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The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings
The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings
by Pascal Bruckner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The revolution of lowered expectations, 2 Sept. 2013
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The name of Pascal Bruckner is one that may not be familiar to the majority of readers whose first language is English. Bruckner is one of the French school of `New Philosophers' and is a noted firebrand in the cause of libertarian values.

In his latest essay he takes to task the Greens, the ecologists and what he is pleased to regard as the environmental fundamentalists, whom he regards with some distaste as a kind of new puritan movement. Bruckners thesis rests on the idea that those of us currently living in the West, together with our children, are being asked to abandon our current lifestyles for something altogether more ascetic and self-denying, all in the pursuit of saving the planet. In short, we, and our descendants, are to be punished for complicity in fuelling environmerntal degradation and global warming.

In 10 terse, acerbic, witty, dismissive and hugely entertaining chapters, Bruckner attacks these perceived enemies of the future via a ruthless examination of the proponents of environmentalism, together with a survey of the current influence of recent literature, the media, Hollywood and the ideological roots of the Green movement. Bruckner sees the emergence of these concepts as a harking back to guilt based Christianity. The Brucknerian take on this then, is that of a new index of censorship grounded in a catalogue of prohibitions and self-denial; an inescapable taxonomy of guilt catalogued under the headings of culpability, disaster and catastrophe that purport to foretell of descent to new levels of dystopia for humanity.

How credible is all this? There is the usual great sufficiency of Gallic hyperbole, and it has to be said that at times, Bruckners writing is more that of a romantic poet, than that of a philosopher. Beyond all the brio and élan with which his case is presented, one cannot escape the feeling that the author has chosen to overlook certain inconvenient aspects bearing on the issues. Not least among these is a burgeoning global population, particularly the BRIC's with their new middle classes, growing material affluence and demands, a shrinking global resource base and the likely collisional events arising from the confluence of these vectors.

Bruckner is first and foremost an optimist, one who sees the ecologist's prescriptions and prohibitions as tending to suppress the development of creative solutions to our present impasse. Unfortunately some of the authors own blue-sky thinking in the final chapter, are simply beyond the ridiculous. Regardless of which way one leans in the debate, the revolution of lowered expectations seems unavoidable.


Divided Nations: Why global governance is failing, and what we can do about it
Divided Nations: Why global governance is failing, and what we can do about it
by Ian Goldin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.33

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A lost opportunity, 17 July 2013
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Since Professor Sawers, writing in his review, has helpfully explained what this book is about, there is no point in revisiting that aspect of the work. This review looks at the other side of the story and attempts to show how the thinking that underpins the book, is fundamentally flawed. The book opens with a self-penned catalogue of the authors' achievements and appointments to various international bodies, which on the face of it, are indeed most impressive.

Professor Goldin suggests that the failures of global governance in recent decades are largely due to their unsuitability for dealing with contemporary global problems, problems that were never envisaged at the time of their creation, and that these latter can largely be solved by reform of existing bodies, that somehow the power of the individual can also be harnessed as part of online communities via global connectivity. The author is also wedded to the utopian capitalist delusion that growth is good, that we just need to keep on making more things and selling more goods and services, hence his love affair with globalisation.

It is instructive to understand that appointments to the various global orgs identified in the book, are made on the basis of expertise in some field or other and above all, being seen as a `safe pair of hands.' The net result, historically, is that the same faces keep turning up on these bodies, often on the principle of `Buggins turn', whereby compliant academics, former civil servants and ex-politicians are recruited to largely toe the line and not rock the boat. The operative principle here is `steady as she goes', whereas what is really needed at this late hour, is some inspired blue-sky thinking.

The problems that Professor Goldin identifies: climate change, mass migration, pandemics, cyber-security and finance are in fact symptoms of deeper, systemic origin, namely global over-population (climate change, mass migration, pandemics), institutionalised crime (cyber-security, finance) itself an outgrowth of late stage capitalism. The call for reform of and in some cases, the possible removal of some institutions, laudable though it is, takes no account of the systemic inertia on the one hand and outright opposition to change, by powerful forces, on the other. Nowhere do we find a suggestion for the creation of an international body to manage population growth, yet nothing has greater priority, since most global threats derive from this. One does not need a degree in economics to understand that the combination of a shrinking, non-renewable resource base on the one hand and a burgeoning global population on the other, is a recipe for catastrophe. What are these resources? They are energy, minerals, arable land and potable water. It is not as if this viewpoint is in any way new: in their different ways, E. F. Schumacher (mid-1970's), Robert Kaplan (1994), Harald Welzer and Dambisa Moyo (both 2012), to mention but a few, have examined different vectors driving us toward some kind of global Armageddon..

