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Alindrail

Alindrail
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Member since: 23.07.2000

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      22.02.2002 19:11
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      This is Steve Pavlou's debut novel and a fine first effort it is too! OK it's pulp scifi fiction for the masses, but it works very well! The basic plot is that Atlantis has been rediscovered, while at the same time solar activity has increased at an alarming rate. From there Pavlou develops an intricate tale linking science and action in frantically paced novel. All fine and good, you might say, but what of it? Well, as well as being a thrilling action book to entertain you on the train into work, the book works because of the sheer amount of research that has gone into it. Pavlou has looked at the science surrounding the sun, language, physics in general, and the cutting edge of atomic research. The plot. Pretty straight forward, some neat little twists, but nothing that will startle you out of your seat, or leave you gasping in shock. I think perhaps this is where the book lets the reader down. The lack of character exploration is dissapointing, especially in a book where, I felt, the characters WERE interesting. I wanted to care about Sarah, Dr Scott, November and the rest of the team exploring Atlantis, but was never given the opportunity. Great character pieces were set up, but then never exploited. This book could have stretched a lot further, and I feel it is a shame it didn't. Some of the relationships worked well, but suffered from lack of enough character interaction to really fit into the book as convincing in their depth. A book which explores a premise in a believable and well researched manner, that gives genuine interest through sustained momentum and action, but suffers from exploiting some of the characters that are prepared so well. A definite page turner with science fact coming out of every page. I look forward to the next book.

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        01.02.2002 19:15
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        I like fantasy but I don't like LotR. I never have been a great fan, and indeed the first time I read the books I did not complete the series. Long, overly detailed, and in my opinion a little behind the times. Before watching this film I decided to re-visit the books. Second time round I did complete the series and even enjoyed it. However it was, nontheless, an effort to complete. It is not an easy series to approach, if rewarding. This film is different. The detailed passages are are removed through the convenience of conveying those impressions through visual imagery - and what imagery! The landscapes are dazzling, realistic and yet other-worldly. These are done so well that after a while you fail to notice them. In effect you find yourself going: 'Oh look, another fantastic effect, now what about the action?!' This is what effects are about; they are there as a sideline to the plot, not the plot itseld. The Fellowship does this magnificently. The acting is appropriate to the film's plot and nature. Not GOOD acting, this is not a character piece, but enjoyable and entertaining, with actors who play up to the roles that are created. Sean Bean's (Bormir) piece after his confrontation with Frodo was over the top, and a downturn in what had been a good performance. It is, I feel, the film's pace that is the true genuis behind this film. It does not drag, nor does it race. It knows it has three movies to get the point across and takes full advantage of this fact. What of the storyline itself? Well simply put, it is the tale of a ring that belongs to Sauron, the embodiement of evil. Once he was defeated, but now he is surging once more in the world. When he was defeated he lost his ring of power, the One Ring. Later this was found by a creature called Gollum. For years it was in his possession, millenia. However a Hobbit took it from him, a small sapien creature, the size of a child, but with the sam e mental abilities as any man. Now Sauron is looking for his Ring, but the forces of Middle Earth are determined to destroy it before he can find it. Gandalf leads the Hobbit's heir, Frodo, in the quest to destroy the ring, along with a band of warriors that represent the peoples of Middle Earth. The film manages to be action filled and yet to introduce the story line, and the world, all in one film, setting up the two next films very well. Add to this a beautiful soundtrack featuring Enya and you have a combination that works. A film that manages to thrill the uninitiated and the pacify fans. Well done!

