ARRAY(0xa6d67e64)
 
Profile for ldxar1 > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by ldxar1
Top Reviewer Ranking: 63,798
Helpful Votes: 768

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
ldxar1 "ldxar1" (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11
pixel
Crypt of the Vampire (Golden dragon fantasy gamebooks)
Crypt of the Vampire (Golden dragon fantasy gamebooks)
by Dave Morris
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward dungeon adventure, 9 Aug 2012
The Golden Dragon series are similar to the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series, featuring a story/game split into parts, where the player's choices and dice rolls determine the outcome. The main difference from the better-known series is in the combat system, which uses only one statistic, Vigour (Endurance/Stamina). Dice rolls are used to determine combat outcomes, but the outcome is set by the text (e.g. a roll of 2-5 means the monster hits you, 6-12 means you hit the monster). Since the rolls usually favour the player, this is rather like playing a Fighting Fantasy book with a very high Skill score. The gamebook also uses Psi (magic) and Agility scores, which are both rolled at one dice plus three (hence 4-9). Since they are tested with rolls of two dice, rolls are difficult to make about half the time. This doesn't affect the experience much, as rolls of this type are rarely made and usually only to compensate for bad choices.

Like most gamebooks, the story is like a puzzle. The player's success will probably depend on finding the right items. It is easier than most gamebooks I've encountered, for three reasons. Firstly, it doesn't generally rely on luck. It does not require success in difficult combat situations, difficult dice rolls, lucky blind choices or the right selection of which random items to keep. Unlucky choices are usually survivable, and missed items don't generally mean later death. Secondly, most of the choices are surprisingly intuitive. In contrast to many gamebooks, doing the sensible thing usually pays off (with a couple of exceptions). Thirdly, the combat situations are rarely "to the death", and can often be avoided. It is also considerably shorter than most gamebooks, at 300 sections (compared to 350 for Lone Wolf and 400 for Fighting Fantasy). This brevity and simplicity means the gamebook is unlikely to survive more than a few runs at the hands of a seasoned gamebook reader. This said, it's fun to read, with lots of items to collect and some unusual scenarios to negotiate. My main criticism is that the structure is too linear. Most choices lead back fairly quickly onto the main pathway, which limits replay value.

As a story, the narrative is basic but functional; it's a typical dungeon crawl, with nearly all the action taking place in the crypts below the vampire's house. The atmosphere is somewhere between the pervasive creepiness of a horror gamebook and the standard D&D-style fantasy scenario. Many of the adversaries are undead or horror-themed creatures such as bats, witches, zombies and skeletons, but there are also fantasy villains such as a hobgoblin, and many scenarios based on magical illusion or hypnosis. There are also pockets of serenity within the dungeon, the survival of which is really rather mysterious. I feel the vampiric horror atmosphere is more effectively conveyed in Fighting Fantasy: Revenge of the Vampire, which creates more unusual and challenging situations and adversaries while remaining within a horror atmosphere throughout. However, this is a worthwhile gamebook to read/play, particularly as a casual read which will not take weeks to solve.


Globalisation and Labour Struggle in Asia: A Neo-Gramscian Critique of South Korea's Political Economy (International Library of Economics)
Globalisation and Labour Struggle in Asia: A Neo-Gramscian Critique of South Korea's Political Economy (International Library of Economics)
by Phoebe Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 62.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of neoliberalism as social control, 15 May 2009
This excellent short book explores the mechanisms of integration and legitimation of neoliberalism in modern South Korea, but is also relevant to those with a broader interest in social control and ideological production. It includes historical context, literature engagement and primary research in the form of interviews. The book is about employability discourse as a part of state-led `passive revolution'.

Moore argues that Korean development has always been state-led, and the state is connected to the transnational capitalist class of neo-Gramscian theory, but neither class nor state is hegemonic. As part of the neoliberal project, the Korean state attacks job security and full employment. To head off the revolt this causes, the state promotes vocational education and training as a substitute for concessions to workers and political inclusion. The content of such training consists of indoctrination into pro-system mindsets and attitudes. It has failed, however, to silence dissent and faces considerable resistance.

