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Turgenev, the irascible Chef Vlad, world-famous photographer Evelyn Karr, and Haiku, a farting monkey. Adventure, danger, and suspense. Read Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and Android. Review use of italics, colons, commas, affixes, etc. 3 Chapter One: The Devil s Fist SKYBREAKER BY KENNETH OPPEL: LITERATURE UNIT FOR GRADES 7, .
Examine the cover. What do you notice? Predict what you think this story will be about. During what time period do you think it occurs? Can you determine any other setting details?
It was an ungainly angle, and one that strained both engines and fins, but it would give the captain a better vantage point. I heard Sloan say over the speaking tube.
I wanted to rush forward and peer through the windows, but I could not leave my station. Captain Tritus scanned the skies with his spyglass. Cruse, try to raise her on the wireless! Since there was no proper wireless officer aboard the Flotsam, the task fell to the assistant navigator—me.
I pulled the headphones over my ears and lifted the microphone. The radio was already tuned to the universal airship frequency. Nothing, sir, I told Captain Tritus. Try the distress frequency. Rapidly I turned the needle to the proper location and listened. Soft static whispered over my headphones. Not surprised, muttered Mr. He was right.
All the flight manuals said that at altitudes over sixteen thousand feet, supplemental oxygen was mandatory. And the cold would be something else altogether, far below freezing. What had happened to drive her so high? What a wreck! Sloan, have you got her name yet? For a long time he stared. She was a ship of legend, like the Marie Celeste or the Colossus—vessels that had set out from harbor and never reached their destinations.
The Hyperion was rumored to be carrying great wealth. She may have crashed, or been pillaged by pirates. But no wreckage was ever found. Over the years sky sailors sometimes claimed to have spotted her, always fleetingly and from afar, and usually on foggy nights. Before I was born there was a famous photograph that was supposed to be of the Hyperion sighted over the Irish Sea. My father had shown it to me in a book. It was later exposed as a fake. She was a ghost ship—a good story, but nothing more.
Curtis, can you see her name? Cruse, get over here! They said you had sharp young eyes. Take a look! Eagerly I hurried to the front of the control car and took the spyglass. I had plenty of experience with a spyglass. Before I raised it to my face, I sighted the ship with my naked eye.
I reckoned she was more than three miles away, no larger than a cigarette, pale against the distant darkness of the storm front. Quickly, before her position changed, I lifted the lens to my eye. Even with my feet planted wide for balance, and both hands on the spyglass, it was no easy feat to get a fix on her. Whenever I came close, the Flotsam pitched and tossed, and my view would skid off into cloud and sky.
Glimpses were all I caught: An enormous engine pod, its paint stripped away by the elements, glistening with frost. A control car almost entirely encased in ice, light flashing from a cracked window. Wind-blighted letters barely visible on her flayed skin: Hyperion.
It sent a chill through me just to see her. How could she still be up there, so high? What spectral crew had been guiding her across the skies for forty years?
Domville, mark her location on the chart! Prepare to drop some ballast, Mr. I mean to claim our right of salvage. Curtis pressed on uneasily.
The Hyperion will be our ballast when we bring her down. Correct, Mr. Sir, we may be too heavy coming down. Fuel too can be dumped. Follow my orders. I watched this exchange, barely breathing, for I could see that Captain Tritus was hell-bent on reaching the Hyperion.
He would risk his life, and all of ours, for this chance at riches. When Mr. Curtis said no more, I could not hold my tongue. Sir, if I might have permission to speak. He glared at me, but said nothing, so I hurried on. I went back to the chart table, my face burning. Nothing short of a mutiny would stop Captain Tritus. A homesick angel was a steep and very fast ascent—like an angel speeding heavenward—usually only made in emergencies.
He was trying to cheat Mother Nature. Now then, blow our forward tanks, Mr. Speed, twenty-two aeroknots, Twelve thousand five hundred feet, reported Mr. This is madness, I muttered to Mr. He gave a curt nod, and I could tell he was holding himself very tightly, trying not to shiver. I looked at the thermometer mounted against the nearby window.
The mercury was just falling below freezing. I looked at the numbers. He reached for his spyglass, and dropped it. Stooping to retrieve it, he teetered clumsily for a moment.
Tritus gave another laugh as he finally scooped it up and held it to his eye. Amazing luck! Just waiting for us all these years, eh, Mr.
She is indeed, sir, Mr. Beatty replied cheerfully from the rudder wheel. He was smiling. It was starting. I remembered the symptoms from my textbook.
