Odessa Sea – Clive Cussler

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Picking up a book by your favourite author is like sliding into a warm bed in winter or that first sip of beer on a hot Australian summer day, its just fantastic. Speaking of which it is 42 ° C   (or 107 F) to you crazy yanks.

Another solid entry into the Dirk Pitt series (its number 24 by the way) It ha been 2 years since out last adventure with these heroes and after the first few pages it feels like no time has passed at all. With the introduction of his long lost kids a few books back they pretty much are in all the books now and its sticks to the same formula, the kids have one plot and Pitt has another but by the end it turns out they are intertwined. This is normally done well but this time each plot for me just felt forced, like they each could have been their own book since the connection wasn’t that strong at all, each could function without the other.

It was however refreshing to see that the crew on the NUMA vessel’s which normally are treated like red shirts from star trek (ie canon fodder) were actually treated like people for once and not just killed off.

I do like how his books always seem to include some real life event in them kind of ties them down to a specific time frame. For this one we deal with the Russian invasion and take over of the Crimea Peninsula
With his multitude of series running and it is no surprise that sometimes things feel “familiar” but that doesn’t deter you from enjoying the ride. Bring on book #25

Meg #3 Primal Waters, Meg #4 Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten

105746Oh where to begin with this one, I really enjoyed Meg #1 with its introduction of a prehistoric, once believed extinct species but then Meg #2 introduced another species and I was concerned the 3rd might keep that ball rolling. Sadly something worse happened, the book revolves around that gutter trash commonly referred to as reality television. Oh the pain. If it wasn’t bad enough that our screens are filled with this trash and that our society scoops up this rubbish in which stupid people are made famous. To write a book about it is just depressing. Was the author running out of story ideas? The story starts out loosely believable and then add in a plot of revenge and its just bare-able.

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But all sense of realism and plausibility is thrown right out the window with Meg #4.  To make up for his bucking of the trend in bringing back long dead species in Meg #3, the author steps it up a notch and brings back half a dozen extinct species and an underwater realm were they have all lived since time eternal. Cash money Arabs throwing money around like confetti to capture these animals and put them in a zoo just makes we wonder if anyone has ever watched Jurassic park? It wont work guys give up.

I really didn’t enjoy either of these books and really found myself having to bribe myself into finishing this book. The plot and realisim was just gone for me.  The sad reality is there is still a 5th book in this series to come, and I dread as to what the plot will be for that. My compulsion to always finish a series once started really annoys me here as I would love nothing more than to throw away these books and never read this author again but alas I must continue I hate loose ends

Meg – Steve Alten

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So somewhere on my news feed for various social media sites, i see a brief blurb about a new shark movie coming out in 2017, featuring none other than Mr Action, Jason Statham. Intrigued, off to google i go and i find out its based on a book about the Megalodon shark. i don’t know what it is about sharks but i love stories about them, scared shitless about them at the beach and can’t stop thinking of them but i love reading and watching Documentaries about them.

Meg is a rather interesting take on the shark story, a secret navy dive in the Mariana Trench runs into some Megalodons which are living down there near the warm hydro-thermal vents. An accident causes one shark to be dragged to the surface, and then the chaos ensues.

a 25 metre shark, is a fearsome predator. However the book solely wasn’t just about the shark eating people, there was a fair bit of dialogue given over to people debating do we kill it? or is it now an endangered species and should be preserved. Which to be fair is something i had not considered.

While i note that we know more about other planets than we do about the bottoms of the oceans, it was still a stretch to try and swallow the concept of the shark living down there, with some other surprises. That aside it was a well written book, with plenty of accurate facts about sharks in it. It is also the first in a series of 5 books, so my hope is that unlike the Jaws movies that just got worse with each sequel that this book series might do ok.

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Who hasn’t wondered about theoretical what ifs. What if Hitler got into The Academy of Fine Arts as a youth, would he still of got into politics? What if JFK changed his route that day?  So when you see movies like The Final Countdown, you think its going to be awesome but it just doesn’t live up to it since they fail to destroy the Japaneses (they want to preserve the timeline).

I had previously dabbled in some alternate history works by Harry Turtledove in his “Days of Infamy” duology in which the Japanese follow up Pearl Harbour bombing with a land invasion too.  Then i heard of the Axis of Time trilogy (which is now more than 3) in which a multinational task force from the year 2021 is sent back to the battle of midway (by accident). They are stuck in the past, as soon as i read that i was yes, shit is going to get messed up and changed. So i had to get them.

It great from the get go, The multinational task force had a Japanese ship in it so when the midway fleet see that they attack and are pretty much destroyed by the future ships. From that point on history is completely changed. Its worse because some of the fleets ships are missing. Did they travel back?  If so where or who has them, because some had nukes on board.

John crafts an amazing universe here with 1940s tech trying to adapt and jump forward to 2021. We see huge leaps in tech, Generals in WW2 using Ipads but more interestingly, John does a fantastic job of bringing to the front cultural issues too. Us civilized countries take it for granted that our armed forces are made up of both men and women and people of many colours but 1940s is far different. There are some massive issues in 1940 of people taking orders from women captains and “coloured” captains. I feel john does an amazing job of capturing this racist attitude. I know back then they didn’t see it as that but in today’s world that is exactly what it is, racist. This series covers the time frame of world war 2 which to no surprise finishes earlier in this new time line.

There are numerous comic moments for example Prince Harry was serving in the fleet that got sent back, so he gets to meet his grandparents before they were married and the royal succession line goes into a panic trying to adapt. Stalin loves hosting Tarantino marathons!

While this Trilogy deals just with ww2 John has continued this universe in some ebooks but set 10 years later. This series has really cemented john as one of my top 5 authors. Doesn’t hurt that he is an Aussie too, even though he is from Queensland.

What If? – Randall Munroe

What If? – Randall Munroe

Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving  to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions

There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as

  • what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
  • From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
  • Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
  • If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans

There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.

Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!

 

 

 

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea – Adam Roberts

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under The Sea – Adam Roberts

I always did like the original 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Especially when i first read it as a kid, the sense of wonder it evoked helped cement my love of Sci-fi. So when i saw this sitting on a shelf and that it was a re-imaging i thought id give it a go. Turns out this was actually less a re-imaging and more of a sequel(Which should of rang alarm bells in my head). A sequel that for the most part comes off as some kind of Hunter S Thompson drug fueled dream sequence.

For a majority of the story i was left unsure of what was really going on, was this some kind of dream? Was this an Episode of the TV show “Lost” Surely this plot had to come from the mind of someone on some kind of pharmaceutical concoction. There were some brief glimpses of normalcy when a familiar character appears, however it turns out nothing is normal and their take on this character clearly had to be a result of some kind of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Towards the end an attempt at a explanation is made as to what is really occurring however by this point the characters had become so unbelievable  i just wanted to throw the book away. I’m yet to abandon a book, though this did come close. Finally i pushed through to the disappointing yet reliving ending. Disappointing in that it resolved nothing and left me with questions but a relief in the fact that this horrible story was over. I have no idea what spawned the decision to write this book but it was complete and udder rubbish. Next time Adam Roberts goes on a drug fueled bender i suggests he sticks to watching TV like normal pot heads rather than try and Re-image another Sci-Fi classic