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

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by William Shatner
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ahead warp factor - well, about 0.75 really, 18 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Tekwar (Mass Market Paperback)
Recently I had a spare evening, and had a rummage through my old books, to try to find something to read. I stumbled on this one, which I forgot I had in my collection, & finished it last night.
First of all, I think that William Shatner writes SF competently. What he does particularly well is imagine how things might be in the future, particularly with regard to robots/androids. Isaac Asimov would be proud of him! He really does have a vivid imagination, and comes up with lots of new ideas. His SF is snappy and action-packed.
Unfortunately, I thought the story itself was not quite so good. It's readable, certainly, but perhaps a little on the shallow side. In other words, a bit too much action and not enough philosophy was my impression.
Nonetheless, if this is Shatner's first attempt at SF, he should definitely stick at it. Just make the characters a bit deeper and less like cardboard cut-outs. I hope this is fair.

Garden Of Rama
Garden Of Rama
by Sir Arthur C. Clarke CBE
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about these Rama follow-ups, 28 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Garden Of Rama (Paperback)
Well, after finishing this one, my feeling is confirmed, namely, it was a mistake to follow up the absolute classic "Rendezvous with Rama" with further sequels.
There are two reasons why I think it's a mistake to do this (i)The sequels are almost never as good as the first book, and are often a bit disappointing, and (ii)The many questions left by the first book, which are best left to the imagination, are answered in a different way, which is unsatisfying. Incidentally I feel exactly the same way about the three sequels to 2001:A Space Odyssey.
I am not quite sure what part Mr Gentry Lee played in this (Clarke and Lee are named as joint authors) but it seems that a lot of Clarke's ideas have been diluted. For instance, in Clarke's earlier novels, he has space travel acting as a catalyst to improve the human condition, so that problems such as war, drug addiction etc become largely things of the past. But in this book, without giving too much away, most of the humans are the same old dirty rotten scoundrels that they were before space travel ever came along! Pity.
Anyway, Garden of Rama tells what happens after Rama II, when the second massive alien spaceship is attacked with nuclear weapons. There are a few people still on board, who are not rescued. Can they survive? Where will the Rama ship take them? And what will happen when they get there?
It's a good read, mostly, with some interesting aliens and just about enough action and intrigue to pull the novel into shape. But I can't help thinking that it would have been far better to just leave the original Rama novel as a one-off classic.

by Vonda N. McIntyre
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected - but a good read nonetheless, 15 Sept. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dreamsnake (Mass Market Paperback)
This book has won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, so when I saw a copy, I snapped it up. I was mildly disappointed, although it's very readable.
In a world devastated by nuclear holocaust, leaving vast blackened deserts, what's left of humanity has returned to a pastoral way of life. It is the duty of the travelling healers, who are held in very high regard, to give medical help where required. This book is the story of one such healer, who uses snakes to bring healing (an interesting concept).
Two of the snakes she uses are from earth, but the other one is extraterrestrial - the dreamsnake. These dreamsnakes are precious and rare. No-one knows how they reproduce. Many healers have begged the inhabitants of Center City for more dreamsnakes - always without success. The book turns into an adventure story, with our central character undertaking a dangerous journey to Center City to ask for help. But how can she succeed, when all others have failed?
It is certainly a bold and vivid book, but I personally didn't think it was quite as good as it's been made out to be. Nonetheless it's well worth reading if you like SF or just a good adventure tale.

by Ian Stewart
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid SF yarn, but falls short of classic status, 8 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Wheelers (Hardcover)
Wheelers is an original, entertaining, well-written and reasonably enjoyable SF novel, set about 200 years in the future.

The story contains some very disparate threads, which appear to have no connection, but are very skilfully woven together by the authors. We have an archaeological discovery in Egypt, a transatlantic voyage done without modern technology, a Buddhist sect controlling the asteroids, and a brillian young African lad with an uncanny ability to communicate with animals.

