Jeremy R. (diewachen) - Reviews

1 to 16 of 16
The Apocalypse Element (Doctor Who)
The Apocalypse Element (Doctor Who)
Author: Stephen Cole
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/7/2010


Let me just say, I'm a sucker for a Gallifrey story. The Infinity Doctors is one of my favorite Doctor Who books of all time, and War Games and Deadly Assassin are two television stories that never get old for me. Add in to that the beginning of the Last Great Time War, retroactive explanations for things that occurred in the TV Movie, Romana as President of Gallifrey and the 6th Doctor with Evelyn.... What isn't to like about the Apocalypse Element?

Okay, there are a couple of things: The story moves too fast at times and, if you haven't heard it before, you might get lost. The resolution of a human retinal scan opening the Eye of Harmony is great for the Doctor Who metastory, but it means Evelyn ends up acting like a snarky talking key for most of the story.

That being said, Colin Baker and Maggie Stables are a match made in heaven. They are apart far too often in this story, but when they're together, they're on fire. The story continues the Dalek Empire storyline (which is fantastic) and introduces the Gallifrey storyline (which I haven't listened to yet, but... Gallifrey!). This is one story I recommend taking episode by episode; pause when the end-credit music plays to digest the plot before moving on. If you can keep up with the pace of the plot, the rewards are well worth the patience.


The Boy Who Kicked Pigs
The Boy Who Kicked Pigs
Author: Tom Baker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/9/2010


Tom Baker's autobiography was probably the most honestly introspective, intriguing, and amusing autobiography I've ever read. This short work of fiction is just as fantastic. The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is the story of a friendly, young sociopath, and it's an amazing dive into the grotesque. You can almost hear Baker's voice narrating, and the illustrations by David Roberts truly bring the characters to life.

Baker has more side streets and cul-de-sacs in his writing than a Terry Pratchett footnote, and even Edward Gorey never quite reached his level of macabre. I don't know that I could count the ways people die or are tortured in this little ditty. What I can say--call me morbid if you like--is that I loved every minute of it.


Excelis Dawns (Doctor Who - Excelis)
Excelis Dawns (Doctor Who - Excelis)
Author: Paul Magrs
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/19/2010


The funniest of the Excelis Saga. Really, the only funny episode of the Doctor Who Excelis Trilogy, and very much a Paul Magrs story. Iris Wildthyme, the 5th Doctor, Warlord Grayvorn (as played by Anthony Stewart Head), and Sister Jolene go in search of The Relic. A romp in the double-decker bus through a medieval land to the land of the zombies.

You know you want to listen.


Excelis Decays (Doctor Who)
Excelis Decays (Doctor Who)
Author: Craig Hinton
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/19/2010


It isn't surprising that a story with the 7th Doctor sometime just prior to the TV Movie would be the darkest of the Excelis Trilogy. I mean, this is the Doctor that destroyed an entire planet to kill off the race of his greatest enemy (although the Last Great Time War suggests he didn't completely fulfill that mission). This time round another familiar face arrives through Lord Vaughan Sutton (as played by Anthony Stewart Head) a man with a history tied to Excelis almost as long as the Doctor's own. But, if Sutton's plan succeeds, Excelis will be trapped in eternal war.

Unfortunately, the story moves too fast and rests too much on the laurels of the previous two plots. That along with a secondary plot that gets lost in the chaos of the climax, the story isn't as good as it could have been. Still, McCoy is on his best game. The Doctor who is far more than a mere Time Lord can be felt, the TARDIS is newly remodeled into its TV Movie incarnation, and there are more Rs rolled in this audio than in some full episodes of the series. It could have been better, and doesn't quite live up to the previous two stories, but this conclusion is well worth the ride.


Excelis Rising (Doctor Who)
Excelis Rising (Doctor Who)
Author: David A. McIntee
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 9/19/2010


One part murder mystery, one part ghost story. The second part of the Excelis Saga still has Colin Baker to give a provide a few laughs, but this is largely where the Trilogy starts turning toward a darker theme. The 6th Doctor has been accused of murder, and Inquisitor Danby wants some answers. The Doctor hardly has time to worry about Danby, though, since Reeve Maupassant (as played by Anthony Stewart Head) seems determined to create proof of his guilt.

This is one of the many Big Finish audio dramas that steps up to demonstrate just how great a Doctor Colin Baker can be. Those who remember him only from the television series often dislike the 6th Doctor, but Baker's audio work has sold me on his ability to shine in the role.


