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Chess Quant (Sydney, Australia)

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Star Wars : The Clone Wars - The Colossus of Destiny (Vol. 4)
Star Wars : The Clone Wars - The Colossus of Destiny (Vol. 4)
by Matt Fillbach
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars good but short, 3 Sep 2012
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My kids now have about 7 of these books, and they enjoy them all however the later books it seems are a little shorter in the series than the first 3 or so. This is a decent story and was enjoyed by the kids, but is around 20% pages shorter than some in this series. Still a decent and enjoyable book and encourages my early readers to try harder words without having pages of text, and has encouraged their art trying different styles of drawing space ships and people.


Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A good start but it gets better, 29 Aug 2012
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Solid and very enjoyable but when looked in the context of the stories that come in the next volume this seems comparatively weak. Certainly worth a read though as they are good viewed in their own right, and sets up the characters for later.


Pavane (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Pavane (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Price: 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Alternative history, 3 July 2012
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I won't say that this book is perfect, at times it did drag. The language is highly descriptive and paints very vivid imagery but sometimes its also long winded. The interrelated but mostly independent stories was also took a little getting used to till I began to see the overall form created from the brush strokes. Still an excellent read and well worth investing some time into.


Midnight's Children
Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Superheroes can be great literature, 14 Jun 2012
This review is from: Midnight's Children (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book, the trials and tribulations of post colonial India (and Pakistan) told through the frame work of the children born on the day of independence who aquired super powers, the closer in time to the hour of independence the stronger the superpower. Yes this is the X-Men in post colonial India, and I mean that as a complement. I came to this expecting heavy and worthy, but found it a tremendously fun read.


Reamde
Reamde
Price: 4.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just not up to the standard of his previous works, 31 May 2012
This review is from: Reamde (Kindle Edition)
I think that perhaps 3 stars is too low for this but then I can't really quite bring myself to give it four stars. For me its a solid 3 and a half. Being a bit of a Neal Stephenson fan I had high hopes for this book, I loved Anathem and hoped for something on that level, but sadly it could not live up to monks in space and indeed was a bit, how do I say it? ho hum.

This is at best an action book set more or less in the present, not a visionary sci-fi or technology driven historical novel. There is none of the sparkle of ideas that illuminate Anathem, the Baroque cycle, Cryptonomicon, The diamond age, or Snow crash. I would rate this alongside zodiac perhaps even behind if I was asked to rank Stephenson's novels. That said I mostly enjoyed Zodiac, and I mostly enjoyed Reamde, but its a big step down from his last half dozen efforts.


Anathem
Anathem
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant, 31 May 2012
This review is from: Anathem (Paperback)
I have read all of Neal Stephenson's books and this I think is his greatest. I have read that many found the first section hard to get into, but I can't say I did. I loved the monastic university, the discussions of various topics of physics and philosophy, and the looming spaceship. A friend (who also loved the book) said to me I think if you love both The Name of the Rose and Battle Star Galactica then this is the perfect novel for you. Yes we both have physics PhD's so that may help with understanding it, but I really don't think it is necessary if you are reasonably familar with say popular science.

I read it twice within a few months and am thinking of reading it again sometime. One of my favourite all time books.


Childhood's End (S.F. Masterworks)
Childhood's End (S.F. Masterworks)
Price: 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but slightly unsatisfying, 31 May 2012
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This is a very enjoyable book that conveys some great ideas. However I can't in all honesty give it five stars.

The resort to the paranormal, the special thing that the puny humans can do but not the Overlords was just not entirely satisfying. Yes perhaps I am more of a fan of Harder Sci-fi, I have no real issue with the idea of presenting science so advanced that it looks like magic, but the idea of this latent ability which will crystalise suddenly in man is not really the most satisfying conclusion in my opinion. Still it was in many other respects a very good novel so it still gets four stars from me.


The n00b Warriors (Book One)
The n00b Warriors (Book One)
Price: 0.77

2.0 out of 5 stars I gave it a try, 29 May 2012
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The book seems like he is trying to write a near future catch 22 style novel, without character, descriptive detail and humour with no real ability to generate either suspense or compassion for characters since they are not really filled out.

Such characters that there are, are extremely clichéd. The love interest, the competitor, the older mentor, the kid he needs to protect, the crazy commander and above all the reluctant hero all clichés which I don't have a problem with if they are a little less transparent or made more interesting, or even if some of the other elements in the story telling are right.

