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Messages - andyw1691

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31
Press Releases / Re: Where's my Goddamn 5,600 mph naval rail-gun, dude?
« on: February 09, 2012, 03:11:36 AM »
It's funny how real life sometimes follows what SciFi authors were writing about years ago.

As I understand it one of the problems with rail guns is that the rails wear out. This is due to the huge electrical discharge which picks out minute flaws in their composition/manufacture and contact with the sled or casing enclosing the projectile.

The register web site ran an article on the rail gun story in December 2010 (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/13/32mj_railgun_test_onr/) which included a uTube video. Its not quite clear what caused the gases in the video as they look like a rocket exhaust.

The article attracted 176 comments some of which were very informative.

Andy

32
News / Re: Harrison Ford 'in talks' for Blade Runner sequel!!
« on: February 09, 2012, 02:59:21 AM »
I have mixed views on this. Personally, I love the movie and have watched it many times. However,  we sat down to watch it as a family (wife, and three older teenage kids) and they were unimpressed. It seems that things have moved on since 1982 and peoples perspectives of what a future society might be have changed. They also thought the movie was too long and short on action.

The youth of today eh?

Andy

33
Feedback / Re: Which do you prefer books in?
« on: February 08, 2012, 01:17:31 PM »
I too used to collect American comics. We would cycle 5 miles to a second hand bookshop on a Saturday. They stocked a range of new and second hand comics. I left these in the care of my parents when I left home. Many years later when I had settled down I asked about them to be told that they had been sold for £5 at a car boot sale. The collection included some original and early Metal Men and Superman comics  :'(  I now have a small collection of graphic novels as they are now called. These are cherished.

Like many people I use a library manager - calibrea - to manage my e-books. This allows me to effectivley back the books up so losing the Kindle will be a hassle but will not result in me losing the library.

As I see it, the Kindle is ideal for reading novels and stories. It is not suitable for magazines or anything with a page size larger than a paperback novel. However, I think current book readers are an interim step. The arrival of flexible, colour e-ink screens will be the next step.

Andy

P.S. I thought all the posts and replies had stopped once I started posting...

34
Feedback / Re: Which do you prefer books in?
« on: February 08, 2012, 03:50:59 AM »
I'm not sure why I'm replying as there appears to be only me and you contributing to this forum! E-mail might be a better medium.

Anyway, both formats have their pluses and minuses. I am an avid reader and until relatively recently I would buy books to read while commuting to/from work. This presented problems as I don't have space for storing all the books. I ended up passing them onto friends or giving them to charity.

Things changed when I was given a Kindle as a present. While I have probably aquired far more books the physical storage space has remained the same.  :) I'm saying acquired here as it is a mixture of books that I have actually purchased and books that are free to download. The Kindle is a superb device for reading novels. It can also render black and white diagrams but I have yet to see any in any of the e-books I have acquired. What makes it a joy to use compared to a computer screen is the portability of the device and the quality of the text on the screen. I can and indeed have been able to read my kindle in strong sunlight outdoors.

One of the things I do miss about the physical book is that you automatically know how far through the book you are. I know this may seem odd but as I get towards the end of a book my expectations of what the story will deliver in the next few pages change. With the Kindle you don't get page numbers when reading you get a percentage. This is not very helpful as 90% of a 100 page book means that there is 10 pages to go, while 90% of a 1000 page book means there are 100 pages to go.

When reading novels I have to say that I prefer my Kindle. Part of this may be due to the fact that I don't often re-read novels. I seem to treat novels as a disposable item. This may be a habit I have got into having been forced to give away most of the books i have read. This might change as with the Kindle I don't have to get rid of the books so I can keep them for re-reading at a later date.

Andy

35
Following your recommendation I had a look at this book. It's the first time I have seen a Kindle edition priced more than the paperback version. Here in the UK the paperback is on sale at £6.29 while the Kindle edition is £6.64. I hope this is not going to be the start of a trend.

Other reviews are very complementary but do point out that it is aimed at the Teens/Young Adults market. If only I was in that demographic range  :)

36
Discuss books / Doc Sidhe by Aaron Allston
« on: February 02, 2012, 02:40:43 PM »
I have just finished Doc Sidhe by Aaron Allston. It's quite an old story as the version I read was copyrighted in 1995. It's a story that has two related earths; the grim world (where we live) and the fair world, where its an alternative 1930's populated by the descendants of elves and other fair folk. The Doc Sidhe of the title is similar in a lot of respects to the Doc Savage character, apart from being a true blood elf.

