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Published in the 1950’s, Double Star is tells the story of a washed up actor that receives a role of the life time as one of the most important public figures in the Galaxy. At first glance, the plot for this Robert Heinlein novel reads like a bad Star Trek episode, upon reading though the realization hits that it’s actually a pretty fun story.
Heinlein’s prose is smooth and his ability to be comedic really helps the story progress without getting too bogged down by Sci-Fi clichés. Some aspects of the book are choppy and outdated (particularly the side characters) It’s the main character that goes through some interesting character development. Heinlein manages to invoke some emotion out of the self-serving Actor that borders on bravery and virtue at times.
Overall, it’s not one I would say you should start off with if you haven’t read Heinlein before, but if nothing else it’s worth a look. Heinlein expertly crafts a very outdated idea into a fun ride with some turns along the way.
Every once in a while every reader comes across a book that they should like. Everything is put in place for it to be a great read. I thought This Immortal would be listed among my favorites by the time I read the last page. The plot was interesting, the writer is incredibly talented and has imagination and innovation in spades. These reasons are why I was puzzled as to my lack of enthusiasm throughout this short book. The story failed to grab me and keep me invested for the long haul. It’s a shame as I really wanted to like it and I may revisit it another time to see if I was just having an off day.
For the past year or so I have really become enamored to the point of obsession in the work of Philip K. Dick. After spending the majority of 2014 burying myself into his more famous works such as Ubik, A Scanner Darkly and the Man in the High Castle. I found myself in a state of loss. Hearing neither good nor bad of his lesser known work. Nonetheless I dived into the most recent one with as much enthusiasm and vigor as the more reputable works.
Time out of Joint was published in 1959 during a phase where he was churning out books in quick succession. He had yet to hit the heights for which he would be known but was just a few years shy of the big hit The Man in the High Castle.
If you have read a handful of his novels you know what to expect. A very likeable protagonist that will be up against the World in an endless struggle to leave this World even slightly better than he or she entered it. Coupled with some mind bending and thought provoking and challenging theories about what is real as well some truly enlightening philosophical musings that would become a penchant PKD.
Time out of Joint turned out to be a truly delightful read. I was unsure as to what to expect, which I suppose is part of the fun. If anything this book at the time served as evidence that PKD was just coming into his pomp as a writer. It had all the trademarks that his best works have displayed. If any complaints could be made it would be that it tended to veer off the narrow path in the third act. It wasn’t as tightly orchestrated as others.
The story is about Ragle Gumm, a man that lives in your typical suburban America and enters the newspaper contest of Where the little green men are? He has quite the knack of guessing this. But a discovery forces him to question reality and those around him. Leading him on a route out of town. This endeavor only leads him to more questions. Eventually, with the help from his brother-in law makes a getaway. Only to find out that Ragle is being used by the military in a Civil War between Earth and Moon in order to guess when Missiles will be fired upon Earth.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s deserves the attention of any PKD fan. Maybe not an essential read of his, but if you’re eager to make your way through his catalogue, this should be one you pick up right after the obvious choices.
Spin is my first exposure to Robert Charles Wilson’s work. Upon reading the synopsis I wasn’t entirely enthralled or grabbed by the prospects put on the table by Spin. Two things changed my mind. One is finding out that it won a Hugo Award, I wouldn’t usually be affected by award winners. It’s the damn Hugo’s though! Secondly was hearing that it was a coming of age story. I’m a sucker for those.
Spin tells the story of three young kids that witness the disappearance of the stars. A night none of the trio forget and an event that forges their lives over the next 30 years. Spin is an incredibly ambitious Novel with some outstanding World building by Wilson. I am an avid reader of Sci-Fi, but I do think that some seem to favor the Science over the actual story and characters. Thankfully, this is not one of them, the Science and the intricate plot building are balanced by Wilson like an expert juggler.
The Science of the novel was incredibly interesting and made for an enthralling read to the point that when there was a dip or two in the pacing of the plot that kept me going. The only complaint I could have, would be the protagonist Tyler Dupree. After a while he started to really grate on me, he was virtually emotionless in this whole Novel. Acting like a love sick puppy to one of the characters and an obedient dog to another character. It seemed like there was fear in having Tyler commit himself to any opinion, should he seem anything less than perfect. Luckily the other two characters central to this story were incredibly complex and interesting.
In my ongoing journey to read every Philip K. Dick book and after tearing through his most well-known ones. I picked up the lesser known Counter-Clock World. I wanted to see what PKD could do with a World that was hurtling backwards in time.
