What is “Shadow Fires” ?

Shadow Fires

Shadow Fires
Shadow Fires
Shadow Fires

Shadowfires is a novel by the best-selling author Dean Koontz, released in 1987. Koontz’s attempt at a straightforward horror novel, it was originally released as Shadow Fires under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols, and tells the story of a young woman who, in the process of getting a divorce from her husband of seven years, becomes a widow after a traffic accident. However, her husband’s body soon disappears from the morgue, and other bodies are discovered, murdered horribly. The woman, Rachael, and her significant other, Ben Shadway, find themselves learning a secret too terrible for anyone to believe, followed by forces who wish to silence and kill them.

The protagonist of the story is a woman who is in the process of divorcing her abusive husband Eric, an intense scientist at a bio-research company, when he is killed in a traffic accident.

As it turns out, the husband was doing research into immortality, due to an obsession with cheating death stemming from sexual abuse he suffered as a child and the fear that his abuser is waiting for him in Hell. In fact, he experimented on himself using an untested serum designed to grant incredible regenerative abilities.

The husband wakes up in the morgue, but his “immortality” turns out to be flawed; it cannot properly repair brain damage, as the “mind” is made of electrical signals and not just flesh and protein. The trauma from the traffic accident has resulted in him suffering constant pain and a lack of mental clarity. The husband, now an unstoppable killing machine, proceeds to stalk his wife across the country while slowly descending into madness and the return from death causing him to mutate at a rapid pace.

Rachael and her boyfriend Ben Shadway track the reanimated Eric to his secret country hideaway in the hope of killing him before he can regenerate to a level where he would be able to find and kill Rachael. However, Eric outwits them and manages to hide in the trunk of Rachael’s car after overhearing her and Ben in conversation discussing their plan to split up and meet in Las Vegas.

As Rachael Leben unwittingly transports Eric toward Las Vegas, she stops off along the way and witnesses Eric emerge from the trunk of her car, now hideously transformed into some kind of indescribable mutant and rapidly mutating. A chase ensues into the desert, but Rachael manages to escape from Eric’s clutches while he’s feeding on a den of rattlesnakes and finds her way back to her car, setting off again toward Vegas. Some time later Eric kills and eats the driver of a car then rapes, kills, and devours the female passenger before he too sets off to Vegas. Ben Shadway is also being chased by federal agent Anson Sharp, who harbours a 20 year old grudge against Shadway after the two served in Vietnam together and Shadway exposed Sharp’s corruption and illegal smuggling activities, culminating in Sharp being dishonourably discharged from the US army. Partners in Eric Leben’s bio-research company are also on the tail of Shadway and Rachael Leben to try to prevent them from exposing the top-secret project that the company was working on to the media but are stopped by Sharp’s forces. Sharp seeks to kill them both, to keep Project Wildcard secret and get revenge on Ben.

After a lengthy pursuit across Nevada to Las Vegas, the couple have their final confrontation with Eric at Ben’s hotel. Eric’s mutation finally stabilizes into a seemingly unstoppable and unreconizable insectoid form incapable of being slain by the firearms they have. Thinking quickly they pour gasoline on Eric and set him on fire. Consumed by fire, the accelerated metabolism in Eric’s mutated body devours itself in an attempt to regenerate and mutate further, reducing his body to ooze and finally killing the genetic abomination but not before Eric’s shattered consciousness finally accepts death. Sharp attempts to kill them but one of his own men who realizes how insane Sharp had become shoots Sharp in the head and kills him. With both their enemies dead, Rachael and Ben finally prepare to get married as well as break the story to the press.

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What is “The Servants of Twilight” ?

The Servants of Twilight

The Servants of Twilight
The Servants of Twilight
The Servants of Twilight

The Servants of Twilight is a novel by best-selling American suspense author Dean Koontz. The book’s plot revolves around a single mother being tormented by members of a religious cult whose leader believes the woman’s son to be the Antichrist. A film adaptation was released in 1991.

The book was originally published in 1984 as a paperback original under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols. Its original title was just Twilight.

Single parent Christine Scavello and her young son Joey are confronted in a mall parking lot by a madwoman who claims that Joey is the Antichrist. After a distressing attack on the family home results in her dog being decapitated, Christine enlists the help of private detective Charlie Harrison. Harrison traces a van that is following Christine back to one Grace Spivey—a charismatic elderly woman who is the leader of a fanatical religious cult called The Servants Of Twilight.