In the light of this situation, the idea that more growth, whether via globalisation or other means, will make us all wealthier, that the world will become a more equitable place for everyone everywhere, is utterly risible. By 2030 the world supply of oil will be virtually exhausted, so that the moving of vast quantities of goods around the planet long before this point, is yet one more ill-thought out aspect of the utopian fantasy that is globalisation and global capitalism. Very few people realise how much of the worlds workings, beyond transport, are absolutely reliant uopon vast quantities of oil, which is virtually a story in itself. At the time of writing there is no technological fix in sight for either a post-oil world or the replacement of globally disappearing agricultural land.

Furthermore the author fails to understand that globalisation can only work when the economies of the worlds' nations participate on a relatively level playing field. In a similar vein the Panglossian view of immigration is equally wrong-headed: whilst countries such as the USA, and other states having relatively low population densities, may be able to support and benefit from immigration, the effects on densely populated states are largely burdensome and benefit mostly a minority. The author manages to largely ignore matters such as the pressure on housing and via that, it's inflationary and social effects. The impact on the provision of healthcare, education, the erosion of educational standards and the corrosive effects on employment, allied to the creation of an underclass in the wake of these deficits, seem to have escaped the Professor Goldin's notice.

The systemic failures in finance are a consequence of institutional crime and a complete unwillingness to deal with either the perpetrators or the root causes. Those interested in understanding the depth and extent of such criminality should read Chapter 3 of Michael Ruppert's "Crossing the Rubicon." (2004). The reason for these failures is not far to seek, since organisations, national, regional and global, whose remit is to regulate and manage, as noted above, are stuffed with the great and the good, shuffled from one org to another, themselves too close to both the problems and the individuals and entities who cause them. What this really means is that there is a complete lack of democratic legitimacy re the leadership of organisations such as the IMF, the World Bank and other creatures of US policy.

Finally the very idea of global governance is a deeply flawed concept: people will not be forming orderly queues to leave drowning landmasses, continents convulsed by war and already marginal areas rendered uninhabitable and agriculturally non-viable by increased temperatures. The US continues to behave irrationally in the face of climate change and does not recognise the International Criminal Court. What prospect then for any kind of international governance, when the economically and militarily most powerful nation on the planet continues to act unilaterally, whilst insisting that the rest of us get in line? Zbigniew Brzezinski's concerns (Strategic Vision, 2012), regarding internal domestic problems facing the US simply reinforce this lacuna. This arises in consequence of a state effectively still living, politically and socially, in the 18th century. The worsening problems, developing between Sunni and Shia in the Middle East and elsewhere, already more than a thousand years old, are simply not amenable to any kind of global governance or management., yet their effects extend almost everywhere. Chinese investment in Africa may ameliorate to some extent, the residual effects of various imperial adventures, yet the continent overall lacks both political stability and legitimacy, as new variants of the Great Game are played out over the all-too-often dead bodies of it's peoples in the scramble for resources. There is of course much, much more that could be said regarding other equally intractable problems. One's position influences the perspective, but from the standpoint of most ordinary people, particularly the worlds poorest, globalisation to date has been an unmitigated disaster, predicated as it is on the demonstrably wrong principle of one size fits all.

I leave the last word to John Gray: "Since the French Revolution a succession of utopian movements has transformed political life. Entire societies have been destroyed and the world changed for ever. The alteration envisioned by utopian thinkers has not come about, and for the most part their projects have produced results that were the opposite of what was intended" (Black Mass 2007). Sic transit globalisation.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2016 4:57 PM GMT


The Enlightenment: And Why it Still Matters
The Enlightenment: And Why it Still Matters
by Anthony Pagden
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The foundations of the modern world, 1 July 2013
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Dr Padgen's thesis opens with a brief survey of some of the most influential thinkers, whose names are today in some way associated with the Enlightenment: Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Hume, Rousseau, Kant and the encyclopaedist philosophers D'Alembert and Diderot, amongst others. There follows a brief discussion of Scholasticism with a nod to Aquinas and the influence of his thought, before describing the demise of Scholasticism as a mode of higher learning at the hands of 17th and 18th century thinkers. This volume is therefore concerned with theology, philosophy and early scientific thought and their influence in changing society, both in Europe and elsewhere.

