In The World is Blue, Sylvia Earle draws upon her formidable experience of marine exploration to describe the vital role oceans play in the life suppoIn The World is Blue, Sylvia Earle draws upon her formidable experience of marine exploration to describe the vital role oceans play in the life support system that is the earth. Sylvia has had the most amazing life: Explorer-in-residence for the National Geographical Society, Recipient of the TED prize, marine biologist since the 60's and with an amazing list of submersible deep sea dives, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience that she brings to this book.
This is, I believe, one of the most effortlessly readable books describing the complex systems that are our magnificent, mysterious and intriguing oceans. The early chapters talk of the history of humanity's use of ocean resources, followed by a clear, level headed discussion of why the ocean is in trouble now. The results for humanity if the ocean fails are outlined and if you are not too depressed to keep reading, what follows is a hopeful and encouraging list of the things that we can do, that we should do and the ones we are doing.
In general, books dealing with the state of the planet can be quite disheartening, Sylvia Earle manages to write about the topic in a way that, I think, does not hold out false hope or unnecessary encouragement but at the same time manages to leave me with a positive feeling. This is no mean talent, Sylvia's love of and fascinating with the Marine part of this world leave the enchantment of the 'Blue' part of the planet firmly embedded in the reader and I think this contributes to make this a most valuable book. The animals and habitats that she has encountered through her years as a marine scientist weave themselves through the text so that the beauty and fascination are present throughout.
In fact, I found this book so amazing, with so many resources, links and further reading options that I bought it even though the original I got from the library. I finished reading it a while back, knew I wanted to own it, to loan it to people who I think would enjoy it, to re-read it, to follow the links and stock up on the incredible amount of information that resides between the covers. I am only reviewing it now since I waited for my brand new copy here before re-reading portions of it, reviewing and shelving. There is often not much we can do to encourage the world to be the way we want it to, but personal purchasing power has got to count for something. ...more
From what I have gathered, City of Demons was originally commissioned as part of the main Hellblazer storyline in 2008 but for some reason never ran uFrom what I have gathered, City of Demons was originally commissioned as part of the main Hellblazer storyline in 2008 but for some reason never ran until 2010, when it appeared as a miniseries (Helblazer publishing, timeline and stories are more convoluted than their main character). Thank goodness for trade paperbacks, I hated having to wait for the next comic to come out to continue the story.
This story, I have to admit totally grabbed me from the start, it works extremely well as a standalone, not having any incidental characters that you need to know about. Even the faithful/faithless Chas does not appear to drive a cab anywhere.
The story is tightly written, fun to read and hangs together well. No real doubt that Constantine will triumph, but despite that the story is pretty fresh, interesting and well paced. I really liked the ghost kid.... but no spoilers.
The artwork is unusual and works nicely for the story, I don't believe I have ever read anything illustrated by Sean Murphy before. The heavy, hard black outlines, the textural backgrounds and the interesting use of lines all make it very well suited to the Helblazer feel. Overtime I think I could get probably become tired of the angular lines and the jarringly exaggerated anatomical features (especially the facial detail) but for a short TP with an urban legend/supernatural element it worked very well. I'm not sure quite why, but the individual characterisation in general and way the characters were individualised by their costuming struck me about this TP especially.
The ink work was also very suited to the story, often dull and monochrome, but with vivid colours highlighting some scenes (Of course, a lot of red, because it is Helblazer...).
So, on the whole really liked it. An extra star for being a standalone and not relying on things and people we 'know' from previous storylines, well, except the demon blood... Anyway, good story complimentary artwork....more
It is always difficult to review a collection, because always there are going to be some you liked better than others and in this case there were someIt is always difficult to review a collection, because always there are going to be some you liked better than others and in this case there were some I five star loved, and a few I was two star indifferent to, the rating averaged out.
It is also really difficult to review an author who was one of your first fantasy loves, as Tanith Lee was for me. She opened literary doors to fantasy worlds that I hadn't known were there. It is consequently really, really difficult to give her anything except five stars, purely on sentiment. Putting aside sentiment however, some of her writing is variable and I want to be honest.
One of the boasts of this collection is that there are two 'never before published stories' and while this is a worthy goal, sentimental ect it was unimpressive as a reading experience at they are so short as to barely count as stories. One is three pages long and the other less than two pages. They barely even register as stories, and yes I know it was toward the end of her life and they have a value in that, but, still.
Some of the other stories I have read before and was delighted to do so again, others I had never encountered, many of them I loved.
In Lace-Maker, Blade-Taker, Grave-Breaker, Priest, there is a slow cunning buildup of tension and plot that builds up to a conclusion that feels simultaneously totally foreseeable and utterly unexpected.
