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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Tentacles The SF Reviews newsletter, 1st July 2003

The Concorde Retirement (continued)

Richard Branson has offered one million pounds to British Airways for each Concorde. Of course they will have to refuse him. They cannot let Branson actually continue to fly the world's most beautiful commercial airliner.

"Life," said Marvin. "Don't talk to me about life."

Medical Note

A small glass of Super Asahi followed by several glasses of Maker's Mark Bourbon whisky certainly does the job as post-haircut trauma treatment.

Alternatively (depending on your priorities) it serves rather well as a pre-dinner aperitif, stronger but more gentle than a vodka martini. So strong in fact that I nearly missed the dinner date, remaining for an excessively long time in the barbers, lounging at the bar in the back of the shop, a Stones DVD playing on the big flat screen, and working my though a pack of smokes. I just felt you should know this.

"Follow that car, Godzilla, and step on it"

Best Books This Month

The best books this month were, in my order of preference:

  • "Revelation Space" by Alastair Reynolds
  • "Kiln People" by David Brin
  • "Hominids" by Robert J. Sawyer
  • "Nightside Of The Long Sun" by Gene Wolfe

I finally managed to review Alastair Reynolds' first novel. It is pretty good, in fact very good for a first novel. I have also read "Chasm City" and "Redemption Ark". Yes they are also good and with tremendous descriptive narrative. However I had hoped they would be tighter and shorter and that isfar from the case.

David Brin is a great story-teller and his "Kiln People" is very enjoyable. However the humour, the farce, detract from what could have been a very powerful book.

"Hominids" by Robert J. Sawyer is an engrossing and exciting old-fashioned SF tale of parallel universes and moral relativism.

Gene Wolfe's rather old "Nightside Of The Long Sun" is an unexpected pleasure. There was just enough SF (in what at first site would be a fantasy tale) to get me started, but after a few pages I was gripped, fascinated to see what brave, but clearly unachievable, deed the protagonist would next attempt and of course succeed at.

"What Greenhouse Effect? Hey, is it warm in here or what?"

Worst Books This Month

Bob Shaw was an occasionally great writer but this was not one of those times. It's stolid and unenjoyable.

"Prisoner Of Dreams" was the first book I'd seen by Karen Ripley and I bought it almost entirely because of her name (Ripley, not Karen) and the echoes of Alien that this name evoked. The book certainly generated a sense of horror but only because I could not imagine any author penning a character as unappealing as Lewis, the prisoner of the title.

"I drank what?!?" Socrates

This Month's Reviews

"Call it a hunch." -- Quasimodo

Next Month's Reviews

Reviews of novels by Nancy Kress, Michael Swannick, Greg Bear and Neal Asher are near completion, so we're in with a chance for these next month. I have also had the next two books in the "VANESSA" trilogy by David L. Howells laying around for a couple of months. I'll make an effort to read at least one of those. However, "Deus Irae" by Dick and Zelazny recently arrived in my In-tray so there may be some reprioritisation about to happen.

Many men smoke but Fu Man Chu

Science Note: Optical Tweezers

The March Issue of The Physics News Update reports on the use of light to manipulate matter.

The method is called holographic optical tweezers and is deeply cool. You pass a laser through a hologram that splits it into many sub-beams and use these to manipulate small (less than 100 microns) objects.

Does the name "Pavlov" ring a bell?

Going To Mars

Mars has clearly become a popular destination. There are currently three missions (or four, depending on how you count NASA's dual mission) on their way to the Red Planet:

Let's hope that these amazing craft find something that absolutely requires that a manned mission to be sent. I want to see people land on Mars. I think it is about time.

He's dead, Jim. Kick him if you don't believe me.

That's all for now. As always, tell me what you think about the books, the reviews and the site. Do let me know if there are books you think I should review.

I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific

Take care




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