The section with the fighting in Disneyland fits nicely into the theme of war turned into a game and the childhood meets war even if there is much to criticise in detail about what happens.

Then we move to seattle and after fake mission in the woods, there is the WWI style trench war in Seattle. Ok we are in a shattered landscape fine, but then out of nowhere "guerrillas" pop out and shoot people. There is no sense to build that this is a possibility, they just seem to pop out of the ground like zombies. The lack of realism here is a real problem.

Other things that occur are of course ludicrous, such as when the old guys dives in front of Dylan to take a bullet, to die heroically as he always wanted to. Forgetting the fact that a body won't actually stop a military bullet, he doesn't see the shooter and jump in front but, the bullet whizzes towards Dylan and he jumps in front. Pretty fast reactions from the old guy! At least I got a laugh. This unrealism removes any feeling we might have for the apparent horror the characters are in.

However the even bigger problem is that we don't see much of the action, we are just told this happens, that happens. No scene lasts more than a few dozen lines. Then there is the "reveal" about the president, but we've pretty much been told this already so you are just wondering why Dylan and everyone else doesn't know this already. The story has no twists and other than the unfolding blog posts, no real reveal of information that is not otherwise obvious (like the president). When at the end the rebel group comes to get dylan, there is no question that this might not be just what it says because everything else was. The is just no twists whatsoever.

So after this panning why on earth have I given it two rather than one star? Well quite honestly the framing story with the unfoldingblog posts while not realistic looked like it could go somewhere interesting perhaps, and since I got this for free on the kindle then it only cost me my time which wasn't that much either.

Yes the overall story is not entirely believable either but the outline idea was ok, ok enough to keep me reading to the end and as I mentioned earlier the war in Disneyland is ok in conception at least. So I read on to find if there was an interesting ending. Unfortunately there wasn't, rather an ending that suggested the author just wanted to write more of the same, when I feel he really just needed to go back and write this one better. A decent writing course could turn this into an ok book I feel.

I have read via a bit of googling that the author wants/ is doing a graphic novel version. This could actually work a lot better, you might have a better idea of what is actually going on in the images. Its either that or treat this what it reads as - an outline/first draft of a potentially fun near future war story. Re-written with character and detail, some clever holding back of information from the readers to give them a few twists and something unexpected, removing some of the weaker sections and this could turn into a decent read. Not a great work of literature but a credible read. As it stands its not.


Empty World (New Windmills)
Empty World (New Windmills)
by John Christopher
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars As a child this was totally chilling and wonderful, 9 May 2012
I last read this book nearly 30 years ago as a 9-10 year old. I know I read it several times and despite the years this book is strongly with me, probably more so than any of the other John Christophers I read at the time (and that was most of his novels). Its not the adventure of the tripods but the atmosphere of the Empty World made my young mind race away and wonder more than anything else I had read before.

In that cold war world the threat of global destruction was something very real, and while this was something different the possible reality of being alone in a depopulated world seemed very real.


Ready Player One
Ready Player One
Price: 3.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasitically fun nostalgic adventure, 8 May 2012
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This review is from: Ready Player One (Kindle Edition)
What critereon are we to judge a book by? If you are after beautiful prose, compelling deep characters etc then you will be disappointed. If you want a fun nostalgia driven ride through a virtual world then it is a fantastic read that I fervently wished to start again having just finished it. It should be noted that 90% or so of the book takes place in the virutal world not the real one.

Having myself played space invaders, pac man, galaga etc at the arcade, plus the old game sytems C64 and others, and all the way down to World of Warcraft (which gets a mention) and being very close in age to the (fictional) OASIS creator, the cultural references of this book are squarely aimed at my life experience. I can't underestimate the impact of being smack in the middle of the demographic this book is aimed at to my enjoyment of it.

Ultimately I think I would struggle to see this book being of broad interest to anyone not born between 1960 and 1980, but probably most intensely to those born in the range 1965-1975. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but while the story is enjoyable in its own right (and partly reminiscent of the goonies and a John Hughes film - particularly the ending) it is heavily loaded with 80s teen nostalgia (along with some references falling just outside). You really need I feel to have been a teen or near teen in the 80s to really revel in the references. If you never loved War Games, Ladyhawke, Ferris Bueller, Highlander or the Goonies. If you never played D&D, an Atari, Pac Man or Zork, or read and watched much SF then you may well not find this as enjoyable as I did.


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