Two others; Girls in Green Dresses and Where Does The Town Go At Night, are magical, haunting, mythic in feel and beautifully written.
Disclaimer, I did not read Kindle. I read a book. Sometimes it is just too difficult to correct this....more
All fool’s day is an early dystopian science fiction novel by an Author that I am strangely fascinated by.
The story is dated but that did not really bAll fool’s day is an early dystopian science fiction novel by an Author that I am strangely fascinated by.
The story is dated but that did not really bother me, after all it was written before I was born: In 1971 strange sun spots started appearing and marvellously warm summers started occurring in England. These factors continued for a decade and as they continued suicide rates rose. These suicides became known as Radient Suicides and after a while population levels dropped so dramatically that civilisation could not support itself and the country, all countries lapsed into a savage disorganisation.
This is a clever and well written story, these days it would be speculative fiction, but, published as it was in 1966 this was the sci-fi of its day. In the author’s note, Cooper lays before us the importance of the sun to life on earth and how vitally important to us the delicate balance of the sun’s rays to atmosphere is. It reads like the words of a visionary, because global warming, holes in the ozone and rising melanoma rates were not relevant to the 60’s but they certainly are today. Also from the author’s note “The story opens in 1971; but it might just as well be 1981 or, indeed, at any time in the future. For mankind can never be immune from a touch of the sun.” Yes, that is pretty visionary in my book.
Some of the things Cooper speculated would occur are very much a product of his time and did not date well. Especially, he did not predict the quick rise of technology, so the story could not really be placed much after 1971 because it is too tech – poor. In another way it has dated; Cooper had some peculiar views on women, this comes out in other of his books but it is more dramatic in this one. He may not have been an actual misogynist, but he had very polarised views on what women were good for, even by the standards of his day, so the story reads misogynisticlly by today’s standards. This is also why I find my fascination with the author strange, I don't usually have a high tolerance for mysogeny.
The other think that may be difficult for modern readers is how very unlikable and downright nasty the main man is. All of Cooper’s male characters that I have read had issues, they are often antisocial or desocialised, often failures ect. In this story Cooper takes it a step further, Grenville is more morose, less explicable and much less easy to like than most. He is violent, nasty and does some pretty horrible things and no excuses are proffered for him: he is what he is.
Still, I found this an interesting classic sci-fi. I enjoyed it. A final word on the cover; it has dated even more than the story. A woman stands with boots and a rifle slung over her shoulder, but her coat is open to reveal her breasts. The strange black mask-thing she appeared to be wearing was so odd! I tried to make it out for ages because it looked like some sort of bondage mask that you could purchase at an adult store. Still not entirely sure what it is meant to be but possibly it is meant to be a re-breather or a drinking tube. This fails to explain the eye mask or to relate to the story in any way at all. ...more
An heiress, Linda, becomes bored with her wealthy life and pretends to be straped for cash in order to get hired as a companion to an elderly EnglishAn heiress, Linda, becomes bored with her wealthy life and pretends to be straped for cash in order to get hired as a companion to an elderly English lady Mrs Bates. The family are plot feathures, especially the main love interest, Mrs Bates nephew Peter. There is a secondary 'love interest' and there is also someone apparently trying to kill a member of the family. No one wants to let Linda in on the secret. If this outline seems a little bland, it is because this book, while pretty good within it's category and genera is indeed a little bland and exceptionally dated:
Published in 1993, by 'Leisure books' who specialised in mass market paperbacks, the novel is described by the publisher as "...a fast-paced novel of romantic suspense and breathless intrigue." The publisher attempts to over-dramatise the novel (especially the blurb on the back cover) are actually very amusing, and have dated much, much more badly that the story itself, as a good story is everlasting.
To me it seemed like a classic 1980's book it is not fast paced by today's standards, there is little suspense and I could see the plot coming a mile away. I am not usually good at anticipating the ends so possibly I read it many years ago and subconsciously remembered something of it. The other option is that as a mass market book no surprises were desirable.
Social attitudes between the 80-90's and now have changed majestically, Linda's response to being bored is no longer really likely. The absence of the medial and electronica of today makes it feel like historical fiction and the romance and sex scenes have not stood the test of time too well. It was fun to read, as an occasional blast from the past.
Roberta Gellis is one of my favorite authors, and her deft writing style, effortless character creation and delicate descriptions on relationships between people are as good as ever in this novel. These lovely writing skills make the novel still a lot of fun to read despite the fact that in most regards the story is out of date. I do prefer Gellis' historical books though and there is none of that here. ...more
In this classic, old school science fiction novel the twenty-second century is over and so is Earth. The worst war in the history of mankind was foughIn this classic, old school science fiction novel the twenty-second century is over and so is Earth. The worst war in the history of mankind was fought between Earth, the Luna colony and the Mars colony, but in essence it was a war between Black and White. Now the colony of Mars has sent a spaceship back to Earth to explore, but it turns out that Earth is not entirely dead, and the humans that live on it are white. What now? Can the colonists overcome their philosophy and training enough to see whites as equals or will the whole thing start over again?