Dr Padgen then drafts a series of vignettes, virtually a blow-by-blow account of what the main protagonists were thinking, what was written and said, some of the difficulties they encountered. At times the detail is almost mind-numbing, yet given even a casual reading of this account, one is left in no doubt as to how we got from the end of the Thirty Years War to the present day, in philosophical, confessional, scientific and social terms.

If there can be said to be a defining moment in the unfolding of the Enlightenment drama, to borrow William Gibson's concept of `when it changed', that moment was almost certainly the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The last of the malignant wars of religion, the Thirty Years War, left much of Europe utterly devastated, perhaps even beyond the combined effects of WW1 and WW II, tens of millions died and the population of the parts of Europe affected fell by perhaps one third. In 1644 at the close of the war, the principal combatants and other interested parties, spent the next four years debating and arguing, before reaching an accord, the Peace of Westphalia. This accord sought to lay to rest confessional differences and hatreds, that had given rise to a long series of wars fought over religion and in simple terms it more or less guaranteed freedom of conscience and tolerance in matters of belief.

The change in the intellectual atmosphere occasioned by the Peace of Westphalia, virtually guaranteed that the claims of religion, the mode of understanding the natural world and a belief in an over-arching, supreme, being, or deity, resulted in both robust challenges and simple ridicule. Ironically one of the most important figures, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper (1671-1713), a figure scarcely known today, was a major influence on several later commentators, both in the UK and on the Continent. Despite this, it seems that many, perhaps most proponents of emerging new ideas, were uncomfortable with a purely material universe, one notable exception being the Scottish philosopher, David Hume.

The new found freedom of enquiry came at a price: several thinkers were imprisoned, at least one went into exile and yet others had their published works burned by the public executioner at the instigation of sundry authorities, whereas David Hume was unable to secure a university post on account of disagreements regarding his opinions. Nor have such practices been allowed to fall into disuse: in the late 1940's the FBI seized and burned the works of the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, and unless one enjoys a certain social or academic cachet, getting a letter either critical of the movement, or deemed an Enlightenment heresy, published in the Guardian or the Observer, never mind scientific journals, is a near impossibility. It is a sobering fact that there remain many parts of the world where to this day, such freedoms do not exist.

The author has chosen to allocate chapters to what he sees as the main themes of the Enlightenment, thus, after a preface and an introduction, both quite detailed, we have:

Chapter 1, `All Coherence Gone' describes the intellectual free for all which can be said to start with Hobbes and more or less ends with Kant, during the course of which, pretty much all received wisdom current up until c. 1650 was subject to searching critiques, though not necessarily for the first time.
Chapter 2, ` Bringing Pity Back In', treats of the debates about the nature of mans rights, the philosophical basis of the Enlightenment, showing links to the Stoics, the Epicureans and the Sceptics, as well as making comparisons with Scholasticism.
Chapter 3, `The Fatherless World' deals with the attacks on, and effective demolition of religious ideas and the introduction of a new, human based observational science, as a means of understanding the world.
Chapter 4, `The Science of Man', considers the nature of man, of how little man knew of himself, in contradistinction to the sciences, in which latter significant progress had been made in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The rise of humanism is covered, in the sense that most thinkers started from the assumption that all humans have certain things in common, regardless of race, culture, customs, beliefs and laws.
Chapter 5, `Discovering Man in Nature', is essentially concerned with what we now know as anthropology, the growing awareness of what was being lost in the burgeoning waves of colonial expansion, as other cultures were variously oppressed, enslaved and exterminated. The realisation too, that what was being reported by travellers was both partial and biased, being concerned to titillate a European readership rather than attempting honest reportage.
Chapter 6, `The Defence of Civilization' is perhaps more diffuse in it's focus, with the largest part being given over to Chinese civilization as seen from a European perspective and comparisons made, largely on the basis of ignorance and misinformation, between the culture of Europe and that of China.
Chapter 7, `The great Society of Mankind' is basically a survey of what constituted a civil society, reflections on the emergence of ideas of nationhood, liberty, democracy and an all-inclusive view of humanity.
Chapter 8, `The Vast Commonwealth of Nature', returns to the concepts of `sympathy' and `affectivity' which appear at various points in the text, qualities deemed to be universally embodied in human beings and seen to be the source or cause of various social groupings, from the clan to the nation or state and perceived in some quarters as a consequence of natural law. The common thread running through these reflections is the idea of the civitas maxima or Supreme State, widely acknowledged as a utopian chimera. Under this heading too are ruminations on war, revolution and related matters.
Chapter 9, `Conclusion: the Enlightenment and its Enemies.' This, the final chapter, continues in much the same vein as all of the foregoing, in that there is still much back referencing to what this or that earlier commentator said, and it is only with some difficulty that the author manages to detach himself from the 18th century, from Kant and Herder and finally arrive in the 21st century. I leave it to readers to decide whether or not the good doctor has succeeded in showing why the Enlightenment is still important.

