Profile for Jason Thompson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Jason Thompson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,471,219
Helpful Votes: 70

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Jason Thompson (UK)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Schism
Schism

1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY!, 30 Jan 2011
This review is from: Schism (Kindle Edition)
Please do not support this illegal, copyright-infringing publication. I know the author of this work personally (look at the image and notice the bit that says 'by Drew Wagar'!), and this is not being sold with his concent. In fact he distributes it free on his won website. Save your money and do not support this person.


Status Quo A novella based on the space trading game Oolite
Status Quo A novella based on the space trading game Oolite

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY!, 30 Jan 2011
Please do not support this illegal, copyright-infringing publication. I know the author of this work personally (look at the image and notice the bit that says 'by Drew Wagar'!), and this is not being sold with his concent. In fact he distributes it free on his won website. Save your money and do not support this person.


Mutabilis
Mutabilis

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY!, 29 Jan 2011
This review is from: Mutabilis (Kindle Edition)
Do not waste your money supporting this illegal, copyright-breaching individual. He did not write this book at all (look at the image and note the name 'Drew Wagar' on it, for heaven's sake!). I know the author of this text personally, and it is NOT being distributed with his consent. in fact, the author offers it free on his own website, so save your money.


Ascension
Ascension

1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY!, 29 Jan 2011
This review is from: Ascension (Kindle Edition)
Do not waste your money supporting this illegal, copyright-breaching individual. I know the author of this text personally, and it is NOT being distributed with his consent. in fact, the author offers it free on his own website, so save your money.


Live TV: From the Moon (Apogee Books Space Series)
Live TV: From the Moon (Apogee Books Space Series)
by Dwight Steven-Boniecki
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject, 2 Oct 2010
It is amazing to think that in 40 years, despite the multitude of books that have been written about the early space programs and Apollo in particular, no-one has actually devoted a book to the development of the TV systems that allowed the world to participate vicariously in mankind's greatest exploration. From the grainy, low-res images first beamed down from Apollo 7 in Earth orbit, through to Apollo 8's first live telecast of the Earth from deep space, up to the fantastic colour TV that showed us the last men working on the Moon, this was television literally as no-one had seen it before. The technological developments required were perhaps just as challenging as those needed to create any part of the missions, and the managerial fights to actually get TV included were in themselves quite spectacular. And yet, no-one had previously considered this chapter of space exploration worth writing about.

Dwight Steven-Boniecki has redressed the balance with this volume. It is written in a very accessible style, never getting too bogged down in the technical jargon. It tells a story previously only glossed over in other books about Apollo, and tells it well. It is neatly divided into chapters, many of which cover a single Apollo flight. This highlights the differences and continuing technological progress of the TV system from flight to flight. It also makes quite clear just how important TV was to the continued success of NASA, and just how long it took many within NASA to appreciate the fact. It is a fascinating book and the fact that it covers a little-known area of the history of space flight gives it an edge many other books lack as they try to find new ways to present the same basic story. You won't find technical details about the spacecraft, or crew biographies, or detailed mission plans. This book does what it says on the cover, and tells the story entirely from the point of view of the development of the television systems.

If I have one criticism of this book it is that, despite it being lavishly illustrated throughout, there is not one colour photograph in its pages. This is particularly incongruous in a chapter that specifically deals with the development of a system of colour television. To read descriptions of things such as the colour wheel used inside the camera and the polaroid photo of the first test of the colour system and see only black and white photos is somewhat disappointing. Fortunately the bonus DVD carries all the photos that appear in the book in full colour. The experience is still not the same as being able to see the colour images described as you are reading about them, however.

On the subject of the DVD, it contains a NASA webcast about the search for Apollo 11 slow scan TV tapes and the restoration of the existing material, which is worth a look, especially in the section where they compare the archive footage with the restored material. There is also a film made by Westinghouse which talks of the development of the lunar surface camera. This is interesting from an historical perspective, but is pretty poor in terms of content, covering more of the management of the group ("or 'team', if you will", as the narrator actually says at one point!) than the actual development of the camera itself. The colour slide shows of the illustrations in the book are the best part.