This is an important text, with relevance far beyond its specific subject-matter. Moore demonstrates the incompatibility of the idea of `employability' with social inclusion and hence with democracy. We can look forward to more along similar lines as the author has another book due out shortly. In the meantime, this book shows clearly the structural and ideological operation of vocational training and `employability' discourse as forms of social control, linking issues of the crisis of representation and declining state legitimacy to the reconstruction of the global economy and throwing into doubt theories of global hegemony. An important analysis not to be missed by those working in related fields.


Adam Smith in Beijing
Adam Smith in Beijing
by Giovanni Arrighi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 22.02

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New hegemon or paper tiger?, 25 Jan 2008
This review is from: Adam Smith in Beijing (Hardcover)
This long book (around 400 pages) continues the arguments of Arrighi and Silver's "Chaos and Governance" in a speculative discussion of the decline of American hegemony and what Arrighi expects next, a new hegemony centred on China and East Asia. The book is divided into three broad sections. The first is a theoretical discussion, covering Adam Smith, Karl Marx, David Harvey and Joseph Schumpeter, and critiquing Robert Brenner. This section draws a crucial distinction between market and capitalist societies, and introduces the idea of a distinct East Asian development path which was headed off by western militarism. The second part reproduces Arrighi's much-praised articles from New Left Review, "Hegemony Unravelling", and basically suggests that America is past its prime as a hegemon in both economic and geostrategic terms, viewing the "war on terror" as the swansong of American power. The third and final part sets out a view of modern China as a potential new hegemon offering the possibility of an egalitarian and ecological alternative to destructive western development models in the form of a non-capitalist market society run in the national interest.

One strength of the book is its critical perspective on American hegemony. It is interesting to see how apparent indicators of dominance may in fact suggest underlying structural decline. Its weakness is its uncritical treatment of China, and an account of Chinese ascendancy which covers over as much as it reveals. What, for instance, of the darker side of the Chinese system, its brutal biopolitical regime, its suppression of labour movements and national minorities, its appalling human rights record? What of the problem that its production system remains in many respects peripheral? Chinese ascendance is assumed rather than argued, and sceptical perspectives tend to be elided. One ends up with a Chinese development model without the contradictions which clearly arise in practice (for instance, the prediction of massive urbanisation suggests Arrighi is wrong in assuming a continuing prevalence of village enterprises). Arrighi's account isn't really plausible, and seems to give up on an alternative to global capitalism in effectively siding with one of its bearers as a "non-capitalist" society. Beijing becomes for Arrighi what Moscow was for an earlier generation of radicals, but whereas in that case one was at least dealing with systemic differences, in Arrighi's case the differences have to be invented. I find more plausible the idea put forward by Sassen, Hardt and Negri and others, that the world system is in transition to a hubs-and-spokes system focused on global systems, losing its previous association with a hegemonic state.

This is a fairly strong book nevertheless, particularly in its theoretical interweaving of world-systems analysis with Harvey's theory of accumulation by dispossession and a geopolitically-driven model of hegemony.


Ethnic Conflict in World Politics (Dilemmas in World Politics)
Ethnic Conflict in World Politics (Dilemmas in World Politics)
by Ted Robert Gurr
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passable introduction but awash with pro-western bias, 24 Nov 2007
Supposedly an introduction and general guide to ethnic conflict, this rather discontinuous book actually consists of several rather different inquiries - a social history of a handful of ethnic conflicts, a political-scientific inquiry into the causes and conditions for conflict and an ethical or political proposal in support of humanitarian intervention. The book has three definite sections. The first section consists of a series of historical case-studies of particular ethnic conflicts - the plight of the Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Turkey; the struggle of the Miskitos against the Sandinista regime in the 1980s; the situation of the Malayan/Malaysian Chinese from the "Emergency" (communist insurgency) through the 1969 pogroms to the present day; and the situation of Turks in Germany. This section provides a passable, if brief, history of each group, its organisations, grievances, claims, adversaries and interactions with states and other actors.