This is a very considerable body of work, meticulously researched and a veritable vade mecum of all that anyone might reasonably wish to know of this historical Western social-philosophical project. Dr Pagden writes well and persuasively, yet despite this, it is a rather clever book that might be accessible to a far wider readership at half the number of pages, without necessarily losing the thread of it's historical evolution; indeed that thread might thereby become much easier to follow. Although not the fault of the author, the text would benefit enormously from the services of a competent proof-reader, not to say those of a sympathetic editor.

The Enlightenment project was, and to a large extent, remains the preserve of an elite, most of whom did not and do not have to deal with the fallout, the downside, the negative effects arising in consequence of the distorted realisation of utopian ideals. Horkheimer and Adorno's `Dialectic of the Enlightenment', mentioned briefly in the text, is an early, (1947), and powerful critique of those ideals.

The scope of this book is such, that any review is bound to fall short of doing the work full justice, so that the admittedly brief and telegraphic account given here is a reflection of that fact.


The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths
The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat laboured, 28 May 2013
Fresh from reading `Straw Dogs' and greatly enthused and entertained by that book, I was looking forward to receiving the follow-up volume, `Silence of the Animals', and I feel bound to say at the outset, that a certain disappointment has ensued. It seems to me that the presentation of the material is somewhat labored, diffuse even, so that teasing out the main thrust of the book, it's ideas and themes has been less than straightforward.

`Silence of the Animals' appears to be divided into three parts, the first of which, "An Old Chaos" examines some of the writings of Joseph Conrad, Norman Lewis, Curzio Malaparte, Arthur Koestler, Stephan Zweig, Joseph Roth, George Orwell, Alexander Herzen, and Michel Montaigne.

What John Gray finds in their seemingly disparate stories, is evidence which supports his contention, already mooted in `Straw Dogs', that the widely held idea, that societies progress morally or in humanitarian terms, hand in hand with the acquisition of new knowledge and scientific and technical achievements, is in fact an illusion. As a corollary to this, Gray sees the idea of progress as being largely a western construct that has it's origins in Christianity, and linked to a linear concept of time, history and the development of new things, new ideas. This in contradistinction to early societies such as the Greeks, Egyptians and the philosophies and religions of the East, all of whom viewed things, when they thought about them at all, as being cyclic, that essentially there was nothing new under the sun and no expectation that things would be other than they were, either in the present or any foreseeable future. So far, so good.

A significant number of the authors he draws on have chosen to look at the fallout arising from the failed utopian social/political experiments of the 20th century, such as the Bolshevik revolution and the Third Reich, among others. What Gray clearly sees in these accounts is the solvent effects of terrible hardship on morality and behavioural norms, that manifest when humanity hits bottom, thereby supporting his thesis on the illusory nature of human progress, albeit somewhat tangentially. If there is a subtext here, it is that this is likely what awaits us in the not-too-distant future.

The second part of the book, "Beyond the Last Word" draws on some of the ideas of Freud, Jung, Santayana and Borges as well as several other writers, most notably one of the lesser known Powys brothers, Llewellyn.

Gray juxtaposes Freud and Jung, pitting the ideas of one against the other, and clearly favouring the former, in the process of dismissing the ideas around the concepts of happiness, the `true self' and self-realisation, concepts which Freud appears to have regarded as fictions, whereas Gray not only regards these as chimera's, but also essentially destructive pursuits, certainly for individuals and perhaps for society at large.

His treatment of Jung is cavalier to put it mildly. The imputation of Nazi sympathies to Jung is not new, yet now as then, such evidence as there is, is barely circumstantial, so that Gray's indulging in what is little more than innuendo, is an unacceptable slur that undermines him, rather than Jung. Gray acknowledges the significant influence of much fin-de-siecle thinking around occultism and related matters, on the European scientific community, of which Jung was a part. Jung however regarded much of Europe between the wars as being in a state of mass psychosis, a term he also applied to WW II. He was in any case a Swiss citizen, not a German and in any case some of the ideas espoused by Jung were by no means the sole province of the Nazi's.