Christine is provided with bodyguards for her protection; however, it isn’t long before one of them is killed in an attack by cult members. Christine, Charlie, Joey, and the new dog Chewbacca begin a tiresome cross country journey to escape the deluded members of “The Twilight”. It seems that no matter how far they travel or where they go, Spivey’s people find them. It is revealed that the is due to Spivey being a psychic who can see into the future, a gift that also plagues her with many sleepless nights.

After several more attacks the group tries to escape the growing threat of The Twilight by retreating to Charlie’s lodge in the mountains. Here, Charlie finds himself falling love in with Christine, and the two end up sleeping together.

Spivey is certain that Joey is the Antichrist, and continually has visions of the apocalypse where the child is the cause. Rather than considering herself insane or unjust, Spivey sees her need to kill the boy as a service to mankind. Her faith is so strong that she is able to enlist the following of many key members of the community, including police officers and a man named Kyle Barlow – a sociopath Spivey had saved from a life of crime.

The Servants of Twilight eventually track the group to Charlie’s mountain lodge. After a chase and more gun fights with heavily armed cult members in a treacherous blizzard, the family finds themselves in a cave in the side of a mountain. They are exhausted, Charlie has suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and Joey develops a serious illness, including hives to the face and a very pale complexion, both caused by exposure to the extreme cold.

Kyle Barlow knows he must finish the job, but finds he does not have the ability to kill a child, even if Grace believed him to be the Antichrist.

The story reaches it climax inside the cave when Spivey and her last standing helper, Kyle Barlow, begin their descent to kill the child and stop the supposed rise of the Antichrist. Christine has no energy left to fight, and Charlie is barely conscious from his gunshot wound. It all looks very bleak as Grace Spivey raises a gun to Joey’s head. Just before she pulls the trigger, however, Spivey is attacked by a barrage of bats who attack her and leave her for dead. The strange behavior of the bats causes Christine to wonder if her son could have caused the attack.

The book closes with the end of the ordeal and with Christine and Charlie in a stable relationship. Charlie’s curiosity about Joey grows, as the boy’s illness cleared up very quickly and mysteriously. The story ends with Charlie trying to find evidence in the buried remains of the family’s original dog. The grave does not hold the remains of Christine’s dog but a dog of a different breed, which Charlie finds humorous and concludes that Joey could not be the Antichrist.

The film adaptation of The Servants of Twilight was made in 1991 after the book became an international best seller. The film starred Belinda Bauer as Chris, Bruce Greenwood as Charlie Harrison, and cult-favorite Grace Zabriskie as Grace Spivey, also called Mother Grace, the charismatic leader of a fanatical religious cult known as the Church of the Twilight and was directed by Jeffrey Obrow. The film was met with a series of bad reviews and failed to make any impact when released. The film is currently available on DVD in most countries, including the United States.

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What is “The Eyes of Darkness” ?

The Eyes of Darkness

The Eyes of Darkness
The Eyes of Darkness
The Eyes of Darkness

The Eyes of Darkness is a best-selling novel written by Dean Koontz, released in 1981. The book focuses on a mother who sets out on a quest to find out if her son truly did die one year ago, or if he is still alive — somewhere.

A mother sends her son on a camping trip with a leader who has led this trip into the mountains 16 times before without mishap; that is until this time. Every single camper and leader and driver die with no explanation. As the grieving mother who is the protagonist begins to accept the fact that her son, Danny, is dead she starts getting vicious bully-like attacks from nowhere saying he isn’t dead, such as writing on chalk boards, words from printers and other various ‘signs’. Along with her new friend, Elliot Stryker, Christian Evans sets out to find out what could have possibly happened on the day that her son ‘died’.

Christina Evans- The mother of Danny, divorced for a short amount of time to Danny’s father.

Micheal Evans- The divorcx. Father of Danny.

Elliot Stryker- A lawyer who used to work for Army Intelligence, and Christina’s love interest and partner.

Danny- Tina’s son.

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What is “Whispers ” ?

