I saw this movie years ago when it was a made-for-TV A&E movie with Sir Michael Gambon in the starring role as poor, put-upon, obsessed watchm...moreWOW!
I saw this movie years ago when it was a made-for-TV A&E movie with Sir Michael Gambon in the starring role as poor, put-upon, obsessed watchmaker John Harrison. But it was in Astronomy class last month when the professor mentioned the book again to our students that I immediately pulled out my tablet and purchased it on Kindle.
The read was surprisingly quick. The author had enough foresight not to bog the average reader down with too much high science-speak and technical talk, but yet enough was given so that we could actually follow the story in all its turmoil.
Before this book was published, I'd studied science all my life (and am continuing to do so now back in University), but I never realised just how big a navigational problem finding a ship's Longitude proved to be for so many unfortunate and just plain unlucky sailors. Latitude could be found using the sun's angle at high-noon, but Longitude proved to be more difficult and nearly impossible. As the Earth rotates at a regular rate, the time difference between the chronometer and the ship's local time can be used to calculate the longitude of the ship relative to the Greenwich Meridian (defined as 0°) using spherical trigonometry. Since the Earth revolves 360° in 24 hours, or 15° per hour, the time difference in hours multiplied by 15 is the ship's longitude in degrees.
So, in London, the King assembled a group of men known as the "Board of Longitude," and offered a twenty-thousand pound prize to the person who could come up with the solution of the Longitude problem first. This opened the door to some of the most frightening, illogical and hair-brained schemes ever conceived by seemingly rational men.
One of the most atrocious was called the powder of sympathy; a form of white witchcraft. Wikipedia explains it more succinctly than I:
"The powder [being copper sulfate] was also applied to solve the longitude problem in the suggestion of an anonymous pamphlet of 1687 entitled "Curious Enquiries." The pamphlet theorised that a wounded dog could be put aboard a ship, with the animal's discarded bandage left in the trust of a timekeeper on shore, who would then dip the bandage into the powder at a predetermined time and cause the creature to yelp, thus giving the captain of the ship an accurate knowledge of the time. There are no records of the effectiveness of this procedure. It is also uncertain if it had ever been tried, and it is possible that the pamphlet was a form of satire."
Apparently, the notorious problem was that timekeepers on ships simply didn't keep accurate time. Moisture and ambient temperature were the main plagues of the day, and apart from the ridiculous sympathy cure, some of the Astronomer Royals were convinced that the way to the Longitude prize was through the navigation of the moon, and in fact, some of those methods lasted up until the late 1950s, but they were always used in tandem with the chronometers (a term coined by Harrison's protegé, Jeremy Thacker, to now mean a watch that has been tested to stringent and high standards and proven worthy).
But a lone watchmaker named John Harrison was convinced otherwise, and approached the board with his idea. They agreed to forward him the sum of five-hundred pounds as an advance on what is now known as H-1--the first sea clock Harrison ever made. It weighed close to 87-pounds, but kept spectacular time. The Longitude Act specified that the method that would finally win the prize must be accurate to finding Longitude to 1/2 of a degree. Harrison's clocks proved, on several outings, to be well within those margins of error, and thus prompted the Longitude Board to hand him over 1/2 of the prize, with the conditions that he then turn over every clock in his possession to them, along with the drawings and explanations for how they worked, including making extra copies of H-4 in case "the first one was a fluke". This didn't make Harrison happy, but it was all his life was about at this point, and knew he needed to comply if he wanted to earn the rest of the prize money.
Over the next fifty years (yes, fifty!), Harrison produced three other sea clocks, but the one that finally convinced him his work was finished was the H-4 after a five-month sea trial in 1761. It weighed a sleight 1.45-kilograms and is the size of a pocket watch, at 13-centimeters. Carried across the Atlantic from England to Jamaica and back, Harrison's clock was found to be five seconds slow, corresponding to an error of only 1.25 minutes of longitude.
