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Thomas Ryan (Ireland)

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Fortress Europe: Inside the War Against Immigration
Fortress Europe: Inside the War Against Immigration
by Matthew Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

13 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Partisan and wholly pro-immigration, 4 Dec. 2015
A shockingly naive book, written rather for teenagers (and overgrown ones) than for people who have to live in the real world. Carr is fundamentally a one-world quasi-Marxist zealot who sees nation states as barriers to justice, rather than what they are: the best means of providing security and identity to their inhabitants. Just look what happens when a real borderless world emerges; ISIS are busy making one, and committing countless revolting atrocities in the process. In another deep irony, which entirely escapes Carr, many of the migrants are fleeing states which have failed, partly because of too much diversity - of race, religion and culture. And with the unhindered mass-migration taking place at the moment (December 2015) what is to stop the hitherto relatively homogenous states of Europe (which have become that way because of savage wars in the past - or have we forgotten?) from following the failed balkanised states of Africa and the Middle East? Related to this Carr is deeply cagey too about the limits of migration and how much is enough or too much: when Europe resembles the slums of the developing world and we all have nothing equally I presume he'll be content. The biggest joke of all of course is that the vaunted 'Fortres Europe' condemned in this book is an illusion, a bogeyman for the Left; whoever wants can simply stroll across it - the Jihadi scum who murdered 130 people in Paris on November 13th 2015 made that tragically clear. A book for people who like to pose as humanitarians at middle-class dinner parties; for anyone looking for hard social facts on the impact of immigration on European culture and society, now and in the future, you won't find it here. The book's focus is rather on the criminal underworld of illegal immigration.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2016 5:58 PM GMT


Tiger
Tiger
by Thomas Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Tiger of a book!, 8 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Tiger (Hardcover)
A dreadful book. I read Osprey's companion book on the Panther tank (by different authors, crucially) and really enjoyed it, so I came to this with high hopes. Unfortunately, the author almost entirely avoids analysis and instead cuts and pastes reams of technical data, and dryly written contemporary German after action reports. It is stultifyingly dull stuff. A preferable approach, and one more in keeping with the historian's craft, would be leave the references to these in the footnotes, and use them to build his own analysis and narrative. He doesn't though, and one can't help but feel cheated, as though the book was just a cash grab. I strongly advise against purchasing the author's accompanying book on the Ferdinand tank destroyer. I'm giving it two stars solely for the photographs, which admittedly are excellent. Not the last word on the Tiger then.


Dark Eden
Dark Eden
by Chris Beckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lord of the Flies in space, 29 May 2014
This review is from: Dark Eden (Paperback)
My review title alludes to one of the more obvious (probable) influences on Beckett but it isn't remotely as simplistic as that might seem, as he attempts to explore how civilization and culture survives or fails among people marooned in a state of nature - here a weird sunless planet. But the novel is about so much more, addressing themes like memory and history, how the past is explained, and the uses to which it can be put. It is an intelligent novel, with clever (and cleverly used) literary references. William Golding's novel has already been mentioned. Another key influence was obviously the Bible, and its description of the Fall of Man, and how Cain brought murder and discord into the world. Milton's Paradise Lost may even be invoked, in that Beckett's main protagonist is, like Satan, a revolutionary figure, rebelling against old strictures and out-dated authority. He is also just a headstrong teenager, but that is part of the charm of Beckett's characterisation.

Highly recommended, especially since it reinvigorates an old theme in SF (lost human space-colonies) without resorting to alienating post-modern narrative tricks or a techno-centric bias - all too common in modern Science Fiction. Dark Eden is really only about people, and isn't that the most interesting subject of all?


Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox One)
Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox One)
Offered by Rush Gaming
Price: £19.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Six months on, Ghosts is now nearly the game we wanted., 25 April 2014
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On release Ghosts met with an unprecedented fan lashback. This was for a number of reasons, predominantly because of some truly awful Multiplayer maps, leading to a frustrating experience, but also because of a disappointing campaign, no dedicated servers (still!), and outdated graphics. A suspicion, long held by vocal CoD critics, that Activison and the various developers were cruising, and just lazily trading on uncritical gamers, began also to be felt by many hitherto devoted fanboys. A fair number simply gave up on it and went back to BLOPS 2.

Now, six months on, and two DLC map-packs later, where do we stand? The campaign of course remains one of the worst in the series. But it should have been good, since its central idea, the hijacking of a potent space weapon and the resultant mass destruction wreaked on the US, adroitly addresses current US anxiety about it's great power status in an increasingly multipolar world.

Multiplayer though has always been where CoD has triumphed, and here Ghosts has been sufficiently revamped to make it a different game to what it was on release. The awful maps still exist, but whenever they come up on rotations they are never voted for. In addition, for those prepared to fork over the money, the first two batches of DLC have been a revelation, with small to medium style maps much more conducive to the frenetic gunplay we all know and love. Also, if you complete a challenge on certain maps, you get to play as a near invulnerable axe-wielding Michael Myers from Halloween, or the Predator alien from the iconic 80s film. This is serious fun. A number of patches have also attempted to make the whole experience fairer.

Therefore, for those who gave up on the game early, I would say give it a second chance.


Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360)
Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Click For Games UK
Price: £9.99

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad, 6 Dec. 2012
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A disappointing mix of FPS and RPG, Borderlands 2 was released with a massive amount of hype and positive reviews but for me it failed to live up to its promise.

I found the levels confusing to navigate, the mission goals obscure, and some of the game mechanics were glitchy or simply badly thought-out; for instance if you were still involved in a vital gunfight, the stupid game thinks you've finished and starts telling you vital information, when all your attention is necessarily concentrated on staying alive. Nor, when you save the game and quit, do you have a reasonable hope of resuming close to where you left off: no, more likely you'll have to refight your way back, leading to more tedium. The much-lauded customisation options were a bit of a gimmick frankly. The guns, of which there are many, were cool though, but not enough to sustain interest in proceedings. Also the humour which was supposed to be in it was a bit flat, unlike say, the hilarious insults traded by the portagonists in the underrated Bulletstorm.

Now I must say that I played alone, and Borderlands 2 is designed for up to 4 to play cooperatively; perhaps this changes things markedly, but I doubt it, and making a game which depends on this so much, when there are so many other top-tier titles out competing for the scarce time and money of ones friends is not clever.

Avoid.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2012 11:44 PM GMT


Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by CONNECTED365
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but is it good SF?, 8 Feb. 2011
Gears of War 2 is a thrilling game, far superior to the first one, but is it good science fiction? The question matters, I think, because of the growing sophistication of games and gamers, and the importance of clever, original, stories in good games.
The science fiction (SF) writer Philip K. Dick described good SF as having a `big idea'. By this he meant a fresh, thought provoking perspective on humanity and society, its present and future. Dick would have regarded the empty alien mummery in Star Wars with disdain. On the basis of this it cannot be said that the original Gears of War is particularly good SF. The origins of the Locust Horde are unexplained and they act only as monstrous targets to shoot at. Nor is much attention given to the human society of Sera. It is tempting to say that such limitations are inherent in video games: Gardner Dozois, in his valuable annual introduction to the Year's Best SF, apparently thinks them so simplistic and crass as to ignore them completely, despite the fact that, for better or worse, this is how many young males are introduced to the genre.
Thankfully, Gears 2 offers more sophisticated SF than its predecessor, principally seen in an intriguing episode in which Marcus and Dom discover the `Sires' in an abandoned research facility run by a deranged AI. Here we are given uncomfortable hints that the Locust Horde and the COG's war on them has a murky secretive prehistory. It may indeed be that humanity bred the Locust Horde and that Adam Fenix, Marcus's father, had some involvement in it. The disconcertingly human-like Locust Queen refers familiarly to Adam, and laments in a mysterious fashion that Marcus followed a `different path'. If humanity did not create the Locust themselves, then they may instead have been responsible for the Lambent mutants first encountered in Gears 2. There are arguably echoes here of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein which explores and in fact initiated one of the hoariest themes in SF, that of scientific transgression. It may be a well-worn idea but it is still far ahead of other more mindless action SF games.
If Gears 2 has a sturdy if hackneyed SF heritage, the influence of the fantasy genre on at least some of its imagery is apparent when Marcus and his squad move into the Locust's underground domain. Some of the architecture they find would not appear out of place in the mines of Moria in Peter Jackson's film version of The Fellowship of the Ring. Comfortable too in such a milieu would be some of the `boomers' in Gears 2 who appear wielding a mace and shield. And of course the idea of descending underground to battle hideous monsters occurs in Beowulf, itself a decided influence on JRR Tolkien when he came to write his great trilogy. It is intriguing to think that, apart from its glossy visuals and riveting gun-battles, Gears of War may owe its success to its refashioning of the central theme of Beowulf and of much ancient art and literature, that of Man against Monsters.
I suspect and hope that Gears of War 3 will resolve some of the mysteries hinted at in Gears 2 mentioned here now; it should prove to be fascinating, and I personally can't wait.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2011 11:16 AM GMT


Shadow of the Scorpion
Shadow of the Scorpion
by Neal Asher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.74

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Agent Cormac's nadir, 16 May 2010
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This review is from: Shadow of the Scorpion (Paperback)
This is quite possibly the poorest of Asher's Agent Cormac series, a collection of stories which were always undoubtedly Asher's weakest work. Poor characterisation, clunky dialogue (though of course you could say that about so many SF writers, another culprit is Alastair Reynolds - it's almost a cliche of the genre!)an irritatingly perfect hero, who is more machine-like in competence (and dullness) than the robotic golem he fights beside, these stories were always no more than military or action adventures dressed up as SF. 'Shadow of the Scorpion' attempts a sort of 'Agent Cormac begins' but it falls terribly flat, and multiplies the failings of the rest of the series. This is a pity because, at his best, Neal Asher is one of the most interesting writers of the 'new Space Opera' around. For proof of this read his brilliant short story 'Alien Archaeology', in his equally brilliant short story collection The Gabble, or the novel 'Hilldiggers' which brims with interest and ideas. Given his proven ability, this kind of dire writing, churned out to meet publishing contracts or deadlines or something, does him and his fans (and I count myself one) no favours. Must do better, Mr. Asher!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2010 4:06 PM GMT


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