The second section attempts to systematise the previous research in positivistic terms, providing operationalised hypotheses of what factors affect ethnic group success. There is no attempt to actually demonstrate these hypotheses across the full range of examples, and little is added, in the absence of concrete quantitative data, by this rephrasing of observed empirical facts as pseudo-generalities. One weakness of the text as political science is that the examples chosen are too diverse to allow meaningful comparisons; in particular, only one of each type of movement identified is studied, so we don't get to compare (say) two secessionist movements, two indigenous groups, etc. Another is that the categories used are extremely loaded and both the categories and their application express an immense, biased indulgence towards western and western-style regimes. Hence, the authors constantly make excuses for German repression - it is minor, is in response to a real "crisis" of unsustainable "floods" of refugees, etc - while being nowhere near as lenient with Iraq for instance. What goes missing is any ethical stance against abuses in general; rather, the west becomes the criterion for assessing the rest.

The final, ethical section is entirely disconnected from the "scientific" analysis and ignores some of its most crucial claims (e.g. that powerful and rich states can get away with whatever they want). It expresses a tremendous faith in the power of law backed by violence - that simply punishing or "sanctioning" states for certain kinds of abuse will somehow actually stop abuse from happening. As well as being unrealistic, this implies strengthening core agencies to exercise global functions in what may well turn out to be self-serving and repressive ways. What is unclear is how this empowering of higher-level hierarchic agencies could directly empower the small and weak ethnic groups in need of protection. It is empowering by disempowering, dealing with the oppressions caused by the state-system by strengthening this system.

I came out of this book feeling I had learned little about ethnic conflict. In particular, the depth of meanings of participants in ethnic movements, their social construction, and their structural role in the world system are not really explored. Too much of the dominant (western) framework is reified or naturalised, and this leads to a failure to look at the construction of postcolonial identities and the relationship between states and ethnic identities in sufficient detail. The authors skim the surface of issues, linking them into their own presuppositions, rather than actually exploring them in their depth. One senses a liberal blinker between the authors and their "objects" of study, which lets certain things through but makes others bounce off into oblivion. Far from casting an objective or scientific gaze on the world system, the authors simply reproduce their own position as western observers pathologising the other.


The Lacanian Left: Psychoanalysis, Theory, and Politics (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture)
The Lacanian Left: Psychoanalysis, Theory, and Politics (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture)
by Yannis Stavrakakis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 44.50

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and problematic, but insightful, 4 Nov 2007
This is a very uneven and deeply problematic book, which, however, is not without its insights. It has two basic sections, each divided into several discontinuous chapters. The first half deals one at a time with a series of Lacanian-inspired theorists - Castoriadis, Laclau, Zizek and Badiou. The second half provides Stavrakakis's own account of the functioning of and problems with current society and his own version of "radical democracy". As well as an introduction to the idea of jouissance, it includes chapters on consumerism, nationalism, European identity and post-democracy.

The strengths of the book appear mainly in brief spurts in the second section. The accounts of advertising and post-democracy (meaning the low-intensity, disempowered and conflict-averse polyarchy of managerial regimes such as Blair's) include astute, if rather one-dimensional critiques of the phenomena under discussion. The account of European identity and nationalism provides a viable account of the failure of the former and success of the latter in terms of affective appeal, although the author exaggerates the originality of this hypothesis and it will not be surprising to readers either of the literature on nationalism or earlier Lacanian theory.

The author's relation to Lacan is far too dogmatic, leading to denunciations of opponents simply for disagreeing and supporters for being too unorthodox. The critique of Castoriadis is absolutely risible, quickly degenerating into name-calling, while the engagement with Laclau ends up in nit-picking over minutiae. The second half suffers similar problems. While the author makes a persuasive case for the need to take account of affect/emotion in politics, a case isn't really made for the specifically Lacanian nature of affect, with much of the argument. Similarly, the ontologically and ethically restrictive assumptions of Lacanian theory are assumed rather than defended. Stavrakakis does offer some specific themes for radical democracy, at least making clear that it is not the same as post-democracy, and associating it with a different arrangement of jouissance in which one circles the lack instead of displacing it onto others; but ultimately it remains as under-defined as it is in its earlier versions in the work of people like Laclau, Mouffe and Connolly. Like them, Stavrakakis is walking a thin line between glorifying liberal democracy as something it isn't, proposing drastic changes without substance, and proposing a worsening of the current situation through sharper in/outgroup divisions and more unapologetic state demands for allegiance.


