Reviews by Henry L. Ratliff

With The Night Mail

by Rudyard Kipling

(1909) Sci-Fi (Futuristic view) / Adventure (peril in the air)


R: * * *


Plot bullets


  • Story of the future ( a 1909 look forward to 2000), when the mail is no longer carried by ship, but by dirigible.

  • The story has two distinctive paths.

    o One is a story of the perils of the crowded skies and dangers associated with long distance lighter-than-air flight

    o The second is a clever attempt at revealing the authors idea of future
    events, via the articles and advertisements of the newspapers of the day.

  • The story is told from the writings of a passenger on one of the flights 'With The Night Mail'.



Reviewed on 2014.08.27

The Tremendous Event

by Maurice LeBlanc

(1922) Sci-fi (Natural disaster) / Adventure (Survival) / Romance


R: * * * *


Plot bullets


  • All is not well in the English channel. Many ships have not reached port and their are rumors of giant water spouts and whirlpools.

  • The events are precursors to a great earthquake. It raises the sea floor in the channel. There is now land above the waters between England and France.

  • One man is caught up in the turmoil. His life is in constant danger as he wanders. Landmarks have been obliterated and there are, at first, few others from whom to ask directions.

  • This tragedy, is however, the opportunity he needs to fulfill the conditions that will allow him to marry. The girls father demands a station in life that he does not have, currently.

  • At their last parting, they were caught up in one of the channel ship wrecks. The girl lost a precious heirloom. That ship is now above the waters and provides for yet another opportunity for adventure and danger, as her lover goes on a quest to recover it. Others know of that wealth and more. It is not safe, as people take the land and the law into their own hands.

  • Everyone's life has changed. His may change for the better, and all due to 'The Tremendous Event'.


Reviewed on 2014.08.27

The Box with Broken Seals

by E. Phillips Oppenheim

(1919) Espionage/ Mystery (Detective) / Pulp


R: * * * *


Plot bullets


  • The embassy's box with the broken seals has little to do with this story. It was a ruse that fooled many, but not James Crawshay of the English Service.

  • Jocelyn Thew created that diversion, to begin on an even bolder plan. He has stated the he will take important papers (that reveal the names of German spies) from America to Germany and brags that no one can stop him.

  • Their are men who will take great risks for money,excitement or a cause. Thew, has money, needs excitement and has a cause.

  • Thaw gains the help of Katharine Beverley, due to an old debt of her brothers. She is pressed into service as a nurse for a dying man, who wishes to return to the place of his birth. She becomes Thaw's red herring to confuse the workings of his enterprise.

  • A battle of wits continues across the Atlantic between Crawshay and Thew. Thaw's arrogance causes him to underestimate Crawshay's intelligence, but Thaw is very clever.

  • The trip across the Atlantic has become one of point and counter point. And it all began with 'The Box With Broken Seals '.


This is one of those gentlemanly adversarial plots that ends well and even the bad guy, isn't so bad after all.

Reviewed on 2014.08.23

Nightmare Abbey

by Thomas Love Peacock

(1818) Satire(Romantic movement) / Humor / Gothic



R: * * * *




Plot bullets


  • Mr Glowry is a misanthrope. He dislikes humanity in general. He is the melancholy owner of Nightmare Abby, as it is called.

  • He surrounds himself with equally gloomy people. With servants like Raven, Graves and Deathshead, and guest like Mr Flosky, Mr Toobad, Mr Listless, and Mr Cypress. The old gentleman has only one hope for happiness, his son. But, that happiness can only be achieve if he can bring him down to his level of glum.

  • Scythrop is Glowry's son. He is currently recovering from a failed romance. One his father did not allow, due to an economical mismatch. Scythrop, develops, through his readings of the modern thought of the day, like transcendental metaphysics and such, a plan to correct the worlds woes.

  • Scythrop's world changing ideas are temporarily on hold due to what appears as a disinterested world, and two ladies, Marionetta and Stella,. He is in love. His efforts fail on all fronts.

  • There are no true ghosts to haunt the mansion, only the common place spirits of man trying to make sense of things at 'Nightmare Abbey'.


Reviewed on 2014.08.23

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