Know No Fear

That’s the title of the latest Warhammer 40K book I’ve read. To be specific, it is the latest in the Horus Heresy series. I’ve read other Warhammer 40K books, but the Heresy is the line that interests me the most. The concept of fallen gods, betrayal, inner conflict and the downfall of an empire – that’s my kind of thing.

But a special mention for this book. Dan Abnett is a very good writer for one. But this was written unlike the others. It had a plethora of characters, spread around the setting, with various POVs strewn along with a countdown to the main event. It was told in a past tense early on too. Foreboding.

As the story is about a sudden and treacherous assault by the Word Bearers, this formula made a lot of sense.

But it reminded me a lot of the movie Tora Tora. This portrayed the attack on Pearl Harbour with multiple POVs.

I don’t know if it was a deliberate imitation or maybe just a nod and wink to that movie, but it certainly resounded with similarities. It worked very well. While the depth of betrayal is far deeper by the Word Bearers (being trusted brothers in arms) and the level of carnage is far worse (the planet’s surface is utterly ravaged), there is a strong parallel. Unexpected attack. Horror at the ruin. Anger created by both.

The method of telling the events is also a very effective one. Show the incident from all sides, with the reactions and actions of many to tell a full picture.

I wasn’t sure of it at first. The book that is. I tend to skim read 40K, wanting to find out how each tale affects the wider storyline. So an array of characters flew past me and I wasn’t sure whether it mattered or not. But when things got serious and these individuals had to gather together, it paid off. Not all left an imprint, yet it was enough. The ending wasn’t so great either, tailing off so as to lead into other stories, but I guess that had to be done. Still, a compelling story of betrayal, galactic war and corruption. Abnett’s writing, especially his descriptions of action and destruction on such titanic scales, is excellent.

This isn’t a review, although I would recommend the book to Warhammer or general scifi fans (the latter would have trouble understanding what’s at stake. I even read the First Heretic a bit to recapture the rivalry). I just wanted to give a nod to a book written a little different, written well, and how it reminded me of a movie that retold a real life version of the events in the book. If, to state again, on a lesser scale. Also, no demons.

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The anti-democratic nature of the Tories or ‘freedom’ by another name

A good warning to take heed of.

Guy Debord's Cat

The Conservative Party and their allies in the press and the various think-tanks are anti-democratic. Since the 1980s, the Tories have embarked on measures designed to destroy democratic institutions that do not fit into their notion of democracy. These people believe that freedom can only be obtained through them.

Here are some notable examples:

  1. The abolition of the metropolitan counties in the 1980’s. These democratically elected councils were abolished simply because they had the temerity to stand up to Thatcher’s anti-democratic policies which were designed to destroy local services. The metropolitan councils formed the single biggest opposition to Thatcher. When they were abolished, the people living in the metropolitan counties had no local voice or government.
  2. Draconian anti-union laws enacted by Thatcher are about to be strengthened by the current government. Trade unions are democratic bodies that act in the interest of their members. Leaders are democratically elected by their membership. The recent lies…

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Tory council charges £7.50 a sandbag and MP refuses to meet flood-hit residents

Disgusting behaviour. Just disgusting.

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

Flood-hit residents in Christchurch Dorset have been told by their Tory-run Council that they have to buy sandbags at £30 for a pack of four.

They have twice written to their MP – Conservative Christopher Chope – to request a meeting to explain their frustrations, but he has ignored them.

Here’s the story reproduced in full from the Bournemouth Echo:

Angry residents blast council
ANGRY residents in a flood-hit flat block have blasted a “total lack of support” from Christchurch council and their MP, writes Melanie Vass.

Residents in Conifer Close – some of whom were evacuated on Christmas Day – say they are the “forgotten corner” of Christchurch and living in fear of further flooding.

While PM David Cameron promises that “money is no object” when it comes to helping flood victims, Conifer Close residents have had to buy their own sandbags…

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Valentine’s (ergh)

Never been such a fan of the whole ‘hey, I’ll give you something nice because the calendar told me to and I’ll feel bad otherwise’ day. However, I feel obliged to promote the promotion Daverana has going on, so here I be promoting it.

http://www.daverana.com/blog/2014-02-07/valentines-day

In the run up to the day itself, these two books will be highlighted. Careful, one of them is erotica. Oooh la la! (Pssst! It is the Devil’s Kitten, if you’re wondering, you naughty thing, you).

