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Reviews Written by
W. Robinson "Big Bill Robinson" (Slough, England)

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The Humanoids (Mysteries of Time & Space)
The Humanoids (Mysteries of Time & Space)
by Charles Bowen
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A UFO book from the 1960s - not bad, 2 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This UFO book has several different authors, but is edited by one Charles Bowen, who I think was also once the editor of Flying Saucer Review, a British UFO magazine.

The content of the book is a mixed bag. In one chapter, there are literally dozens of reports of UFO landings and sightings of entities from the ufologically-famous French "flap" of 1954. Whilst this is interesting, it does not go into any great detail about any of these, so there is a tendency for one's eyes to glaze over after a while, even if you are interested in the subject.

In other chapters, there is some interesting statistical analysis, and a more in-depth look at some classic UFO cases, such as the famous "AVB" case, and the case of Barney and Betty Hill. Another interesting thing about this book is that it gets "off the beaten track" giving some details on some little-known UFO cases, which you are unlikely to have read about in any other book.

Anyone buying this book should be aware that it is now almost half a century old, so it is very dated. Please bear this in mind. Nonetheless, if you are interested in the subject, it is maybe worth a look.

Ship of Strangers
Ship of Strangers
by Bob Shaw
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Several adventures for the price of one, 24 Aug. 2012
I have always been a fan of Bob Shaw, and his book "A Wreath of Stars" is one of my favourite SF books of all time. He writes well, is very inventive, and his books always have great characters. This book, Ship of Strangers, is no exception.

In this book, Bob Shaw obviously had several different ideas for stories, and he could have written them separately, but he chose to stitch them together as the story of a spaceship and its crew (a neat idea). Thus, when you read this book you get several stories in one.

It's obvious that some of the stories are just hobby-horses and opinions, expanded into a story, but nonetheless it's reasonably enjoyable stuff, without being classic material. The last adventure in particular is pretty mind-boggling.

All in all, the book is an enjoyable SF romp, not his best by a long way, but perfectly readable.

UFO Encyclopedia
UFO Encyclopedia
by John Spencer
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An A to Z of all things ufological, 16 Aug. 2012
This review is from: UFO Encyclopedia (Hardcover)
A great many UFO books cover only a single subject in the entire book. An example would be a book about the Roswell incident.

This book, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach. It takes as many ufological subjects as it possibly can, and simply lists them all from A to Z, with information about each one. The subjects covered include UFO incidents, people, ideas, and ufological terminology. There are also some good photographs in the book, of which some are in colour.

The obvious drawback with this book is that not much space can be devoted to even the classic UFO cases. Some subjects have merely a couple of sentences. Even absolute monster UFO cases, such as Kelly-Hopkinsville, only warrant a couple of pages. However, what the book certainly does do is put all of the essential names, facts, dates etc at your fingertips.

If you're interested in the subject of UFOs it's a good book to browse through. I do not recommend starting at the beginning and reading through. Better to open the book at random and see what comes up. There is some snappy humour in the book, but some of the writing is a bit dry.

All in all, a very useful addition to any ufological library.

Buy Jupiter and Other Stories
Buy Jupiter and Other Stories
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Short stories (some very short) - worth a look if you like SF, 25 July 2012
I am a keen reader of SF, and I have recently been into Asimov, so when I saw this one in Reading Oxfam shop, I snapped it up.

This is a collection of some of Asimov's short stories. Some of them are very short indeed! In fact, one of my favourites in this volume, called "Silly Asses" is only one and a half pages in length.

There are about 24 stories in the book. Some of them are good, some fairly ordinary, to be honest. They follow a chronological order, commencing when Mr Asimov was just starting out in SF, around 1950, having decided not to follow a career as a professional chemist.

They stem from the era where SF magazines were all the rage, which was from the early fifties to the sixties. Most of these stories appeared in one or more of the mags, such as If, Venture, Galaxy, and others.

One good point is that the book does not only contain the stories, but also some narrative from Mr Asimov, explaining how he came to write the story, which magazine bought it, what was happening in his life at the time, and stuff like that.

If you like SF short stories, as I do, this book is worth reading, but it is not classic material in any way.

