Profile for Mr. R. Bhaskar > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. R. Bhaskar
Top Reviewer Ranking: 354,909
Helpful Votes: 44

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. R. Bhaskar (Glasgow, UK)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Redshirts
Redshirts
by John Scalzi
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun (and very metafictional) book, 24 Nov 2013
This review is from: Redshirts (Paperback)
Andrew Dahl is a fresh-minted ensign, just out of the academy, and assigned to the Universal Union Space Fleet's flagship, the Intrepid. But it's not long before he notices something odd: away missions are much more dangerous than they should be. Someone dies on almost every one, although never any of the senior officers. It's not long before he discovers that there's something very strange going on...

This is an amusing Star Trek parody right up until the point where it goes very metafictional indeed. It continues to be amusing, but your brain does tie itself in knots as you try to follow along. It's difficult to say more without spoilers, but suffice to say that Dahl, our protagonist, and his friends on the Intrepid are likeable people and you're willing them on through the strangeness.

The book has some touching moments that are all the more so for being unexpected through the humour, especially in the three codas at the end which feel like the right way to close off the story. So a humorous book with a good heart and a lot of wit. Excellent stuff.


Manhattan in Reverse
Manhattan in Reverse
by Peter F. Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good collection, 1 Sep 2013
This review is from: Manhattan in Reverse (Hardcover)
As the author himself admits in the introduction, he's not the quickest writer of short stories, nor are the stories themselves particularly short, but the quality evident within these pages is not to be sniffed at. There are seven stories in total, three of them set in the Intersolar Commonwealth universe, two featuring Paula Myo, the detective and popular figure in other Hamilton books.

Of the non-Commonwealth stories, Watching Trees Grow is an alternative history starting in a steampunk London, with a murder, and following rapid development and longevity as the agent charged with solving the murder persists throughout the decades, and eventually centuries that it takes. Footvote is an alternative-present story, where a maverick opened a wormhole to another planet in 2010, setting the other end in England and offering transport out to his world, but only under his rules. This brings up themes that Hamilton raised in the Night's Dawn series, of monoculture worlds, with only a certain ethnic or religious group being allowed to settle a world. If at First... is a fun time-travel story while The Forever Kitten is possibly the most poignant story in the collection, and it is certainly the shortest, coming it at under 1000 words.

The last three stories are set in the Commonwealth universe, the first, Blessed by an Angel being set several hundred years after the Starflyer war described in the Commonwealth Saga following the attempt by an agent of a society that favours high-technology and human-Biononic integration to infiltrate a society that has rejected that technology. The Demon Trap is a Paula Myo story set in the decades before the Starflyer war involving terrorism and politics while the title story, Manhattan in Reverse is set just after the Starflyer war and the discovery of a possibly sentient creature on a world that has already been colonised.

There's a wide range of stories here, but the underlying theme seems to me to be how technology, particularly technology that we can possibly see coming down the line, will affect people, societies and crime. Recommended for fans of thoughtful space opera, not just fans of Peter F. Hamilton.


Kubik USB 2.0 Single Slot SD Card Reader for SD/SDHC Cards (Windows Vista, 2000, XP & Windows 7, Apple Mac)
Kubik USB 2.0 Single Slot SD Card Reader for SD/SDHC Cards (Windows Vista, 2000, XP & Windows 7, Apple Mac)
Offered by ARC UK
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good price and works perfectly, 22 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I needed an SD card reader to manipulate cards for my new Raspberry Pi and this looked decent so I bought it. I've certainly had no cause to complain: the reader has detected the cards that I've thrown at it and works seamlessly on my Windows 7 machine. Recommended.


Yaktrax Walker Traction Device
Yaktrax Walker Traction Device
Price: 5.33 - 21.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb!, 5 Dec 2012
I've had my Yaktrax for a couple of years now and they're absolutely superb! They're easy to carry around, fairly quick and easy to get on and off and they work great in both compacted snow and (the most treacherous weather!) partially melted and then refrozen ice. As much as anything, these provide me with peace of mind and confidence when walking, as someone who doesn't have a good sense of balance at the best of times, I'm very prone to slipping and falling in bad weather and these Yaktrax make it so much easier to get around in the winter.


Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir
Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful memoir, 27 Aug 2011
I hadn't known before I read this book that Agatha Christie was married to a famous archaeologist. I'm unfamiliar with the subject, so the name Max Mallowan doesn't really mean much to me, but I was intrigued by the idea of reading about a dig in the 1930s through the eyes of a non-archaeologist, and this book didn't disappoint. Right from the first chapter, where Christie describes the trials of finding and purchasing appropriate clothing for an archaeologist's wife, there's evidence of humour and a light touch that shines through.

She lovingly describes the landscapes they travel through and the characters they encounter, from their enigmatic architect Mac to the Sheikh they borrow the land from to build a house, and with her tongue playfully in cheek as she does so. She sketches not only the travails of being married to an archaeologist (for example being told that the pattern on your dress is from a Mesopotamian fertility symbol) but also the people that make up their household and the the workforce and their attitudes to life and death.

It's obvious that Christie comes to love the country that she has been relocated to and her reluctance to leave it at the end, when storm clouds are very clearly gathering in Europe, is evident. Not a book to read if you want to learn about Mesopotamian history, but definitely one if you're interested in the region of the time and in a wonderfully personal memoir.


