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Thank you!

 

I've not read A Wild Sheep Chase yet, I'm trying to ration myself to a Murakami every few months so I don't read the lot - and risk getting tired of him - in one hit!

 

Not sure what is next on my Murakami list, but it will probably be either Norwegian Wood, or A Wild Sheep Chase (I really want to read Dance, Dance, Dance, but someone on here recommended I read A Wild Sheep Chase first as they follow on from each other).

 

 

Good idea, :D I've had to ration my Andrey Kurkov books because I won't appreciate them properly one after the other.

 

I was told that 'Norwegian Wood' is good by my mum's landlord, he found it very strange though. Thats what intrigued me to search him out just from the description he was strange.:lol:

 

My next one will probably be 'Kafka on the shore', I planned to read it before a wild sheep chase but haven't got hold of it yet.

 

I also read on this forum that Dance, Dance, Dance is a sequel to a wild sheep chase but I haven't looked for myself yet to see if thats true.

 

I would highly recommend A wild sheep chase next. :)

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The Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham

 

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The sleepy village of Midwich is a place where nothing remarkable ever happens, until one September day when the entire village is mysteriously put to sleep. After the Day Out, as it comes to be known, everything seems to return to normal, but the women of the village soon begin to realise that everything is not as it should be, for every one of them is pregnant . . .

 

The Midwich Cuckoos is classic John Wyndham; bad things happening to the English middle classes, and as with The Day of Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and many of his other books, this is a story set firmly in post-war Britain that asks questions that are as relevant today as they where when the books were written over half a century ago.

 

I think the thing I like most about this book - and again it is a common trait with other Wyndham novels - is the way in which he slowly builds the tension as the chapter's progress. The events of the "Day Out" are mysterious, but not particularly alarming in of themselves, and although everything appears normal afterwards you just know something sinister has happened, but Wyndham isn't one to show his hand in one almighty flourish. Slowly, over several chapters, he drops hints and clues as to what is going on, before the shocking truth is finally revealed.

 

Where Wydham could be said to fail, however, is in largely ignoring the plight of the women who have suddenly found themselves violated in such an alarming way, to ask the bigger questions; Who are we? How did we evolve? How would we react to the sudden appearance of a superior group of humans? His main characters are - for the most part - male, and as with his other books the female characters and quite often reduced to making cups of tea in the back ground, whilst the men discuss the ramifications of what is going on over a stiff glass of sherry.

 

What Wyndham lacks in equality though, he more than makes up for in suspense. The menace posed by The Children is both chilling and fascinating in equal measure; they are wonderfully realised, with a cold, detached manner that is genuinely alarming.

 

Special mention must also be made of the character of Gordon Zellaby, a brilliantly eccentric character who leads the charge in expounding Wydham's speculative thinking.

 

It has been the best part of twenty years since I last read Cuckoos - I don't think I will be leaving it that long before I return to Midwich once again.

Edited by Raven

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I've got a few reviews to catch up with here!

 

The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells

 

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It is the end of the 19th century; an astronomer observes a green flash on the surface of Mars; a falling star is seen over Southern England and an artificial cylinder is found on Horsell Common.

 

The original Martians are coming!

 

H.G. Wells' timeless masterpiece is a brilliant depiction of an alien invasion, conceived of and written long before anyone had ever heard the term science fiction. From the ominous build up, through the rout of London, to a life living under the Martian heel, Wells' conjures so vivid a picture it is all too easy to place yourself in the shoes of the narrator as he describes the events of those "strange and terrible days".

 

Like its predecessor The Time Machine, which I read last year, The War of the Worlds is largely a social commentary, but where The Time Machine was a commentary wrapped in a thin veil of story, The War of the Worlds is a story first, and it works all the better for it.

 

I must have read this book half a dozen times over the last decade, and it has never failed to entertain me. There is something lyrical about Wells' writing that I really like; the detail he puts into the work, especially when the Martians are moving on London, really gives the book a solid grounding in the everyday, which is then countered by the sinister, otherworldliness of the Martians themselves.

 

If you have not read this book, and have an interest in science fiction or alien invasion movies, do so, because this is pretty much where it all started.

Edited by Raven

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Future Perfect, by Jeff Greenwald

 

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Author Jeff Greenwald travels the globe to interview a host of people, both famous and not, in an attempt to determine just what it is about Star Trek that has turned it into a global phenomenon.

 

Witten in 1996, during the making of the film First Contact, Greenwald manages to get access to an impressive list of people to ask them why they think Trek is as popular as it is.

