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Showing posts from May, 2012

Adrift on the Sea of Rains

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Ian Sales' recent novella, Adrift on the Sea of Rains, comes in at a mere 17,000 words, perfect for my sf reading habits that cavil at 500-page blockbusters. I have the slim hardback before me, nicely designed in white with a grid of 96 Apollo Lunar Landing Modules ranged on its cover. The signed copy, number 30 of 75, was published by Sales's own Whippleshield Books. It's a nice object, testament to the quality within reach of indie publishing these days.

And I like the narrative, although I am at heart a New Wave rather than hard sf fan. I might be predisposed to do so, I admit; it does tie in to my own ongoing fascination with the Apollo programme and the 1960s, for Adrift on the Sea of Rains imagines a NASA programme (eventually part-funded by the Pentagon) that extends to 25 missions, encompasses the building of a lunar base, and is ongoing in 1979. A timeline of missions is given in extensive detail at the back of the novella, lending authenticity to its extrapolati…

Thoughts on Das Boot

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No, not sf, but a response to a review of Das Boot recently written by my old friend John Bleasdale. John’s thesis is that Das Boot’s male homosociality unconsciously repeats the forms of warrior masculinity and sociality that can be found at the roots of fascism, a politics the film ostensibly disavows. John’s piece begs the question: can a film be made about war that does not glorify it in some sense, and thereby fall into the very thing it criticises?
Das Boot follows a voyage of the submarine U-96 in what is now known as ‘The Battle of the Atlantic’ in 1941 and 1942, the  attempts by the German U-boat ‘packs’ to sink as much Allied shipping as possible to disrupt the convoys travelling across the Atlantic to support Britain’s war effort. Very near the beginning of the film, the Captain (the Kapitan-Leuntnant, ‘Herr Ka-Leun’) of the boat, played by Jurgen Prochnow, suggests that the Allies are winning the battle, if not the war itself, by 1942. Strikingly, the keynote of the entire…