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Reviews Written by
70s Guy "alanb" (Wales)

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The Departure (Owner Novel 1)
The Departure (Owner Novel 1)
Price: 1.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Your basic shoot 'em up, 27 Sep 2013
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It's hard to give a damn about any of the characters in this book as they are so one-dimensional. The plot, such as it is, seems to have been written with a view to selling the computer game rights later on: there is way too much description of the scenery and the action and too little plot and character development. Sorry but I may be removing subsequent volumes (yes, it's yet another trilogy!!!) from my wish list.


The Revolution Trade (Merchant Princes Omnibus 3)
The Revolution Trade (Merchant Princes Omnibus 3)
Price: 4.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An increasingly difficult read, 9 Sep 2013
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As something of a Charles Stross fan, I was disappointed with this -- what -- double trilogy? (Are all SF writers contractually obliged to write trilogies these days?) There is not a single sympathetic character in any of the books, and Stross seems to have trouble keeping track of them all and what they're doing. Several are introduced at length only to disappear unaccountably for long periods (e.g. Miriam's sidekick Paulie). The writing is sloppy: using italics and first-person narrative every time a character reflects on events becomes very irritating, especially as it is usually incoherent and ungrammatical. (Huh?) The narrative has a tendency to stall repeatedly as the plot disappears beneath thick layers of scenery. Then there's the plot itself. How topical it must have seemed at the time (way back in 2004) but now any mention of Dick Cheney as a major player/character just grates. It could all have been explained away in some mega-multiverse plot twist, I suppose, but it doesn't happen. Nor does the whole "merchant princes" schtick work for me as a driver of the narrative. And no-one has any sensible explanation of the world-walking mechanism on which everything depends; and worse, they don't seem to give it more than passing attention. Perhaps it will all be explained in the next trilogy, but I just haven't got the stamina to go there. Pity.


Malesch
Malesch
Price: 4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but not quite krautrock, 9 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Malesch (MP3 Download)
I was very pleased that the three Agitation Free albums had finally been re-released. This is the best of them, and is in a variety of styles -- jazzy, funky, eastern-influenced prog for the most part. Like a lot of German bands of the 1970s they seem to have been stuck with the krautrock label whatever they did. Well worth a listen though, together with the "Last" album.


Outside the Dream Syndicate 30th Anniversary Edition
Outside the Dream Syndicate 30th Anniversary Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars Vry mnml, 9 Aug 2013
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I like drones, although it's possible to have too much of a good thing. All the tracks here are very similar and contain rather little in the way of variety. Taking the whole thing in one sitting is a bit of a hard listen, although can be mesmerising/befuddling ultimately. The best track is the last one, and at 31:09 would probably be enough on its own: unfortunately it isn't available separately. It's about time that Amazon reviewed their policy in this area, as there seems to be no good reason to cut off MP3 downloads at 5 or 6 minutes.


Faust Is Last
Faust Is Last
Price: 20.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, 9 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Faust Is Last (Audio CD)
Given that I already own a dozen or so Faust albums, this may very well be the last I buy (unless the surviving members get back together and do a proper release). I was not expecting very much, and first impressions were not particularly favourable. But I have gradually warmed to it, with the exception of a couple of clunkers (by Faust standards) already mentioned by other reviewers. The style of CD1 ("Faust A") is drum and bass heavy, but not up to the standard of, say, Ravvivando -- but then, that was a career best. CD2 ("Faust Z"), which I prefer, is quieter with more drone and reminds me very much of the Edinburgh Live album of 1997. As a valedictory release this pretty much stands up, but wouldn't be the one to start your collection with.


The Traders' War (Merchant Princes Omnibus 2)
The Traders' War (Merchant Princes Omnibus 2)
Price: 4.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Stross goes for the American market, 31 July 2013
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Where the previous volume just happened to be set partly in the USA, this one feels like a conscious bid to grab the American market. It's not just the locations, or the spelling, or calling things by the American name rather than British (e.g. nail lacquer, not nail varnish): it's that whole post-9/11 war on terrorism thing. And most annoyingly, it's full of sometimes impenetrable CIA spook-babble that really gets in the way of the story. Apart from that it's fairly enjoyable -- I just hope that the last volume feels less like a product and more like a novel.


Dogma [DVD]
Dogma [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matt Damon
Offered by TIP TOP SELLER
Price: 3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful blasphemy: what's not to like?, 5 Jun 2013
This review is from: Dogma [DVD] (DVD)
Look, get real. This is one of the best, most thought-provoking comedy films ever made (fer chrissakes). It's the best Silent Bob movie by far; it has a shit monster; it has Alan Rickman as Metatron (the voice of god, but no dick, and he has to spit cocktails) and Alanis Morisette as god! Trust me, it's very, very good, and I've seen it many times.


Accelerando
Accelerando
Price: 6.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Or how economics ate the world (literally), 23 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Accelerando (Kindle Edition)
All you needed to know about the Fermi paradox (if there are all those clever aliens out there, how come we've never met them?), and more than you ever needed to know about why economists should never ever be given control of anything important. Utterly barmy, quite funny in places, but goes on a bit and I thought that the ending was a little weak. Really liked the cat though. You might need a better dictionary than Kindle provides, and a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia, and even then a lot of terms will probably be incomprehensible. Possibly they're meant to be, but I think Charles Stross has read far too many legal/commercial textbooks for his own good, or ours. Having said that, it's one I will probably read again sometime.


Nexus
Nexus
Price: 3.39

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The world according to Microsoft?, 23 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Nexus (Kindle Edition)
It looks like being trans-human is back in fashion (or it might just be Amazon's recommendations engine), but this is the second SF novel on the trot that I have read that covers this -- the other being Accelerando by Charles Stross. Both good, but both ultimately rather depressing. Maybe I'm just antisocial, but living forever in software, and in somebody else's head to boot (or reboot), just isn't my idea of a heavenly afterlife. And anyway, who's in charge of the servers, and the network, and restore from backup? Nobody ever tests restore from backup!Then there's the added frisson that Naam works for Microsoft and is at least partly responsible for the development of Internet Explorer. Hmmm, no mention of the "blue screen of death" here, for some reason...

The story itself is pretty good though, kind of Bourne for the Facebook generation, and while I can't (willingly) subscribe to the basic premise, and the plotlines are a bit stretched in places, it's undoubtedly a ripping yarn and one that I finished happily in only a few days. Let's just hope that this particular future is as far off as personal rocket planes for happy commuting have turned out to be.


The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ
The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ
Price: 0.77

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial, 8 Mar 2013
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Very short, in fact little more than a pamphlet really. If you've never read anything on the subject I suppose it might be worth a look. However, there is nothing here that is not covered better and in more detail (and more critically) in Wikipedia. Borrow it as a Kindle book, but it's probably not worth buying.


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