 

From interviews with the cast (Patrick Stewart, Michael Dorn, Leonard Nimoy and Kate Mulgrew) and crew (Brannon Braga, Ron Moore, Rick Berman), Greenwald goes on to interview an impressive selection of people including technicians at the Jet Propulsion Labs in California; authors Arthur C. Clarke and Kurt Vonnegut and he even manages an audience with the Dalai Lama! Along the way he also meets the fans and ends up, amongst others, at a family meal in Italy, a hot spa in Japan, a Klingon wedding in a German woods and a NASA inspired bar in India.

 

To a large extent Greenwald tries to tie Star Trek's popularity in the with the demise of the Apollo moon missions in the early seventies, suggesting that its popularity is - in part - due to the show becoming a surrogate for the lack of the on-going manned space program it looked like the world would have following the successes of the sixties, but I’m not entirely sure how well this approach actually works - as Michael Dorn says, perhaps it's just great television.

 

Greenwald has a humorous, almost self-deprecating writing style though, and he isn't afraid to call things as he sees them, both in terms of the people he meets and himself, and I feel that it is this honesty that makes this book an interesting read rather than a piece of fan worship that it could easily have become.

 

If you are interested in Star Trek, this is definitely worth a read.

Edited by Raven
Correcting typos!

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Life & Soul of the Party, by Mike Gayle

 

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Over the course of a year, and a number of parties, a group of six friends come to terms with the hand life has dealt them, and with the choices they have made.

 

Life & Soul of the Party is told in the first person by all of the main characters, but predominantly focuses on thirty-something Melissa, and her inability to move on from her ex-boyfriend Paul.

 

In telling the story Gayle has cleverly put a central event right at the beginning of the book, and then told most of the story in flashback and, because of that, events that unfold take on an added resonance as you see the characters head towards their fate.

 

In a lot of ways this is Gayle's bleakest book to date, but at the same time it is full of his trade-mark humour, and it does affirm that although life can be rough, there are also good times to counter the bad.

 

I'm not sure I enjoyed this book as much as some of Gayle's previous offerings, partly because more than ever he seems to be skirting closer to Chick-Lit territory, but this is the first book I have finished in a day for a long time, so it can't be all bad!

Edited by Raven

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Star Trek: Countdown, by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

 

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A star is about to explode with devastating consequences, but the Romulan Senate refuses to heed the danger to their home world. In a desperate attempt to save Romulus, Ambassador Spock joins forces with a renegade Romulan miner named Nero. In their hands lies the fate of the Empire, and possibly the quadrant itself . . .

 

Originally issued in four instalments, this graphic novel is a direct prequel to the events in the recent Star Trek movie, and lays down the back-story that led to Nero and Spock being thrown back in time. Set in the future, several years after the end of the previous Next Generation movie Star Trek: Nemesis, it covers the political fallout within the Romulan Empire, and the careers of the Next Generation crew, following on from that film.

 

Orci and Kurtzman tell a reasonable story, and do a good job of shoe-horning a lot of detail into a very short space (the graphic novel weighs in at just under 100 pages), but their hands are tied by the limitations of the format and it ultimately feels stilted and hurried - I can't help but feel that there is a much richer story to be told here, and that it would have made a much more satisfying and interesting conventional novel.

 

But this is primarily a hand-holding exercise for a nervous fan base, worried about rumours of a reboot for the universe they have come to know and love. Many familiar faces appear (Picard, Data, Worf and Geordi all feature), and there is a lot of juicy detail for fans to relish, and I think it is they who will ultimately get the most out of this.

 

So possibly not one for a main stream audience, but if you are a Star Trek fan this is an interesting – if somewhat light-weight - read.

Edited by Raven

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I bought a book by Douglas Coupland on ebay the other day called Girlfriend in a Coma, it looks quite interesting so I hope it's good.

 

Also, how did you find Band of Brothers Raven?

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I've heard good things about Girlfriend in a Coma, but I've not read it myself - one for the "to buy" list, when I have some funds!

I'll - hopefully - be posting a review of Band of Brothers shortly, but suffice to say it was very interesting, and it filled in a lot of background that wasn't gone into in the TV series.

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I'll - hopefully - be posting a review of Band of Brothers shortly, but suffice to say it was very interesting, and it filled in a lot of background that wasn't gone into in the TV series.

I read this some time ago. I'll be interested in reading your review. :)

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I was just going back through this thread, and wondered if you'd come across The Art of Penguin Science Fiction website? It's fascinating looking at all the original covers of some of these iconic books.

 

That's a great website! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. :)

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Mr Commitment, by Mike Gayle

 

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Duffy is a man who is happy with life, well, he'd rather be a stand-up comic than a temp and the flat he shares could be better, but his relationship with Mel is as steady as ever and that's just the way he likes it. Except Mel wants wants them to move in together. And the "M" word has been mentioned. And soon Duffy finds he is asking himself whether he has what it takes to be Mr. Commitment . . .

