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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing, Again: Part VII - Overcoming Stumpings

I'm still here.

For whatever reason, on Book Five, I find that I've written in spurts.  Mentally, I have the whole thing planned.  On the screen, I outline several chapters (I type the chapter heading, followed by a brief description of what happens).  Then I write those chapters.  This gets me from one "part" of the book to the next.  Once I've written one "part," I find myself stumped.  I'm not sure why.

The first stumping was profound and I took quite a break.  Subsequent stumpings have been far briefer.  I just came off one.  It was the wrap-up of one section of the book before a time jump and the big goings-on pre-holocaust.  After a few days of nothing, I sat down and banged out the final twenty-plus chapters (in outlines, of course) over the weekend.  Now I have the full structure of the book in front of me.  I just have to fill in the blanks.

One thing I am worried about, though, is the length.  My personal target for Book Five was 120,000 words.  That's how long Book Three is.  I figure if I can keep it under that, I'll be doing well.  I've got 87,000 words so far.  I don't think I can keep it under 120,000.  Of course, there will be editing later and maybe even some serious pruning, so who knows?

Does the length bother you?  Seriously, I want to know.  Hopefully, the book is interesting and entertaining enough so you don't notice it, but I'd like to see how many of you would be put off by having a 130K, 140K, or 150K word book to read.

Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, here's a piece from the book I enjoyed writing.  I hope you'll enjoy reading it:

On the banks of the Tiber River, east of the city, the commanders of the artillery looked to the trees on the opposite side.  The Gargano Forest was an ancient sanctuary, but it was a tactical detriment today.

"Do it," Magister Sivius said.

Seconds later, after generals spoke into their radios, explosions rippled behind the tree line.  Flames clung to trunks and reached the leaves.  Smoke poured into the sky and the vast crackling was only overshadowed by the sounds of breaking wood.

The trees glowed and ebbed a sickly orange.  The winds were kind and kept the smoke away from the assembled army.  Flames dotted the forest and kept it alight.

Just before dawn, the first shot was fired.  A commander near a large machine gun emplacement slumped over, dead.  The men ducked and looked around. 

"In the forest!" a centurion yelled.

Sivius and his tribunes raised their telescanners and saw blackened and ashen trees, still glowing red.  Some were on fire.  In that hot forest moved Cyclops.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Lords of Kobol - Book Five" ... the First Five Chapters

I've reached the (planned) halfway point in writing and I decided to celebrate by posting the first five chapters of Book Five: Of Gods and Titans.  Click the JUMP to read on.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing, Again: Part VI - Mapping

You know me, I love to make maps.

If I have a world-spanning story, it helps.  Because of the politics and cultures involved, Book Five spans the world moreso than any other LoK book I've written.

If you have not yet read the Lords of Kobol trilogy, go do so now.  I cannot further discuss anything without spoiling everything.

Click here for the trilogy.

Readers of the trilogy, click on the JUMP for some details of the newest map.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Et tu, Adama?

Anyone parlez vous Latin?

There are a couple of scenes in Book Five wherein Tiberian soldiers are speaking and I don't want the other characters to know exactly what they're saying.

Here, without context or the intended English*, is that dialogue in Latin as best as I could make it thanks to a secondhand Latin textbook I bought and Google Translate:

Et succidat me!

Liberos non video.

Nec filios occidere.

Iis imperata essent.




Deinde scopum eamus.

Audistin quid?


Ego feci.

Please, let me know how I did.

* - I didn't include the English because I want you to be able to figure it out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MST3K - "Mitchell - Annotated"

You probably know that I help write riff annotations for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan site,  Basically, I watch the episode, transcribe everything said in the theater by Joel/Mike & the 'bots and then write up a definition or explanation for their various references.

Well ... BIG NEWS today.  The site has teamed up with SHOUT! Factory to present full episodes of MST3K available online, for free, complete with riffs annotated.

The first episode is Joel's last, 512-Mitchell:

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Collection of Reviews - Updated

4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes
4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
4.3 out of 5 stars on B&N
4.9 out of 5 stars on Kobo

"I could not love this book more! A definite must-read for any lover of BSG who might have wondered what the hell happened on Kobol before the humans left for the 12 worlds. I can't wait to read the next 2 books."
-- w!L G

"I've been a fan of Battlestar forever ... this is a great book and I'm neglecting everything till I get the next book read.  Thanks for some great entertainment.  I can't read fast enough!"
-- coffeeghosts

"Feeling the void of no Battlestar Galactica the lords of Kobol answered me with an awesome my love of BSG via twitter. Download this free e-book I've written says this random person. It's not endorsed by the creators but written for the fans. It delivered the back story to everything you need to know about BSG. I consider it to be canon. I couldn't put them down till I'd read every page."
-- Shane D

"This book was really good. I enjoyed it although I thought it was a bit slow at first and didn't pick up fast but at a moderate pace, later. I would say I'm a bit biased because I loved the series and every time I read I'd try to related it to BSG. So I can't see too many flaws. Probably the only thing I thought was the use of certain words that didn't make sense but it wasn't too bad in frequency. Definitely a read of you're into the BSG universe themes."
-- Vik U

"LOVED Book 1!"
-- wilkidu

"Wow. Im not a fan of the new BSG tv show but I am def a fan now of THIS book series. When I first started reading I thought maybe this isnt for me...yeah right. Now Im off to book 2! Talk about an early Christmas present! Kudos and thanks to the author for making such great writing, and for offering it free!"
-- Anonymous

"I became aware of this author through his Twitter feed when he requested to follow me to promote his books. He had me hooked right away with the Battlestar Galactica connection, but I was a little bit unsure about what to think of some free books from a guy on the internet. Since the books were free, I went ahead and downloaded copies for my Nook, and I just finished the first book in the series. Whatever expectations I had were met and exceeded as I read this novel. Yeatts shows incredible familiarity with the BSG universe as well as Greek mythology, and his storyline adds many levels of depth to some of the mysteries of the TV show.

I went back and forth as I read this book about whether I really wanted depth added to the mysteries of the show, because one of the things I enjoyed about BSG was its mysterious spirituality and unanswered questions. Early on in my reading I swung to the side of feeling beat over the head with explanations for some of the shows mysteries, but about halfway through the book, the plot took a nice plot twist that fits perfectly into the BSG universe and maintains, and I might add even deepens, the level of spirituality present in the TV show.

