Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation
Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Console Wars is John Grisham for nerds. Predominantly coming over as a “good guy vs the big bad corporation” story, and filled with industry insider detail it’s a surprisingly easy read.

The Sega / Nintendo generation was one I was part of chronologically, but not actually involved in. We had an Atari VCS which led the charge in home consoles before (partly down to wonders such as the E.T. game) crashing spectacularly and taking the whole concept of the “home arcade” with it. By that time, we’d moved onto computers (a Sinclair ZX-81 followed by an Amstrad, then Amiga and onto PCs), which was more common in the UK as opposed to the console-friendly US where Nintendo went on to corner the market.

Until Sega came along.

Console Wars is that story. The battle for market dominance between Mario and Sonic, bracketed by the demise of Atari and the rise of Sony. There are tons of little facts and background stories in here without it coming across as a book of nerd trivia. It’s about the story and the characters first and foremost.

At 558 pages it’s no lightweight, but it’s also not a coffee table book. This is written to be read, not just glanced through occasionally.

If you’re looking for a gift for the geek in your life that’ll get them off the internet for a while yet still keep them quiet, this will almost certainly go down well.

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Action: Pulse Pounding Tales volume 2

Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 2

Somehow I found the time to dust off my writing hat and submit another story for the second volume of Matt Hilton’s Action: Pulse Pounding Tales series. Volume two, once again, has 30+ short stories from a variety of new and established authors.

It clocks in at a low price (currently £2.05) for the page count and it’s every bit as good as Volume 1.

It’s available for Kindle (and associated reader apps) via Amazon in the:

UK

and

US

Pretty please pick up a copy and let me know what you think of my short story!

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Review: The Sleep Room

The Sleep Room
The Sleep Room by F.R.Tallis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First up, just to say that I got this book for free after winning a competition on Tor’s facebook page. This won’t influence my review other than that I’d probably not have picked this particular book up on a whim, nor read it as quickly! It’s actually not due for release until May 2013, and it’s always nice to get something before everyone else.

The book’s set in the late 1950’s, predominantly in a psychiatric hospital in the middle of nowhere where experiments are taking place with new techniques to alleviate illness. Nothing particularly gory, but old-fashioned by our viewpoint today. It’s written in the first person from the point of view of a new staff member, Dr James Richardson, as he tried to unravel the mysteries surrounding the patients while getting on with his job (and getting off with one of the nursing staff).
Imagine something along the lines of Shutter Island for the feel of things. Not quite “Gothic”, but just that dark, historic feel.

The medical talk all sounds pretty convincing, and indeed in the acknowledgements quite a few professionals are credited. It’s surprising to realise that some of the techniques mentioned were still pretty commonplace towards the end of the last century – or at least well past the halfway mark.

As time progresses in his new job, “things” start to happen. Some explainable, others less so. The story gently strays from medical thriller into horror as the pages turn.

If I’m honest, I found the ending a little predictable but the story on the way there was always enjoyable with a couple of particularly spooky sequences that had me looking over my shoulder as I read on my own at 2am! The fact that I managed to get through the whole thing in a couple of days is a definite indication that I was engrossed.

Well written, well-paced and with good characters. I loved the language and the viewpoint of the protagonist, which I thought sat very well with the era in which the story was set.

As I said, not something I would have picked up myself but I’m very glad I ended up with it in my hands. If you like spooky horror rather than gross-out slash-fests, this could well be something you’d like.

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Review: Doctor Who And The Daleks

Doctor Who And The Daleks
Doctor Who And The Daleks by David Whitaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second Doctor Who book I’ve ever read – the first was Genesis of the Daleks when I was about 10 years old. It’s based on TV episodes from 1963 and originally published in 1964, though there was a film version starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle which I vaguely remember as well!

It’s not a bad book, though it lacks the flippant comments and off-the-cuff humour that The Doctor has taken on over the years. It’s quite a simple story and for someone who really jumped onto Doctor Who at a late age, raises more questions than it answers. I won’t mention them here for fear of spoilers.

Still, a nice small book that I could blast through quickly and which will find itself being donated to the school library at the start of term.

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Review: Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers

Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers
Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers by Chris Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not so much a follow-up to “Eight Lives Down” as a companion tome, and a far superior one. Whereas the first book covered predominantly Hunter’s involvement in one conflict, Extreme Risk spans several.

It’s also a far more emotional and hard-hitting read with greater variety in subject matter. Training, different countries, and a variety of positions both within and out with the Army are all covered as part of Hunter’s incredibly interesting life story.

If you like either factual or fictional military books, this is without a doubt a must-read. The background to events that have occurred in recent memory – the 7th July bombings in London to name but one – are detailed and help make sense of what happened on those awful dates, as well as justifying some of the government actions which came afterwards.

Check my progress on this book (if you can). I think it’s the quickest I have ploughed through a reasonably-sized book in the last couple of years… and with good reason. Gripping, well-paced, oozing with information, yet easy to read.

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