The Naked Sun: 2/4 (Robot Series)
The Naked Sun: 2/4 (Robot Series)
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent SF from a master of the genre, 13 July 2012
I have read a lot of science fiction in my time, but surprisingly, not too much of Asimov's work. Having read this book, however, I will happily put more of his books on my "will read one day" list.

On Solaria, a planet of the outer worlds, the first murder for two hundred years has been committed. But how? The people of that planet rarely meet, except in virtual reality, and rely on robots for their every need. No murder weapon has been found....

People from Earth never visit the outer worlds, having retreated into vast underground cities where they live out their lives. The people of the outer worlds, known as Spacers, hate the Earth people. However, such is the mystery of this murder, that they are forced to ask for an earthman to help solve the problem.

Asimov skilfully blends science fiction with a fast-paced detective story, starring his own detective, Elijah Baley, in a fairly distant future universe. The writing is crisp, the suspense taut, and like all really good SF, the story keeps you guessing.

Asimov's biggest invention in SF was undoubtedly his portrayal of robots. They, along with the "three laws of robotics" set down by his master hand, play a big role in all of his SF, with this book being no exception.

Amazingly this book was written in the year 1957, the year that the first artificial satellite was launched. With this in mind, the book contains some great predictions, and his powerful imagination shines through. Definitely four stars, and only fractionally shy of getting a rare five from me. Excellent!

The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element
by Terry Bisson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A light-hearted SF romp, 21 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The Fifth Element (Paperback)
Well, this is yet another SF book which I purchased from Reading Oxfam shop. Having read it, I will be happy to donate it back to them this weekend.

I think the most important thing about this book is, it's just for fun. Essentially it's SF comedy, written in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek style. It seems a bit strange to describe it as such, considering the number of intelligent beings (human and alien) who bite the dust, especially towards the end. Nonetheless, no sensible person could take it too seriously.

I have seen the movie, a few years ago, and I found that this book explained what was going on, so that I now understand the movie a bit better. I was also quite impressed with one or two of the SF ideas in the book, particularly the gadgets.

A quirky, humorous romp, with good characters, it is quite a short book. It's OK but I personally prefer my SF a bit more serious.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey
by E L James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Warning - extremely sexually explicit! (and nothing special as a story), 6 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Paperback)
Well, this is certainly the book which everyone is talking about. My lady co-workers were constantly discussing it, and I wondered what all the fuss was about, so I persuaded one of my lovely colleagues to lend me her copy. This was kind of her, but I am always making her cups of tea, so I don't feel too guilty. :-)

OK, the book. I didn't like it much. It had just barely enough intrigue to allow me to finish it, and I certainly will not be reading volumes II and III. The story was fairly shallow, with characters mostly like cardboard cut-outs, and I am frankly at a loss to understand why it has become a bestseller. It also gives the impression of having been plagiarised from somewhere, but from where, I know not.

WARNING - this book is extremely sexually explicit!! Certain scenes leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. I frankly think it should carry a verbal warning on the cover, but there is nothing. There are lots of rude words, and I found the whole thing to be crude and somewhat disgusting to be honest. Don't say I didn't warn you. But then again, I know nothing of sex.

Without spoiling the thing for you, the story is basically about a wholesome city girl, just out of college, who falls for this super-rich crazy looney control-freak with a big secret. She learns what the secret is (which I won't reveal here obviously) and she then has to decide whether she can live with it and have a relationship with him.

Towards the end of the book the interest picks up very slightly, with the crazy control-freak seemingly opening up a bit and telling the lady some of the secrets of his past.

All in all this is a thoroughly mediocre book, with the graphic and explicit sex scenes rather muddying the waters of a storyline which, without them, would be just trash. Not recommended!!

Batsford's Modern Chess Openings
Batsford's Modern Chess Openings
by Nick De Firmian
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.58

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The extraordinary depth of chess, 24 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Chess has been a hobby of mine, on and off, for many years, and I recently went back to it with enthusiasm. There are, of course, thousands of books on the subject, but I decided that I really needed a comprehensive opening book, so that I can play through some of the main lines in the main openings, and thereby improve my opening repertoire.