Dead of Night (Puffin adventure gamebooks)
Dead of Night (Puffin adventure gamebooks)
by Stephen Hand
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Segmentary demonic horror-fantasy, 20 Oct 2007
This is one of the better of the original Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. As with all the series, the book is a second-person multiple choice adventure in which the reader takes on the role of the main protagonist and has to fight monsters, solve puzzles and make successful dice rolls to solve the adventure. The player-character has a considerable back-story, being a specialist demon-hunting Templar seeking to rescue his parents. In genre terms, the book is set firmly within the usual Fighting Fantasy world of Titan, but is basically a fantasy-horror title. Nearly all the villains, adversaries and situations involve demons or undead, though with few exceptions, they are more atmospheric than disturbing or frightening. It is mostly a trek through populated country besieged by enemies, reminiscent of the Lone Wolf series but with more horror overtones.

As a game, this gamebook is of a reasonable level of difficulty, can be completed by a character with fairly low statistics, and is challenging and multilinear enough to be highly replayable. As well as the standard FF mechanics of skill, stamina, luck, provisions and gold pieces, the player has to keep track of an "evil" score, which starts at zero and rises with callous actions and the use of certain skills, and must choose three from a list of seven demon-hunting skills, ranging from healing and meditation to protection and invisibility spells. (While one of these skills is highly advantageous, none of them are necessary for completion, but all have uses and give advantages such as allowing one to avoid certain risks or combats). The book is structured around a series of different segments set in different locations (the villages on the map at the front of the book), which can be visited in various orders or not at all depending on the route taken; each village, and some of the paths, involve a self-contained mini-scenario which must be solved/beaten either to avoid death, gain advantages or clues for later, or avoid amassing "evil points".

The variety of routes, combined with the choice of skills, leads to considerable variety and substantial replayability. There are a number of paths to victory - missing a clue or item is not usually fatal if the player has high skill or luck scores or makes good/lucky choices - and since finding certain items (such as the demon-slayer sword) is not essential to success, there is still plenty to explore even after the first victory. There are a couple of structural weaknesses, the first being that the author failed to close a loophole which allows repeated visits to locations one has already dealt with, the second being that the character follows a path northward regardless of whether or not the reader has found out where the target location is. Also, though the route taken can be one of several, the beginning and end sections are always the same. One frustrating aspect is that the final section in Myurr's fortress consists of quite a long bottleneck of linear-connected sections, many of which contain risks of instant death (at least four separate choices of this kind exist, none of them patently irrational or bad), so it is quite common to successfully reach the tower only to be suddenly killed.

As a book, the scenario is passable but simplistic. There is an overall story of an attempt by the demon prince Myurr to come to the earthly plane by means of sorcery, in which Myurr has captured the hero's parents who must be rescued and the summoning stopped. Most of the story, however, consists of a discontinuous series of encounters in each location, some of which yield useful outcomes, others being mainly perils. Although structurally distinct, the different segments nevertheless retain the coherence of a single atmosphere and area, and are interrelated - for instance, one will later encounter damage caused by the demon army one may have encountered earlier. In fact, given the structure, the book hangs together surprisingly well. Still, it does not have an overall narrative, even on the optimal course, and consists rather of a series of mini-scenarios. For example, as the player-character you might be found trying to keep yourself and the villagers alive for the night while under assault from Moon Demons; defending a farmhouse from skeletons; killing an evil necromancer; destroying a Land Blight, an organic fortress fuelled by human lives, by closing its maw and destroying the gem at its centre; preventing a demonic resurrection; dealing with a plague-town; reaching and destroying a massive searchlight-like eye (obviously modelled on Sauron from Lord of the Rings, but far less powerful); trying to survive a poisoning and corpse-robbery plot, and so on.

