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Category Archives: Books

Still Forceful

I’m looking forward to the new Star Wars movies. Unlike some folks, I don’t feel that there was anything tragic about the three prequels that were released. I’ve sat through far worse movies and even if you don’t like the stories, you can’t beat the fabulous soundtracks!

Whether the new films and their spin offs will appease dyed in the wool fans of the original series, only time will tell. A new cast and new writers should ensure that, at the very least, the next few years will provide us with some exciting, sci-fi blockbusters. Oh, and lots and lots of promotional merchandise.

I remember when Return of the Jedi was released at the cinema. It was a long time before I saw it on the big screen, but I avidly collected a book full of stickers until I had my own account of the movie. It was the first sticker album I completed – even though I didn’t immediately realise they were self adhesive stickers, so I glued the first half of the album into the pages. Still, you live and learn…

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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Books, Movies, Sci Fi

 

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Sorted Hats

I’ve been working my way through the Harry Potter series of books over the last year or so. Finally I’ve begun “Deathly Hallows,” so the end is in sight. It’s almost a shame that there is so little left. At first I was reading these books out of curiosity, then somewhere in the middle it was out of a sense of obligation (I’d started… so I was duty bound to finish).

Now that the films have all been shown on TV many times, my brain is fast forwarding to the conclusion because I’ve seen what’s going to happen so often. Not to worry though, I can put my reading-brain into a lower gear and force those images to the dark corners add the back. The place where I hide things that don’t need to be seen again.

Heading been to a Catholic school, the witches and wizards of Hogwarts aren’t a million miles away from the nuns and monks that I remember. As for their dusty books of ancient magic and mumbo-jumbo, well… they speak for themselves. However, for now I’ll see Harry and his chums to the end of their adventures and then the next story, of another band of heroes, will come calling.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Books, Inspiration

 

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I’ve Got The Power

Apart from an early morning shower, the weather improved greatly today. Even the clouds were kind enough to part and let some shafts of sunlight through. As such, we decided to go on an excursion and visit the nearby hydroelectric power station. Yes, that’s right. The power station. A flyer in the carriage said that going to the visitor’s centre would be like stepping into a James Bond film set, so how could we miss out?

The Falls of Cruachan sound like a lost Sherlock Holmes novel, but in fact it’s the next station down from Loch Awe and only ten minutes away by rail. The power station is then a short walk away and uses water from the loch to generate electricity during times of peak demand. A hollowed out mountain houses the pumps and pipes with a huge dammed reservoir on top.

Being driven the best part of a mile underground to get to the visitor’s centre was very exciting. Seeing the massive turbines being operated by boiler suited men in hard hats did give the place 007-villain vibes. After the tour, there was just enough time left for a raid of the gift shop before the return train was due. It may not be a typical tourist spot, perhaps, but it’s definitely one worth stopping off at.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Books, Clothes, Holidays, Movies, Shopping, Technology, Travel

 

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Ghost In The Machine

Rather unhelpfully my laptop was playing up at the weekend, though luckily it wasn’t anything that needed more than a graphics card driver update. Relatively simply games with only 2D graphics were running in slow motion, which was frustrating. My PC is no gaming powerhouse but it has always been adequate for my needs.

One of the games that I’ve now been able to go back to is ‘Analogue : A Hate Story.’ By no means a new release, it’s one of those games I downloaded in a Steam sale and hadn’t got round to spending much time with. Harking back to old ZX Spectrum/BBC Micro adventure games, the interface is largely text based with some pointing and clicking. Your character is investigating the circumstances surrounding the fate of an abandoned spaceship. You use the restricted interface to gradually piece together the events that led up to the ship being in the state you find it. The only ‘person’ onboard is the ship’s AI (artificial intelligence) who takes the form of a young girl.

I’m about halfway through the game and things have just taken a very interesting twist. When you only have one person to speak to, you take their opinions as fact – after all, there is nothing to compare them with that could contradict their statements. As I have been digging through the archives and logs on this ghost ship, I’ve now found a second witness to what took place and what happened to the passengers.

This new character has a very different take on the people and events described in the letters and documents I’ve been reading up until now. Having this second opinion has made me question and challenge what I had previously assumed to be true. Soon I will have to make a decision as to who I will side with.