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        • Moulin Rouge! (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 19 Ratings
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          22.10.2001 21:17
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          Visual extravaganza. That is where the film excels. From the opening scene the bohemian sumptuousness is asserted with a vengeance, excess is the keyword, and I for one doubt if the real Moulin Rouge was ever quite so opulent. That is far from the point however. The film mixes music, dance, and an epic tale of love to result in a movie that is startling in its originality, considering its Hollywood origin. From the beginning the dance and music sequences thrill, and I for one was surprised. I do not like musicals usually, and was slightly dubious of this element of the film. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that they were interesting and varied. The music is a medley of samples from various songs, combined through re-mixing. This allows the audience to be engaged in the music by recognising the different hits (the inclusion of ‘Like a Virgin’, ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ and a host of other modern classics really do enhance the film). The music is well worth seeing the film for, so thankfully it is the main component of the film. The acting is at times great from Nicole Kidman. MacGregor’s performance seemed more tame than I had expected, and seemed very understated in the presence of Kidman’s Satine. However none of the performances were anything less than good. The story line (which I must say is hardly the reason for watching this movie) is simple enough. Macgregor’s character is an Englishman who has come to Paris in the last year of the Nineteenth Century to become one the Children of the Revolution and to live the ultimate Bohemian lifestyle. After arriving he falls into a crowd of Moulin Rouge artistes who commission him to write a musical that will change the Moulin Rouge into a theatre. The vehicle for this transformation will be Satine (Kidman), who will act in the lead and will sleep with the Duke, the character whose investment is required for the Moulin Rouge to pay for the neces sary modifications. Of course there is a major difficulty. The Duke falls in love with Satine, but in the mean time she has fallen in love with the young writer. Oh no! So the classic denouement follows. The film is tragic, but not depressing. The musical aspects of the film serve to divert from the harsh messages undertaken by the film. The film throughout is diverting with a good balance between the story and the music. The ending is tragic, but you are led to understand this from the opening sequence. Despite that it does come as a shock, and meant that I left the cinema feeling more subdued than I would have preferred, give the musical, and very comical nature of the film initially. The humour of the film is significant if underplayed. You do get the impression that the actors had a great time making the film, and that spills over into their performances. Not to forget Kylie’s fantastic cameo. <snort> Absinthe Fairy indeed! Good film – go see or rent.

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          • Attacks on America / Discussion / 0 Readings / 16 Ratings
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            24.09.2001 23:19
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            • "More lives will be lost"

            I watched the events of the 11th of September unfold in disbelief, much as everyone else. Shock, horror, the works. There's not much need to go into this. We've been riddled with such descriptions for nearly two weeks (no doubt tomorrow will feature another heart-wrenching series of features on 'That Day'). I had been in both he WTC and the Pentagon less than two months before the incident, so I did understand the magnitude of what was going on. What has subsequently occured however has even further thrown my beliefs into sharp relief. I mourned for the people in those buildings much as everyone else has, and will continue to. I feel however that enough is simply enough! This was a terrible crime, but to call this event a 'declaration of war' is to completely misunderstand first of all war, and secondly the reasons behind the attack. The result of this misunderstanding has led to a problem which will only compound the immediate effect of the attack; the virtual assurance of recession not only in America, but possibly worldwide. America's demands have done nothing but assure generations of resentment due to its bumbling, hypocritical foreign policy. One would think that they were the first to ever suffer from a terrorist attack. They are not, nor will they be the last (despite their naive protestations, they are simply victims of one of the most dramatic and costly acts. Their hurt, anger, bitterness and desire for revenge is perfectly understandable, and in other circumstances could be tolerated. These are not other circumstances. America has responsabilities and too much power to react in retribution. Sadly, it is doing so. There are procedures in place to handle these kind of circumstances. The UN was designed to deal with such crises, however it has been at best ignored by the USA. This can only be read as an open admission that they do not believe that it is capable of handling such problem s. One can hope that one good thing to come out of this crises will be recognition of this fact, and an attempt to resolve the problem of the UN's inadequacies. America should certainly try to capture the culprits and bring them to justice. Bombing Afghanistan is unlikely to do so. I do not see how we can justify this immediate jump to military action. The need to bring the alleged mastermind Bin Laden to justice is urgent, but diplomatic efforts have been cursory not to mention simply veiled threats. Diplomacy THEN military action if it can be justified. The after shocks of the incident are still reverbrating in the global economy. Recession is now not merely hinted at, but virtually assured. Is this really the time to embark on costly military campaigns, wasting not just cash, but lives? I think a serious review of the inherent costs needs to be addressed. Finally the changed in US foreign policy are shocking. We need India and Pakistan on board? Fine, we will ditch all our moral concerns and values, and remove the sanctions put in place due to their nuclear testing. Shocking how America simply disregards what it now views as 'problematic'. I think any nations who believe that acting in concordance with the US in these attacks should keep that fact in mind, rather than expecting (as I am sure most do) rewards when it is all finsihed with. As for the revised security procedures. Well they are, I suppose, inevitable. Ultimately I think they will prove ineffective. Even with the crashed air travel is still the safest form of long distance travelling, and if someone is truly intent on re-creating what occured, there are always means around security. Those who fear flying should be reminded that the likelihood of this re-occuring is small. Not travelling is simply acceding to the terrorists. Finally. I am saddened that this has only given the Americans a hardened sense of what they see as right and good: themselv es. It is crucial that America reviews its foreign policy, anbd re-examines why it has been attacked. Do they really think that these acts have no reason beyond mindless fanatiscism? Someone else saw their cause as just and good. I think it is about time America stops thinking about itself and starts considering its effect on others.

