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A. Gibb "Alan" (The Hague)

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The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Completely Mad!, 1 July 2015
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This review is from: The Wasp Factory (Kindle Edition)
Banks at his most weird. Feeling any empathy for a character who at best is a sociopath and in many ways is more a psychopath, but somehow Banks pulls it off.
The story itself is a bit patchy with some fantastic sections, but also areas that are a bit turgid. Clearly early works which showed the genius of the man.


Firefall
Firefall
Price: £4.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, but worth it?, 14 May 2015
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This review is from: Firefall (Kindle Edition)
That was a bit of a slog! Some fantastic ideas and great creativity, but possibly a little bogged down in attempts to link back to real life science.
It's difficult to know if the effort was worth it. The universe is rich, realistic and believable, however the author sometimes seems to forget there is a narrative to be told along the way.


The Long Mars: (Long Earth 3) (The Long Earth)
The Long Mars: (Long Earth 3) (The Long Earth)
Price: £3.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering, 4 Jan. 2015
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It's a series which frustrates and excites in almost equal measure. The premise around the Long series is inventive, consistent, logical and well realised. Thrifting styles of the two authors seem to have merged as the series has progressed and its increasingly difficult to spot who has written what. What continues to let the series down is any maintained story line. The novel (and indeed the series) continues to wander from plot to plot, almost as if the authors have drifted through ideas. The intriguing other sentient species plot gets sidelined for a mission to Mars, which in turn gets relegated to sub-plot as something more interesting and intelligent turns up.
There's a clear set up for the next book and with that the potential that it could settle down to something approaching a consistent narrative arc. But given the long Earth like imaginations of Pratchett and Baxter don't be surprised if there's yet more lurches to a Long something else


The City's Son (Skyscraper Throne Book 1)
The City's Son (Skyscraper Throne Book 1)
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Lifeless, 7 Dec. 2014
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I was tempted into this by some good reviews and an interesting sounding concept. Unfortunately the lack of subtlety or any real depth left me cold and not a little bored.
The book is essentially a work of young adult fiction, and holds tightly on to the tropes of that genre - Young, misunderstood heroine - check, moody but complex teenage boy love interest - check, etc. etc. The premise of an unseen, mystical world under and around modern day London is an interesting one, but the potential is hardly touched upon. Instead Pollock gets mired down into the melodrama of his teen leads, whilst simultaneously shoving left wing politics down your throat. It's a political view that's not dissimilar to my own but I really object to the unsubtle way Pollock down this. Pollock also touches on real world issues of bereavement and abuse, but they are skirted over in a very superficial way. It's almost like they were ideas that he felt he had to cover but couldn't really find ways to properly weave them into the storyline.
Despite the criticisms there are some things to like. The writing style and descriptions are strong, and it does move along at a good pace. Some if the set pieces are well realised and a couple of the supporting characters and races are imaginative and well realised. The third act is undoubtedly the strongest, not coincidentally where the politics are put largely to the side.


Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal series Book 3)
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal series Book 3)
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another cracking tale, 16 Oct. 2014
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Hugely imaginative and compelling, the Cabal tales continue to improve. Totally different in tone from the previous novel, the link of the sarcastic protagonist is enough to maintain a red thread. Despite him inherently unlikable nature there is something about Cabal which makes him sympathetic. The Fear Institute peals back another layer of the Cabal onion (enough to make you cry), providing more backstory to explain his obscure motivations.
I'm sorely tempted to dive straight into the next book, but I worry that too much Cabal might sour him. There's a fine balance between love and loath, as with the character himself. And so I'll give him a little break, but I'll look forward to yet more logical and unexpected twists and turns.


Johannes Cabal the Detective (Johannes Cabal series Book 2)
Johannes Cabal the Detective (Johannes Cabal series Book 2)
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Ripping Yarn, 15 Sept. 2014
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It takes a little time to get into faux Victorian prose, but when you Herr Cabal's second tale fairly rips along. Like a slightly off kilter Agatha Christie novel it reads like a strange detective novel in a slightly changed parallel turn of the century universe. In Howard's first Cabal novel the protagonist was a bit annoying and overly self serving, but there was just enough interesting ideas to draw the reader back in. The 2nd in the series gives him a little (although not a lot) more humanity that just brings him to the right side of sympathetic.
The little post credits add-on is also a lovely touch. Equally amusing and entertaining.
I look forward to meeting Herr/Mr Cabal again.


The Long War: (Long Earth 2) (The Long Earth)
The Long War: (Long Earth 2) (The Long Earth)
Price: £3.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Half a good story, 11 Aug. 2014
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For the 2nd time Pratchett and Baxter have left us with a feeling of what could have been. The main plot line goes in unexpected directions, but then seems to lose energy (and enthusiasm?) and so fizzles to an abrupt conclusion. Other strands seem to be abandoned altogether - if they're to be saved for the next in the series at least set them up for the follow up, instead they just hang.
Much the same as the first book the concept itself is excellent and the writing at times beautiful, but again plot suffers (not planned or thought through?) and this ultimately leads to story that promises much but delivers the ordinary.


The Long Earth: (Long Earth 1)
The Long Earth: (Long Earth 1)
Price: £5.22

3.0 out of 5 stars great concept, but lacking structure, 30 July 2014
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Yet another clever sci-FI concept which lacks a clear narrative structure. What is so difficult about start-middle-end? It's a problem that seems to plague modern scifi. And a real shame it is too, as the book starts off very promisingly. The writing styles of Baxter and Pratchett seem to flow nicely into one another (apart from a few jarring moments when Baxter is obviously showing off his academic chops), and the concept really grabs and intrigues. Unfortunately it's as things settle down in the middle section that the book loses it's way. It's almost as if the authors just didn't know where to take it, so it meanders along. This would be easily forgiven if things picked up in the final third, but unfortunately we just continue to drift along. The climax, which should be positively nuclear, just fizzles out with barely a pop. Clearly a set up for more, but as a stand alone it is more disappointing than enticing.
All that being said I'll still give #2 in the series a go - there's lots of fertile ground here and with the combined imagination of two titans of British fantasy/ scifi at the helm they must be able to bring it home to Datum.


The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastards Book 3)
The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastards Book 3)
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars increasingly Annoying, 12 Jun. 2014
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It's a great shame that the promise that Lynch showed in the first of the Gentleman Bastard books has descended into cliche and dull plagiarism. You could almost forgive the Pirates of the Caribbean lite of book 2, but the Shakespeare In Love blah blah of this disaster of a novel in just plain bad. The world that showed so much promise has not been fleshed out beyond pantomime villains and Hollywood homages. What makes it worse is the increasing Amercanisms of the dialogue - it is simply juvenile and inane.
This was SLs last chance from me. No more!


Dust: (Wool Trilogy 3) (Wool Trilogy Series)
Dust: (Wool Trilogy 3) (Wool Trilogy Series)
Price: £5.31

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fairly mundane conclusion, 18 Mar. 2014
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Reasonable conclusion to an at times excellent trilogy. It feels a little like Howey is just running out of steam by the end. A couple of neat little twists, but generally it's fairly predictable as the series ambles to a conclusion. Entertaining enough, but still I can't help feeling that some of the earlier promise has gone unfulfilled.


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