Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Science Fiction and Fantasy News!



First off, some of you know that I'm a great fan of the (still unreleased in the US, darn it!) Russian movie Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch). Another American fan has set up a really nice new discussion site, Into the Gloom. One clever feature is that the site is divided into two boards: Warriors of Light for those of us who've seen the flick, and Warriors of Darkness for those who are still patiently waiting until they can see it on the big screen.

The big news here is that the sequel, Dnevnoi Dozor (Day Watch) is coming out this January. Finally!! Also, amazon.ca finally has a page to preorder an official English translation of the novel on which Night Watch is based -- in fact, it claims to be a hardcover of the whole trilogy. Their release date is August 8, 2006. Nothing on amazon.com yet.

I look forward with interest to seeing how it differs from my unofficial translation.

Also, for those of us who enjoy David Drake's Royal Cinnabar Navy series (better known as the Roman/Napoleonic space adventures of Daniel and Adele)... the next book will be coming out sometime in 2006. Some Golden Harbor has a truly beautiful Steve Hickman cover that finally captures my mental picture of Adele. Scroll down a bit to see it.

(I really think Daniel's looking way too craggy and buff. Yes, I know there's such a thing as marketing. But though the guy's dashing and physical, he's also round-faced and slightly pudgy, a bit like unto a cross between NCIS' Agent McGee and Captain Kirk, and instead they make him look like unto Steven Seagal.

Daniel is a perpetual optimist, and this time it's Adele, of the perpetual dry remarks, who looks cheerful. A sign of character development, or marketing again? Also, is it me, or is it hard to make someone who's not wearing a dashing naval uniform, look like a dashing young officer? Still, a good cover.)

The title of this fifth RCN book comes from Tennyson's "Prefatory Sonnet: To the Nineteenth Century":



Those that of late had fleeted far and fast
To touch all shores, now leaving to the skill
Of others their old craft seaworthy still,
Have charter’d this; where, mindful of the past,
Our true co-mates regather round the mast;
Of diverse tongue, but with a common will
Here, in this roaring moon of daffodil
And crocus, to put forth and brave the blast;
For some, descending from the sacred peak
Of hoar high-templed Faith, have leagued again
Their lot with ours to rove the world about;
And some are wilder comrades, sworn to seek
If any golden harbour be for men
In seas of Death and sunless gulfs of Doubt.


Previous books have also taken their names from poetry. With the Lightnings and its opening quote was from Kipling's "Chant-Pagan". (Opening quote is bolded.)



"Me that ’ave followed my trade
In the place where the Lightnin’s are made
,
’Twixt the Rains and the Sun and the Moon—
Me that lay down an’ got up
Three years with the sky for my roof—
That ’ave ridden my ’unger an’ thirst
Six thousand raw mile on the hoof,
With the Vaal and the Orange for cup,
An’ the Brandwater Basin for dish,—
Oh! it’s ’ard to be’ave as they wish
(Too ’ard, an’ a little too soon),
I’ll ’ave to think over it first— Me!"


Lt. Leary, Commanding began with some lines from another Kipling poem, "The Galley Slave":



"She will need no half-mast signal, minute-gun, or rocketflare,
When the cry for help goes seaward, she will find her servants there.
Battered chain-gangs of the orlop, grizzled drafts of years gone by,
To the bench that broke their manhood, they shall lash themselves and die.

Bale and crippled, young and aged, paid, deserted, shipped away—
Palace, cot, and lazaretto shall make up the tale that day,
When the skies are black above them, and the decks ablaze beneath,
And the top-men clear the raffle with their clasp-knives in their teeth.


It may be that Fate will give me life and leave to row once more—
Set some strong man free for fighting as I take awhile his oar.
But to-day I leave the galley. Shall I curse her service then?
God be thanked! Whate’er comes after, I have lived and toiled with Men!


The problem with Kipling is that Kipling often tells true things about emotions in situations that don't make a lot of sense, if taken totally literally. He's not talking about galley slaves. He's talking about people being stuck together in cruddy situations, and gaining a certain love and nostalgia even for the bad times. He's talking about being shipmates.

The Far Side of the Stars doesn't have a little poetic motto. I think it owes its title more to The Far Side of the World, since as we know, Daniel and Adele owe a great deal to the pseudonymous Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.

But the fourth book, The Way to Glory, has a very nice poetic motto indeed, from Tennyson's "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington". Here's yet another excerpt:



He, on whom from both her open hands
Lavish Honor shower’d all her stars,
And affluent Fortune emptied all her horn.
Yea, let all good things await
Him who cares not to be great
But as he saves or serves the state.
Not once or twice in our rough island-story
The path of duty was the way to glory.

He that walks it, only thirsting
For the right, and learns to deaden
Love of self, before his journey closes,
He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting
Into glossy purples, which outredden
All voluptuous garden-roses.
Not once or twice in our fair island-story
The path of duty was the way to glory.
He, that ever following her commands,
On with toil of heart and knees and hands,
Thro’ the long gorge to the far light has won
His path upward, and prevail’d,
Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scaled
Are close upon the shining table-lands
To which our God Himself is moon and sun.
Such was he: his work is done.
But while the races of mankind endure
Let his great example stand
Colossal, seen of every land,
And keep the soldier firm, the statesman pure;
Till in all lands and thro’ all human story
The path of duty be the way to glory.


Nice, huh?

You can download With the Lightnings and Lt. Leary, Commanding for free from Baen Books' Free Library. The idea is that you'll like the series so much, you'll want to read more.

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