This really didn’t live up to expectations. I can see why Counter-Clock World gets lost in the shuffle. The task of tackling such a complicated premise appeared to be too much for PKD. The problem is that PKD seemed more focused on answering his own queries about religion and death, than that of writing a coherent story. He built a World going backwards, but refuses to obey his own rules and guidelines which was confusing. It was never explained in any kind of detail what was affected and the people in the story didn’t seem all that bothered to find out.
I am under no illusions that when reading PKD, I don’t expect to understand much about the story for the first half. That’s just how the man writes. But then there is always that one moment, the Dick effect as I call it. That one moment in the story that brings everything altogether, like the seemingly incoherent ramblings of the mad scientist actually made sense. This book didn’t have that, I was amazed at how unremarkable it was, of how vanilla it was. I know what to expect from PKD, in his characters and plot, I know that it won’t be all that different from his other books. As long as I get that moment that brings it altogether and still has that ability to shock me, I won’t care. This lacked that.
I am always fairly cautious when reading some of the older Sci-Fi Classics. They can be a bit of an uphill battle to overcome. Although big on ideas, some come up short when one is looking for more humanity in their books. I am ecstatic to say that A Childhood’s End was one that delivered on both fronts. Clarke crafts this wonderful story with huge ideas as well as creating very likeable and engaging characters. Some of Clarke’s ideas and theories did seem on the fantastical side a little much and certain things could have been explained a little better as he almost lost me on a few occasions. That aside it’s an exceptional novel that every fan of sci-fi should read.
Every once in a while you read a book and every page, every paragraph and every word speaks to you on such a personal level that you feel like the book was written for you and you alone. For some it’s Catcher in the Rye, but for me it is John Fante’s classic story Ask the Dust. Fante’s style can only be described as a raw, honest and entirely pure portrayal of something he no doubt actually experienced. It is the most real story I have come across. Fante writes in such a purposeful way, every sentence rolls on to the next with such ease. He treats every word with the care and consideration it deserves.
The reason Ask the Dust spoke to me on so many volumes was the character Arturo Bandini. Despite suffering from some delusions of grandeur, he is an ambitious young man trying to find himself in such an unforgiving climate. On some level in our lives, we can all relate. I was with him every step of his journey. Every small victory he celebrated with enthusiasm and every moment of anguish that crushed him like a bolder.
While I see many reviews that applaud the Infected series, marking it down as a truly outstanding accomplishment in the Sci-Fi/Horror genre. I have had a more strained relationship with Podcast favorite Scott Siglers series centred around a versatile alien virus threatening Humanities existence.
Following the destruction of Detroit the aliens have come back and they mean business. The discovery of a new mutation of the virus prompts the powers that be to lure Margaret Montoya back into the fold. I really appreciated what Sigler did with her character, despite saving the World, Margaret is in an endless whirlpool of depression and self-loathing. Using her time to check social media and various forums to see what the interwebz is saying about her.
A chilling start is followed by 200 pages of a slower approach. In spite of a lack of pace, the science, like all of Scott Sigler’s work is very well researched and simplified enough so it’s easy enough to understand without dumbing it down too much. It shows a respect for the reader and fans of his novels. The next 200 odd pages we swing it into full throttle, the pace of the novel is elevated to a break neck speed without the structure or plot suffering.
There were a few things that I didn’t like about the novel though. I didn’t really feel like there was a truly likeable character in the entire story, at least not from the central characters involved. There were a few side characters that were likeable, but I didn’t connect with any of the core characters all that much. They either lacked personality or were so over the top that they began to grate on me.
Another thing was the ending, I expected a little more from what I assume is the conclusion to the series. It felt rushed and a typical horror book ending. I know when I have read a really good ending. I would take a minute to reflect on the completed story. Either with a grief stricken look on my face of loved characters that suffered an untimely ending or a satisfied smile pondering what the next chapter of their lives behold when the book closes. Instead, I merely put the book down and didn’t give it another thought until I came to write this review.
Overall: Pandemic was a solid conclusion to a serviceable trilogy. After reading the second in the series, sticking my head in the microwave seemed a more endearing proposition than reading the third one, so I think it’s fair to say it exceeded my expectations, despite its faults. I admire the honesty and ambition that Sigler writes with, a fact that will always have me coming back. I know what to expect when I pick up one of his books, rarely am I disappointed.
I bought this book for two reasons. The first reason was after reading the Pirates book he half wrote, I was left feeling disappointed after having Michael Crichton hyped up to me so much. The second being, I wanted to get home from the book store and couldn’t find anything else. My Wife picked it out for me, so I read a bit of the back and decided to go with it.
