Monthly Archives: November 2013

Alexander Galant, Depth of Deception

(2013-11-13 001)TitleDepth of Deception

Author: Alexander Galant

Publication Information: Published by Alexander Galant Entertainment, c2012

ISBN: 978-0-9879835-0-3

Library of Congress Classification: PS3607.A66278

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Titanic (Steamship)–Fiction
Mothers and sons–Fiction
Fathers and sons–Fiction
Insurance investigators–Fiction
Murder–Investigation–Fiction
Time travel–Fiction

I liked this book, although the very ending surprised me.

Once again, the Titanic serves as a backdrop, only this time most of the action takes place in 1982, before the ship was found. Archibald Hoffman, a wealthy, sleazy millionaire who survived the Titanic disaster with his wife and son, is planning to launch Titanic II and recreate the fateful voyage–sans iceberg, of course. This is scandalous to the survivors who are still alive, so the ship is renamed Titan though it looks remarkably like the Titanic.

The book begins with a British naval ship picking up a distress call and coming to the coordinates that were given by the ship, only there is no sinking ship, no wreck, no anything except a young woman floating on a piece of wood. She clutches a bear and Morgan Robertson’s book, Futility. The rescue team immediately goes into action, although it is assumed that she is already dead from lying in the freezing North Atlantic water and air. Surprisingly, she’s still alive. They get her to a hospital, where she cannot remember anything. The locket she wears has pictures of her son and husband.

Meantime Callum Toughill, a Lloyd’s of London investigator, is asked to solve the murder of Agatha Gilcrest, a woman killed seven decades before. The only thing stolen from Gilcrest was a diamond broach. Toughill’s grandfather had tried to prove the accused killer was innocent, but he was disgraced and drummed out of the Belfast police; the innocent man hung for the crime. This was why Toughill did not become a police detective. Now information exists that the broach might have been on the Titanic; if so, then Lloyd’s wants to know how it got on the ship since someone has just filed a claim.

From here, things move pretty fast. People to whom Toughill talks suddenly end up dead. Meanwhile, the woman found in the North Atlantic Ocean claims to be Myra Sloane Hoffman, the wife of Archibald Hoffman. She is in her late 20s-early 30s, so her claims are dismissed as delusional and she is under the care of a psychiatrist. Someone is also trying to kill her. When Edward Hoffman, son of Myra and Alexander, meets the woman, he is very disturbed, since he comes to believe that she may be his mother, who is still alive.

Edward likes the idea of time travel and he and Myra talk at length about it. The idea of moving forward in time intrigues Edward, and he mentions movies and books where the protagonist moves into the time stream. Myra doesn’t like the idea of time travel being forward and not back, since she hopes to return to her own time, but Edward tells her that Einstein’s theory only shows that forward movement in time is possible. Edward and Myra also talked about changing time, which was impossible to Edward. Parallel, alternate timelines would be created if someone was able to change something; the original timeline would continue on as well as the new alternate timeline.

I had a problem putting the book down. I needed to find out how it would end. Was Myra who she claimed to be? If so, how did she end up in 1982 and still be alive? How was the broach tied into all this? What about the Titan, and the Titanic? The only problem I had was with the very end. I’m not sure what to make of it. What happens goes back to the discussion that Myra and Edward had about time travel.

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Francesco Marciuliano, I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats; I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs

Book Cover-I Could Pee on This (2013-09-30 001)Title: I Could Chew on This: and Other Poems by Cats

Author: Francesco Marciuliano

Publication Information: San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1058-5

Library of Congress Classification: PN6084 .C23

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Cats–Humor
Cats–Poetry

Title: I Could Chew on This: and Other Poems by DogsMarciuliano-I Could Chew on This (2013-09-30 007)

Author: Francesco Marciuliano

Publication Information: San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1903-8

Library of Congress Classification: PN6231 .D68

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Dogs–Humor
Dogs–Poetry

I bought the cat book at Northshire Books when I was in Manchester, Vermont because it was 20% off the cover price. The dog and cat books are also carried by Whimsies.

