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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality check, 6 Feb 2006
By 
Mr. John N. Lister (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
Frantic Planet is the literary bridge between reality and surreality.
The stories include three separate realities: the world we inhabit and know (complete with effectively apt cultural references); our world as it could be without social constraints; and a world where our laws of physics do not apply. The collection veers back and forth between these different worlds which, in the hands of a less-skilled writer might easily be clumsy and destroy suspension of disbelief. But here the juxtaposition creates an effective sense of uncertainty: by the time the reader deduces which rules apply to a particular piece, they will already be compelled by the story. And so that world becomes just as real as our own.
The collection also varies widely in length. Some are as brief as a couple of hundred words and, as might be expected, these can be hit and miss. It seems likely the author has produced the book over a lengthy period as there appears to be a notable disparity among the briefer stories in terms of the skill with which the pretext, the hook and the payoff are delivered.
It is the longer tales that highlight the anthology, and perhaps not coincidentally they all inhabit the middle of the three literary worlds: that which follows our conventions of time and space, but rejects our conventions of behaviour . 'Just a statistic' is a twisted literal interpretation taking to ever more grotesque extremes. 'Rooting for truffles' examines the consequences of a 'What if?' scenario where only fate will ever allow the reader to confirm their conviction that they would never behave that way. And the centrepiece 'Simple Choices, clocking in at 55 pages (a quarter of the full book) treads a dangerous line between the revulsion provoked by the story's events and the contemplation provoked by its themes. The specifics are of a fantasy world but the message is firmly rooted in our own.
A full appreciation of the subtleties of Frantic Planet may be contingent on a culture and humour overlap between audience and author. But the powers and burdens of free will are all that is needed to appreciate the way physical events in the book's fictional reality relate to less tangible ideals and behaviour in our physical world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, in a good way!, 4 Feb 2013
This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect. What you get is a collection of short stories unlike any other. Some are creepy, some make you think, some are touching, its impossible to put this into a category really, aside from the category "downright awesome!". My favourite story featured a vigilante with a difference, but to be honest I liked them all. Well worth a read, and reread and so on! Excellent!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, strange, twisted and sinister - an intriguing read, 9 May 2006
This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
If you enjoy the more twisted and warped side of humour, you'll love this book. Beginning and ending with a flurry of short stories, you are immediately thrown into the surreal and slightly sinister world of the writer's mind. Filled with tales of small town mentality, twisted people living in everyday (and not so everyday) worlds, robots who fall in love and just plain weirdness the stories are unique and engaging, and you're never sure what is coming next.

But nothing will prepare you for the bonafida page-turning qualities of part two, "Simple Choices" - six chapters which get more and more disturbing as they go along, as a deranged man takes the concept of art terroism too far. Sandwiched between the two sections of short stories, this is the strongest and most captivating section of the book. Thrilling and thought provoking, this is a real highlight.

So if you're after a read which is alightly off-kilter, give this book a go. It won't always be a comfortable ride, but it'll certainly be an enjoyable one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid number two, 27 July 2009
By 
Mr. John N. Lister (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Frantic Planet Volume II is topped and tailed by two lengthy novellas which look at the uneasy relationship between modern society and the individual. "Via Delarosa" is a witty insight into fame, specifically the way celebrity culture and modern media can bring fame without achievement to people unprepared for its effects. Encompassing moments of comedic caper and psychological darkness, this is a twisting journey to an ending which trumps even the genre-savvy's reader's expectations.

"Between Flaws" is pegged on two incidents, one individual and repulsively comic, the other national and chillingly devastating. This disparity reflects the story's central theme: the juxtaposition of a 21st century world in which we are technologically more communicative than ever, yet many have never been so isolated. Like all truly successful storytelling, its free-flowing narrative is hinged on a deliberate structure which is clear upon later analysis, but does not clumsily encroach on the reading experience.

Whereas volume one arguably suffered from inconsistent degrees of reality across its contents all but two of volume two's tales are set firmly in the world that we inhabit under the rules of reality and logic we all face. "The Ostrich and the Insects" is, to all but the most God-fearing reader, not among this list, telling as it does the story of a literal fallen angel. However, like a Jim Carrey movie without the schmaltz, it tackles this in a realistic fashion in looking at how we would truly respond to such an event. Later the story turns its hand to both religious symbolism and elements of true horror.

The remaining seven short stories vary in style and length, though to my mind the weakest and most experimental of the concepts on display are also the shortest, meaning no story outstays its welcome. By far the highlight is The Diary Of Blue Horse, a tale of a man's descent into self-destructive insanity. In something of a homage to Memento, the story is told in reverse chronological order, meaning the reader's curiosity is about cause rather than effect.