Game mechanics aside, the book also does not stand out for its originality. The villains are quite predictable and one-dimensional, there are no real plot twists, few variants from the standard list of fantasy creatures, and the book seems much more generic and stereotypical than, for instance, Legend of the Shadow Warriors, Phantoms of Fear or Beneath Nightmare Castle (not to mention Castle Death or The Coils of Hate). So while very playable, I didn't find it especially engaging.


Black Vein Prophecy (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks)
Black Vein Prophecy (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks)
by Steve Jackson
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clever idea, but frustrating and disturbing, 1 Oct 2007
Like all of its kind, this Fighting Fantasy gamebook is part story part game, with the reader playing the role of a first-person character in the story and having to solve puzzles, fight enemies and make dice rolls to succeed. The setting is high-fantasy with a Chinese inflection, but a lot of the interaction is with humans and humanoids, and the monsters and magic included are very atypical of the series.

Be warned - this is possibly the darkest, most disturbing gamebook in the series. Powers of mutation which fuse living people into a living, heaving mass, maddened convicts set adrift in monstrous inflated bladders, people frozen in place into a mass of mud and parents entombing their child alive are just a few of the things a player will encounter, not to mention similarly disturbing illustrations, and the fact that the player character is unaware of his identity for most of the book. The majority of characters encountered are either tragic, treacherous or insane. If the aim was to create a psychoscape of confusion and misery, the authors have succeeded magnificently.

The book has considerably more of a story than most gamebooks - the player character wakes up in a tomb with no idea of who he is, and fumbles towards recovering knowledge and ability as the story progresses. The story even incorporates a "flashback" like sequence where the character is taken back in time to make choices which will affect the future outcome. Unusually for a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, the story is not simply a series of miniquests and encounters, but involves existential choices and "character development" issues of a kind more familiar from novels.

As a gamebook however, it is very frustrating. The correct path is narrow and extremely linear, and the book is quite cruel to the reader - wrong choices, missed items and failed rolls lead to sudden death with alarming regularity, and there is little predictability or discernable structure. Basically the reader is left trying to guess (not figure out) the correct path and quickly dying if s/he fails to guess correctly. Very often for instance, the player is faced with a choice between using five different magic abilities; usually, one of them is successful, and all the others are fatal. Given the sparsity of alternative routes in most of the book's structure, and the resultant length of the correct path, this becomes frustrating well before the eventual resolution is reached. There's a ridiculously long list of items, skills and allies the reader has to accumulate to succeed. Amazingly, the reader even has to fail one dice roll to successfully complete the gamebook.

In addition, the setting is geographically dubious - flat agricultural plains fuse into dense tropical rainforest, temperate woodlands and rocky areas without any apparent regularity. And the Chinese names for magic spells add more confusion than atmosphere.


Tanis, the Shadow Years (Dragonlance Preludes, Vol 6)
Tanis, the Shadow Years (Dragonlance Preludes, Vol 6)
by Barbara Siegel
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-worked plot but inadequate resolution, 1 Oct 2007
Following the success of the better-known Dragonlance saga and legends, the world was expanded via a series of spinoff novels, many concentrating on the histories of characters from the earlier stories. In this prelude, Tanis the half-elf gets the opportunity to travel back in time, or rather in memory, when a enigmatic dwarf leads him to an even more enigmatic magic-user. He is sent back nearly a hundred years, to a time of war between humans and elves and to a mainly elven village under attack from a human horde. Tanis succeeds in finding his father, but is utterly horrified at the brutal man (which is surprising to Tanis, but hardly to the reader given what we know of Tanis's origins). Most of the story focuses on another aspect of the journey: Tanis is supposed to be bringing back the mage's lost love Brandella from the age of their greatest infatuation. In the process, Tanis gets caught up in battles between humans and elves. Among the heroes of the moment are Tanis and Brandella, the mage's younger self, an incompetent human comedian and a hard-working but poor dwarvish couple, each of whom develop distinct plot trajectories turning into different sub-stories. The bulk of the novel occurs in the past/memory setting, but there are also sequences in the "present" (slightly pre-Chronicles) world before and after, and an excursus into the realm of the dead.

