Irish novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis sadly died 22 November 1963, as the result of renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. He was born on 29th November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He is known for both his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy and his non-fiction, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain. Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. At the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies? Among his best known novels is The Pilgrim’s Regress, which was written in 1933 shortly after he converted to Christianity, this depicted his experience with Christianity in the style of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Lewis also wrote the “Space Trilogy” (also called the “Cosmic Trilogy” or “Ransom Trilogy”) which dealt with what Lewis saw as the de-humanising trends in contemporary science fiction. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, was apparently written following a conversation with his friend JRR Tolkien about these trends. Lewis agreed to write a “space travel” story and Tolkien a “time travel” one, but Tolkien never completed “The Lost Road”, linking his Middle-earth to the modern world. Lewis’s main character Elwin Ransom is based in part on Tolkien, a fact Tolkien alludes to in his letters. The second novel, Perelandra, depicts a new Garden of Eden on the planet Venus, a new Adam and Eve, and a new “serpent figure” to tempt them. The story can be seen as an account of what could have happened if the terrestrial Eve had resisted the serpent’s temptation and avoided the Fall of Man. The third novel, That Hideous Strength, develops the theme of nihilistic science threatening traditional human values, embodied in Arthurian legend.Many ideas in the trilogy, particularly opposition to de-humanization as portrayed in the third book, are presented more formally in The Abolition of Man, based on a series of lectures by Lewis at Durham University in 1943.

C.S.Lewis’s best known novels are The Chronicles of Narnia which are a series of seven fantasy novels and are considered classics of children’s literature. Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle. The Chronicles of Narnia have also been adapted for stage, TV, radio, and cinema. Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to adapting numerous traditional Christian themes, the books freely borrow characters and ideas from Greek, Turkish and Roman mythology as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales & have profoundly influenced adult and children’s fantasy literature since World War II.

. Media coverage of his death was minimal because it was the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Readers are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations. Lewis has been the subject of several biographies. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life. There is A bronze statue of Lewis’s character Digory, from The Magician’s Nephew, in front of Belfast’s Holywood Road Library.

Many books have been inspired by Lewis, including Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors of adult fantasy literature such as Tim Powers have also been influenced by Lewis’s work. Lewis was strongly opposed to the creation of live-action versions of his works. His major concern was that the anthropomorphic animal characters “when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare”, despite this, three popular film adaptations have been made -The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Trader plus a BBC TV series starring Tom Baker.

Several C. S. Lewis Societies exist around the world and His name is also used by a variety of Christian organisations. . Lewis is also featured as a main character in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen. He is also one of two characters in Mark St. Germain’s 2009 play Freud’s Last Session, which imagines a meeting between Lewis, aged 41, and Sigmund Freud, aged 83, at Freud’s house in Hampstead, London, in 1939, during the outbreak of World War Two.

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Aldous Huxley

English writer Aldous Huxley sadly passed away on 22nd November 1963. Born 26 July 1894 in Godalming, Surrey, England, he is Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, film stories and scripts. He began his learning in his father’s well-equipped botanical laboratory, then continued in a school named Hillside. His teacher was his mother, who supervised him for several years until she became terminally ill. After Hillside, he was educated at Eton College. In 1911, he suffered an illness (keratitis punctata) which “left him practically blind for two to three years”. This disqualified him from service in the First World War. Once his eyesight recovered sufficiently, he was able to study English literature at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1916 he edited Oxford Poetry and later graduated (B.A.) with first class honours. Following his education at Balliol, Huxley earnt a living teaching French at Eton, where Eric Blair (later to become George Orwell) and Stephen Runciman were among his pupils. Huxley also worked at the technologically advanced Brunner and Mond chemical plant in Billingham, Teesside, and the most recent introduction to his famous science fiction novel Brave New World (1932) states that this experience of “an ordered universe in a world of planless incoherence” was one source for the novel

During the First World War, Huxley spent much of his time at Garsington Manor, working as a farm labourer. Here he met several Bloomsbury figures including Bertrand Russell and Clive Bell. Works of this period included important novels on the dehumanising aspects of scientific progress, most famously Brave New World, and on pacifist themes (for example, Eyeless in Gaza). In Brave New World Huxley portrays a society operating on the principles of mass production and Pavlovian conditioning. Huxley was strongly influenced by F. Matthias Alexander and included him as a character in Eyeless in Gaza.Huxley began to write and edit non-fiction works on pacifist issues and was an active member of the Peace Pledge Union.In 1937, Huxley moved to Hollywood & lived in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death. He also moved to Taos, New Mexico for a time, where he wrote Ends and Means.He was also introduced to Vedanta (Upanishad-centered philosophy), meditation, and vegetarianism through the principle of ahimsa. In 1938 Huxley befriended J. Krishnamurti, whose teachings he greatly admired. He also became a Vedantist in the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda, and introduced Christopher Isherwood to this circle. Not long after, Huxley wrote his book on widely held spiritual values and ideas, The Perennial Philosophy, which discussed the teachings of renowned mystics of the world & affirmed a sensibility that insists there are realities beyond the generally accepted “five senses” and that there is genuine meaning for humans beyond both sensual satisfactions and sentimentalities.

