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F. M. Havicon (Brighton, East Sussex United Kingdom)
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Dragon Age Inquisition (PC DVD)
Dragon Age Inquisition (PC DVD)
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £30.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Fumbling combat, lipgloss, vanishing mouse pointer -- otherwise good., 4 April 2015
Still not up to the standard set by the very first game in the series, but at least a whole lot better than the second. Combat is still a little awkward as you have to keep track of the mouse pointer which can be difficult with all the special effects, and yes, they've moved some of the key controls around seemingly for the sake of it, just when you got used to the original system. The graphics have moved on from the disney-like cartoon landscapes of the second game, but really the sense of realism is misplaced -- the storybook appeal of the first game was what set this game apart and made it great. There's something very generic about the franchise now, as if its just the same game as every other title you can buy, just with a different graphics set. It's borrowed a bit from Skyrim -- and who wouldn't? -- but remains someway off target for this genre of videogame. Most of the characters wear lipgloss which is annoying after a time, and there have been changes in voice talents that sit a bit uncomfortably.


A Better Mantrap
A Better Mantrap
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired and inspiring short story writing, 21 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: A Better Mantrap (Kindle Edition)
Unlike so many of his peers, who abandoned the short story form as soon as their first novel was published, and who wrote novels only thereafter, Shaw continued with the "artistic" side of the craft throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and here is as good a selection as you'll find anywhere, by any author. His unique writing style allows him to compress and compact otherwise lengthy descriptions and dialogues into just a few memorable phrases, and his characterisations are as always spot-on and incredibly focused -- you rarely got off-the-shelf stand-in characters with Shaw, who say the same things and respond in the same way to everything. He gives each character, whether main or supporting, pecadillos of his own and sticks to them. And, best of all, he sticks to real science wherever possible, where many others fall by the wayside writing flim-flam "future fiction" or fantasy when they run out of intelligent ideas.


Battle Of Birds / Gypsy Suite
Battle Of Birds / Gypsy Suite
Price: £8.17

3.0 out of 5 stars Two very different albums, neither hitting the mark, 13 Feb. 2015
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Difficult to view this release as a single entity as it has two very different albums, the first (Battle of the Birds) is a narrated story with incidental music and sounds like a "Listen With Mother" experiment gone weirdly wrong from the early 1970s -- some of the voice characterisations are terrible and babyish, pointing this towards the kiddy market, while the score is really at odds through being mature and keenly thought out, though not terribly relevant or interesting; the other is a "collection" (yes, another collection!) of two instrumental suites recorded at different times, an acoustic guitar monster "Gypsy Suite" which really is a dose of Phillips mediocrity, and the Tarka suite which is among the best things he's ever done and is fast becoming a favourite (synthesisers and piano join the ubiquitous guitars). So two downs and one thumbs up -- have to average out my star score to three for this one, can't simply dish out five because I like only a third of it. Looks like this was simply cobbled together for completeness sake.


Fringe - Season 5 (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013] [Region Free]
Fringe - Season 5 (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Anna Torv
Price: £21.52

3.0 out of 5 stars high production drivel, 26 Jan. 2015
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13 episodes instead of the usual 20, and you get the feeling even here they're stretching thin ideas to fill the space. Overall impression is that they're making it up as they go along, so long as it fits with everything that has gone before. We've missed the invasion and skipped 20 years into the future and somehow the "team" has managed to go into hiding and emerged all at the same time to save the day. willing suspension of disbelief? more like sci-fi boloney. The production team seems to imagine that just because it's sci-fi they can do what they like without it having to make rational sense. they've obviously missed the class that states all sci-fi must have rationale. this is just gobbledegook for the sake of gobbledegook. what started as one of the best sci-fi series ever (series 1) has now very comprehensively fallen apart. The actual production values remain high so it's worthwhile viewing, if you can just deactivate your brain while you're viewing it. the trouble with series that make you "think" is that they usually make you think "this is drivel". And this is high production drivel.


Dagger of the Mind
Dagger of the Mind
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror and sci-fi mixed with a small-town mystery, 16 Jan. 2015
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Blending the genres of horror and sci-fi in a very intelligent way (none of that horror for horror's sake you get with generic horror writiers), Shaw brings us some very memorable characters and a series of mysterious events that lead to a fully explained and rationalised conclusion. Sci-fi that attempts to tap into the "common man" approach seldom works as we like our heroes to be emotionally and intellectually super-charged, but it works here because I'm sure a lot of people will identify with the small-town, nobody important mindset used. In particular the weird tennants in the strange house are particularly well observed and described, we all know people like those. Something of an also-ran compared to his other novels, but a worthwhile read nonetheless, treating us to a feast of his professional writing style.