This book is a veritable chess library, all in one book! All of the openings are covered, and I do mean ALL of them, apart from ridiculous losing lines obviously. It is certainly not a book to be read from end to end, like a novel. It's a reference book, so that you can quite logically start on page 523 if you want to, should you wish to study a particular opening.

It is a large book, over 700 pages, but that is the sheer depth of the subject. There are, after all, far more possible games of chess than there are atoms in the universe, and I do mean FAR more. There are variations of openings, sub-variations, sub-sub-variations, transpositions, gambits, counter-gambits, and so on. Additionally, chess openings go in and out of fashion. This book has a chapter for all of the main openings, with analysis and references given in exquisite detail.

The only slight criticism I have is that I would have liked to have seen a page or two entitled "How to use this book". Maybe grandmasters, IMs and strong club players will be laughing at this, if they read it, but I am a novice player, and it is a bit difficult for me to follow the system of columns, each giving a line of play. However, I am sure I will figure this out.

I think when studying this book, it would be flat-out essential to have a chess board and set by your side, so as to play through the opening you are studying. Luckily this is no problem.

If anyone desires to be a strong chess player, as I do, I really think this book is a must. Understanding the openings is so very important in chess. I am sure there are years' worth of study within its pages, and I cannot give it less than five stars.

Helliconia Summer (Panther Books)
Helliconia Summer (Panther Books)
by Brian Aldiss
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars The great story continues - but stumbles slightly, 6 Mar. 2012
Well, I have read Helliconia Spring, and I thought it was fantastic. A gripping, vibrant SF adventure tale (see my review). Therefore, I was looking forward to Helliconia Summer, hoping it would be more of the same. I finished it last night.

There are several points to make. The first one has to be, Helliconia Summer certainly does not carry on where Spring left off. There is a big jump in time, with completely different characters. Of course, it is not wrong for a book to do this, but in this case, the jump is so large, I found it a bit difficult to pick up the thread.

Secondly, Summer gets off to a slow start. This is true of Spring also, but Summer takes even longer to get going. However, it does eventually warm up.

Thirdly, and most importantly, Summer is a different sort of book to Spring. Whereas Spring was a rip-roaring adventure tale, Summer is more of a political thriller. This is fine, but was not always quite my cup of tea.

Now don't get me wrong here. Aldiss writes really, really well. His characters are strong and vivid, his descriptive language regarding the planet Helliconia is often gripping, and certainly there are moments of high drama in Summer. I do not question Aldiss' status as an SF Grandmaster. However, when I wrote my review of Spring, I stated that it had me "gasping with excitement" (which it did). This is, however, not quite true of Summer I am afraid. In that sense, it was perhaps just a titchy bit disappointing. But I do stress that Summer is still pretty good, with enough drama and twists and turns to satisfy, if not to have me constantly on the edge of my seat.

I may eventually get around to reading Helliconia Winter, but I'm not sure when.

No Title Available

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice item, but does not work as well as claimed, 5 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
OK, so I purchased one of these microneedle rollers from SkinFab. The needle length was 1.5mm.

I did this after having some dermaroller treatment in a cosmetic surgery shop in central London, which was very expensive. I suffered from bad acne as a teenager, and wanted to heal my scars so badly (still do).

The service I had from SkinFab was really excellent. I was amazed at how quickly I received the item. It can only have come by return of first-class post. SkinFab make these with various needle lengths, but I received the exact one I asked for. I expected this, but it's always nice when they get it right first time.

Despite the great service, the actual product has been a titchy bit disappointing, to be honest. Frankly I can only use it once a week, because when I do use it, my skin swells up and becomes very red and sore. Therefore I tend to use it on Friday nights only, to give my skin time to settle down before I go back to the office on Monday.

I don't mind the swelling and redness, but the problem is, when all that has gone down, my skin looks roughly the same as before. The acne scars are still there. I wonder how many treatments it's going to take before I notice the difference? OK, so perhaps there is just a titchy improvement, but it's not like this is something that works like magic. It's fairly painful to use, although not too bad, but the results have not been as hoped, at least, not yet.

I will continue to use the item when I can, and if I notice more improvement I will delete this review and post another one. But for now, the above is my true opinion based on personal experience.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2012 6:00 PM BST

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