this Halloween.  There's still time before the 31st.


Do you know Milo J. Fowler and his blog, In Media Res?  If not, you need to visit his blog and see some of his work.  It's a showcase of the weird stories that seem perfectly appropriate this time of year. 

Please share in the comments if you know Milo or if you've read this weird tale.  Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Orleans Dark Fantasy - Roland Yoemans

Lurking shadows hide in the old markets, undead spirits roam in a New Orleans from another time.  Samhain is coming.

GHOST of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance by R. Yoemans

Roland, author turned character, has been dragged into a story he created.  He wakes from a disturbed sleep.  What woke him?  A soft voice with a melodious accent.  Hemingway is lying dead on the floor beside him, and Marlene Deitrich is warning him to escape.  Roland has no choice but to dive into the swirling mist of the mirror, and into another plane of existence.

Trekking through France during the time of Richelieu, then through the seedier alleys of London during the Jack-the-Ripper murders, he must continue through the testing to find his friend, Sam McCord and recover his own time.  Roland, as the Lakota, travels with his characters in a quest through his own fantasy universe. 

A few distinguished guest bloggers appear at Roland's apartment to keep up with his blog while the action is playing out in the ghost world of Meilori's.  Raymond Chandler has my vote for several reasons. Gypsy impressed me too.  I've always been fond of felines.

A Halloween story like this one can skew our perception of reality.  It's a sobering thought to think of alternate universes that overlap.  Our day world or our night dreams?  I'll have to think about that, or sleep on it.  Keep a light on, so you can find your way back.


BURNT Offerings

If you breathe deeply, you might smell the cinders in these stories. . .

Burnt Offerings by R. Yoemans

The first story is presented in a manner that reminds me of a tragedy, mainly because of the storyline.  A daughter's promise of inheritance is not kept, but used as a lure to draw the victim into the spider's web.  A dream for affection or at least acknowledgement dies at the palace of The Face, her mother.  Loy, a young child always suppressed by others, must decide their fate.


An ominous darkness threads its way through the second tale of Samuel McCord in the dark New Orleans of the past. Sam doesn't know how to quit. Protecting others against evil is his duty, and always will be.  Duty distracts him from his losses, and provides a cover for him to replenish his food supplies. 

Even the spirits are wary of the legend, Samuel McCord.  There's talk in the streets.  When cornered on a beach by Bond type scuba divers and a swaggering tough, he manages to be the one to walk away with a plane ticket to Amsterdam.  There, Sam runs into Eve, a girl from his past.  A Texas Ranger just does what needs doing.  He verified a hunch about energy. The Internet will never be the same.


During Samhain, at summer's end, McCord once again sees his love and his estranged wife, Meilori.  He also meets the padre or Rabbi, whom Sam escorts to the Shrine of Death.  A few questionable characters and a few friends make cameo appearances in what serves as a nexus point, where many evil spirits are gathering.  This story reveals more of the history of Samuel McCord and his relationship with the beautiful Meilori.  A bittersweet tale.


Roland recently sold two stories which will appear in two separate anthologies. Details are available on his site via a Mark Twain post.  Roland's books include the art work of Leonora Roy.  These books are suitable for Halloween readers above MG level.


After midnight on Halloween, would you walk alone, or with a friend through the dark streets of a haunted New Orleans?  OR Have you read any books by Roland? Please share in the comments.  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a fun Halloween!


References:  Roland's Blog, Writing in the Crosshairs  Sale of two short stories by Roland


Monday, October 1, 2012

Rendezvous with RAMA by Arthur C. Clarke

A starship the size of a large asteroid arrives in Earth's solar system, they call it RAMA . . .

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, a British author and one of the grand masters of science fiction, first published Rendezvous with Rama in 1972.  It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Rendezvous with Rama

The first in the RAMA universe, Rendezvous is set in 22nd century.  An alien ship, with a thirty-one mile long cylindrical shape, enters Earth’s solar system.  A group of human explorers intercept and board the ship, a scientific creation that dwarfs anything humans have created, then relate the story to those on Earth.  A genre classic, written in the hard science fiction style.  

Fantastic visions of a superior intelligence lure the humans into the mystery of the starship that seems to be waiting for something.  Perhaps a sampling of the human race?  I preferred this book authored by Clarke alone, to the three follow-up novels authored by Gentry.  I recommend reading Rendezvous with Rama, but be aware that the three subsequent novels do not have the same appeal or science edge as the original novel by Clarke.  The co-authored books did not receive the same awards or recognition as the original book. 


The following youtube, Rendezvous with RAMA, shows a quick interior of the starship.


Clarke joined with Gentry Lee to write the remainder of the series.  Lee did the actual writing, while Clarke read and made editing suggestions. 

Rama II - 1989
Garden of Rama - 1991
Rama Revealed - 1993


Interesting Notes:

Clarke invented the space study program "Project Spaceguard", to identify NEOs - near Earth objects - on Earth impact paths.  This is the program that detects Rama in the story, Rendezvous with Rama.

In 1992, a real project Spaceguard was initiated and named after Clarke's fictional device.  After a series of asteroid strike films generated interest, NASA was given authorization and funding to support this program.

In July 1994, the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 to Jupiter increased the perception of importance of tracking NEOs.  Maybe those people who worried about Earth being impacted weren't paranoid alarmists after all.

Other well-known titles by Clarke:  2001-A Space Odyssey, 2010-Odyssey II, The Hammer of God.  The bibliography link below lists novellas and short stories.