A determined young lady takes her own private spaceship to one of the moons of Jupiter - and makes a stunning discovery. She brings back items to Earth, claiming that they are alien artefacts. But no-one believes her! That is, until an unexpected incident which leaves no room for doubt.

Where are the aliens who made these artefacts? And why have they apparently aimed a comet directly at Earth, in an act of open cosmic warfare? You will have to read it to find out.

My slight criticism of this novel is that it is, at times, a bit corny. The climax is good but I sometimes thought it was a bit like a B-movie - thrilling maybe, but not very deep. Also the book does tend to labour certain points a bit too much. All SF fans will be aware that our environment is likely to be poisonous to aliens, but that's no excuse for the corny names that the aliens give their planets!

All in all, a good, enjoyable read. It is unlikely to appeal to those uninterested in space, the future etc, but for SF afficionados it is well worth a look.

Ragged Astronauts
Ragged Astronauts
by Bob Shaw
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and enjoyable, 18 July 2003
This review is from: Ragged Astronauts (Paperback)
Bob Shaw is well-known for writing SF which is solid entertainment rather than being highly-technical. The Ragged Astronauts certainly delivers a thoroughly satisfying mix of vivid characters and high adventure. Please note that this book is the first part of a trilogy. Part 2 is called The Wooden Spaceships, and Part 3 is called The Fugitive Worlds.
In The Ragged Astronauts, Land and Overland are twin planets, orbiting one another as well as their star. Unfortunately on Land, things look grim. The environment is being damaged by over-exploitation, and diseases are spreading. The people are forced to consider radical ideas for their survival. One person has the idea of flying to Overland by hot-air balloon. Of course, no-one believes him....
This splendid book, filled with rip-roaring adventure and huge happenings, ranks amongst Bob Shaw's best, and I recommend it to all.

The End of Eternity (Panther Science Fiction)
The End of Eternity (Panther Science Fiction)
by Isaac Asimov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid time travel novel - recommended, 16 July 2003
Time travel is, of course, a popular theme in SF, and Asimov shows himself to be an SF grandmaster in this excellent and compelling novel.
Andrew Harlan is an Eternal - one of a small band of humans who live "outside time" and can travel to any part of time, from the moment the technique was invented, to billions of years in the future. They have the power to make subtle changes to history so as to avoid undesirable or even catastrophic events. Billions of "Timers" (ordinary people subject to normal time) can be affected without even knowing it.
Unfortunately the awesome power wielded by the Eternals comes at a price, namely, they must be entirely dispassionate regarding the changes they make to history. Alas, when Andrew Harlan falls in love with a woman, destined not to exist in an alternative history, he will do literally anything to keep her, even if it means the destruction of Eternity itself....
This is a highly-readable and thoroughly-enjoyable SF novel from one of the true SF "greats". Top notch.

by Carl Sagan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, heart-warming SF novel, 3 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Contact (Paperback)
This book is proof enough that one of the world's greatest space scientists can also write great SF!
It is a super SF novel, but it's more than that. Throughout the book, Carl Sagan's love and hope for the human race shine through.
Eleanora Arroway, a woman who has known her fair share of bad times in her life, eventually becomes the head of a space center which listens for messages from intelligent extraterrestrials. Against all the odds, a message is discovered and deciphered. Instead of being a message telling us how to create the perfect society, or a religious revelation, it turns out to be a blueprint for a highly-advanced machine.
Do they dare build it? And if they do, what will the machine do? Religious fundamentalists battle with governments and scientists to destroy the project. For the machine, chillingly, is clearly designed to carry a team of people...
If the machine is built, who will ride in it, and where will it take them? You will have to read it to find out!
This book has been made into a movie, but, although it's good, I felt that it did not really do justice to the book. This is one of the finest SF novels I've read - great characters, a gripping plot, high adventure, and to cap it all, a wonderful ending (which is not the same as the movie). An uplifting book which I recommend to one and all. Simply fab!

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