Basically Gray's position on Jung and his Gnosticism, and their application in psychoanalysis, is based on his lack of an in-depth understanding of Jung's thought and ideas, and much as I'd like to open that particular box, it is not appropriate here.

Beyond this point, for this reviewer, the text becomes increasingly bogged down in the usual mind-numbing philosophical wise-acreing (to borrow Gurdjieffs term) and dreary forays into linguistic Impressionism and other `isms'.

The final part, `Another Sunlight' is by turns tedious and absorbing, most especially the chapter `The Silence of Animals', which looks at the need for silence felt by some people, but surprisingly without any reference to the widespread practice of meditation, pretty much everywhere, both in the past and now, though a brief introduction to the life and thought of Patrick Leigh Fermor, does go some way to make up for this. In a rather different vein we meet Llewellyn Powys under the chapter heading `A Churchyard Cough and a Green Coat' which is a great entertainment in an otherwise largely anodyne final section.

If I have misunderstood or in some way misrepresented what John Gray has gifted us here, it's because, as noted at the beginning of this review, he hasn't made it easy. As much as what is included, it's what's missing that makes this a less stimulating, indeed a less convincing read than it might otherwise have been. I'm personally obliged for his drawing attention to Stephan Zweig and several other writers with whom I'm not familiar, but who are clearly persons of interest and whose acquaintance I look forward to making in the near future.


L.G Harris 9799 Premier Versa Paper Hanging Table
L.G Harris 9799 Premier Versa Paper Hanging Table
Price: £29.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A shame about the packaging........., 19 Mar. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an intelligent design and very easy to erect and take down.

Unfortunately mine arrived with one of the corners shattered, leaving a jagged and potentially hazardous couple of surfaces. The table is usable (or will be when I've made it safe)and I'll keep it, despite the damage. This problem might have been avoided if a preprinted tape had been used, saying either "Fragile" or "Handle with care", both of which are readily available. Knowing how carriers operate this would be no guarantee, but at least the risk of damage in transit might be reduced.

The way to prevent this kind of damage is to cover the corners with stiff cardboard enclosing either polystyrene sheet or foam, both of which will absorb impacts if the right thickness of material is used.

None of this is rocket science and the additional cost would be minimal. Its not as if I'm the first person to complain of this situation, so perhaps the supplier might want to take this on board, and in the process save themselves money and aggravation from irritated customers?


Search for the Buried Bomber (Dark Prospects)
Search for the Buried Bomber (Dark Prospects)
by Xu Lei
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A turgid read, 7 Jan. 2013
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The opening paragraphs of the book put me in mind of a combination of H.P.Lovecraft's style and Jules Verne's "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", so that there was a great sense of anticipation in starting the book. The author writes in a detailed way more reminiscent of an earlier age, without actually being Dickensian, yet the pace is almost painstakingly slow.

Since the previous reviewer has covered the main highlights of the book, it would be redundant to revisit them here. Basically I found the reasons developed for a large Japanese bomber being underground somewhat implausible, so that much of the detail regarding the underground Japanese base is also questionable. Given what follows from the somewhat laboured rationale for the presence of the bomber, it would have made more sense, both from the Japanese military and logistical perspective and therefore that of the novel, if a powered dirigible had been used for exploratory purposes, rather than the bomber.The search party not only find the bomber, but also a great deal of infrastructure, involving a dam, massive power generation facilities and amongst other things, what can only be descibed as a cyclopean refrigeration plant, none of whose purpose is ever adequately explained. Taken together with the fact that there is no final denouement, I can only conclude that all will be revealed in a follow-up volume. I found this a somewhat turgid and unconvincing read, despite the underlying idea showing great promise; for me that promise was not realised.


