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A Single Monstrous Act by Kenneth Benton

I’ve just found a pile of books that i’ve read and hadn’t written a review of, so i decided to jump back on the horse and get critical. The first book is Kenneth Benton‘s ‘A Single monstrous Act’ which i read quite a while a go now but i can remember exactly what i thought of it so i thought it was a good place to start.

The book centers around the Revolutionary Front who are an ultra left wing organisation who’s main objective is to overthrow the establishment and seize power but instead of just rhetoric they actually have a complete plan that might just work. The plan has been masterminded by Thaxton their clever but crazy leader. What plan could overthrow a goverment i hear you ask? A single monstrous act.

Now i’m not one to slate some ones work when they have obviously put so much time and effort in to it but this book was really bad in my opinion. I just didn’t like any of the characters, story or title for that matter. I’m really not sure i’d pick up another of kenneth Benton’s books if i came across them and that’s saying something as i’m somewhat of a whore when it come to reading.

3/10

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The Gemini Contenders by Robert Ludlum

The Gemini Contenders is a 1976 novel by Robert Ludlum and I’m pretty sure the first book I’ve read by him but I have watched some films based on his books though like the Bourne series.

The book opens in Salonika, Greece in 1939 where a secret order of monks called the Xenope are trying to transport a mysterious cargo to a hiding place in the Italian Alps. Only very few know the contents of the cargo which has been hidden for centuries and could bring an end to the Christian religion as we know it. The Nazi’s though are marching ever closer to the vault in their march across Europe, whoever has the vault could change the world forever by tearing apart the church and Christian religion. The book then spans the next four decades as various members of a wealth family called the Fontini-Cristi’s and the Xenope try to locate the cargo and protect it from falling in to the wrong hands.

Not that i didn’t like the book but i did feel that it could of maybe been made in to two books instead of one, that said i did enjoy Ludlum’s writing. The first would be about the cargo around the time of WWII and the second would be later with the future generation of the Fontini-Cristi family trying to find the cargo. I felt that he tried to get to much in and didn’t fully expand on some his ideas though which was a shame because i feel it could of gone a little deeper. Although i’ve never read a Dan Brown book, i think it would probably be a little like ‘The Gemini Contenders’ but i can’t be sure. I’ve got a few more Ludlum’s on my book shelf, so i’m definitely going to read a few more, hopefully though they’ll be a little more fluid.

6.5/10

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Codeword Golden Fleece by Dennis Wheatley

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again Dennis Wheatley is an amazing writer and i don’t think i’ve read a bad book, in fact even a mediocre one. I’ve lost count at how many books i read by him now but i know i’ve still got a load more which pleases me immensely. Anyway back to the book at hand.

Codeword Golden fleece begins with the start of the Second World War. The Duke de Richleau and his friends Simon Aron, Rex van Ryn and Richard Eaton find themselves before the outbreak of hostilities involved in a conspiracy which could change how quickly the war could be won. The group of friends are carried along in a desperate attempt to sabotage Hitler’s war economy and force Germany to ask for peace before she can muster her full might for an assault on Western Europe.

Here is some information relating to the the book via a Dennis Wheatley website:

(1963 Arrow): It can now be revealed that the plot of Codeword–Golden Fleece is based on fact. Actually, it was given to Dennis Wheatley when he was a member of the Joint Planning Staff of the War Cabinet by a Foreign Office colleague there. On behalf of the Allied governments a French nobleman did actually succeed in acquiring a controlling interest in the Danube oil barges and their tugs. The Germans failed with the Vichy government in an action for its return and half the Fleet had been got out to Turkish waters. Supplies of fuel for the Luftwaffe were seriously crippled by this ingenious secret stroke.

This was a great book and one that i immensely enjoyed. I really can’t sing Dennis Wheatley’s praises enough and to think the only reason why i started reading his books was because i found one in a bargain bin of a charity shop. His writing is very descriptive and drags you in to his world till the very end. A great writer and a great book.

8/10

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Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

I think this is the third or fourth book i’ve read by Tom Robbins and he still hasn’t let me down. They are always a little bit strange but definitely in a good way, maybe i should say surreal instead of strange, in fact what am i talking about they are all surreal.

