The Gunroom discussion

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Question -- Is this Group Going Anywhere?

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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) I am of a mind to let this group go. I see no action here whatsoever. I can satisfy my Aubrey-Maturin fix through the Jane Austen group. So, if you think this group is gonna come to life again let me know. Cheers! Chris


message 2: by M. (new)

M. Kei (kujakupoet) | 11 comments Nooo! As soon as I board the ship, it founders!

Perhaps broadening it to be all nautical fiction would help. It's the only nautical fiction group on Goodreads as far as I can tell. It would be a pity to let it sink.

~K~


message 3: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (last edited May 03, 2010 11:04AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Cheryl wrote: "Well, if you wish us to mark an "R" next to your name in the ship's log, then by all means, desert. Your decision, mate."

Well, what a positive observation to make!

My point is that I really don't see this group going anywhere, unfortunately. It, at times, goes weeks and weeks, with no activity. I was just in the process of doing some house-cleaning with my Goodreads account. I have enjoyed the limited interaction I've had here; and I would also say that many more than just I have gone AWOL. Cheers to you too! Chris


message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom Behr) (tom_behr) | 10 comments On "foundering" groups
In my day job, I do small group corporate and community facilitation bringing together stakeholders from different (often warring) groups to see if they can find a sense of shared purpose. Groups that cohere find a center they care about; groups that don't, fall apart. There's no timetable, so long as people stay with it.

I'm not sure where the shared purpose is here, yet, because I think it hasn't yet emerged as something a diverse group of people want to pay attention to.

It's fun to exchange and share our core beliefs about different writers' virtues (or failings), but then what? What unanswered questions in our area of naval fiction do we want to explore with others?
What parts of a novel I thought I knew should I re-read for fresh insights (like the great observation of Jack as a Commodore in Mauritius Affair!)

Some meager offerings on my part: For those of you who love Horatio Hornblower, what appeals to you about him most deeply? Any Diana lovers out there? What makes her so astoundingly interesting? What's your favorite Diana moment?

Cheers,
Tom


message 5: by M. (new)

M. Kei (kujakupoet) | 11 comments Sadly, I'm finding both Hornblower and Aubrey-Maturin slow reads. I actually liked the British miniseries they made out of Hornblower better than the books -- the script cut the deadness and kept it moving, and Sam West as Major Edrington was marvelously droll. The eyecandy helps, too :)

I find the wit an keen observation of detail in Frank Mildmay, Or, the Naval Officer by Captain Marryat to be my favorite so far. Yes, they ramble a bit, but there is a great deal of very funny material in it, as well as tragic and pathetic. I think one of the most disturbing scenes I've ever read was when the ship's boys solemnly playacted a court martial and hanged a kitten. They weren't being mean: they were imitating what they'd seen their elders do.

For Patrick O'Brien, I actually liked his early books, the Golden Ocean and The Unknown Shore better.


message 6: by Sherwood (new)

Sherwood Smith (sherwoodsmith) | 8 comments Very true about the kitten, and so I warn some readers before tackling Marryat: in some ways he's funny, urbane, like us. But in other ways we are shocked at what they took for granted two hundred years ago.


message 7: by M. (new)

M. Kei (kujakupoet) | 11 comments The same warning applies to C. S. Forester's Hornblower, and he practically from our own generation.


message 8: by Ross (new)

Ross (rossscann) | 29 comments Regarding the lack of postings to the gunroom group, the problem is no new novels. A group like mystery has 20 postings every day because there is a new novel published almost every day.
One writer I have not seen mentioned here is Alexander Kent (To Glory We Ster, Passage to Mutiny, etc) who followed Forester, but is a notch or two below him in quality.


message 9: by M. (new)

M. Kei (kujakupoet) | 11 comments Well, it says that it is for the Aubrey-Maturin novels, which puts a limit on it. If we open it to all historical nautical fiction, we have a much wider subject matter. I, for example, have published a trilogy of nautical adventures, but they aren't POB, so I hesitate to say much about them, although naturally I would like to.


message 10: by Sherwood (new)

Sherwood Smith (sherwoodsmith) | 8 comments I'd kind of like to see this group stay on O'Brian (in hopes somebody with time, expertise, and leadership abilities will happen along and institute a series of brilliant discussion topics) but there is nothing to prevent anyone from starting a general nautical fiction group, historical or otherwise. (sez someone who has a four book series out that has a great deal of nautical fiction in it).

I'm always looking for new reads.

