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giraudtheunwilling "Emperor of Zorgon 7" (London United Kingdom)

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Interstellar [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Interstellar [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Matthew McConaughey
Price: £7.81

17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is good scifi then I don't want to be a scifi fan any more, 9 April 2015
Badly written and pretentious. A truly poor movie, compensated for with some epic scenery. Can't believe Kip Thorne put his name to this; I gather the black hole graphics/simulation was pretty accurate as was (theoretically) the wormhole. But tons of bad science elsewhere, and I don't just mean the kind where you can say "well this is just science fiction anyway". It's just too silly, but not in a fun way.

The Fifth Head of Cerberus (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Fifth Head of Cerberus (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Gene Wolfe
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, but not an airplane novel, 3 Mar. 2008
Not everyone will like this book; in the same way as not everyone will like (or, more simply, have time for) Joyce or Proust. I don't mean that Wolfe writes like either of these. But rather, in the particular work (and others) he needs patience, the right mood, and the right expectations before you will get what he is trying to tell you (or, confusingly, not tell you! :).

I generally dislike writers who whose works aim simply to manipulate the imaginations of the reader for no particular purpose - for example "deconstructionalists" and the rest of the postmodernists whose goal appears to be to demonstrate their own cleverness at the expense of producing anything readable or entertaining. In "The Fifth Head", Wolfe takes one idea from that school - namely, that you can tell a story only by hinting at it - and turns it into magic, while at the same time never insulting the readers intelligence.

I confess I've never enjoyed any book that has attempted something like this, before "The Fifth Head of Cerberus". When you have read all three novellas, you realise - slowly - that there is another, internal work that is both parallel to, and in contradiction to, the written words. It's hard to explain, and surely a hundred times harder to write.

To those who didn't enjoy the work on the first reading, I would say to wait a couple of years and try it again. It is one of the most rewarding works in SF or in any genre that I have read, and it deserves the deepest reflection.

Netgear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer (HDTV Ready Media Streamer)
Netgear EVA8000 Digital Entertainer (HDTV Ready Media Streamer)

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A real shame, 26 Aug. 2007
I won't bother repeating what the other reviewers have said, except to summarize:
1. This product could be great
2. It isn't, because it is totally unstable and buggy

I'm a software developer too and so I am comfortable enough with the odd peculiarity or minor bug. But this - even after firmware upgrades etc. - is so riddle with bugs it seems like functional swiss cheese.

Don't bother - not even with a view to having netgear fix it in the future - they've been trying for more than 6 months and seem to be going completely the wrong direction on this one. A pity, because the eva8000 was well conceived and they have other good products I've used.

Europa Universalis III (PC)
Europa Universalis III (PC)
Offered by Ihr-Heimkino-
Price: £14.82

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome update to a classic series, 12 Feb. 2007
The Europa Univeralis series is the Great Mother of all world-historical games. Play as one of hundreds of countries across the globe, from the mid-15th to early 19th centuries - including European, African, Asian, and New World cultures.

There are lengthier reviews out there for those interested in researching the title, so all I would say is:

1. If you like history, and you like complex but well designed strategy games, you'll love this.

2. If you have broadband, download it from rather than buying the CD version - much easier and more convenient.

My only criticisms are that the new 3D map could be prettier, and also the game is SLOW unless you have a top-range PC - it works great on my new dual-core 4 gig PC, but its almost unplayably slow on my not-too-old Pentium 4 with 1 gig of memory.

In short, you'll really enjoy it, but say goodbye to early night and time with your significant other for a while!

The Baby Book (Sears Parenting Library)
The Baby Book (Sears Parenting Library)
by William Sears MD
Edition: Paperback

50 of 88 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware!, 28 Aug. 2005
Despite the fact I give it only two stars, many parts of this book, and aspects of the Sears' approach, are indeed excellent and very useful. The reason for its low rating however is essentially that (despite utterances to the contrary) the Sears seem to believe that everyone who has a new baby is (1) the perfect mother/parent who never gets frustrated with her child and is happy to give up every moment of a 24 hour day for a year or two in order to look after him/her, (2) willing to share their bed with their baby for 2 or 3 years, in other words never getting a decent night or few hours rest, and (3) wealthy enough to afford all the props, consultants, substitute carers, and so on that they "strongly recommend".
I think this is a valuable addition to a baby book library, but it should be taken with a large dose of salt. I am sure their approach has worked well for them and will for some families. But there is a certain naivity about the book; if you followed their approach to the letter, you would end up with no sleep for about 2 years, breastfeeding your child almost until they go to school, and every time the child crys you would be taking them into your arms and cuddling them till they sleep - *every* time. You will end up an exhausted wreck if your child is in any way difficult or colicky. The Sears, who make their living from writing about babies, can evidently afford to spend 24 hours focussed on every child. They apparently never get tired, angry, or frustrated. Most of the rest of us unfortunately are not perfect, and a more practical "middle-of-the-road" approach will be better for the vast majority of parents.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2010 11:55 PM BST

Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder
Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder
by Gitta Sereny
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.58

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 28 Aug. 2005
A grim but utterly compelling look at the mind of Nazi mass-murderer Franz Stangl. Incredibly, Stangl emerges as a kind of sympathetic figure, tortured by his profound moral failure and yet unable to fully face the truth of what happened. This is primarily a work of historical psychology, but also does a commendable job of rendering the history of the Nazi death machine in some detail.
Sereny has as usual interviewed almost anyone she could lay her hands on, although the result that the truth comes as but one (or none) of a number of competing versions, any of which seem plausible. So in that regard Sereny is almost a detective, trying to sift through the masses of evasions, half-truths, mis-rememberances, and indeeed lies, and she ends up teasing out what seems to be very close to the ultimate strands of truth.

The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879 : Rise and Fall of the Great Zulu Nation
The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879 : Rise and Fall of the Great Zulu Nation
by Donald R Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 28 Aug. 2005
This is in exceptional work of history, both meticulous and vividly rendered. Anyone unfamiliar (as I was) with the detailed history of southern Africa in the colonial age, and the at once glorious and tragic history of the Zulu nation, will find themselves both educated, moved, and enthralled by Morris' account.

In a three-way power play, British, Boer, and Zulu nations stuggled mightily in the mid and late 19th century for dominance in a wild but bountiful land. The diverse tribes of the traditional Bantu culture having been consolidated, usually in most brutal fashion, but in the first true Zulu King, Shaka, the Europeans for once had a centralized, powerful and militarily innovative native opponent. Despite half a century of confict mixed with attempts at both accomodation and "civilisation", the pressure of land, the discovery of diamonds, and the inevitable misunderstandings and prejudices of the era mean that ultimately all-out war was on its way. Cetshwayo, the last great Zulu king of that time, fought magnificently, ruthlessly, brutally, and unsuccessfully, against the modern and mighty armies of the Crown.

One of Morris' greatest achievements is that he avoids the usual stereotyping of either the "noble savage" or the ruthless european. On all sides of the conflict, Morris' South Africa is a tapestry of characters ranging from the sympathetic Bishop Colenso, through the enlightened, Zulu-speaking, yet utterly ruthless colonial administrator Shepstone, though to the sometimes naive but ultimately canny Zulu leaders like Cetshwayo. Neither side had a monopoly on either brutality or nobility, which is what makes this tale of the spectacular rise and fall of the Zulus even more compelling.

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