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J. Beresford
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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, poppy fun, 26 Jan. 2015
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This story is a revisit to old school space opera. In it we follow the multispecies crew of the Wayfarer on their path to a big job. This involves lots of strange species and new worlds, all set in a universe different enough from ours to be entertaining but not so different as to be unrecognisable. The plot is not as important as enjoying the crew's personalities, banter and interaction. It reminds me a lot of the pulp books I used to read that were full of optimism and showcasing the authors mad views of how aliens and space travel would look.

It's not a great book in terms of writing - as mentioned the plot is a bit thin, and the writing style sometimes seems more suited towards the young adult market than the serious reader. That aside, it was good fun, I was never bored and enjoyed watching the characters. Well worth a read.


Novahead
Novahead
Price: £5.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Aylett off the boil a bit, 8 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Novahead (Kindle Edition)
Sometimes the problem with reading a bit of Aylett is you aren't quite sure if you're getting lost because you can't keep up, or just because he lacks direction. This one I'm pretty sure was the latter - his usual cracking wit is in display but this one came across as style over substance. Plot seemed to be a bit of a minor inconvenience that was required to justify wisecracks and monologues.

The whole beerlight thing seems to work better as shorts - Slaughtermatic and the Crime Studio were short and fast. At novel length it just seems to ramble.

It didn't actually suck, but speaking as a fan of the man's work, it didn't do his style much justice either.


Zone One
Zone One
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ordinary, thoughtful apocalypse, 23 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Zone One (Kindle Edition)
I went into this book without much prejudice - I've never read or watched much Zombie stuff and as a genre it never really interested me. However on the strength of it appearing on many top ten lists and appearing to have a more thoughtful bent I decided to give it a go.

I wasn't disappointed - it was definitely a more cerebral book, not oriented to frenzied action and guts, but more the mundane nature of surviving a zombie apocalypse and taking a sanguine view of what it takes emotionally to survive and even thrive in such a scenario. It doesn't give in much to florid writing so isn't too literary, but as a book it's more about the characters journey than a plot per se.

The book wanders through many different variations of how people live - sole survivalists, impromptu communes, near governmental efforts like the Zone One of the books title - and each are shown for their strengths and weaknesses, most of which come from those who run them rather than their physical set up. It's clearly spending time exploring how people survive under an extreme of constant stress and uncertainty.

This one has stuck with me for some reason, so if you are not usually a zombie fan, but like something to get you thinking, this is a great book.


Leviathan Wakes: Book 1 of the Expanse
Leviathan Wakes: Book 1 of the Expanse
Price: £4.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun hard SF with a sometimes simplistic plot, 21 Oct. 2012
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Leviathan wakes is a hard SF romp that takes the physics seriously and the biology and writing less so.

It confines itself to the solar system, limited by Newtonian physics, and remains true to that, with distances between things making a difference to the plot. However it then contradicts itself with a biological plague element that seems to have wildly varying degrees of transmissibility.

The development of the characters is fun - the detective's gradual unpeeling of his layers works well, and the captain's persona remains consistent but gets shaken towards the end of the book.

However sometimes the plot is a bit too simple - sometimes things that are hyped to be impossible are suddenly bypassed by a quick call to an old friend, or similar.

Generally it's good fun, but it's probably telling that given it's a trilogy, I didn't feel any urge to buy the next book in the series.


Engineering Infinity (The Infinity Project Book 1)
Engineering Infinity (The Infinity Project Book 1)
Price: £4.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent collection of shorts, 1 Sept. 2012
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Good collection of short sf stories - none are actually bad, but I didn't consider any of them astounding either. Worth a read, but most of them seem a bit aimless and some of them I walked away from not entirely sure what the author was aiming at.

Often not entirely hard SF in the sense that I understand it - i.e. hard physics and space travel. Stross's story was pure hard SF, Jones's not at all.


JPod
JPod
by Douglas Coupland
Edition: Paperback

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self referential, self indulgent twaddle, 10 July 2006
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This review is from: JPod (Paperback)
I am generally a fan of COuplands work - Gen X and Microserfs being particularly good.

