Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Links for the next meeting - The Circle by Dave Eggars

Wikipedia - the plot and more

A Q&A with Dave Eggars

"I wanted the Circle technology to seem logical and likely in the not-distant future. More than a few times, though, I had to make adjustments when I thought I’d invented some scary new product or feature, only to find it already existed or was on its way."

A review on the tech site Xeconomy

"At the Circle, one disillusioned character comments, there’s “enough money to make any dumb idea real.” The fictional company’s silly side projects, like counting every grain of sand in the Sahara, come off as valid parodies in a decade when Google has sunk untold sums into moonshot ideas like space elevators, jetpacks, hoverboards, teleportation, wireless Internet access via balloons, power from high-altitude kites, and, of course, Google Glass."

Some reasons why people should have privacy

"People hide many things from even their closest friends and family: the fact that they are gay, the fact that they are sick, the fact that they are pregnant, the fact that they are in love with someone else. Though your private life may be especially straightforward, that should not lead you to support policies that would intrude on the more complicated lives of others. There’s a reason we call it private life."

Want to see something really scary?  This is how Google tracks your movements (if you're logged in to a Google account on your smartphone)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Links for the news meeting - The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Book group links - things to think about - for JK Rowling's first Cormoran Strike novel

Wikipedia - Lots on the plot, plus characters and more.  JK's fans are very committed!

A review published in April before the JK was revealed as the author
"The puzzle they had to solve developed in a great way. There are a lot of different characters involved in this suicide/murder mystery they need to solve and all have their own secrets to hide. There was a nice tension surrounding most of them making all of them suspects. Some of the quests Cormoran solved where not that clear for the puzzler though. Indications that he found something where not always clear making it hard in some situation to put the puzzle together. The end was a surprise which I liked a lot. "

& another one
"Just once in a while a new private detective emerges who captures the public imagination in a flash; and here is one who might well do that - Cormoran Strike, a bear-like ex-soldier with a prosthetic lower leg and a gloomy outlook, who also happens to be the son of a Seventies rock star.
The last time I remember one quite as interesting was the wonderful Eddie Ginley, nightclub-comedian and wannabe private eye, in director Stephen Frears’ debut film Gumshoe. Strike has exactly that dark fascination, just as he has debts, a home life so hopeless that he has to sleep in his office, and an unlikely temporary assistant he cannot afford."

A 4 star review
"For the plot alone I would give three stars. It became rather difficult to follow towards the end, thanks in no small part to the increasing withdrawal of the narrative from Cormoran Strike's deducting mind - something that I suppose was intended to keep the reader in suspense, but still affected my degree of immersion in the story. The big reveal at the end felt, if not contrived, then predictable in its total unpredictability, and relied on the staple monologue from the protagonist to explain how exactly the event that the book revolves around happened.
It's the characters that make The Cuckoo's Calling. Strike himself is sympathetic, but Robin, his secretary temp, is the easiest to warm to. They both feel real, and as a result the world they inhabit feels real (apart from said slightly-contrived thriller elements). It helps that JK Rowling writes about London like a long-time resident. Special mention should go to the prose as well. The balance is just right - not too florid, and vivid enough to elevate it above the usual gently-paced crime story."

A 2 star review
"I was greatly anticipating reading this book and it was given to me as a Christmas present. How disappointing then to discover a long series of suspect interviews and unnecessary descriptive prose.
I can now see why the author's identity was made known because if any other writer had put this together it would never have seen the "light of day".
A major disappointment of a book. J. K. Rowling stick to childrens' fiction!!."

Should be a good discussion!

Links for the meeting - A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Coming soon

Links for the meeting - Stoner by John Williams

Coming soon

Links for the Meeting - The Red House by Mark Haddon

Coming soon

Monday, 24 February 2014

Links for the next meeting - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Wikipedia is good on the themes and influence of the book, including 3 adaptations:

The Last Man on Earth

The Omega Man

I Am Legend

I Am Omega

A 30 minute discussion of the book on the excellent Science Fiction Book Review Podcast

A four star review on Amazon

"The Millenennium SF series is a bit of mixed bag of so called 'classic' and seminal sci-fi of the 20th century. 'I Am Legend' rightly deserves it's place in that list but not necessarily as a sci-fi novel. But it's a bit of a curate's egg. In fact it's not even a horror novel per se. There's a blend of sci-fi, post-apocalyptical musings ( more so in the movie based loosely on the book), some horror of course. But this novella is more a psychological examination of what it's like to be the last man alive. Matheson is an expert at leading us into the mind of a man without the companionship of his fellows. I won't spoil the plot as there are some brilliant and unexpected twists but the chapters concerned with Neville's discovery of a dog, company he has craved for for three years, is stunning and I defy anyone not to be moved to tears. I love the film, which is why I bought the book initially, but after reading it I'm afraid Heston et al missed out on a better adaptation. Near perfect."

 & a two star review

"I Am Legend isn't really all that an impressive horror story nor a good sci-fi. The story-line was okay, the descriptive writing fair but it lacked something which I can't really put my fingers on. I've read a lot of horror and sci-fis (they're the only things I read), but this book is somewhat bland. I've only put the book down last night and already I've forgotten all the stories in it. So I guess it wasn't that worthy of remembering. As for the rest of the short stories.....well, they were also so-so. Maybe it's me, maybe I didn't picture the hard enough as I followed it through, maybe I didn't really understand what Richard Matheson was trying to write about. I don't know. I'm not impressed and a little disappointed that I found this book weary against the others who've reviewed it and have given it 5 stars."