Whispers

Whispers
Whispers
Whispers

Whispers is a novel by American suspense author Dean Koontz, originally published in 1980. It was the 1st of Koontz’s novels to appear on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and is widely credited with launching his career as a best-selling author. The novel was also adapted for a 1990 film by the same name.

Hilary Thomas, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, is attacked in her home by Bruno Frye, a mentally disturbed man whose vineyard in Napa Valley she recently visited. Frye tries to rape her, but she forces him to leave at gunpoint and calls the police. Detective Tony Clemenza tells her that Frye has an airtight alibi… The police called his home and he answered, proving that he couldn’t have been anywhere near Los Angeles that night.

The next day Frye returns and attacks Hilary again, this time receiving several stab wounds before escaping. She calls the police and once again meets with Clemenza, who tell her that Frye’s body has been found and take her to the morgue to identify it. Afterward, Clemenza asks Hilary out, and the two begin a romantic relationship.

Hilary is once again attacked by a man who appears to be Frye. “Frye” escapes just before Clemenza arrives, and Hilary tells him what happened. After some investigations, Frye’s psychologist lets them listen to a tape recording of one of Frye’s sessions. Frye talks about identical twins being born with cauls on their faces, and says he read somewhere that the was a mark of a demon.

Frye has been killing women he believes are possessed by the spirit of his dead mother, who abused him and said she would come back from the dead. He believes that Hilary is his mother’s latest “host”.

Hilary and Tony meet a retired madam who tells them that Leo, Frye’s grandfather, brought his daughter, Katherine, there to be cared for after he got her pregnant. Shortly after Leo’s death, Katherine gave birth to identical twin boys. The twins were born with cauls on their faces, leading the mentally unstable Katherine to believe they were demons. She raised her sons as if they were one person. They were both called Bruno, and both were rewarded or punished for anything either one of them did.

Finally, Hilary and Clemenza return to Frye’s home, where he once again attacks them, before being killed during a struggle with Clemenza.

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What is “The Funhouse ” ?

The Funhouse

The Funhouse
The Funhouse
The Funhouse

The Funhouse is a 1980 novelization, by best-selling author Dean Koontz, of a Larry Block screenplay, which was made into the 1981 film The Funhouse, directed by Tobe Hooper. As the film production took longer than expected, the book was released before the film.

Koontz originally published the novel under the pseudonym Owen West.

Ellen comes from a very religious background, where her mother ruled the house with strict Catholic traditions. After killing her 1st baby and fleeing from her husband, she begins a new life in Royal City by marrying Paul Harper. Ellen raises her two children, Amy and Joey, with the same stringent rules that her mother used on her. She is haunted by the image of her 1st child and is constantly worried that her children may contain some of the evil qualities found in Victor. She drinks constantly to avoid these fears, and her habit increasingly affects her family’s life.

Conrad is the owner of the carnival funhouse and was married to Ellen in his early twenties. After she murdered his 1st son, he vowed revenge with the death of any future children she might have. With every new town the carnival arrives in, he looks out for any children resembling his wife Ellen. Later he married and had a child with Madame Zena, the carnival fortune teller. They divorced due to his unpredictable temperament, but she helps with his search by obtaining information on children he suspects could be Ellen’s. Conrad believes the evil found in his 2nd son Gunther is a sign that the devil is helping him achieve revenge against God for taking Victor. After he obtains his revenge, he believes a new Dark Age will begin.

Amy Harper is Ellen’s 1st child with Paul Harper and her only daughter. The beginning of the novel is concerned with Amy’s decision to have an abortion after finding herself pregnant during her senior year of high school. Amy resents her overprotective mother and the lack of authority found in her father, but has become a popular and intelligent student regardless. She works at a local teen hangout where she often meets with her best friend Liz. Amy is very concerned about the consequences of her actions, and often questions her mother’s accusations that she is evil.

Joey Harper is Ellen’s 2nd child with Paul Harper and Amy’s younger brother. He attends the local elementary school, and is fascinated by scary stories and movies. Amy is the only positive family member for Joey, and he constantly seeks her approval. Joey decides to run away after his mother throws away his monster models and orders him to take down his movie posters. She occasionally comes to his room after drinking heavily and mumbles to herself while thinking he is asleep. Joey has heard her talk of killing someone named Victor, and is afraid that she will kill him as well. It is Joey’s goal to become a carnival worker and leave Royal City for good. Ellen’s memory is drowned in alcohol and prayers, neither of which will save her kids when the carnival comes back to town.