Re Kent, I kind of bombed out of those when I kept running into grammatical errors, especially in other languages, and the women seemed cardboard and boring. For me, they just weren't up to O'Brian's highwater mark.


message 11: by Ross (new)

Ross (rossscann) | 29 comments I mentioned Kent is a notch or two below Forester. Forester is about 3 notches below O'Brian. Numerous serious critics, including a reviewer for the NY Times, have ranked the Aubrey-Maturin series as the greatest historical fiction ever written. That is why the gunroom is mostly about the series.


message 12: by Libby (new)

Libby (bodhililly) | 1 comments Quality over quantity any day I say :)


message 13: by Alaric (new)

Alaric | 4 comments Oh yes.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Ross wrote: "I mentioned Kent is a notch or two below Forester. Forester is about 3 notches below O'Brian. Numerous serious critics, including a reviewer for the NY Times, have ranked the Aubrey-Maturin series ..."

That bums me out! I just picked up the first two Kents at a used book store yesterday.

Ah well...


message 15: by Ross (new)

Ross (rossscann) | 29 comments The Kent books are still worth reading. You just read them really fast


message 16: by Steven (new)

Steven Tone | 6 comments Tom wrote: "On "foundering" groups
In my day job, I do small group corporate and community facilitation bringing together stakeholders from different (often warring) groups to see if they can find a sense of s..."


Try looking at this post... https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 17: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments I have recently joined the 21st century and bought a 7" tablet. With Google Maps installed I can accompany Surprise around the world, I can see the reefs around Douarnez, I can use the internet to see pictures of the sights and scenes, and it has bought me an enormously increased pleasure in my 6th reading of the series, and using the 'Kindle' app have now read O'Brian's 'Golden Ocean' which I found engaging, but not as emotive and entertaining as the A/M books.

It takes a little discipline to NEVER skip a word or leave it semi-understood, but www.agbfinebooks downloadable alphabetic 'Guide for the perplexed' travels with you and your electronic library.

Perhaps if your liking of the series has gone off the boil, this may be a way of re-kindling the interest?

Doug


message 18: by Matt (new)

Matt | 5 comments I'm new to this site and, accordingly, new to this group. Imagine my distress when the first group I join, based upon my devotion to A/M and most P.O'B., seems to be suffering worse than the doldrums.

Being late, I wonder if the group has exhausted the interesting nautical sayings that are still used in everyday life. "the bitter end", "hand over fist", and what was the one when sailors "fought" with the tools used for tarring?

I guess you guys have also exhausted Maturin's two best (in my opinion) jokes: dog watch and slip of the pen. I'm wierd, but I LOL just thinking them!

Golden Ocean and Unknown Shore are fascinating not just as stories but as, in the case of the latter, early Aubrey and early Maturin. Proto-characters, each.

Anyway, let's try to isolate an area of PO'B or Hornblower (or other Forester books, I've read most if not all). Sharp series, anyone?


message 19: by Bill (new)

Bill | 20 comments Except for the entire A/M series (several times), I hadn't read anything else by O'Brian. But I've just finished The Unknown Shore. Since I lived for a number of years in Chile and during that time visited the coastal area near Wager Island, it was especially interesting for me. And of course one can perceive a bit of the future A/M in Byron and Barrow. But what strikes me is how much, more complex and interesting A/M are. O'Brian made a particularly happy decision in adding the spy element to Maturin's character, who otherwise would have been pretty much just nerdy, as is Barrow. Now I'll move on to Golden Ocean ...


message 20: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Yes, a skillful characterisation. But 'nerdy'? I don't know..
A crack shot, experienced duellist, a Catholic living in a non-catholic country and above all a man who could talk and prose outside of what was considered 'polite' conversation.
He could have been (IMHO) just as interesting for his attempts to reform naval medicine. That said, my least favoured book concerns his Inca trips, gaunacos and frostbite etc., I enjoy him most for his persistant inability to become completely 'nautical' and the resultant repartee ' twixt A and M on the subject.

To me, as a retired mariner, he comes across more as a 'Mad Professor' than what we now call a 'nerd'. I sailed with a few during the early days of gas turbines in warships!

Doug


message 21: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Feiertag | 13 comments I also like the intelligence agent facet of Stephen's character. It provides opportunities for considerations of what living such a life can do to a person's character, and I think that the necessity for Stephen to trust Jack with that part of his life enabled both characters to appreciate each other's intelligence in a way that they would not otherwise have been able to do. It is the one area in which they work together rather than in parallel. But I don't believe the books or the relationship would have been doomed without it. As Doug points out, Stephen's situation provides a great deal of complexity even without his intelligence work. But the books are richer for it.

Stephen's inability to master all the nautical terminology is a great comfort to me. I'm on my fourth read-through of the books (a very slow one), and am still utterly dependent on *A Sea of Words* to keep me oriented.

I notice that while Jack and the other nautical types seem to think that Stephen should know the names of the sails and when a sloop is not a sloop, no one expects the sailors to have picked up much medical terminology.

