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Peter Debney (Ilkley, Yorkshire, UK)
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Ancillary Justice: 1 (Imperial Radch)
Ancillary Justice: 1 (Imperial Radch)
by Ann Leckie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars What it says on the tin, 2 Mar 2014
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This book is described as space opera and if you are looking for action and adventure with a lot of hand waving then you will certainly get that in this well written novel.

What you won't get is an exploration of the moral grey areas touched on in the story, whether the practice of turning living humans into AI controlled soldiers (though one is the hero of this book) nor the expansionist ambitions of the Radch empire. I hope that Ann Leckie deals with these absences in the sequels.


Kethani
Kethani
by Eric Brown
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars A good book but not one that will set the world alight, 29 Oct 2008
This review is from: Kethani (Paperback)
The principle theme of the book is eternal life here and now. Is the negation of death desirable? What is the effect that it will have on society? Does life need death to make it worth living or is striving for achievement due to our limited time here on Earth?

The Kéthani's gift affects all the character's lives. Some choose artificial life and some natural death, but these choices are never without consequences. Some have to make choices for others, such as their young or mentally handicapped children; should their convictions deny those in their responsibility the chance of life and their own choice?

The easy resurrection affects society. Murders die out, as the victim can return six months later to convict the guilty. Medicine changes from preserving life and treating serious diseases, to easing the passage of the afflicted. Those who return a subtly changed: their angers and aggressions are gone making them law abiding and constructive citizens. They are more humane, but are they less human?

Kéthani is both thought provoking and very readable. While it fails is in a lack of overall plot and characterisation, it raises many interesting questions regarding mortality and its place in society.


Burning Chrome
Burning Chrome
by William Gibson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nearly a cyberpunk genre defining classic, but that crown has to go to Gibson's Neuromancer, 29 Oct 2008
This review is from: Burning Chrome (Paperback)
Gangsters, double crosses, hustles, hallucinogenics, neural interfaces, virtual reality: elements of the past and future fused together. Burning Chrome is a drug-fuelled, high-tech, rollercoaster ride in the dark. Packed with fragmented sentences and jargon, Burning Chrome is not an easy read, but a compelling one. These stories will not be to everyone's likening. They are a difficult read, packed with unpleasant characters in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes there is a lesson to be learned, but generally only the winning matters. They are as beguiling as a car crash. In some other books, the future is bright. In Burning Chrome, it may be orange but it is dark and scary. Inhabited with gangsters committing high-tech crimes or bio-terrorism, this is not a pleasant place to be.

Gibson's aggressive poetry is brutally beautiful. The prose is fragmented; quantum. Perception jumps. Vision blurs as if through a drugged haze. Jargon real and invented beguile and bamboozle. Gibson himself, like Philip K Dick, was no stranger to narcotics and his experience is made flesh in these stories. Published in magazines between 1977 and 84, these stories came at the start of the revolution in popular computing and a sea change in science fiction. The cyberpunk stories of Gibson and his collaborators threw out the shiny futures and political dystopias, and brought in a new dystopian vision where mega-corporations and organised crime ruled (though sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference). These stories are not Star Trek, but criminals with computers; lock, stock and two smoking hard drives. The future has brought technology but it has not cured us of the sins of humanity; it has only enabled new ones.

This is classic cyberpunk in bite-sized portions.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2011 11:01 PM BST


The Road
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world ends, not with a whimper, but with poetry, 29 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
Life has (apart from birth) no beginnings and (apart from death) no endings. It only have events in the middle. There are no chapters but there is punctuation. As they say, "Life goes on". The Road is lifelike, which is one of its many ironies, as nearly everything is dead. There is no beginning, though we see fragmentary and unexplained flashbacks to the events that caused the world to die and thus put the Man and the Boy on this journey. There is an end for the man, though this has been signposted throughout. And there is an end of the journey for the boy, which possibly gives hope in this hopeless world. "The road goes ever on", as does life in this dead world. But the road reaches the sea and finds that it is as dead as the land. And the survivors are reaching the end of the world too, as the supplies of tinned food are running out. Let's face it, cannibalism is not a long term survival plan. The Road is rich in irony. The Man and Boy carry "the flame" in a world destroyed by fire. They find food and shelter in a hideout left by a survivalist who did not survive. They meet a prophet on the road who says that there is no God. The prose is beautiful poetry describing a world of grey ash. The Man is one of the good guys who kills the first person he talks to and almost certainly kills the last in his mission to save the Boy. The road goes on, as must life

The Road is beautifully written; it is often more poetry than prose. Sometimes this means that clarity is sacrificed for the language, or perhaps the meanings have to be thought about and teased out - your choice. Critics and reviewers have argued over whether it is science fiction, horror, parable or speculative fiction. They have dissented over whether the end of the world was nuclear, meteor or the second coming. They all agree that The Road is a magnificent piece of literature, worth of the Pulitzer Prize and more.


The Skylark of Space
The Skylark of Space
by E. E. Doc Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.26

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The original space opera, 29 Oct 2008
This review is from: The Skylark of Space (Paperback)
Do not expect the technological accuracy of hard science fiction or the social commentary of soft SF; this is Space Opera, adventure on a grand scale. In Skylark, the men are real men, the women are real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri just do not stand a chance.

E.E. "Doc" Smith is hailed as being the creator of both interstellar science fiction and of the Space Opera sub-genre. His visions of epic space battles by the greatest of heroes against the evilest of villains inspired many great SF writers through the 20th century, eventually leading to its eminent descendant Star Wars. This is were it all began, boldly going to galaxies far far away, seeking out new worlds and ways of writing SF. Skylark's faults may be many, but they are forgivable. If later works seem more refined, it is because this is the mother lode. Forget characterisation and realism: just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. All aboard?


Why Buildings Fall Down
Why Buildings Fall Down
by Matthys Levy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bedtime reading, 17 July 2008
This is excellent reading if you ever have trouble staying awake at night :-) Actually, it is excellent reading in general. Learning from other peoples mistakes is so much better than learning from your own.


Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down
Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down
by J. E. Gordon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for engineers, 17 July 2008
This and his companion book on materials should be compulsory reading on all physical engineering courses. It will also be very useful for medical students to understand how muscles and skeletons work.

If you do not have a copy of both, go and buy them now.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2013 9:38 AM GMT


Visual Basic in Easy Steps
Visual Basic in Easy Steps
by Tim Anderson
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good in it's day, 29 Feb 2008
But that day was a long time ago. Unfortunately, Visual Basic has moved on and much of the examples no longer work.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2009 4:07 PM GMT


Road To Saint Ives
Road To Saint Ives
Price: £14.82

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cornwall is Cool, 10 Nov 2006
This review is from: Road To Saint Ives (Audio CD)
Moody, atmospheric, and very chill. This is a solo album by John Surman, with him playing multiple layers of creamy sax. I love it.


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