Book Review: "Red Sparrow" by Jason Matthews (2013)
James C. Rocks [2019-07-24]

 Book Review:

"Red Sparrow", the debut novel by ex-CIA operative Jason Matthews (I'm told his wife is also ex-CIA) is the first of a trilogy featuring the beautiful Russian spy, Dominika Egorov, and American CIA operative, Nathaniel "Nate" Nash. The book was made into a film of the same name in 2018, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton. This review concerns the book.

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Giving Something A Fair Review (2019)
James C. Rocks [2019-07-21]

 Giving Something A Fair Review (2019)
I've seen enough reviews in my lifetime to realise that reviewers are often heavily swayed by their emotions and, whilst there will always be an aspect of personal preference, I felt some sort of objective method of comparison was necessary. This article outlines the self-developed method I now use and the categories I use to do them and all of the reviews on this site follow this method. I gave this idea some thought and my intent to create a consistent approach to reviews that is entertaining yet that little bit more objective.

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'Game Changer' by Douglas E. Richards, A Very Personal Review
James C. Rocks [2018-10-20]

 'Game Changer' by Douglas E. Richards, A Very Personal Review

"Game Changer" is a book written by Douglas E. Richards, someone I would normally have considered extremely tech savvy and, until reading this book, one of my very favourite authors. I do not lie when I say literally devoured every book of his I could get my hands on; superb writing, good grammar and an incisive ability to create suspenseful situations. And then, completely out of the blue, it wasn't. I detested this book so much so that I doubt I could ever read one of Richards' books again.

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'Tales of the High Avenging Angel: #1-3' by Dietmar Wehr
James C. Rocks [2018-03-24]

 'Tales of the High Avenging Angel: #1-3' by Dietmar Wehr
Hoch Racheengel, former star pilot and star of Dietmar Arthur Wehr's dark science fiction tale, "High Avenging Angel", a brave attempt by the author to be original that is only partially successful. Set in a world the author calls "space noir", an idea based on the old cinematic idea of "film noir" the book has a fair degree of action and violence with stories ranging across Earth and several other systems. The tales all followed the same basic outline overused convenient high-tech devices leading to a lack of believability and suspense. Although I found the book readable, I felt it a shame it couldn't have been more adventurous and interesting. A good try that failed to meet its potential.

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James Cameron's 'Avatar' (2009)
James C. Rocks [2018-03-01]

 James Cameron's 'Avatar' (2009)

Quite possibly my all-time favourite film, a heady mix of science-fiction and fantasy, James Cameron's "Avatar" combines aspects of "Dances With Wolves", "Titanic", "The Last Samurai" in a heady mix of science, fantasy and romance. As he often does, Cameron takes a swipe at the industrial excesses of corporate commercialism, with human/corporate greed clashing with the natives of a distant world. Credited as the one which kickstarted modern 3D film technology, "Avatar" set the 3D bar and, in many ways, has a lot to answer for.

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First 'Iron Man 3' Now 'Predator' ... Somebody Stop Him!
James C. Rocks [2017-12-15]

 First 'Iron Man 3' Now 'Predator' ... Somebody Stop Him!

I am a huge fan of Marvel's "Iron Man" film featuring Robert Downey Jnr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and, though it was not as good, still liked its immediate sequel. "Avengers Assemble", with Downey's third outing as Iron Man, represented perhaps the very best a super hero film could offer. The "Iron Man" brand was so well established that I simply knew that a third film, "Iron Man 3" (Iron Man's fourth outing), had to be good because no one on Earth could possibly screw it up ... enter Shane Black!

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Passengers (2016)
James C. Rocks [2017-09-03]

 Passengers (2016)

With stunning graphics and a stellar cast "Passengers" (2016) is a film that should have blown us away but instead it received heavy criticism but was that criticism as deserved as some would have us believe? I received a copy on Blu-ray for my birthday so I set about finding out if I agreed with the film's critics. Everyone knows it's rare for Hollywood to get it right in terms of the science and this film is no exception but, since just about every other film is the same, I feel it's unfair to unduly criticise it for it. And besides, "Passengers" is not really a science fiction film any more than "Titanic" is a film about a ship hitting an iceberg, it's a romance.

