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Reviews Written by
Brian Altmeyer (brianaltmeyer@hotmail.com) (Irvine, California, USA)

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Integral Trees
Integral Trees
by Larry Niven
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Man, that's weird! I just love it., Jan. 28 2000
This is just classic. If I could go on vacations inside science fiction books, I'd spend quite a while flying around in one of those weird trees, maybe get in some flying time on a kite. Integral Trees seems just perfect to have an animated movie made out of it, and skydivers probably adore the concept of it. Science wise, though Niven has mathematical formulae which prove the Smoke Ring is possible, how exactly did the Integral Trees come to exist in a plane with no gravity and no solid grounding under which a core could churn up elements to produce life? The only thing such a system as the smoke ring could produce would be loose clouds of light matter upon which there would be no force urging coalescence, so none would happen, and without the Integral trees, you'd have a tough time explaining the oxygen content of the smoke ring. But I really don't give a flying, (tehehe), funk about that. The whole thing is just so intriguing and fun its hard to stop and think about anything but how cool it all is.

Brightness Reef
Brightness Reef
by David Brin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
61 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting first book in the New Uplift Trilogy., Jan. 28 2000
Brin has constructed an intriguing culture based on six species of intelligent creatures who, for whatever reason, have all come illegally to a world that is supposed to be left alone and set up their own civilization. The Sooner religion is also very fascinating. It cannot compare, however, with the mighty goings on in the first Uplift Trilogy, Startide Rising in particular, and it is good that it does not try to exceed them for it would have failed had it done so. Brightness Reef, the first half anyway, is more a leisurely Mark Twainesque tour of Brin's masterfully designed civilization and is really quite enjoyable in that aspect. The character of Alvin is especially delightful during this part of the book, along with his assorted group of friends of various species. As soon as the action starts picking up, though, the character that really steals the show is Dwer, a man-of-the-wilds whose interactions with a practical joker of a noor and a bitchy adolescent girl are positively comical.

Donnie Brasco
Donnie Brasco
by Joseph D. Pistone
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely gripping account of life in the Mafia, undercover., Jan. 28 2000
Donnie Brasco is the story of FBI agent Joseph Pistone who took part in one of the world's longest running undercover law enforcement operations in history, posing as jewel thief "Donnie Brasco" to ingratiate himself into the circles of Cosa Nostra and their affiliates. You're taken on a ride through all the real-life close calls and near-disasters when discovery seems almost imminent, when Pistone is caught in the middle of a war between his gangster 'friends' and their gangster enemies who, thinking he's one of them, considered him a target, and even as Pistone is arrested by local cops who know nothing of the operation and assume he's just another wiseguy working the town. The reality of the book is very powerful and definitely has an effect on you.

The Regulators
The Regulators
by Stephen King
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.45
86 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good in any way as Desperation., Jan. 28 2000
Regulators, which is supposedly the 'mirror-image' of Desperation, comes nowhere close the power and the feeling of the latter and lacks completely the magic of it also. One should read this only for perspective after having read the much better half of the duo. Though interesting enough and containing that special King something, it just isn't that high in the pantheon and doesn't frighten that much, either. Who is afraid of a bunch of cartoonish cowboys with machine guns? I suppose most people would be if this were real life, but in a horror book that just doesn't measure up.

Excession
Excession
by Iain M. Banks
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars What the HELL was that! I love being perplexed., Jan. 28 2000
This review is from: Excession (Mass Market Paperback)
Oh, man. You gotta read this. I'm not really sure how to describe it. I know this is supposed to be part of a series of books, but I didn't know that until after I read it, but even so this would not have perplexed me less, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The whole thing is sub-laced with little sideline ditties and short subplots that are completely meaningless but are just soo interesting and cool there's no way I'd excuse their absence in future printings. The ultimately bizarre occurences and characters present are all the more grabbing for the fact the author doesn't bother explaining their existence or the circumstances whence they came. The author's penchant for unexplained oddity, ala Kubrick, is most endearing and I shall be reading further books by him.

A Dark and Hungry God Arises
A Dark and Hungry God Arises
by Stephen R. Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.99
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Hellishly exciting and action-packed., Jan. 28 2000
The Gap Into Power goes back and forth between the tense and unpredictable political intrigue going on behind the scenes at the UMCP and the slick, razor-sharp action and danger at Billingate Station in Amnion space. The whole tone of the book makes you picture lighting like that in a sewer, if there were any lights at all. Gap into Power is as sleek as an oiled panther. How does Donaldson do it?

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
Edition: Paperback
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars In the sacred tradition of 1984 and Animal Farm., Jan. 28 2000
This review is from: Fahrenheit 451 (Paperback)
Classic rage against the ongoing war against ideas always being waged by power mongering monsters and the widespread mindlessness which allows them to waltz in through the front door and take over the world with little or no opposition. Bradbury presents us with a not-so-fictional nightmare vision of a world full of entertainment-pacified adult children who, every once in while, attempt suicide or vehicular manslaughter. A world where the feelings and desires of individuals are drowned out by catchy mini-tunes blared on subway speakers until all traces of real people are dissolved into soap-opera-obsessed shiny-happy-people-holding-hands who are only even fully conscious in the ten seconds it takes to realize the shrieking emptiness of their life while they run to the bathroom and down an entire bottle of pills to make it stop.

The Book of Lost Tales Part 1
The Book of Lost Tales Part 1
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The primal building blocks of Middle Earth., Jan. 28 2000
The Books of Lost Tales 1 and its subsequent sequels are the collections of stories from the early twentieth century by JRR Tolkien that were later refined into The Silmarillion which was then refined further into The Lord of the Rings. Although several details are different, it is very easy to see in these stories the building blocks of Middle Earth and indeed the very progenitor of modern fantasy. Don't, however, expect highly structured, memorable, or even easy to understand stories, for most of them were rough drafts written by Tolkien in his early journals and collected decades later by his son who tried very hard to make them readable. Not for anybody who fear literary disorganization and confusion.

Xenocide
Xenocide
by Orson Scott Card
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
70 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous at points, intricate storytelling throughout., Jan. 27 2000
This review is from: Xenocide (Mass Market Paperback)
Xenocide seems like a book that would read good with the moonlight sonata playing in the background. Forgive the pun but, what it lacks in depth it makes up in width. The epic storytelling is truly classic and the characters, if not real people, are sympathetic and understandable in design while the writing is actually quite rich. The parts on the Japanese world were particularly resonant because I personally know what its like to have OCD and to live as a slave to meaningless compulsion. Xenocide is detailed and reflective, but for some reason it just never flies. It is a very good book and it is definitely worth reading, just don't expect a celestial work like "Ender's Game".

The Call of Earth
The Call of Earth
by Orson Scott Card
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.49
68 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as the Memory of Earth., Jan. 27 2000
I just didn't find it as interesting as the first book in the series. This entire entry is just an interlude between the first one, which was truly marvelous, and the third one, which was also wonderful, and though it is good enough and has enough interest to get you through it, it is unavoidably apparent that it is just a description of events after and before important occurences in the series. The Call of Earth has not the magic of the sweeping introduction to Basilica that is in Memory, nor the exciting travelogue adventures in The Ships of Earth. This book should have been included as part of either the end of the first book or the beginning of the third. I did, however find it enjoyable enough and worth reading.

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