You might not even start to feel short of breath before you suddenly went unconscious, your brain and body starving for air. If you were healthy, you could last a bit longer, but Captain Tritus and his crew were not healthy. They were all great lumps and smokers, and they would not make it to twenty thousand feet. I turned worriedly to Mr. His health was poor to start with. He kept blinking, and his breathing came in ragged puffs, as if he were running. I need a stool, he gasped. I dragged one over for him and helped him perch on the edge, his upper body hunched on the chart table.
It seemed an effort for him to keep his head up. I took off my jacket and placed it over his shoulders. Fourteen thousand feet, sir! Negative three degrees it was now. A fine icy lace was spreading across the windows. Sir, I called out to the captain, Mr. There she is, gentlemen, he said, pointing out the windows.
We were within a mile now, and I could see the Hyperion much more clearly. She seemed as much a vessel of the sea as the air. She looked like a Spanish galleon shorn of her masts and sails.
It was carried in the personal flight kit of Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk. It travelled million kilometres, making it possibly one of the most travelled books in history. Kenneth Oppel lives in Toronto with his wife and three children. When did you decide that you wanted to become a writer and, more specifically, a writer for adolescents? Writing had become a hobby for me from the age of about ten. At thirteen, I remember telling my father that I wanted to become a writer.
My imagination just inclines to stories for that age group. Roald Dahl, L. Montgomery, J. How has Roald Dahl influenced you as a writer? He was hugely influential. Criticism about Dahl has often focused on his use of extreme violence, especially against women and children.
He was quite egalitarian about meting out violence, depending on the nature of the particular story. In your view, why do we repeatedly reimagine the past? For me, I just love the look of the Edwardian age. The clothes, buildings, even the machines were more aesthetically pleasing.
How do you see yourself as doing something different from writers like Pullman? Well, Philip Pullman is an evangelical atheist with a big agenda.
I just wanted to tell a good adventure story. Is it possible to tell a story without an agenda? Can a writer leave out, from his work, his or her beliefs? Of course. As I write and rewrite, a theme often presents itself to me, and you can hone it as you rewrite.
And at that point, your own beliefs may come into play. You get better at knowing which ideas have the potential to become full novels, so you save time that way; and you learn more tricks to get writing and keep yourself writing. Have your studies in English at the University of Toronto helped you in writing?
How so? Mostly, reading and studying literature help you learn what kind of stories you like best to read, and tell yourself. How do films contribute to your writing and your thinking about adolescents? Film and TV were big parts of my childhood, and doubtless helped shape my approach to storytelling.
My writing is often described as very visual, and I do tend to construct my stories as a chain of filmic or dramatic scenes. As a student, you were also active in journalism and you wrote for The Varsity. Have your experiences in journalism affected your writing and your research for writing? I see journalism and fiction writing as very different things. It also helps you appreciate how inspiring research can be, when it comes to writing fiction.
Having authored books for adolescents for three decades now, how have your views about children and teenagers changed? What are some of the rewards of writing for adolescents? Did this recognition change your experience as a writer? Storytelling is central to all of your books. To what extent is storytelling an important part of the adolescent experience? And to what extent should we also be critical of stories? This comes back to the maturing process of a character. From believing your father omnipotent to an acceptance of his fallibility.
Stories can sometimes lead us astray, but they can also bind people together. Tell us about the research behind the Silverwing Saga. Simple: I read a few books about bats. I wanted the books to have a factual foundation. A friend piqued my curiosity and I realised what amazing material they provided, both as characters, and as potential story material. Tell us about your researches for the Matt Cruse series and into early twentieth-century Canadian history.
In what ways are these experiences similar or different from your experience with the Silverwing Saga?
As with the bats, I wanted to make sure my ships were based on sound physical fact, so I did a lot of research into the real airships, and the world of as well. While its protagonist Ben Tomlin moves from Toronto to Victoria when his father accepts a professorship there, you moved from Port Alberni to Halifax and back to Victoria as a child.
Why set Half Brother specifically in ?
Half Brother is the most personal of my books, and I certainly borrowed from my own childhood. Have your tastes in music informed the novel? I still love Led Zeppelin though. You never shy away from asking difficult questions and you repeatedly suggest that they come with equally difficult answers.
Yet through the ironic distance between how she views this atrocity and how the central focaliser Dusk and the reader view it, the decision is clearly wrong.
A good book should first and foremost entertain and give pleasure, but a great book also makes its reader consider or reconsider difficult issues. This is certainly true for the Silverwing Saga.
Is it impossible for Shade to do the right thing? What is the truth? I personally believe Downloaded by [University College London] at 13 April that there is a small handful of absolutes, but even those, if you think long and hard enough, can often be qualified, or at least made a lot more complex.
Why do Griffin and Luna get second chances? Most everyone gets second chances. We all make mistakes, sometimes terrible ones. A defining characteristic of human behaviour and experience is trying, again, and again, to improve ourselves and make things better somehow.