‘Interesting, Easy To Read’

Score: 4/5

I suppose I should have expected a book about UFO culture to come across as ‘UFO authors I have spoken to’. I guess everyone in UFO culture has a book to sell.

I think I’d hoped for something as bizarre as ‘American Cosmic’ - I still don’t know what to make of that book.

But it’s not. This is just a regular book about UFO culture, people in the UFO community, and some firsthand experiences of UFO places (although no actual firsthand ‘UFO experiences’). Interesting, and easy to read.

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‘Does Not Like Keynes’

Score: 3/5

An interesting look at bitcoin and it’s potential future. The main thing I took away from it was how much the author hates Keynes. I can understand someone not liking his ideas or his impact, but the ad-hominim attacks are pretty bad.

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‘Why Didn’t You Check?’

Score: 4/5

This was OK. It was better than ‘Paradox Bound’, but that’s mostly because it wasn’t so ‘Yay America’ and I like ‘Stargate SG1’. Yeah, the whole design of the room and the Fold seemed to derive from ‘Stargate SG1’...

But mostly the big problem I had was that it was a bit of an idiot plot. An idiot plot can have its place - probably if it acknowledges that all the characters are idiots - but this doesn’t really fit there. The main character is supposed to be a genius - someone who has a photographic memory and an IQ so high that he learned C++ overnight to debug someone else’s code.

I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of the plot, but, well, if you open a ‘portal’ there are some very obvious questions you should ask straight off the bat. Even a genius should know that. If you don’t ask those obvious questions, you get nearly 400 pages of sitting, reading, asking ‘Why didn’t you check...?’

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‘Just Not As Good’

Score: 4/5

I thoroughly enjoyed the first in this series. It was really good. This one less so.

It’s not as well paced, not as interesting a setting (to me, anyway), and the cliffhanger endings of chapters get more absurd. Oh well.

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‘Cracking Creepy Horror Story’

Score: 5/5

One common problem programming in dynamic languages and scripts is: sometimes you rename a variable and forget to update all the references, so bits of the program refer to the old variable name and some bits the new.

It’s a common problem in programming. I hadn’t expected it to be a problem with authors.

We’re now on the third incarnation of names for this author. I think. There may be more. I started off reading Michael Marshall Smith. Then I read Michael Marshall. Now, apparently, he’s Michael Rutger. It’s all the same guy.

Anyway, instead of the science fiction of Michael Marshall Smith, or the thrillers of Michael Marshall, we now have the horror writing of Michael Rutger.

I’m not really a fan of horror books. I think I got that all out of my system when I was younger, when I read lots of James Herbert and others. I made it out of that alive but haven’t really had the urge to read any in a while. Still, I like Michael Whatever, so I figured I’d give this a go.

There are some good James Herbert books, and some bad ones. This feels like one of the good ones. The characterisation is decent, the setting interesting, the plot very well paced. The cliffhanger-ending of chapters gets a bit weary but not enough to put me off.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do wonder what name he’ll use next though.

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‘Very Introductory, Very Cheap’

Score: 4/5

This was very cheap on Kindle one day, so I spent 99p on it. It’s not super, it’s not in-depth, but for 99p it’s not too bad.

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‘A Great Ethereum Introduction’

Score: 4/5

This is the best Ethereum introduction I’ve read. This is the only book I’ve read specifically on Ethereum though, so that’s not saying much. There aren’t really many books on Ethereum at the minute so I figured I’d start with the one by the author of ‘Mastering Bitcoin’, which I enjoyed.

There’s a lot to Ethereum though, so this is a surprisingly thin introduction to a lot of aspects rather than a deep guide to fewer areas. That’s fine, just unexpected to me. I think I expected something with a lot more depth. Then again, such a book may be quite unwieldy.

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‘An Increasingly Realistic Dystopia’

Score: 3/5

A dystopia about government control being increasingly taken over by private interests to the detriment of society? Yep. If you read fiction to get away from the real world you might want to skip this.

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‘Time Travel, But Dull’

Score: 3/5

I like time-travel stories. I like the way they can warp the narrative, shift timelines and show possibilities.

I just didn’t warm to this book though. I don’t know why, it just seemed a bit dull.

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‘Many Very Long Sentences’

Score: 3/5

It is good to know that, in these trying times of The Great Full-Stop Shortage Of 2020 that we have authors creating works like this.

Take, for example, this sentence from page 11:

Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery country called England (which was bound and determined never to get too excited about anything), a leggy psychedelic ambidextrous omnisexual gendersplat glitterpunk financially punch-drunk ethnically ambitious glamrock messiah by the name of Danesh Jalo was born to a family so large and benignly neglectful that they only noticed he’d stopped coming home on weekends when his grandmother was nearly run over with all her groceries in front of the Piccadilly Square tube station, stunned into slack-jawed immobility by the sight of her Danesh, twenty feet high, in a frock the color of her customary afternoon sip of Pernod, filling up every centimeter of a gargantuan billboard.

Yep, that’s one sentence.

There’s a lot in this book that makes me want to like it. Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett influences, Eurovision, space, H2G2-like humour - all things I like. It just doesn’t quite land for me though. While Douglas Adams could write long humorous sentences like the above (and pull it off incredibly well) he didn’t do it all the fucking time.

It’s a nice gag. It very quickly turned into an annoyance. It felt very overused by page 50 but that didn’t hold the author back from using everywhere else too.

Apart from the incredibly long sentences, what have we got? Eurovision-in-space, with the fate of the world hanging on the result. (No spoilers here - that’s basically the premise of the book told to you in the first pages. The term ‘Eurovision’ doesn’t crop up much, though. Dunno why.)

And there is humour too. It’s funny enough, and bits of it are reminiscent of H2G2. But it feels like it’s trying too hard to be reminiscent of it so it all feels a little clunky.

I wanted to really like this book. But in the end I didn’t. Maybe it’s my fault it just didn’t live up to expectations?

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