All in all a fascinating subject, well written, lacking only in one aspect of presentation, namely a colour section within the book itself. Worth getting to complete the story of the development of man's first exploration of space.


About Time: 1963-1966 Seasons 1 to 3 (About Time; The Unauthorized Guide to Dr. Who (Mad Norwegian Press))
About Time: 1963-1966 Seasons 1 to 3 (About Time; The Unauthorized Guide to Dr. Who (Mad Norwegian Press))
by Tat Wood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.89

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative, though with niggles, 17 Nov 2006
About Time volume 1 was certainly the most in-depth analysis of the first three seasons of Doctor Who I have ever seen. Considering the wealth of material incorporated, the authors did a fabulous job of keeping it from being dry, continually throwing in some humour, and keeping the writing style quite informal. The information they include about the behind the scenes intrigues is very nicely done, pulling very few punches but avoiding being outright slanderous. The essays are possibly the most interesting parts, however, ranging from an analysis of what children's television was like in the 60s to speculation about which delegate is which in Mission To The Unknown and The Daleks' Master Plan. With these the book is able to simultaneously be a wonderfully nitpicky guide for fans (but always in the 'we love it but we know it can be quite awful at times' vein, rather than 'this is crap and here's why' style) and a very good text that places Doctor Who in its cultural context. This is such a crucial aspect of any critical analysis of such a programme, especially one that ran for as long as Doctor Who, that it seems incredible in hindsight that so few other books on the subject actually do it. Yes, it's one ting to know the titles of the TV shows that went out at the time, but quite another to understand the format of those shows and what they reflected about the era as a whole.

All that praise aside, the book is not without its flaws. The ones I picked out were very minor, however, such as the authors' insistence on referring to a character called Anne Chaplette being in The Massacre despite the fact everyone on screen quite clearly pronounced her surname 'Shap-lay' (hence indicating the French spelling Chaplet as supported by every other text on the subject), and the irritating one about the Doctor supposedly claiming he has only one heart in The Sensorites (He said something hit him 'under the heart', but that no more means he only has one than saying 'he got a shot in the arm' necessarily refers to a person with only one arm.).

All in all, an excellent volume. I look forward to reading the rest.


Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles
Stages to Saturn: A Technological History of the Apollo/Saturn Launch Vehicles
by Roger E. Bilstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.50