I am anxious to continue the series and see how the BSG universe shapes up over the course of the three books. If you are at all a fan of Battlestar Galactica, you should check out this books series. So say we all (and it's free!)."
-- Jason T

"Cool seeing the gods and learning about Kobol. Seems to star a little slow, but picks up quickly with a big reveal."
-- Anonymous

"This book was d-bomb"
-- Dalton

"I have just finished reading a pdf of your book Lords of Kobol Book One Apotheosis. Started reading it yesterday and could not leave it. Your version of what happened has so far intrigued me. Can't wait to start reading the second book. I think you have masterfully woven the interactions of all the characters and the story line is fascinating. My jaw dropped when I read <SPOILER REDACTED>! Now that was a wow moment. ... I will be downloading book two soon on pdf and eagerly read what happens next and learn more. Good job man. I will be looking at your blog more soon. Thanks for writing this story."
-- William K

"I am fan of BSG so I enjoyed reading of this book. It seems that author took his time and studied BSG universe and created very nice plot. Connection made to BSG and Caprica is well done."
-- conta

"Wow.  Started off slow but became more and more intriguing"
-- Anonymous

"A very impressive book. Thoughtful, intriguing, meaningful, and intelligent, all without sacrificing readability. The fact that it's based in the Battlestar Galactica universe is almost secondary, but that it is adds a new level of wonder to it. Looking forward to continuing the series. Hats off to the author!"
-- John B

"I loved it!"
-- AriaAyarulo

"Thoroughly enjoyed it.  Meshes into BSG universe quite nicely."
-- wombatjedi

"This was an unusual book, with the main characters being the Lords of Kobol ... the plot unravels over centuries. And there is plenty of pre-history to go. I had a great time being back in the Battlestar Galatica universe and will be continuing this series soon."
-- Keith Hughes

"Why am I trying to keep my eyes open? Because i'm reading @LordsOKobolbook 's first book. It's #fraking good. Go get it!"
-- markchapamusic

"It's fantastic"
-- GeneralEcks

"Even though I hadn't watched the shows, this series is a brilliant depiction of the Olympian Gods (Or Lords of Kobol, as the case is). Yeatts does an excellent job of showing just why our Greek Mythology presents the gods as they do, blending mythology and technology splendidly."
-- Kyle M

"Just downloaded the books and finished the first one....excellent read and great backstory on BSG....when I'm done with these I'm going to rewatch the series"
-- Arcadio T

"Finished Book One. Now on to the second. It's hard to believe a book so good was FREE!"
-- TheAtomicHouse

"Excellent book"
-- NightwolfRD

"Great fan fiction providing a plausible back story to the BSG Kobolian gods, and the legendary Thirteenth Tribe. It meshes well with the established story, though some parts were spotty, such as the origin of the gods, and who the humans were on Kobol before the gods came on scene. Perhaps that will be covered later? (Ed.: yes.) Looking forward to the next in the series."
-- Anonymous

"I have to say, I didn't expect much from a free book from B&N, but this is definitely a fun, well-written piece of fan fiction that any BSG fan should enjoy."
-- Richard L

"Excellent read for Battlestar Galactica fans. The author has put much thought and has effectively tied Roman/Greek mythology to create an interesting tale that is an easy read."
-- Eric

"Surprisingly a really great book. Does a great job of expanding on the mythology of BSG while maintaining the same tone and themes."
-- Michael

"A must for Battlestar Galactica fans."
-- Rochelle

"Can't beat it for free, good story a little long but I will read the other books in the series, it kept me wanting to read more."
-- Emc2384

"Wow this is a labor of love..... i just read the first book, and cannot believe it was offered as a freebie. This, to me, was worthy of major publisher attention and release. I found the series by accident while foolimg with a Nook app that listed free (and not so free) Nook books. I'm glad i did. The maps look great.

I'm done typing i have book 2 to begin."
-- Mike F

"The more I read the more I enjoyed it. I wish the chapters had been laid out a bit different but all in all it has really grown on me. It did take a bit to get into it but realizing I read it in two days is something I haven't done since the Harry Potter series."
-- Alex M

"Really enjoyed this book. You can see the world of the new Galactica, and its results, taking shape."
-- Jimmacc

"This is possibly one of the best pieces of fan fiction I've ever read -- but then again, I'm a devout fan of Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica TV series, so take that for what it's worth. If, like me, you were disappointed with the unanswered questions and stunted plot lines at the end of the award-winning BSG series, you'll enjoy this story of the "gods" of Olympus on ancient Kobol.

The Lords of Kobol draws heavily on the phrase, "All of this has happened beofore, and all of it will happen again," from BSG's book of Pythia. And it holds true to many of the themes that made BSG such a great series, including the nature of sentience (both biological / human and artificial / cylon) and how societies justify war and violence.

The book also does a great job tying in quite a bit of Greek mythology in a clever, but humorous way that makes you wonder about the humble origins of our own religions. Putting BSG aside, Edward T. Yeatts III deserves credit for exceptional storytelling and character development. The individual stories of the "Lords" begin with the familiar, distant personae of the Greek gods. But they evolve into all too human stories of sometimes reluctant gods who are surprised, or even disgusted, at their own worship.

You won't look at Greek mythology, or even Battlestar Galactica mythology, quite the same way after reading this book. And if you make it to the end, you'll likely do what I did: immediately download and read the sequels."
-- Dan P

Lords of Kobol - Book One: Apotheosis can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for FREE at Smashwords here.  Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and B&N.  All for free.

4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes
4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars on B&N

5 out of 5 stars on Kobo

"The follow up to the first book kept up a cracking pace, very insightful and filled in so many gaps, I've recently Beemer re-watching BSG and a lot more makes sense now. I promised myself I would savour this one but I couldn't put it down until it was finished. Hopefully ( no pressure ) there will be more, I've really enjoyed reading both of them as there hasn't been much written novel wise in the BSG universe. I would be happy to see them published and pay for the pleasure of reading these. Thanks again"
-- wombatjedi

"It's fantastic! I can hardly put it down."
-- BlessedPsycho

"Easily the best of the trilogy."
-- John B

"Absolutely amazing gives a great insight into the "bigger" bsg story. Well worth reading."
-- Mossley

"Good author, your attention to detail is just phenomenal. Thanks for sharing such an awesome treasure trove of insight, and a cool online tool/resource while you're at it! You've really thought this out. I enjoy seeing how much work and time you've put into carefully drawing from Earth cultures to really get the same type of flavor as the 'original new BSG' did."
-- Joe K

"A great book for sap suckin tree huggin hippies. Theire is only one God you queer author. The auther is a fag who has never played a sport in his life. And for all you non believers go crap in your mouth fags. The book sucks major nuts. Dont get it. Overall rank is gay fagtorium."
-- Super Swag

"Best one"
-- Anonymous

"Excellent continuation of the story"
-- Jimmacc

"Delving even farther back into the start of all the events that led up to the re-imagined TV series, “Book Two: Descent” does not disappoint. I’ve always had an interest in the ‘Lords of Kobol’ and Mr Yeatts has spun a mesmerizing yarn in this book about their ‘Great Experiment’."
-- Vosges1945

"I'd give it six stars if I could, but I already gave Book 1 five stars.

