Monday, February 21, 2005

Review: Robinson Crusoe 1,000,000 AD by Terry Sunboard

I finished this book about a week or so ago. I quite enjoyed it up to a point. The basics of survivalism set against the remains of future technology made a very interesting contrast.

The story begins with the clone of Alex Kirk (no relation to James T ;-) ) waking up in an organic cloning vat aware that he is being eaten alive. A fight ensues and Alex survives his first trial of life. Alex's attacker turns out to be a mutated clone of himself - only semi human.

After leaving his birthing place, Alex has to learn to survive in a world that has literally gone back to nature. 1,000,000 years after the fall of civilisation there is very little trace of humanity or it's civilisation left. Even our great cities have been scourged from the earth by millenia of ongoing glaciation.

Alex (our would be Adam) longs for his Eve, and eventually comes across a woman's birthing cave, which produces a clone of his long dead girlfriend Marayan. They manage to make an idyllic life for themselves for a couple of years, until they encounter the evolved remains of humanity which has now created several sub species. In a desperate attempt to escape these proto-humans Alex and Marayan escape to orbit where the remains of an orbiting space station is still floating around in the Earth-Moon system's Lagrange points.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, apart from the final couple of chapters where Alex finds the key to using the ultra technology of the Moon to kick the asses of the proto-human Sirk back on Earth. This seemed completely out of character for the rest of the book, I mean, missiles against bows and arrows is hardly fair!

Overall though, I think I would rate it 8 out of 10. I even nominated this for the Hard SF Reading Groups April's Book of the Month. It got a reasonable amount of Votes, but Ringworld by Larry Niven won out with 10 votes..... yeah! (This is one of my favourite novels).

At the moment I'm currently reading Stephen Baxter's Deep Future. This is not a novel but a series of essays on the future of humanity in the solar system and how the various worlds around us could be terraformed or colonized. I've read all these theories many times before, of course, but it still makes interesting reading.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Movie Review: Ocean's Twelve

Went to see this film yesterday. I watched Ocean's eleven on DVD last week so it was still fresh in my mind so I could appreciate the sequel.

As a stand-a-lone movie it would have been ok, but it was definitely a disappointment after the original. All of the original cast returned (at least I think they did - not too sure about the guys in the original film who drove the van and did the mechanical stuff - there were some guys in the movie that were supposed to be them, but they looked different - although I didn't really pay that much attention to them in the first movie anyway - so I cannot be sure.

Joining the cast is Catherine Zeta Jones - playing an english detective working in Rome. She was the former flame of Brad Pitt's character who split on her when he realised how close she was becoming to solving a heist that he was involved with. I read another review of this movie today which referred to him as "walking clothes horse". He certainly got to wear all the posh clothes and wouldn't have looked out of place on the cover of GQ for most of the movie. Brad Pitt's character basically carried the movie - don't know what they did with George Clooney's character, as the leader in the first movie he was the prime character, but he seemed to not get many scenes in this one - it all seemed to focus on Mr Pitt. Not that I'm complaining about this as I'm a big Pitt fan. One thing I didn't like though, they got away from the quirky thing in the original movie with him eating in every scene - I missed that!

Then of course we come to Julia Roberts.... well I had heard that she was ill in real life for some of the filming of this movie because she is pregnant in real life - but well she really looked haggared. They did a really quirky thing and got Tess Ocean to play Julia Roberts so that they could get into the museum and steal the faberge egg even stuffing a cushion up her stomach to mimick the real-life pregnant roberts. I think that was going a bit far - even Bruce Willis got a look in - playing himself again of course. It was quite bizarre.

Andy Garcia's character lost most of his menace. I mean - he's supposed to be such a bad arse businessman and when he catches them all he does is ask them all for the money back - plus interest???

One character who was quite interesting was the french thief played by Lambert Wilson who was the Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded. I love that dance/karate thing he did to get past the laser grid - not to mention he's as sexy as hell. Just what is it with the french accent?

The plot was just weak compared to the original story, the same plot twists were there, and deceptions within deceptions that were in the first movie but it just seemed lacking somehow. I think the funniest bit of the movie is when the little Chinese guy goes into the sports bag to escape with Pitt and Clooney and then the bag gets lost and stuck on a bus of sports fans. Damn Baggage handlers!!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Time to Toss The Golden Age

Well, I've been reading it on and off for more than a month now but despite all this time elapsing, I'm still only on page 54 of this book; not a good sign.

It probably doesn't help that I've abandoned my traditional bedtime reading in favour of watching old episodes of the X Files. I'm up to Jose Chung's "From Outer Space" so far. The Golden Age is no competition to watching these classic X Files Episodes. I keep sitting in bed late at night and LOLLing out loud at all the Mulderisms.

As for reviewing the Golden Age, I just can't seem to get into it. It's probably a fine book if I gave it the time - but some of the concepts of the Golden Occenome are very difficult to follow - neural consciouses/people in a permanent switched on in the 'net state. Well - that's about as much as I've been able to make out. The only time I've acutally made any progress reading it is in my lunch hours or if I'm waiting for food to arrive in a pub or restaurant. Now I've decided to give it the heave ho, it actually feels a relief now to be able to "toss it" and give it back to the Library.

January's book of the month for the Hard SF reading group was Across Realtime by Vernor Vinge - I tried ordering this from the library service - their catalog said that they had two copies available in the County of Cornwall - but apparently both have been lost and are unavailable - doh! I'm not going to bother buying it - imagine how peeved I'd be now if I'd had wasted good money on The Golden Age?

February's Book of the Month is Eon - by Greg Bear - I've read this in the past - good book - I enjoyed it and it's sequel Eternity - but I've got no desire at the moment to re-read it.

March's book of the month is Phoenix Exultant by John C Wright - the sequel to the Golden Age so I guess I won't be reading that one either! ;-)

Robinson Crusoe, 1,000,000 ADOn my laptop at the moment I'm listening (courtesy of Microsoft Reader's Text to Speech facility) to an Ebook: Robinson Crusoe, 1,000,000 AD. This is pretty good so far - I'm about halfway through the file. Alex wakes up in a gene tank complete with memories of the twentieth century, butt naked and has to learn to survive the Rippers (wolf/bear creatures) and thinks he's the only man on earth. For a time he is until he discovers other people emerging from other gene tanks including his old girlfriend.

It's good "reading" like this because I can get on and do my stitching at the same time as having my mind entertained, and I'm not missing anything like what usually happens if I'm trying to stitch while watching TV or a movie. I've made a policy now of only stitching while things are on that I've already seen: I miss too much otherwise. Audio Ebooks are the perfect compromise.