Tuesday, 25 November 2008

What to do with a Pal Fighting Machine?

Built this a few years back and i'm really pleased with how it came out.

Trouble is, it just sits on a shelf doing nothing. I'd like to display it in a diorama but how the heck do i support it?

Logic says use clear rods coming out from the three green circles on the underside (and they're recessed so that's possible) but i wouldn't want to glue them in place, so it'd be a case of it sitting gingerly on top of them.

Bit risky as the resins quite delicate and i don't want accidents.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Dark Horses WOTW adaptation

If you've not given it a go yet, i highly recommend this telling of the tale by Ian Eddington and D'Israeli.

Their sequel Scarlet Traces are the better known, and i'll come to them in due course, but the book adapatation is a lovely piece of work, with some clever, in spirit new bridging dialogue and scenes, and some excellent art.

I'm not that sure though on Matt's version of the Tripods (being it appears based on Mike Trimms rather than the book) but the Heat Ray's nice and the Martians themselves are excellent. I shamelessly stole the idea of the wide apart black eyes for my sculpture.
If you can't get access to it, here's the whole thing online:

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The definitive Martian

As i've said before, no-one's done a truly accurate version in my opinion. But this one, by Paul in the 1920's, is my favourite.

The Jeff Wayne poster magazine

The audio cassette of the album i bought waaay back in '78 is long since gone. This hasn't though - and i still treasure it. What a shame its issue number 1 and they never made more.

The Heat Ray

The trouble with the Jeff Wayne version is that i listen to it far more than i read the book. So there's a tendancy to take the events and descriptions on the album as being what actually occurs in the book.
Case in point, the Heat Ray. Listen to the album and you get "a tall funnel rose and an invisible ray of heat leaped from man to man..."
Nice - but not accurate. Wells is vague (there's a surprise) on what it looks like and it doesn't appear at all during the slaughter at the Cylinder, just the invisible heat.
We don't get a description of it until the Artilleyman is recounting what he saw. There it is descibed as a " kind of arm carried a complicated metallic case, about which green flashes scintillated, and out of the funnel of this there smote the Heat Ray".
(By the way, the "interesting" Pendragon film has confused the Heat Ray with the wobbling mirror which rises up prior to the Heat Ray first firing. Of course, its not the Heat Ray but rather a periscope affair.)

What did a Fighting Machine look like?

A puzzle i've not been able to figure out is why no artist i've come across has ever depicted the Tripods as Wells described in the book, especially as its a rare instance when he's pretty descriptive over something to do with the Martians.

A lot of artists have either gone there own way (stand up Mike Trimm. As brilliant as his design is, it bears almost no resembalance), or used some of the elements - but not all.

Those elements are:

"a monstrous Tripod, higher than many houses" "Giants in armour... hundred feet high"

"in the hood sat a Martian"

"behind the hood was a huge mass of white metal like a fishermens basket"

"... Martians were crawling slowly towards the second cylinder under cover of a metal shield. Later this shield staggered up on tripod legs and became the first of the Fighting Machines."

".. a great body of machinery on a tripod stand"

"articulate ropes of steel dangling... swinging and rattling about its strange body"

To me, the most accurate version i've come across is this one by Correa. It has the shield upper body, the mass of machinery underneath, the tentacles (altough not enough of them) and a pretty accurate Heat Ray. Falls down though by not having the holding basket or hood, and the inclusion of the "face".

90% then.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Wells' contradictions: Martians

Whether by accident or deliberate, Wells can be kind of vague when describing the Martians and their technology, something i guess that's allowed for the huge amount of differing designs over the years.
Its something that was brought home to me when i attempted to create accurate versions of things from the book.
Lets have an example - the Martians themselves.

"A big greyish bulk, the size perhaps of a bear". Okay, so its, what?, about 8 or 9 feet long and a sort of grey.
"... the head of the thing, was rounded and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered..." So it has a head??? Not so much a bulk then George. This is something that artists have never depicted, preferring to go instead with a rounded lump with a face on the end. Even HG drew them like that.

