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AJ Handley (Leeds, England)

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Starfish (Rifters Trilogy)
Starfish (Rifters Trilogy)
by Peter Watts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying twice, 5 Oct. 2010
I read a friend's copy and had to buy it for myself. It's a marvellous book. The plot and setting are original and gripping and the characters are fleshed out and messed up to an absurdly high degree. It's interesting technically, too: Watts uses all kinds of subtle tricks of POV and tense to reinforce the feeling of claustrophobia down at the bottom of the ocean. This is a book that's made me look anew at human pathological dependence and self-destruction, and I couldn't recommend it highly enough.

From Cells Of Roughest Air
From Cells Of Roughest Air
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £33.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 11 Jun. 2010
There aren't really words without getting all pretentious, but I'll give it a go. Violin, viola and cello, and three ladies who are extremely talented.

There are four tracks in this CD, with the first much longer than the other three. The first track is a leisurely development of a simple theme. After about four minutes of hearing the extremely accomplished lead-in you're hooked, and when the theme is inverted and the music becomes a lot more dynamic it's positively thrilling. Then there's this passage where the sawing on the violin is getting higher and higher and then the crunchy cello comes in and--- it's exquisite. Ten minutes in, you're back in the realm of what normal people might consider music, and the whole piece comes together and it's beautiful.

Track two is a brief riff on a vaguely gallic-sounding theme. A nice build-up, and more a mental refresher after the first track than a piece in its own right.

Track three has some gorgeous cello. There's this up-stroke during the slightly schizoid experimental section in the beginning that sends shivers up my spine.

Track four is a punishing, repetitive, aggressive high-string progression that is absolutely hypnotic. If you're barely listening it's noise; if you're paying attention and engaged with the music you can hear the little false-starts and inversions and you get the sense of tension as it becomes discordant then slightly concordant then tries to finish and fails and picks itself up again, and leads up to an uplifting finish. I bought this album on the strength of hearing this track on youtube.

Only problem is that it's too short, and if that's your only problem you're doing well.

Gunnerkrigg Court Volume 2: Research
Gunnerkrigg Court Volume 2: Research
by Tom Siddell
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent series, excellent book, 7 May 2010
Tom's sharp, funny, serious, and touching at will. The writing is tight, the art is gorgeous, and the whole thing is tied together by excellent characterisation and subtle references. If I didn't keep lending it to people I'd read it, finish it, then read it again.

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