Monday, December 01, 2008

Chris Stewart, I've read Ernest K. Gann and you, sir, are no Ernest K. Gann

So, most pilots have had those moments when watching a movie or reading a novel when it's kind of annoying to know as much about flying as we do. As an example, consider two pilots in the front of a B-17 conversing in normal, indoor voices. We know that's ridiculous - they could barely hear each other at a full shout.

I was browsing the shelves looking for some light reading at the library over the weekend when I came across a "techno thriller" written by some fella named Chris Stewart. There's an F-117 Stealth Fighter on the cover, which indicated to me that there would be flying involved in the story. As I usually do, I went directly to the author's bio on the dust jacket to determine his qualifications. Hmm, former SR-71 and B-2 bomber pilot. That should be good enough.

And, for the most part, the aviation aspects have been pretty accurate. Absent, that is, the one occasion where the main character made a night takeoff "as the blue runway lights" passed by his peripheral vision... what?? Blue runway lights?? That poor sap was using a taxiway as a runway!!

I got by that part ok, but on page 131 of 333 I'm about to give it up. It's not the flying parts that are bothering me. It's the horrible proofreading. Every single instance of 'hangar' is spelled 'hanger'. I've seen 'demonstrated' used instead of 'demonstrate'. There have been a lot of other things like that, but a single sentence on page 131 is just about enough to drive me to quitting this thing: "Inside the parameter (perimeter would be correct) fence, the track spit (split?) into three parallel rails..."

If trying to read a flying novel as a pilot is frustrating, consider what this must be like for me, a walking spell checker. I don't know whether to blame Mr. Stewart or the nabobs at M. Evans and Company, Inc., but I've had enough.

It's so bad, in fact, that it prompted me to turn on my PC and write this blog post. And what did I see on boot up?

"Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 - 0% complete." The very message of doom that put paid to my entire Friday last week! My blood ran cold! Visions of a complete Vista re-install had me near tears. Help me Geek Squad Air Force, you're my only hope!

Two minutes later, it booted up just fine. Phew! What a relief! I feel so good now that I might even be able to make amends with Mr. Stewart. Oh, and Mr Gates: no more automatic updates on this machine either, thank you very much.

1 comment:

  1. I've read some good flying books in the past couple years. I haven't heard of this one. Glad to read the book review first.