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              26.07.2001 04:26
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              A clever novel from Hewson juxtaposes two plots, one based in today’s Venice, the other in 1733. Both are tied together by a musical instrument, and the events which occur to the characters through the intermediary of the Scacchi family, once influential, but now in the wane. Daniel is a young orphan graduate from Oxford who was invited by Scacchi to Venice to catalogue the contents of his ‘library’, while back in the 1700’s Lorenzo is Scacchi’s orphaned nephew who comes to Venice as an apprentice. The plot works. I say plot because in essence the book is the same plot, only told in two slightly different styles, finally coming together in a weak, if logical ending. The book is beautifully written, evoking the atmosphere of Venice if not the specifics of the city. While specifics are missing (but heh! It’s a novel, not a tour guide!), the historical snippets thrown in by Hewson compensate. One of the book’s flaws is Daniel’s complete succumbing to the pleasures of Venice before he even arrives. I can understand that he feels he already knows the city through his studies etc… and the fact that he has nothing at home, but still the wholehearted manner in which he becomes a ‘Venetian’ is, in my view, a little too convenient and contrived. The other flaw of the book is the ending, a little weak in my view, but still it does neatly tie up the main loose ends. Some questions remain, but this is perhaps a deliberate ploy, to evoke the intrigue that has always been part of Venice. This last element is well portrayed by the author; intrigue being integral to the book. Both Lorenzo and Daniel learn how to work the art of their enemies(y), but maqnage to not be consumed by it. There are clear messages here, but the plot makes them subtle, reinforcing their effect. All in all it is a clever book with a strong message and plot, as well as effectively evoking the multiple layers of Venic e.

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                08.07.2001 21:47
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                A popular read on the Tube, and a mainstay of book charts, I had to pick this book up and see what it was all about, especially after reading that it was an anti-capitalist manifesto! Not to support to cause, but more in the nature of understanding the beast. I was pleasantly surprised to find a well written, well thought out, and while not impartial, fair rendition of the current state of corporate operation in our so-called 'global' society. Klein explains the background of the brands which we all know, and have had drummed into us. She explains the rationale behind their creation, and the actions that they take, and what drives them to these pursuits. She goes on to explain the trends corporations have adopted; the removal of their concrete assets, replaced by contractors and temps as oppossed to actual employees and factories. Her point regarding contracted out work to the Third World, and the problems that creates there are a fundamental point in the book, but not specifically original. The good thing is that she creates a good synopsis of what is happening, and introduces the problems to newcomers. Her exploration of labour issues in the First World were, however, new to me, often missed out by the media when reporting on the current anti-corporate riots. I found the trends towards avoiding full time wages, health care, and complete disrespect for the notion of employer/employee mutual loyalty interesting, and perhaps one of the mainstays of the book for me personally. Her style is clear, concise, very journalistic in that there is a veneer of impartiality, but the aim of the work is clearly outlined. Facts are given, conclusions drawn, but no vitriolic attacks on the brands and corporations she writes about. All in all a very good read, interesting and insightful. You no longer perceive all anticapitalists as thugs, or imbeciles, incapable of understanding the issues. They do have a point, and here it is c learly and effectively portrayed. A very good contribution to the debate.