Ruth


message 22: by Matt (new)

Matt | 5 comments It seemed fairly clear to me that the Byron/Barrow characters were not nearly as fully developed as A/M in, even, "Master and Commander". Byron and Jack Aubrey both have an overwhelming passion for the sea. Barrow and Stephen Maturin both have an overwhelming passion for the bio- sciences. But A and M have passions for so much more, including music, hatred of "Boney" and, for one of them, Catalonian freedom and hatred of slavery (Jack remains somewhat wistful as regards to the latter). And, of course, Maturin has a clever sense of humor while Barrow is devoid of that bent. By all means, read "Golden Ocean"; great story. Love it when they discover "eau de vie".


message 23: by Bill (last edited May 06, 2014 07:20PM) (new)

Bill | 20 comments Certainly, most of us can identify with Steven's inability to master nautical terms that are second nature to sailors. There are times, however, when Steven can be quite effusive about nautical matters, as long as he's addressing someone such as Prof. Graham, who is even less expert than himself, and thus unable to identify as misinformation what Steven so glibly transmits. There are times when he even dares to invent a "nautical" term. What immediately comes to mind is the following exchange between Steven and Jack from from Blue at the Mizzen: (Steven) "To tell the truth, I had hoped that we should slope away for the Guinea Coast, for Sierra Leone, as soon as these admittedly dreadful leaks were staunched and the foremast replaced: that we should slope away directly.'
'Dear Stephen, I did tell you about this necessary pause in Madeira before; and many and many a time have I warned you that in the service nothing, nothing whatsoever, takes place directly.' A pause. 'Pray tell me: where did you learn that term slope away'
'Is it not a nautical expression?'
'I am sure it is; but I do not remember to have heard it.'
'I take the words to refer to that slanting progress, with the breeze not from behind, nor even sideways, but from ahead or partially ahead, so that the vessel slopes towards its goal. Yet no doubt I mistake: and no doubt I have used the wrong term.'
'No, no: I follow you exactly - a very good expression. Pray do not be so discouraged, Stephen.'

Ruth wrote: "I also like the intelligence agent facet of Stephen's character. It provides opportunities for considerations of what living such a life can do to a person's character, and I think that the necessi..."


message 24: by Matt (new)

Matt | 5 comments Ha! I love it when Maturin tries to impress some lubber with his nautical "knowledge", which invariably confuses any sailor within earshot. The invention of nautical terms is also in Golden Ocean; Peter invents and has another middy take part. They both eventually get caught by their peers and painted blue; their "prime" informs the painters that they used the wrong color and must think, think!, before they act. Great little scenes like that are what makes A/M different from the great Hornblower series.

In the quote, above, from Bill I note another item I really enjoy: Jack's magnificent civility. "I am sure it is; but I do not remember hearing it." What a pal!


message 25: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Yup!

Love that too!

Doug


message 26: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Currently in Porto, drinking Real Quinta Tawney, how A & M would enjoy it

D


message 27: by Pete (new)

Pete Almquist | 14 comments Now this is a fun discussion!


message 28: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Yesterday in the Douro Valley 200 km from Porto after a 'local' 3 hour train journey to see where it comes from.

Also found 'botargo', (dried pressed fish roe) as an appetiser (look in A -M for ref.) Salty but with strong flavoured whole wheat bead v. yummy.

Poop poop

Doug


message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill | 20 comments Doug wrote: "Currently in Porto, drinking Real Quinta Tawney, how A & M would enjoy it

D"


The whole culinary aspect is fascinating. They certainly enjoyed their Porto (and their Madeira as well). I recall somewhere in the series where in order to chill wine, they put if over the side for a while. I wonder how cold they could get it that way in the tropics. Also, there are several references to sherbet (not on board, but Minorca) and I've always wondered how they managed that before they had refrigeration.


message 30: by Randall (new)

Randall | 3 comments Bill wrote: "Also, there are several references to sherbet (not on board, but Minorca) and I've always wondered how they managed that before they had refrigeration."

I'm not sure of the logistics, but snow was probably brought down from some mountains. Alternately, ice may have been shipped in from colder climes. There was a thriving trade exporting ice to the tropics in the early 19th century.


message 31: by Bill (new)

Bill | 20 comments Randall wrote: "Bill wrote: "Also, there are several references to sherbet (not on board, but Minorca) and I've always wondered how they managed that before they had refrigeration."

I'm not sure of the logistics..."

Apparently, Americans and Brits have distinct meanings for the word
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherbet). I suspect that O'Brian uses the British meaning, given that A&M "drink" sherbet in Minorca.


message 32: by Bill (last edited May 13, 2014 01:32PM) (new)

Bill | 20 comments Doug wrote: "Yesterday in the Douro Valley 200 km from Porto after a 'local' 3 hour train journey to see where it comes from.

Also found 'botargo', (dried pressed fish roe) as an appetiser (look in A -M for r..."