While it's an enjoyable romp, there's very little substance to it. The story is told from the perspective of Harris Greene. He is a professional kick boxer and gets caught up in events that take him to the fair world. This is one of the things I didn't enjoy so much about the book. Doc Sidhe is just one of the characters that Greene runs into. OK, so Doc is the very rich team leader of a bunch of good guys who Green teams up with. But the story is about Green and is estranged girlfriend. The other characters have very little depth. This is also true for Doc Sidhe's arch enemy as very vague reasons are given as to why he has turned so evil.

Perhaps I was expecting a bit too much from this novel. It is an easy read and there are no despicable twists or puzzles for the reader to solve. I still don't understand why it received such rave reviews on the amazon.com web site though.

Andy


37
Discuss books / Re: Beyond Armageddon by Anthony DeCosmo
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:01:57 AM »
Hi P!

Book v (Fusion) of the Beyond Armageddon series has not yet been published. The author has been posting replies to an Amazon.co.uk forum where he said that he was hoping to release book V in late December 2011.
(I went back and re-read the postings and he now says to expect Book V: Fusion to be released at the end of February or very early in March of 2012.)

As it is now 2012, I hope we don't have to much longer to wait! You can read the forum postings at:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/forum/cd/discussion.html?cdForum=Fx11FBM5XHS3T3A&cdPage=2&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx33LW6ZGV4133E

With regards to Saga of the Exiles, I must admit I had forgotten about them. I think I read these just after they came out and was quite impressed. However, I must now re-read them as I might be getting them confused with another story about people being sterilised and sent back in time. Anyway, thank you for the recommendation - they have been added to my 'must read' list.

Andy

38
Discuss books / the Tomorrow Project
« on: January 25, 2012, 05:57:44 AM »
This is a collection of four short stories which attempt to project what impacts current or expected technologies will have on us in the future. The first story Last Day of Work by Douglas Rushkoff goes the furthest into the future. It deals with how mankind guided technology development up to and past the point where technology guided mankind's development to be come a feedback loop. Its an interesting idea that the development of one can effect the development of the other, that then effects the development of the original. Its ironic that there's a typo in the second sentence of this story. Was it put there by the humans or the technology?

The second story is The Mercy Dash by Ray Hammond. This is really just a vehicle to showcase possible and in some cases very possible future technology. It is well written and the Virtual Assistants are probably not to far away.

I'm not quite sure about the third story, The Drop by Scarlett Thomas. Mind control of devices is certainly a possibility but I do hope that the author is wrong about reality TV shows being the number 1 form of entertainment. Especially when just about every family could be put up for viewing.

It was the last story The Blink of an Eye by Markus Heitz that caught my attention. I think this could be very near the truth in 10 years time. It covers what happens when you install a lot of sensors in your house and connect them to a virtual assistant. Quite spooky, but perfectly believable.

You can download the stories from http://newsroom.intel.com/docs/DOC-1490

Andy

39
Discuss books / Old Man's War - John Scalzi
« on: January 24, 2012, 05:35:05 AM »
Just wondering if anyone has read Old Man's War by John Scallzi. The book was originally published in 2005 but is worth considering if you have not read it. The book contains some very interesting idea's on the future of humanity. The hero of the story joins the army at the age of 75 and is given a new enhanced body to become a more effective soldier. In the future it seems the army wants experienced people with knowledge and skills.

As well as the excellent military elements there's also some moral aspects to the story to get you thinking. It is one of the few physical books I have managed to keep and will re-read it in the future.

Andy

40
Discuss books / Re: Are there any SFF authors you truly hate?
« on: January 24, 2012, 03:25:17 AM »
The one that sticks in my mind is Michael Moorcock having read the Golden Barge. I thought it was absolute drivel with no real ending. My friends agreed with my assessment but generally added a few swear words.

For years the book was given as a present between my friends. It had to be cunningly disguised or hidden inside something else. I'm not sure what happend to it in the end as I've not seen it for years.

I'm starting to feel nervouse now as its my birthday soon  ::)

Andy

41
Discuss books / Re: Reviews of free book-- "The Space Between"
« on: January 23, 2012, 10:18:14 AM »
I have just finished reading The Space Between and it is a good read. There's some interesting ideas in there and the writing is good. The main character is an utterly believable 21st century strong willed young woman. I'd hate to get on the wrong side of her.

The story is set against a background of Earth and some linked planets coming under attack from an aggressive alien race. In addition to our heroine the story picks up a collection of aliens and fantasy characters along the way. The reasons behind the alien attack are slowly pieced together just in time for another even deadlier race to enter the arena just before the first book ends. It's more than enough to get you to want to read the second book!