As would be expected, Volume II builds upon its predecessor's strengths by better fleshing out ideas: experiences and incidents become fully-developed plots with overarching themes. It's difficult to imagine anyone who read the original not adding this to their reading list, but even those who've not had the pleasure will find the sequel rewarding.

"It's an entertaining read" is the type of lazy cliché pilloried throughout the novel, but it is true in the word's widest sense: it relentlessly engages both interest and emotion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awe-inspiring, 23 Jun 2006
By 
Ian Hamilton (North-West London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
Forget everything you know about this world - you need to suspend disbelief when you pick up Frantic Planet, and you'll be greatly rewarded for doing so.

When I bought this book, I honestly didn't know what to expect: was I going to get a series of throwaway stories that I was going to forget straight away, or would it be an astounding piece of writing?

Well, almost five months after buying the book, I still find myself flicking through it from time to time to relive the tales of the lunatic lottery winner, Ted Danson, and my own personal favourite, the man who was held hostage by an artist.

It's one of the best fiction books you read this year that hasn't been commandeered by a huge media-led bandwagon. Buy the book!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just another five star review, 2 Mar 2010
By 
IainL (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
Yes, everything on Amazon seems to get a five star review. How many times have you looked for a genuinely insightful review of a product you were unsure about and been unrewarded?

Yes, another five star review that doesn't help. Should I buy it or should I not.

Well this isn't a five star review but hopefully it is helpful. Frantic Planet is a genuinely funny book from a promising young author who clearly has a talent for writing and knows the funny end of a stick from the other.

The stories in here range from a few paragraphs to a couple of thousand word pieces, which could feasibly develop into future books of their own.

This is a book for all occasions and with the summer coming up it strikes me as the perfect book for a holiday. If you want to read it by the pool all day then you can or if you have ten minutes to read while waiting for your partner to get ready, then you'll find a funny story to fill the time.

I won't give it the full five stars as, because it's a first book and there are elements where he is still raw. Also, I think the second book is more polished all round, but this is a fine first effort and you'll be more than rewarded for the paltry sum it will cost you. Get it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnerving but excellent, 15 Aug 2009
By 
S. J. Waters (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
Reading Frantic Planet was a great relief; I bought it while studying and its quick fire nature was the perfect antidote to the heavy-duty enforced reading I was enduring. I'd definitely reccomend it to anyone experiencing the same circumstances - it's a pleasure whether you have time to read it in one sitting or in installments.

From the short opening stories the author's ability to marry astutely chosen references to clever writing makes the book funny and fresh. Allusions to popular culture don't mean a lack of substance here however; the darker, longer stories in particular (`Simple Choices', `Just a Statistic', `Rooting for Truffles') are as thought provoking as they are darkly hilarious.

Although there's innocence in sections like 'Mr Lee' and 'Nemesis', it's the sickness that runs through this book that kept me reading. Many of the stories filled me with a 'Blue Jam' sense of unease - there's a plausibility to the twisted but flawless logic of the characters that makes me wonder if these people really exist on the fringes of society (or how closely they may represent the author!). The prospect of more of the same in Volume 2 is an exciting one.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off the hook, yo, 4 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. D. G. MCGUINNESS (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frantic Planet (Paperback)
I urge you to pick up this book, and Volume 2 as well. It's an extremely fun read. It's the kind of book you could easily read all in one go...but don't! No, savour it. Put it on that little wicker box you have next to the toilet that houses all the sweet smelling bath salts, and enjoy it in little morsels while you're sitting on the toilet waiting for your bubble bath to run. That's the way to go. Other reviewers have put into words far better than I can why you should buy this book, so I'm just here to add to that. Buy it now. If you buy it now, you'll be able to tell people you "were there" before the author blew up and "sold out" for the big bucks, and now all his work is commercialised pap and it's just not the same anymore :(

Sir Trevor McDonald read and enjoyed this book. If it's good enough for Sir Trev, it's good enough for you.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing Words, 10 Dec 2009
By 
F Gillett (England) - See all my reviews
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If you like your short stories to be creepy and disturbing then this is for you! I had to take two showers after reading my copy.

The tale of Snoop Dog's desperate circumstances is a real gem; the author's comment on post-modern existentialist angst sent shivers up my spine and had me staring in the mirror at my own weather-worn humanity for nearly four days.

Buy, read, enjoy, cry, read, scream, enjoy... in that order.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!, 17 Nov 2011
This book is really good; you should read it. Volume one was a bit patchy but I enjoyed the style of the writing, and it all came together brilliantly for book two. These aren't sketches of ideas, they're fully formed short stories with recurring themes woven throughout, all well paced and placed. The whole is certainly greater than the sum of it's very good parts.

This guy also draws fantastic web comics and writes entertaining blogs.. A proper independent author/starving artist deserving of your support.
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Frantic Planet: Volume II
Frantic Planet: Volume II by Stuart Millard
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