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Rick Mofina's 'Blood of Others'
James C. Rocks [2017-08-25]

 Rick Mofina's 'Blood of Others'
A book with moments of extreme violence, but not pointless, violence and one that I think is very much worth a read. It opens with a brutal murder, the victim gruesomely, yet artistically, displayed which leads both the lead detective and a reporter to the conclusion that the murder was likely to be one of a series, the murderer a serial killer. In writing this book, the author has woven a story around complex characters with believable personal motivations using good dialogue as well as nail biting, harrowing and gripping scenes. Definitely a book worth a read.

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An Unpopular Review (L Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth")
James C. Rocks [2017-06-08]

 An Unpopular Review (L Ron Hubbard's It is said that opinions are like ****holes, we all have one but nothing about possessing ones means you're right, not unless you can justify it. With that in mind I am reviewing a book I happen to like by an author I happen to revile, especially the misbegotten abortion he spawned. I'm not saying it's a good book, just that I like it for various reasons.

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"Split Second" by Douglas E. Richards
James C. Rocks [2017-01-15]

 The second Douglas E. Richard book I have read, "Split Second" is a techno-thriller, an innovative twist of the science fiction staple of time travel. The book is well-written, engaging and has a fair degree of suspense... for those with strong feelings on such things, it is also fairly violent and contains quite a lot of swearing. I found the book hard to put down and my regular reading time was something I looked forward to. I have no hesitation at all in recommending the book to anyone who is a fan of either thrillers or Sci-Fi.

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The Passion of The Christ
James C. Rocks [2016-09-01]

 The Passion of The Christ

I genuinely had no intention of going to see Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ". Several people had opined on how bad (gory, violent, bloody) the film was and I did not want to contribute to the coffers of Mr Gibson whose then behaviour I had been viewing with some alarm. The offer of free tickets by some local churches apparently aware and happy that many of those applying for them were atheist or agnostic changed that and both I and a friend set off to see it.

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"Why Elephants Have Big Ears" by Chris Lavers
James C. Rocks [2015-08-01]

 A brilliantly written popular science book that explains how evolution can create the staggering variety it has, whether dinosaurs were warm or cold blooded, why cinematic monsters such as King Kong and Godzilla are laughably impossible, why the marsupials kept control of Australia, why insects are so small. Finally, he explains why, despite our apparent superiority, we really don't own the world at all, that there is no such thing as a superior or dominant lifeform on the planet. He also explains why, of course, elephants do have big ears.

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"River Out Of Eden" by Richard Dawkins
James C. Rocks [2015-04-01]

 In "River Out Of Eden", Dawkins writes of a universe with no apparent design or purpose and explains more of our evolutionary past. With thorough knowledge and captivating style, Dawkins illuminates how life has achieved what to the uneducated or bigoted appear to be miracles. Science journal 'Nature' says, "It abounds with metaphors that make things brilliantly clear, an excellent introduction to many important evolutionary ideas"

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Harry Turtledove's "World War" & "Colonisation" Series
James C. Rocks [2016-03-29]

 Harry Turtledove's

A brilliant idea that ultimately fails in execution. It has been said of Turtledove that he is the master of the alternate history series, on the basis of the first seven books of this series I have little choice but to disagree.

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"Great Feuds In Science" by Hal Hellman
James C. Rocks [2016-03-29]

 The scientific endeavour is assumed an "unending march of science" by many but, in truth, no one claimed it as such. But why? Why does science, a purely human endeavour, give us real answers whilst religion only pretends to? In discussing some of the most famous feuds in science the author throws light on the true motivations and petty jealousies of scientists throughout history. In cleverly revealing the kind of sarcasm and abuse competing scientists would often throw at each other he puts to rest the idea that science is infallible whilst reflecting on today's media battles between evolutionists and fundamentalists.

