Reviews by Henry L. Ratliff

Doom of the Griffiths

by Elizabeth Gaskell

(1896) Horror (Gothic) / Short Story

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The Griffith family has a curse on it.

  • The curse says that in each 9th generation, the son will kill his father.

  • Owen is a Griffith and a 9th son. His father is domineering and conflicts are likely.

  • Owen secretly marries and his new step-mother deliberately puts obstacles between Owen and his father.

  • Will Owen break the curse, or will he be the last to suffer 'The Doom of the Griffiths '

Reviewed on 2014.07.07

All the Brothers Were Valiant

by Ben Ames Williams

(1919) Fiction (Nautical) / Adventure (Mutiny)

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • The motto and epitaph of the sons of the House of Shore, is: 'All The Brothers Were Valiant'.

  • Joel Shore becomes the captain of the Nathan Ross, a whaling ship that was last captained by his brother, thought to be lost in the South Pacific.

  • Joel marries and takes his new wife on a commercial voyage for the ship's owners and in the hopes of determining if his brother Mark still lives.

  • Mark turns up with a not so valiant tale of his life in the islands. He is a changed man from the man that Joel knew, and he brings with him a tale of intrigue , murder and hidden treasure.

  • Mark wants to retrieve the treasure, but Joel does not want to do so, and this leads to strained relations between the brothers. The crew learns of the treasure and the brothers and crew are caught up in a mutiny.

  • Joel's wife does not understand his actions as Mark has swayed her opinion. She deems her husband a coward, for what appears to her to be a cowardly lack of action, with the crew and even Mark himself.

  • Life in the islands can change a man. It can make or break him. One brother is marked as a rogue and the other a coward.

  • The seeming impasse between brothers, husband and wife, and the crew has added danger and mistrust to the harshness and remoteness of a life on the sea. Will events alter and once again prove that 'All The Brothers Were Valiant'?

The story has been made into a movie several times.

Reviewed on 2014.07.07

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

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