"two luminous discs - like eyes" Notice the hyphen. they're not eyes like discs but discs like eyes. Not eyes at all then.

"a mouth with a lipless brim". So no lips.

But a little later on we have "pointed upper lip" and "wedge-like lower lip". So it DOES have lips!
There's more thoughout the book like this and, as i say, its quite difficult to try and get everything as described. I had a go though and this is my attempt.

Why i love the book.

So its my favourite novel of all time, and one i have to read at least once a year.
Every piece of praise heaped upon of it is, of course, justified.
But why do i like it so much? What's the cord that strikes me?
If i have to sum it up, its best represented by "Quickly, one after the other, one, two, three, four of the armoured Martians appeared, far away over the little trees, across the flat meadows..."
I've always lived in Kent and in pretty unspoilt areas, rife with fields and orchards and meadows. The notion of such a bizarre, ALIEN device just rambling across countryside i know so well has always been a very powerful image for me. And the fact that Woking is only an hours drive away makes it even more personal.

Friday, 14 November 2008

My Alvim Correa version Tripod

Made this a couple of years ago. Kind of pleased with it, but of course no WAY could i match the mood of the paintings.

Alvim Correa's Fighting Machines

To me, Alvim's designs for the Tripods are pretty much the best so far.
He's been true to the book in having them look like boilers on stilts. He's got the shield-like upper section. He's got the dangling tentacles. And it looks like he's got the non-pivot on the knees.

Where's he's strayed is to give them a "face". don't mind that though - its no more than the liberties taken by all the other artists, and it just adds to the eerieness of the design.

How i love these evocative, moody, scary scenes. Must try and track down an edition of the book they're in (but being a 1906 French version, i'm not holding my breath).

Moving around in time

Okay, up till now i've been posting things in the order i came across them.
But, from now, i'll be flitting back and forth across time, choosing subjects that take my fancy.

Jeff Wayne's version

Now, things are a bit hazy but i'm pretty sure i didn't read the novel between watching the Pal film and getting this album.

So, this was my next exposure and, boy, its been a long exposure at that: got it on cassette when it was released in '78. Played it so much i wore it out. It was one of the first things i got on CD. And from now till then i've played it at least once a month (much more than that if you include all the remixes and stuff from a couple of years back).

Again, its far, far too important to dismiss with just one post.

Will be back to this soon.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

George Pal's film

This is it - ground zero, the place where my love for SF, astronomy, spacecraft design, 50's B Movies, effects work, the list goes on and on, were born.
Chronologically, this was my next exposure to the tale - and, boy, did it leave an impression. Can't remember how old i was when i saw it, but must've been about 10. I thought then, and still do now, that's its a stunning film, and is easily in my top ten of favourite films ever.

Again, i'll come back again and again and again.

Where it all started - the 1960's record

Here it is - the thing that got me into The War Of the Worlds and i'm pretty sure into SF as well.

I got it one Christmas when i was about 7 i think, so about 1969. I played it endlessly, which explains its sorry state today.

What is it? I hear you cry (well, i don't. But i like to think i do).

Its odd, that's what it is.

Its an audio adaptation of the novel and is very peculiar in who its been gone about. Its set in the correct time, has the Cylinder, the Tripods and the Heat Ray. It starts to differ with Ogilvy surviving and following the narrator (who's no longer a narrator as its not narrated) though the events. I can understand that though as having someone asking questions and having them answered saves on an awful lot of exposition.

What i don't understand though is (a) why the artilleryman joins them for most of the story, (b) why a child has to tag along and (c) why its VERY vague as to where its set. Woking is named, Horsell Common too. But then tons of Americanisms seep in (oh, everyone talks with an American accent by the way), with London alays being refered to as the "Capital", complete with "Capital Building".

As i say, odd. But its a fun romp and i'll be coming back to it a few times on this Blog. Before i leave it for now though - 2 things. The artwork on the cover here used to mesmerise me and i studied it for hours. Particually taken with the Martian in the hood, the zapping of the Heat Ray and the loose clothing of the woman...