‘Old Tech Saves Day’
Score: 4/5

Rowland White
£7.99

This book covers in great detail the planning and first mission of the Vulcan bombers during the Falklands War.

That may not sound particularly interesting, but the tale is quite gripping. The Vulcans were all old planes, on the cusp of retirement. The pilots were all planning their moves to alternate planes. Parts were in very short supply, and the aircraft themselves already had some of their capabilities (such as in-flight refuelling) removed.

All the planning required to be able to send a Vulcan thousands of miles for a mission was incredible, and the mission itself was risky.

This book covers all you’d want to know, and more. It’s a fascinating glimpse of military planning, the considerations and the oversights.

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‘Good, But Not Great’
Score: 4/5

Michael Marshall
£7.99

Way back in 2007 I wrote about The Intruders:

‘I think it's a real shame he doesn't write more.  At the minute I'd buy every book he published, except I've already got them all.  Still, maybe if he published more they'd start becoming blander.’

I’m worried this blandness is coming to pass. This book seems familiar enough Michael Marshall territory, but it somehow doesn’t quite nail it. It seems similar to The Intruders, with themes of alienation and other-ness, even though the other-ness itself is quite different.

It’s not a bland book, but it seems blander than previous ones. I guess the problem with delivering exceptional stuff is that people start to expect it.

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‘Interesting, Fun, But Preachy’
Score: 4/5

This is an odd one. The book itself is free fan-fiction (so not authorised in any way by JK Rowling) and it’s not just set in the Harry Potter universe, it’s a replacement for the first Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

But what makes it particularly odd is that it’s a book with an agenda.

The agenda is quite explicit – the author wants to get across the biases that affect our everyday thinking and bring us to a more rational approach to thinking. However, sometimes the agenda is so forceful it reminded me of ‘Dianetics’.

But what do you expect for nothing?

It is a fully-fledged book too, in length terms at least. (There is talk of it being sold as a physical book for charity, but that seems to me a target fraught with IP issues.) The premise is simply that Harry Potter was brought up with a scientific, rational approach to life and learning, so when the letter appears inviting him to Hogwarts he’s not just curious but inquisitive enough to want to run experiments to test this ‘magic’ thing we muggles know nothing about.

And from there the book takes you into Hogwarts and encourages you to think. There are puzzles and lots of guidance on the way too.

I enjoyed it, and found some of it quite fun. It took quite a few chapters to get going, and I still think it’s a bit preachy in parts. I’m still not sure what to make of the end-goal of rational approach described in the book though. I’ll need to think about that some more.

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‘Too Scared To Tweet’
Score: 5/5

Jon Ronson
£11.89

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and quite, quite terrifying.

The notion of shaming to enforce cultural norms is covered in the book, but the core of the book is the human repercussions. I knew of many of the cases talked about, and I’d already read some significant chunks of the book when they were published elsewhere as articles, but there’s plenty new in the book.

Also, reading this book may make you want to stop posting on Twitter.

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‘Interesting, A Bit Sad’
Score: 4/5

Walter Mosley
£10.25

An interesting, modern story that echoes ‘Flowers For Algernon’ in intent, if not in narrative approach. It’s very different from the Easy Rawlins story I read, but I enjoyed it too – just in a different way.

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‘Future Tech, Future Problems’
Score: 4/5

John Scalzi
£10.49

A nice enough near-future crime book. It seems to me the setting is used for its overtones of coming problems with internet-of-things and computer-brain interfaces but y'know, maybe that's just me. I still found it enjoyable, as well as quick and easy to read.

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‘Geeky Humour And Magic’
Score: 4/5

Scott Meyer
£7.64

Geeky humour and magic. A lovely combination. I thought this was very easy to read (especially compared to Out On Blue Six) and quite enjoyable too.

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‘Too Deep For Me’
Score: 2/5

Ian McDonald
£1.77

I thought this was a hard book to read and hard to get into. Not as hard as the book I started last year and haven't managed to get through yet, but hard enough.

I bought the book after reading this on Boing Boing, and since the author lives in Belfast I wanted to really like it.

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‘That’s More Like It’
Score: 4/5

Gavin Deas
£9.98

This is the second purchase in my refund-so-I-bought-Elite-books tale. It's much better than the first.

This one actually feels like it's set in the Elite: Dangerous universe for a start. The characters and situations are a bit more credible. And there's a lot of fighting in spaceships.

What more could I ask for?

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‘Could've Been Set Anywhere’
Score: 2/5

Gideon Defoe
£9.98

I started playing Elite: Dangerous a while ago, and was stuck in a bookshop looking for something to buy with a refunded purchase. I bought a couple of Elite: Dangerous books.

This one I just didn't really warm to. It's set in the Elite: Dangerous universe but it doesn't really capitalise on that, and it doesn't really have any of the feeling of that universe. Humour is subjective, but that didn't really work for me here either. Ah well.

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