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                11.06.2001 21:09
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                The latest book has been released. Is it a good one? Well yes, undeniably good. But does it get the five sar treatment? The book centres around Time. The Auditors (those horrible grey things that we saw in Reaper Man I believe) have retruned and want to stop time. The do so by making someone make a clock. In the meantime Susan and the History Monks set out to stop this from happening. Classic Pratchett. People have said this book is complex. I don't see why. The ending is the usual mishmash of dimensional rift sealing, and there are some twists and turns, but this is not that complex a book! So don't be put off. If anything the book is lacking in com-plex character interaction. The new characters are amusing (Lobsang and Lu-Tze), but nothing special. In effect the book seems to have been plugged into a framework of Pratchettian contrivance, and set to run, developping characters and situations that are fun, amusing, but all in all a light read. Not a bad thing - if that is what you want. Laughter and snorts of amusement are there, and an engaging plot, but to be honest I personally would like to see Mr Pratchett delve into more complex storylines and more epic arcs (Oh yes - the world is going to end AGAIN, but why not have a WAR occur, or some other threat rather than the end of the world, or the end of Ankh-Morpork). It is the 26th book in a fabulous series, but I think it is time to start looking in a new direction. The book is GOOD and I do recommend it - my critscisms are not so much directed at this individual book, but at the trend of the last five books or so to lack the epic scope of some of his predecessors. Slow down, collect some cracking ideas, and put them all in a book, don't stretch three ideas so far. Explore the characters a little more. This one was action packed with very little actual sitting back and reflecting.

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                  15.05.2001 18:51
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                  I first heard of this book when I was much younger, when I watched the film version. Now looking back, I can see why someone would want to make a film of this epic book. The basic premise in Robert Harris’ Fatherland is a ‘what if’ history scenario. What if the Germans won the Second World War? What if the Reich held sway over Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, the Baltic States, the Ukraine, most of Western Russia, and dominated the rest of Europe through its influence? This is the land where Harris sets his novel, in the mid 1960’s. The Cold War between Germany and America has just slackened, and the president, Kennedy, is coming to meet the Fuhrer. What follows is the story of Xavier March, a member of the Kripo, the basic criminal police branch of the SS. A divorcee who has not fallen for the National Socialist spiel. He can see the corruption, as his son and ex-wife are sucked into the machine that stamps out perfect Aryans. He investigates a murder, which eventually leads him to the realisation that while Stalin murdered millions, the German’s approach to the re-settling of Jews in the East might not be all that it seems, and the disappearance a little more permanent than he had allowed himself to believe. Harris shows March’s plodding lifestyle in this restrictive society, reminiscent of Soviet Russia, but more sinister in its mastery over Europe, and apparent public and international acceptability. His research is awe-inspiring as he leads the reader through the layers of bureaucracy that would no doubt have followed Germany had it risen to power. The most terrifying aspect of the work is that March has done nothing wrong, and indeed is doing his job, but as a result he falls further and further out of favour. Refusal to contribute to charities and joining work-led social events mark him as asocial. Something to be wiped out and removed from society, something for his own son to hate. An individual in a society where individualism is a crime. Comparisons with Orwell’s 1984 are appropriate and perhaps even undervaluing the book. The horror of Fatherland is how close it could have come to reality. 1984 is sinister, but reading it now we can see it as a work of fiction. This however can be read as a seemingly truthful account. There lies Harris’ genius, the sheer believability of his work. You can believe that the Reich won the war, that America would stand back if a V3 rocket capable of hitting New York was developed, that Russia would collapse on the Eastern Front, and that the ensuing society would have been a hell for any person cherishing freedom and truth. Add to this a good thriller, a good story, and a good conspiracy, and the whole adds up to a wonderful novel that is both suspenseful, and intellectually stimulating. A must-read classic in my opinion.