Actually, in Portuguese it's called "butarga". Did you find it in A-M?
The Douro Valley is impressively beautiful, with some charming towns. Last year, I bought some coffee beans at a shop in Murça. Dark roasted and very shiny. The shine comes from the fact that they roast the beans with sugar. Very tasty, but they wrought havoc with the burrs of my grinder.
Coffee is a whole other culinary topic in the A-M series. Jack puts up with Preserved Killick mainly because he is so good at roasting/grinding coffee beans and polishing silver plate.


message 33: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Yes, in A-M it's 'botargo', your 'boturga' is very probably what the waitress was saying, I find Portuguese almost incomprehensible...!

Doug


message 34: by Matt (new)

Matt | 5 comments Since we're talking about things like sherbet, here's a vote for the bestest suet of all: Drowned Baby. Yum!


message 35: by Bill (new)

Bill | 20 comments Doug wrote: "Yes, in A-M it's 'botargo', your 'boturga' is very probably what the waitress was saying, I find Portuguese almost incomprehensible...!

Doug"


Yes, that was very probably what the waitress was saying, because that's how we say it here in Portugal. O'Brian made a slip-up with this word. Like you, he had trouble understanding Portuguese. In one of the novels he has Maturin say that he finds spoken Portuguese impossible. We do tend to mumble a bit ... much different from the "tip of the tongue" pronunciation of Spanish.


message 36: by Doug (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments It does seem to run together, somewhat. My wife says it sounds vaguely Russian, like the people we hear on the current television newsreels about the Crimea annexation.

I am interested in the difference between the Spanish 'cerveza' (ther-vessa) and my hearing of the Portuguese 'share-bedda', as the Greek 'vee' dipthong is pronounced 'b'.

Doug


message 37: by Bill (last edited May 17, 2014 05:24PM) (new)

Bill | 20 comments Sometimes when we travel abroad, people will ask us if we're speaking Russian.
In Portugal we don't call beer (cerveja) "share-bedda". The letter j doesn't have a "d" sound. Rather, the j is more like a soft, shushy "sh".


message 38: by Steven (new)

Steven Tone | 6 comments Here's a very active PO'B group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Aubre...


message 39: by W. (new)

W. Gallagher | 24 comments Good to know. Thank you.


message 40: by Bill (new)

Bill | 20 comments Not that I want to jump ship; but where is the sailor who wouldn't trade the Polychrest for the Surprise?


message 41: by Matt (new)

Matt | 5 comments This sailor would trade the Polychrest for the Sophie. Sliding keels?Forsooth!


message 42: by Doug (last edited May 06, 2015 08:22AM) (new)

Doug (chubberdog) | 16 comments Still finding little gems after years of reading and re-reading....

Aubrey [in M & C]recalls his first wound received in the service of his King and Country, namely a blow to the head from a flat iron wielded by a 'lady who didn't want her man to be pressed..'

D


message 43: by h011yw00d (new)

h011yw00d | 3 comments Last comment 9 months ago...too late for me I see.


message 44: by THOCthumbz (new)

THOCthumbz | 6 comments Well I just joined, I see the group is not very active. Sad to see but then again. I only have one friend who enjoys nautical fiction as much as I do. I read the first 4 books and then I started listening to them in audiobook format. I find I get through them much faster listening rather than reading. I liked them so much, I bought the first 4 books I had read and listened to them as audiobooks. Now I am on to other series. You can see by looking at me profile. If you like this kind of historical fiction please send me a friend request. I would love to know more folks who are actively reading this genre. I am "actively" reading nautical with a break or two for a stimulating Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction, or a Sci-fi .. but sci-fi is tricky b/c I can only read stories with really thought producing subjects. Much sci-fi just doesn't "do-it" for me, like a good ship of the line taking a prize. :)


message 45: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 22 comments Welcome to the group, Nathan :) I wish it were more active, too. It's a shame.


message 46: by Doug (new)

Doug Gordon The "Aubrey-Maturin Appreciation" group on Facebook is VERY active. I used to post to this group back when it was a forum on the Norton publisher's site, but stick pretty much to the FB group now.


message 47: by Sarah (new)

Sarah B (skauthen) | 22 comments I think I cherish solitude too much to conjure forth the Book of Face - but thanks for the heads up.


message 48: by THOCthumbz (new)

THOCthumbz | 6 comments Doug, I am not on FB. :( I am a nerd of the most extreme I'm afraid. thanks though, if I ever log back into FB I will check out the group.


message 49: by Poppy (new)

Poppy | 8 comments Mod
I'm a member of the Facebook group, and I enjoy all the links people post. I don't know whether we can do that sort of thing here. It would take more skill with html than I've acquired.


message 50: by Marko (new)

Marko (msusimetsa) | 2 comments Also a member of the FB group here. It is very active, although many of the posts could be considered off-topic, having sometimes only a tentative link with the genre.


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