The strengths of the book are its scene-setting and characterisation. For a fantasy novel, the characters are refreshingly three-dimensional, facing dilemmas and paradoxes - displays of fear which become terrifying and transmute into bravery for instance, and questions over whether it is really best to know the truth about one's past. The atmosphere is also well-constructed, with the reader drawn into the desperation of the defence of the village and Tanis's mental turmoil.

The weaknesses are that this core story is not deemed sufficient to frame the entire novel, and is not given an adequate resolution. The bulk of the story - dealing with Tanis, Brandella, and Tanis's father - is resolved by a little over halfway through, and the rest of the book pursues a number of sub-plots, character paths and inserted moments which can seem rather anticlimactic and tagged-on. Having kept the reader's interest through the battles and dilemmas, the book is prone to lose it as the main plot is stretched thin. The authors also make rather too much use of deus ex machina devices, with new characters and effects introduced to get Tanis out of sticky spots. The suspense is somewhat weakened by the reader's prior knowledge that certain outcomes implied as possibilities in the story, but ruled out by the Dragonlance continuity, could not possibly come to pass (we know for instance that Tanis will not die, that Brandella is not around by the time of the chronicles, and that Fistandantilus will not rise again). The core plot also has unresolved tensions hinging on whether Tanis was actually in the future or just in an individual's memory. All the structural detail points to the latter - Tanis's actions in the past bring about real effects in history, items left in the past are still in the same place in the present, and so on - but the adequacy of the resolution of the Brandella storyline depends on the contrary on the setting being mere memory; otherwise, the compensations achieved hardly outweigh the tragic effect of the resolution. Brandella's motivations for acting in the way she did are also left extremely vague. In all I found the resolution deeply inadequate, not living up to the story which preceded it.


Dragonlance Preludes II: Tanis, the Shadow Years v. 3 (TSR Fantasy)
Dragonlance Preludes II: Tanis, the Shadow Years v. 3 (TSR Fantasy)
by Barbara Siegel
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-worked plot but inadequate resolution, 1 Oct 2007
Following the success of the better-known Dragonlance saga and legends, the world was expanded via a series of spinoff novels, many concentrating on the histories of characters from the earlier stories. In this prelude, Tanis the half-elf gets the opportunity to travel back in time, or rather in memory, when a enigmatic dwarf leads him to an even more enigmatic magic-user. He is sent back nearly a hundred years, to a time of war between humans and elves and to a mainly elven village under attack from a human horde. Tanis succeeds in finding his father, but is utterly horrified at the brutal man (which is surprising to Tanis, but hardly to the reader given what we know of Tanis's origins). Most of the story focuses on another aspect of the journey: Tanis is supposed to be bringing back the mage's lost love Brandella from the age of their greatest infatuation. In the process, Tanis gets caught up in battles between humans and elves. Among the heroes of the moment are Tanis and Brandella, the mage's younger self, an incompetent human comedian and a hard-working but poor dwarvish couple, each of whom develop distinct plot trajectories turning into different sub-stories. The bulk of the novel occurs in the past/memory setting, but there are also sequences in the "present" (slightly pre-Chronicles) world before and after, and an excursus into the realm of the dead.

The strengths of the book are its scene-setting and characterisation. For a fantasy novel, the characters are refreshingly three-dimensional, facing dilemmas and paradoxes - displays of fear which become terrifying and transmute into bravery for instance, and questions over whether it is really best to know the truth about one's past. The atmosphere is also well-constructed, with the reader drawn into the desperation of the defence of the village and Tanis's mental turmoil.