Big flashback to the begining of the gods reign over Kobol and it's filled with scheming by Prometheus against Zeus, a gut-wrenching scene and a tremendous battle scene. I will say I was glad the author included the map."
-- MarcusMaximus

"Each book gets better and better. Looking forward to starting the 3rd book!"
-- w!L G

"This one like the first one bothered me with the dating of the chapters. It made it hard for me to remember what was happening from the first book when it went back and forth to the scenes that directly related to this book and its timeline. That is the worst thing I can say about it. I am getting used to his use of the first person view chapters. The story became totally engrossing. It was interesting to see how it was all tied up in one knot. I really enjoyed this one and am getting ready to start the third one. I am dying to learn more about Larsa and the history that happened prior to the current story."
-- Alex M

"I just finished book 2. Another great work!"
-- JForrestp

"Wow, and ok I'm ready for three. Seeing how this has happened before and will happen again why do I have to wait?"
-- oilfielddoc

Lords of Kobol - Book Two: Descent can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for FREE at Smashwords here.  Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and B&N.  All for free.

4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes
4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars on B&N

5 out of 5 stars on Kobo

"Couldn't put it down!  I need more!"
-- oilfielddoc

"I LOVE the Trilogy and the many twists & turns it takes us."
-- CylonModel7

"I am a huge fan of Battlestar Galactia and the short-lived Battlestar prequel show, Caprica. These three books really satisfied me as a fan. I always wanted to know the back story Kobol and the people who lived there. The basic story is about a civilization in decline and the Lords who try to maintain it. Many parts of the BSG series are explained throughout the trilogy. I highly recommend these books to any fan of the series."
-- Forrest

"Interesting ending to the pre-Battlestar Galatica tale.

Now I want to watch all the Galatica and Caprica series with this new background."
-- Anonymous

"Having read these books, I now feel I know those people much better. This has been a delightful bit of fan fiction, while not canon, would still fill out the BSG back story in an immense way."
-- Anonymous

"A satisfying end to the series. Lots of tie-in with the television show came to fruition, and the story had more of a feel of urgency than the previous two. Great read!"
-- ShaunC

"It's a wonderful story that "feels" like canon even though it isn't."
-- David B

"I have just finished reading Lords of Kobol, book 3. Coming to the end of a 'pleasant journey' brings a form of sadness. You spin a good tale. I shall remember your name."
-- Marshall

"The way you've organized the timeframe w naturally occurring, fluidly organic events is great."
-- 13thLFoN

"This book wraps up the series of the history of Kobol, including the situations and events leading up to the exodus from that world to the colonial planets we are familiar with in Battlestar Galactica. It offers up an explanation, that the 'gods' of Kobol created a worldview that included the humans holding them in regard as benevolent guides. This comes at the expense of causing them to stagnate in certain ways, since if humans advance too much in certain areas, the secret of 'godhood' would be unmasked. Despite the best intentions of Zeus, Apollo and others, a series of events come into play that are destructive to Kobol, but offer humans a chance to start anew and build their civilization on their own terms, leaving the gods behind. Having read these books, I now feel I know those people much better. This has been a delightful bit of fan fiction, while not canon, would still fill out the BSG back story in an immense way."
-- Anonymous

"Awesome, awesome series. So sad this is the last book. Looking forward to reading the others if they ever get written."
-- w!L G

"This was such a great series.  I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-history of Kobol and it has me jonesin' to watch BSG again."
-- Keith H

"I just finished book 3. This is Amazing work!"
-- JForrestp

"There were so many things going on at once that I was afraid I'd get lost or the story would get too convoluded. That didn't happen. It's well structured and the story unfolds very nicely. More great action, more drama with the gods and humans, too. I'm going to rewatch the show now to see how everything connects.

A great series for BSG fans."
-- MarcusMaximus

"Again an awesome read."
-- Jimmacc


"I have enjoyed books 1,2 & 3. I wish these had been made into a television series before the Galactica series."
-- donslar

"I have made it through book three, and am getting ready to read book 4 tonight, I must say.. Excellent :) Very well written.."
-- Joe T

Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for FREE at Smashwords here.  Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and B&N.  All for free.

4 stars out of 5 on iTunes
4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads
4 stars out of 5 on B&N

4 stars out of 5 on Kobo

"I'm a fan of the first three books and this is a very different take. The author said in the forward that he wanted to try different plot turns and use a different narrative tone and he certainly did. Reads very much like Tolkien and has a different story than Books 1-3."
-- Anonymous

"I liked Books 1-3 very much and I know that this one is an "alternative universe" version of what the author did in the trilogy.

I enjoyed it. The writing style sounds almost biblical with the grammar and word choice, but I picked up on it pretty quickly. While many of the characters are the same (the gods), the story is very different and even the end of the world plays ouot differently than it did in the trilogy.

Worth reading if you want more BSG in your life."
-- MarcusMaximus

"Enjoyable. Very good."
-- Anonymous

Lords of Kobol - Book Four: Tales From Ancient Days can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for FREE at Smashwords here.  Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and B&N.  All for free.

4.7 out of 5 stars on B&N
5 out of 5 stars on Kobo
4.6 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

"I absolutely LOVED it!"
-- Zack W

"A new book at last.  A great series.  I really liked it!"
-- Anonymous

"I've just finished reading Lords of Kobol 5. Can I just say, it did not disappoint. It's a very vivid look at life before Kobol, and without inserting too many spoilers for the readers, I enjoyed the amalgamation of old and new cultures using our own history and current events as a point of reference. The character development must have taken you a while to perfect too. It is a cracking story, but now I'm sad because I have to see the saga end. I look forward to your next project."
-- Chris B

"Loving it.  Cant tell where its going.  Great read!"
-- Cody M

"My very short review of "Of Gods and Titans" - In short, I loved it. However, while I was reading this book, I couldn't help but notice how there are similarities with our culture and Larsan culture: the militarism, the wars over resources, religious bias, the use of robotics in warfare and so on. The Lords of Kobol Books aren't so much a science fiction story but a warning to us about our possible future and the hubris of our leaders."
-- Chuck B

"Nearly finished.  Frakking loving it!"
-- Shane D

"Absolutely smashing read. Truly rounded out the origins of the cylons and wonderfully portrayed the human cycle of rises and falls...all this has happened before and will happen again."
-- Wtall

"This was the best of the series. It fit perfectly into the first three books but it did something more than they could have ever accomplished in the other three. It gave life to the world from which Kobol was built. It showed why the Olympians did what the did in the first three. It showed relationships that were layered over time with love and hatred. This is the first book in a long time that has wrapped me up in the story to the point that I am truly sad I finished it. This series is a must read and this book above all shines bright. I would recommend the Lords of Kobol series to anyone whether they are a fan of Battlestar Galactica or not. It is just an outstanding series."
-- Alex M

Lords of Kobol - Book Five: Of Gods and Titans can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for FREE at Smashwords here.  Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and B&N.  All for free.

"For any fan of BSG (Battlestar Galatica) this is a must read. It taps into the BSG mythos and expands the back story of the 12 colonies and their life on Kobol in particular the Gods. I don't want to give any of the story away but I urge all fans and even those with only a passing knowledge of the TV series to read this and the other 3 books.