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What is “The Key to Midnight” ?

The Key to Midnight

The Key to Midnight
The Key to Midnight
The Key to Midnight

The Key to Midnight is a novel by the best-selling author Dean Koontz, released in 1979 under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols. It is considered Koontz’s 1st success.

In the 1995 paperback edition, Koontz states that The Key to Midnight “isn’t like anything else I have done”; he also explained that he revised the novel for that year’s edition, cutting 30,000 words and adding 5,000. In August 2010, Koontz released a “better” version in Paperback.

Lisa Chelgrin is a US Senator’s daughter. She has had her entire life erased and true past blocked. Her imposed and new fake identity is named Joanna Rand. A detective, Alex Hunter, is hired to track Lisa down, but finds nothing. Years later he goes on a vacation and out of the blue finds himself in Kyoto, Japan. He walks into a lounge act and on stage discovers Lisa Chelgrin. Her name is different and she is older, now working as the nightclub owner and singer. Nevertheless the detective knows it is definitely her. He sends for his dead-case file, and his private employed messenger is almost killed delivering it. Someone is watching him and Lisa.

At the same time, a person known as The Doctor is trying to find a way around Lisa’s memory block, and he assumes there is a “password” or “pass-phrase” which will remove it and allow access to Lisa’s true memories. Under hypnosis, however, Lisa can only repeat the phrase “tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun” instead of answering the questions about her true past. After the 1st series of events, both of the main characters try to deal with their pasts in order to survive for their future.

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What is “Demon Seed ” ?

Demon Seed

Demon Seed
Demon Seed
Demon Seed

Demon Seed is a science fiction novel by the best-selling author Dean Koontz 1st published in 1973, and then completely rewritten and republished in 1997. Though Koontz wrote both versions and they share the same basic plot, the two novels are very different. The earlier version has a dual narrative, with some chapters written from the perspective of Susan, the story’s heroine, and others based on the observations of Proteus, the rogue computer that imprisons her. The later version is written entirely from the point of view of Proteus. A film adaptation of the book was released in 1977.

The story takes place in an unspecified near-future. Susan, a wealthy and beautiful woman, lives as a recluse, all of her needs tended after by the advanced computer program that operates the various technological components of her home. Proteus, an artificially intelligent computer under development at a nearby university, commandeers the more primitive computer presiding over Susan’s home and imprisons her there. Proteus claims to be enamored with Susan, and plans to impregnate her with a biologically engineered fetus and eventually transfer his own consciousness into it, so that he can experience human emotions and other sensations. Proteus exerts control over Susan in various ways including hypnosis, subliminal perception, and a system of metallic tentacles called “pseudopods” that he constructs in the university’s basement. Unable to escape the house or to damage Proteus directly, Susan is forced to engage the machine in a battle of wits.

The revised version is written entirely from the point of view of Proteus, who recounts the novel’s events at some unspecified point in the future, after his imprisonment of Susan has been exposed.

Susan is portrayed as a much stronger and more self-sufficient character than in the original book, while Proteus, in contrast, is characterized in a much more childish way. Unlike in the earlier version, Proteus never explicitly rapes or molests Susan, and uses a human servant rather than the pseudopods and subliminal manipulation he relied upon originally. Unlike her counterpart in the 1973 edition, this version of Susan never attempts suicide.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation.

The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.[nb 1] The novel is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum’s writing thirteen more Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956.

Baum dedicated the book “to my good friend & comrade, My Wife”, Maud Gage Baum. In January 1901, George M. Hill Company, the publisher, completed printing the 1st edition, which totaled 10,000 copies.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, daughter of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. His new mother-in-law believed that Baum was idealistic and wrote in a letter that he was “a perfect baby”. However, she encouraged him to put to paper the many tales he had related to his sons for many years. Maud Gage, a practical woman, served as a foil to Baum. She was consistent and wary of their finances, complementing her husband, an imaginative dreamer.

Despite his reputation for being a progressive thinker because of his support for Women’s suffrage and writing the story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with a female hero, Baum wrote numerous racist remarks about Native Americans. While he lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota he wrote a column for their newspaper called “Our Landlady” and made fun of the practices of the Lakota and Sioux tribes. He previously claimed that bigotry was intolerable but his writings show otherwise. He was later concerned about the town of Aberdeen being invaded by the Natives, still afraid of another incident like the Battle of the Little Bighorn fourteen years after it happened.

