Sunday, 9 November 2014

Magnificent Maleficent

This has been definitely a week of watching lots of stuff.  In no particular order: Maleficent, Grimm, and all three The Thing films.

Maleficent was bought by my partner, and I had no particular expectations when we sat down to watch it.  The reviews I'd read had been a bit mixed, but I really enjoyed the film.  The writer is to be commended on how she re-framed the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty into a heart warming story of true love.  So yes it's a bit of a chick flick, but it has a dragon, and some weird and rather cool tree like warriors that guard the magic land called the Moors where Maleficent lives.  So highly recommended.

Grimm season three was fun, but not as good as season two, in that the cliff-hanger finale was less interesting.  Though to be fair having had the hero drugged lying in a coffin surrounded by zombies at the end of last season was going to be a bit tricky to top.  The show is still a monster of the week police procedural, and it is rather formulaic, but the relationship between Monroe and Rosalee makes me want to keep watching.  Also Sergeant Wu is being developed, though I think far too slowly, as it's about time he was a full member of Team Grimm.

We finished the week by starting to watch the three Thing movies, spurred on by listening to a series of podcasts.  We both enjoyed the Howard Hawkes version for the snappy dialogue, which really felt like real people speaking to each other.  We then watched the 2011 Norwegian prequel next, which is OK, but doesn't quite nail it - though it's a very loving homage to the John Carpenter version, which we have lined up to watch tonight.

Reading wise, I finished Max Brooks' World War Z.  I enjoyed it, but a couple of things annoyed me.  For example a soldier calling a magazine a clip, and I wasn't totally convinced by the big zombie take down scene where the descriptions of the details about the battle stretched my credulity.

The soldier recounts that he was firing one round a second, and while he had breaks, the battle lasted for 15 hours.  One round a seconds is 60 rounds a minute, which is 300 rounds every five minutes, which is 3,600 rounds/zombies per hour - the ammo weighs 3lbs per 100 rounds, so 1,770lbs of ammunition for each soldier.  Seems reasonable, but the numbers don't make any sense.

Accounting for dramatic license, and assuming the zombies came shuffling in at a steady pace and peaked somewhere around the seven and a half hour mark, this equals 27,000 zombies per soldier for the battle.  Say 1,000 soldiers (number not specified, but unit described as forming a British square, which has to be large enough to contain the lorries carrying the ammo sitting in the centre, so my best guess), then that's 27 million zombies.  I calculated from the description of the size of the piled up bodies - about 1.8 million zombies - based on a ring of dead zombies at 500 yards out from the firing line).

While I may be being pedantic, I do think it shows that one needs to do one's research, and understand the implications for one's logistics.  Also, please can we not have a rehash of Napoleonic tactics - modern battles are based on fire and manoeuvre for a reason, and just don't get me started on why being surrounded is not a good plan.  It's like the military forgot every lesson they've ever learnt from history!

Still mustn't quibble too much over the little niggling details, because the story was enjoyable enough.

Finally, another weeks worth of editing on Bad Dog.  Twelve chapters revisited for a total of 34,749 words.  Just under half way through the second edit.


  1. The idea that fighting zombies needs a whole separate set of tactics from fighting human soldiers (who like living, take cover, have morale, stop advancing when they're wounded, etc.) is a good one. But Brooks' problem, apart from getting the logistics wrong, is that he only really thinks of one set of tactics. If I'd been writing this book, I'd have talked with a bunch of different military types and asked what they'd have tried.

    It may just be because I regard working out logistical considerations as great fun, of course, but I like to get this sort of thing right. It's the basic craftsmanship of building a story, or a game setting. Maybe nobody else will ever work the numbers and see that you got it right, but you will know whether you did the job properly or half-arsed it.

    One of my bugbears is the "truck full of gold". Your basic Ford Transit has a payload of about a ton, which is 73 400-troy-ounce bars, which is going to make a single layer less than four feet by four feet - not even covering the floor. Nobody ever takes the density of the stuff into account. Getting these numbers took less than five minutes on Wikipedia.

    1. I agree, which is why I quite like Larry Correia's work, because he knows his stuff, and does his research.

      I'm with you on the gold, it was also one of my stepfather's bugbears too, especially when you realize that one of those little bars is 27 lbs, or about 12.5 kilos per bar.

  2. About the only relatively cheap thing you can 'stretch' gold with in a fraudulent manner is depleted uranium - and their melting points are quite similar. From there it's only a short leap to hot money, with a slight isotope ratio change, and radioactive enough to ensure a fast and economically satisfactory circulation in the economy. Surely a Noble price awaits? :-)

    1. I can see one small if slight problem here...

  3. I strongly suggest getting the unabridged audiobook. It is has a full cast of sometimes excellent actors including Jürgen Prochnow and Alan Alda.

    1. I've been listening to the Audible version of Larry Correia's Hard Magic via the Baen podcast, which I've been enjoying, but for me it's time to listen to books that's the problem.

    2. The audiobook was outstanding! I read the book a 3rd time as a result. Yes the tactics of the "winning battles" were lacking in depth but Mark Hamil and the rest of the cast was a slam dunk for me. I wish there would be a spinoff novel for the Alpha Teams who took on the undead in Afghanistan but I suppose that's soo-2010.

      Cheers you guys.

    3. It might be so 2010, but it's important to get all the zombies, right?



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