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Andrew de Salis (Madrid, Spain)

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Daring Adventure [CASSETTE]
Daring Adventure [CASSETTE]

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acidic Masterpiece, 15 Sept. 2008
Daring Adventures was the third in a series albums Richard Thompson released in the 1980s which were distinguished by great songwriting, magnificent guitar work, powerful vocals and a caustic, bitter tone to the themes covered. This one is, to my mind, the strongest of the three, containing some blistering attacks on 1980s materialism ("A Bone Through Her Nose", "Valerie","Cash Down Never Never"), some trademark pastoral reflections on broken relationships and shattered dreams ("Long Dead Love", "Missy How You Let Me Down"), and two of Thompson's strongest compositions : the jazz-tinged Al Bowley's in Heaven, and the wistful ballad How Will I Ever Be Simple Again. The dark, noirish album cover reflects the content, as the album leans towards the darker side of life, but remains one of the best albums of a true English original. If Graham Greene had written songs for Jimi Hendrix, they might have sounded a bit like this...

The Digging Leviathan
The Digging Leviathan
by James P. Blaylock
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jules Verne meets Monty Python, 17 July 2008
James Blaylock is an author of a number of fine, quirky novels balanced perfectly between science fiction, adventure and comedy.

The Digging Leviathan describes the efforts of two, or just possibly three, groups of endearingly bonkers (and occasionally sinister) scientists to tunnel through to the centre of the allegedly hollow earth, in 1980s California. Our heroes' efforts are complicated by mermen, an apparently immortal poet, and the machinations of the fiendish Dr. Hilario Frosticus. There are a couple of bits of island exploration which recall Robert Louis Stevenson, and some cracking chases through the Bay area sewers.

Like other Blaylock novels I've read, the opening chapters are a bit bewildering, as you try to keep track of the 7 or 8 sturdy chaps who make up our band of heroes, and who at times seem to have wandered in from a Monty Python sketch; although the novel is set in modern times, its' roots are in Victorian science fiction and now disproved theories, but written with a light touch and tongue firmly in cheek. As the story bowls along,Blaylock never fails to bring a smile to your face. This book spawned a sequel - Homonculous,set in nineteenth century London - which is, if anything, even better.

Fragile Things
Fragile Things
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat collection from a great storyteller, 17 July 2008
This review is from: Fragile Things (Paperback)
This might be an unusual review because this is the first Gaiman book I've read, bought it to see if all the fuss was justified, so I came with no preconceptions of what a Neil Gaiman book should be like. I'll certainly be looking for more of this.

What you get is a collection of stories and a handful of poems, mostly previously published in themed anthologies, on websites or musician's tour booklets, with a couple specifically dedicated (to Ray Bradbury and Gaiman's daughter). So the subject matter and tone is tremendously varied.
Gaiman is a master storyteller, writes beautifully, and what shines through from this anthology is his deep love of storytelling in all its forms, from fairy tales to the Arabian Nights, the Comedia dell'arte and Beowulf.

Is it any good ? The best stuff here is magnificent. "October in the Chair" will feel like settling into an old armchair for Bradbury fans, "A Study in Emerald" crosses Sherlock Holmes with Lovecraft in a way which is genuinely fresh and surprising, "Harlequin Valentine" (my favourite) traces Harlequin and Columbine's on-off romance in small-town America, while "The Monarch of the Glen" reworks an old story with subtlety and pathos. And "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" is a very funny send-up of gothic horror.

So,I'll certainly be looking out for more of this !

The Complete Avengers: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Avengers
The Complete Avengers: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Avengers
by Dave Rogers
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The key Avengers reference book, 10 Nov. 2007
For anyone interested in the stylish 60s T.V. series, this is pretty much the key reference book. What you get for your money is an overview of each season of the series (and its 70s follow-up The New Avengers), plus a detailed summary of the plot of each episode, with cast lists, and lots of photos. I docked it one star because, like an earlier book on the subject by Dave Rogers, some of these episode summaries are inaccurate in some details, I think because they were compiled in the pre-video age from the original studio scripts. But if you want to find out more about this influential series, this is still the place to start.

Albion's Dream: A Novel of Terror
Albion's Dream: A Novel of Terror
by Roger Norman
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book !, 2 Jan. 2007
Roger Norman's Albion's Dream concerns 12-year-old Edward, who discovers a strange, home-made board game in his uncle's farmhouse. As he begins to play, he realises that the game constitutes both a dark family legacy, and a channel for powerful and primeval magical forces. He discovers that the archetypal figures depicted on the game's cards - Puck, Galahad, Pellinore, the Friendly Hangman, even Death - correspond to people in his family, in the boarding school he reluctantly attends, and people he meets in the countryside around his Dorset home.

As he and his friend Hadley become hooked on the game, gradually the behaviour of his fierce and aggressive headmaster, the sinister school doctor, and even the boys themselves, begins to reflect the situations which develop in the board game. The boys realise that they are trapped by the game, and have to play to the end if they are to face down the dark forces rising against them.

Roger Norman's book is a thrilling, page-turning children's novel full of strange twists and turns. It balances delicately between an evocation of the boarding school novels of Anthony Buckeridge,and a fantasy world centered around the board game yet firmly rooted in the English imagination and the landscape of Wessex. Norman's style is also well-judged, fast-paced and unobtrusive yet lyrical when describing the English countryside he clearly loves.

All in all, it's hard to know why this book isn't better-known. Perhaps when it was first published (1990) the retro tone of the story, and the fact that the fantasy genre wasn't fashionable at the time, might have put people off : it would have found a niche much more easily 10 years later. In summary, this novel is a highly original slice of English fantasy writing, and well worth a look.

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