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D. Patrick "dave_jp" (Slough, UK)
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Busted Flush (Wild Cards Novel)
Busted Flush (Wild Cards Novel)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but some lazy writing, 17 Feb 2010
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The new trilogy of Wild Cards books continues and by and large this has revived this line of 'mosaic' books. Like most of the previous volumes different writers produce different sections which are overseen and then stiched together by George RR Martin.

In general an easy if perhaps a little uninvolving read. Maybe it suffers from being the middle book of a trilogy?

My main problem with the novel comoes down to what might be considered the central strand of the novel - that of Noel Matthews, the British Ace and secret service double agent written by Melinda Snodgrass. The sections set in the UK or featuring British characters is full of English sterotypes, even down to the old one about British teeth. Maybe you can forgive having a British character referring to a rubbish bin as a trash can or to a Wal-Mart store in England instead of ASDA (which is how everyone knows that chain), but the sterotyping comes across either as a failed joke or simply a writer who doesn't care enough to do basic fact checking.

If you can get past that the actual story is quite good. Perhaps its a little more disjointed than usual with ongoing storylines spread right around the planet, but again, this might be middle-book syndrome. Still, its a good entry in the long running series and I am looking forward to finding out how this trilogy ends.


The City & The City
The City & The City
by China Mieville
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weirdest crime novel I've read, 22 Jan 2010
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This review is from: The City & The City (Paperback)
Other reviewers have covered the basic premise and setting for this book so I won't go into that here.

The book goes out of its way to point out that the situation of Beszel and Ul Qoma are quite different from politically divided cities like East and West Berlin, or religiously divided cities like Jerusalem.

If there is any parallel to cities in the real world it is to nearly every large city where areas of low income earners (represented by Beszel) rub shoulders with much richer areas (Ul Qoma) but whose inhabitants almost seem to live in different cities to each other.

The book has a fantastical set-up and accepting the idea of unseeing and unhearing is a little difficult, but once this central concept is accepted the difficulties such a place causes is well thought out and realised. The book skirts as close as it can to being outright fantasy without, well, breaching into it.

The characterisation is a little thin in places, and the police procedual aspect does take a back seat at times to how the two cities work, but it is a thoroughly absorbing book from Mieville's intriguing mind.


The Gabble - And Other Stories (Polity)
The Gabble - And Other Stories (Polity)
by Neal Asher
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Neal Asher on top form, 4 Dec 2009
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These stories mostly fit in his Polity sequence. While the older ones might not exactly they show the evolution in the ideas behind his favourite universe.

If you're a fan of Neal Asher then these stories will appeal to you as they're the same style and quality as the best of his novels. Like his longer works there is plenty of action, AIs, Golems, agents and, of course, Gabbleducks. As another reviewer noted I've got one of the longer stories in a year's best anthology, but some of the others have only seen print in relatively obscure publications.

It may be familiar ground he's covering in this anthology, but he does do it well.


Incandescence
Incandescence
by Greg Egan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much science, too little story, 24 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Incandescence (Paperback)
Greg Egan's stories often have a strong science component. That's not a problem for me, I generally love having my mind twisted by maths or physics while enjoying the story, but in Incandescence the balance is totally lost.

The novel comprises two ultimately related stories, one follows two members of the Amalgam as they journey deep into the territory of the Aloof who control the hub of the galaxy and who passively resist any attempt by the Amalgam to be understood. The other story follows that of a group of aliens living in the Splinter surrounded by the Incandescence.

It's this second story where the real problem lies. Too much of it is taken up with one character explaining physical theories and of them conducting experiments, and that dominates that portion of the novel. It's okay as far as it goes, but both parts of the novel are very thin on characterisation or just plain story.

However some of the old Egan magic is here, and he offers some nice hints on the nature of the Aloof at the end of the book while cleverly avoiding the mistake of actually revealing their exact nature.