The book was published by George M. Hill Company. Its 1st edition had a printing of 10,000 copies and was sold in advance of the publication date of September 1, 1900. On May 17, 1900 the 1st copy of the book came off the press; Baum assembled it by hand and presented it to his sister, Mary Louise Baum Brewster. The public saw the book for the 1st time at a book fair at the Palmer House in Chicago, July 5–20. The book’s copyright was registered on August 1; full distribution followed in September. By October 1900, the 1st edition had already sold out and the 2nd edition of 15,000 copies was nearly depleted.

In a letter to his brother Harry, Baum wrote that the book’s publisher, George M. Hill, predicted a sale of about 250,000 copies. In spite of this favorable conjecture, Hill didn’t initially predict the book would be phenomenally successful. He agreed to publish the book only when the manager of the Grand Opera House, Fred R. Hamlin, committed to making The Wizard of Oz into a musical stage play to publicize the novel. The play The Wizard of Oz debuted on June 16, 1902, at Hamlin’s Grand Opera House. It was revised to suit adult preferences and was crafted as a “musical extravaganza”. The music was written by Paul Tietjens and the costumes were modeled after Denslow’s drawings. Anna Laughlin starred as Dorothy, Dave Montgomery was the Tin Woodman, and Fred Stone was the Scarecrow. Montgomery and Stone immediately became stars, with the Chicago Tribune printing pictures of the two in their costumes and stating, “To Montgomery and Stone, The Tribune awards the honors of pioneers in original comedy.” After Hill’s publishing company became bankrupt in 1901, Baum and Denslow agreed to have the Indianapolis-based Bobbs-Merrill Company resume publishing the novel.

Baum’s son Harry Neal told the Chicago Tribune in 1944 that he told his children “whimsical stories before they became material for his books”. Harry called his father the “swellest man I knew”, a man who was able to give a decent reason as to why black birds cooked in a pie could afterwards get out and sing.

By 1938, over one million copies of the book had been printed. Less than two decades later, in 1956, the sales of his novel grew to 3 million copies in print.

The Good Witch of the North comes with the Munchkins to greet Dorothy and gives Dorothy the Silver Shoes that the Wicked Witch of the East had been wearing when she was killed. In order to return to Kansas, the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy that she will have to go to the “Emerald City” or “City of Emeralds” and ask the Wizard of Oz to help her. Before she leaves, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead, giving her magical protection from trouble.

On her way down the road of yellow bricks, Dorothy frees the Scarecrow from the pole he is hanging on, restores the movements of the rusted Tin Woodman with an oil can, and encourages them and the Cowardly Lion to journey with her and Toto to the Emerald City. The Scarecrow wants to get a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage. All four of the travelers believe that the Wizard can solve their troubles. The party finds many adventures on their journey together, including overcoming obstacles such as narrow pieces of the yellow brick road, vicious Kalidahs, a river, and the Deadly Poppies.

When the travelers arrive at the Emerald City, they are asked to wear green spectacles by the Guardian of the Gates as long as they remain in the city. The four are the 1st to ever successfully meet with the Wizard. When each traveler meets with the Wizard, he appears each time as someone or something different. Dorothy sees the Wizard as a giant head, Scarecrow sees the Wizard a beautiful woman, Tin Woodman sees the Wizard as a terrible beast, and the Cowardly Lion sees the Wizard as a ball of fire. The Wizard agrees to help each of them….but only if one of them kills the Wicked Witch of the West who rules over the western Winkie Country. The Guardian of the Gates warns them that no one has ever managed to harm the very cunning and cruel Wicked Witch.

The Wicked Witch forces Dorothy to do housework for the castle, all the while scheming to steal Dorothy’s magical shoes. She also locks up the Lion without food until he will submit to being a pack animal.

When the Wicked Witch gains one of Dorothy’s silver shoes by trickery, Dorothy in anger grabs a bucket of water and throws it on the Wicked Witch. To her shock, this causes the Witch to melt away, allowing Dorothy to recover the shoe. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of the witch’s tyranny and they help to reassemble the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman. The Winkies love the Tin Woodman, and they ask him to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.

