Perverting the Course of Justice: The Hilarious And Shocking Inside World Of British Policing

By Inspector Gadget

Rating: 3 stars

This book is based on an anonymous blog written by a police inspector at the sharp end of policing. The main feeling that I had while reading it was one of depression. His anecdotes instil a depression that fights with anger at the layers of bureaucracy and superiors whose distance from the real world is measured in light-years that the police on the streets have to fight against as much as the yobs on a Saturday night.

I had to fight to remember that he is seeing the worst of humanity and that colours his viewpoint. There are other blogs in the criminal justice system, such as Bystander’s Magistrate’s Blog that tell a different story.

In all, a book that’s worth reading, or at least the blog; I just found that I had to do it in small doses.

Book details

ISBN: 9781906308049
Publisher: Monday Books
Year of publication: 2008

The Children of Men

By P.D. James

Rating: 2 stars

P. D. James is better known for her crime fiction than her science fiction and while this book has an intriguing idea, I found the execution poor. Set in a future Britain in a world where no children have been born for 25 years, an historian finds himself caught up with a small band of malcontents and drawn into something much deeper.

A major problem that I had with this book was that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly sympathetic, in particular the protagonist, Theo Faron, cousin of the Warden of England. And that’s another thing, although the future Britain is nominally a dictatorship, it’s a very British dystopia, which, frankly, sounds like quite a nice place to live in, to me. The Warden promises freedom from fear, from want and from boredom. Criminals are relocated to the Isle of Man and left to their own devices and the Warden and Council keep utilities flowing as best they can and try to maintain an order of normality.

By contrast, the group of malcontents that Theo falls in with seem somewhat like whiny teenagers. And I think that’s a fault of the writing that they’re not more sympathetic when they could well have been.

It’s not often I say this, but the (very loosely adapted) film is much better.

Book details

ISBN: 9780307279903
Publisher: Vintage
Year of publication: 1992

Science fiction

By S.H. Burton

Rating: 3 stars

This collection of SF short stories aims to combine SF with ‘literature’ and show the best side of the genre, and I must admit that it succeeded for me. With contributions from Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov and Clarke amongst others I thought it was a very strong collection of SF from the 1940s to the late 60s.

Ray Bradbury’s Dark They Were and Golden-Eyed and Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star stand out as particular gems, while Asimov’s Youth, about two youngsters who find an exotic ‘animal’, is an interesting story with a twist that put a smile on my face.

Book details

ISBN: 9780582348950
Publisher: Longman
Year of publication: 1967

Blood Music

By Greg Bear

Rating: 3 stars

Brilliant geneticist Virgil Ulam is fired for ‘extra-curricular’ work, and the only way to save some of that work is to inject himself with it. He could never have dreamed of what happened next.

This was a pretty good book but it’s hard to describe the main contents without giving things away. Some of the ideas are massive, although it took a bit of a left-turn towards the end which was unexpected. Not complicated, but I still think it’ll need a re-read.

Book details

ISBN: 9781857987621
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 1985

M Is for Magic

By Neil Gaiman

Rating: 2 stars

This short story collection was something of a disappointment, not because of the contents which were pretty good but because just about every story has been published in other Gaiman collections, or elsewhere so there was almost nothing that I hadn’t read before. If you’ve already got Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things, then I wouldn’t bother with this book, but otherwise it’s worth reading.

Book details

ISBN: 9780061186424
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year of publication: 2007

New Worlds 7

By Hilary Bailey

Rating: 2 stars

After New Worlds magazine faded away, the name was kept alive by a series of anthologies that kept up the style of the old magazine. This one is from 1974 and it’s an odd one. New Worlds was a keen exponent of the ‘new wave’ of SF and this collection contains a lot of experimental work which sometimes fails to work for me. There’s a mix of stories and poetry with some book reviews at the end but this collection proved too experimental for me with not enough good storytelling to balance the experimentation.

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