Judaism: All That Matters
Judaism: All That Matters
by Keith Kahn-Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A model of clarity and balance, 2 Jan. 2013
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This is a wonderful little book and one which is I think, quite timely, particularly in view of the perception within sections of the Jewish community that anti-Semitism is again on the rise in western democracies. The language is crisp, concise and economical and yet manages manages to convey a well-rounded picture of Jews and Judaism, both historically and in modern society. What comes as a revelation is just how diverse Jewry and Jewish belief are, so that the widely-held stereotypical concepts surrounding these subjects, possibly even among Jews themselves, simply cannot be sustained. In a series of brilliant thumbnail sketches, Keith Kahn-Harris manages to cover all the bases, from theology to daily life, from writers, political theorists, scientists and influential rabbi's to the rise of Hollywood and the entertainment industry and pretty much all points in between. I loved the idea of the phenomenon of the Orthodox rabbi's who don't actually believe in God. The author does not hesitate to address contemporary concerns such as the Arab/Palestinian/Israeli situation, yet at no point does his personality intrude upon the text, and as with other issues which have given rise to controversy, he presents a balanced set of views.

What comes across too is how tolerant Jewish society is, unencumbered by Christian concepts linking sex and sexuality to sin, so that gay marriage has been accepted and has been performed by rabbi's for some time; that there are any number of women rabbi's, whereas at the time of writing the Church of England languishes under a cloud of shame at the continued failure to ordain female bishops. I don't accept that to be critical of Israel and it's unlawful activities in the West Bank makes one anti-Semitic, and to be fair the author doesn't suggest this, but the text does note that this is a strongly held contemporary view among some groups of Jews. Notwithstanding this, this book is a timely celebration of all things Jewish, one from which I personally come away enriched and informed.


Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell
Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell
by Katherine Angel
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the poetic ......, 25 Nov. 2012
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This is a most unusual book, part meditation, part struggle, part celebration, part memoir and well-read as I am, it's unlikely that I will ever read another book quite like this.

The prose is elegant, intimate, sensuous, exhilarating, and whilst the author carries us through a realm of sensation, light, fluid, yet intense, there is darkness here, as indeed there must be, since this is nothing if not a searching look at the roots of desire, it's peaks and troughs, the evanescent presentiments of the occulted Id, and yes the ire of the dragons in Eden, the rivening, aching pain of loss. It is too about that apogee of feeling that takes us to the very edge of identity, where gender dissolves in the search for oneself in the Other, to become one with the Other, to become the Other, to plunge into the abyss that is the sum of all fears, all doubts that we may encounter within ourselves, about ourselves, both within a relationship and perhaps beyond. As such it is also about the struggle for open-ness, to transcend all boundaries, to give voice to and communicate our darkest, most erotic visions with the Other, calling for a level of trust beyond all travelled abandonments. Anyone who has truly loved will find themselves here regardless of gender and will I think, marvel at the level of courage and insight that the author brings to her brief. There is poetry here too and much, much more, since this is beyond the merely poetic.


The Babylon Gene
The Babylon Gene
by Alex Churton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Off to a flying start, 8 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Babylon Gene (Paperback)
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This is a complex, yet exciting and well-crafted piece of writing which takes a number of threads and weaves them into a dense fabric, comprising amongst other things, the global intelligence community, contemporary issues in the Middle East, the state of genetic research and elements of mysticism embracing Freemasonry and the Yezidi people of Iraq. To a certain extent the story incorporates recent historical events, with the main themes reprising the authors characters and fictional outcomes.

There is lots of action here, none of it romanticised and the descriptions of firefights in desert and mountain terrain are extremely realistic and would never see the light of day on Fox or Channel 4 news. Right from the outset the author draws the reader in with tantalising glimpses of what is to come as the story unfolds and the element of mystery is ever-present. The writing is so good that I found myself wondering if the events described had actually taken place outside the public view and we were now being treated to a fictionalised account. This review is based on the softcover edition.

If I have any criticism it is that the book tended to ramble somewhat when exploring some of the mystical stuff - and I'm at home with such material - and the main characters seem drawn from the English upper middle class - not so much Harry Palmer as John Hannay - and there are not a few of us who would take issue with the rosy view of contemporary Freemasonry that the author presents. Nonetheless this is highly recommended especially for those who like their fiction with something of a Dan Brown flavour. With this his first novel, the author is off to a flying start.


Wormhole (The Rho Agenda)
Wormhole (The Rho Agenda)
by Richard Phillips
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much, much better, 26 Oct. 2012
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I found this a much better piece of writing in almost every way than the previous volume in this trilogy. The text flows much better and it reads as though it was written for hardcore sci-fi fans, something I felt a lack of in 'Immune'. There is a real sense of pace throughout and the authors ratcheting up of the tension in the final denouement is extremely well done. Four and a half stars.


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