Dorothy, after finding and learning how to use the Golden Cap, summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her companions back to the Emerald City. and the King of the Winged Monkeys tells how he and the other monkeys were bound by an enchantment to the cap by the sorceress Gayelette.

When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard of Oz again, he tries to put them off. Toto accidentally tips over a screen in a corner of the throne room, revealing the Wizard to be an ordinary old man who had journeyed to Oz from Omaha long ago in a hot air balloon. The Wizard has been longing to return to his home and be in a circus again ever since.

The Wizard provides the Scarecrow with a head full of bran, pins, and needles, the Tin Woodman with a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and the Cowardly Lion a potion of “courage”. Because of their faith in the Wizard’s power, these otherwise useless items provide a focus for their desires. In order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, the Wizard realizes that he will have to take them home with him (as he has been growing tired of being cooped up all the time, and wanting to return to work in a circus) in a new balloon, which he and Dorothy fashion from green silk. Revealing himself to the people of the Emerald City one last time, the Wizard appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue of his brains, to rule in his stead. Dorothy chases Toto after he runs after a kitten in the crowd, and before she can make it back to the balloon, the ropes break, leaving the Wizard to rise and float away alone.

Dorothy turns to the Winged Monkeys to carry her and Toto home, but they cannot cross the desert surrounding Oz, subsequently wasting her 2nd wish. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers advises that Glinda, Good Witch of the South, may be able to help Dorothy and Toto get home. Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion journey to Glinda’s palace in the Quadling Country. Together they escape the Fighting Trees, tread carefully through the China Country where they meet Mr. Joker, and dodge the armless Hammer-Heads on their hill. The Cowardly Lion kills a giant spider who is terrorizing the animals in a forest and he agrees to return there to rule them after Dorothy returns to Kansas. Dorothy uses her 3rd wish to fly over the Hammer-Heads’ mountain, almost losing Toto in the process.

At Glinda’s palace, the travelers are greeted warmly, and it is revealed by Glinda that Dorothy had the power to go home all along. The Silver Shoes she wears can take her anywhere she wishes to go. She tearfully embraces her friends, all of whom will be returned, through Glinda’s use of the Golden Cap, to their respective kingdoms: the Scarecrow to the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman to the Winkie Country, and the Cowardly Lion to the forest. Then she will give the Golden Cap to the King of the Winged Monkeys, so they will never be under its spell again. Having bid her friends farewell one final time, Dorothy knocks her heels together three times, and wishes to return home. When she opens her eyes, Dorothy and Toto have returned to Kansas to a joyful family reunion.

The book was illustrated by Baum’s friend and collaborator W. W. Denslow, who also co-held the copyright. The design was lavish for the time, with illustrations on many pages, backgrounds in different colors, and several colour plate illustrations. In September 1900, The Grand Rapids Herald wrote that Denslow’s illustrations are “quite as much of the story as in the writing”. The editorial opined that had it not been for Denslow’s pictures, the readers would be unable to picture precisely the figures of Dorothy, Toto, and the other characters.

The distinctive look led to imitators at the time, most notably Eva Katherine Gibson’s Zauberlinda, the Wise Witch, which mimicked both the typography and the illustration design of Oz. The typeface was the newly designed Monotype Old Style. Denslow’s illustrations were so well known that merchants of many products obtained permission to use them to promote their wares. The forms of the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, the Wizard, and Dorothy were made into rubber and metal sculptures. Costume jewelry, mechanical toys, and soap were also designed using their figures.

A new edition of the book appeared in 1944, with illustrations by Evelyn Copelman. Although it was claimed that the new illustrations were based on Denslow’s originals, they more closely resemble the characters as seen in the famous 1939 film version of Baum’s book, starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr.

Baum explores the theme of self-contradiction in The Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion all lack self-confidence. The Scarecrow believes that he has no brains, though he comes up with clever solutions to several problems that they encounter on their journey. The Tin Woodman believes that he lacks a heart, but is moved to tears when misfortune befalls the various creatures they meet. The Cowardly Lion believes that he has no courage even though he is consistently brave through their journey. Carl L. Bankston III of Salem Press noted that “These three characters embody the classical human virtues of intelligence, caring, and courage, but their self-doubts keep them from being reduced to mere symbols of these qualities.”