Ventus
Ventus
by Karl Schroeder
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant hard SF, 27 Aug 2011
This review is from: Ventus (Mass Market Paperback)
I got this book on the recommendation of Charles Stross, and although I downloaded the free CC-licenced ebook to my smartphone I wasn't expecting to get to it any time soon. It was only because I finished my paper book while on holiday sooner than I expected that I turned to this. And I was gripped within the first chapter. It starts off very much as a typical fantasy story where the young protagonist is stolen away and ends up on a quest to discover himself, but as the world widens, we discover a very hard SF story.

The world of Ventus was seeded about a thousand years ago by a nanotech seed pod to terraform it. Powerful AIs called Winds oversee this process, but when the settlers finally arrive, they find the Winds refusing to communicate with them. Worse, seeing them as a threat to their ecosystem, they wipe out their technology, reducing them to a pre-industrial civilisation. Fast-forward to the present day, and young Jordan Mason finds himself kidnapped by off-worlders because in his head is a remote sensor placed there by a former slave of the destroyed rogue AI "3340" who wants to take control of the Winds and recreate his former master.

The scope of the world building is tremendous, from the Archipelago of human worlds to the immensely intricate world of Ventus itself. The idea of a completely artificial world, where nanotechnology is in everything but where everything could also be out to get you is a powerful one. Jordan is a good everyman character through whose eyes it's fascinating to see the world, and to see him grow as the story progresses.

The other really interesting character for me, is Queen Galas - a monarch with remarkably progressive views, who tries to make radical changes in her nation, thus sparking off a civil war with the establishment. Her experimentation and struggle in such a staid civilisation felt remarkably fresh, if somewhat doomed to failure.

There's also a strong philosophical thread running through a lot of the book about intelligence and narcissism which I enjoyed. There's an awful lot to like in this book. It's grounded and has an almost space-opera feel to it which is unusual but which I sometimes see in Iain M. Banks' work (definitely a compliment, I love Banks' Culture novels).

Although an option to buy the book (through PayPal) is available on the author's website, I didn't pay for it at the time since I didn't know if I'd like it or not. As soon as I finished it, I went back and left a donation via the PayPal button. This is definitely an author I'd encourage to keep writing, and this is my little way of doing that. I'll definitely look out for more of his work in future.


The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Lies of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentlemen thieves get more than they bargained for, 11 Oct 2009
Locke Lamora is the Thorn of Camorr, leader of the Gentlemen Bastards, a master thief who robs the nobility of that city-state with grand breath-taking plans. He and his gang hide not only from the police but from the leader of the underworld who knows hims as just another 'garrista' of a small, unimportant gang. But a private war that suddenly in the city's underworld has Locke and his band fighting for their lives.

This book has a wonderful setting, crossing an Italian renaissance city with aspects of The Godfather and the grimier scenes from Dickens. Locke and his Gentlemen Bastards are great characters, carrying out their schemes with wonderful flair, and when the excrement starts hitting the rotating ceiling-mounted air-circulation device, you really care about them. Especially when the 'bondsmage', the Falconer starts to get his hands on them.

Lynch dropped several hints about the background to the city-state of Camorr and the long-vanished race that created the towering edifices that mankind has inherited. While curious to find out more about this, I recognise that sometimes backstory is just treated as such and left alone.

A great story, well-told with a wonderfully vivid setting. And although it's the first in a sequence, the story is wrapped up neatly so you aren't left hanging.


Neither Here, Nor There: Travels in Europe
Neither Here, Nor There: Travels in Europe
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it, 29 Nov 2008
Despite having enjoyed several of Bryson's other books, I couldn't really get into this one which was about his travels in Europe, roughly following in his own footsteps from 20 years earlier. It was well-written and quite witty but it took me most of the book to realise why I didn't hugely enjoy it. I think I didn't enjoy the book because he didn't enjoy the trip. He spent a lot of time moaning and this affected the tone of the book. I just wished he'd either find something to enjoy, or just pack up and go home.

He started off well, with a good amount of detail and good cheer and described the locations and people skillfully, but as it went on, you could feel him getting listless and this came through in his writing. I'd look up some of his other work (eg Notes from a Small Island) rather than this one.


I Worked On The Ships
I Worked On The Ships
Price: 10.46

1 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable enough but nothing new, 14 Aug 2008
This review is from: I Worked On The Ships (Audio CD)
I got this before its general release at a gig as part of its promotional launch tour. I've listened to it a few times now and it's enjoyable enough, but what struck me was it sounded like all the other Ballboy albums I own. There's very little new in this album as far as I can tell. If you've already got The Sash My Father Wore and The Royal Theatre then you probably don't need this.


The Satanic Verses
The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and a joy to read, 25 July 2008
This review is from: The Satanic Verses (Paperback)
Over the English Channel, a hi-jacked airliner explodes leaving two survivors clinging to each other as they fall. One gains a halo while the other grows horns and goat legs, acting out the ancient battle between good and evil again; but which is which?

This is a very complex book, with many interwoven themes: love, belonging and betrayal being the central ones. Different people will get many different things out of it, but what struck a chord with me was the issues of belonging, and the difficulties of standing between cultures, since this is something I feel on a day-to-day basis.

I also loved the language of the book. Rushdie has a wonderful gift for words and it was a pleasure to let the words drift over you. It also captured, for me, the voice of Indian literature. It does sound like an authentic mix of cosmopolitan English and Hindi; while Rushdie wasn't the first Indian writer to write in English and add a twist of Indian colloquialism, he has certainly mastered the art. Like its predecessor, Midnight's Children, I can't recommend this book enough.


Page: 1 | 2