Well written, a proper page turner and at an unbelievable price. Rather then a free lunch it is more like a free banquet."
-- Mark Simmons

"Your 4 books are a joy to read."
-- CYLONmatrix

"A must for any fan of Battlestar lore."
-- Patrick

"I loved the new spin for the whole series on how the Gods came to be. I loved all the books. The plot and storyline were great"
-- Cathy

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the Lords of Kobol saga.  Thank you."
-- Cody M

"I have read all the books in this series and it put to paper thoughts I already had in my mind. If you liked Battlestar Galactic you will love these books. ... Kudo's to the author and think they should make this a movie or a series. it is a must read."
-- Penny

"If you dig #Caprica & #BSG, his exploration of the mythos will blow your mind. Read his books and enjoy"
-- WeirdArchives

"I´ve just finished reading your first trilogy (I´m gonna start the 4th book today) and I´m writing to you in order thank you for these outstanding novel.

It was really brilliant!"
-- Rubens

"If you are a fan of the BSG franchise, then the whole trilogy will appeal to you! I had a quiet winter break and delved into all 4 over break form college and finished them all. Even without a background of BSG knowledge, if you have a knowledge of Greek and Roman political and religious structure, you should also find these books very entertaining!"
-- Anonymous

"They're great!"
-- shortstack81

"Your books have been one hell of a read and I have enjoyed them thoroughly."
-- Chuck B

"First: I am a fan of the BSG series (though, I didn't see much of Caprica). The Lords of Kobol books were quite fun reading -- the tie-ins with Greek mythology were very clever and well-done. The story itself provided a very readable back-story to the BSG (and Caprica) television series. Highly recommended for BSG fans -- those not familiar with BSG may find themselves scratching their heads in bewilderment at times, as well as miss some fantastic tie-ins with the show."

"it is clear the amount of work you put into them and that shines through"
-- yuecake

"We did like them, actually a lot! good times :-) (+ we like uniquely bound LOK copies LOL)"
-- @twinsthings

"Loved it!! Answered lots of questions from the Battlestar Galactica series now I'm watching them again."
-- Artbeat

"I loved the Battlestar Galactica series and felt a bit lost when it was finished, so the books are a welcome return without being a rehash. I enjoyed how the author, as well as the writers of the TV series, played with the legends of Greek mythology. I never got into Caprica but might take a second look after finishing this series."
-- Anonymous

"I find them thorough, insightful, and informative"
-- MzSnowleopard

"This is a fantastic series of books. They capture the philosophical and religious tone of the TV show perfectly, while enhancing it with complex characters and histories. Highly recommend!"
-- Jason Tiearney

"So this book series isn't a book series that i would typically read, but this series turned out to be really good. I would recommend this series."
-- Anonymous

"I enjoyed Battlestar and I looked with anticipation at your ebooks.  I enjoy your writing style. It reminds me of the Herbert's style in the Dune series. The short and precise chapters help the story flow quickly. Anyway, just a note of thanks for writing such an excellent series of prequals to Battlestar G."
-- Ron P

"Your books are amazing. It was a great read. I could hardly put them down!"
-- Auston

"As always, you are very cool."
-- Anonymous

"As a fan of the reinvisioned Battlestar Galactica TV series, I was pleased when I discovered that this and it's companion books had been written, delving into the vaguely described story about Kobol and the Thirteenth Tribe. The story was as entertaining to me as the TV series was, and remained true to its spirit. With vivid characters and an engaging story interwoven with elements seen in the TV series, this novel draws you easily back into the BSG universe and fills the gap left over from the series conclusion. I highly recommend this set of novels to anyone that loved the reinvisioned Battlestar Galactica series; you will not be disappointed."
-- Twan Fox

-- Josh S

"I have absolutely loved the series of books. I have also enjoyed how you managed to combine current events, mythology and bsg into one set of books. Well done sir."
-- Chris B

"Wow! Why aren't you selling them? These are good!"
-- JForrestp

"Best fan fiction I've ever read."
-- Jason Levi

"Loved the trilogy. Didn't know I was reading Scrolls until third one. All 3 read in 2 days. Thanks again."
-- Anonomouse

"These have all been read before, these will all be read again ..."
-- J Stiffler

"This series is going down as one of my favorites. This was a very interesting and enjoyable read. I didnt think i would like it at first, but by the end i really liked the series. This is a keeper."
-- Anonymous

"Excellent job, great writing style. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the books!"

"The 'Lords of Kobol' series is absolutely fascinating.  I'm practically salivating to get into your 'Galactica' universe again! 

You do realize that many fans accept your story line as 'canon', right?

 Quality work, sir, quality work!  Count me a loyal reader."
-- Gary J.

4.5 stars out of 5 on B&N
4.5 stars out of 5 on Goodreads

5 stars out of 5 on Kobo

"I bought this because I enjoyed the author's Lords of Kobol Battlestar Galactica books and I was surprised at how much I liked this one, too. Sometimes the action gets murky when you're keeping track of the cavemen and dinosaurs, but he makes it work out. And being from Balitmore, it was fun seeing the flashbacks with the main character."
-- MarcusMaximus

"Loved it! Well written and held my interest throughout the book. One of those hard to put down books that you wish would never end!"
-- Bernie

"I really enjoyed this book.  People and strange creatures displaced in time."
-- Doc

"Overall enjoyed reading it and didn't put it down for long. Time travel is always interesting so I enjoyed the author's take on it."
-- Dan C

"This was a very unique story. Read it in a few hours. I loved the mix of characters. Take cavemen, whales, dinosaurs and two men from the future, a few other surprises, drop them into 1940s Georgia get a fun read with a true ending. No hangers, just an entertaining book from start to finish."
-- Jeanine S

"A very quick read. Lots of action with dinosaurs, a robot and other crazy things. I was surprised at how invested I became in the cavemen who have their own language. The ending isn't really a surprise but it was fun to get there anyways."
-- Anonymous

Displaced can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for 99¢ at Smashwords here.  Also available at B&N, KoboiTunes, and Amazon.

4 stars out of 5 on Amazon
4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads

5 stars out of 5 on Kobo
5 stars out of 5 on B&N

"If you are looking for a fast paced, horror filled zombie book, then this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a well thought out story of self growth of a boy becoming a man, then be sure to check out Diary of a Second Life.

The story is set far in the future - around 300 years after the end of the world and life as we know it. Wess Marin is a boy about to turn sixteen who lives in a small village of approximately 100 people or so. The people live a simple life down in tunnels for the most part - sheltered from the sun. No, they aren't vampires, but being in the sun increases their hunger levels for food to such extremes that they will starve if they stay out for too long.

Wess has never been outside the walls of his keep and doesn't know what exists except for what he sees each day. He is just finishing school and is now expected to "bond" with Remi, his second cousin, to perpetuate society through having children and becoming a watcher - a person who walks the walls to protect the community from the "terminals" which are basically zombies. Terminals can be people or animals or even insects - ick!
Wess has decided that he is going to go in search of others who may be working on a cure for the sickness and find what he is searching for as a person.