The Genocide Machine (Doctor Who)
The Genocide Machine (Doctor Who)
Author: Mike Tucker
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/4/2010


Imagine the Library from Silence in the Library, but on a wetter version of a planet suspiciously similar to Kembel from Daleks' Master Plan. The archaeologists in this story are more of treasure hunters (one of which sounds unfortunately similar to Ace), the librarians are still around (despite the library being quite empty), and the Daleks are the baddies... mostly. Anyway, toss in the 7th Doctor and Ace, and you have The Genocide Machine.

Plus side, there is an underlying plot that goes beyond the fairly standard storyline. I felt that plot was given too little time, but McCoy does a fine job of ensuring we understand its importance. Also, Sophie Aldred is at the top of her game. Having heard her as both the young Ace, the older soldier Ace, and now a Dalek copy of herself... I have to say I'm quite impressed by her acting chops. The story wraps up quickly, and does a fine job of being both nostalgic and introducing the Dalek Empire plot. Not the best McCoy, Ace, or Dalek story by far, but well worth a listen.


Invasion of the Daleks (Dalek Empire)
Invasion of the Daleks (Dalek Empire)
Author: Nicholas Briggs
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 1.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/9/2010


First off, I love the Dalek Empire series. It does a fantastic job of building the history of the Daleks, while creating an interesting and exciting plot (one surprisingly independent from the Doctor Who plots).

This first story, however, was mostly unnecessary. It's pretty much a prelude to the next three stories, but there isn't anything in it that couldn't have been implied or discussed later. Ultimately, it's too slow an introduction into this world. If you like preludes, go for it. If not, I'm pretty sure you could jump in on the second story and not miss a thing.

The only other complaint I had is that this story introduces the framing narrative that will continue through this season and into the next. It eventually pans out into something interesting, but ultimately I dislike the narration gameit serves to slow the plot and make the action less powerful. I'd like to say that goes away with the second series... it doesn't really.


Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
Review Date: 9/14/2010


Travel during the Age of Exploration was a risky venture. Most sailors had the ability to figure out latitude by the day, the sun or guide stars. Longitude, however, was another story. Despite attempts by astronomers such as Galileo, Cassini, Huygens, Newton, and Halley, difficulty in finding an accurate method of determining longitude persisted for over four centuries. Longitude is the story of John Harrison, an 18th century English clockmaker who devoted his life to developing a chronometer accurate enough to be used to determine longitude at sea.

So, the story is fascinating--or it would be if the book wasn't a mess. Sobel presents Longitude as a work of historical non-fiction for a general audience, but fails to fully leave behind an academic style. Apparently she thinks writing for a general audience means avoiding discussions of science beyond the surface level, and tossing organization out the window. Yet, for some reason, she hangs on to the academic standard of presenting the entirety of her ideas right away. Which means, after reading the first chapter, later chapters feel like little more than repetition.

Honestly, I wanted to like this book. But, less than 50 pages in I was bored. I hear there's a NOVA episode and a Jeremy Irons movie--I'd recommend watching one of those over reading the book. Or, just read the first chapter.


Night of the Humans (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures, No 38)
Night of the Humans (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures, No 38)
Author: David Llewellyn
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 10/5/2010


There's part of me that longs for the days that the Doctor Who books were written for an older audience, and this book is no exception.

The introduction had unnecessary confusion, in some extraneous attempt to make the alien race seem more human than the humans on the junk planet. It didn't really help the story, especially since the secondary characters were written well enougheven over-the-top characters like Dirk Slipstream (who reminded me of Ace Rimmer with the voice and mustache of Terry O'Quinn). You might think the story is simply too much if you add in the Pioneer 10 cliché (that satellite gets around in sci-fi universes), overly-blatant anti-religion subtext, and the now common DW rush to the finish (comet hits in 100 minutes, Doctor's at the edge of an acid lake with a spear poking at his back, Amy's outside the enemy base, nanobomb's set to go off, and there's something weird in the Gobocorp ship. Whatever will happen?).

Fortunately, where Llewellyn fails with cliché and excess, he succeeds with dialogue and characters. He does a fantastic job of presenting the Doctor and Amy. The voices are spot on, and its easy to see them in this adventure. The Sittuun, the major alien race present in this story, were interesting, if not fully developed. Slipstream is obnoxious at first, but makes for an interesting foil as the story progresses.

Overall, the book is a simple read and the interactions between the Doctor and Amy make it worth picking up. Personally, I love the Matt Smith Doctor and Amy, and any opportunity to see them in action is one I'll take. This isn't the best Doctor Who book I've ever read, but it was good fun and I wouldn't mind trying another book by Llewellyn in the future.


Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 635
Review Date: 7/25/2010


I don't question Jane Austin's ability to write a novel. She wrote a long piece of literature with scenes, characters and plot. That being said, I do question the point of Pride and Prejudice. Further, I question her ability to create any sort of likable characters.

I know I'm supposed to like Elizabeth, but she just talks smack the entire novel. We'll call it wit if you want, but when we do, realize I mean snarky gossip about people she dislikes at the moment. The main person she is witty toward through the novel is Mr. Darcy. I know I'm supposed to see Darcy as a terribly grumpy beast with a heart of gold that succumbs to and is tamed by the witty beauty by the end of the novel. Thing is, he's an ass who only succumbs because she's the one thing he's been refused in life.

Elizabeth isn't handsome enough for Mr. Darcy to start, he finds her family embarrassing, and her station in life is too far below his to even consider her a candidate for marriage. But, since Elizabeth insults him through the entire book and acts like she wouldn't want him anyway, he can't help but be attracted to and violently in love with Elizabeth. Mind you, he still thinks it's cool to break up her sister's marriage, since she's involved with someone above her station.

Elizabeth spends most of the novel talking about how much she despises the idea of marriage, and how big a jerk Darcy is. Then everything changesElizabeth finds out Darcy is rich. Okay that's not all. His servant, someone completely dependent on Darcy's good will, says he's a good guy. Add to that an uncharacteristic civility toward the people Elizabeth is hanging out with and Darcy's new attitude, obvious wealth, and proper social etiquette provide Elizabeth the rationalization she needs to find love in a marriage that will also provide the security and social standing she claimed to neither want or need.

The first impression I had of Pride and Prejudice was that Jane Austen was writing a comedic tale poking fun at the social etiquette and expectations of her time, specifically challenging the idea that marriage is an institution devoid of love but focused on financial and societal improvement. By the end of the story, however, love was used as an excuse to enter into a marriage which provides financial and social improvement, and social etiquette and expectations are presented as a means to ensure the stability and respect of ones family. Elizabeth is initially presented as a strong-willed woman caught between love and money. This conflict, however, ends up a strawmanset up only to create a means to provide her with both love _and_ money, while eliminating her wit in favor for romance. Darcy is presented as a brooding aristocrat with little to be desired beyond his money. Yet the initial impression ends up completely reversed, with minimal to no explanation. He becomes the perfect prospective husband, and allows for a socially acceptable and conveniently romantic marriage by the end of the story.

The characters are unlikeable, the plot is conveniently altered for a faux-happy ending, and the novel is filled with more gossip and annoying dialogue than actual development of storyline. If you want to support the abusive dynamic of winning over and fixing a man who treats you like trash, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I'm not even sure it could be saved with zombies.


Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 7/25/2010


I don't question Jane Austin's ability to write a novel. She wrote a long piece of literature with scenes, characters and plot. That being said, I do question the point of Pride and Prejudice. Further, I question her ability to create any sort of likable characters.

I know I'm supposed to like Elizabeth, but she just talks smack the entire novel. We'll call it wit if you want, but when we do, realize I mean snarky gossip about people she dislikes at the moment. The main person she is witty toward through the novel is Mr. Darcy. I know I'm supposed to see Darcy as a terribly grumpy beast with a heart of gold that succumbs to and is tamed by the witty beauty by the end of the novel. Thing is, he's an ass who only succumbs because she's the one thing he's been refused in life.

Elizabeth isn't handsome enough for Mr. Darcy to start, he finds her family embarrassing, and her station in life is too far below his to even consider her a candidate for marriage. But, since Elizabeth insults him through the entire book and acts like she wouldn't want him anyway, he can't help but be attracted to and violently in love with Elizabeth. Mind you, he still thinks it's cool to break up her sister's marriage, since she's involved with someone above her station.

Elizabeth spends most of the novel talking about how much she despises the idea of marriage, and how big a jerk Darcy is. Then everything changesElizabeth finds out Darcy is rich. Okay that's not all. His servant, someone completely dependent on Darcy's good will, says he's a good guy. Add to that an uncharacteristic civility toward the people Elizabeth is hanging out with and Darcy's new attitude, obvious wealth, and proper social etiquette provide Elizabeth the rationalization she needs to find love in a marriage that will also provide the security and social standing she claimed to neither want or need.

