the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Archive for the tag “disaster”

Book Review; The Black Box…

Couldn't find the cover anywhere; here is the cover of the book I read, atop my cabin luggage...

Couldn’t find the cover anywhere; here is the cover of the book I read, atop my cabin luggage…

After reading Moby Duck I found myself on a plane with nothing to read, and happened to have this book in my cabin luggage for such an eventuality. Quite possibly not the most appropriate reading material while 37,000 feet up, but its better than listening to the crying kid behind me with the ear ache. In my peripheral vision I could see furtive glances from a guy who may have felt like he was sitting next to a bloke with a death wish…

…doesn’t bother me. While I hope against hope that my plane doesn’t embed itself into a corn field or explode into millions of pieces in mid-air, I don’t have a fear of flying, love it, and the dangers it entails. However there is also a morbid fascination with plane crashes (which actually extends to ship sinkings, space misadventures, and zombie-esque apocalypses. Not sure why.

I know how. I read the story of Erebus when short of something to do one day (i.e. had probably wanked myself silly over some porn and was at a loose end) which was my partner’s book. Great book, even for a Kiwi one. But other than the investigation, and the flaws and discoveries, it was the transcribed cockpit recordings which held me in its headlights. The saying is ‘dead men don’t talk’, well the black box on aircraft belies that theory.

This book has about 25 such recounted tales of distress and calm in the air as an aircraft, from as small as a 20-seater twin prop, to a 747, and even a space shuttle!

It is a fascinating and enlightening read, took me a day (not a huge book) which does not go too much into anything about flight, its history, its foibles, and its grandness, but sits you down, straps you in, and takes you on a roller coaster ride as planes explode, plummet, and crash land despite non-descript situations.

A lot of the stories I actually knew from a must-see program on Discovery, “Air Crash Investigation” which takes the recordings and re-enacts them with actors and graphics…fascinating viewing, as this book is to reading.

Not all end in complete disaster though, plenty do, of course, but there are some happy endings, and some sort-of happy endings. When all is said and done, while you can choose your friends, you cannot choose your aircrew; and don’t think for a second that just because you choose Air NZ over budget carrier JetStar that you are guaranteed passage. This book will crush your ideas on that theory…there are some good planes, and some bad ones, and the same has to be said for the pilots.

Read it, if you can find it…

The parking in central Auckland has just got beyond a joke...

The parking in central Auckland has just got beyond a joke…


Book Review; The Flight by MR Hall

Before I read this book I didn’t know the specific role of a coroner, other than make a call on how someone died. This book detailed exactly their role and threw in a thrilling and intriguing story to boot.

While I take plaudits and tabloid reviews on books with a bag of salt it seems everyone who did rave about the series of novels centered on Coroner Jenny Cooper got it bang on. There is very little to pick apart in the style and picture painting that is a credit to Hall. To reiterate that point, Hall is in fact a male writer writing about the inner thoughts and feelings of a female, and while I guess plenty novelists probably do write on the POV of the opposite sex, until I researched the author after I read the book I actually thought Hall was a Hall-ess.

So to the story itself; an Airbus A380, the largest and safest plane in the air crashes into the Severn Estuary with complete loss of life and while the investigation falls under the jurisdiction of England’s Ministry, the discovery of two bodies on the river bank fall into Cooper’s. One, a very young girl who was a passenger is the only one of the entire complement to have a life jacket on, the second the sailor of a yacht which happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. By deduction, guesswork and luck Cooper finds out that the deaths of these two is not quite as straight forward as it seems, and when spooks from both sides of the Atlantic start showing up in an attempt to make Cooper do as they say, the plot thickens into the darker side of politics, terrorism and Government cover ups.

I don’t want to give anymore away than this as it would spoil the book somewhat as the conclusion was one I didn’t (quite) see coming, and even though this books comes in sometime after novels there is no spoiling of continuation. Unfortunately there was the obligatory love interest however not to the extent where it smacked on Hollywood in that is was somewhat subtle.

Top read, with a frighteningly plausible reality!

Book Review; The Titanic Secret by Jack Steel

Strictly speaking I am not a Titaniac but I have watched and read a lot on the world’s greatest disaster and so was looking forward to getting through this book. A mix of fact and fiction the story follows a British and American spy aboard the RMS Titanic on here maiden voyage. They are planted there to tail and dispose of three Germans who have in their possession a plan to have the US side with Germany in a pre-emptive war against Britain and her Empire.

It makes for a great plot line once you can get your head around the fact that it was pretty damned unlikely and of course history has taught us otherwise, but in a race against time the agents live and love life onboard the world’s greatest liner which of course, unbeknownst to all, is about to keep a date with a pretty large chunk on ice in the middle of the Atlantic.

Taking the pending iceberg out of the story the plot throws in a curve ball in the fact that disaster or not, Titanic was never destined to reach New York and it is this side story that I found to be the gripping and well told. I was finding it harder and harder to keep with Alex and Maria (the spies) in their cat-and-mouse game with Voss & co (the baddies) as the constant references to “bad omens” about the trip and ‘damned English’ attitude to everything was winding me right up.

And as one would expect, the story could not help but make some sort of love interest occur although thankfully not as obvious as Jack and Rose in the movie.

This book was only published this year so is as new as one could expect, not that it matters considering the Titanic sunk 100 years ago, and it will appeal to a lot of readers out there. But for me I found the plot line too predictable and the ending (as so many of my recent books have done) was amateurish and unfulfilling, but that’s just me.

Doesn’t the author’s name seem like that you would expect in a spy novel?

Holiday Reading – Subsmash by Alan Gallop

It might appear that the only thing I do through the holidays is read, read, read. This is not entirely true, it seems I have a wife and two kids as well. But the truth of the matter I do love to read, and when I get into a book, I find it hard to put it down, and in between eating, sleeping, and occasional fun times with my family, I snatch a few pages here, a chapter there.

I have just got back from a week in a caravan up the Kaikoura Coast which inevitably involved two solid days of rain. To avoid the encroaching cabin fever it was lucky I had taken a couple of books with me (as my wife did) and this was the first I read.

Based on the tragedy and subsequent search and investigation into the loss of the submarine HMS Affray Gallop has done well to capture the feeling of an event that happened over 50 years before (at time of writing). Unlike other such books I have read (HMAS Perth, USS Indianapolis, KM Bismarck and such) this one does not involve any eyewitnesses nor survivors to the actual disaster itself so there is no commentary on what happened in the sub’s fatal last moments. Read more…


Right. I get a the following Tweet:
Auckland Jolted by Earthquake.
I read on to find out it was a 2.9………..2.9!?!?!

So how is it the 80% of the 7000 earthquakes we’ve had down here that are greater than 2 point bloody 9 don’t get reported? Are we old news already? Or is this Auckland being the known centre of the universe?

Today there were 5 earthquakes around the country larger than this reported on NZ Quakes, the biggest being 4.7 in Te Anau, the other four in CHCH.

Give us a break…wake us when it gets serious. We eat anything under 4.0 for breakky.

PiS…don’t take this post too seriously Auckland.


Knox Hall on Bealey Ave; this photo was taken a few weeks back, but yesterday when I passed it, demo work appears to be underway. Another landmark gone.

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