It is a long time since I read a new Edmund Cooper, I remember being wild about his writing when I was a teenager, I loved the futuristic scenarios but even more I loved the ways he explored humanity, its attitudes and its capacity for change. The Last continent was published in 1970 so I think the similarities between the Black leader 'Vaney' in the novel and Malcolm X in America cannot be incidental, both were leaders of a new black independence, both were assassinated.... but then Cooper takes it further, to where ongoing war based on skin colour could lead humanity.
It is a fine book, although the writing style has dated a little....more
It is 1774 and Richard Bolitho is a newly appointed third lieutenant on a frigate dispatched on a secret mission.
This book was truly fascinating in thIt is 1774 and Richard Bolitho is a newly appointed third lieutenant on a frigate dispatched on a secret mission.
This book was truly fascinating in the way that it was historical fiction but written in the eighties, the writing style is practically fiction itself. Despite this, I think the story telling has not dated badly and the story itself is sufficiently well written to stand the test of time and evolving writing styles.
I loved the minute descriptions of 'his majesties navy' the daily navel life aboard the different ships, the ships themselves and the insight into the political statue of the time. The battles were exciting, detailed and convincing, the leading man, Richard Bolitho seems the perfect hero for the story; new at his job so both conscientious and inclined to look at every detail.
This is the first of these novels I read and from what I can see it lends itself very adequately to being read out f sequence. Incidentally, the ending, which has been crisitised by others seemed like the perfect ending to me, but, not spoilers :)...more
Oh dear. For pure reading experience this probably deserves a one star, or even negative stars.
The world building is great, absolutely fascinating andOh dear. For pure reading experience this probably deserves a one star, or even negative stars.
The world building is great, absolutely fascinating and if some of the concepts are not entirely new, well they are certainly freshly presented. The book would probably be improved by knocking 200 pages off it because I have no idea why it takes up 522 when it hurts to read more than a page or two at a time. The characters unfortunately are about as engaging as cold black coffee. Instant coffee.
Inscrutable ancient Japanese oracular/mastermind prototype is, indeed, Inscrutable!
Psychotic, one dimensional "bad-guy-who-obsessively-wants-to-kill-our-hero" is, indeed, psychotic.
Dehumanised leading man, recently disconnected from the grid is, indeed, dehumanised.
Random powerful alien thrown in to be irritating, is, indeed, irritating.
These, among other things resulted in the fact that despite the brilliant world building, this book was so unenjoyable to read that it took me ages. Ian Cormac, our leading man, is not a bad character just very, very difficult for the reader to bond with. All the characters are fairly difficult to bond with, or even, at times remember. I rather suspect that Ian was meant to be like Case in Nuromancer; where the dissociation is the defining factor of the character, but here it really was not great reading. By page 410/522 the only reason I was still reading was because I was determined to finish the thing, kind of like watching a train wreck through to the end. Also, I believe the books improve, and I like the world building enough that at some stage I may try more by this author. Maybe. Several people of my acquaintance had long since given up on the effort of reading, finding it too un-enjoyable.
(view spoiler)[ The end of Pelter (psychotic bad guy) was so anticlimactic that I had to wonder why the effort of even creating the character was invested, also why did we have to slog our way through his incomprehensible, never ending, utterly meaningless obsession for so many hundreds of pages? What on earth was the point? (hide spoiler)]
The finale was so understated as to be almost redundant and while not actively bad it seemed to be entirely for the purpose of setting Ian Cormac, inscrutable sage and irritating alien up for further adventures. Further adventures it will take me a long time to be game to try and read....more
This is what I would consider a 'classic Agatha Christie' - A family get together under forced circumstances with unpleasantness from the reigning patThis is what I would consider a 'classic Agatha Christie' - A family get together under forced circumstances with unpleasantness from the reigning patriarch, loads of family tensions, a few strangers in there for pepper and spice, a servant or two for misguided suspicion (see, the butler didn't always do it) and all the people trapped together culminating in a murder! Surprise!!
Of course one of our sleuthing heroes is around to save the day - in this case Hercule Poirot and a good time was had by all. Apparently Agatha wrote this in response to a comment by her brother in law that her mysteries were getting to intricate. As a classic Christie this is sure to satisfy, and the note from Agatha to her brother-in-law at the start is an added gem....more