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Theo M. King (Glasgow)

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All the Birds in the Sky
All the Birds in the Sky
by Charlie Jane Anders
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful début novel., 31 Jan. 2016
I really enjoyed this book. It had elements of "Sewer, Gas and Electric" by Matt Ruff in that it came across as quite detached from reality with one main character involved with magic and the other a technologist building an AI in his bedroom closet. But in fact it is a beautiful study of people who are outsiders from the mainstream and caught up in events beyond their control at first and then as they grow and change finally under their control. All of the characters are well defined, consistent with their "powers" (be they magical or technology) and have entertaining depth, even when they are peripheral to the main story. I thought it very well written with some staggers here and there when for instance when there was the foreshadowing of "Siberia" and yet nothing appeared to be forthcoming for I think, two books (The main book is separated into four internal books). But like Chekhov’s Gun there is an explanation in the end. I liked the intertwining of the apocalypse in the story but with it happening round the edges, in TV broadcasts and gossip from other characters and even throw away remarks. There is in the story great sacrifice and great misunderstanding (In may ways like Lem's "Fiasco", but without the depressing ending) with this book ending in a resolution which I suspect will not be satisfactory for some but sits well with the ongoing travails of life and reality. I look forward to reading more by Charlie Jan Anders and will probably look out her novelette "Six Months, Three Days" to read. I recommend this book to people who like Matt Ruff's early work, Robert Rankin's early work and Tom Holt's early work. (Hmmm, You may get the feeling I have gone off all of the later works of these authors, but there are still flashes of brilliance from them from time to time, so I still tend to buy their work).


To Hold Infinity
To Hold Infinity
by John Meaney
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 3 Jan. 2016
This review is from: To Hold Infinity (Paperback)
I read this because I had met John Meaney at the 2014 Eastercon in Glasgow where he was Guest of Honour and liked his personal style. I have put off actually getting a copy of one of his books because I didn't want to be disappointed in books which may not measure up to the man. In fact this is a excellent first novel which goes into detail (in some minor places perhaps too much) of what trans-humanism may be like and how it would impact against the existing base humans in a transhuman lead society. There is an interesting mix of nano technology and bio-tech with some brain programming thrown in throughout. It has a hunt for a lost son, a voyage of discovery (for both main characters) a serial killer, interesting side and supporting characters, all of who are filled out and none are ciphers. In fact you could even say that there were a voyage of discoveries for the main, fairly elderly, very strong and capable female lead who also manages to show how vulnerable people can be which confronted with unexpected events (such as a mugging). I felt that it moved a bit into fantasy towards the end of the book which took the edge off of the hard tech novel for me, but that's probably just me. I recommend it and I will be reading his later novels soon.


By John Meaney To Hold Infinity [Paperback]
By John Meaney To Hold Infinity [Paperback]
by John Meaney
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 3 Jan. 2016
I read this because I had met John Meaney at the 2014 Eastercon in Glasgow where he was Guest of Honour and liked his personal style. I have put off actually getting a copy of one of his books because I didn't want to be disappointed in books which may not measure up to the man. In fact this is a excellent first novel which goes into detail (in some minor places perhaps too much) of what trans-humanism may be like and how it would impact against the existing base humans in a transhuman lead society. There is an interesting mix of nano technology and bio-tech with some brain programming thrown in throughout. It has a hunt for a lost son, a voyage of discovery (for both main characters) a serial killer, interesting side and supporting characters, all of who are filled out and none are ciphers. In fact you could even say that there were a voyage of discoveries for the main, fairly elderly, very strong and capable female lead who also manages to show how vulnerable people can be which confronted with unexpected events (such as a mugging). I felt that it moved a bit into fantasy towards the end of the book which took the edge off of the hard tech novel for me, but that's probably just me. I recommend it and I will be reading his later novels soon.


The Martian
The Martian
by Andy Weir
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars really good book. It has detailed information on the process ..., 14 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
A really, really good book. It has detailed information on the process of staying alive on Mars, careful insights of how people react and behave in stressful and dangerous situations and a great view of large monolithic organisation and the somewhat autistic people who live in the corners and sometimes come up with the solutions to seriously big problems.

Like all good SiFi books, it is all about people


The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ocean in a bucket, 22 Jun. 2013
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When I started this book I was filled with expectation of joys and insights into the human condition and the meaning of life. However, in the first few chapters the author is actually quite cruel to the reader. Painting a picture of (from the point of a viewer) an unhappy childhood which the protagonist does not realise is unhappy. I felt almost cheated as I had been waiting for this book since its announcement earlier this year (or it may have been last year) and didn't like at all the feelings that it invoked in me.

This was all almost certainly by design.

The story soon moves into more interesting territory with the introduction of familiar and comfortable tropes for those who read fairy stories and legends with a huge dollop of sudden technical literacy which caused a burst of laugher; waking up my sleeping wife beside me. I really LOL'd and had to read out that section to her, until she fell asleep again. Further on, the book's antagonist is just what is expected. Dark and capricious; sullen and cruel, so cruel, purely for the sake of being cruel. I thought she was wonderful... and terrifying. There were some fantastic turns of English phrase which I loved and a solid story of growing up and finding out how big, scary and truly weird the world is around you. There is the occasional mystery that Mr Gaiman leaves to work out as an exercise for the reader and what are obviously some very personal vignettes from the author sprinkled throughout the story. It is, as has been announced elsewhere, probably a modern classic and a very, very beautiful and worthwhile story.


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus  [DVD]
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [DVD]
Dvd ~ Heath Ledger
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £4.29

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful morality play for the 21st century, 12 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thought the Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus was bloody wonderful, but it has many of Terry's interesting problems that he tends to build into his movies.

For a start it is perhaps too complex and rich. There is sometimes things going on in the background and indeed, the foreground which can be confusing and you always suspect that you've missed something. The first 20 minutes are a bit confused, but I suspect that these minutes have been nailed on at the beginning so that some of the other features (such as the changing aspects of Tony) that were introduced by Heath Ledger dying during filming are more easily explained later in the movie. This, I think will turn off some people and they will feel that the whole film is confused, but it isn't really.

Some of the visuals are spectacular. Some look like he has raided a country school theatre cupboard and thrown the results onto his actors. Some scenes have a distinct feel of Brueghel about them, others more eastern and mystical. Some bits are not explained at all and you are left with a "what the hell was that" feeling. For example - who was Percy as a character and why did he seem to know what was going on all the time??

Overall it is just as good as Time Bandits, complete with the a (probably slightly less) ambiguous moral ending that is his trademark. At its core, it is a simple morality play with the message "be careful of your choices as you will have to live with them". Though it does have a definite, satisfying ending for most of it's characters.

Personally, I loved it.


The Midnight Mayor: A Matthew Swift Novel: Bk. 2 (Matthew Swift Novels)
The Midnight Mayor: A Matthew Swift Novel: Bk. 2 (Matthew Swift Novels)
by Kate Griffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sequel to "A Madness of Angels", 12 May 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The only problem I have with the book is that some of the verbose descriptions of London which do not add to the story and when she reaches for a metaphor for Matthew Swift's feelings at a particular moment she draws out the metaphors too far. Just a little too wordy. Otherwise and excellent fantasy book in the same vein and without changing too much of the character introduced in "A madness of Angels". I liked it and look forward to the next book in the series, which hopefully will have a slightly heavier handed editor who will trim the small quantities of fat which appeared in this book. P.S. This is also an excellent introduction to London history (only some of which is invented and you will be able to tell which) and the interesting backstreet byways of this city.


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