The story covers his journey - what he finds outside the walls, who he encounters, and what he learns about himself as a person.
Wess is the only character that is truly developed but that works out fine for the book as it is his path to discover that the story is about. The rest of the characters are truly supporting ones that interact at the level necessary to help Wess on his journey.
A thoughtful read and different take on what happens when the world ends. I would recommend this for a change in pace from the "normal" zombie books."
-- RandiTS (spoilers redacted)

"The book was interesting and kept me reading to the end ... I always wish for more exploration of the "old" world in these kind of book, for the most part they get from A to B without any. Different communities of people, living different kinds of lives in 300 years.
A good bargain for a good story."
-- Dennis

"At first I had some doubts about this novel but they were truly unfounded. I started reading a little of the story, then a bit more only to find that I'd finished the thing in very short order. The story kept me stuck to each word and was incredibly easy to finish. I finished it a little too fast because this story is worth savoring every paragraph. The journal format of the novel gave the story a feel similar to that of "Dracula." The diary also gave the reader a more personal connection to the narrator.
The characters were fascinating too. It starts off with the voice of a fifteen year old boy and then adds more people along the way.  ...  I found the characters realistic and genuine. There isn't anything cookie cutter or contrived about them. Excellent character crafting!

"Diary of a Second Life" was a great read and one of most creative stories of the post-apocalyptic genre."
-- Lori Bowland, Living Dead Media (spoilers redacted)

Diary of a Second Life can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for 99¢ at Smashwords here.  Also available at B&N, iTunes, Kobo and Amazon.

5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars on Amazon

"Great read and thoroughly thought provoking. Looking forward to reading more by this author!"
-- Arkync

8 Days can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for 99¢ at Smashwords here.  Also available at B&NiTunesKobo and Amazon.

5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars on Kobo

"Thank you for writing that story! It's not often adult fiction has a plot or is written intelligently, with humor. I stumbled upon it on probably the first day it was released on SmashWords and it was a pleasure to read.
While I see you plan to work on similar tales, I'm concerned that as short stories they won't allow for decent character development. I also feel short stories just don't build properly, which Sexcalation happily did.

Finally, I applaud your choice of pricing the book reasonably. Too many extremely short works are priced foolishly high. I've got to give you credit where credit is due.

Good luck with your upcoming projects. If they are in a similar vein, I definitely plan on reading them."
-- RichSz

"This is an excellent book and my review is far overdue. It's light and humorous in places yet can get heavy when necessary. Loved the ending!"
-- Lazlow

Sexcalation can be downloaded in just about every imaginable format for $2.99 at Smashwords here.  Also available at B&N, iTunesKobo and Amazon.

5 out of 5 stars on Smashwords
4.25 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

"Thought this was a great little story, the cover art is awesome and reminiscent of Sin City and various other film noir classics. The writing style is original and evocative, the imagery great. The story itself reads like a cross between Dick Tracy and Kick Ass with plenty of action, intrigue and some hot sex. Everything a discerning guy could want in short. Oh and hot women."
-- Mikey Lee Ray

"Enjoyed this and will definitely recommend it. Great action and liked the way the steamy parts were written, hot."
-- James Riddel

The Red Kick can be downloaded in its entirety for just $2.99 from Amazon here.

Thanks for indulging me.  I hope you all stick around because there's more to come.  Lots more.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Writing, Again: Part V - Visual Inspiration 2

Writing on Book Five is chugging along nicely ...

I'm beginning to worry about length a bit, though.  I can't decide if I want to press ahead and worry about it later or if I should just stop what I'm doing and rein it in.  Storywise, it's a trilogy's worth of stuff crammed into one book (origin stories, seeds of revolution, revolution & exodus).  I don't know.  I'm still thinking about it.

In the meantime, here's some more lame art.

Years ago, I Photoshopped an old Greek helmet and gave it a Cylon eye.  Thanks to the free app Adobe Sketch, I took another go at it.  The figure on the left is pretty much what I see in my head when I read about Cylons in the Lords of Kobol trilogy:

Moving ahead to Book Five, the mechanical Cylons are called something else for a stretch and I wanted them to be very different than anything seen before.  (They were briefly glimpsed in an Ares' flashback in Book Three).  Here they are:

More to come next week.  (Book Five stuff; not crappy drawings.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Writing, Again: Part IV: Visual Inspiration

A few years back, I utilized my meager artistic skills to kickstart my imagination.  Like the Kobollian Cylon or Zeus' propaganda.

This time is no different and I found some inspiration in a strange place.

My son's Beyblades.

You may not know what they are.  They're metal and plastic tops that spin and clink into each other in arenas.  Pretty neat.  But even more neat was this odd pattern I discovered in the bottom of one of these pieces of imported Japanese pop culture:

See that?  (It was a pain to photograph.)  It's like a giant bird with outstretched wings and feathers that encircle the whole thing.  It's so reminiscent of the Kobollian/Colonial eagle/phoenix that I knew I had to use this.

Unfortunately, I'm no artist.  I wasn't able to isolate the bird well enough to use.  (If anyone wants to give it a shot, please, go ahead.)  But I managed to create something similar.

Early in Book Five, I describe the flag of the emperor that appears on a television screen: "Your attention, please," an unseen announcer said over the image of the emperor's seal, a stylized metallic eagle whose wings encircled a mask painted blood red over a purple fluttering flag. "Lord Imperator, Princeps Senatus, Caesar Maxentius the Ninth."

And here it is:

The color is Tyrian purple.  The dye was so rare in ancient days only the emperors wore clothes using it.

The idea of the blood red face comes from the Roman triumphs.  When an emperor was feted in such a way, his face was painted red to evoke Jupiter.  (See this scene from the great HBO series Rome.)

The mask itself comes from a Roman ceremonial mask found at the site of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.  (Go here and scroll down a bit.  You'll see it.)

Lastly, "CPQT."  You probably remember seeing some show or movie about ancient Rome and seeing "SPQR" everywhere.  That means "Senatus Populusque Romanus" ... "the Senate and people of Rome."  I wanted something similar but not quite a direct copy.  I originally went with "Imperator Populesque Tiberiis" but that abbreviated as "IPQT."  ("Tiberiis," of course, because my Roman analogue is the Tiberian Empire, based in Tiber.  I suppose that means the river that runs through the city is the Rome.)  I chose "Caesar Populusque Tiberiis."  Maybe I'll change my mind again and go with "Caesar Senatusque Tiberiis."

I'm actually writing now, but I'll post some more visual inspirating that I did in the coming days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reader, reader. Gimme reviews.

If you've already bought, downloaded and read one or more of my books, I offer my profound thanks.

If you liked what you read, I thank you even more and ask that you keep reading.

One of the greatest favors you can do for me would be to go to the place from which you got my book -- you know, the one you liked -- and to provide a rating and review.

If you're feeling especially generous with your time, you can also go to and do the same for me there.

Again, I thank you.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Writing, Again: Part III

My re-reading and editing of the trilogy has come to a close.  I've finished my work on Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus and I've uploaded it to Smashwords.  (It will reach other ebook retailers in the next few days/weeks.)

