Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Armageddon Sky by LA Graf

Armageddon Sky
LA Graf
1997, Pocket Books, New York

The Deep Space Nine crew are ordered to investigate when a scientific vessel containing high-ranking Starfleet delegates is caught in a battle with Klingons and crash-lands on a planet being bombarded with comets (what a day!). There they discover a group of Kilngon exiles living with the planet's native population.

Again this author is a bit of a show off with scientific knowledge and big words, but I love it! This book had the right mix of science and technology, character development, and action - one of the better Star Trek novels I have read.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Death of a Glutton by MC Beaton

Death of a Glutton
MC Beaton
1993, 1995, Ballantine, New York

A group of people visit a Scottish highlands hotel as part of a matchmaking service. When the co-partner of the matchmaking service - a disgusting, gluttonous woman - is murdered, all of the matchmakees are suspects.

This is a solid entry into the murder-in-a-big-house genre. It has all the conventions - the limited number of unique characters, all with motive and all with something to hide; the love interest for the local, humble bobby; plenty of twists. I thought the characters jumped to conclusions a little too quickly, but other than that, it was a great light-weight read.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rising Son by SD Perry

Rising Son
SD Perry
2003, Pocket Books, New York

Jake Sisko comes across a prophecy which states that the son of the Emissary will travel through the Bajoran wormhole and return with one of the Chosen. He assumes this means his father, who has been taken by the Prophets. When Jake goes through the wormhole, he is thrown deep into the Gamma Quadrant by a storm and picked up by a ship of adventurers.

This is one of 'tenth anniversary' books, so it is set after the TV series left off, which gives the author a lot of license to go nuts with the plot. While I enjoyed the new Gamma Quadrant aliens such as Pif and Brad, I thought there was far too much new plot introduced into the story. This book actually reminded me a bit of an episode of Dr. Who, especially the Wa.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The World in Winter by John Christopher

The World in Winter
John Christopher
1962, 1978, Hunt Barnard, Bucks

A great winter comes and knocks the northern nations off their feet. Britain is rendered virtually inhabitable and the Europeans must emigrate to Africa.

I thought this may have been the book the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, was based on as the blurb ends in the sentence: "The World in Winter could be an uncannily accurate prophecy of the day after tomorrow." It is, however, a different story - that's not to say that the movie wasn't based loosely on the premise - this story is about a Briton and his emigration to Africa, whereas the movie is set on the American continents.

It is a book about race, and like The Time Machine, reverses the roles of the day in which it was written (although not to such an extreme). With the European continent in turmoil (and out-of-sight, North America), Africa becomes the most prosperous place on the planet. This is a book of its time, but should not be mis-interpreted as racist. It explores themes of race, but I think it does it fairly and honestly. There is a delineation between blacks and whites, but neither side comes out on top, and neither side is more moral or more immoral than the other.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Head Book by John Marsden

The Head Book
John Marsden
2001, Pan Macmillan, Sydney

John Marsden, Australia's foremost author for teenagers, writes about history, culture, and life in this short book with the aim to arm young people with necessary information.

This is history on steroids. Marsden gives his audience bite sized chunks of information on beliefs, historical events, politics, literature, and the world's greatest thinkers. It is written with the right amount of humour for the teenage audience - just a touch - it's informative without talking down. A criticism is that it gives the facts, but doesn't make the reader think or allow discussion, though it does give additional reading for most topics.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Cider House Rules by John Irving

The Cider House Rules
John Irving
1985, 1986, Black Swan, London

Set in rural Maine, this is the story of an orphan named Homer Wells. He grows up in an orphanage run by Dr. Larch who takes cares of unwanted babies and gives abortions for unwanted pregnancies.

This is a glorious book - I was moved to tears a few times. It is written in a lovely prose, the transitions in particular are beautiful. And the characters are drawn to perfection.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Thunderball by Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming
1961, 1989, Johnathon Cape, London

This is a novel based on the screen treatment by K. McClory, J. Whittingham and I. Fleming. A prototype aeroplane carrying two nuclear warheads is stolen by an organisation known as SPECTRE. James Bond travels to Nassau (of course) to investigate.

Classic Bond. Whilst having more detail than the movie, this is still your typical Bond adventure. Bond is cheeky and ruthless, the stakes high, and the girl strong and independent yet fragile as a kitten. There's nothing ground breaking, it's just a safe spy thriller with all the staples of the genre.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Star Trek in Myth and Legend by Thomas Richards

Star Trek in Myth and Legend
Thomas Richards
1997, Orion Media, London

This book looks at and evaluates the themes of the Star Trek TV series. It takes a film studies approach to the subject matter, focussing on The Next Generation series, but covering all series' and movies.

It is an interesting description of the themes of the TV show. I wish the author would not use such broad strokes when describing non-Trek science fiction though. Star Trek is unique, but I don't think it's as unique and ground-breaking as the author would have us believe.

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