There are quite a few typos present but the biggest problem with this book is the editing. Just as we have got to know three of the main characters and things look as though they are getting interesting for them, the story takes a break to introduce another character. And its a very long break lasting eight chapters. I kept wondering what had happened to Kim? There are also a few instances were one of the characters asks a question or makes a statement with no lead up to the subject. You are left wondering why did they ask that or how did they know that?

Anyway - I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Andy

42
I'm a bit late to this thread but here goes anyway!

After seeing a lot of praise for Zoo City when it was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Science Fiction Association Award so I bought it. It was - in my opinion - very poor. It is certainly not Science Fiction. Apart from being in a slightly different reality, there was nothing else to distinguish it.

Having been so disappointed, I'm inclined to avoid the nominated titles unless it's an author I know or a subject matter I know I will enjoy.

43
Discuss books / Beyond Armageddon by Anthony DeCosmo
« on: January 16, 2012, 05:58:40 AM »
Has anyone been reading the Beyond Armageddon series of books? I bought the first book in the series to try out my Kindle. It looked to be a fun Sci-Fi novel about alien invasion and so it turned out to be. While not great it intrigued me and I bought the second volume, and the third and the fourth. Anthony DeCosmo's writing style has improved with each book. This is shown in the plot lines which are growing more complex.

As the name suggests armageddon strikes the earth firstly as a series of 'disappearances' and secondly by the arrival of half a dozen very aggressive alien species. Step forward your local friendly car sales man to save the world. He meets what could be called a guardian angel figure who gives him three gifts. After that, it's up to him to try and make the best of things.

It's a very interesting read and worth the purchase price.

Andy

44
Discuss books / Short Stories
« on: May 22, 2011, 01:08:02 PM »
The thing I like about short stories are the ideas or twists to accepted norms that they contain.  'Escape Velocity - The Anthology' is a collection of forty-eight science fiction stories and is an interesting mix. As with any collection of stories there are some that I very much like and there are some which I won't say I dislike but I just can't see the point of them. With this collection, I'm glad to say that there were only two stories which fit in the latter category.

Before I discuss the stories and to get to the gist of the review - would I recommend this collection? The answer is; absolutely yes!

As there are so many stories I'm just going to mention the ones that for me stand out. I won't be able to delve to deeply into the story without providing spoilers as they are after all, short stories.

The first story - 'Finding Fraber' by T.M. Crone did not disappoint. You have to have a special plot twist to turn an astrophysicist into a suspected murderer. There is enough material here to develop it into a full novel or comic book and I do hope the author takes it forward.

The second story, 'Zuggyzu and the Humans', is also worth a mention as it is cleverly written and it's good to know not all the aliens have it in for the Humans. You will cringe and smile at the actions of the humans. Indeed there are a number of stories were the actions of the humans involved are utterly disappointing but utterly believable. 'Sixes, Sevens' by Simon Petrie is a fine example of this and yes, I did share his pain.

While the first two stories covered alien interactions the third story is a different take dealing with humans on the moon. A Smaller Step by Michael Anderson is worth reading just for the twist at the end of the tale. I can't really say much more without spoiling it. It's a story of what might have happened. You never know, the conspiracy theories out there might be right.

There are a few stories which feature time travel. The one that really struck me was 'The Rising Cost of Insurance' by Branden Johnson. It delivers such a cruel twist which in retrospect is perfectly obvious. There are also a few featuring robots which has been an area of interest to me since I read Asimov's stories many years ago. Of particular note was 'An Empty Kind of Love' by Adam Colston (although I can't say why without giving the plot away) and 'It's Easier to Pretend in the Dark' by David Tallerman for being uncomfortably close to how things are likely to develop with domestic robots.

I could say more as there were other excellent stories here on a diverse range of subjects. There are even a couple that could be described as horror stories. However, to keep this posting from becoming overly long, I would like to say I enjoyed the collection and I would recommend it to others.

If you are a kindle owner (I am) you can get the collection dirt cheap at Amazon - £2.13! I think this must be a mistake as the paper version is four times this.

Andy

45
Discuss books / Re: Recommendations for the genre newbie
« on: May 18, 2011, 02:58:40 AM »
I would recommend the Vatta's War series by Elizabeth Moon. They are not too long and the main character is a feisty young lady who has a romantic involvement during the story. The story is based in the future and involves a company that is essentially a trading/shipping organisation using spaceships to transport the goods between planets. There is no hard to understand science, but an interesting tale nonetheless. Start with the first book 'Trading in Danger' and see where it goes. If she becomes interested then there are five books in the series.

Andy

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