Feb 292012
 


Author:
Stephen King

Pages: 447

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: January 1977

Genre: Horror

Characters: 

Danny Torrance- 5 year old boy with psychic powers

Jack Torrance- Danny’s dad, a writer and recovering alcholic.

Wendy Torrance- Danny’s mom, she is somewhat clueless.

Dick Hallorann- Head Cook of Overlook Hotel, also has psychic powers.

Overlook Hotel- Very Haunted hotel.  Many people died here and each new death makes it stronger.

Lloyd- Ghost Bartender

Grady-Former caretaker, killed family and then self.

Synopsis: Struggling writer Jack Torrance takes a caretaker job at a historical hotel, the Overlook, in  Colorado mountains over the winter.  He brings his wife, Wendy, and 5 year old son, Danny.  His son is a very powerful psychic, and in the novel his power is called the shine, or the shining.  Most people don’t notice anything strange about the Overlook hotel, but Danny’s power wakes up something evil and and the family must fight for its life.

Pro: I think that most people are familiar with the classic Stanley Kubrick film based on the book.  In fact, I watched the movie long before I read the book.   They are two very different animals and enjoyable for different reasons.

  • Jack Nicholson as Jack in the film is at a 8 out of 10 level of crazy. In the book, Jack slowly goes crazy but never loses his marbles like Nicholson does.
  • In the book Wendy is not as whiny and freaked out all the time.
  • Even though Scatman  Crothers was good as Dick Hallorann, the character has more depth in the book and he has a more active role.
  • The hag scene is twice as scary in the book.
  • The  topiary animals and the playground are very freaky.
  • The climax is very vivid and would be perfect for a true to story remake with modern special effects and a big budget.

Con: Stephen King’s early writing style is better than the stuff he cranks out these days.  I think it was possibly all of the drugs and not having all of the practice at doing the same thing over and over again.  One thing that bugs me from this era is the the language is often too cute when dealing with kids.  For instance, between Jack and Wendy there are too many references to Danny as Doc.

Conclusion: This is one of Kings early novels, and he was at the top of his game.  Some have called him a hack but the language  is very tight and the imagery is vivid and there a quite a few scares to be had here!

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Plot 3
Imagery 4
Read Again? 4
Average 3.75
Feb 282012
 

Director: P.J. Hogan

Rating: PG

Running Time: 1hr 52 min

Release Date: 12/25/2003

Genre: Fantasy, Literary

Cast: Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumptor), Wendy Darling  (Rachel Hurd-Wood), Captain Hook/Mr Darling (Jason Isaacs), Smee (Richard Briers), Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier), Pirate Cookson (Bruce Spence)

Synopsis: P.J. Hogan directed this underated adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s novel/play Peter Pan. It is the well known story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.  Peter convinces Wendy and her brothers to fly to Never Land where they encounter Peter’s band of lost boys.  They also fight Captain James Hook and his goofy band of pirates and are helped by fairies, Indians and mermaids.

Pro: It was nice to see a version of Peter Pan without big names and big budgets.  Some of the interesting changes and twists;

  • Traveling to Never Land appeared to take place though space as opposed to traveling on earth.
  • Jeremy Sumpter is great as Peter, and performed some very exciting sword fights.
  • Great imagining of Never Land scenery.
  • I liked the focus on the devilish almost evil nature of Tinkerbell

Con: Some of the special effects did not hold up over the few years since the movie was first out.  Even though Jeremy Sumpter was a good Peter, it was a bit weird seeing Peter played by a boy since traditionally Peter is played by a girl.

Conclusion:  This is a great retelling of the Peter Pan story, and I recommend it to anyone.  I’ve heard that part of the reason for it not being more popular is that it was buried by Lord of The Rings: Return of the King which was out at the same time.

Trivia: Bruce Spence, the Gyro Captain from The Road Warrior  plays on of Hook’s  pirates.  Also, Captain Hook is played by Jason Isaacs who played Draco Malfoy’s father, Lucius in the Harry Potter series.

 

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Story 3
Special Effects 3
Would Watch Again? 2
Average 3
Feb 272012
 


Author:
Frederik Pohl

Pages: 347

Publisher: TOR

Release Date: 2011

Genre: Science Fiction

Characters:

Brad Sheridan- Indentured worker at various places including Pompeii.  Family from Kansas, but displaced after Yellowstone Volcano eruption in 2062.

Professor and Piranha Woman-Two anti-terrorism agents at Pompeii

Maury- Water engineer and friend of Brad’s.

Gerda- Volunteer and romantically involved with Brad

The Bastard- Brad’s boss at Pompeii.  He earned his name very well.

Synopsis:  Brad Sheridan’s family fortunes changed dramatically in the 2062 explosion of the Yellowstone Volcano as well as the United State’s economy being buried under a food of ash.  For a time the world is thrown into chaos  but many places start to recover by the 2000th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and the burying of Pompeii in 2079.

Brad switches through a series of jobs that take him from selling counterfeit scrolls in Egypt to doing laundry in the newly renovated Pompei.  The people putting on the anniversary celebration have spared no expense to attract the richest people from around the world.  Parts of Pompeii have been rebuilt, but others have had holographic facelifts including animated Roman citizens.   Other characters are played by human workers and volunteers, including Brad  who sells wine to tourists.

As Brad is seduced by and eventually falls in love with one of the volunteers, an older lady named Gerda, the celebration is put in jeopardy by terrorist attacks.  Hoping that the horror of their attacks is multiplied by the world’s attention of the event.  Despite wanting to keep his nose clean and not make waves, Brad becomes a terrorism suspect.  and must struggle to clear his name and uncover the truth before the celebration is ruined and many people die.

Pro: Frederik Pohl is a legendary and award winning Science Fiction writer and is best known for his excellent Heechee Saga that begins with the 1977 novel Gateway.   All the Lives he Led is not on the grand scale of some of his other novels, but is more mellow and polished.  This is to be expected, because he was 92 when this was published.   I think that this book has some very strong aspects though;

  • Very believable and possible dystopia with terrorists attacks, extreme wealth, and poverty and debt.
  • The technology isn’t far fetched and things like the holograms are already becoming a reality today.
  • Brad reminds me of a the earthbound Robinette Broadhead in the Heechee series.
  • Some of the interrogations actually made me sweat.
  • Interesting view of gender issues.

Con: Even thought there was much to recommend the novel I had a few issues with it;

  • The love story doesn’t add up 100% because it seems a bit rushed, but that might be explained by youth and hopefulness.
  • All of the bad guys seem to be living alternative lifestyles and nobody else seems to.  This doesn’t seem to be a comment on those lifestyles, but is just a thing.

Conclusion: I  enjoyed this novel.  It is great to see that Pohl has developed into an even more nuanced writer in his later years and  I hope that he will continue writing for some time.  Maybe some of the technology he has written about will come to be and help prolong his writing years!

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Plot 3
Imagery 4
Read Again? 4
Average 3.75