The sad thing is, Malskelyn, the Astronomer Royal at the time, somehow ended up in charge of overseeing Harrison's time trails at sea, which was a huge conflict of interest, because he was Harrison's biggest competitor with his lunar distance method, and his moon tables and positions of the stars. And he would make sure Harrison's clock was set back at every single turn, once even going so far as to fudge data that made the clock look foolish, and all because he was too flustered and stupid to know how to work the mechanism properly.
In the end, Harrison never officially won the Longitude Act's Longitude prize for his invention, because the board at this point, kept revising and augmenting the Longitude Act with ridiculous stipulations that Harrison, now an old man of 80+ years, could never accomplish. (The board was also officially disband at some point not long after this.) So Harrison petitioned the King directly. H-5, his last sea clock/chronometer, was put on trial by the King himself in 1772, and performed superbly. The Board of Longitude, however, refused to recognise the results of this trial, so John and his son petitioned Parliament. They were finally awarded £8750 by Act of Parliament in June 1773. Perhaps more importantly, John Harrison was finally recognised as having solved the longitude problem.
This man is one of history's unsung heroes, and today the restored H-1, H-2,H-3 and H-4 can be seen on display in the National Maritime Museum at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. H-1, 2 and 3 are still running; but when people come upon the breathtaking H-4, they stop dead in their tracks: it doesn't run. It is kept in a stopped state because, unlike the first three, it requires oil for lubrication and will degrade as it runs. H-5 is owned by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers of London and is on display at the Clockmakers' Museum in the Guildhall, London, as part of the Company's collection.
This again, was another poorly-written work by Jenkins. I will not fault Tim LaHaye for the mistakes of the one who is supposed to be the best-selling...moreThis again, was another poorly-written work by Jenkins. I will not fault Tim LaHaye for the mistakes of the one who is supposed to be the best-selling NYT author. He should know better.
Nearly all throughout, the events that the Tribulation Force endure are thinly-contrived; merely tossed in so as to give them something to do. Jenkins takes too many liberties with plausibility, and almost seems to forget that his readers are not morons. I got highly irritated with his way of "preaching" to the reader. Yes, it's a Christian book. Yes, it's a series about what will happen if you are not saved and ready to meet Christ and yes I expected to see a lot of scripture. But for cheeze's sake, he would take three and four pages to deliver long, winding diatribes from the characters in an effort to rehash scripture that another character had taken four pages to describe in detail. ENOUGH, ALREADY! Why not consider, Jenkins, that part of the appeal of your series is your topic: it might also appeal to those who are already saved and just want to see the good guy finally win in the end! Why not consider shortening the series if you're so desperate for material that you feel the need to fill each book with over-description and preaching, redundancies, and plot events so contrived as to make The DaVinci Code actually believable.
From the title of this book, along with early installments in the series, I assumed that the entire book would concentrate on the actual desecration o...moreFrom the title of this book, along with early installments in the series, I assumed that the entire book would concentrate on the actual desecration of the Jewish temple as foretold in the book of Revelation.
However, imagine my non-surprise at the way Jenkins handled that. He had one small scene in the entire book devoted to Antichrist riding a pig into the temple, splashing a little pig blood on the temple and then becoming bored with his own shenanigans and moving on to something else.
Any good author knows the way to keep a reader reading is by constantly increasing the conflict; keeping the reader wanting more, wanting to know if his hero will beat the odds and make it to his finish line. There was no build-up to this scene anywhere in the book, no reasons, other than his own mirth for why Antichrist would want to do this, and it simply fell completely flat.
By the end of this book, I felt sorry for Tim LaHaye. It was sad that he didn't hook up with a better author who would've known how to do this original series idea the justice it deserved. When I found out Jenkins had previously been on the New York Times Bestseller list before coming to this series, I mourned the intelligence and the taste of the reading public; that anyone would put this author there is a sad commentary on the complete lack of taste and intelligence of most readers of Christian literature out there today.(less)
And the stupidity continues in this next installation. The entire book is pretty much members of the Tribulation Force finding ridiculous reasons to t...moreAnd the stupidity continues in this next installation. The entire book is pretty much members of the Tribulation Force finding ridiculous reasons to travel to Israel where the action with Antichrist is constantly taking place, AGAINST their better judgement and advice from friends they "say" they respect and admire.