In Book One, I removed a few chapters to make it flow better.  In Book Two, I removed a superfluous chapter and added a new one.  In Book Three ... I didn't do that much.  Honestly, I found the threads to be taut and there weren't any real distractions from the main stories.  It's a huge book, of course, but it's the culmination of the two previous books so the puzzle had to get assembled and the way had to be pointed toward the TV series.  (Battlestar Galactica, in case you forgot.)

So, I removed portions where I "told" instead of "showed."  Cleared up a few confusing bits.  Made some different word choices.  That kind of thing.

To get current, download and read the conclusion to this epic trilogy by clicking the banner:

Up next ... well, I guess I have to get started again on Book Five, huh?  Blog-wise, I'll have some posts in the near future about that.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Writing, Again: Part II

I'm continuing my trek through the trilogy and I whipped through Book Two with a quickness.  Man, what an action-packed read.  (Yes, I know I wrote it.  I'm almost surprised that I wrote it, in some places.)

I did some minor rewriting.  Mostly word choices; a couple of instances of "telling, not showing."  There was only one chapter I removed but I immediately replaced it with something new.  Something that actually previews Book Five.  More on that in a second.

The revisions and additions, comparatively minor as they are, have been published at Smashwords.  The new version will filter out to other retailers (iTunes, B&N, etc.) in the coming weeks.  Click the banner to get it:

The chapter I removed and the chapter I added?  Both are after the JUMP.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Writing, Again: Part I

Where, oh where, have I been?

Around.  Doing stuff.  Not writing, though.  Believe me, I'd rather be writing than just about anything else.

I've had a taste for Kobol for a few months now.  I get a germ of an idea of how to handle something in Book Five ... and I scribble it down, hoping I don't forget the essence of it whenever I decide to get cracking on that again.

I got tired of having those thoughts and feelings and decided to just go for it.  I can't, however, dive into Book Five without my head in the right place, so I'm re-reading the Trilogy.

A few chapters into Book One, I decided that a rewriting was in order, too.

Book One was always, always a mean pill.  Almost a chore.  Don't get me wrong; I love it, but it was a tough nut to crack.

I knew I wanted to parallel the Thirteenth Tribe with the Lords themselves and that meant not only setting up this Utopia that the Lords created, but also showing the creation of the organic Cylons and coming up with a reason to get them to leave Kobol.  I went through a few different versions of the book before I clicked "publish."

In the end, I was satisfied if not entirely pleased.  Reading it again ... I don't know.  I'm a hard critic, especially on myself.  I found that it drags in places (something echoed by a few reviews, too).  More egregious than that, I realized how often I "told" instead of "showed."  Meaning, instead of presenting action or dialogue about a subject or scene, the author just typed a bunch of paragraphs about it.  That's lazy.

So I re-wrote.  I "showed" where I quite unnecessarily "told."  In tightening things up, I removed five chapters that didn't add to the overarching narrative (a couple were about establishing the Lords and their place in the world, a couple were about the organic Cylons).

I hit "publish" again.  Yes, the edits are final and they're available now on Smashwords (filtering out to other ebook retailers in the coming days/weeks).  Click the banner:

The chapters I removed?  You can read them after the JUMP.

I've resurrected.

I'm not dead.

Despite my radio silence for quite a while, I have been working.  I'm in the middle of a re-read and minor rewrite of the "Lords of Kobol" trilogy.  After that, I intend to fully dive back into Book Five.

More posts to come in the near future on the rewrites and what's ahead.

Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: GODZILLA (2014)

In July, my son and I made a list of kaiju and other monster movies to watch before Godzilla.  Now we're at the end of our big list, all ninety movies of it.  You can see the list and read our many reviews HERE.

The final film is, of course, Godzilla (2014).

Spoiler-free review?  We both loved it.

Get the details in the JUMP ...

Friday, May 16, 2014

"GODZILLA" is open!

And it's great.  Go see it.

My son and I will be posting our review early next week.  You know, after we've seen it a couple more times.


One last documentary ... the penultimate entry on THE BIG LIST my son and I compiled last year.

Today's is PBS' Frontline: Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown (2012).

My son will go first:
Well, this one is the last movie. This movie inspired the New Godzilla movie because the radiation suits, the nuclear power plant destruction and the damage looks like the Trailers.  I knew about the earthquake and tsunami, but I didn't know about the nuclear power plant or the radiation.  It was interesting and I liked it. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.6 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!! 
My turn:
As James said, in the opening several minutes, we are hit with a lot of imagery.  Imagery that Godzilla's filmmakers obviously cribbed from for the new film (and I'm going by what we've seen in the trailers). 
Obviously, Fukushima's relation to the new movie has inspired art, too: 
As for the story itself, I was familiar with the vast majority of it but I was very surprised to hear just how much Tepco (the company that operates the plant) covered up and withheld from Japan's PM even as the danger was unfolding.  Staggering stuff. 
It's well done and there is some human interest included, primarily with one man searching for his wife and child despite radiation warnings around the plant.  The bravery on display is amazing, as we often see in stories like this.  I don't know if it's Frontline's laid-back style, but the magnitude of the bravery didn't seem to come through for me.  (I comprehend it, but I didn't feel it in my gut.) 
Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown ... very influential, I'm sure, as we'll see.  3.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's a link to the entire documentary.

Up next, yes.  The time has arrived.  Godzilla (2014).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: GOJIRA (1954)

Full circle, baby.  On July 21, I originally posted THE BIG LIST.  Over the ensuing months, we added more than thirty other films to it, making it ninety movies long.  We've reviewed them all ... except for the new one.

Today's movie is, one last time, Gojira (1954).

I'll go first:
I won't go through the plot again or do a full-blown review.  We did that once before.
Instead, I'll focus on the viewing experience after our recent run through the "Inspiration List."  Documentaries about the history of Japan and their experience in WWII, the atomic testing ... it fixes this movie in a very particular point in time. 
Think about it.  This was released just nine years after the end of the war.  Nine years.  Think about the imagery in this film and its relation to the atomic bombings.  The closest analogue we have today are collapsing buildings, billowing dust clouds, office papers fluttering over the street, the sound of firefighters' personal alarms wailing over the din ... and these have been used in films since 9/11 (CloverfieldWar of the Worlds, etc.) 
The panning shots of buildings reduced to kindling.  Flames engulfing whole city blocks or, occasionally, spots of fire in the debris.  The shockwaves of buildings collapsing.  The radiation effects on people, ticking the Geiger counters.  References to "atomic tuna" and strained diplomatic relations.  The fishing boats destroyed ... in fact, the opening scene played out very much like the Lucky Dragon 5 incident as described in the last doc we watched.   
Once again, I'm reminded of how deadly serious this movie is.  There are sweeping shots of despair and we see hundreds of people suffering in Godzilla's wake.  The scene with the mournful choir as Serizawa wrestles with his conscience choked me up even more this time around.  In reading a brief review of the new movie (no spoilers), it mentioned how serious the new film is.  Well, it would be hard pressed to top this one. 
Also mentioned in that review is the apparently limited screen time of Godzilla in the new film.  Well, I paid attention and the Big Guy isn't in the original movie so much, either.  There are a few sparse teases in the opening half hour or so, then his first big attack.  A breather for a little bit and then he attacks again.  Then it's a long dissection of the people impacted by the attack and the decisions over what to do about the monster.  Then the attack on him with the Oxygen Destroyer.   
The limited screen time actually helps in this case because Toho hadn't quite gotten the special effects down just yet.  Godzilla moves too quickly in many shots, especially when he's a puppet.  (The puppet doesn't hold up too well ... I half expected it to yell "Cookie!" on one occasion.) 
Gojira ... re-evaluating my score thanks to the documentaries we watched beforehand.  4.75 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's my son, James:
Well, this is my favorite monster movie. This move is related to the documentaries and the scenes in the movie are related to actual history.  It made me sad to see them because I remembered this was based on real life. the movie is great and this is the last (Monster) movie on the list 
The things I like about it is that they aimed it so right so that Godzilla looks big. The thing i don't like is that's this could have been in color, but this is 1954. 
So rating wise, i'll say 5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!! 
Next, one last documentary before the new movie, Frontline: Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown (2011).