Huxley also worked as a scriptwriter. In March 1938, his friend Anita Loos, a novelist and screenwriter, put him in touch with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer who hired Huxley for Madame Curie which was originally to star Greta Garbo and be directed by George Cukor. (The film was eventually completed by MGM in 1943 with a different director and cast.) Huxley received screen credit for Pride and Prejudice (1940) and a number of other films, including Jane Eyre (1944).Huxley was also apprehensive about the future the developed world might make for itself. From these he put forward some warnings in his writings and talks. In a 1958 televised interview Huxley outlined several major concerns: the difficulties and dangers of world overpopulation; the tendency toward distinctly hierarchical social organization; the crucial importance of evaluating the use of technology in mass societies susceptible to wily persuasion; the tendency to promote modern politicians, to a naive public, as well-marketed commodities. He also wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on “how fine and how profoundly important the book is”.

During the 1950s, Huxley’s interest in the field of psychical research grew and his later works are strongly influenced by both mysticism and his experiences with psychedelic drugs,Allegedly English occultist Aleister Crowley introduced Huxley to peyote & psychiatrist Humphry Osmond introduced him to mescaline (the key active ingredient of peyote) & through Dr. Osmond, Huxley also met millionaire Alfred Matthew Hubbard and became a pioneer of self-directed psychedelic drug use “in a search for enlightenment”. His psychedelic drug experiences are described in the essays The Doors of Perception (the title deriving from some lines in the book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake). Beginning in 1939 and continuing until his death in 1963, Huxley also had an extensive association with the Vedanta Society of Southern California, founded and headed by Swami Prabhavananda. Together with Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, and other followers he was initiated by the Swami and was taught meditation and spiritual practices.

Huxley was also interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism and by the end of his life Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time and respected as an important researcher into visual communication and sight-related theories as well as advocating and taking psychedelics. Sadly Huxley passed away aged 69, on 22 November 1963, several hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Huxley’s ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, a village near Guildford, Surrey, England. Media coverage of Huxley’s passing was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,  and the death of British author C. S. Lewis, who also both died on 22 November. This coincidence was the inspiration for Peter Kreeft’s book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley. Huxley’s literary legacy continues to be represented by the literary agency headed by Georges Borchardt.

And now for something completely different…

Screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and member of Monty Python, Terry Gilliam was born 22nd November 1940 in Medicine Lake, Minnesota, U.S. He started his career as an animator and strip cartoonist. One of his early photographic strips for Help! featured future Python cast-member John Cleese. When Help! folded, Gilliam went to Europe, jokingly announcing in the very last issue that he was “being transferred to the European branch” of the magazine, which of course did not exist. After Moving to England, he animated sequences for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set, which also featured Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.Gilliam was a part of Monty Python’s Flying Circus from its outset, at first credited as an animator (his name was listed separately after the other five in the closing credits), later as a full member. His cartoons linked the show’s sketches together, and defined the group’s visual language in other media (such as LP and book covers, and the title sequences of their films).

Gilliam’s animations mix his own art, characterized by soft gradients and odd, bulbous shapes, with backgrounds and moving cutouts from antique photographs, mostly from the Victorian era. Besides doing the animations, he also appeared in several sketches, though he rarely had any main roles and did considerably less acting in the sketches. He did however have some notable sketch roles such as Cardinal Fang of the Spanish Inquisition, “I Want More Beans!” (from “Most Awful Family in Britain 1974″, Episode 45) and the Screaming Queen in a cape and mask singing “Ding dong merrily on high.” More frequently, he played parts that no one else wanted to play (generally because they required a lot of make-up or uncomfortable costumes, such as a recurring knight in armour who would end sketches by walking on and hitting one of the other characters over the head with a plucked chicken) and took a number of small roles in the films, including Patsy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which he co-directed with Terry Jones, where Gilliam was responsible for photography, while Jones would guide the actors’ performances) and the jailer in Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

