Month: February 2017

Cutting Shakespeare Short

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Far more erudite and scholarly examinations of Shakespeare’s play Midsummer’s Night Dream have been executed, I am sure–but here are a couple of writerly observations I made in my listening to a dramatized audio of this play which was probably written just prior to the turn of the seventeenth century.

  1. The light and comedic Midsummer’s Night Dream is quite a change in tone from the bloody and horrible Titus Andronicus written by Shakespeare a couple of years earlier.
  2. Shakespeare runs out of plot 3/4 of the way through the play and the rest becomes a meta play within a play, where actors watch actors, pretending to be incompetent actors, pretend to put on a play, and make wry and cutting remarks about their ineptitude.

Shakespeare could have cut MidSummer’s Night Dream short just prior to this play within a play and had a very concise and witty play of about ninety minutes–and one of no less brilliance.

P.S. Yes, I realize Shakespeare is a recognized genius whose plays have lived for 400 years, while my novels are likely destined to languish forever in obscurity. My observations are in no way meant to diminish his masterful vocabulary, use of language or literary immortality.

-Joel Jenkins
Author of Weird Action & Adventure

 

Kiln Row

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This southern suburb of Denbrook consists mostly of gentrified brick homes built over a century ago. Originally, this area was mined for clay and covered in kilns, which were used to bake the bricks that still cover the faces of many buildings in the historic districts of Denbrook. Eventually, the clay deposits were exhausted and more plentiful supplies discovered along the banks of the Hopkins, where bricks are still produced to this day.

Though the residents of Kiln generally enjoy a low crime rate in this area, there have been recent reports of gangs out of the Barrens who have staged home invasions. As disturbing as this is, these appear to have been isolated incidents.

 

Dire Planet Compendium: Arshen

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The arshen is a large slug-like creature which dwells in subterranean pits.  They exude a thick pitch-like substance which the Martian Tribes use to waterproof clothing, boats, and wings.  The skin of a slain arshen is difficult to remove, but is semi-translucent and naturally waterproof.  It is used for tent, tarpaulin, clothing and for covering the gejassoas frames that form the wings that so many tribes use for travel. The arshen seem ponderous and placid, but they have an unpredictable temperament that makes them dangerous.  They can move more quickly than most imagine and they are capable of swallowing large animals or humans whole, and their corrosive gastric juices quickly break down their meals.

 

The Moral to the Story?

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This is perhaps the fourth Sam and Remi Fargo adventure I’ve read and probably the best of the lot thus far–though I admit, that I somehow seem to have skipped over a book or two, so I perused them out of order. Cussler or perhaps I should say Russell Blake seems to be hitting his stride. Not that his half-stride doesn’t exceed most authors leaps and bounds.

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The independently wealthy treasure hunters, Sam (husband) and Remi Fargo (wife), continue to gallivant around the globe, visiting exotic locations and unearthing ancient treasures. This one involves uncovering the secret connection between Vikings, Toltecs, and the god Quetzl Coatl.

In their efforts to discover this secret, they require the help of a disgraced Professor Laslo (the spelling may be incorrect on the name, since I listened to this rather than read the book) who they find in a drugged and alcoholic stupor somewhere in Cambodia–having abandoned his pursuit of a lost treasure horde in favor of a pursuit of strong spirits.

Most generously, the Fargos pay for rehab and get him back on his feet. However, the book fails to point out the irony that the Fargos are themselves functional alcoholics (as opposed to Professor Laslo who is a decidedly non-functional alcoholic when we first meet him).

Every meal described by the author goes into loving detail about the bottle of wine the Fargos consume, or includes mentions of multiple drinks and jokes about hangovers.They even, somewhat callously, plan to discuss the days events over a “few” margaritas, directly in front of Laslo. Later the Fargos go out and sample a multitude of whiskeys.

The unintentional moral of the story seems to be that Non-Functional Alcoholism is bad, but Functional Alcoholism is good. But this is just me making a wry observation…

On another, character-related note, the Fargos have a pair of Californian researchers working for them named Pete and Wendy. In the books I’ve read, neither of them seems to have developed much of a personality. In this book  Pete is given a romantic sub-plot, where he demonstrates an interest in another researcher’s niece. However, we still never really get to know Pete.