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                    11.05.2001 02:25
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                    This is the second book in a new companion series to Orson Scott Card’s Ender series. The books take place sometime in the future, following a repulsed invasion by an alien species known as the Buggers. Little is known of them save that they are the enemy. To combat this menace, Earth joins together as never before under a Hegemony, establishing and International Fleet to combat the problem. To further this aim they create the Battle School. An elite institution which turns the most intelligent kids on Earth into soldiers. This book takes place after the final battle against the Buggers. Under the command of children military geniuses, led by the legendary Ender Wiggin, the Buggers have been slain. Ender has been sent away from Earth with his sister to avoid his being seized by the governments on Earth for their own purposes. Now that the Bugger threat has retreated, the nations of Earth have returned to old grievances. In the previous book we were given greater insight into one of the minor characters, Bean, who turns out is more intelligent than Ender himself! (Oh! I know, it seems crazy – but it’s Card’s universe). Bean was a product of a genetic experiment in manipulating intelligence. He escaped and was found on the streets of Rotterdam, escaping from a fellow street child named Achilles. From there he was sent to the Battle School, as was Achilles. Bean forces a confession of psychopathic murder out of Achilles who is sent packing back to Earth, and a secure prison. Attempting to read this as a stand-alone work will be very hard, if not impossible. You really need to go back to the beginning and start with Ender’s Game. Now on to the actual Book itself! Ender is gone, but his loyal soldiers have been returned home. They are still children, but hailed as heroes, and coveted by their nations. Soon they are rounded up and kidnapped, all save Bean. Bean soon discovers Achilles is behind the kidnapp ing. We are then thrown into a world of battle strategy. Achilles begins to shape the world to his own desires, seeking power by manipulating various governments. At the same time Bean seeks to foil him, and save his fellow Battle School colleagues. To this he must turn to Ender’s worst enemy… his brother Peter, future Hegemon of Earth, but for now only a teenage college boy writing under the pseudonym of Locke. The strategies and plots that Card creates are interesting, and anyone interested in International relations will follow them with interest as he speculates on what would happen IF. Does the book work? Well yes. Of course it can’t compare to the subtle and haunting beauty of Ender’s Game, but he does explore the conflict between realising that these children are geniuses, but are at the same time only children. The second guessing by all the characters does seem a little contrived (after all, no matter how intelligent people are, or how similarly trained, they cannot predict with such certainty). Still the boom is very enjoyable! I’m not sure why this book works. It is epic in proportion, and you know that the story is leading to the eventual creation of a world-wide hegemony by Peter, but it seems impossible. This book moves a good way forward in making it seem possible. The characters are oddly distant, but he manages to blunt that by making some of the supporting cast more human (the Wiggin parents, Sister Carlotta). The strategies developed are interesting, and give some insight into the Battle School. I would like to see more trauma though. No matter how bright these children are, the abrupt change to civilian life should be almost traumatising for them. Instead they either shrug into it without any problem, or aren’t allowed to deal with it as they are thrust into their native militaries. I liked it. Card’s style is easy and understandable, his characters likeable. The end is a bit an ti-climatic, but this is only part of an on-going saga. I look forward to the next book. I can’t rate it too highly though. It’s enjoyable, but not special, maybe once the series is concluded a better picture can be grasped. Less epic than the original ‘Ender’ series, and far more down to nitty gritty earthly politics.

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                  • A Literate Generation? / Discussion / 0 Readings / 7 Ratings
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                    07.05.2001 19:40
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                    I think one of the major reasons why children today don't read is simply because of school. Initially most children DO read. The simple children's books are their world, how they learn about it, gain ideas, and become interested in various things - learn morals and ideas. Then they go to school. Initially the books are fun, but somewhere on the road they become dull. Tgis is usually when they are assigned books that no longer have pictures, and are compulsory. This too is a necessary part of education. A moment when a serious approach to education and learning must be implemented. Sadly it is not in most people's characters to do their work, they do it because they have to. School is crucial in installing this basic premise. So these assigned books are necessary. What I object to is the nature of the books assigned. Very often they are what are deemed 'classics'. This is faintly ridiculous, because of the mere fact that most of them are, to put it bluntly, boring and plodding, out of touch with people's lives today. Yes, they are excellent books! And yes, some children do appreciate them, but very often a more mature mind is able to pick up on their brillinace, not a child who desires action and adventure. The point is appreciation is not innate, it is a process of evolution through greater reading. You need to give the passion before the appreciation. The best way to do this is to give a much broader base from which children can pick. Try different genres, different styles, even different eras, in the hope that something will hook. Personally I read as a child... my interest waned, and then one little story in one anthology about dragons got me hooked into fantasy, then science fiction, and then on to other books once I had exhausted a large portion of the genre. What got me reading other books was the appreciation and admirtation for those workd and authors within the books I was reading. Then you can a ppreciate fine literature. Is that a good thing? Yes, I think it is. Reading makes you think, and question, and I believe makes you a fundamentally better person with a broader appreciation of how people feel. You can never 'know' a person, but what someone writes, I feel, rather than their eyes, is the window to their soul. To appreciate others, you must understand what they are trying to communicate through the most intimate way, and in some respects, the most honest war, the written word.

