Friday, 30 September 2016

White chocolate chip bake

  • 250g stork
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150ml greek yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 100g white chocolate chips
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Milk chocolate buttons to decorate
I beat the sugar and stork together and added the eggs one at a time, mixing them in well.  I found the stork and the creaming method made a lighter batter.  I beat the yoghurt, vanilla and milk into the batter and then folded in the flour and baking powder.  Before the flour was completely combined I added the chocolate chips.  The batter was thick, fluffy and dropped easily off the spoon.  I spread it gently into a lined baking tin 21cm x 31cm and baked for 31 minutes at 160’c fan.  The bake was golden on top, slightly cracked and skewer came out clean.
white cake
Once the bake was completely cooled I melted the white chocolate and beat in the cream cheese before sifting in the icing.  I left it for a few minutes for the chocolate to cool and the frosting to thicken.

The Best Movies from Books

The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
I adore films. It's funny; if I spend two hours watching television, I sometimes feel guilty, as though I’ve wasted my time. But time at the cinema rarely leaves me feeling as though I’ve just lost two hours to the brainless abyss (I will be polite and not mention the exceptions that come to mind). So I will almost always choose a film over a television show. And even better than a movie, of course, is a book, and when comparing the two, the limitations of modern technology (particularly when compared to our own boundless imaginations), mean that books almost always win, for me.

Typically I find the book superior to the film, again because imagination is so powerful. Sometimes they get the villain's moustache wrong, or the romance feels false and wooden, or the director's vision just plain didn't match mine. Most importantly, even longer films have a limited amount of time to tell the story, and there are bound to be subtleties, nuances, and details lost in translation. Even the most well-respected literary masterpieces can fail dismally in movie form.

That said, there are certainly plenty of examples that buck the trend, wherein the movie is as good – or occasionally even better – when compared to the book. One of my favourite examples is The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride has something for everyone (unless you're a fuddy-duddy). Pirates, swordplay, murder, a princess, torture, kidnapping, true love, revenge (served ice-cold, of course), a giant, and even a fire swamp. The film adaptation is brilliant and amazing, and leaves me smiling and satisfied with every viewing (and there have been many). Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya ("Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die."), Andre the Giant as Fezzik, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, and more…the characters are cast perfectly, and play off each other effortlessly.

Conversely, the book by William S. Goldman, meanders too far off course on several occasions, and is so rife with footnotes, asides, and strange tangents that it somewhat compromises the joy and simplicity of the main narrative. In that regard, the film is more successful and fun. However, I don't know if I'd enjoy the movie nearly as much as I do without having read the book, which also delves far more deeply into the personal histories of Fezzik, Inigo, Buttercup and more, and I wouldn't miss that for the world. This is a story so wonderful it should be enjoyed in every format available. If ever there is a puppet show of The Princess Bride, I'll be first in line.

Another example is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote’s novella introduced us to Holly Golightly, sure, but it was undoubtedly Audrey Hepburn who brought her to life. The film brought the character into sharper focus, and made her a living, breathing, three-dimensional human with flaws and feelings and the rest. And while some critics have lambasted the film as racist (Mickey Rooney’s depiction of Mr. Yunioshi in particular), it was actually decidedly less so than the novella, in which Holly Golightly makes passing disparaging remarks about black people more than once. Director Blake Edwards (The Party, The Pink Panther, Victor Victoria) captured the essence of both the character and 1940s New York City, and expertly determined which parts of the story to focus on or discard.

So while many stories are lessened or lost by their adaptation to screen, there are indeed numerous examples where the writers, directors, producers, actors and crew come together to preserve or even improve our beloved books.

The selection below showcases books that have been made into superior motion pictures, both modern and classic.

The Best Film Adaptations of Books

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago 
by Boris Pasternak
Atonement by Ian McEwan
by Ian McEwan
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 
by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club 
by Chuck Palahniuk
Beloved by Toni Morrison
by Toni Morrison
Away From Her by Alice Munro
Away From Her 
by Alice Munro
Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
Being There 
by Jerzy Kosinski
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Wonder Boys 
by Michael Chabon
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies 
William Golding
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
The Bourne Identity 
by Robert Ludlum
Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
by Lew Wallace
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth 
by Edith Wharton
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary 
by Gustave Flaubert
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men 
by John Steinbeck
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front 
by Erich Maria Remarque
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers 
by Alexandre Dumas

Steampunk: From Sci-Fi Sub-genre to Cultural Phenomenon

The Difference Engine by William Gibson
The Difference Engine
William Gibson
From humble beginnings as a loosely defined sub-genre of science fiction, steampunk has evolved into a cultural phenomenon that combines ‘a Victorian aesthetic and a punk-rock attitude’; one that has come to influence more than just literature.
The creation of the ‘steampunk’ term is usually attributed to the science fiction author K.W. Jeter, who used it in a letter to Locus Magazine. He was trying to find a way to describe Victorian fantasy novels like those written by himself (Morlock Night and Infernal Devices), Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates) and James Blaylock (Homunculus).
He believed novels written in what he described as the ‘gonzo-historical manner’ would be the next big thing but only if there was a general term that described them as a genre. “Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steam-punks,’” Jeter wrote. The label stuck and those early works helped define the genre.