The book follows the life of John Paul Ziller and his wife Amanda a free spirit who open “Captain Kendrick’s Memorial Hot Dog Wildlife Preserve,” as you would imagine with a name like that it is both a hot dog stand and zoo which sits along a highway in Skagit County. An eccentric pair themselves their friends also lean away from normal including Mon Cul the baboon (yes an actual baboon); Marx Marvelous, an educated man from the east coast with a great name to boot and L. Westminster “Plucky” Purcell, a former college football star and occasional dope dealer. I would have this lot in my group of friends any day. One of the main avenues of the story though involves “Plucky” Purcell  who accidentally infiltrates a group of Catholic monks who work as assassins for the Vatican. Whilst with the group Plucky discovers a secret so big and so secret that dates back to the very beginning of Christianity. What will the Vatican do knowing someone else knows their secrets?

I have to say all of Tom Robbins books are real palate cleansers from the usual books i read and this one was no exception, Its like having some sorbet after a heavy meal and i love sorbet (especially lemon). This was his first book and published in 1971 and started what is today a cult following of sorts and i can kind of understand why, his books might be talking about profound subjects such as religion but they are done in such a way that is fantastical and not at all overbearing. This was a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone along with any of his other novels.

8.5/10

Wikipedia entry here

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Now this is a cracking modern science fiction book if ever I’ve read one. Its also a great nod to computer games of old which if you’ve ever played with  any of them will have you wanting to jump in to the book and have your own adventure.

The book is set in 2044 with the world being close to destruction after a massive world recession, economies are ruined and resources are running out. The only thing people have in this world is OASIS which was born out of the internet and gaming consoles. OASIS is a massive multiplayer online simulation game created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow. When Halliday dies who has no heirs he leaves a video will online. The video states that whoever can collect three keys that are hidden in the OASIS universe and pass the necessary  tasks will receive his fortune and the controlling share in the OASIS universe that he created. The hunt is on with individuals and corporations alike trying to complete the tasks set forward but who will win and get control of OASIS.

This book smears it self in 1980’s pop culture which if you grew up in that decade will have you enthralled and even if not will get you turning page after page. In 2010 Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film and 1n 2012, the book received an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award. Accolades which i think this book rightly deserves, witty, fun, fast paced and easy to read. A great little romp and if you were around in the 80’s definitely worth a read and if not give it a go as i’m sure you’ll like it too.

8/10

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Ossian’s Ride by Fred Hoyle

Ossian’s Ride by Fred Hoyle

The year is 1970 (the book was written in 1959) and the Industrial Corporation of Eire (ICE) is fast becoming a world leader in many forms of science although the British authorities can’t work out what’s going on as every spy they send to the fortified base of ICE in southern Ireland either fail to report back or seem to begin working for ICE. So the British send in a young Cambridge student, Thomas Sherwood, to see if he can reveal it’s secrets. This much I understood. But from then on in I felt like I was missing something. Like a chapter had been missed out or something. When I finally got to the end I was completely underwhelmed by the ending and felt a little cheated.

To me this had the feel of an extended short story and I could give away the plot with one sentence. But I won’t because i’m nice like that. This was written by Fred Hoyle who was a famous astronomer and mathematician and was, by all accounts, a pretty smart guy but unfortunately I’m not really digging his style.

I think the best parts of the book were the chase across the Irish countryside but these bits were more like a thriller (think John Buchan’s 39 steps) and could have been in any story as they were barely related to the science fiction overtones which are (kind of) revealed towards the end.

If you look back through our posts we have quite a number of vintage science fiction books which were all purchased for next to nothing. I’m constantly surprised by some of the quality numbers i’ve read but unfortunately this was not amongst them.

6/10

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Wanderers of Time by John Beynon

Wanderers of Time by John Beynon

John Beynon is one of the pen names of John Wyndham and he just happened to write one of my favourite books of all time – ‘The Day of the Triffids’ (which is apparently being remade by Sam Raimi) – so it was pretty much a given that I would enjoy this little collection of a few short science-fiction based stories. They were originally published in magazines in the 1930’s and then collected in this 1973 edition (presumably after the success of his books written as John Wyndham). The stories range from time travel to space travel and there’s even a kind of triffids pre-cursor called ‘The Puff Ball Menace’ which I rather enjoyed. Considering how rudimentary most of the technologies he’s writing about were he shows a good understanding of what problems would be faced (even if, not surprisingly, some of his ideas are a bit dated now). Overall a great little read and I particularly liked the ant civilisation that has come to rule the earth in the first story ‘Wanderers of Time’. Long live our ant overlords!

8/10

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