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                      07.05.2001 16:07
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                      Julia Garnet ('Miss, not Mrs') is a retired history teacher. She has never fallen in love, she is a communist, and her only real friend has just died. As a result she rents out her apartment in London and travels to Venice to stay there for six months in an aprtment near the Campo Angelo Raffaele. The sculpture outside featuring the Angel Raphael, a boy holding a large fish, and a dog, sparks her interest and sets her on a quest to discover what it means. On the way she discovers for the first time how alone she has been, love, and the bitterness of betrayel. Miss Garent's story is onterwoven with a re-telling of the Book of Tobit, a lost tale from the authorised version of the James I bible. Slowly parallels develop between the two stories. On the way Julia 'finds' religion. This is handled well; there is no complete giving up of her atheist values, but more a re-assessment and understanding of why religion is important. The beauty of Venice evokes in her spirit an awakening to the beauty that surrounds her. Despite many of Julia's moves towards enlightment and inclusion within the world (as oppossed to self-imposed exile), there always remains an alieness around her character. You support her, and want her to succeed, while understanding that she is not a hero, but a victim, and that she is not the most likeable of people. Sally Vickers displays humanity in all its bitterness and ego-loving self. The intrusion of the real world on Miss Garnet's always comes as a shock - a brutal ripping and shredding into her world; the outside slightly out of her grasp to understand. She can function in it, but is never wholly part of it. The book drags you through, to find out what will happen in the story of Tobias, and what happens with Miss Garnet's new found friends in Venice. The descriptions of the city are well done, and Julia's adventures thoroughly engaging. An enlightning book that makes you ponder on yourself and you behaviour to other people, and asks you to question the values you always hold as true, showing that a new environment can create an awakening of the soul. Subtly handled, with a great deal of attention to detail.

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                        04.05.2001 21:10
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                        As usual JC Grimswood has produced a great little book full of action, characterisation, and hi-octane entertainment. A mixture of suave coolness with hard edged vibes, and more brand names than you could shake a stick at! It is the near future, but the world is not as we know it. Alexandria is a hub as essential as New York, and the Ottoman empire is still at large. This is the story of Raf, the son of the Sultan of Tunisia... or is he? What follows is a tale of murder, with Raf as the main suspect - who is trying to pin the blame on him? Interwoven is the story of Raf's past - his childhood, and the events which led him to this foreign city where he is respected and lives a lie. The characters are engaging, with Raf shining as a kind of bumbling anti-hero who is essentially good, but keeps falling into trouble. The islamic world is not alien to him, but he doesn't agree with many of its tenants, which leads to eventual conflict. His protection of his niece's ward is heart warming in the way which it emerges almost instinctively. This isn't Ian M. Banks, but it's close, and getting there all the time. A little less 'out there' than his previous books, it is still a mind-boggling array of action and gadgets, with people who are super-human yet human, with abilities that don;t show, and verging on madness. Great writing, and a cracking read.

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                        23.04.2001 19:17
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                        This book is better than an Iceland Buy One Get One Free deal! It follows the life of Robert Neville, a man alone in a suburb who roams the streets during the day collecting things for his home, and killing any vampires he comes across in his travels. At night he sits at home getting drunk, trying to not listen to hordes of vampires that surround his home, baying for his blood. The book is short, and sweet, and actually quite frightening for a book of such short length. Everyone has become a vampire, save for our hero, who now has to deal with this, and the fact that he loses his wife and child to this horrendous fate. The book explores the movements of his mind as he swings from varying moods of resolve, and despair. A beautiful book, exploring humanity and people, as well as taking a whole new twsit on vampires, explaining their origin in scientific terms. Though written in 1955 it has not suffered overly much from the ravages of time, and though we have now long since passed it's future date of 1975, it works superbly. These Millennium classics are great!