The Ceres Solution
The Ceres Solution
Price: £2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wandering, waffling story some way down on his best work, 16 Jan. 2015
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In the 1980s Bob Shaw began to abandon the short, economic writing style that had served him well up to this point, and ventured into longer novels -- this, his longest to date of writing. However the idea behind it does not merit such a length and in order to expand the narrative he waffles and repeats himself a few times during a dull central tract of the proceedings. Full marks for attempting to catch up on the competition -- those who regularely churned out 500 page novels on the most pitiably thin of ideas - but the substance of the novel itself is the let-down here. It introduces a manner of plotline that found its way into almost everything he wrote hereafter, that of aliens beyond our comprehension stepping in and interfering with us. The beginning of a long slide down into eventual writer's block. The characterisations, whilst among the strongest he's ever created, seem a little too potent and "gratuitous" for this novel. This story would have served him better in novella or novelette form (about a quarter the length). I'm normally full of praise for Shaw's writing, but here I can really only say , "It's okay." His other works almost all fall into the five star category.


Night Walk
Night Walk
Price: £2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A roller coaster ride of ideas ahead of their time, 16 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Night Walk (Kindle Edition)
Jam-packed with invention and smart ideas, as were most of Shaw's early novels. He even has a novel system of mass transport that uses variable screw-thread width to determine speed of motion, that's the depth of his attention to detail. All this is really secondary o the central idea, and he manages espionage, personal vendetta, and the technicalities of a spacial coordinate system with awesome ease. To say more would be to give the game away. In a nutshell, one of his most deeply thought out novels, and since it was his first attempt at a long piece of fiction, it stands head and shoulders above many other sci-fi writers' first novels. Before this he had plenty of practice writing short stories, the best of which can be found in in the composite novel Ship of Strangers (built from a series of shorts involving the same characters), and the collection Tomorrow Lies in Ambush.

The writing style itself is embryonic of a technique he developed in the 1970s, enabling him to express lengthy, complex notions and assess characters in just a few extremely well chosen words. You won't find any of that self-indulgent waffling that authors from the late 1970s onwards used to flesh out short, indifferent novels into 500 page doorstops. Shaw writes only what needs to be written, so make sure you're wide awake when you read this, or you may miss a crucial clue.


Hyperborea 2008
Hyperborea 2008
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £4.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A minor improvement on the original 1983 album, 12 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Hyperborea 2008 (Audio CD)
In its original form a somewhat bleak and disappointing album, delivering only a shadow of what TD were capable of at the time. They've overlaid the original with some lazy, languid drumtracks, and in most cases it helps, although it's much of a muchness wherever you sample to listen. TD did a lot of this in the naught-ies. And why not? it's their music, they can tinker with it as much as they like. However, I'm unconvinced this is an actual "re-recording" in the true sense, as many of the sounds are identicle to the original album, right down to the real-time manipulation of waveform variables. Now that's all but impossible to achieve whilst playing. You'd get enough minor discrepancies whilst adjusting knobs and sliders by hand to make it obvious it's a second attempt. Maybe they used parts from the original or just sampled bits, it's never straightforward with this band, who launched Green Desert on a raft of dubious acclamations, and have put out a good deal of solo musician efforts (mostly E Froese) under the full band name. So whatever it's pedigree, you can only like if if you like it, and I like this a tad better than the original.


Hinari MB280 The Genie Multi-Attachment Blender
Hinari MB280 The Genie Multi-Attachment Blender
Price: £29.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars made from generic components widely used by other brands, switching issue, smokey first run, 8 Jan. 2015
if you check other similar processors available you'll spot straight away many use the same motor base, leading to the assumption its mass produced and simply badged for each brand. Does this make it good, bad or indifferent? cost effective would be the driving force here. The unit is reasonably good at mashing down fruit and veg to make purees and smoothies, but does little else. the small footprint makes it ideal for frequent use and there is minimal washin g up afterwards. beware though, the on-off switch is the switch in the wall where you plug it in, as it doesn't have one of its own. this can be a shock the first time you use it, therafter, you'll know. also, first time you use it there is burn-off of resin used to coast certain electronic components, which looks like smoke, but is harmless and does not mean the unit has caught fire.


Tomorrow Lies in Ambush
Tomorrow Lies in Ambush
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great selection, with his best novella included, 2 Jan. 2015
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A collecion of his best short works from the 1960s, and probably as good if not better than any later anthology, all of which tended to suffer a little from the inclusion of previously unpublished works. These are all bona fide previously-published short stories, and included here is what must be his finest short work (novella) of all time, Isles Where Good Men Lie. The 60s was a time when a lot of sci fi tended to use block assumptions about certain future trends, and fell into a variety of generic storylines and technical areas, and even Shaw uses some of these in his stories. However he does manage to pull some good rabbits from the hat on top of all that, and can really be considered way ahead of his era. His familiar wirting style developed in the 1970s is shown here in its early embryonic form, a discipline very necessary when writing shorter works -- many of todays blousy, wordy, over indulgent authors could take lessons.

This selection was never made widely available in the UK, for whatever reason -- usually the publisher's belief it would not sell enough copies to turn a profit. My own paperback edition was an American import, rather tatty and with a big chunk cut into the side denoting its non-UK origin, and printed on extremely low grade paper that long ago turned yellowish brown and crumbly. So it's great to have it now on Kindle!


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