The first impression I had of Pride and Prejudice was that Jane Austen was writing a comedic tale poking fun at the social etiquette and expectations of her time, specifically challenging the idea that marriage is an institution devoid of love but focused on financial and societal improvement. By the end of the story, however, love was used as an excuse to enter into a marriage which provides financial and social improvement, and social etiquette and expectations are presented as a means to ensure the stability and respect of ones family. Elizabeth is initially presented as a strong-willed woman caught between love and money. This conflict, however, ends up a strawmanset up only to create a means to provide her with both love _and_ money, while eliminating her wit in favor for romance. Darcy is presented as a brooding aristocrat with little to be desired beyond his money. Yet the initial impression ends up completely reversed, with minimal to no explanation. He becomes the perfect prospective husband, and allows for a socially acceptable and conveniently romantic marriage by the end of the story.

The characters are unlikeable, the plot is conveniently altered for a faux-happy ending, and the novel is filled with more gossip and annoying dialogue than actual development of storyline. If you want to support the abusive dynamic of winning over and fixing a man who treats you like trash, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I'm not even sure it could be saved with zombies.


Return of the Daleks (Doctor Who)
Return of the Daleks (Doctor Who)
Author: Nicholas Briggs
Book Type: Audio CD
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/9/2010


For those jumping into this one as a 7th Doctor story, it isn't McCoy's best. The story has three elements Nicholas Briggs uses all too often in the Dalek Empire series: an unnecessary framing narrative, a significant shift in time with too little time for the listener to feel comfortable with the shift, and non-linear elements that don't make sense when they are initially presented. In addition, the Doctor is almost a secondary character throughout the story.

That being said, as a Dalek Empire short, this story is fantastic. Taking place sometime early in the first season of Dalek Empire, Susan Mendes and Kalendorf are prisoners behind enemy lines, fighting to minimize the damage done by the Daleks, while both working for the Daleks and planning an ultimate rebellion. For the Doctor, this takes place late in his 7th incarnation, and presents a tale that, for him, is a direct sequel to the events of television episode, Planet of the Daleks. For the Daleks, this appears to be both a sequel to those events, and a prequel to the events of the comic story, Emperor of the Daleks.

It was refreshing to have secondary characters take the lead in a Doctor Who story, without becoming the simpletons in need of the Doctor's help that show up far too often. Additionally, as a fan of the Dalek Empire story, it's always nice to see ties back to the Dalek stories outside of that series. The relationship between Susan and Kalendorf stays true to who they were during this time in the Dalek Empire series, but the story does a fine job of hinting at Kalendorf's willingness to fight the Daleks at all cost. And, while the Dalek Empire clichés are a bit annoying, they've never succeeded in quite the way they do here. The non-linear element simply bookends the story, and the framing narrative actually serves to assists in the movement of time, rather than simply annoy.

It could have been a better Doctor Who story, but as a crossover story, Briggs does quite a good job.


Robinson Crusoe (Barnes  Noble Classics Series) (BN Classics Mass Market)
Review Date: 7/25/2010


Let's quickly hit the pros.

Pros: Often considered the first English novel... Okay. I'm out of pros.

So, here's the thing. I get that this novel has historical importance, but don't kid yourself into thinking it's a good book just because of that. The con list is longer than I could list in a review of reasonable length. Crusoe is a racist of epic proportions--blame it on the culture of the time all you like, this isn't a "politically correct" statement. Crusoe himself becomes a slave, escapes, and then enslaves the man he escapes so he can sell him back into slavery (with the encouragement to force him into a Christianity). I don't care what time period you live in, that's an ass move. Even if you are enough of a historical elitist/slavery-in-literature apologist to look past that move, he spends the rest of the novel killing or enslaving everyone who steps on his island: South American cannibals, Spanish explorers, and English sailors alike. And, I won't even get into the obsessive religious subtext that pops up at odd moments in the story.

Still interested in the book? Let's talk about the flaws in the writing. The entire book is essentially a series of repeated scenes and lists. Crusoe isn't in just one shipwreck that leads to the story of his living on an island. This man is the opposite of a good luck charm--let him on your boat and it'll be a submarine before he finishes the voyage. The final journey before being trapped on the island leaves him as the only survivor, but the ship he was on miraculously survives with little damage, and he has years worth of supplies to get through. That's right, Defoe invented the novel and the deus ex machina. Want to know what's on the boat? Don't worry. He'll tell you in lists that last over a hundred pages, repeating his lists more than once. He'll ensure you know every detail of how difficult it is to survive on a island with every modern convenience--bread that last five years, crops that accidentally grow from the scraps in an old bag, gunpowder that doesn't run out for 29 years, and a saber he fails to mention until it becomes convenient. Yet, Crusoe will somehow achieve miraculous feats, and Defoe seems to think it best to gloss over how--digging through the base of a hill in less than a year without tools, chopping down a massive tree without an ax, planting a magical tree-fence that grows epically before an attack. Of course, Crusoe says it was God that gave it to him, so... whatever.