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                        • Valentine (DVD) / DVD / 0 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                          23.04.2001 18:37
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                          I was really looking forward to this one. It has gotten quite a bit of publicity in terms of trailers, and bus posters, and it had Davic Boreanaz in it and Denise Richards. Cool! The movie starts out showing a kid at a school dance asking girls to dance. The kid is ugly, and naturally is rejected. One girl however does accept his offer, and he even gets a snog for his trouble, but when they're spotted by some other kids, they ask the girl if she's been attacked. And she replies that yes, the pervert attacked her. The ugly kid is beaten up, and then we leap froward in time to when they're all grown up. The film plot initially is OK, the murders all follow one after the other, we all know it is probably the kid who was rejected by these pretty women. The problem is that it is hard to believe that any of the men presented to us could be the killer, even WITH plastic surgery. You rapidly discount them and come up with the prime suspect. The death scenes are OK, and suspense is also OK. One murder scene takes place in an art exhibition, in a maze of screens talking about love, and the use of a bow and arrow in a film called Halloween is amusing, and works well, but the others are mediocre affairs. I was surprised this film only got a 15, quite a bit of swearing and some nice sex scenes (nothing hardcore, no nipples or anything, but still quite raunchy for a 15). Amusing in places, but lacks from any empathy with the characters. The problem is the end sequence. The party is OK, and it works, but then suddenly the film just ends, the party empties, and our Survivor survives, and the last other victim's fall into the murderer's hands happen off screen. It's annoying. The ending made me hate this film, which is a shame. There is no explanation as to how he managed to escape detection, and a previous statement and situation makes it seem improbable (for those of you who have seen the film, I'm talking about the scene in the police station when one of our victims vouches for the murderer's credentials.) The ending irritated me so much I moaned all the way home.

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                            20.04.2001 18:31
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                            The House of Lords! The heights of the upper classes! Late lunches and nodding off to the man talking on the big cushion thingy. A kind of docile resting home where the blue bloods went out to pasture, and old politicians could keep a hand in to the political process! Shoudl it be scraped? Good Lord (no pun intended HAH HAH) no! As others have said, a second chamber is CRUCIAL for parliamentary scrutiny. We have an electoral system which allows for huge majorities (as in the current Labour Gvt) and whips to keep parties in line. Without a second chamber legislation could be rushed through without any kind of scrutiny or delay, or even really time for debate outside the House of Commons. Should the Lords in its present form be reformed? That is a yes. The hereditary peers notion has some merits (shock -horror!) - representatives who usually (though not always) have a high standard of education, and have known since birth that they will have a position in this Chamber and can spend their whole lives working towards it. In reality of course, this doesn't happen, and many hereditary peers do not attend and do not care what happens. They are also usually party political, and Tory at that, which causes all kinds of problems to anyone who is leaning slightly left. Should the chamber be elected? No - that too causes problems. The second chamber has a review function, nothing else. It should not become a challenge to the Commons! Two elected chambers creates two Commons essentially, it is a bad idea. Then what should be done? I propose that the current nomination system be maintained for life peerages - but it should be a body of independent and mixed experts who will actively seek good members for the house. There should be a balance of views from all sides, with as many neutral parties as possible. These people should be well qualified experts in legislation and other fields who can act not only in the interests of the nation as a whole, but from operating in fields which will be affected by legislation. I think such a body should still be only able to postpone legislation, but as these will no doubt be pro-active members due to their being actively put in the Chamber, they will be driven to put their point across, forcing the issues to be considered and examined by the outside world and members of the Commons. So- get rid of the hereditaries, get rid of the PM nominating life peerages, get rid of the Bishops - but KEEP THE LAW LORDS (added authority to the highest level of legal appeal, and experts in dealing with issues and implementation and interpretation of legislation). Any objections?

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