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Zawiah Saki "Zoe" (United Kingdom)

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[ FAMOUS ROBOTS & CYBORGS ] [ FAMOUS ROBOTS & CYBORGS ] BY BLYTHE, DANIEL ( AUTHOR ) Jan-01-2013 Paperback
[ FAMOUS ROBOTS & CYBORGS ] [ FAMOUS ROBOTS & CYBORGS ] BY BLYTHE, DANIEL ( AUTHOR ) Jan-01-2013 Paperback
by DANIEL BLYTHE
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read, 25 Nov 2014
This is actually a fun read. Daniel Blythe is a versatile writer. Here he shares his love of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Even if you like neither, there's plenty for everyone here. It's a good family book for Christmas. Like all dads he gets a bit carried away by the 'Doctor Who' bits, the Daleks, in other words. But he also puts in a few good mentions of my own favourites, Kryten, Marvin, Bender, Gort, and Robby. I have one minor niggle over Robby. Blythe says against 'Weaponry' -- n/a; i.e. not applicable. But Robby does have at least one weapon. He can send out some kind of energy beam. We see him briefly employing it to scare off a monkey. Also, I must beg to differ over Kryten. Daniel gives him a cuteness factor of only one heart. I would give him all five! But subjective concerns aside, There's enough there to give even Marvin the Paranoid Android a chuckle! It is, to use the old cliche, "a book that falls open at every page",


The Lost World MEGAPACK TM: 22 Modern and Classic Tales
The Lost World MEGAPACK TM: 22 Modern and Classic Tales
Price: £0.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Anthology, but may not have all the best versions., 7 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yes, it's a good anthology. But the text of, "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is the dreadful adulterated version where Professor Lidenbrook is named Professor Von Hardwick. Why the compiler chose this version is beyond me. But it is useful to have all (?) the other examples of the lost world genre that are in the public domain in one volume.


The Professor Challenger Megapack: The Complete Series
The Professor Challenger Megapack: The Complete Series
Price: £0.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, thought provoking, but not SF!, 3 Nov 2014
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SPOILERS!
To be honest, the science content of these stories is little to non existent. To tackle them in reverse order; it works out as follows. 'When the World Screamed'. The idea here is that the earth is a living organism. "Ah," you might think, "The Gaia Hypothesis!" Not a bit of it. In this story, the earth turns out to be a giant mollusc, and Challenger has a fancy to prick it with an equally giant pin, (hence the screaming). With the second from the end, "The Disintegration Machine", full marks for being the first to think of this device. But still, not at all likely, and the good professor seems to behave, shall we say, somewhat unethically? 'The Land of Mists' is surely the least scientific of any story. It's origin is in Doyle's preoccupation with Spiritualism. In fact it is a veritable manifesto for the movement. It is hard to imagine someone like Professor Challenger flirting with it. However, Challenger's wife has just died -- something even I was rather sad about as she was one of my favourite characters, (and someone I could identify with). So I suppose it's understandable. 'The Poison Belt' is also pseudoscience, because it deals with the 'aether', which for the purposes of the story has become poisonous. Our heroes lock themselves indoors, in a sealed room with an oxygen cylinder and watch everyone outside succumb -- apparently falling down dead. But the luminiferous aether does not exist. It was an imaginary substance once believed necessary for the propagation of light waves. Moreover, had it really been poisonous, it is difficult to imagine that a sealed room could protect anyone, as the aether was believed to interpenetrate all matter. The first story is of course, 'The Lost World'. Surely this story is the most plausible, from a scientific point of view? Well no, actually. The idea of a plateau where dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals and even a few thousand apemen survive alongside a tribe of modern humans is as nonsensical as the rest! For a start, the plateau is too small to sustain so rich a mixture. It is of a size the the explorers can walk around in a single day. Moreover, from the centre, it is possible to see the caves around the perimeter; the plateau has no horizon and thus must be quite small. In such an environment, the voracious carnivores described in the novel would decimate the herbivore population -- and then starve to death themselves. This impossible ecosystem works well enough for the story, but does not stand up to scrutiny. It is also bizarre that the central lake has plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. Where did they come from? There are also pterosaurs that could easily leave the plateau, but do not. This is without mentioning the giant elk which appears to have wandered in -- like the ape men -- sixty million years after the dinosaurs. Is Doyle just having fun with us? Well, probably, yes. But the principle conceit, that the the laws of evolution are suspended is nonsense. Evolution does not work that way. Crowd a lot of different species, some of them very large, together on the top of a plateau and they would compete for a rapidly diminishing food supply. Evolution would not stop, it would speed up! The explorers might have found dinosaurs on the plateau, but they would in all likelihood be tiny. Moreover, after sixty million years they would be unrecognisable as such, just as they are (as birds) everywhere else today. On reading this book through adult eyes, it can be seen that it is not so much science fiction as a fable about the modern world. Old values of knightly chivalry and adventure have faded away, and the 'lost world' is a metaphor for this. The novel is a story of how the role of women has changed. They are no longer to be won in knightly conquests with dragons -- or dinosaurs. This is the real lost world of the story. It is a novel of unrequited love. The land of dinosaurs is merely a clever device to get our attention. Doyle never meant us to take it seriously. As such, it still works today, even though we know there is no unexplored plateau in South America. And the other stories in the collection work in the same way. Read as a bit of fun, a collection of ripping yarns, it does indeed give rather more than 'one hour of joy' (to use Doyle's own phrase) to any of us willing to suspend disbelief.


