Reviews by Henry L. ratliff

From the Earth to the Moon

by Jules Verne

(1865) Sci-fi (Space voyage) / Adventure (Perils in space)

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The first part is about the concept and preparation for the trip to the moon.

    o The president of 'The Gun Club' of Baltimore, Impey Barbicane convinces his members that they can build a large cannon and launch a projectile to the moon.

    o Barbicane's philosophical and commercial enemy Captain Nicholl tries to
    defeat the idea and the launch. While Barbicane and his club have been
    building bigger and more destructive guns and artillery, he has been
    trying to offset those advances with better armament.

    o Financing is obtain from a world wide solicitation. Florida is chosen as
    the site for the cannon, a vast amount of explosive Gun-cotton is chosen as the initial and only propellant, observatory calculations are made and the site and
    cannon prepared.

    o A Frenchman, Michel Ardan, adds a last minute deviation to the specifications.
    He wants the projectile to be manned, by himself.

    o After many heated discussions and negotiations, all three men decide to
    go on a trip to the moon.

  • The second part 'Round the Moon' is about the trip to the moon.

    o The three men begin their journey.
    [o} They have an early close encounter with a comet. That, as well as some
    miscalculation on escape velocity, disallow a landing on the moon.

    o The projectile is being observed by a large telescope created for that
    purpose. To the observers, all is lost.

    o The three men accept their fate and delve into scientific documentation
    of the sites they see.
    ;o] There appears to be only a very slight possibility that these men
    will ever return.

  • The three passengers of the moon projectile will not land on the moon, but are the first to travel 'From The Earth To The Moon and Round the Moon'.

As with most of Verns works, there are several
translations and packaging of the two stories as with 'The Moon Voyage' in 1873
and 'All Around the Moon' (the second part only) in 1873.

Reviewed on 2014.07.06

The Skylark of Space

by E. E. ''Doc'' Smith

(1928) Sci-fi (Space opera) / Adventure (Alien races/worlds) / Pulp / Thriller (Techno)

Prequel to 'Skylark Three'

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Dick Seaton has accidentally discovered a great power source, based on the atomic deterioration of copper, in the presence of an element, he can only call 'X'. He and his friend, Martin Crane, develop this product into a method of powering a spaceship.

  • Their quest to build a spaceship, powered by their inventions, is made harder by the criminal actions of The World Steel Corporation and a master scientist and criminal Marc /DuQuesne. They both want his secrets.

  • The head of the corporation, Brookings, has no qualms of making profit for his company and himself, by any means necessary. His attempts at getting the formulas from Seaton are too much mussel and too little mental.

  • DuQuesne, however, tries other means. The corporation already has one girl captive, Margret, in hopes of obtaining another manufacturing secret. After the corporations failures, DuQuesne,, kidnaps Margret and Seaton's fiance, Dorothy Vaneman.

  • DuQuesne has found enough of the secret to build a spaceship of his own, and on that ship, out in space, he intends to hold the girls until Seaton reveals all of his secrets.

  • Seaton and Martin Crane have flown a prototype and completed The Skylark, his own ship, equipped with all his discoveries and devices. They are off on a chase through space to free the girls and obtain more of the mineral 'X'.

  • DuQuesne is captured, but Seaton and he have to hold a temporary truce as the Skylark is destined to visit other worlds before returning to Earth. Their most significant visit is to the Green System and it's two major warring powers, the Mardonale and Osnomian nations.

  • The Skylark is retooled as the Skylark II after applying all of the wonderful science of the new world. In particular it's powerful, invisible 'Arenak' shields. The fate of the travlers and the entire Green System lies in the ship and crew of 'The Skylark of Space'.

Reviewed on 2014.07.05

Skylark Three

by E. E. ''Doc'' Smith

(1930) Sci-fi (Space opera) / Adventure (Alien races/worlds) / Pulp (Universal peril) / Thriller (Techno)

Sequel to 'The Skylark of Space'

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • It is a year after the Skylark II (the refitted Skylark I with the 'Arenak' shield) has returned from the 'Green System' and their adventure with their friends, the Osnomians. Seaton and his friends are visited on Earth, by Prince Dunark of Osnomia, with a plea for help in their fight with Urvan, another 'Green System' planet.

  • Seaton is working on the 'zone of force' and he, Martan, their wives and a trusted servant, set off to help their friends

  • Their arch antagonist Blackie DuQuesne has also been busy. Once again he teams up with the World Steel Corporation, in hopes of gaining Seaton's scientific procedures and inventions. He and an accomplice set out to find a race with even greater knowledge and powers, with the hope to overcome Seaton's advances.

  • The Skylark crew have a war to stop and Seaton's new powerful invention, the 'zone of force' to refine and test, as their goals. DuQuesne has powerful allies to gain and a plan for Seaton's' defeat to manage.

  • Seaton and DuQuesne are unaware of each others current venture, but they both soon find a greater foe. A super race, the Fenachrone, are on the rampage to conquer the universe. They are currently interested in the Green System, but no civilization is safe, even Earth.

  • The Skylark is rebuilt a second time, with the advance knowledge of the Norlaminians, who have joined forces to defeat the Fenachrones. The 'zone of force' is refined and it may be the only weapon to save the universe from destruction.

  • The fate of the universe depends on the bravery, ingenuity, skill and cunning of the crew of the new Skylark, the 'Skylark III.

Reviewed on 2014.07.05

The Novel of the White Powder

by Arthur Machen

(1895) Horror (Supernatural) / Short story

From: The Three Impostors

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Francis Leicester overworks himself with his studies. His sister is concerned.

  • Dr. Haberden is consulted and Francis is prescribed a stimulate. It is a white powder, that he is to take twice a day.

  • The powder works wonders at first. However, his sister and others begin to notice strange behaviors after a while. There are also strange dark areas on his skin.

  • The doctor is again consulted and begins an investigation into the preparation made by the chemist (drug est).

  • Francis's brother chronicles the events , the effects and the outcome of the drug, to warn others, in 'The Novel of the White Powder.'.

One of the stories in Machen's 'The Three Impostors (1895)'.
In that story he connected several tales, by the presence of 'the man with spectacles'.

Reviewed on 2014.07.04

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