Did you know A. C. Clarke worked closely with NASA? Have you read any of Arthur C. Clarke’s books? Childhood's End was the first I read.  Would you like to explore an empty alien ship?  Please share in the comments.


References: - Spaceguard - Arthur, the Author - Bibliography, A. C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama; photo of cover with artists' representation of the starship.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: The Rival by Roland Yoemans

The legend of the dashing Victor Standish continues.

In a new chapter of Victor's story, we see our hero and Alice being tossed back in time to the 1830s.  Victor must use his knowledge from the future to 'step through the moments' and generally test the limits of his enemies and his friends.

The Rival cover, Roland Yoemans prop.

Sitting at the tomb of Marie Laveau in New Orleans, Victor discovers some of his hidden abilities, and his lack of knowledge about his mother's background.  This is also where and when he meets the Victorian ghoul, Alice Wentworth.  Alice belongs to the undead who haunt New Orleans. They share memories inadvertently as they sit on the tomb in the cemetery.   A bonding occurs when Victor promises to provide lunch to the hungry Alice, rather than be lunch. 

In the past, with his future knowledge, Alice and Victor meet a young Sam McCord and the lovely masked Meilori.  Most of the action takes place in the CASA, a transformed place out of time.  Hold onto your seats.  There's a bit of time travel. 

Before the end of this book, a bird is put into a cage, a war threatens, and Victor must prove his worth many times.  There's a bittersweet feel to certain parts, as if doom is omnipresent. Victor, as usual, leaves us hanging by a thread. . .


The journey of Victor Standish continues in Three Spirit Knight. More information on ordering and art work can be found at Roland's website/blog.

Art work in The Rival is by Leonora Roy.  It's a very sumptuous style and appeals to me as a believable detailed translation of Roland's characters.  The illustrations in many of Roland's other works are also by Roy.

Have you read any of the Victor Standish books by Roland?  Have you read RIVAL? If not, Have you been to New Orleans?  Any favourite dishes or venues?
Please share in the comments.


References: Roland's Blog


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Genre Faves Blogfest - Books, Movies, Music

Name your Genre Favorites in three categories: Movies, Books and Music and tell us your Guilty Pleasure from one of those categories. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, a friend to an army of bloggers and followers, be sure to check out the list of participants and what they have to say.  You might discover the names of new books, movies, or music to explore. Hope you enjoy the bloghop.  Thanks, Alex!

DG's choices:


Science Fiction:  DUNE, based on original book by Frank Herbert.

The DUNE universe is vast, spanning centuries and worlds, with the power struggle for control of the spice pitting high-born families against one another and against an empire starting to lose its grip.  In the background is the story of a family who supports the wrong side in a political struggle, a planet that is terra-formed, and a species nearly wiped out.

DUNE, the movie.  The Spice Planet.


Science Fiction: I. Asimov's Robot Series
The Robots of Dawn:
I, Robot, Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn

This series introduces Elijah Bailey and Daneel Olivaw, a humanoid robot.  I re-read these new copies a couple of years ago when I received them as gifts.  Want more Asimov? Read the Foundation series.  The movie, I, Robot, with Will Smith is a favourite too!

Asimov, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn


My All-Time singer, song-writer, author and poet: Bob Dylan

Songs:  Thunder on the Mountain, (Modern Times) and Idiot Wind, (Blood on the Tracks)  This guy kept on a-changing. - Thunder on the Mountain youtube
(An ad shows first but after, there's a montage of images behind the song showing Dylan through the decades.)

My Guilty pleasures:

Guilty of Reading a variety of literary books, especially novels about Paris, France.  And mysteries, Dashiel Hammet's, The Maltese Falcon

*  *  *  *

Did you find it hard to choose just one? Let me know if you're in the Genre Faves Blogfest.  Please share in the comments. I'll reply and visit your blog.

To continue bloghopping, visit the Genre Favorites list on Alex's blog. Thanks for dropping by.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cannonballs and Shell Walls - St. Augustine FLA

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, by DG Hudson

Looking out from inside the fort, were the soldiers anxious in the early years?  The area was more remote, supplies may have had to come by ship, communication was sparse. 

The crenelations which decorate the battlements are guarded by cannon.  Iron cannonballs are stacked and ready. 


The Castillo construction has endured since the late 1600s 

The Castillo de San Marcos is located on the shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, Florida, USA.  Built from the year 1672, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire.  These walls were made with a unique building material called coquina, shown in the photo below.
Coquina stone walls of Castillo de San Marcos, by DG Hudson

The Castillo, a masonry star fort design is made of a stone called coquina, Spanish for 'small shells'.  Coquina (koh-kee-nah) is basically made of ancient shells that have a texture similar to limestone.  It is quarried from Anastasia Island, in Matanzas Bay and ferried to the site of the fort.  This early building material was formed during an interval of the Pleistocene Age, approximately 500,000 years ago.  I purchased a sample of coquina at the fort, and the label bears this description: "a calcarenite stone whose particles are chiefly fossils, whole or fragmented, cemented together by calcite."

Castillo Men's Barracks, Interior by DG Hudson

The barracks were utilitarian, at least for the men who lived at this fort.   There are tours or you can explore on your own.  Information is available at one of the offices at the fort.  The staff are friendly and can answer most of your questions.


Inner Courtyard Castillo de San Marcos by DG Hudson


Have you visited any forts from our colonial past, or the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine?  Have you heard of coquina and its usefulness?

Did you have or build a fort when you were younger? (even temporary ones)
Please share in the comments.

All images property of DG Hudson, taken on location in St. Augustine, Florida.

References:  Castillo de San Marcos,_Florida  Wikipedia History of the fort