With the gradual break-up of the Python troupe between Life of Brian in 1979 and The Meaning of Life in 1983, Gilliam became a screenwriter and director, building upon the experience he had acquired during the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Gilliam says he used to think of his films in terms of trilogies, starting with Time Bandits in 1981. The 1980s saw Gilliam’s self-written Trilogy of Imagination about “the ages of man” in Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). All are about the “craziness of our awkwardly ordered society and the desire to escape it through whatever means possible.” All three movies focus on these struggles and attempts to escape them through imagination; Time Bandits, through the eyes of a child, Brazil, through the eyes of a thirty-something, and Munchausen, through the eyes of an elderly man. Throughout the 1990s, Gilliam directed his Trilogy of Americana: The Fisher King (1991), 12 Monkeys (1995), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), which were based on scripts by other people, played on North American soil, and while still being surreal, had less fantastical plots than his previous trilogy. Other films he has directed also include Jabberwocky, The Brothers Grimm, Tideland and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman ( Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium)

Seen and not Seen by William Bowden

I would like to read Seen and not Seen by William Bowden, an exciting fast-paced technological thriller set in the near future. It is available free gratis on Amazon Kindle and is first book in the trilogy by the same name, and is part of the Veil series, a collection of interconnected stories looking at the folly of Man, the Earth’s stretched resources, what it means to be human, the endeavors undertaken to preserve our way of life and the dark road that some elements of the Human Race would have us take and how they are all interconnected.

It Features a clandestine government agency who are investigating a mysterious organisation known as The Veil. The Veil are impartial and play all sides, sometimes in our best interests, sometimes not. Now they have secretly deposited something at the United Nations—the victim of a horrifying crime against humanity. But is she a pawn or a terrifying weapon? They remain unaware that the answer lies at the center of one man’s dramatic spiral into an abyss of mania and despair that is already playing out on the world stage.

Justice League

I would like to watch Justice League, the superhero film based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name. It features Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, and Diane Lane, as Batman, Superman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Alfred Pennyworth and Martha Kent. It is directed by Zack Snyder and is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

It begins as Bruce Wayne (Batman and Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) decide to recruit a team of Superheroes, comprising of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash in order to save the planet from the catastrophic threat of newly awakened enemy called Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons originally attempted to conquer and remake Earth thousands of years ago through the combined energies of the Mother Boxes. However they were defeated by a unified army that included the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and Green Lanterns. However Steppenwolf returns to Earth following the death of Superman to retrieve the Mother Boxes and manages to retrieve the Mother Box from Themyscira, prompting Queen Hippolyta to warn her daughter, Diana Prince, of Steppenwolf’s return.

So Diana and Bruce Wayne attempt to unite the other metahumans, with Wayne searching for Arthur Curry (Aquaman) and Barry Allen(The Flash), while Diana tries to locate Victor Stone (Cyborg). Allen and Stone eventually join the group after Stone’s father Silas is kidnapped, by Steppenwolf along with several other S.T.A.R. Labs employees, While he is looking for the box left with mankind. Steppenwolf then attacks Atlantis to retrieve the second Mother Box. Meanwhile Commissioner Gordon discovers where the Parademons are based. Following a confrontation with the enemy Stone retrieves the last Mother Box and Wayne decides to use it to resurrect Superman, however this does not go to plan and Steppenwolf manages to purloin the last Mother Box. So the remaining five heroes travel to a village in Russia Without Superman, to defeat the Pandemons in an exciting show-down and prevent Steppenwolf uniting the boxes once again and reshaping the world.

Valerian and the City of a thousand planets

The French science fiction action-adventure film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is out onDVD. It is written and directed by Luc Besson and co-produced by Besson and his wife, Virginie Besson-Silla. The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. It stars Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer in supporting roles

It takes place in the 28th century, on the space station Alpha where millions of creatures from different planets live peacefully and exchange their knowledge and cultures. Alpha began as a space station around Earth and grew as more alien species colonised it. Valerian and Laureline are special agents living on Space Station Alpha. During a dream, Valerian sees a planet where a low-tech humanoid race lives peacefully in a tropical paradise. They fish for energy-containing pearls and use certain animals to duplicate them. As this idyll is destroyed by spaceship debris crashing onto the planet, Valerian wakes up.

He and Laureline are sent on a mission to retrieve one of the rare animals from his dream, called a “converter”, from a black market dealer. He and Laureline obtain the converter and return to Alpha, where they are told by Commander Filitt that part of the station has been infected by an unknown force, rendering it highly toxic, that troops sent into the area have not returned, and that the infection is spreading. Laureline and Valerian are assigned to protect the commander.

