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F. Roberts (London England)
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Aurora
Aurora
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Place Like Home, 27 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Aurora (Hardcover)
Having written 2312 and his trilogy of terraforming novels this reads like a glorious, blissful recantation.
It is the ultimate antispace novel.
I wont put a spoiler except to say that you wont have read a SF novel like this one
Why go looking for Heaven in the stars when we already live there?
Or as one of his characters puts it
"You`re tied in a knot you can never undo
When you realise Earth is a starship too"
And it also contains the best AI auto"bio"graphy ever imagined


The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions
The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions
by Alex Rosenberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atheism Without Sentiment, 14 Sept. 2012
Though I am not an atheist I thought this book is the best thing that I have ever read by an atheist. It does without the bluster of Dawkins and other philosophical amateurs like Sam Harris. For Rosenberg there are no higher purposes, history has no goal, progress is as much a myth as are religions. The only knowledge is science and that has real limits. Much of what happens is simply chance. Conscience, free will, duty beauty and other such abstract nouns have no reality apart from the reality that human language might put upon the,

Rosenberg is a firm Humean. There are no Selves. And there is a firm division between Facts and Values. So he`ll have none of Sam Harris`s doomed attempt to produce a science of atheist ethics.

And having set all that to one side, he tries to show how an atheist should best live his life. And one thing no atheist should bother to do is waste time trying to convert other people to atheism. If people despite all evidence wish to believe in god(s) then that is probably due to factors which cannot be changed by argument.

A dry, astringent, bracing book.


God's Zeal: The Battle of the Three Monotheisms
God's Zeal: The Battle of the Three Monotheisms
by Pro Peter Sloterdijk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sanity Defended in an Oddly Mad Way, 30 Aug. 2012
This book is overwritten, Germanic in a way that would make Heidegger or Hegel blush, jarring ("Sloterdijk never met a neologism he didn`t like"). It is also a brilliant defence of tolerance, humour, civility, good manners and the common good. It gives portrayals of the totalitarian strains which underlie the three Abrahamic religions (and their two offspring, Marxism and Atheism). Violence and aggression are there in the Abrahamic DNA he argues, but they do not constitute their totality. Violence and aggression arise inevitably from the zeal and militancy implicit in all five belief-systems. But zeal can be tamed, calmed and put to more productive uses than persecution and war. He reminds us that civilisation is a process as well as a goal (reminding me of Collingwood`s New Leviathan The New Leviathan: Or Man, Society, Civilization, and Barbarism)
He also makes the interesting if fanciful concluding suggestion that perhaps by rediscovering their common origins in ancient Egypt the faiths might be reconciled (sort of a return to the Hermetic Renaissance themes explored by Frances Yates,Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition by the modern Egyptologist Jan Assmann Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism and in a very different way by Mozart in the Magic Flute).
So, even if you cannot cope with words like psychohistorical, neuro-rhetoric, tripolemic and refunctionalization (and my spell checker couldn`t) this book is worth it. Give it a go.


Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Whitney Able
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.29

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 4 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Monsters [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
One of the few really beautiful SciFi Horror films made. Beautiful performances too.

Is it all just a metaphor for the horrors going on along the US/Mexican border, the 30000 killed in the drug wars? Probably not. Amexica: War Along the Borderline
But stunning.


After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
by Mark Steyn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

16 of 62 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It`s Europe Jim but not as the Europeans know it, 2 Dec. 2011
As someone who actually lives in Londonistan, capital of Eurabia, and not in the frozen safety of north America, I`d just like to say that Steyn`s Europe is an incredibly vivid piece of speculative fiction. Please don`t take it for realism. Steyn is a great comedian. And this is comedy. Scarey, brilliant comedy. About as true to life as a Hammer Horror film, THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN The Complete League Of Gentlemen [DVD] [1999] or THE MIGHTY BOOSH. The Mighty Boosh - Series 1-3 Box Set [DVD]

During the summer of 2011 Britain was hit by rioters and looters. One man, whose son had been murdered, brought sanity back to Birmingham by his refusal to seek revenge and his implacable call for peace. His name is Tariq Jahan. People like him don`t exist according to Steyn`s polarised worldview. Well they do. Talking about them isn`t as funny or as exciting as talking about mad mullahs but the Tariq Jahans are more typical of Europe`s Muslims.