Brandenburg Concertos [DVD]
Brandenburg Concertos [DVD]
Dvd ~ Freiburger Barockorchester

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful version, with visual appeal, 15 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Brandenburg Concertos [DVD] (DVD)
Wonderful version, with visual appeal. One sees the intimacy of the soloists as well as hearing it. Incidentally, this has an uncredited supporting performance by Viola da Gamba player Hille Perl, who has a graceful presence and slightly upstages the soloists!


How to Build a Flying Saucer: And Other Proposals in Speculative Engineering
How to Build a Flying Saucer: And Other Proposals in Speculative Engineering
by T.B. Pawlicki
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Or Perhaps Not., 15 Oct 2014
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Delightfully dotty. A reminder of what people actually believed in the last century. Some of it might be true. Most of it is far out crazy.


Night of the Big Heat
Night of the Big Heat
by John Lymington
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Someone to Read it to You in Bed., 15 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Night of the Big Heat (Paperback)
I wish there was an audiobook version of this, simply because it is one of those rare things, a creepy story, best listened to than read, or watched — as in the terrible Hammer film version spoiled by its primitive and unimaginative special effects. There was a brilliant television version back in the nineteen sixties, which had great atmosphere. The old practice of reading scary stories seems to have died out. The only thing against this is that 'Night of the Big Heat' is too long to be read in one sitting, (unless one pulls an all nighter!). Reading aloud gave rise to 'Frankenstein' and also most of Dickens' corpus. It's an old tradition dating back to 'The 1001 Nights'. If ever I get a job as a night time radio presenter, I will read this on Halloween. And that's a promise!


The Voyage of Space Beagle
The Voyage of Space Beagle
by A.E. van Vogt
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Voyage to Trek, 15 Oct 2014
SPOILER ALERT!

As others have noted, 'Voyage' is the template for Star Trek'. However, the film, 'Forbidden Planet' also went into the mix. In the process, the popular Robot character transmogrified into Mr Spock, the 'human' computer. But, you know what? I'm going to have to buy this again, as a paperback book, to carry around and read. It has to be a book to recover the full, three hundred and sixty degree reading experience of my teens. I'm going to buy the oldest looking copy I can find and hope it has that distinctive smell of 'pulp fiction'.

But everything about 'Destination Universe' screams 'Star Trek'. 'Voyage of the Space Beagle' is a better title, though. My favourite character in 'Voyage' is 'Couerl' the tentacled cat in the opening story. And I do mean, 'character'. Couerl is not just a monstrous force, like the monster in 'Forbidden Planet'. We feel sympathy for Couerl, we understand his motives and his needs. That is Van Vogt's genius. He is not just a 'pulp SF writer'. We follow Couerl's progress as he moves from despair in the face of the impending extinction of his species. And, his own eventual death. We understand his grief at the passing of former glories. We see his plan, to pose as harmless until in a stronger position to defeat the humans and make his escape. Did you see the origin of the early Star Trek original series episode, 'Man Trap'? Again, I think technical constraints had something to do with the change from tentacled cat to 'womanoid'. 'Womanoid' is my coinage, (by analogy with humanoid) for an alien that poses as a woman to seduce and kill a human. The tentacled cat killed humans for their 'id', a code-word for what turned out to be potassium. The 'womanoid' killed humans for the salt in their bodies. Can it be any clearer that the episode 'Man Trap' is a free adaptation from the opening story of 'Destination Universe'? Coeurl is a more rounded character than the 'womanoid' in Star Trek. Who, after all is only a stereotypical 'man eater' cliche. This is not to ridicule Star Trek, a made for TV series, with all the flaws expected from such an enterprise. It was constrained by its budget. The resolution of these constraints were the source of its genius. I would love to see a TV version of 'Voyage' with a good budget for special effects. I think it would more than stand up. The philosophical underpinnings of 'Voyage' are the point where Trek and Voyage part company. These would give the series originality — for anyone who had not read the book.