Have fun checking them out. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about cards with big pink hearts or flowers you bought from a garage on the day. You could always surprise someone with a book.
After all, every brilliant, intelligent and wonderful person loves to read. At least that’s what you should tell your loved one when you reveal their present. 😉

Detective Story (1951)

So I’d never heard of this movie until I came across it flicking through the channels. I saw it, saw it had Kirk Douglas in, had an interesting story, so felt like watching it. After all, I thought, if it doesn’t grab me I can just watch something else.

What I found was a fantastic film noir, with some really memorable characters and a storyline that remains focused on the police precinct and those there during one day – both cops and criminals. I’m surprised I haven’t heard or read about this one before. Especially in connection with Douglas. He’s great in it, but then he’s a mesmeric actor in any film I see him in. It also stood out for me because his main rival is played by George Macready, who he has stood against before in the classic Paths of Glory and who he argued with in Seven Days in May. It made me wonder about the two of them. Apparently these are the only movies they worked in together. They are superb sparring partners.

So this film had some notable aspects to it when I looked it up. They weren’t allowed to mention the word abortion, even though that’s clearly what they mean, and this was a first for having a cop be shot and killed. It was also interesting to see a black patrolman who seems part of the team, never has any racial issues to deal with, is just there and getting on with it. For a movie in 1951, it was surprising to see. Subtle.

Even without this, it is a damn good movie. At first it moves along at a nice pace with people coming and going. We meet a young female shoplifter who often provides humour. A young man who has robbed his boss and feels ashamed. A couple of burglars who are proven criminals – one who denies and lies right up to the point that they discover he has a rap sheet a mile long, then laughs it off. Oh, just found that this actor later played Doctor No himself. He was very good too.

But the plot builds to becoming more personal and focused on Douglas’s character, McLeod. He has been after an abortionist for some time, thinks he has him, but things go wrong. There are accusations of it being a personal vendetta. It is toward the end that you find out why this is and who is involved. It pushes him to breaking point.

What makes this film so engaging is that McLeod sees things in black and white. He hates criminals, calls them evil, even says they have their own smell. To him, there are no blurred lines, no simple mistakes of judgement. Criminals are bad and they should be punished. When others urge him to let the young man off, he doesn’t just refuse, he practically bullies the robbed boss to press charges. He declares the fight against crime a war, that the police are the people’s army fighting it and he has to protect them, even from themselves.

He’s a good cop, no question of that, and his boss even makes it clear he isn’t on the take. But bit by bit others challenge him, point out the lack of forgiveness that is hurting him and others. The fact he sees his own criminal father in the faces of his prisoners makes it more personal, gives him more of a drive. He’s a fanatic, if for a good cause.

The question of criminality isn’t simply examined via one character. The culpability of the culprits is tested as we see the various sorts brought in – there is a world of difference between the career criminals and the young thieves. Arguably, the worst two are the abortionist and his lawyer, seedy characters both. The burglars tease the young man who stole by saying he’ll end up just like them, which is McLeod’s view. Others believe differently. The way events unfold are told in a matter of fact way for the most part too, with lots of paperwork going on, phonecalls and fingerprints, quiet conversations interspersed with heated exchanges. This is not portrayed as good versus evil. It is officers grinding through another day, dealing with idiots, thugs and each other.

So when McLeod crosses a line, then later things get worse for him, you see this blurring of the lines go even further. While a good man, you could imagine he would go far to get his man. He threatens the abortionist outright, warning him to get out of New York or he’ll put a bullet in the back of his head. If criminals are evil, then McLeod has his own demon. But when he realises this, he thinks of his father, thinks of him laughing at him but then wonders if he was crying. Could his father help himself from being what he was? So he finally questions his own black/white views. He finally empathises, to an extent.

I won’t spoil the ending. I will say it works and, while melodramatic, felt a fitting way for things to be wrapped up. You see how troubled McLeod was while having confirmation of him being a good, righteous cop at heart. There are consequences for actions, which I’m always a fan of. The plot is interesting once it really gets into McLeod’s past, with Douglas performing brilliantly but ably supported by all around him. It was a really thought provoking, emotional story. Very much a film of its time – little action, no swearing, sometimes tiptoeing about subjects we speak freely about now. But it was compelling viewing and, again, I’m surprised I haven’t come across this one before. Glad I finally did.