Overal, the game may be low on action but it slowly drip-feeds you a fascinating story. The limitations of the user interface really helps with the pacing here. In addition, the ambient electronic soundtrack also gives it a great atmosphere, as you float through space onboard an empty ship. There are shades of ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ in this game and I might have just spent the last few hours talking to HAL’s daughter.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Books, Gaming, Movies, Sci Fi

 

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Looks Like We Got Ourselves A Reader

I’ve always read a lot, recreationally as well as also a means to learn and explore new things. I’ve always enjoyed using books and comics as portals to other times and places since an early age. Over time my reading rate has risen and fallen depending what I’ve been doing at various times in my life, but I’ve never lost the sense of joy found from diving into a new story.

As well as traditional tree-books I’m a compulsive eBook downloader, my Kindle is never far from my side and the convenience of having a book shop in your bag is amazing. I also love audiobooks and radio plays. From the cassette Walkman, through the MiniDisc and to the MP3 player – I also like to hand the story telling duties over to a professional and let them shape the worlds and characters in my head. I’d be lost without a good pair of headphones.

I don’t have a preference between any of those formats, I think I just love stories and so I don’t mind what method of deliver I use. My ideal is probably a mixture of those over time, just to give things some variety. I never think of it as escapism, more like meeting up with friends who let me have a window into their lives for a while. Some of these friends live in mundane worlds, much like mine that are grounded in hard reality, some live in fantastic faraway places where the impossible happens. They’re all fascinating and I never want to leave them for long.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Books, Inspiration

 

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A Big Hand For The Doctor

I’ve just finished the Doctor Who ebook, ‘A Big Hand For The Doctor,’ by Eoin Colfer. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the TV show a series of short stories are being released, with this being the first. Eleven stories over eleven months with eleven different authors covering the eleven different lives of The Doctor.

This book is set before or at least around the time of, ‘An Unearthly Child’ where Susan is the sole companion of her grandfather. We begin the story with William Hartnell’s characterisation of the timelord attempting to buy a new left hand. He lost it in a sword fight with a Soul Pirate and rather than wasting a regeneration he decides to have one grown/engineered for him. Until it’s ready though he has a claw-like bio-hybrid replacement grafted on.

I’ve never read any of Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books but I really enjoyed his interpretation of the first doctor. His internal monologues reflect the grumpy nature of his personality but most interesting was when he flashed back (forward?) to his eleventh, dicky bow wearing self, wishing he was more athletic. I’m hugely excited about following this series throughout the coming months, if this is a sign of things to come then The Doctor is going to have a great 50th anniversary.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Books, Sci Fi, TV

 

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Christmas Reading

As Christmas rolls ever nearer and the holiday break readies itself to kick in, I need to set myself a reading list to fill out my down-time (in between all that mince pie eating and merry making). At the moment I’m about 80% of the way through Lee Child’s third Jack Reacher book ‘Tripwire.’ It’s a good story, but brute force and vigilante justice don’t really shout out ‘festive spirit’ to me.

I could re-visit ‘The Silmarillion.’ which I go back to every few years, but having only just seen the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies I don’t really feel a strong urge to retread the path to Middle Earth just yet. A good biography might be enjoyable and people as different as Sir Roger Moore and Sammy Hagar have life stories that appeal to me. I’ve also had my eye on David Law’s ’22 Days in May’ for a while as well.

I will probably make my third visit to Hogworts this year and download ‘Prisoner of Azkaban.’ I’m also rereading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for the squillionth time and ‘Song of Suzannah’ is calling to me from some distant level of The Tower. If I go back enough times, one day I believe that final chapter of the final book will end differently…

However, all these rich and fabulous fantasy worlds may end up waiting in line behind some good gruesome fun like Tonia Brown’s ‘Badass Zombie Roadtrip,’ so you never know… What is most unlikely is that I’ll end up reading a book about Christmas at Christmas, although saying that, last year I really enjoyed reading through a Kindle compilation of The Queen’s Christmas speeches. They’re a fascinating thermometer reading of British history across the years.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Books, Xmas

 

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