In short, the book isn't worth reading. Get the classics illustrated or listen to an audio if you absolute must. Candelight Stories does the whole thing unedited. It may be the only way to get through the repetitive lists with your sanity.


The Wizard of Oz (Bfi Film Classics)
The Wizard of Oz (Bfi Film Classics)
Author: Salman Rushdie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 0.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/12/2010


As I was reading this book, one of my initial impressions was that he had never read the OZ books, despite brief trivial mentions of Baum's history and some of the inconsequential differences between the film and the book. If he had, some of the discrepancies he blames on Hollywood could have been cleared up as simplifications for script development purposes. The essay goes on for 57 pages presenting a variety of personal anecdotes that are only slightly more interesting than Rushdie's analysis--which brings up a number of thoughts which he neither bothers to offer adequate reasoning for, nor successfully argues the validity of.

Ultimately, Rushdie uses the BFI series as an opportunity to write an otherwise unpublishable short story--essentially the auction of the ruby slippers in a Warren Ellis style dystopia, with unnecessary incestuous themes. It becomes quickly apparent that the essay was used to highlight the oh-so-clever ideas he fools around with in an obscure story which lacked an interesting narrative beyond the briefest moments of strange imagery.

It's a pretentious essay, written by a pretentious author, for pretentious readers. If that's you, enjoy. Otherwise, it isn't worth even the short read that it is.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 8/12/2010


Oz is one of the strangest worlds you will ever enter. The narrative voice in the first book of the Oz series has its flaws (far too many uses of "shall" and "for," a complete lack of contractions that makes for occasionally uncomfortable dialogue, and a similarity between the voices of the main heroes). That being said, it's a magical tour into a wonderful world of fantasy, horror and general weirdness that you won't soon forget.

Far too many people introduce themselves to this world through the MGM movie, and find the second portion of the plot to feel somewhat anticlimactic when they expect the story to end right after a failed balloon ride. Unfortunately, Wicked has added to unrealistic expectations by presenting a new version of the movie witch in book form. Those who have read the book know that in it tigers and bears are part of a chimerical amalgamation, the Wicked Witch of the West has a single binocular eye, flying apes aren't evil, scarecrows break the necks of violent crows, the emerald city isn't so emerald without glasses, silver slippers take you home, and kisses from a good witch protect you. The visit to the Wizard isn't the climax of the journey in the novel, it's simply a step along the path for each character to find their home. Further, there aren't just slippers, Munchkins, witches and wizards to contend with; there are golden caps, Winkies, Quadlings, Hammer Heads, mice kingdoms, wolves, bees and giant spiders, oh my!

If you are able, be sure to pick up an illustrated version of the book (like the Signet Classics edition). Baum is the American Louis Carroll. And, just as Carroll had John Tenniel, L. Frank Baum had W.W. Denslow to bring his characters to life in a visual medium


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Signet Classics)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Signet Classics)
Author: L. Frank Baum
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 8/12/2010


Oz is one of the strangest worlds you will ever enter. The narrative voice in the first book of the Oz series has its flaws (far too many uses of "shall" and "for," a complete lack of contractions that makes for occasionally uncomfortable dialogue, and a similarity between the voices of the main heroes). That being said, it's a magical tour into a wonderful world of fantasy, horror and general weirdness that you won't soon forget.

Far too many people introduce themselves to this world through the MGM movie, and find the second portion of the plot to feel somewhat anticlimactic when they expect the story to end right after a failed balloon ride. Unfortunately, Wicked has added to unrealistic expectations by presenting a new version of the movie witch in book form. Those who have read the book know that in it tigers and bears are part of a chimerical amalgamation, the Wicked Witch of the West has a single binocular eye, flying apes aren't evil, scarecrows break the necks of violent crows, the emerald city isn't so emerald without glasses, silver slippers take you home, and kisses from a good witch protect you. The visit to the Wizard isn't the climax of the journey in the novel, it's simply a step along the path for each character to find their home. Further, there aren't just slippers, Munchkins, witches and wizards to contend with; there are golden caps, Winkies, Quadlings, Hammer Heads, mice kingdoms, wolves, bees and giant spiders, oh my!

If you are able, be sure to pick up an illustrated version of the book (like the Signet Classics edition). Baum is the American Louis Carroll. And, just as Carroll had John Tenniel, L. Frank Baum had W.W. Denslow to bring his characters to life in a visual medium.


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