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but overly detailed., 1 Mar 2005
With a real interest in the technological developments that allowed NASA to put a man on the Moon, I found this book to be quite fascinating. It is well written and compiled, and for the most part easy to read. It chooses not to follow a strict chronological order, which is to its benefit. Something as complex as the processes involved in building the Saturn rockets is bound to be a bit confusing whichever way it is presented, but dealing with the separate aspects of the process rather than the strict chronology is probably the best way to go about it.
What this book really highlights is the sheer scale of the project, and how such a basic idea (build a very large rocket) has so many knock-on effects and soon becomes a truly mammoth project. Time and again the book reiterates that most of the difficulties in the project were a result of the size of the rocket being built, from building the largest rocket engine ever constructed, through finding ways to make longer and better weld joints than had ever been attepted before, up to the logistics of transporting something so gargantuan from the manufacturing plant to the test facilites and finally to the launch site. It is all on a larger scale than ever previously attempted.
(Incidentally, the vast number of new facilites that had to be constructed, new management infrastructures needed and new techniques to be developed just in constructing the launch vehicle gives the lie to the fringe belief that Apollo was all a huge hoax.)
All that said, the book does have a few flaws. Its illustrations are one of them. Whilst the author is to be commended for choosing throughout to use only the illustrations actually produced at the time by NASA, the individual who decided how to present them within the book was perhaps not so interested in the subject matter. Most of the illustrations have been poorly reproduced and reduced to a size that renders their detail almost invisible and their text almost illegible. Additionally, most of them were originally made in colour but are printed here in black and white, making the kind of colour scheme that works so well on the illustration on the back cover (in which the various stages are given separate distinct but subdued colours) fail miserably, thus obscuring a number of important details.
It is also the case that, especially in the sections regarding the rocket engines, the detail is not readily visualised by anyone who does not know very much about rocket engine design beyond the 'mix fuel and oxidiser and blast the exhaust out the end' concept. The F-1 and J-2 engines utilised some very complex methods for cooling the engine parts, usually involving the recirculation of cryogenic fuel around the engine before ignition or the funnelling of incomplete combustion products into the engine exhaust to shield the metal. The descriptive detail is extensive, but is very difficult to relate to the illustrations, which consisted of a picture of the engine itself with major components labelled and a separate schematic of the fluid flow within the engine. The schematic was like a London underground map, in that it showed you the paths but not how they actually relate to the real object. I found it hard to really get a grip on how the engines worked in detail from the explanations and illustrations offered, which is a shame because I am fairly sure that conveying such an understanding was the objective of those sections.
A few more original illustrations may have served to better illuminate the reader as to some of the details described.
Those flaws do make the book hard to follow in places, and slightly unsatisfying in others, but overall the book is a good one, and well worth getting hold of if you want to get a feel for the real complexity of rocket science. The Saturn rockets are often overshadowed by the missions they launch, since their part is over within minutes. However, without the launch vehicle there would be no mission, and this book rightly redresses the balance by focusing on this part of the greatest exploratory program the world has ever seen.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2008 3:06 AM GMT


Saturn V [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Saturn V [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Saturn Veteran Engineers

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent again., 24 Aug 2004
I will break this down to review each disc in the set.
Disc One, as with the other sets, contains a specially made documentary and some sections of footage that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. The documentary is interesting, as ever, though I found it less interesting than the Saturn 1 documentary. Again it scores over the Project Gemini documentary by not being over-narrated. The other sections of footage are nice little bits to have, especially the engine test-firings, which actually include the appropriate sound. Having said that, watching the five J-2 engines firing for the entire duration of a planned mission does get rather dull, since they go on for around six minutes. The other clips have no sound, but are covered by interview audio excerpts.
Disc Two is full of launch footage, as with the Saturn 1 set. The big difference here is that all the launch footage has accompanying sound. As with the Saturn 1 set, some of this seems rather odd as the footage is in slow motion but the sound is not. Some shots are covered by the air-to-ground communications with the craft, which makes the whole lot seem a lot more real. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard the cheers that accompanied the successful launch of Apollo 4, and Apollo 12 was an interesting one to watch as it was struck by lightning after launch (no footage of the strike itself exists, but the communications are very clear). This disc includes some of the classic space footage, such as the section of the interstage separating from Apollo 4.
Disc Three contains more launch footage from Apollos 8, 11 and 12, though I am not sure why the footage was divided this way. One item of interest is the shot of Apollo 11 lifting off taken from ground level and focused on the base of the rocket. It is in slow motion, and the sound is also slowed, making for a rather odd experience.
But the icing on the cake in this set is the collection of quarterly progress reports on the third disc. These are really fascinating, giving a real insight into the processes involved in constructing something of the magnitude of the Saturn V. It includes reports of failures such as explosions during engine tests, ruptured fuel tanks during pressure tests, and so on. It also underlines the sheer scale of the project, as you see the enormous efforts undertaken just to construct the facilities necessary for the project. It is a great shame that some of the reports could not be located, but the ones included are enough for anyone to be going on with. Hell, just one or two of these reports would be enough for anyone!
Spacecraft Films have again produced an excellent set here, but again I caution that it is not for casual entertainment. The main aim of these discs, as stated, is simply to make commercially available to anyone the reams of footage from mankind’s greatest adventure. They do not set out to entertain, but they certainly do educate. No serious enthusiast of Apollo, or the space program in general, should be without these DVD sets. They are superb.