(GIF from ronaldcmerchant )

Reviews: HIROSHIMA (2005) and THE UNLUCKIEST DRAGON (2011)

Not long now.  THE BIG LIST is done, but we're doing an "Inspiration List," too.  Watching a couple of films and documentaries that gave us Godzilla.

Today's documentary is the BBC doc Hiroshima (2005).

I'll go first:
This was a late addition.  After two previous documentaries (Rise & Fall of the Japanese Empire and Trinity & Beyond) failed to delve into the actual bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I felt like we needed to see something else. 
Well, this documentary gave a much-needed humanity to our documentary proceedings thus far.  Depressingly so.  Not that I was expecting sunshine and lollipops, of course. 
There is some archival footage, but most of the doc is compromised of interviews with survivors and dramatizations of their recollections.  It's difficult to not get choked up as you hear the pain in their voices and see the tears well in their eyes.  The horror of that day is very well presented. 
It's not solely from the perspective of the Japanese that this film unfolds.  We also get some of the thoughts behind the decision to drop the bombs in the first place, the devastating invasion plans that were being considered, the warnings given to the Japanese leadership that were ignored, etc.  Though the intention is objectivity, it's hard for the American side of things to hold a candle to the raw emotion and visceral imagery on display in Japan. 
Watching this, I kept an eye out for details in the attack.  Details that may show up in 1954's Gojira.  I wasn't disappointed. 
Hiroshima ... fun side note: young Gareth Edwards worked on the visual effects for this.  4 out of five ... stars.  ("Atomic breath blasts" seems inappropriate.)
My son's turn:
Well, this one is a big downer because it's about people in the bomb attack and what the radiation effects are on humans. the reason this is important is because Godzilla's attack on Japan is like the atomic bombs. 
So rating wise, i'll say 2.6 out of 5 Atomic Gulps of Guilt! :(  
Here's a trailer:


Another documentary, this is a short one.

The Unluckiest Dragon (2011).

My son James will go first:
Well, the reason we are watching this is because this inspired Godzilla to be made. So this one is about a ship called The Lucky Dragon that got attacked by a Hydrogen bomb.  It feels familiar. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 3.4 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Inspiration!!
My turn:
An audio essay with accompanying photos, Dragon tells the story of the fishing boat Lucky Dragon 5 and their encounter with the Castle Bravo Hydrogen Bomb Test of January 1954. 
Though they were several miles away, the crew encountered fallout.  Then the United States encountered fallout of a different sort.  The world was outraged and relations between Japan and the US were strained more than before.   
In the end, the "essay" is a little too short to feel like a full meal, but honestly, I don't know what more could be said. 
The Unluckiest Dragon ... the connections to Gojira will be more than a little obvious.  3 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the whole thing:

Up next, Gojira (1954).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)

Last summer, my son, James, and I compiled a list of kaiju and kaiju-inspired movies to watch before the new Godzilla opens on May 16.  By the end, THE BIG LIST was nearly ninety films long.  Here, in the final days, we've rewound a bit to watch the films that influenced the original Gojira, and we're watching a few documentaries to better inform us of their mindset (we're calling that the "Inspiration List").

Today's movie is The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953).

My eleven-year-old son will go first:
This is the first monster that was created/waken by radiation, the second is Godzilla. The name of the dinosaur in the movie is Rhedosaurus, the parts I like is when he destroys stuff. The reason this inspired Godzilla is because giant fire-breathing invincible Dino-lizards are very cool, but Godzilla is the coolest. 
So. rating wise, i'll say 4.5 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!
My turn:
Ah, Ray Harryhausen.  That's a name I've known all of my life.  It's a name I've made sure my son knew, too. 
As we were watching the movie and the atomic testing scenes unfolded in the opening scenes, James asked, "Is this the first movie that had the atom bomb wake up or make a monster?"  I thought for a few and then looked it up.  As far as I can tell, the answer is "yes." 
With that in mind, Beast is even more remarkable.  It sets up the structure and tropes for almost every atomic-age monster movie to follow: atomic detonation, monster awakens, rampage, radiation effects on people, military fights futilely, search for a solution (possibly also radiation related), monster stopped by science. 
The story is simple enough, and nearly outlined in the last paragraph.  The only thing to add is that our main character is a scientist who spotted the titular dinosaur after an arctic detonation and was deemed crazy by everyone around him.  Only after consulting with a paleontologist's lovely assistant and finding another of the animal's victims does anyone believe him. 
The dinosaur in question is the fictional Rhedosaurus, one of Harryhausen's most famous creations.  There are some truly iconic scenes in this film, including the police officer's demise above, the beast's demise in the burning roller coaster and, of course, the toppling of a lighthouse: 
The effects work is impeccable, as one would expect.  Use of the monster, though, is fairly sparse in the first two-thirds of the film.  The actors aren't so bad, either.  Certainly not the overly false style that taints King Kong (1933) in my mind.   
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms ... obviously VERY influential on Gojira.  3.75 out of five Atomic Breath Blasts.
Here's the original trailer:

Up next, Hiroshima (documentary; 2005).

(GIFs from televandalist)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


We're not far away now ... the "Inspiration List" is almost done.

Today's documentary is Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie (1995).