This was dire. Introducing himself into the book; the asides of little text that were cool in Gen X descend into pages and pages of prime numbers (why? well, I can see why, but it's dull), characters without character, just a collection of 'quirks', a plot that tries too hard to be odd and as a result just becomes unbelievable.


Japanese Food and Cooking
Japanese Food and Cooking
by Emi Kasuko
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide, 3 Aug. 2003
This book is a good starter book, although some of the recipes may not suit western tastes - this is a very much a Japanese cookbook, not in the least westernised. Consequently anyone who lives far from a Japanese food store (an index of UK stores is handily listed in the back of the book) may have problems actually cooking many of the recipes.
The book is divided into two halves. The first covers in detail all the ingredients in Japanese cooking, with some of the history and cultural information thrown in where relevant. This part is extremely useful as it meant when going into a japanese store I knew what to look for (even if I couldn't read most of the labels..!). The second half is the recipes, which like the rest of the book are beautifully presented, and like Japanese cooking in general, are also quite simple.
A good first japanese cookbook, and also an interesting read in the first half of the book.


WIDER ANGLE
WIDER ANGLE

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Talented boys trying too hard, 16 Feb. 2002
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This review is from: WIDER ANGLE (Audio CD)
OK, OK. I know i'm being controversial by not going "ooh, greatest band EVER" but this album is not perfect. It's good, and the boys behind Hybrid are clearly very talented people, but they are trying to fit too many ideas into each track. And their lyrics are dodgy as well.
The live CD is a lot better than the Album CD - and I think this is because live they can't shove as much stuff into a track, so the simplified sound is more direct and effective. The live version of Snyper is regular 10 star stuff - the neighbours are probably sick of it now. :)
So; to specifics - standout tracks are "If I Survive" (although the lyrics are *dire* - best to just take in the sound) - "Dreaming your Dreams" - which is faintly sinister and the lyrical highlight if you pause to look behind the sugar sweet voice and hear what is being said. "High Life" is also good. "Fatal Beating" is solid but the lyrics again are weak.
"Theme from Wide Angle" and "Finished Symphony" are the two tracks that contain the most of Hybrid's genius - they contain swathes of the stuff - but it feels like each band member has put each chunk of their thoughts in, without consideration to how it all sits together - so they feel like about 5 amazing short tracks awkwardly mixed together.
The live CD is far better and i'm not going to shred it - this is one band i'm dying to see down the Brixton Academy asap.
Buy it - you won't regret it - but don't be expected to be as blown away in the same way the "Dubnobasswithmyheadman", "Adventures beyond the Ultraworld" or "Mezzanine" would have.


Slaughtermatic
Slaughtermatic
by Steve Aylett
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a parachute without a ripcord, 16 Feb. 2002
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This review is from: Slaughtermatic (Paperback)
I mean... wow. I was warned that this book had dense text, but this was incredible. Aylett's head is clearly bursting with ideas and (insane) philosophical thought and most important of all, the wit to make his thoughts bearable.
Ok, so it doesn't make a whole lotta sense - but this is about a city with rules far removed from what we're used to. It's fast, funny and I loved it to bits.
If you're smart, you'll enjoy it. If you want a nice, sensible book with a nice, sensible plot and characters, steer clear. This is not one for Dire Straits fans - more one for the Kid A's among us....


Analogue Theatre
Analogue Theatre

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Techno with plenty of variation in style, 12 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Analogue Theatre (Audio CD)
C.J.Bolland delivers gourmet slices of techno, showing that there is more to the genre than hard beats and anthemic synths. The tracks are an assortment of styles, from the space age of "There Can be Only One" - with appropriate sneaky Highlander samples, to the bouncy and funky "Sugar is Sweeter".
The highlight of the album is "The Prophet", literally one of the best Techno tracks ever written - powerful, heavy and emotive.
None of the tracks dissapoint, and the only reason this gets 4 stars instead of 5 is it has aged slightly - but this should be a vital part of any techno fans collection.


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