 

Mike Gayle's second novel moves on from the subject of finding the right girl, in My Legendary Girlfriend, to the subject of keeping her. The story revolves around an amiable, if slightly irresponsible, twenty-something who is having problems committing to his long-suffering girlfriend. Mel is prefect, and Duffy certainly loves her, so why is he so afraid to settle down?

 

This is trademark Gayle; explaining the world from the male perspective through insightful observation and gentle humour – with a smattering of pop-culture references thrown in for good measure! The book deals with how people and relationships change, missed chances, why people can be self-destructive and why saying "I love you" isn’t always enough.

 

I must admit that I wasn't overly enthusiastic about re-reading this book, as I didn't remember it being one of Gayle's best, but as I'm re-reading all his novels I had to give it another go and I'm actually glad I did. I found the book much more enjoyable and rewarding the second time around, and whilst I would maintain that this isn't one of his best, it did remind me of why Gayle is one of my favourite contemporary authors.

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Sounds like a great read. I would really like to check these books out. I'll have to keep an eye out for em. Its nice to see a relationship book written from a guy's point of view :D

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I've read My Legendary Girlfriend and Wish You Were Here both by Mike Gayle, I enjoyed both of them very much, and Adam you're right, it is nice seeing things from a male point of view!

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I've heard good things about Girlfriend in a Coma, but I've not read it myself - one for the "to buy" list, when I have some funds!

 

I've just finished this, not what I was expecting at all! I've never read anything by him before so I guess that's where the surprise came in, very bizarre turn but thoroughly enjoyable and not my normal kind of thing so it was a pleasant change, in other words, I can recommend it!

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Slowly catching up on the reviews . . .

 

Doctor Who: Prisoner of the Daleks, by Trevor Baxendale

 

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Separated from the TARDIS, the Doctor finds himself along for the ride when a group of bounty hunters manage to capture a live Dalek. The humans want information, but the Dalek isn't talking and the Doctor wants no part of it, and rightly so, because soon the tables have been turned, and the bounty hunters and the Doctor become prisoners themselves . . .

 

I like the Daleks, I really do, but at the end of the day, they can be a bit, well, pants at times . . . It's the old James Bond vs. The Bad Guy dilemma; The Bad Guy can't just shot Bond, he has to explain his evil master plan and then put him in a room from which Bond can escape so he can then stop The Bad Guy's bid for world domination, and it's the same with the Doctor and the Daleks (though in their case they are usually after control of the Universe, or at least a galaxy or two).

 

So given that you know the Doctor is going to save the day, and the Daleks are going to be sent packing, it's the journey they take getting there that is important and, to be fair, Baxendale has a reasonable stab at it.

 

Okay, so it's not a plot that is going to win many awards, but the characters are fairly well drawn - if a little clich

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500 Mile Walkies, by Mark Wallington

 

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It is the spring of 1982; the Falklands War has just begun and in Minehead, Somerset, author Mark Wallington is contemplating his sanity, for he is about to embark on a month-long trek around the coastline of the South West peninsular.

 

His travelling companion, according to his license, is a dog called Boogie who's only previous experience of the countryside occurred when he was run-over by a Luton bound Green-line bus.

 

Their destination? Poole Harbour, Dorset.

 

500 miles away . . .

 

I have to admit that this is one of my favourite books, and one that I have re-read numerous times since I first did so waaaaaay back in 1987.

 

Telling the story of one man and his (borrowed) dog as they walk the periphery of the South West, 500 Mile Walkies is a humorous travelog that was written years before the phrase was invented, and whilst Bill Bryson was still a gleam in his editor's eye.

 

Through the rigors of North Devon, the many pasties eaten in Cornwall, the caravan parks of South Devon and the heritage coast of Dorset, Wallington's writing style is an easy one to get along with; informative without being preachy; descriptive without being dry and humorous throughout.

 

And then there is his relationship with Boogie; often adversarial and always funny, the two are the man and dog equivalent of The Odd Couple.

 

Probably the biggest complement I can give this book is that it makes me want to do this as well; to visit the villages and towns, to see the waterfalls and coves he describes and above all to enjoy the variety and beauty of this part of the country.

 

If you like Coast and enjoy a light, informative and humorous read, this is the travel book for you!

Edited by Raven

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I just wanted to pop in Raven and express my disappointment that you prioritised this over your Canavan review. You got my hopes up by posting :irked:

 

 

Oh well, they tell me patience is a virtue :D:mrgreen::D

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'500 Miles' looks great Raven, I have ordered it! I have just the recipient in mind. :D

 

Read it yourself before you hand it over, it's well worth it!

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