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Jorge Teixeira (Portugal)

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Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers
by Robert A. Heinlein
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than military propaganda and a very current read, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Starship Troopers (Paperback)
I was quite expectant to read Starship Troopers, despite the fact that it has stayed on my bookshelf for a couple of years now. But there is nothing like flying half around the world to help you catch up with delayed readings. So, I have seen the B rated movie with the same title and even found it entertaining, but my expectations for the book were naturally way higher. And I must say that Heinlein completely delivered it.
Starship Troopers is not only a pungent portrayal of military way-of-life and camaraderie, but also provides deep discussions on alternative political structures, namely meritocracy. Now that the world faces deep and troubling democracy related problems (a dwindling Arab Spring, governments mercilessly spying its own citizens) reading Starship Troopers seems more appropriate than ever.
I cannot give it 4 and a half, so here's a 5 out of 5.


Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Gateway (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Frederik Pohl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Creative and highly recommended sci-fi, 11 July 2013
Gateway was a real surprise, its truly creative concept is miles away from what I've read in recent times. And without being too bizarre to ruin it! So, humans find an alien base (called Gateway) full of starships ready to depart with predefined destinations, the only problem is that they don't know where they go, how to maneuver them, how long they take to reach their destination, or even if they have enough fuel to get there and back. Embarking on these ships is a true intergalactic russian roulette, as most crews arrive dead (if they arrive at all). But there isn't any lack of volunteers to take on these missions, as it is a way out of Earth's generalized poverty and resource depletion.
Pohl introduces the readers to one of these explorers who, seeking psychological advice from an AI physician, tell us his story in a series of flashbacks. While we hint that this explorer has succeeded in a mission, it is also pretty evident he has returned emotionally damaged.
Very interesting book with an amazing finale. Absolutely recommended!
Five stars out of five!


The Fountains Of Paradise (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Fountains Of Paradise (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Arthur C. Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a wondrous sci-fi concept, 11 July 2013
After having read a time-travel classic (The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov) I've explored another enticing sci-fi concept, the space elevator. And Arthur C. Clarke does a fantastic job (as usual) in explaining all the intricacies of building such a technological wonder. For those not familiar with it, a space elevator is basically a cable that stretches from an earth base to a space base in geosynchronous orbit around our planet. It is not difficult to understand the tremendous benefits such a construction would provide to space exploration, as ferrying cargo to space and back would be a much simpler business. One especially interesting thing that Arthur C. Clarke points out is the efficiency of such a system, energy wise. In fact, much of the energy spent would be recovered with the breaking system when the elevator returned to earth!
In Fountains of Paradise we accompany this engineering (and also political) endeavor with Vannevar Morgan, while digging deep into a Taprobane origins (a fictional country very much resembling Clark's home of Sri Lanka). While Clark wanders a bit here and there, the end result is a beautiful sci-fi tale, very well seasoned with physics, mysticism and politics. Like many of Clarke's other books, he manages to make such an advanced structure a plausible feat in the years to come. Let's hope so!
After some thought I'll give it a solid 4, out of 5.


Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
by Frederik Pohl
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great sequel to The Gateway., 30 Jun. 2013
In Beyond the Blue Event Horizon we continue to accompany Robinette Broadhead coming to terms with his past, while lavishly enjoying the profits from his previous Gateway trip. This book builds from the previous, but greatly expands the universe created. We also accompany a quite dysfunctional family trip to another Heechee facility, one that will bring great risks and also great rewards. Compared to Gateway it's a much more conventional story, but for those who liked the first book this one is a great sequel.


Day By Day Armageddon
Day By Day Armageddon
by J. L. Bourne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good., 30 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Day By Day Armageddon (Paperback)
After Max Brook's World War Z I found myself wanting to read more about zombies conquering the world. The Zombie Survival Guide also from Max Brooks was a bump on the road, but now Bourne's Day by Day Armageddon seemed to have ameliorated my zombie hunger (not to be taken literally). It's not another WWZ, and is pretty an unfinished book, but I liked the personal journal style, and the survival tips are way better than Zombie Survival Guide (again, not truly concerned about a zombie outbreak but still...). The story is a bit depressing, with very few lone survivors against overwhelming odds. I now this is a strange comment for a book about zombies overrunning the world, but I like the more organized defense style, with pockets of organized resistance and so forth.
Here we accompany a military who survives the outbreak through cunning and calculated risks (and a bit of luck). Along the way he gathers some survivors and we accompany their day by day struggle. Not a great book, but not bad either.


Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A grail romance retold for our time
Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A grail romance retold for our time
by Lindsay Clarke
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A great way to get to know classical literature., 30 Jun. 2013
I haven't read the original 12th century story from Wolfram von Eschenbach, but I believe that Lindsay Clarke's adaptation is a great one. Without losing a certain feeling of ancient lore the reading is most pleasant and draws beautiful sceneries. We accompany Parzival coming to age in a journey full of adventures imbued by the quest for the Grail. Tragedy, chivalry, and fantasy all come together in this book with unmistakable medieval undertones.


The Man in the High Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Man in the High Castle (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.79

3.0 out of 5 stars I missed the point (again), 30 Jun. 2013
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Having read some good reviews about this book I decided to try it out. So far Philip K. Dick cyberpunk novels felt quite underwhelming (far behing Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash). However, The Man in the High Castle is a piece of alternate history, not cyberpunk, so I was ready to finally convert to Philip K. Dick's genius. But yet again I failed miserably to appreciate a book from this author. It presents quite an interesting take on the premise of Nazis winning the 2nd WW, but feels half-baked. Maybe I'm a bit dumb but I seem to miss the author's point. Still, a somewhat entertaining read.


The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing..., 30 Jun. 2013
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A sequel (kind of) to World War Z that falls way too short. Having read Amazon's comments I was expecting a book as good as World War Z, but this Zombie Survival Guide is a disappointment. The concept can be at times entertaining as it tries to follow some of the style of WWZ, mixed with survivalism tips. Unfortunately it's no good at any of these aspects. If you want survival tips, buy a book about it, if you want Zombie stories there are plenty of other alternatives too. Due to the probability of a zombie outbreak (I would consider it a low one...) you won't get any useful advice from this "guide", neither a good story.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful account of the Zombie War, 30 Jun. 2013
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This book got my addicted to zombie/world-ending/ survivalism plots. It's an account of how the world fought the Zombie wars from the perspective of key characters interviewed by a U.N. employee. If the way of organizing the book is creative, the content is even better. It explores government cover-ups, corporate greed, tough decision making, military and survival strategy and human endurance against overwhelming odds. It's a must read, one of the most compelling books I've read.


The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization
The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization
by Bryan Ward-Perkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars History keeps changing., 30 Jun. 2013
After reading Bryan Ward-Perkins' Fall of Rome you realize how historians keep reinterpreting past events in light of recent discoveries or even political convenience. In a very interesting and never boring narration, Ward-Perkins carefully critiques current trends among historians. Namely that the fall of the Roman Empire was an assimilation by the barbarian hordes from central Europe, instead of the brutal annihilation of the first mass-production/ mass-consumption civilization of our planetary history. From import/export industries, public baths, modern quality pottery, widely available cutlery and amphorae as packaging, Roman standard of living had no match until more than 1000 years afterwards.
From historic revisionism to an eye opening account of how civilizations fall this book has it all. Highly recommended!


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