Like most poetry, some are better than others. The ones that are funny are really funny. The full-color photos of the dogs and cats that accompany the poems are adorable, with many complementing the poems quite well. With dog titles like Unleashed (“I’m free! … I’m lost!), Splash (a dog that keeps chasing stones as you skip them across the water–and he cannot stop), and Time (a dog wondering where you are, and not to leave him again), I laughed quite a lot.

Some cat titles are Cold (everything at the vet’s is cold–except the puddle of urine on the vet’s notes), Why are You Screaming (a cat trying to figure out why you don’t like the present–a dead mouse on your bed), Something’s Wrong (a cat realizes that the walls are a different color, the place is laid out wrong … all since he got out of the carrier, and he intends to find out what happened), and  Nine Lives (what each one is for, including writing ones’s memoirs), were a lot of fun.

This is for cat and dog lovers, or for anyone who likes animals.

Plato, The Atlantis Dialogue

(2013-10-19 008)Title: The Atlantis Dialogue

Author: Plato; translated by B. Jowett; edited with an introduction by Aaron Shepard

Publication Information: Friday Harbor, Washington: Shepard Publications, 2011

Library of Congress Classification: PA4279.T7 [Timaeus]

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Atlantis (Legendary place)
Atlantis (Legendary place) in literature

Plato never wrote a work called The Atlantis Dialogue. Rather, Plato wrote about Atlantis in two of his works: Timaeus and Critias. Aaron Shepard, who edits and introduces the text, put together the parts of the works dealing with Atlantis. Shepard reports that Plato intended to write about Atlantis in three works, but that he never finished Critias (his Atlantis discussion breaks off in mid-paragraph) and the third work was never written–or was lost to time.

Shepard is skeptical about the real existence of Atlantis, and with good reason. He gives the history of the idea of Atlantis, and the real interest in it started in the nineteenth century. It’s a modern interest in the “lost continent” that has let to wild speculation and  archaeological interest in finding the roots of the myth, the Minoan civilization being the most popular. I’ve seen shows on attempting to “prove” that Atlantis was near Cyprus, it was in the mid-Atlantic Ocean (one of the most prevalent ideas), or that it was based on Thera, which blew up around 1500 B.C., creating the Santorini archipelago, which ties into the Minoan civilization.

In reality, Plato is the only person who wrote about Atlantis. There is no other extant Greek author that mentions the place. Plato writes that the Egyptians were the ones who knew about the “lost continent” and this is where his information came from, but no extant Egyptian work mentions Atlantis. Though Shepard doesn’t mention the Minoans, I think that Plato is creating a fictional place based on the stories that surely must have circulated about the semi-mythical Minoan civilization, but I have talked to classicists who poo-poo this idea.

All the Greeks would have had were their myths, the ones involving Theseus, the Minotaur and King Minos. Minos ruled from Crete, and he held Athens captive, demanding tribute of seven youths and seven maidens. This surely must have been some lingering memory of Minoan sea power and its dominance of the Aegean. I do not believe that any Minoan settlement has ever been found on mainland Greece, but the Minoans would only have had to dominate trade and commerce for this idea to metamorphosize (over time) into the tribute story. This seems logical, but because only Plato talked about it and no one else, it is assumed that Atlantis was based on nothing and that Plato made the entire story up to communicate his ideas about government.

This may be true, but it does not rule out the fact that he may have been influenced by the stories and myths about the civilization on Crete. Long ago, I read something by an author who posed the question, “Where did the saying ‘All Cretans are liars’ come from?” If the Cretans remembered something about the Minoans, surely the other Greeks elsewhere would have dismissed the idea of a great civilization being based there. Isn’t it possible that Plato was influenced by the myths and “lies” about Crete to create a mythical civilization to use to discuss his ideas?