August 30, 2004

Stake Out


Jack Crow and Friends Prepare to Hunt Vampires

John Steakley has written a couple of really good books. The one he is probably better known for is "Armor", which is similar in some respects to Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". It deals mostly with the ordeal of a soldier encased in a suit of body armor that makes him nearly invulnerable. The soldier battles alien bugs on another world in a pointless war and kills them by the thousands, but they just keep coming. It's good science fiction and just an interesting read in general.

The other book is "Vampire$". The book's main character, Jack Crow, is a professional vampire hunter (he gets paid, usually by the Catholic Church). What I liked most about this book is the simple fact that Crow isn't stupid. When the team enters a house full of vampires, they don't all split up and go their separate ways. More likely they isolate the vampires, one by one, impaling them with a powerful crossbow with an arrow attached by a sturdy chain to a car parked outside in the sunlight. After staking the vampire, the car pulls away, pulling the vampire out to expose it to sunlight, which reduces it to ash.

And so, systematically, while putting themselves in minimal danger, Crow's team has learned to exterminate vampires very effectively. But then the vampires start to get smart, and they fight back, trying to lure Crow into a trap, and so on. Great book, very fast paced. It's one of those I read in probably about 5-6 hours over the course of a single day, couldn't put it down.

It was recently made into a movie, "John Carpenter's Vampires", but the movie is only based on the novel in the sense that the main character name and the tactics the team uses are sort of the same. The plot in the movie has almost nothing to do with the book. It's not a bad movie. I always like James Woods as a tough guy. I really hate Daniel Baldwin. He just annoys the hell out of me, and based on the other times I've seen him (like once on Celebrity Poker), I really don't think he's stretching it to play a crude, macho, slobby jackass of a character.

Anyway, saw the movie again on SciFi the other day, and a DVR'ed the sequel, which I had never heard of until I saw it in the TV listings (never a good sign). I'm not holding out much hope for the sequel, but if I'm truly bored in the next week, I might sit down and give it a try.

Posted by Observer at August 30, 2004 06:29 PM
Comments

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Love James Woods. Vampires was fun, not as much as I'd hoped for, but not tooo bad. Doubt the sequels are worthy.

Starship Troopers was not insignificant in my decision to join the Marines.

Posted by: Humbaba on August 31, 2004 12:45 AM

I *hope* you mean the book not the movie in that reference to Starship Troopers, Hummer (hard to tell from context).

I keep an eye out for books by Steakley because both were very, very well put together and engaging. I still go back and read them once in a while. I tend to have less patience for movie adaptation of books like that because the point of the books was always something other than the action. Armor has great scenes of guys in metal suits smashing bugs and all but the point of it is the human reaction to watching that. Rarely if ever do I see a movie adaptation of a book like that which bothers to remember the human reaction. (That is not to say that movies can't do that, simply that I find movies that do few and far between and even more rare in adaptations of SciFi.)

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on August 31, 2004 12:24 PM

Heh, sorry, I'm 36 years old and a Gulf War I vet, I was 5 years out of the Marine Corps by 1997 when the so-bad-it's-funny Starship 90120 came out.

It's not the war-rah-rah part so much as the sense that to truly deserve my citizenship and respect the sacrifices so many before me have made to make this country great, I felt I should pay my dues as well.

It wouldn't bother me a bit if the right to vote was restricted to those who served the country (either in the military or some non-military way).

Posted by: Humbaba on August 31, 2004 01:23 PM

Yeah, I was gonna say, he'd be a bit too "experienced" (aka old -- not just age, because that's not too old to join, right? But I knew he was a Gulf War vet) to ahve been influenced by the movie. Heh. And me? I'm too young to read the book (rimshot please).

Seen the movie -- wasn't too impressed. It was "ok." I like the history in vampire movies, generally ('cause I like history anyhow -- video games, RPGs, MMORPGs, whatever -- it can rope me in). I also enjoy James Woods ...

Daniel Baldwin. I was going to ask if he was "the fat one" but then I looked at the picture and saw his big head. My issue with him is he just seems ... dumb. He may or may not be, but he *looks* it. And he somehow manages to, with his other brothers, overshadow my favorite, Stephen. Viva los Bio Dome.

Posted by: Polerand on August 31, 2004 03:58 PM

I haven't read the book, so maybe I'm missing the point, but "serving the country" can be making a good living, paying your taxes, and raising a decent family (if kids are involved). Being involved in the political process is serving the country. At least I think these things qualify.

While I understand the sentiment, I find it a little frightening to think that the only way one would get a vote would be to enlist in the armed forces or some kind of civil servant job.

Posted by: Perkusi on August 31, 2004 09:31 PM

I just don't think a two-year commitment is too much to ask.

Posted by: Humbaba on September 1, 2004 02:38 PM

Neither did Heinlein apparently (although I don't know if he ever served). Israel today requires military service from all citizens (but there are some strange exceptions for hardcore (is it Orthodox?) Jews which bother me in more than just this case).

The premise is that in order to "earn" your right to vote you have to contribute more than just your money to the government (something which would immediately eliminate all the NeoCon Hawks we discuss these days, for example). I enjoy speculative fiction like this but I view it as fiction... I don't see the sweeping reforms that I could suggest to clean up things like Congress or the Judicial system without throwing out the entire constitution and starting from scratch so if you look at these things as a thought exercise and no more then it can provide interesting ideas for more moderate reforms that migth be meaningful.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on September 1, 2004 07:48 PM

(Feff exults in getting his DSL service working again, after being off-line for almost two weeks.)

Heinlein was a graduate of the US Naval Academy. I don't know anything else about his service, though. He once credited an Annapolis course titled "Order Writing" with greatly improving his writing skills. The course consisted of the instructor describing a situation to the class, one cadet being required to compose a written order appropriate to the situation, and then all the others coming up with plausible ways that order could be misinterpreted.

Posted by: Feff on September 2, 2004 11:13 PM