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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Tentacles The SF Reviews newsletter, 2nd August 2003

Tough Times In The Big City

Heck of a lifestyle. It's Thursday afternoon and I'm sitting, on this very hot day, in the lovely but ancient Café Bika. There's an old guy in the corner staring out the window, and next to him is a pretty woman curled up in her chair and engrossed in a book. The waiter is slouched against the counter and I guess the waitress has quit again. Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" plays on the Yusen, the two-hundred-channel digital cable radio popular in these parts. That song is followed by the Yardbirds' "All Or Nothing". This must be one of the early-British-rock channels. It's clearly not the whale music channel, which I've grown to dread.

And here I am, lounging back in this chair, smoking a Marlboro Light, sipping at the highly-sweetened iced coffee and thinking just how this ain't bad at all. And if I stayed a couple of hours more, I could have a Tequila when they start serving drinks. But then I'd never get the newsletter finished. On which subject, let's get a move on.

Man On The Moon

Aldrin on the moon

I finished Jack McDevitt's superb "Deepsix" on the 20th July 2003 - the 34th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon. The book is good, but the moon landing was even better. In 1969 I was a little bratlet staring entranced at the murky pictures on the TV. A belated well done to Neil Armstrong, commander, Michael Collins, command module pilot, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Certainly blew me away.

Rocketry – (Almost As Good As) The Real Thing

A distant associate expressed an interest in rocketry and directed me to his club site: Northern Illinois Rocketry Association. What an excellently exciting hobby! I had no idea rocketry as a hobby was so popular. I should get off this sofa, sweep the junk off the kitchen table and get to work. I've got a couple of ideas about how to make rockets go really fast and really high. I should be able to put something simple together with cornflake boxes, teabags and a couple of elastic bands. Meanwhile, there are people who are out there making and flying the Real Thing.

There is the rather august Reaction Research Society in the USA. In the UK, check out the UK Rocketry Association. Look at the rocketry search engine and also at some rocketry associations in other countries.

The enthusiastically-named Starchaser Industries Ltd which is attempting to build commercial rockets and energetically promotes itself. Starchaser are competing for the X-Prize, the US$10 million award for the first private manned space flight (the craft has to take three people and return them, and repeat two weeks later).

Science Note – SF That Came True

I was browsing the rather good SF Crowsnest and came across a link to an interesting Spectator article on the relationship between SF and Science by Michael Moorcock.

On the subject of other web-sites, you may want to have a look at The Zone which has several Top 10 book lists by well- known SF authors.

Best Books This Month

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

Having reviewed "Revelation Space" and "Chasm City", I thought I'd better finish off the set with "Redemption Ark". This is a very good read except that, like the earlier two books, there is just so much of it.

Jack McDevitt is a writer of substantial power. His "Deepsix" and the earlier "The Engines Of God" are novels that I will not easily forget.

"GRIDLINKED", Neal Asher's second book is quite possibly as good as his first. It certainly has a similar mix of excitement and body parts, leavened with a little humour.

Robert Reed is the author of the magnificent "Marrow". His new novel, "Sister Alice", does not quite reach those heights, but it leaves you thinking for days about Alice, Ord and the other protagonists.

Worst Books This Month

These two were disappointing novels by great authors. I'll try to forget about them immediately, and I suggest you do too.

This Month's Reviews

Next Month's Reviews

I am still trying to complete review of books by Dick and Zelazny, Nancy Kress and David L. Howells. There are simply piles of books waiting to read. There are the books that I simply want to read, books that I feel deserve to be reviewed and there are books that I want to review just so I can recommend that you read them (or not, of course).

Philosophical Note

When one make a Vodka Martini, the shaker gets surprisingly cold, significantly colder than when making a Marguerita. After a few seconds one may find it painful to hold the shaker. However, it is worth suffering that discomfort because Vodka Martinis are so amazingly good.

Well, I was thinking that pretty much sums up life: even if it is a little painful at the start, you still go on and do it. My girl said that life is like cooking: "Life is like cooking", she said. Then she said "You try really hard to get the little things right and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't". Then I thought that making a Vodka Martini is a little like cooking. Perhaps everything is a little like everything else. Perhaps everything is made up of really little things that are all connected, somehhow entangled together. Wouldn't that be something? That's what I said to my girl, "Wouldn't that be something?" I said.

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.

Take care




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