No reader can be that completely stupid.
If I hadn't wanted to know the continuity so much, I would've stopped reading by this time, seeing as how Jenkins's atrocious grammar and very poor editing skills have not improved.(less)
By now, not only were the editorial mistakes but the grammar mistakes getting on my nerves, but the story seems to simply fall apart in this installme...moreBy now, not only were the editorial mistakes but the grammar mistakes getting on my nerves, but the story seems to simply fall apart in this installment.
The plot for this one was that Nicolae dies and upon his resurrection, becomes "indwelt" by Satan himself. That, I have no problem with, because that's Scriptural.
But what I did have the problem with was the now-normal strained plot twists. As readers, we're expected to suspend a part of our disbelief, but Jenkins takes things too far and expects way too much of us as readers with his insidious reasons as to why things happen. I understand that due to logistics, one camp can't know what the other is doing or else they would die, but he is now obviously way in over his head, trying to incorporate technical jargon that strains that disbelief to its breaking point. Instead of leaving some of this to the imagination of the reader, which will keep us engaged, he makes stupid character statements such as, "But you have GOT to remain where you are. We need you in this position, since you must be available to change databases once a team member travels to another country."
Is he SERIOUS?? Change databases?? Apparently Jenkins assumes the rest of us are too stupid or complete ludites that we wouldn't have the foggiest clue what a database is, or that in this particular context, that statement is the dumbest thing that could've come from the man's fingertips.
It annoys me when ANY author, Christian or otherwise, assumes ignorance or stupidity on the part of the reader, and Jenkins is apparently of that camp. Suddenly, things that didn't bother me in the first four books are really ripping me a new one now, and I just want to jump through the book and throttle him.(less)
After I found out our University library had these books, I checked out about five of them at a time and went to it, once I finished summer class.
Up t...moreAfter I found out our University library had these books, I checked out about five of them at a time and went to it, once I finished summer class.
Up till this point, I was enraptured with the series. But somewhere in this book, I began to become annoyed not with the story, but with the author. Suddenly, the poor grammar began jumping out at me; the strained reasons why the Tribulation Force needed to travel so far from their safe house (would they REALLY have put their lives on the line for someone they just met?); the editing mistakes. After reading through Jerry Jenkins' biography, I was even more horrified to learn that this man was once an editor himself! Then shouldn't he have known to use a comma before the finial word, 'too'?
Some may think I'm being overly picky, but I've always been of the belief that Christians should be better than secular artists, seeing as how we have the Big Guy on our side. But the mistakes contained in this book are without excuse, and that's sad to me, since Tim LaHaye had a great, wholly original and unique idea for the fictionalising of the Rapture. Too bad Jenkins did him a disservice by being its author.(less)
I found this book many years ago from an excerpt on the author's web-site while doing a general Google search for historical fiction online. It was so...moreI found this book many years ago from an excerpt on the author's web-site while doing a general Google search for historical fiction online. It was so well-written, that I then had to rush out to the library and request it.
A week later, I was relishing the words of Cohen, loving everything about the book: her narrative historical voice, her attention to detail, and her keen story-telling skills.
And now, even years later, I still haven't been able to get the vivid story and its rich details out of my mind. If you love historical European fiction near the Victorian period as I do, then you will absolutely ADORE this book!(less)
Joe asked me last week to look over his new release, and when I agreed, I was given the full copy to peruse. He and I met years ago in an online writ...more
Joe asked me last week to look over his new release, and when I agreed, I was given the full copy to peruse. He and I met years ago in an online writing group, and I designed Joe's first web-site. With the horror genre not being my particular favourite in which to write (although I have two published short-stories in the genre), I wasn't sure what to expect. But knowing Joe's writing, I also knew I wouldn't be disappointed.
And I wasn't. The book certainly delivered on its promise to supply the reader with fresh meat, blood and lots of mangled bodies.
