Category Archives: books

Book Review; Pohon Setan, Ben Brown

Available as an Amazon Ebook for Kindle, 167 pp $1.99

While beginning and ending in Australia this is a tale of horror set in Indonesia.

Who better to document horrors than journalists and we meet one of the old school. Almost a Dickensian caricature yet totally believable, Bill Redcliff shepherds a group of young journos on what seems like a simple fact-finding mission in Java.

When things go wrong, over-sexed ex-S.A.S Bradley Munroe is brought into the action.

There is lust and love, the Pohon Setan are truly horrific and the violence is pyrotechnical in its intensity. The bane of Australia’s current political life, an evil people smuggler makes an appearance and, at the end, there is a hint of the modern Murdoch Press in action.

I read it in a single sitting, working my way through the first couple of pages then suddenly forgetting everything around me.  Definitely a 4/5 read.

As a bonus, there is a short story included with the novel. A completely different type of story, set in the future, “Rescue Unit 867a“. This is an intense little event which still manages to raise some fascinating questions about artificial intelligence. The Good Doctor would have been proud to write this one.

Vale, Michael Hart

Who was Michael Stern Hart?

He was the Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1398; February 3, 1468) of the 20th century.

Gutenberg invented mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period.

Michael Hart (March 8, 1947; September 6, 2011) invented the eBook and began the modern information revolution.

A student at University of Illinois, Hart was given a computer account on July 4, 1971. Wondering what he could do with it, unlike other users of the time who used the gestating internet for data distribution, Hart chose to use his computer time for information distribution.

Typing in the American Declaration of Independence, he discovered that it would crash the system if he was to email it to everyone on the ‘net. As an alternative he made the text available for people to download instead.

This was the beginning of what he was to call Project Gutenberg which became his lifelong work. He continued by adding such classics as the Bible and the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain. As of 1987 he had typed in a total of 313 books in this fashion.

In 1987 he was able to set up a series of “mirror sites” and mailing lists and so was able to recruit help in the work. Now, in the week of his death, the Project has over 36,000 books available for free downloading. All are out of copyright.

From his unformatted style of creating eBooks, the Kindle, Nook and other modern eBook readers developed their proprietary formats and, as the 15th century Gutenberg was the father of the printed book so the 20th century Hart was the father of the electronic book.

While others were sharing data across the newly networked computers of 1971, Hart had a vision which not only led to his vast collection of eBooks but also paved the way for blogging sites like this.

I repeat.

Vale, Michael Hart, and thank you..

Looting the Corpse

I often drop in on Melbourne artist Jennie Rosenbaum’s website yet it was her twitter entry this morning which resonated with me. I was preparing this post under the title “Goodbye Borders”.  Thank you Jennie for the new title and for the validation of my feelings.

She tweeted;
The borders closing sale is both intriguing and sad, it feels a little like looting a corpse.

Two days ago I was in Perth and walked by the Border’s store in Hay Street. I had read the newspaper reports of this book store being placed into receivership and closed down. Not just in Perth but Australia-wide.

It wasn’t until I went inside that the full extent of this tragedy hit me.

I am a sucker for book stores and I found myself tearing up just a little. I also dropped thoughts of buying any books. It felt sacrilegious. I knew I would not be able to enjoy reading anything bought here under these circumstances.

I snapped these shots and said a mental “Goodbye”

That Bloomsbury Day Of The Year Again

. . . . . It must be a movement then, an actuality of the possible as possible. Aristotle’s phrase formed itself within the gabbled verses and floated out into the studious silence of the library of Saint Genevieve where he had read, sheltered from the sin of Paris, night by night. By his elbow a delicate Siamese conned a handbook of strategy. Fed and feeding brains about me: under glowlamps, impaled, with faintly beating feelers: and in my mind’s darkness a sloth of the underworld, reluctant, shy of brightness, shifting her dragon scaly folds. Thought is the thought of thought. Tranquil brightness. The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms. Tranquility sudden, vast, candescent: form of forms. . . . .

All Hail Eris

Growing into an early adulthood in the 1970’s I naturally became involved in  conspiracy theories.

It was cool to see the hidden hands of the United States in all sorts of events. From the obvious falsities of the assassination of John F Kennedy to LSD experimentation on civilians. That Grassy Knoll was never explained.

The attempted genomicide on the plant species Cannabis sativa was also a conspiracy between US Government and US industry barons.

Then I discovered the conspiracy theorist’s bible; “The Illuminatus! Trilogy” by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

The real source of all conspiracies. The original and the oldest of all conspiracies. In fact it is not a true conspiracy if the Illuminati are not behind it.

Just as a sidelight, did you know that with a tale with multiple time lines, it is necessary to have four copies to cut and paste it back into a single time line! What? Of course I didn’t! A person would have to be a complete nut case to do something like that!

Anyways, back to the point of this tale, playing vinyl tracks backwards showed the Satanist conspiracy in Rock and Roll. I always believed that the Illuminati were behind this one as well.

Proof has arrived.

Type illuminati in reverse into your browser and then add the dotcom to complete the URL.

Book Review: The Mayan Prophecy

I had been wondering at the sudden assumption in society that the world was due to end in 2012. I finally got around to reading the book.

I was left with the same feeling that last great societal delusion gave me. “The Da Vinci Code” was another work of badly written fiction which tapped into America’s “Need to Believe”. And as America goes, so goes the rest of the Western Civilisation. Although I am beginning to see that phrase as an oxymoron.

Steve Alten has written a book which requires a major suspension of disbelief along with an ability to ignore a number of internal contradictions. I’ll mention just one. The nasties crashed into the Earth 65 million years ago. Somehow the goodies AND the nasties lay around doing nothing for some 64,975,000 years and then suddenly began “Doing things”. Yeah! Right!

While the plot has some coherence, the characters are, to put it mildly, off the planet. High levels of World Government are all shown as largely incompetent. While this is probably true, I would prefer not to have it pointed out quite so graphically.

As with Dan Brown’s novels, if you are happy simply reading words and not thinking then this may be the book for you. Alternatively, should you be weary of your current belief system, then you will find a new, apocalyptic set of beliefs here. If you have any sense, then I would suggest finding something else to read.

No, I don’t want to read the sequel. I have better things to do with my time.

Book Review; Land of the Painted Caves

This is the conclusion of the Earth’s Children series.

After 31 years, Jean, I feel you won’t be too upset by the familiarity, the final book has been written, published and read. The series is complete and many of the loose ends have been tied together. So why am I left feeling unfulfilled?

Somewhere along the line, Jean, you lost the story-telling knack and this time simply wrote down a series of events, visits and descriptions. Yes, I began this final book with anticipation, struggled though the middle and finished, hoping against hope for a final burst of brilliance. And was disappointed.

“The Plains of Passage” was the other “travelling” book in the series. I had hoped you had learned to overcome the boredom of a journey and insert some excitement into this final volume. Alas, this last effort reads as though you had decided against telling a story and chose instead to lecture your readers.

There are all the essential parts of a good novel included in “The Land of the Painted Caves” except they lack the tale-teller’s spark. The human interest is shallow, the human conflict contrived and not essential to the progression of the story. Even the twist near the end is simply an obvious “loose-end” being tied up. The only parts where you show passion is in your descriptions of the cave paintings.

I will not include spoilers in this review and I wish I had been able to be positive about this effort.

Unfortunately, Jean, have I finished 31 years of reading  your work which began with a huge adoration and has ended with an unexpected and most unwelcome let down.

Then again I am just a single reader. There will be many more who will love it.