The weaknesses are that this core story is not deemed sufficient to frame the entire novel, and is not given an adequate resolution. The bulk of the story - dealing with Tanis, Brandella, and Tanis's father - is resolved by a little over halfway through, and the rest of the book pursues a number of sub-plots, character paths and inserted moments which can seem rather anticlimactic and tagged-on. Having kept the reader's interest through the battles and dilemmas, the book is prone to lose it as the main plot is stretched thin. The authors also make rather too much use of deus ex machina devices, with new characters and effects introduced to get Tanis out of sticky spots. The suspense is somewhat weakened by the reader's prior knowledge that certain outcomes implied as possibilities in the story, but ruled out by the Dragonlance continuity, could not possibly come to pass (we know for instance that Tanis will not die, that Brandella is not around by the time of the chronicles, and that Fistandantilus will not rise again). The core plot also has unresolved tensions hinging on whether Tanis was actually in the future or just in an individual's memory. All the structural detail points to the latter - Tanis's actions in the past bring about real effects in history, items left in the past are still in the same place in the present, and so on - but the adequacy of the resolution of the Brandella storyline depends on the contrary on the setting being mere memory; otherwise, the compensations achieved hardly outweigh the tragic effect of the resolution. Brandella's motivations for acting in the way she did are also left extremely vague. In all I found the resolution deeply inadequate, not living up to the story which preceded it.


Geopolitics and the Post-colonial
Geopolitics and the Post-colonial
by David Slater
Edition: Paperback
Price: 35.68

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critique of Northern power in Latin America and mainstream development theories, 25 Sep 2007
This isn't a book about geopolitics in the usual sense, and certainly not an exposition of a general postcolonial approach to geopolitics; it does discuss US interventions in other countries, and foreign policy discourse, but the focus is on broader cultural relations and especially on the question of development. The book isn't "postcolonial" in the same way as, say, Spivak's work either; it is far more empirical and down-to-earth. Primarily this is a book about American relations with Latin America, applying a broadly postcolonial framework to interpret current and historical events in terms of the silencing of a southern or Third World Other through a discourse constructing the west as the only subject with a right to speak, resulting in asymmetrical discourses and practices which produce effects of intrusiveness, violence and imperialism. It reads a bit like a Latin American "Orientalism" focused on political discourse.

The book is divided into eight chapters, which are distributed between two sections - half dealing with the deconstruction and critique of the dominant voice of the west, the other half with counter-voices emerging from southern academic literatures and socio-political movements. After an introductory chapter, the book outlines American interventions over time, linking these to a colonial gaze and substitution of voice for the other. The following chapters trace the colonising gaze through modernisation theory and neoliberalism, showing how these pathologise the South and construct relations of domination. Counter-discourses are then examined through a discussion and rehabilitation of dependency theory, a discussion of Southern postmodernism and postcolonialism, and a consideration of Zapatismo, the World Social Forum and other movements of resistance.

This book is exceptional in certain regards. One major strength is Slater's detailed knowledge of Latin American sociological, political, philosophical and critical thought, which is often brought to bear as a counterpoint to western conceptions. One hears throughout the text the voices of Latin American scholars little heard in the North, including some whose work isn't available in English. The book thus provides a gateway to entire other perspectives which are normally invisible. In addition, the critique of western power is incisive and well-argued; figures of domination are traced over time, so accusations of imperialism are not simply asserted but are backed by specific accounts of discursive asymmetry and structural violence.

On the downside, I was expecting something rather more theoretically comprehensive from the ambitious-sounding title, in particular, a consideration of the colonial construction of the entire framework of geopolitics and its key categories (such as sovereignty, territory, states, and so on), a repetition for geopolitics of what postcolonial theory more broadly has done to political theory and the western artistic canon, and a more detailed consideration of the forms of counter-geopolitics than is provided. The book does what it does very well, but it doesn't really do what the title implies. It fits in a literature with the likes of Escobar and Mignolo, as a text in post-development theory, and as a specialist Latin America study; I think readers whom this book would benefit could miss it because it is not clearly flagged as part of this literature.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11