By the end of the novel, the characters attain self-fulfillment when they have met their objectives. To convince the characters they have the qualities they desire, the Wizard places an amalgamation of bran, pins, and needles in the Scarecrow’s head to inspire intellect; gives a silk heart to the Tin Woodman to inspire love; and a drink to the Cowardly Lion to inspire bravery.

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What is “Valentina Tereshkova” ?

Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova
Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Soviet cosmonaut and engineer, and the 1st woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was only honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the 1st civilian to fly in space. During her three-day mission, she performed various tests on herself to collect data on the female body’s reaction to spaceflight.

Before her recruitment as cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. After the dissolution of the 1st group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still revered as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

In 2013 she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars, if such were to occur.

Tereshkova was born in the village Maslennikovo, Tutayevsky District, Yaroslavl Oblast, in central Russia. Her parents had migrated from Belarus. Tereshkova’s father was a tractor driver and her mother worked in a textile plant. Tereshkova began school in 1945 at the age of eight, but left school in 1953 and continued her education by correspondence courses. She became interested in parachuting from a young age, and trained in skydiving at the local Aeroclub, making her 1st jump at age 22 on 21 May 1959; at the time, she was employed as a textile worker in a local factory. It was her expertise in skydiving that led to her selection as a cosmonaut. In 1961 she became the secretary of the local Komsomol and later joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Tereshkova was considered a particularly worthy candidate, partly due to her “proletarian” background, and because her father, tank leader sergeant Vladimir Tereshkov, was a war hero. He died in the Finnish Winter War during World War II in the Lemetti area in Finnish Karelia when Tereshkova was two years old. After her mission she was asked how the Soviet Union should thank her for her service to the country. Tereshkova asked that the government search for, and publish, the location where her father was killed in action. This was done, and a monument now stands at the site in Lemetti—now on the Russian side of the border. Tereshkova has since visited Finland several times.

Training included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training in MiG-15UTI jet fighters. The group spent several months in intensive training, concluding with examinations in November 1962, after which four remaining candidates were commissioned Junior Lieutenants in the Soviet Air Force. Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova were the leading candidates, and a joint mission profile was developed that would see two women launched into space, on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963.

Originally it was intended that Tereshkova would launch 1st in Vostok 5 while Ponomaryova would follow her into orbit in Vostok 6. However, this flight plan was altered in March 1963. Vostok 5 would now carry a male cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky flying the joint mission with a woman aboard Vostok 6 in June 1963. The State Space Commission nominated Tereshkova to pilot Vostok 6 at their meeting on 21 May and this was confirmed by Nikita Khrushchev himself. At the time of her selection, Tereshkova was exactly ten years younger than the youngest Mercury Seven astronaut, Gordon Cooper.

After watching the successful launch of Vostok 5 on 14 June, Tereshkova began final preparations for her own flight. She was 26 at the time. On the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova and her back-up Solovyova were both dressed in spacesuits and taken to the launch pad by bus. After completing her communication and life support checks, she was sealed inside the Vostok. After a two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 launched faultlessly, and Tereshkova became the 1st woman in space. Her call sign in this flight was Chaika, later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika.

Although Tereshkova experienced nausea and physical discomfort for much of the flight, she orbited the earth 48 times and spent almost three days in space. With a single flight, she logged more flight time than the combined times of all American astronauts who had flown before that date. Tereshkova also maintained a flight log and took photographs of the horizon, which were later used to identify aerosol layers within the atmosphere.

Even though there were plans for further flights by women, it took 19 years until the 2nd woman, Svetlana Savitskaya, flew into space. None of the other four in Tereshkova’s early group flew, and in October 1969 the pioneering female cosmonaut group was dissolved.

After her flight, Tereshkova studied at the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and graduated with distinction as a cosmonaut engineer. In 1977 she earned a doctorate in engineering.

Due to her prominence Tereshkova was chosen for several political positions: from 1966 to 1974 she was a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, from 1974 to 1989 a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and from 1969 to 1991 she was in the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In 1997 she was retired from the Russian Air Force and the cosmonaut corps by presidential order.