Crichton does an incredible job at establishing a foundation for an engaging premise and versatile characters. By the end of the Prologue I was excited. I was thinking, this is the book that gets me hooked on Crichton. Despite other reviews stating it wasn’t his best. For me, this is it. Without the use of time travel I had no means to tell the Stephen who thought that, he will be in for a very long and uneventful journey reading Congo.
I will give Crichton some props though, the science in the book is very interesting and most of it does have relevance within the actual story. When it came a time to actually make me care for those characters and furthering the plot with any semblance of fluidity, he slacked off. Perhaps my expectations caught the best of me as I was expecting an over the top book filled with lots of excitement. In essence a hybrid of Planet of the Apes and Indiana Jones. What I got was far less exciting, suspenseful or Indy-riffic.
I was in the hope that something interesting would happen, that something of consequence would happen to our 3 main characters to wet my appetite. But, nothing happened, in such a high stakes expedition, nothing happened. They all survived, pointed out the obvious and really seemed to have no effect on each other’s lives. I don’t expect them to start having a threesome or anything. But, when you spend that long in a strange place, you expect they will connect on some level. I am not even sure why Amy went there, for the most part she was a complete pain in the ass. You wouldn’t take a child to look for a Lost City would you? No one died and everyone got back home safely, the characters as far as I know never interacted with each other again. This expedition became a mere foot note on their lives.
I probably wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Unless I really disliked them or wanted to prove a point. I don’t think I am ready to give up on Michael Crichton yet. In fairness to him the two of his I have read are hardly known as being his best. It may be awhile to recover from this one before I read another though.
Only my second foray into speculative fiction. The first being the endearing and phenomenal ‘The Man in the High Castle’ by sci-fi genius Phillip K. Dick. I don’t usually like buying books that I know nothing about, only having the blurb on the back and the praise by newspapers, magazines and websites I have never heard of to go on. Whether it was a lapse in judgment or I was just feeling dangerous that day, I decided to take a risk and buy it.
Red Inferno offers a very intriguing ‘what if?’ scenario. It’s the tail end of World War 2, the allies have defeated the Nazi’s and the World rejoices and has a big party. That is until those dastardly Soviets put the old knife in the back and we get World War 2.5.
I give credit to the author for research. He is obviously a very smart and enthusiastic person when it comes to History and military maneuvers. He knows his stuff and kudos to him for that. In terms of crafting a story and creating engaging characters, more research needs to be done. I was utterly bored throughout, the characters were so cookie cutter and remarkably unrealistic I thought I was reading a screenplay for the next Stallone flick. I find it very hard to believe that in the midst of War, a War that has gone on a long time that the American soldiers and American people remain so upbeat when the rest of the World is crumbling in despair. It came across as incredibly biased towards the American army and American people. All the other Allied countries are either weak, devious or ready to implode upon itself. But America just take it in stride, which is contrary to the belief at the time. It all just came across as very Hollywood, an Action film with ideas well passed their due date.
Churchill came across as a blithering idiot and Stalin as a comic book villain. Fear not though as the American President was such a cool cat that he feared little. Ignoring the fact that the War had nearly bankrupt them, but we will ignore that because if that came into the story. The Americans would have cause for concern and we can’t make it appear like there are frailties within America. Those things are only a concern for other countries that lack the courage to stand up against Stalin’s plan to take over the World…or something like that.
Another thing I found disappointing was the lack of social and political changes due to this alternate history change. I was looking forward to seeing what else had changed, but we get mere mention of how the public is handling an extension to the War. There are so many other things affected by Stalin’s devious actions, it was sad that we only get to hear from a limited viewpoint.
Overall, it was probably one of the worst books I have read. Not a lick of excitement, vanilla characters and a very tiresome philosophy about America during World War Two. I don’t doubt the American Army during this time and any other time are filled with strong, brave and honourable men, but it all just came across as very Hollywood, an Action film with ideas well passed their due date. Along with the lack of imagination and poorly constructed characters, I shall be staying away from his other works.
The Dark Knight Returns shows us a different Gotham than one we are used to. A Gotham that hasn’t seen Batman in 10 years, the decade previous he hung up the cape and settled into retirement. Meanwhile, Gotham has been overrun by criminals known as the Mutants, a gang that vow to bathe in the blood of their enemies. As Bruce Wayne struggles to come to terms with not being Batman, he is still haunted by the memories of his past and the death of his parents.