I'll go first:
Trinity is thorough, going through seemingly every stage of America's nuclear testing program and almost every device detonated.  We're bombarded with codenames and operational codenames and dates.  In large part, this documentary feels like William Shatner is reading the text of a timeline or a series of footnotes from a large term paper on the Cold War.  The information we're given is straight outta Dragnet: "Just the facts, ma'am." 
The footage, however, is amazing.  Some of it we've seen thousands of times (like the GIF above) but here, we're given context and the purpose behind such tests as well as the preparations for tests to study how buildings hold up to blasts.  (You've seen that footage a bunch, too.) 
Despite a couple of interviews, Trinity feels cold.  The music is overly bombastic but the narration certainly isn't.  The details are thick and the footage jawdropping ... but that's it.  There's only the briefest mention of direct impact of the testing (and, coincidentally, it's about the Japanese fishing boat incident that inspired Gojira).  There's a scene featuring a guy talking about radiation and the impact on people ... but even that is clinical.  Nothing at all about the aftermath in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There's no attempt at heart at all and that's a disappointment. 
Trinity and Beyond ... interesting to watch but don't expect to really feel anything.  2.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
My son's turn:
Well, this is interesting. The documentery is about code names, destroying things, and Atomic Bombs. So i thought that there so many code names, Too much destruction, and BIG bombs. I think you can blow up the bad guys enough now so STOP MAKING THEM BIGGER!! 
So, rating wise, i'll say 2.3 out of 5 Atomic Bombs of Destruction!!!
Here's the trailer:

Here's a video showing us every nuclear test detonation ever:

Holy crap.

Next up, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

(GIF from skinthiscat)


Continuing with the so-called "Inspiration" portion of our BIG LIST ...

Today's film is the documentary The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire (2011; part one above, part two here).

I'll go first:
Altogether, this doc is about ninety minutes long.  That's not a lot of time to compress centuries of history and decades of war into.  Still, we get broad strokes. 
Centuries of honor and isolation boil forth after a few short decades of contact with the West and advancement.  The higher classes like the Western style of life but the country as a whole finds itself shunned by the United States and other nations.  Resource poor, Japan lashes out, justifying their invasions of China and Korea as a "liberation" of Asia. 
The Great Depression is a worldwide event.  With the Depression comes desperation.  At home and at the warfront, honor seems to vanish as prisoners are no longer treated respectfully, just to name one example.  And then the beginning of World War II arrives after the retaliatory ABCD Embargoes.  Secret police enforce adherence to the emperor's and the military's ways.  Discipline is enforced in every walk of life.  In time, their early victories turn to defeat and the Empire's leaders are shown to be fallible after all. 
The documentary is entirely made up of archival footage, some of it from the late 1800s.  The narration is broken up with readings of letters from Japanese soldiers and civilians. 
It's full of information, that's for sure.  I learned some new things and I'm sure my son did, too, though a great deal of it probably went over his head. 
Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire ... gets the basic job done in a short amount of time.  3.25 out of five atomic breath blasts.
James' turn (sort of):
It was interesting, but I don't have much to say about it. I know it was the history of Japan but I don't understand how it all fits with Gojira yet.
I'm working on that, son.

Up next, Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: KING KONG (1933)

My son and I recently finished up the list of nearly 90 movies on our BIG LIST and are now working on the "Inspiration List" ... the inspiration for Godzilla, of course.

Today's movie is King Kong (1933).

My son will go first:
(NOTE: The first version I saw was an edited version where the movie starts when the boat is at sea and near the island, but the King Kong original movie is the one we saw today, so then I got real sad because I thought the edited one was better) 
The reason we're watching this now is because this inspired the movie Gojira, one of my favorites. The story is a movie director want an outstanding movie with an island and a cute lady. The only bad part is that the island has mad islanders, Dinosaurs, A mountain of a skull, and a Gigantic Gorilla named King Kong, they capture King Kong and put him in a theater and he breaks out.   
I love everything about this movie. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 4.6 out of 5 Atomic Edits of Brutalness!!
My turn:
Well, first I guess I should explain why James saw an edited version for most of his life.
When he was four, he loved King Kong, but he was bored by the first half-hour of the film (you know, the talky bits).  So I edited it so the movie began with the Venture emerging from that confounded fog.  And I edited out some of the so-called romance between Jack and Ann.  And some of the tribal talk.  Oh, and then I edited in the "Spider Pit Sequence" as recreated by Peter Jackson and WETA.  It was a cool edit. 
On to the movie. 
It's a classic.  I mean ... like Citizen Kane, it established many basics of filmmaking.  (For Kane, it established basics for just about any genre of film, whereas Kong did so for monster and action films.)  Kane is an interesting intellectual exercise to watch, understanding how influential it was.  But I wouldn't say I enjoy watching it.  Kong, though, I do enjoy. 
That's not to say it's without faults. 
People, mostly. 
Look, I understand that acting was a very different profession back then, but I can't stand it.  Dramatically speaking, I can't get invested in a character fully when they are so obviously fake.  The captain, Englehorn, feels real enough, but he's not in the film often.  Denham comes off as hammy but largely unconcerned with what's going on thanks to his greed.  Then there's the relic-of-his-time Jack Driscoll who, apparently, hates women yet somehow falls in love with a dame after a few short weeks.   
And Fay Wray.  She's easy on the eyes and can scream to beat the band, but that's it.  I've seen interviews with her later in life and she was a sparkplug of energy.  The script here doesn't tap into that.  I'm going to chalk it up to it being the way of the world then.  Ladies were supposed to be pretty and needed saving.  That's all. 
I'll just ignore the "natives" and move on.  OK? 
The title character himself, in mechanical form, isn't so hot.  Sure, for 1933, it was staggering, but it differed from the stop-animated models used elsewhere so very much. 
Even though these models, too, differed from each other depending on what scene they were in, it's very easy to see that the best actor in this movie is Willis O'Brien. 
Without him and his skill, King Kong would just be a dumb puppet.  A fur-covered toy holding up a tiny blonde doll on a cardboard building. 
Kong emotes and not in a painfully over-the-top manner.  He is intrigued by Ann (even to the point of drawing censors' ire in 1938).  He is angered by the Tyrannosaurus rex and yet still concerned about Ann.  He looks down at his bullet wounds and is bewildered by the pain and the blood.  Simply put, this is the first time an animated character has been realized in a movie alongside living humans and held his own.  In this case, the character surpasses everyone else on screen. 
O'Brien's skill shines in the action scenes, too.  Anytime you see a dinosaur or monster enter a scene and scratch the side of his head, thank Willis O'Brien.  There's a viciousness to the Tyrannosaurus attack that you don't often see in monster movies, and that's only partially because of the way Kong dispatches his foe. 
It's easy to see how influential Kong was.  Not just on Godzilla, either.  It created a subgenre of so-called "jungle movies": expeditions into the unknown where something magical or monstrous was found and then brought back to the "civilized world" only to have the primitive thing wreak havoc one way or another.  (It's funny to type "civilized" after hearing and watching these Westerners interact with the natives on Kong's island.  I don't know if there was any irony in the writers' minds when they wrote it, but ... oof.)  One of the latest and best movies to copy the basic premise is Ray Harryhausen's The Valley of Gwangi.  But I digress. 
King Kong ... a rightfully influential classic, despite the humans involved.  4 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's the trailer:

If you get the disc, you HAVE to watch the special features showing how Willis O'Brien did most of the visual effects.  And here's the recreation of the lost "Spider Pit Sequence" by Peter Jackson and crew:

Here's a fun song by Jimmy Castor:

Up next, a documentary, Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire.

(GIFs from astairewaytoheaven, vousvoulez and wunderbarkino)