Mighty Saturns [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mighty Saturns [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Mark Gray
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £65.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For hardcore enthusiasts only, 22 July 2004
Since this is a three-disc set, I'll divide my review into three parts.
Disc one is by far the best of the bunch for the average viewer. It contains a 45-minute documentary on the development and flight of the Saturn I and IB rockets, with beautifully restored archive footage. Unklike the Project Gemini documentary I reviewed previously, this one is far easier to watch as the narration is broken up by new interviews and occasionally just some really beautiful footage from the launches. The bonus features include some fascinating material recorded by cameras placed inside the fuel tanks in order to monitor fuel behaviour during flight. These are interesting because of their rarity, and the fact that this is not the sort of material usually trotted out in programs about rocketry. There is also some beautiful in-flight footage of the staging of an early Saturn flight. There is also some footage of pad preparation and the damage done by the launch. This disc alone makes the set worth having.
Disc two contains the film of every Saturn I and IB launch bar one. The main points of interest here are the different configurations of each rocket, and the tracking shots that, in some cases, follow the launch right through to staging. However, there is a limit to how interesting watching the same launch from umpteen different angles can be, and one launch is pretty much like another. Having said that, some of them do contain shots taken from a novel angle. Also, the sound of a Saturn launch has been dubbed onto the footage, but this seems rather odd as much of the footage is in slow motion and I'm not sure that the sound reflects that.
Disc 3 focuses on one particular Saturn IB launch, namely Apollo 7. But this is just even more angles of the same event. Since this disc is devoted to the Saturn IB, there is no material of the mission itself (that DVD is coming soon, I believe), nor the crew. This is just the launch through to staging in some of the tracking shots.
Overall, this set is a research tool. Buy it if you have a serious interest in the Apollo program, or you are a rocketry fanatic. If your interest is more in the missions than the hardware, this is not the set for you. Again, as with Gemini, the footage is presented in raw form, with no covering narration or subtitles to explain anything that is being shown. A minor niggle, since the footage is spectacular in its own right, but just a little information here and there might have been a nice extra.
That said, Spacecraft films have done a great job. Watching a documentary recently that included some of the footage brought home just how well it has been cleaned up for this DVD release.


Spacecraft-Project Gemini [DVD] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Spacecraft-Project Gemini [DVD] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Mark Gray

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great research tool, 5 July 2004
There are two parts to this DVD set. The first is a documentary overview of Project Gemini. It is very informative, though suffers slightly from a niggle that seems to be common to a lot of American documentaries: the narrator hardly seems to pause for breath! With the amount of footage present it would be easy to make the documentary longer to allow the narrator to shut up now and again and let the images do the talking. Instead it is either narration or short soundbites from the Gemini missions and press conferences. Still, this is a minor niggle, and overall the project is covered very succinctly.
The second, and major, part of the DVD set is the actual footage of the Gemini missions themselves. With the exception of launch footage the film is mostly silent, and is overlaid by occasional snatches from the mission communications or (more often) from the post-flight press conferences. This ranges from dry factual relating of the events to some highly entertaining banter between the astronauts (the Gemini VI and VII rendezvous narration, especially that by Jim Lovell, being very amusing in places). The footage is for the most part not especially dramatic, and in some places is difficult to watch, but it is great to have it all condensed into one place and be able to watch it all. Again, there is one minor niggle here, and that is that occasionally the footage passes in complete silence, presumably because there was no suitable original audio to cover the events depicted. At these points it would have been nice, I feel, to have had some new narration or a few captions to explain what is being seen on the screen (for instance which coastline is passing beneath them in some lengthy sequences).
This DVD set is not six hours of dramatic footage, or six hours of highly informative, nicely structured documentary, so it is not good for someone with a slight interest in spaceflight. It is six hours of historic original space footage that documents the Gemini missions in a highly comprehensive fashion and serves as an excellent research tool for anyone with more than a passing interest in the space programs of the era.


Page: 1 | 2