Search found 86 matches

by Cibator
Sun 22 Jul, 2018 23:15:19
Forum: General Topics
Topic: The Old Man Said - the find of the century!!!
Replies: 3
Views: 1776

Re: The Old Man Said - the find of the century!!!

Wonderful news! Does this mean there'll have to be a revised edition of The Devil Is A Gentleman? :smt077
by Cibator
Tue 10 Apr, 2018 04:44:26
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Churchill - Darkest Hour
Replies: 4
Views: 2542

Re: Churchill - Darkest Hour

Have a look here here (about 4-5 posts down) for an account of how Jim and I saw Gary O in something like his natural state back in the early 80s.
by Cibator
Mon 8 Jan, 2018 10:13:11
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Birthday Greetings
Replies: 6
Views: 1702

Birthday Greetings

Here's wishing our favourite author a happy and memorable 121st birthday! And while I'm here: the site seems to have been very quiet this past twelve months or so. Few reviews if any, and most posts apparently concerned with the Convention. Is everyone too busy these days to comment on the books, or...
by Cibator
Mon 22 May, 2017 10:01:44
Forum: General Topics
Topic: A new 'Modern Musketeers' book. 'Blasphemy' ???
Replies: 2
Views: 1654

Very interesting! Wonder what the themes that DW wouldn't have tackled might be? That cover is reminiscent of the one on my omnibus edition of M R James ghost stories - the path leading through a sinister-looking forest to .... what?? (And: I don't like to sound too picky, but the incorrect spelling...
by Cibator
Sat 4 Mar, 2017 21:49:32
Forum: They Found Atlantis
Topic: They Found Atlantis
Replies: 17
Views: 22681

Thanks, Charles. Sounds like it never was correct, then! (Although I've a nagging memory of seeing what would have been the proper version somewhere, many years ago.) The overall sense is clear enough of course, but it would have been nice to know how Menes made the jump from mining duties to the in...
by Cibator
Fri 3 Mar, 2017 20:54:49
Forum: They Found Atlantis
Topic: They Found Atlantis
Replies: 17
Views: 22681

I've just been re-reading this book in the Heron edition, and there seems to be an error in the text. On p268, Menes is explaining about the much-disliked obligation to work in the mines: "You can well imagine how loathed and dreaded this twice yearly period of duty in the mines became to our people...
by Cibator
Sun 26 Jun, 2016 06:47:22
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: The EU Referendum
Replies: 12
Views: 7452

I get the allusion, Darren. As for Yorkshire independence, I reckon a vote on that would be another Close result, although The Broad Acres should be able to Cope whatever the outcome. (But aren't all these jokes geting a bit Old?) :-D
by Cibator
Sun 26 Jun, 2016 06:41:15
Forum: General Topics
Topic: The Mean Caesar - 2 unpublished short stories
Replies: 5
Views: 4371

I don't like to sound a negative note in among all this rejoicing, but I've just noticed .... haven't Bloomsbury spelt DW's middle name incorrectly?
by Cibator
Thu 23 Jun, 2016 06:53:42
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: The EU Referendum
Replies: 12
Views: 7452

The EU Referendum

Well ladies and gentlemen: today is a crucial one for the future of the United Kingdom. Please give this matter your most careful consideration, and be sure to vote. Your opinion does count! I think I know which way our favourite author would have jumped, but who knows what the right choice will tur...
by Cibator
Fri 17 Jun, 2016 11:44:01
Forum: Bill For The Use Of A Body
Topic: Bill for the use of a body
Replies: 9
Views: 15424

Hi Steve

No, I wasn't aware of that book, or the inscription (I'd have cited it otherwise). Rather gratifying to find one's speculations confirmed like that!
by Cibator
Tue 14 Jun, 2016 10:20:07
Forum: Bill For The Use Of A Body
Topic: Bill for the use of a body
Replies: 9
Views: 15424

Hi folks

Quite some time ago, I said I was going to produce some comments on the above book. It hasn’t happened so far because I was waiting till I’d seen what there was about it in The Devil Is A Gentleman. Since I still (!) haven’t read TDIAG, I’ll just have to go ahead regardless, now that Steve P has done his own piece. If my ideas prove to be well wide of the mark, then so be it.

The remarks that follow are in no particular order of significance. They’ve been set down as they’ve occurred to me. Page numbers refer to the Heron edition.

By DW’s standards, it’s a pretty short novel at only 214 pages and, by my estimate, well short of 80,000 words, making it about half his usual length. It was published in 1964, the same year as They Used Dark Forces. It’s pretty obvious that most of DW’s energies at the time were being absorbed by this Gregory Sallust epic.

My own theory is that DW was more or less obliged to produce BFTUOAB to offset the cost of his Far-East trip - he could claim some of the latter back off his tax bill, on the grounds of “expenses involved in carrying out researchâ€￾ or some such. But his heart clearly wasn’t in it, and the result was a pretty ordinary (to me, anyway) piece of derring-do with few twists and turns. Very much what publishers and critics term a “pot-boilerâ€￾.

