Good Morning Everyone!!
Beautiful day here in Yokohama, a little cool which is nice for Autumn. Ideal for book readers who like sit under a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea and a good story in their hands. Sorry about missing last week’s commentary, I was a little busy but I’ll do my best to make it up today by reviewing four good books, so let’s get started!
Our first book is Captain Nemo by K.J. Anderson was published in 2002. It concerns the adventures of Captain Nemo, one of the most popular characters ever created by French writer Jules Verne and found in his books “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and “The Mysterious Island”. Who was this unusual man and where did he come from? Is he an evil man intent on destruction or a genius who believes he can save mankind? Author K.J. Anderson provides us with some answers to these questions (as well as the source material for Verne’s ideas). From his poor childhood in France to his experiences and adventures as an adult, making him the man he became. If you enjoy the books of Jules Verne, Steampunk or Victorian adventure novels in general then you might like this one.
Are you a fan of pirate stories or sometimes dream of sailing the Spanish Main or looking for buried treasure? If so, then the second book on our list today might be one for you. It is the classic favorite, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1883. This story concerns a mysterious sailor called Billy Bones, a treasure map, vengeful pirates and young boy working in the Admiral Benbow Inn owned by his mother. After Jim meets the dark character Black Dog and the frightening Blind Pew, he, Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney set out on an adventure with the likes of Captain Smollett, Long John Silver, and Israel Hands aboard the good ship Hispaniola to an island that proves to be dangerous to all as they search for the treasure of the legendary Captain Flint. The I first read this book when I was in elementary school and it is in my opinion it is a story that has aged well.
Many movies have been made from the book but I think my favorite one would have to be “Treasure Island” made in 1989. It stars a young Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins, Charlton Heston as Long John Silver (“Them’s that die will be the lucky ones!”), Oliver Reed as Billy Bones, Christopher Lee as Blind Pew, and Julian Glover as Dr. Livesey. It is an on the edge film with a superb cast, great camera work and beautiful locals. It was directed and produced Fraser C. Heston, Charlton Heston’s son and well worth the watch.
Ok! The third book on our list today is an old science fiction adventure. Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein first published in 1947. This is considered by many to be one of his most influential works. Written ten years before America’s space program began, it was said to be an inspiration by many who started with the Mercury and Gemini space programs and went on to the Apollo program, which would eventually land Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969 (and yes, I do remember that). The story is about four men who build a rocket ship to go to the moon and this is a good one. There are some good learning points in this book and it’s easy to see how it could fire up the imaginations of those who would enter and make the space race a reality. As mentioned before, I’m sure this book was a contributing factor for those planners, ground crew, mission control and astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs. Skylab, that followed to the I.S.S. (International Space Station) as well as our deep space probes and Mars missions. Anyway, the book does have a surprise near the end which I thought was pretty good, but you’ll have to read it to find out what it is.
The fourth and last book for today is an old favorite, King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard and first published in 1885. Our hero Allan Quatermain leads a group of men deep into the interior of Africa in search of a lost friend and through many dangers find the ancient diamond mines of the legendary King Solomon. Haggard was said to be inspired by Stevenson’s Treasure Island when he wrote this adventure packed story and it is easy to see why. I read this when I was in high school and I always liked it, your imagination can drift easily with this work. So if you want to get away for the weekend but not leave home then I recommend this little gem!
As far as movies made about King Solomon’s Mines, there are several. My favorite would have to be the 1950 version with Stewart Granger and the 2004 version with Patrick Swayze. The 1985 version with Richard Chamberlain is a fun movie but in my opinion, the first two are more serious and much better.
Well, that’s all for today. Have a great day and a good weekend. Things are not usually as bad as we sometimes believe they are. If you are having a difficult day, take a step back from the problem, breathe and look at it again. Seeing a problem at a different angle might change your perception. I’ll be back next time with another book/movie review.