But forget I said that, folks. Just read the damn book!


Xeno
Xeno
by D.F. Jones
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Light Read But a Frustrating Conclusion SPOILER ALERT!, 28 Dec 2012
This review is from: Xeno (Hardcover)
XENO D.F. Jones

You know that bit in Roadrunner cartoons where Coyote runs off the cliff, looks down, gulps and then falls hundreds of feet? That's about the feeling I got when I finished this book.
Xeno is touted as a worthy successor to John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. It's not. Nor is it a successor, worthy or otherwise, to HG Wells' the War of the Worlds. In fact it is a rather unsatisfying novel because the author, DF Jones falls way short of delivering what these two authors did so brilliantly. I feel I ought to say that even Wyndham and yes, even Wells have their shortcomings. Wells is particularly easy to find fault with. Basically, Wells was writing about Xenophobia - fear of aliens - at a time when the British Empire was going around the word in carpet slippers laying about itself with a very big stick. Wells' novel was, in fact "How would we like it if someone else did that to us?" Even so, Wells is only speaking from the point of view of a xenophobe with a guilty conscience. He is washing England's dirty linen in public. Perhaps you can already see where I'm going with this.
Xeno is in fact a rabidly xenophobic book. The writer wastes a lot of time criticizing the Russians for having the bad taste to not believe in God and then they get their just deserts by being unable to contain the alien menace. Perhaps the only interesting character, the only one with any depth, Tatiana the Russian scientist, is merely hauled out as a kind of Aunt Sally for communism and then speedily dispatched when she's fulfilled her function. She only has depth, might I add, because she has to defend her position and then, gradually come to the understanding that she's been backing the wrong horse. This is a rather poor attempt at character development driven more by personal views than character potential and plot and so on. Wells and Wyndham weren't immune from this kind of cheap shooting; they just did less of it and at least gave their characters a sporting chance.
The alien itself - Xeno - is the most developed and, dare I say it, the most rounded character in the book. Although it does not demonstrate anything other than a well developed survival instinct its life cycle is very well detailed and convincing. I think Xeno is very clearly the (unaccredited) model for the Xenomorph in Alien. Of course, in Alien the idea is further developed and the Xenomorph is more frightening on the big screen than Xeno which at first blush appears more like an unwholesomely large wasp than anything. DF Jones demonstrates how a new and unknown species could easily run rings round us if we did not understand it. But trying to understand it doesn't really do any good in the end. The teams of scientists and the military think they've got it sussed but they are overlooking something. I have to say that what they are overlooking was blindingly obvious to me but then maybe I've read too much of this kind of thing. The concept that some quasi-insectile alien species might lay eggs in human hosts is neither original nor underexploited. Nor is the rest hard to extrapolate to. Jones does a decent job of getting from A to B with this; he just doesn't do much about C.
Here's the reason why this book falls short of its predecessors. The War of the Worlds was in two volumes. Volume One was "The Coming of the Martians" and Volume Two was "The Earth Under the Martians." The famous epilogue where the Martians all died of earth diseases is, strictly, a device to reassure the reader like "and then I woke up and it was all a dream." It is a deus ex machina It might be the one thing unsophisticated readers remember but that's their hard luck. I suspect that if Wells had attempted to publish it without this tacked on ending it would not have been anything like as widely accepted. John Wyndham did not kill off the Triffids at the end of his novel and his second half is all about how the human race adapted to life alongside them. I suspect that little Englander Wyndham secretly longed for a catastrophic return to basics but that aside, Jones does not give any attention to what life with such a formidable parasite as Xeno would be like. He rounds it off like a short story with a horrific sting in its tail and leaves it at that. Having been taken on such a long and interesting journey I was rather miffed at being left to find my own way home.
So my problems with this novel are - one, he spends an awful long time on the first section, clearly revelling in all the time-tripping aeroplane mumbo jumbo; two, the characters are so lightly drawn that I didn't care about any of them and when he looked as though he was getting somewhere with one of them he proved himself unequal to the task; three, he just did not do the work of his predecessors in drawing it to a satisfying conclusion. He had two choices: he could have come up with a way of winning and wiped out Xeno once and for all; or he could have written a fairly lengthy second half where human beings conceded the new arrival's place in the scheme of things but adapted with ingenuity and chutzpah. This is what great science fiction is all about. Jones's one page throwaway ending has all the survivors wearing armoured suits and worshipping the Xenos as gods. I'm willing to accept that some people would behave that way but I'm pretty sure that others would not and the tension between different groups, along with some character development would have helped make a good novel out of a mediocre one.


Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
by Spencer Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.79

83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are You a Man or a Mouse?, 15 April 2010
The department I was with began to change and panic spread. A course was set up called, 'Dealing With Change'. I attended and found that it really should have been called, "Accepting With Grace Whatever Management Imposes'. When I suggested that one way of dealing with unwanted change was to move on, the facilitator sneeringly reframed this as, 'running away from change'! He seemed incapable of thinking outside the box of tricks he had been provided with. Around that time, people began to wave the cheesy book around like Trotskyite students during the sixties waving 'The Thoughts of Chairman Mao'. When redundancy inevitably loomed, the cheesy bookwavers shrieked far louder than those of us who made a positive move to get out and embrace a change that we could create ourselves.

People who are 'mice' and who run around a 'maze' hoping to find 'cheese' will love this book. But the time comes to grow up; that's the change that this book does not acknowledge and embrace. Not all change is good, not all change is bad. Change is change, it is the nature of the world. Nothing stays the same. This is a 'feel good' book. Those 'mice' that have been fortunate enough to escape unwanted change can patronizingly offer it to the unlucky ones and feel that they have discharged their responsibility. Unlucky 'mice' can read it and feel better - like a child who is abused being given a sweet by the abuser. I suppose if you are starving you can always try eating this book.

There are practical things that can be done if you do not like the way things have turned out but they have to be specific to the change. There is no magic formula, no Holy Grail, no 'Popeye's Spinach' to help you when things go pear shaped. If you face redundancy you can do an audit of your skills, you can write a new CV or resume, you can try networking. Cheesy optimism is not going to help. The world is a tough place and some places are worse than others. If you are homeless and starving like most people in the world, this book will not help you. Of course this book is not aimed at homeless starving people but it is difficult to see who it is aimed at - unless it is supercilious managers and obsequious employees. Are you a man or a mouse?

Not all change is good. It is not your fault if things go wrong. All good things must come to an end. There is no end to common sense sayings that cost nothing. This book is a waste of money and any company that hands out copies of it is so patently mishandling its finances that anyone working for it should seriously consider bailing out while there is still time.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2014 10:45 PM BST


War of the Worlds [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
War of the Worlds [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anthony Piana

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Harmless, 7 Oct 2008
For anyone who has never seen this or heard of it, you may be pleasantly surprised. It squeezes out a tiny budget and makes ingenious use of locations around the director's home town to create an illusion of being late nineteenth century England. The special effects are certainly not state of the art and the cast of unknowns struggles to sound convincing as Londoners and gentry from the Home Counties (some appear to have been dubbed) but they are clearly beginners who could have done with some professional help. They are to be applauded for this ensemble production. Some unkind people have said that this is the worst movie ever made but this is unfair. The cast struggled valiantly and there are moments that really work. They are mostly let down by a dreadfully lazy script that just recycles the hundred year old novel without a hint of invention or imagination. They are also ill served by inept direction that has people running and walking around with no sense of urgency.

Sometimes the movie parodies early, silent films and this is effective. The rather pompous delivery of the overblown lines lends a melodramatic effect to the sepia toned and matte painted scenes that open the movie. We can forgive the stylized effects sequences and the unfinished CGI rendering. The main problem is that it is twice as long as is reasonably tolerable for a sophisticated audience. I have not seen the Director's Cut which claims to have resolved these issues but it is rather late in the day as most of the flaws are obvious to anyone.

The biggest flaw in this movie is marketing. This is quite clearly an amateur film and has the usual bad pacing and lack of climax of student shorts stretched to a tortuous three hours but can be enjoyed for the ingenious homespun improvisation and make-do and mend. What has really angered a lot of people is that the producers tried to imply that this was a big budget production with state of the art special effects that would give Steven Spielberg a run for his money. I would be tempted to give them an extra mark for cheek but I think that would be missing a serious point. In these days of chat rooms, message boards and viral marketing entrepreneurs owe their customers a duty of care. Yes, the cast should be applauded - they did their best. But the producers did their worst and should be ashamed.


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