30 October 2012

Torrents anyone..?

Kickass Torrents - Currently the best torrent site on the web. Demonoid was the best, but that's no more. Try this instead. Lots of nicely indexed categories.

22 October 2012

Book Review: Whip - Martin Caidin

What: Whip
Who: Martin Caidin
When: Published March 15, 1976

Air Force Captain Whip Russel leads his B-25 bomber group, in the summer of 1942, on a special mission that changes the direction and decisions of war in the Pacific.
WHIP breathes will all the action and pace and accuracy that made THE LAST DOGFIGHT such a tremendous success. He tells this tale of the men and machines that made war in the air with undiminished vividness, but with a new sense of the tremendous personal price these modern gladiators - even the victors - had to pay.
MARTIN CAIDIN is the versatile and prolific author of MAROONED and CYBORG (THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN).

This one is a story about a US Air Force B-25 bomber pilot who leads a squadron in Northern Australia and New Guinea during World War Two. They embark on special missions against the Japanese with their modified aircraft and, as you guessed it, achieve spectacular results.

It's a good read. I first read Whip over 20 years ago after picking it up cheap at a second hand book store. I've reread it a few more times and thoroughly enjoyed each time. If you like a good action-packed war story where the good guys win then you'll love this.

Fiction like this is a bit predictable in many ways, but it's designed to be entertaining and that's where it succeeds very well. It'd make a great movie!


16 October 2012

Book Review: PERRY RODAN #1 (English) - Enterprise Stardust

What: PERRY RODAN #1 - Enterprise Stardust
Who: K H Scheer & Walter Erstling
When: Published 1961 (German) & 1969 (English) 

Perry Rhodan is the name of a science fiction series published since 1961 in Germany, as well as the name of the main character. It is a space opera, dealing with several themes of science fiction. Having sold over one billion copies (in pulp booklet format) worldwide, it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written. To date there are over 2600 instalments – and it’s still being added to. On September 30th 2011 a new series named Perry Rhodan Neo began publication gaining to attract new readers with a reboot of the story starting in the year 2036.

Enterprise Stardust was first published in English in 1969 and tells the story of the United States Space Force's first manned mission to the moon and what is discovered there.

Major Perry Rhodan and his three companion astronauts launch into space aboard the revolutionary spacecraft Stardust and make a rough landing on the moon after some unexplained technical difficulties during the descent. They land in one piece (but off-course) and proceed to take stock of their situation. Communications with Earth have been lost due to their location on the surface of the moon, so they venture out in a rover to find a spot suitable for radio communication back to base - only to have their equipment blow up while attempting to transmit. It appears that someone is interfering with their systems from afar…

Further exploration yields the discovery of a huge spherical spaceship of alien origin. Its occupants, the Arkonides, originate from the planet Arkon some 3,700 light-years from Earth. The Arkonide civilization is millions of years old but in decline. Their technology is far, far more advanced than humanity's but they appear to be very sick and lethargic. Arkonides have been observing Earth for thousands of years and have classed humans as a lower-grade primitive life-form under classification rules set down by 'the great Imperium'. This means that they cannot have direct contact with humans due to Imperium law. It seems that humanity has existed alongside a huge galactic society of diverse species and been wholly ignorant of the fact.

Rhodan eventually discovers that the Arkonides are suffering from serious illness and were on their way to seek treatment from another alien race when their ship malfunctioned and they crash-landed on the moon. Rhodan eventually persuades the Arkonides that humans are also an intelligent species and this causes the Arkonides to raise their classification level which allows them to accept his offer of assistance. In turn, the Arkonides also convince Rhodan of Earth's terrible slide towards World War Three and global nuclear holocaust that must be prevented. Rhodan can see the need for peace and unity on Earth, and believes that with the Arkonides’ help and technology he can help to bring about the necessary changes to achieve this.

Rhodan and his companions repair their ship with the Arkonides' help and travel back to Earth with one of the Arkonides (who appears to be a person of quite high standing in Arkonide society) as a representative. They land in the middle of the vast Gobi desert which is deep in the territory of the Asiatic Federation - an enemy of the United States and NATO. They prepare for the arrival of armed forces...

This is a fast and fun read written in a 'pulp fiction' magazine style, which is how these stories were originally released. The style fits this type of hero story well. It's the first glimpse into this phenomenally popular series and sets the scene for the myriad paths that this story is destined to take.

I found the plot quite predictable (as I expected), but that’s by no means a complaint. Likewise the characters are a tad shallow, but I suspect that these might be expanded considerably over the following stories. Perry Rhodan is a true hero - much like a sci-fi Biggles if you can imagine such a person.

I liked the short and concise explanations of a scientific and technical nature. Whether or not the explanations are entirely accurate I cannot comment. But they are sufficient for this space opera which is concerned more with what is happening rather than trivial details and minutiae. You are also reminded that it was written in the 1960’s due to references to things such as ‘recording on magnetic tape’. I’m interested to find out what the newer stories in this series are like with more current scientific ideas and theories, etc.

A lot of reviewers seem to have criticized Perry Rhodan books for the very reasons so many love them. To my mind they are intended as relaxing and fun reading with enjoyable storylines. I like this concept. I read plenty of other more ‘serious’ fiction as well, but there’ll always be a place for this kind of story for me.

Only a small number of the thousands of instalments were translated to English and published in novel form. I have the first 120 volumes as ebooks and a box of twenty or so random paperbacks. I look forward to seeing how Perry Rhodan, with his friends (and enemies), handle this new-found knowledge. What is there to learn about the other intelligent beings out there and the universe around us…with all of their technology and abilities? The possibilities are limitless. Great stuff.

A vast galactic society of thousands of worlds and sentient species with their stories and sagas - awesome! Just my sort of thing.

My rating: 8/10


For more info:

14 October 2012

TUEBL - Excellent free ebook site

Just a quick note to let you know about an excellent ebook site that I found recently - The Ulitmate E-Book Library (TUEBL).

TUEBL is a website run purely to give access to free ebooks for those that can't (or won't) pay. Nice! Just like your local library - nobody is 'paying' to read the books from there are they?

Anyhow, I take my hat off to the people that run this site. Top work. You can even 'like' them on Facebook to keep updated and there's a monthly email newsletter as well.

There are always new books being added in epub format but you can use a converter like Calibre to convert them to another format if required.


08 October 2012

Book Review: The Secret Hunters by Ranulph Fiennes

What: The Secret Hunters
Who: Sir Ranulph Fiennes
When: Published 2001

Is it fact or is it fiction? A very good question.


This book leaves you wondering if it really is a true story. Basically it's a story based on a journal found in an abandoned Antarctic hut.

It is the journal of a 55-year-old Jewish Canadian of German descent named Derek Jacobs who had been stranded at the hut in the early 1990s. The journal proved to be Jacobs' account of his life, from the death march of wartime Germany to the advance of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1974 to the Arctic, where Jacobs had come as a member of the Secret Hunters, an organization devoted to seeking out Nazi war criminals.

The story is fantastic and I found that I liked to assume that it was true. It's been called fiction by the author due to "several uncheckable facts that forced the decision to label the book as fiction rather than non-fiction".

Nonetheless, a very interesting story about a man who gets put through the meat grinder a number of times.

I'd love to meet Derek Jacobs...if he really exists at all.

Check it out at Goodreads


07 October 2012

Free Kindle ebooks

Have you got a Kindle?

If you have you might be interested in One Hundred Free Books. Find free books for the Amazon Kindle.

Free Fiction, Non-Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Thrillers, Young Adult, Cooking Books, & More.

But be quick, the books often aren't free for long.