Cheeseburger Gothic

Two questions about the Dad's Army reboot

Posted 8 hours ago into Movies by John Birmingham

1. Why was I not told earlier?

2. Why is Britain still facing defeat in 1944?

5 Responses to ‘Two questions about the Dad's Army reboot’

trib ducks in to say...

Posted 6 hours ago
I'm not certain this was needed, but I'm happy it exists.
I'm also not certain Toby Jones can do pompous and self-inflated quite as well as Arthur Lowe did to carry off Captain Mainwaring.
The other casting decisions intrigue me.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted 4 hours ago
Fucking earworm

Spanner mumbles...

Posted 3 hours ago
Damn you Insomniac! Damn you to heck! I didn't watch the video and now thanks to you I've got that theme song stuck in my brain.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted 2 hours ago
Hey I watched it with the volume off and still it got in.

All together now ... "Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler? ... "

Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted 2 hours ago
Bastard

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Buckminster Fuller Chill Out Zone

Posted Yesterday by John Birmingham

Another cool and intruiging science comic from Stuart McMillen (Andy's brother). This one follows Bucky Fuller as he discovers a form of passive air conditioning, which could be cheaply employed to cool buildings in places like Oz (and Kansas, where this story takes place). But of course it would mean lower power bills and less pollution. So we won't.

Read the rest here. It really is kinda fascinating.

5 Responses to ‘Buckminster Fuller Chill Out Zone’

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted Yesterday
This would make a 'cool' fact for the Smart Enough to Know Better live science show on Tuesday night.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted Yesterday
We already don't want air con when we build our new house, so all I have to do is convince ms insomniac to have a hole on the ceiling and a few other holes around the house?

dweeze ducks in to say...

Posted Yesterday
All you really need for ventilation in your house are strategic holes and correct siting for whatever elements you face. Most vernacular architecture has been doing this for millenia. Fans help but can also be avoided with good convection. Casa Dweeze is nearly complete and we've no need for AC, even though it gets up towards 40C regularly in summer (and down to -8C in winter!). Happy to expand on this offline if you'd like.

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted 24 hours ago
Great site. The Hubbert strip is pretty good too.

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robW puts forth...

Posted 15 hours ago
Commissioned by Marcus Agrippa when Augustus was emperor, completed during Hadrian's reign about 126 A.D., the Pantheon employed Buckminster Fuller's techniques about 1,770 years before Fuller was born.
The Romans engineered isosceles trapezoids made of poured concrete that were hoisted into place to form the dome. An isosceles triangle has one base pair, whereas an isosceles trapezoid has two base pairs. In the case of the Pantheon, and isosceles trapezoid is actually more efficient than an isosceles triangle, as in fact the trapezoid is a merging of three isosceles triangles. The Pantheon's occulus admits light and and also cools the structure. The Pantheon remains the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. Proof positive that if concrete is done right, it will last for millenia.

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Star Trek: Renegades

Posted Friday into Movies by John Birmingham

Another full length feature comes off the seemingly endless production line of semi-pro fan-made Star Trek films. This one features actors in character from some of the original series – Chekov and Tuvok somehow existing in the same timeline – and lots of cheeky little references which seem at times to stray off canon and into other story worlds.

It's all good. Some of the costuming, make up and set design is very obviously fan-made. And some of the CGI is better than anything we saw in the TV series.

You'll need to block out the whole evening or a slab of the weekend to enjoy it in one sitting.

4 Responses to ‘Star Trek: Renegades’

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
The FX/CGI guy is Tobias Richter and he is also doing the work for Star Trek: Axanar.

Chekov's scenes are fairly good but I feel like this script needed one more pass before the editors before they tried to film it.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted Friday
Reckon I'd agree with that.

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Sparty is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Its Chekov / Bester!

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted Saturday
Its certainly a great fan movie, but I am really looking forward to <font color="#333333">Star Trek: Axanar. I imagine Paramount are watching this fan efforts closely. Torn between wanting it to generate the interest that the last film almost killed, and their instincts which is to squash any competition with their business.</font><font color="#333333">The wrap has a piece on the risk the producers of these ran made films are running.</font>

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Ashley Madison was selling a fantasy of infidelity

Posted Thursday into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

I have to admit I've been agog at this whole story. I even flagged it a month ago in my Saturday coulmn, before it had really broken out into the mainstream. (My punishment, as always, was to be ignored).

This latest analysis is amongst the most intriguiging yet. 35M+ subscribers. Almost none of them women, and the few women they did have were apparently made up.

From Gizmodo:

...the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.

Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.

When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.

