The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Space Battleship Yamato
And Other Disasters

Posted on | March 7, 2015 | 14 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

It’s been a couple months since the last book post, I think, and with tax season being the usual pain in the butt that it is, I haven’t had time to do much reading – at least not of anything new. Let’s start at the beginning and work forward, shall we?

I apologize if the post title gives the impression that Space Battleship Yamato, which I saw on Amazon Instant Video, is a horrible movie. It’s not. It’s extremely faithful to the 1977 movie edited from the first season of Star Blazers. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Earth is being slowly destroyed by a radioactive bombardment conducted by the Gamilons, against whom Earth’s most advanced weapons are useless. Bitter ex-pilot Kodai finds a message capsule while prospecting for scrap on the surface, and the capsule contains designs for powerful new engines, a new weapon called the Wave Motion Gun, and the promise of technology to reverse the damage done by the Gamilons – if Earth can reach the faraway planet of Iskander. Earth’s High Command uses this technology to rebuild the legendary battleship Yamato into an interstellar dreadnought to break through the Gamilon forces, and Kodai volunteers for duty aboard her – which puts him in immediate conflict with Captain Okita, who Kodai holds responsible for his brother’s death, and Yuki, a fellow pilot who despises Kodai for resigning and (she feels) abandoning his fellow pilots. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a very good one, and well worth the $4 rental.

John Ringo’s Strands of Sorrow is the concluding novel to his Black Tide Rising series about the outbreak of a highly infectious zombie plague and how the survivors manage to fight back and re-establish some semblance of civilization. Much of the plot revolves around the problems caused by the rescue of senior civilian and military personnel who aren’t well-equipped (emotionally or mentally) to deal with the zombie hordes, which eventually forces the Smith sisters (better known to their compatriots as Shewolf and Seawolf) into a desperate act to keep things from sliding back into Hell. Recommended.

Not quite on the same topic, but still decent reading, is Sam Schall’s Duty from Ashes, the sequel to Vengeance from Ashes. In this second book, Major Ashlyn Shaw and her Marines get to take the fight to the enemy…but there are forces behind the scenes that Major Shaw and her superiors don’t even suspect are there. Good brain candy at a decent price.

On a completely unrelated subject, there’s Mike Williamson’s Wisdom From My Internet, a collection of jokes, quips and occasionally serious material that much like South Park has something to offend everyone. if you follow Mike on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a lot of this before, but it is handy to have it all in one place.

Also in the non-fiction category is Stanley G. Payne’s Fascism: Comparison and Definition. Professor Payne has a reputation as the foremost American scholar of Fascism and its derivative philosophies, and if this book is any example of his other works, it’s a well-deserved reputation. He spends much of the book pointing out the differences in origin, philosophy, and effects of Italian Fascism, German Naziism, and Spanish Falangism, to say nothing of dozens of other movements often called fascist, whether they were or not. Worth reading, if only to gather ammunition against leftards abusing a term which has a very specific meaning.

Finally, one of the nominees on the Sad Puppies list is John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them, and it’s true: this tale begins long after most other fairy tales end, with its hero a middle-aged man whose childhood adventures are a faded memory. I found Wright’s tale wrenching and touching by turns, and wish he’d spent more words showing us what happened instead of having Tommy relate some of the events as he’s talking to the friends he’s trying to recruit into another adventure; at times, the writing style verges on the Lovecraftian. Still, it’s a grand little tale, and I can’t recommend it enough.


14 Responses to “Space Battleship Yamato
And Other Disasters”

  1. darleenclick
    March 7th, 2015 @ 8:47 pm

    I’ve started One Bright Star and enjoying it … but I got yanked away by The Girl with all The Gifts … which locked me up tight until I finished it. And it is really a fabulous book that I cannot tell you about in any detail because spoilers! Let’s just say The End of The World which may look familiar but then is so much stranger with an unexpected (but logical) ending.

  2. Robert Denny
    March 7th, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

    Have to disagree on the Live Action Yamato flick was 1 star at best, It completely butchers the plot, in the end it was Yuki throwing herself between Kodai and Delser and Kodai’s love for Yuki and Earth which keeps him going through every adversary that saves the mission. And where did the evil robots come from anyway?

  3. Wombat_socho
    March 7th, 2015 @ 9:12 pm

    Evil robots? The only robots I saw in that movie were on the side of the Yamato crew. I wasn’t *that* drunk.