DW clearly doesn’t like several aspects of Japan, the Japanese and their culture, although he does try to balance the ledger a bit here and there, e.g. with his/Julian’s musings on the differences between the eastern and western mentalities (pp155-56), and the little intermezzo with the Rimbauds (pp170-72).

If first-person narration had been used, the only point of view would have been Julian Day’s, so we could have learned nothing of Mr Hayashi’s plottings and motivations until the wash-up afterwards. Unless, that is, there was some kind of framing device, wherein JD’s narrative was interspersed with comments or conversation from an interlocutor. Otherwise the use of third-person and an “omniscient narratorâ€￾ was the only possibility. (I've also begun to wonder if the book was originally meant to include Julian Day at all, being instead an "out-of-series" one-off about one woman's vendetta against her former Japanese tormentors ... )

A matter of style: has anyone else noticed DW’s curious occasional habit of using Capital Letters for certain words and phrases? On p3 Mr Hayashi is noted as having been tried as a “War Criminalâ€￾ (sic), and Hong Kong is referred to throughout as “the Colonyâ€￾. Examples abound in DW’s other works – I remember a reference to major “Sea Lanesâ€￾ in The Man Who Missed The War, and there are doubtless many others that the rest of you can cite.

I wonder how many of DW’s remarks about shanty-towns on the outskirts of major Japanese cities are still true? Surely at the time of his trip there (1962/63), Tokyo at least would haver been undergoing a big facelift in preparation for the 1964 Olympics?

As offspring of an Asian father and a blonde occidental, could Merri Sang have inherited grey eyes at all? Over to to you, geneticists!

Even at the time DW would have been polishing up his final draft, the Twist (p60) was as dead as mutton (in the US and UK, anyhow). This attempt at making his characters seem “with itâ€￾ is thus rather ludicrous. But I suppose dance fashions took a bit longer to penetrate to the Orient in those days.

On p166, the tiresome and over-jocular tour-guide is recycled from the Quest.

Julian’s appearance at the Nest of the Phoenix, fresh from his scrap with Hayashi’s minions, would surely have been met with far more curiosity, if not outright hostility from the management, than is described here. Would he have been admitted at all – still wearing his socks over his shoes, for one thing! - let alone allowed to reach a private room some way from the entrance (even if he had been invited to the party)? I don’t find this very convincing.

Also unconvincing to me is the demise of Azrael Mazinsky, the Polish Jew member of the “Unholy Sevenâ€￾. Surely a shrewdhead like he was supposed to have been would have seen the writing on the wall (literally, if it contained the word “Judenâ€￾) and got himself and plenty of loot out of Poland long before any trouble could strike him?

The reason for the “Julian Day projectâ€￾ not being carried through to completion is surely the intervention of WW2, which changed for ever the whole political and social structure of the world. As hinted in BFTUOAB, it soon became far harder to tote a pistol round the globe (or even a sword-stick), and the tabs kept on one by airlines, shipping companies, customs & immigration, etc, meant it was far harder to cover one’s tracks. And the old free-and-easy “understandingsâ€￾ (like the one between Julian and the Cairo police chief Essex Pasha) also rapidly became a thing of the past.

The title! Seen on its own, without reading the book, definitely puzzling. Not so obvious either even after reading it. But I’ve concluded that the body is a live one, not dead; that it was Tilly Sangs’s, and that the “billâ€￾ was the working-out of her vengeance on the ones who abused her so barbarously. And I say: good on her!
by Cibator
Fri 13 Nov, 2015 00:50:12
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Terrific value for money, but ...
Replies: 3
Views: 5713

Darren wrote:And how was the collation, Charles? Was it up to scratch? Does it compare well to The Sword of Fate? :-k
Hope it was as rich and satisfying as the cold one abandoned in Simon's house by Mocata's coven on realising their host had been abducted! (Heron edition, p34) :-D
by Cibator
Fri 13 Nov, 2015 00:42:09
Forum: General Topics
Topic: An improving book!
Replies: 10
Views: 8909

There seem to several ideas as to the origins of that phrase. One I've not seen mentioned is that a dog's testicles are often quite prominent (or "outstanding", in one of the less common senses of that word). Possible confirmation of this comes from an interview with cartoonist Bill Tidy I remember ...
by Cibator
Tue 29 Sep, 2015 22:07:39
Forum: Faked Passports
Topic: Faked passports
Replies: 15
Views: 24746

This reader decided a long time ago, on grounds similar to those of M. Pascal, to back DW's own preferred horses of karma and reincarnation. I"ve conducted myself with those considerations in mind ever since. But one nagging question I've never been able to shake off. Why, at this particular point i...
by Cibator
Tue 29 Sep, 2015 21:53:53
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: Frederick Frosyth and the Occult
Replies: 2
Views: 3506

Frederick Frosyth and the Occult

An unlikely bracketing, as I'm sure most of you would agree who have read Mr Forsyth's novels, set as they are in a very material world indeed. But on pages 112-13 of his recently published memoir The Outsider , he recounts an episode that has curious parallels to DW's encounter with the clairvoyant...

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