At first, I was taken aback by the inclusion of a Prologue. Editors generally cut these, as they hardly ever lend anything of interest to the story. But this one was done in a cleverly-deceptive way, so as to make you forget you were reading the prologue, and therefore I put my blistering fax away, without needing to give Joe a good piece of my mind (I need all of the pieces I can keep).
The book doesn't have the average chapter headings--it's merely written from various POVs from the different characters involved, and I found myself loving that device the longer I read.
The action starts almost immediately and is just relentless, so for a while, I caught myself thinking, 'How in hell are they going to sustain this momentum for another 300 pages?' And then I realised the story itself isn't that long. So in retrospect, it was just long enough to be satisfying.
I'm a professional stand-up comedienne, tv/stage comic actress and I've been published in the comedy genre, so it's VERY difficult to make me laugh. I think all comics are that way. But I must admit, I laughed out loud in SEVERAL places. And it wasn't cheap one-line humour that kept me laughing--it was comedy, sparking across the gap of the character's reality and their comic premise, which is where you mine for true comedy gold. When Randall corrected himself and said, "Motherhugger," in front of the kids, I just about coughed up a lung.
I was surprised, however, at the scenes with Stacie and Adam, awaiting the birth of their daughter. Sorry guys, but I'm always amazed when I see a man writing prose so tender it makes a woman cry, and I was sitting there with huge tears streaming down my face. I won't give away what happens, but let's just say, Joe, you done good, kid. And while they worked hard to make the writing seamless from everyone, I knew of two separate times when it was Joe's writing that I was reading. Maybe from spending all that time in our writing group.
The story's ending was perfect and ambiguous enough to make room for a sequel, which I think is planned. And it shocked me to learn that the total page length of the book, in .pdf form, was 411 pages, yet the story itself was far short of that. I'm just now getting into the extras of the book, and think it's great that they threw these in there. Makes you feel as if you're getting more for your money.
But, aside from some stray typos and minor repeated words, I gave this book a hearty 5-stars, because when everything is said and done, it did everything that a good story is supposed to do:
*engage the reader *make the reader care about the characters *don't infodump or use exposition to the detriment of your story *tell the story in such a way as to make your reader want to keep turning those pages *make your characters fully human, with exposed goals and flaws *don't throw in extraneous humour just for the sake of a cheap laugh *leave your reader with a sense of needing to read about this story and the characters even further.
My thanks to Joe, Blake, Paul and Jeff, who allowed me to be a part of this.
Please join me on my blog this coming Saturday, October 16 for an exclusive interview with these 4 authors, as they tackle The Eleven Questions to Fame Blog Tour. Very funny, hopefully insightful.
**spoiler alert** I think it was my friend Rachel who once quoted a line from this book, and it was so funny, that I rushed right over to half.com and...more**spoiler alert** I think it was my friend Rachel who once quoted a line from this book, and it was so funny, that I rushed right over to half.com and contributed to Sedaris's affluent lifestyle by purchasing a copy for $0.78. You know me--I'm a giver.
I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, as this was my first introduction to a book like this--oh, sure, I'd grown up being a fan of Erma Bombeck (only because she used to serialise in Better Homes & Gardens), so I had an inherent love of first-person humorous non-fiction, but I had NO idea just how funny Sedaris was until coming across the chapter, "A Plague of Tics." When he described in vivid detail how much of a walking shock-fest he was with his caftan and over-sized glasses in high-school, I don't think I'd ever laughed so hard in my life. I mean, haven't we ALL been there?
Then by the time I got to "Next of Kin," and saw that his repulsion was not of the porn material itself, but at the amount of typos in the book, I was hooked, and after I finished coughing up a lung, knew I wanted to write the same type of books. Being a professional stand-up comic, it's difficult to make me laugh at anything--I guess we're a hyper-critical breed. But this book was fabulous and left me with no problem at finding places in which to guffaw.
It's a skewed world-view that makes a comic funny, and Sedaris does it brilliantly, which makes his prose naturally fresh and unique.
I hope to see Sedaris in person one day at one of his own book readings. I've heard folks say he's even more hilarious in person. I just don't know if my sides will be able to take it.(less)