It’s still inadequate to explain steampunk as just ‘Victorian Fantasy.’ The most common theme is to show a world where humanity, usually set in the Victorian era, has adopted technologies that combine past and future – think ‘steam-powered, gear-driven time machine’. But the genre encompasses much more than that, from the Darwinists’ genetically modified creatures in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, to elements of the supernatural in Powers’ The Anubis GatesAnno Dracula by Kim Newman, and the more recent Soulless by Gail Carriger.
In 1990, steampunk was introduced to a wider audience with The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, in which the mechanical computer Charles Babbage theorized in 1822 was successfully built and led to the dawn of an Information Age in the late 19th century, rather than 100 years later. Other examples of technology mash-ups that might be classified as steampunk are spring-powered robots, 22nd century zeppelins, Edwardian atomic power or a steam-powered hovercraft.
Steampunk’s influence in the 21st century has expanded to include film, television, art, music, and fashion, including an offshoot of the Maker Movement – dedicated DIYers crafting everything from electrostatic generators, to parasols and corsets, to goggle- and clockwork-themed housewares.  Even mainstream designers Prada, Versace, and Kenneth Cole have incorporated steampunk style into their clothing and accessories.

In spite of its vintage feel, steampunk as a literary genre is relatively new, with roots that barely reach back to the ‘70’s and acquiring a name only as recently as 1987. But the seeds of steampunk can be traced back to the 19th century, when Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley and others were writing about steampunk-ish themes, paving the way for a variety of modern incarnations.

Selected Steampunk Literature

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
by Cherie Priest

Zombies, pirates, airships and mad scientists turn this into great YA steampunk romp.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan Trilogy
by Scott Westerfeld

A trilogy about an alternate version of WW1, pitting steam-driven iron war machines against genetically engineered, living creatures.
Soulless by Gail Carriger
by Gail Carriger

Victorian England has werewolves and vampires, but the vampires are disappearing.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (vol. 1) by Alan Moore
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (vol. 1)
by Alan Moore

A great graphic novel and visual representation of steampunk, including many inside jokes.
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
The Diamond Age
by Neal Stephenson

A book about a book. In a Neo-Victorian future, the Earth is divided into tribal empires.
Iron Council by China Miéville
Iron Council
by China Miéville

Miéville is no stranger to steampunk - this novel is set in the old west.
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
The Affinity Bridge
by George Mann

A museum researcher/agent of Queen Victoria has to solve a mysterious airship disaster.
Mainspring by Jay Lake
by Jay Lake

A clockmaker’s apprentice is visited by an angel and asked to wind the mainspring of the Earth.
Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers
Extraordinary Engines
edited by Nick Gevers

Steampunk short stories with plots like a Victorian bride stuck in the outback with a robot maid.
Worldshaker by Richard Harland
by Richard Harland

A good YA read where the main character lives on a city-sized ship called Worldshaker.
The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
The Alchemy of Stone
by Ekaterina Sedia

Urban fantasy meets steampunk in this novel about a proletarian revolution in a city-state.
The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling
The Peshawar Lancers
by S.M. Stirling

Set in the year 2025 on a post-apocalyptic earth after a devastating meteor shower in 1878.
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Anno Dracula
by Kim Newman

An alternate history of Bram Stoker’s Dracula where he survives and marries Queen Victoria.
Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter
by Stephen Baxter

In 1855, the British discover a new natural energy source and use it to win the Crimean War.
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
Against the Day
by Thomas Pynchon

1,085 pages and 100+ characters, this novel is a marathon example of steampunk.

Literature That Influenced Steampunk

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea
by Jules Verne

Published in 1870, the futuristic submarine, Nautilus, is juxtaposed against a Victorian setting.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells

A Victorian protagonist travels into the distant future in a time machine. Very influential.
The Angel of the Revolution by George Griffith
The Angel of the Revolution
by George Griffith

A group of terrorists aim to conquer the world through airship warfare.
Homunculus by James Blaylock
by James Blaylock

An airship piloted by a corpse has been circling London for years....
Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore
Bring the Jubilee
by Ward Moore

Published in 1953, this prelude to steampunk has the Confederates winning the Civil War.
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone
by Mervyn Peake

The fourth Gormenghast book – medieval and modern time periods are mashed up.
Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer
Worlds of the Imperium
by Keith Laumer

Published in 1962, one of the first to merge Victorian aesthetics with futuristic technology.
Queen Victoria’s Bomb by Ronald W. Clark
Queen Victoria’s Bomb
by Ronald W. Clark

Nuclear technology appears in the times of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock
Warlord of the Air
by Michael Moorcock

First part of the Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy. World War I & II never happened.
Tunnel Through the Deeps OR A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! By Harry Harrison
Tunnel Through the Deeps OR A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
by Harry Harrison

An alternate vision of 1973, full of atomic locomotives and coal-powered flying boats.

Books About Steampunk

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer and S.J. Chambers
The Steampunk Bible 
by Jeff Vandermeer and S.J. Chambers
Vintage Tomorrows by James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson
Vintage Tomorrows 
by James H. Carrott and Brian David Johnson
The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan
The Art of Steampunk 
by Art Donovan