Sadly they are ambushed by the humanoids who kidnap the Commander. Luckily Valerian frees himself and the others and pursues the kidnappers, who head for the infected area. Meanwhile Laureline goes searching for Valerian and finds him unconscious at the edge of the infected area and is kidnapped by a group of primitive humanoids. Later Valerian and a Shapeshifter named Bubble manage to rescue Laureline and escape Unfortunately Bubble is killed in the fighting. As Valerian and Laureline venture further into the infected area, they also discover where Commander Filitt is being held.

The leader of the humanoids explains to Valerian that his people were living peacefully on the planet Mül when two technologically advanced races, one of them human, started fighting, a doomsday weapon was fired during the conflict which destroyed the enemy but unfortunately also destroyed Mül. Luckily A small group of survivors sheltered in a crashed spaceship and managed to repair it, learning much about technology and the history of other races. They Journeyed to Alpha where they constructed a spaceship that could recreate a planet like Mül. However they still need a Converter and a Pearl in order to launch the ship. Valerian and Laureline then learn of Filitt’s dubious activities during the destruction of Mül. Then as the spacecraft is prepared for flight, Filitt’s robot soldiers attack and all hell breaks loose…

The White Princess

Having enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, Wolf Hall, the Hollow Crown and many other historical epics, I would like to watch The White Princess, an eight episode British-American historical fiction television series based on Philippa Gregory’s 2013 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to The White Queen, a 2013 BBC-produced miniseries adapting three of Gregory’s previous novels. It features the marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York which effectively ends the Wars of the Roses by uniting houses of Lancaster and York. However, the sinister political machinations of their mothers Elizabeth and Margaret continually threaten to tear both the marriage and the kingdom apart.

It begins with Henry Tudor Arriving triumphantly in London after defeating Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth, and Marrying Elizabeth of York to join the warring houses of Lancaster and York. Unfortunately Henry despises Elizabeth and Elizabeth despises Henry especially after he gets her pregnant before committing himself to marry her. So Lizzie decides to play the part of dutiful wife while she and her mother, the former Queen consort Elizabeth, secretly plot against the Tudors.

Henry tours the kingdom to assert his sovereignty. Planning to accompany him to secretly rally York supporters, Lizzie’s mother Elizabeth is instead locked up in Westminster Palace by Henry’s own mother Margaret. Henry survives an assassination attempt by Yorkist Francis Lovell but suspects Lizzie’s involvement, however Lizzie denies any involvement, and wins favor with the common people by seizing funds from the Royal Treasury to aid those threatened by the sweating sickness. Lizzie eventually gives birth to Prince Arthur. Meanwhile Jasper Tudor visits Margaret of Burgundy seeking an alliance but peace negotiations are suddenly aborted by an incident at the Burgundy court. In the meantime, Lizzie’s mother Elizabeth is exiled to Bermondsey Abbey.

The York princesses plan to marry Tudor loyalists, Margaret of Burgundy raises an army behind a peasant boy she has declared is Teddy Plantagenet. So Henry releases the real Teddy from the Tower, however Margaret, the King’s Mother, conspires to sends Teddy back to the Tower and declares the Dowager Queen Elizabeth complicit in the conspiracy, although Henry refuses to execute his wife’s mother. Margaret of Burgundy is rallying European support around a boy she recognizes as the true heir to the English throne, Lizzie’s brother Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York. Henry sends Margaret, now Lady Pole, to prove that the boy is an impostor. Henry and Lizzie name their own son Henry as the Duke of York, but Lizzie’s mother, the Dowager Queen informs them that her son, the rightful King of England, is alive in Burgundy. Meanwhile Margaret causes more trouble for the Tudors.

William Stanley is executed for his support to the imposter Perkin Warbeck. Lizzie and Henry travel to Spain to seek for an alliance, but Queen Isabella of Castile refuses to help the king until his traitors are dealt with. After the death of the Dowager Queen Elizabeth, Lizzie insipires Henry’s men to fight against the pretender Perkin Warbeck, who finds sanctuary in a monastery and refuses to renounce his claim to the throne. Margaret spies for her aunt, Margaret of Burgundy. Lizzie is convinced that Warbeck is her brother and tries to help him. Henry finds out from Lizzie what happened to the Princes in the Tower and points out that if Henry kills Warbeck—who she believes is Richard, Princes Arthur and Henry could find themselves in danger. So Henry tries to find out what Lizzie and her mother Elizabeth have been up to