  4. Julie Pascal
    March 7th, 2015 @ 10:08 pm

    I read Sam Schall’s first book. Thanks for the reminder to read the second one. 🙂

  5. joethefatman
    March 7th, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

    I bought the Grimnoir books and read them. Very good stories. I’ve also read two of the Hard Luck Hank books by Steven Campbell. Not great, but very readable. I’ve also picked up some of the free books for kindle, Operation Chimera, can’t remember the authors names, and The Heretic by Lucas Bale. Hope they’re better than the price suggests. I’m also reading 1984. Depressing enough that I can’t read much at a time. Also the reason I never finished the first time around.

    I’ll give the Ashes books a try when I get the chance. Thanks for the heads up on those.

    And in general, Thank you for being around Wombat.

  6. Wombat_socho
    March 8th, 2015 @ 12:27 am

    Thanks, Joe.

  7. wbkrebs
    March 8th, 2015 @ 12:56 am

    “One Bright Star to Guide Them” is a good book, but John C. Wright has an even better short story that’s also up for a reward. See “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” at

  8. Steve Skubinna
    March 8th, 2015 @ 7:19 am

    I also second the Space Battleship Yamato live action film. At least for anybody who watched either the original Japanese series or the bowdlerized Star Blazers version.

    As for Ringo I’ve added his Black Tide Rising series to my list and will be getting to them, probably as soon as I return to CONUS.

    I don’t know if you’ve already covered Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, which as now split into two parallel story lines. Lots of good stuff in there on the civilian-military relationship, especially in a representative democracy suffering potentially lethal strains from a century of war. Also Campbell has devoted a lot of thought – a lot – to space combat tactics at near relativistic speeds in three dimensions.

    Campbell is a retired Naval officer who earlier published as John Hemry (I don’t know which is the real name and which a pseudonym). Earlier books include the Paul Sinclar series, about a junior officer aboard his first space navy vessel (all solar system, no interstellar stuff) and rings true for anybody who’s been in a similar billet aboard an Earthbound ship. He also wrote the Stark’s War trilogy, set in a dystopian future USA where the civil-military gulf is nearly insurmountable, as well as the enlisted-officer one.

    What can happen when a professional military finds itself estranged from the society it nominally defends, as well as from the officers supposedly commanding it?

  9. Steve Skubinna
    March 8th, 2015 @ 7:28 am

    Well, your opinion differs from mine and is therefore illegitimate. Further you have no right to express it, as I find it hateful and offensive in the extreme. You have left microaggressions in the dust and are now performing the internet equivalent of rape.

    I thought the first half was nearly identical to the original cartoon series. I have no problem with the Gamilas diverging from the blue humanoids, and appreciated the romance added between Yuki and Kodai (because I expect more from live actors than I do from cartoons). And of course the greatest divergence was Kodai sacrificing himself and Yamato to end the threat, so no sequels. At least not with the same ship and characters.

    As for the major plot points, I think they were there if in some cases modified. The symbiotic relationship between Gamila and Iskandar was made even more explicit. And one aspect of the cartoon that impressed me originally (at least the original Japanese one) was the personal cost to the Yamato crew. People, even cartoon ones, were seriously injured or killed. This film used that and upped the pot by throwing Kodai into it.

    And I think there was a deliberate point to mirroring real life Yamato’s sacrificial final mission. That’s very significant to the Japanese even today.

  10. Steve Skubinna
    March 8th, 2015 @ 7:29 am

    I think he’s referring to the shape shifting Gamilas. But ignore him, I put him in his place with my longer post above.

    Phooey to him! Doesn’t like the same films I do? This will not stand, man!

  11. Wombat_socho
    March 8th, 2015 @ 10:37 am

    I’ll have to check that out.

  12. Robert Denny
    March 8th, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

    I object to the changing the Gamalons from warriors and Delser from their shogun into robots. Robots will not react to love or self sacrifice, which was the point of the series. You might as well be fighting zombies. Look deeper into the themes. The author thinks this movie was faithful to original series, not even close, lots of computer generated effects, butchered story.

  13. Wombat_socho
    March 8th, 2015 @ 10:35 pm

    Crystal entities are not robots, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

  14. Daniel Freeman
    March 9th, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

    I just read Ringo’s Princess of Wands yesterday. The style reminds me of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunters: pulp action with Lovecraftian horrors and lots of guns. It aims to be a fun, easy read and mostly hits the mark, although I’m pretty sure that I missed a lot of inside jokes in the part set at a sci-fi convention.