In summary, disapointing, but Greg Egan at half power is still better than many writers at their best.


The Engineer Reconditioned (Cosmos)
The Engineer Reconditioned (Cosmos)
by Neal Asher
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.28

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stories but a really shoddy book, 17 Oct 2008
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This is a collection of some of Neal Asher's earlier stories and it gives an interesting glimpse into his first forays into his Runcible universe and the planet Spatterjay.

These stories aren't quite as good as his more recent novels but any fan of his is really going to enjoy this novella and short stories.

But there is a huge problem with this book, and it has nothing to do with the stories themselves. I've never seen a professionally produced book before with so many amateurish mistakes and this goes far beyond just typos and even characters being called by the wrong names.

Several stories don't appear in the contents list at the front. Small problem you might think, but several of these stories are missing their titles and have been stuck on the end of the previous story as if it was just a new paragraph. This happens once after the story 'The Engineer' and TWICE after the story 'Spatterjay'.

If you can read around these problems there are some enjoyable stories here, but this particular edition is a shoddy mess.


Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity)
Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity)
by Neal Asher
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to his other books, 31 July 2008
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There's something not there in Hilldiggers that Asher's Cormac and Spatterjay books do have. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this book didn't grip me like his others.

The characters were largely not that gripping and the plot wasn't that involving even when the big action scenes got going. I also couldn't help feeling that the infodumps at the start of the book could have been done in a better way. It's still a good book, but it just doesn't get up there with Neal Asher's other works.


Sandworms of Dune
Sandworms of Dune
by Brian Herbert
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful, 31 July 2008
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Most people would agree that the quality of Frank Herbert's Dune series declined after the first volume, which is understandable as that is one of the classics of Science Fiction literature. But this final entry in the series is an embarrasment.

Finishing the saga based on Herbert's notes was always going to be difficult and the result was never going to be as good as genuine Frank Herbert, but I was bittery disappointed by this book. Sandworms of Dune should have been a great deal better than this. The three 'House' prequels and Hunters of Dune were good works. Not fantastic, but entertaining.

Maybe this final book was rushed, but it is hard to tolerate the gibberish filling the pages of this book. The characters are braindead, even the Bene Gesserit characters run around like headless chickens with IQs barely higher than room temperature. The book lumbers around boringly for a few hundred pages and then lurches to an embarrassingly trite ending.

I stuck with this book just to get some idea of where Frank Herbert intended to go with the sequence, but to be honest it wasn't worth it. The Dune sequence deservs far better than this for a conclusion.


Kil'n Time
Kil'n Time
by David Brin
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book does not exist, 18 Jun 2008
This review is from: Kil'n Time (Paperback)
This book appears to be a sequel to Kiln People. While I'd like to see a sequel to the original book, this one doesn't seem to actually exist. It wasn't published in 2006 by anyone, nor has it appeared since then.

In short, don't waste your time trying to find this.

Also, David Brin please start writing again!


No Title Available

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An improvement, but not enough, 15 Mar 2004
Enterprise is an improvement on the previous Trek series, Voyager, but it still suffers from many of the problems that plagued the previous series.
The problem lies not with the excellent cast or special effects (or even with the terrible theme tune), but with the leaden writing. Star Trek seemed to be resting on its laurels and not pushing the envelope. Despite the new setting it wasn't trying anything really new.
However, Enterprise is still entertaining and its pilot episode is the best pilot of any Star Trek. Like many Treks it won't really find its feet until its third year, but this is still a worthwhile purchase.


No Title Available

4 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor, 6 Dec 2003
Like TNG, DS9 and Enterprise, Voyager got off to a slow start. After one of the best pilots of all the shows the following episodes killed the momentum stone dead.
It's not the acting, or the special effects or the direction of the episodes that causes the problem. It is the writing that let it down. While the later series improve a great deal, I'd suggest avoiding this unless you're a Trekkie who really likes Voyager.


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