[...]
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2013 6:30 PM BST


Saving God: Religion after Idolatry
Saving God: Religion after Idolatry
by Mark Johnston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.86

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pity Benson got there first, 2 Dec. 2011
This is an attempt to construct a post-theistic theology. It is written with great wit and verve and was very well reviewed by Galen Strawson in the London Review of Books. Though he is a thorough antisupernaturalist, Johnston has no time at all for the "undergraduate atheism" of Dawkins and Harris. The position Johnston puts forward is very close to that of Spinoza. Johnston`s prime concern is to propose a theory of divinity which avoids what he sees as the false comforts and illusions of faith in a personal God while holding fast to the Christian commitment to Justice.

Johnston is very good indeed on Justice as the primary way of distinguishing between an idol and an appropriate object of worship, and his deployment of Psalm 82 as a tool to this end (he calls the psalm both a job description for any viable God and a Götterdämmerung) is a superb performance

"God hath stood in the congregation of gods: and being in the midst of them he judgeth gods.
How long will you judge unjustly: and accept the persons of the wicked?
Judge for the needy and fatherless: do justice to the humble and the poor.
Rescue the poor; and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner.
They have not known nor understood: they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth shall be moved.
I have said: You are gods and all of you the sons of the most High.
But you like men shall die: and shall fall like one of the princes.
Arise, O God, judge thou the earth: for thou shalt inherit among all the nations" The book is worth reading for that chapter alone. (Of course any Spinozan God would fail the test of DOING justice, or DOING anything apart from, well, doing everything, so this really doesn`t connect with Johnston`s actual view of what God is. But that`s his problem)

Johnston also expounds his view that the idea of resurrection (of Jesus and of anyone else) is a corruption of true Christian belief. He develops this much further in SURVIVING DEATH Surviving Death (Carl G. Hempel Lecture Series) So yet again Christianity was coming along fine for at least a decade until Saul / Paul ruined it. I think that the openly atheist Badiou has a better appreciation of Paul`s role. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism (Cultural Memory in the Present)

By an odd coincidence a few weeks after I read this book I read LORD OF THE WORLD, Lord of the World a neglected dystopian novel written in the early 20th century and set in our own times. Its author, R H Benson, a Catholic priest, imagined a world in which Christianity had been effectively replaced by a postreligious Religion of Humanity. This new pseudoreligion bears an uncanny similarity to Christianity as re-envisaged by Johnston. Perhaps he is not quite as original as he obviously thinks he is.


Dare
Dare
by Grant Morrison
Edition: Perfect Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars be careful what you eat, 1 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Dare (Perfect Paperback)
I just wanted to add one comment to the other reviews. Morrison has noticed one key element in the original Dan Dare stories which is the prominence given to Food and Eating in several stories. Thus the original Venus story Classic Dan Dare: Voyage to Venus Part 1 is centred upon the idea that the Earth is dying from a Malthusian crisis and only food imports from Venus save us. ROGUE PLANET Classic Dan Dare: Rogue Planet is entirely centred upon the different foods consumed in the system of Los. The warlike, fascistic Phants are converted by consuming the pacifist food of their Crypt prey. And of course there was the running jokes about Digby`s greed. (There`s probably a PhD thesis to be written (already written?) about how this all relates to Frank Hampson`s own High Anglicanism)

Here Morrison brings food to the fore again, brilliantly linking it to the sinister, perversly strange fruit of GOBLIN MARKET by Rossetti, with nightmarish results. It is this observation of the precise details of a particular mythos that is Morisson`s forte. He knows how to at once reinvigorate and subvert, which is why this book is such a masterpiece.

(PS As an eight year old I read ROGUE PLANET as it appeared in 1956/7 with a passion that has never left me. RESPECT! Grant Morrison)


Lord of the World
Lord of the World

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars things can only get better, 28 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Lord of the World (Kindle Edition)
An amazingly prescient book. Written in the early 20th century it is set in the early 21st century and Christianity is all but extinct in Europe while war threatens with militant Islam in the east. The western world now subscribes to a bland but compassionate humanism in which euthanasia is effectively a sacrament.