This is my first Graphic Novel, I have always wanted to dive into the Graphic Novel fascination and I have always been fascinated by Batman. He is a character that has so many layers, a tortured past and an obsessive personality that is easily the most relatable super hero.
The Dark Knight Returns starts with Commissioner Gordon being attacked by a group of thugs, he barely manages to survive. Which illustrates perfectly just how bad Gotham has got since Batman retired, where the Police Commissioner can be violently assaulted with no repercussions. It was a very shocking start, that puts one of the most beloved characters in danger and wasted no time in showing how much worse Gotham is without Batman.
Throughout the Novel, Frank Miller introduces us to some characters we have become familiar with such as Two-Face and The Joker as well as introducing us to some new characters like Dr. Wolper and Dr. Willing. I really enjoyed the inclusion of these two characters, they represented a new enemy for Batman. Not an enemy like The Joker that would pose a direct threat, but the Doctors posed an inadvertent threat to Batman and Gotham City. Essentially, they blame the crimes that have been performed by such foes like Two-Face as all Batman’s fault. Deeming The Batman as equally deranged and dangerous as the Two-Face and The Joker.
We also saw a young girl be introduced as the new Robin. Prior to Batman’s return, he is pining the absence of Robin. When he does make his return, he takes the new Robin under his wing, in an attempt to educate her to take the former Robin’s place. The action scenes throughout were incredibly riveting and proved to be a real page turner, the art making the action scenes come alive off of the page. Frank Miller really did illustrate how much of a struggle Batman would have in his age, as he barely managed to be the Mutant leader in a brutal and surprising fight that saw Batman on the losing end for the majority.
We go through the story and the new Commissioner, who has taken over from Jim Gordon in a political struggle. She has focused her attentions on The Batman and arresting him for his crimes. Throughout the novel, we see that The Joker is not quite as rehabilitated as the Doctors alluded too. Stopping another ploy, with The Joker trying his hardest to force Batman to break his rule, to murder. It was an incredibly tense part of the novel.
The last part of the Novel, Batman with the help of a vigilante group known as the sons of Batman rescue people from a burning building. If that wasn’t tense enough, Jim Gordon believes that his wife is still in the building. As he tries to save her, he suffers from chest pains. A scene that is as crushing as it is inspiring.
I didn’t know what to think when the Joker fight wasn’t the final battle, but what we got is more than I bargained for. As Batman, seeing no escape from this life, he fights Super Man. The fight they had was so important, two of DC Comics most iconic heroes fighting each other. It was intense, exciting and unpredictable. It was hard to imagine either Hero winning, and the cameo from Arrow was a nice touch. The end result was as shocking as it was provocative, but ultimately giving us a very satisfying and rewarding ending.
Overall: The Dark Knight Returns is a very dark and gritty look into the obsessive nature of Bruce Wayne. The only complaint I could have was that there seemed to be so much going on at once, it became a little difficult to follow the story. The art was magnificent and it really matched up well with the tone of the story. And it was nothing short of a thrill seeing Batman and Superman go at it, leading to a very rewarding ending.
I thought to start this off, I may as well do an introduction. My name is Stephen and I am 24 years old. Born in Lincoln, England. Technically a city, but Lincolnshire is a very rural county in England. I remember hearing that it is one of the biggest counties in England, I don't know how true that was though. I lived in Lincolnshire for 23 years, that's a long time to live in such a boring and desolate place. I moved to USA in 2013 and got married to my girlfriend of 5 years. We are still happily married, so we surpassed the dreaded 1 year where most of marriages are doomed to fail. It was a breeze, there was no close calls, but I suppose that's what happens when you try to make it work and actually get to know the person first. Moving to the United States wasn't too much of a culture shock, thankfully we moved to Arizona which is not much more extravagant than Lincolnshire.
I am a huge fan of watching films, reading books, watching sports, writing, Batman and a host of other things. I will give any film a chance, I give every film 30 minutes to engage me, no matter the genre or who is in it. Even if someone I despise is in it, I will give it a chance. Too many films to list that I like, I don't so much like a specific genre as I will give anything a chance and could probably pick a film from every genre that I adore.
I was never a big reader back in school, if I was I probably would have done a lot better. I got into it a few years after school. Reading for fun and discovering what was out there and now I read more or less everyday, there are few things more satisfying than the thrill of a good book. I will give any sport a chance and won't have an arrogant take on it just because it's not popular England. I prefer football and baseball the most. My teams being Sheffield Wednesday for football and Seattle Mariners for Baseball. I really cannot explain the Mariners one, I have never been to Seattle before. I have tried supporting more local Baseball teams, but I just can't.
And that's that.