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"Soldier of the Republic" by Ben Slythe
James C. Rocks [2016-03-29]

A review of "Soldier of the Republic", the debut novel by Ben Slythe. The book might be classed as military science fiction, is well-written and engaging demonstrating the author's excellent grasp of both military organisation and historic battles.

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"The Jesus Mysteries", Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy
James C. Rocks [2016-02-01]

 Despite being an atheist, I had always accepted the existence of a man called Jesus Christ as actual but Freke and Gandy's "Jesus Mysteries" forced me to re-evaluate my view. Although I did not believe Jesus was the son of any god, I had envisaged him a s real, perhaps a Jewish leader, perhaps a "freedom-fighter", perhaps wise, perhaps soft-spoken and the kind of man around which legends are built ... a kind of early-day Robin Hood if you like. In their book, the authors reveal the mystery religions, whose various dying & resurrecting godmen they refer to as "Osiris-Dionysus", as showing a great degree of similarity in their multi-level teachings that were interpreted more literally by the uninitiated and allegorically by the initiated.

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"The Universe in a Nutshell" by Stephen Hawking
Ben Slythe [2015-07-07]

 A review of Stephen Hawking's, "The Universe In A Nutshell" by my friend and fellow author, Ben Slythe in which he outlines why it is that he enjoyed the late, great Stephen Hawkings' then latest book. In it he outlines how the book, presented with lots of pictures and plenty of whitespace around a great deal of amusing and interesting information, is mostly successful in attempting to explain the universe to the general public.

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Battlestar Galactica, Fourth & Final Series Finale
James C. Rocks [2010-01-01]

 Battlestar Galactica, Fourth & Final Series Finale

An absolutely appalling ending to a series that had once held so much promise, as it came back to bite us in the "ass" in the worst possible way. There are a lot of people out there who still like BSG and despite its brilliant start, I'm not one of them. I kid you not, if you love good TV, good storytelling, the way I do the ending of this series will make you spit, swear, stomp and generally want to smash things.

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In Appreciation of E E 'Doc' Smith
James C. Rocks [2010-01-01]

 In Appreciation of E E 'Doc' Smith
From the "Lensman" series, through "Skylark" and, a rarity these days, even some of his standalone novels, I have read a lot of Edward Elmer Smith's (better known to his fans as "Doc") material. Yes, he had his flaws, most notably his politics (though they were probably a feature of the times as much as anything else), but he had his strengths too. E. E. "Doc" Smith was a brilliant writer, not so much in a literary sense, but one capable of writing science fiction that spanned solar systems, galaxies and universes. Though his philosophies represented a bygone age, his technology was imaginative and carried me, as a young boy, into realms I had never before visited. There have, undoubtedly, been writers of his calibre (and far better) since but I am not sure anyone ever had as much scope in their stories.

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Giving Something A Fair Review
James C. Rocks [2009-01-01]

 Giving Something A Fair Review
I've seen enough reviews in my lifetime to realise that reviewers are often heavily swayed by their emotions and, whilst there will always be an aspect of personal preference, I felt some sort of objective method of comparison was necessary. This article outlines the self-developed method I now use and the categories I use to do them and all of the reviews on this site follow this method. I gave this idea some thought and my intent to create a consistent approach to reviews that is entertaining yet that little bit more objective.

READ MORE →

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
James C. Rocks [2006-01-01]

 Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
I first saw "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1981) on the BBC and instantly loved it whilst somehow managing to hate the fact that Arthur never took that damned dressing gown off. This review compares the much loved 1981 BBC TV version of The Guide to the more recent 2005 film version.

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Quotes

I didn't mind getting old when I was young. It's the being old now that's getting to me.

John Scalzi

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