Two aspects struck me particularly. The first is Benson`s description of the mass idolatrous adoration of the new president of Europe. It reads exactly like descriptions of Nazi or Stalinist rallies, or the worship of whichever Kim is currently running North Korea. Hard to believe that this was written before the first world war.

The second is his account of the new postreligious Religion of Humanity which has replaced Christianity. It anticipates with chilling exactitude the fashionable position recently put forward by Mark Johnston in SAVING GOD Saving God: Religion after Idolatry and SURVIVING DEATH, Surviving Death (Carl G. Hempel Lecture Series) both hailed as cutting edge by antireligious philosophers like Galen Strawson.

Benson`s vision of Europe`s fate is extraordinarily precise and almost prophetic given the date of its composition. A work of ebormous intelligence and a neglected catholic masterpiece.


The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death
The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death
by John Gray
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What about Fedorov?, 17 Nov. 2011
Sorry to rain on anyone`s parade but a scholarly book on the Russian search for physical immortality which fails to include and discuss N F Fedorov deserves to be pulped.

Who is Fedorov I hear you ask? Gray should have answered that question in his book. But you could read Elif Batuman The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them or Berdayev, or best of all Fedorov himself. What Was Man Created for?
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2015 4:56 AM BST


What Was Man Created for?
What Was Man Created for?
by N.F. Fedorov
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most original Russian thinker of the 19th century?, 17 Nov. 2011
You rarely come across a writer so original and extraordinary, so radical, as Fedorov. A close friend of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Soloviev, he was the hidden inspiration behind the space programme and utopian dreams of soviet Russia. Far, far more inventive than his contemporise Wells and Verne, in the last decades of the 19th century Fedorov was writing visionary plans for humanity`s future which dwarf anything else from that time. And which remain almost beyond imagination.

Essentially he saw that in the first decade of the 20th century mankind would enter a profound crisis. His solution was to create a "common task" for our race, a shared goal amounting to nothing less than the conquests of death and of space. Science needed first to focus upon controlling the Earth`s climate. Then upon the search for the literal, physical resurrection of all preceding generations, using electromagnetism to reconfigure the molecules which had once formed their bodies (a task whose practical details he happily left to the scientists). Then the conquest of interplanetary, interstellar and intergalactic space and the creation of a vast fraternal, egalitarian human commonwealth spanning the universe. See what I mean about radical?

Fedorov, who died in 1903, was particularly concerned by the growing militarism that he saw across the world, and by the tensions in Russia between the city dwellers, whether capitalists or proletarians, and the peasantry. Unless these were resolved the world, and especially Russia were heading for disaster on an unprecedented scale. Given that Russia lost around fifty million dead in four of the worst wars in history, the two world wars, the postrevolutionary civil war and the second civil war (which is more usually called the collectivisation of agriculture and liquidation of the kulaks) he was not far wrong.

Everything about Fedorov is surprising but many will be particularly surprised by his intense Russian Orthodox religious faith and fervent monarchism, which fit oddly with such breathtakingly speculative ideas.

This book is a posthumous collection of his writings put together by his disciples. One of the first to review it (and to be astounded by it) was Berdayev. Fedorov was officially persona non grata under Communism but his writing exercised enormous influence in the Russian space programme. (Fedorov was the illegitimate son of a prince. It is a nice irony that if his parents had married his surname would have been not Fedorov but GAGARIN!) Fedorov is once again a name to reckon with in Russia and anyone with an interest in Russian philosophy or science should read this. It is greatly to the credit of Elif Batuman that she makes so much refernce to Fedorov in her witty book on Russian literature students, THE POSSESSED The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them And nothing less than a disgrace that John Gray wrote a book on the search for physical immortality in postrevolutionary Russia which fails to even mention Fedorov.
The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death

By the way the cover shows a portrait of Fedorov by another of his friends, the artist Leonid Pasternak (who died in Oxford exile in 1945), father of Boris Pasternak, poet and author of Dr Zhivago. Perhaps you can judge a man by the quality of his friends.

For further reading see N.F.Fedorov, 1828-1903: Study in Russian Eupsychian and Utopian Thought
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 21, 2012 7:11 PM GMT


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