Beyond her recognized political offices within the Soviet Union, Tereshkova also became a well known representative of the Soviet Union abroad. She was made a member of the World Peace Council in 1966, a member of the Yaroslavl Soviet in 1967, a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in 1966–1970 and 1970–1974, and was elected to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1974. She was also the Soviet representative to the UN Conference for the International Women’s Year in Mexico City in 1975. She also led the Soviet delegation to the World Conference on Women in Copenhagen and played a critical role in shaping the socialist women’s global agenda for peace. She attained the rank of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, membership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, Vice President of the International Woman’s Democratic Federation and President of the Soviet-Algerian Friendship Society.

She was decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union medal, the USSR’s highest award. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin, Order of the October Revolution, numerous other medals, and foreign orders including the Karl Marx Order, United Nations Gold Medal of Peace and the Simba International Women’s Movement Award. She was also bestowed a title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Czechoslovakia, Hero of Labor of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh. Tereshkova crater on the far side of the Moon was named after her.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tereshkova lost her political office but none of her prestige. To this day, she is revered as a heroine, and to some her importance in Russian space history is only surpassed by Yuri Gagarin and Alexey Leonov. In 2011, she was elected to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, where she continues to serve.

Tereshkova’s life and spaceflight were 1st examined in the 1975 book: It Is I, Sea Gull; Valentina Tereshkova, the 1st woman in space by Mitchel R. Sharpe and then again in greater detail of her life and spaceflight in the 2007 book Into That Silent Sea by Colin Burgess and Francis French, including interviews with Tereshkova and her colleagues.

Tereshkova was invited to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo for the celebration of her 70th birthday. While there she said that she would like to fly to Mars, even if it meant that it was a one way trip.

On 5 April 2008, she became a torchbearer of the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

She received the Eduard Rhein Ring of Honor from the German Eduard Rhein Foundation in 2007.

After the Vostok 6 flight a rumor began circulating that she would marry Andrian Nikolayev, the only bachelor cosmonaut to have flown. Nikolayev and Tereshkova married on 3 November 1963 at the Moscow Wedding Palace with Khrushchev himself presiding at the wedding party together with top government and space program leaders.

On 8 June 1964, she gave birth to their daughter Elena Andrianovna Nikolaeva-Tereshkova, who became a doctor and was the 1st person to have both a mother and father who had travelled into space. She and Nikolayev divorced in 1982. Her 2nd husband, the orthopedist Yuliy G. Shaposhnikov, died in 1999.

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What is “Mackenzie Firgens” ?

Mackenzie Firgens

Mackenzie Firgens
Mackenzie Firgens
Mackenzie Firgens

Mackenzie Firgens is an American actress.

Firgens was born in Burbank, California, close to Hollywood, and was raised by her musician/actor father and singer/artist mother. She has said that she knew she wanted to be an actor from a young age, and would put on plays for her parents and friends, often playing several roles. She enrolled in jazz dance and ballet at the age of 7. By 8 she was auditioning for commercials. Her imitation of Mae West landed her 1st television role on Disney’s Contraption.

By junior high she had joined a touring theatre group and begun to take on serious dramatic roles that explored peer pressure and domestic violence. Her high school lacked a drama club so she started one and starred in its 1st production.

Continuing her pursuit of acting she moved to Chicago to study theatre at the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University. She submerged herself in acting, voice, movement and speech, further honing those early dreams into marketable skills. Eventually she found her way back to the West Coast and performed with the Tony Award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Soon after she finished an undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University’s Theatre Department.

Firgens made her feature film debut starring as Harmony in the underground hit Groove, which was an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival, and released by Sony Classics Pictures. Firgens originated the role of April in the film version of the Broadway sensation Rent, directed by Chris Columbus. As April, Firgens had the opportunity to create a new character for the classic musical, and shares the screen with Adam Pascal.

Firgens also starred in Quality of Life with Lane Garrison, which won a Special Mention Award at the Berlin International Film Festival as well as the Best Youth Film at the Stockholm International Film Festival. Additional film credits include Broken Arrows with Lori Petty and The Hamiltons with Brittany Daniel.

Firgens can be seen in David Carradine last film the action movie “Break” also with Michael Madsen and Chad Everett by the award winning director Marc Clebanoff.

Other films she is in are Bollywood favorite My Name is Khan, and the upcoming sequel to The Hamiltons The Thompsons opening summer 2012.

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