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Brazil

Brazil

I’ll slip in a current-affairs reference into this article for, let’s face it, recession’s not exactly painting the landscape in bright, Wizard of Oz Technicolor shades of glorified self-smugness. It is grey and gloomy; distinct features of the misery of dreary, dire dystopia.

But I will not go so far as to say that society at the moment is sliding deeper into Orwellian doom, because that would be a rather grim view and detract from the fact that this is meant to segue into a positive review about a jolly good film.

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What If Friedrich III Had Lived?

Historically, Friedrich III was already terminally ill with cancer when he ascended the throne in 1888 and died 99 days thereafter.

He was married to Princess Victoria, eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and held Great Britain in high regard (half of his personal medical staff was British).

Friedrich was on excellent terms with his parents-in-law; took rather liberal views and there are indications that he wished to turn the German Empire into a constitutional monarchy modeled after the British.

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Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon

From a narrow slit in the thick steel hide of the British tank a light burst out. The blinding 13-million candlepower light pierced the darkness when a moment later the solid beam of light changed on the command of “Scatter!”

Reaching into the inky night the shaft of light began to strobe. It dazzled and disoriented the enemy who unwisely tried to take aim at its brilliant flicking beam. With the adversary illuminated and confused, the tank rolled through the countryside ready to finish off their foe. Continue reading “Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon”

Tobacco’s Golden Era

This shows Hollywood stars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford indulging in a cigarette in the 1934 film Chained.

Despite the many health risks associated with smoking tobacco, in the Golden Era, cigarette smoking was a fashion statement that showed the smoker to be a classy person. Indeed, many a student bedroom is adorned with the iconic photograph of Audrey Hepburn with cigarette holder clinched betwixted gloved fingers.

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A7V Sturmpanzerwagen

Whenever a new technology is introduced, whether on the battlefield or at home, there is always a brief period when inventors, unfamiliar with the new concepts, begin experimenting with designs and plans, trying to push innovation to the limit. While these experiments occasionally produce useful results, the great majority end up on the scrap heap of history.

One such forgotten experiment was the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, an early German attempt at creating a battle-ready tank. Continue reading “A7V Sturmpanzerwagen”

George Griffith’s Astronef Series

A Honeymoon in Space

George Chetwynd Griffith-Jones is one of the forgotten luminaries of the classic British Scientific Romance. A best-selling author and sometime rival of H.G. Wells’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, his work has been mostly forgotten by later generations. While much of them are steeped in the opinions and prejudices of his day, Griffith’s tales contain many elements that would lay the basis for the first great boom of science-fiction.

The Astronef series is a good case in point.

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Iron Storm

Iron Storm

With the gaming marketplace dominated by a glut of World War II-themed shooters, it is always refreshing to see titles experiment with depictions of obscure or allohistorical conflicts.

While Iron Storm, created by defunct French developer 4x Studio and released in 2002, takes the First World War as its starting point, it borrows and combines elements from the long history of twentieth-century warfare to create a darkly surreal experience that should surely appeal to particularly the dieselpunk enthusiast.

Rather appropriately, Iron Storm is set in an odd little history that would warm the heart of a 1920s pulp novelist.

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