20 Responses to ‘Ashley Madison was selling a fantasy of infidelity’

DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted Thursday
My spouse laughed and laughed when she saw the data. After asking me if I was registered of course...
One of the great big data books of recent times was 'dataclysm' by one of the founders of OkCupid (?) he used a lot of that websites data in support of the arguments in the book. After reading Gizmodo, maybe his data are bunk??

Aw Heck asserts...

Posted Thursday
Never been on Ashley Madison, but I was on OKC for a year and the guys there were the real deal. I'm marrying one of them in a month's time.

I could lecture for an hour on the different dating sites but it comes down to this: the more 'hook-up' the site is, the less legit the female profiles are.

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
At some point some bright spark will set up some AIs to string people along on these sites.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
I think it has happened and is happening.

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
I'll start getting worried when the AIs start trying to hook up with other AIs on these sites.

Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
Exactly. Skynet wouldn't have caused all that death and destruction if it was getting some love and attention...

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Is the Turing test invalidated when one party has a hand down his pants?

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
Sex-chatbots? It's hard to prove a negative, but I'd be stunned if they haven't been around for years. Decades. At least one of the first 10 people to "play with" ELIZA in the 60s will have tested some of the parameters. And then the extra data files would have made, swapped and more beer would be smuggled into the lab with all the LISP machines.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
Jeezus. Just plug a cable into the back of their heads and they could have a Matrix affair.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Saturday
Wouldn't that be wonderful?

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Next you'll be saying that Ashley Madison isn't a real woman!

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Rob would have you know...

Posted Thursday


why don't people go to bars and pubs to meet other people? Its not that difficult. Get drunk, get talking and don't be a dick.

What I hope is that the sites I use are secure, like amazon, eBay and Google. We know apple isn't, because of what fappened a few months back. .

Idin Doit ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
It sounded so possible until your third point.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
Pubs are always the answer.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted Thursday
or Lube.

damian mutters...

Posted Thursday
And the Word is the Law. Therefore Grease is the Law.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted Thursday
Wow...! I mean you kind of expect those kind of sites to be a sausage-fest, but those stats just tell an incredibly sad tale.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted Saturday
Look at the bright side. None of those 31 million blokes are procreating.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted Saturday
what makes you think that AM was their only, er, output?

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BALLS AFTER DARK EP 16

Posted Thursday by John Birmingham

In which Beeso and the Doc discuss being sworn at by 50 year old drunks, ludicrous pastiche-loving monarchists with ADHD and whether today is a nice day to go to the pub.

Balls up!

5 Responses to ‘BALLS AFTER DARK EP 16’

Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
Any day is a nice day to go to the pub.

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dweeze ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
Balls AD - "Crap but fun."

In which two 30 year old drunks crap on about 50 year old drunks.
In which neither mention that Muse is Wolfmother with synths.
In which Dr Yobbo rightly proclaims the greatness of the Cosmic Psychos.

In which I recognise more than a little of myself.
"You drove me up the wall. I aint no spider"

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beeso asserts...

Posted Thursday
I'm pretty sure I was sober for that week. Was there clinking?

dweeze mumbles...

Posted Friday
I do recall some clinking but, as I was not exactly sober myself, I cannot confirm 100%. Either way, I suspect that there was some clinking going on at Doc's end.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted Friday
Well played chaps. 3 chords & a fat bloke shouting= gilt gold with gold flakes.

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Ghost Fleet. PW Singer and August Cole

Posted Tuesday into Books by John Birmingham

Short review.

I loved it. If you enjoyed the Tom Clancy school of the 1980s and would like to see them redone with modern and future technology, just go buy it.

Longer, more considered review.

It's lucky Tom Clancy wasn't able to put hyperlinks all the way through his books. Not in the early years, anyway. This is what they would look like. A military thriller in which every mention of weapons technology is hyperlinked to an explanatory source. But even more than that, there are hundreds of other inexplicable links which break up the experience of just letting the story carry you along. It's an artefact of the authors' deeper purpose — to spin a cautionary tale for policymakers as much as for readers. But seriously, I really didn't need the footnote explaining how Arnold Palmer had been commissioned to design that golf course on which Marine Corps Osprey's were setting down. Just land the damn aircraft and start blowing things up. Sheesh.

I bring this up before even getting to what Ghost Fleet is about because those footnotes are going to piss a lot of people off. I tried to turn them off on my Kobo but couldn't find the appropriate checkbox. Maybe it would be easier on a Kindle or an iPad.

That minor aggravation aside (I stopped noticing them the same way we train ourselves not to see banner ads online) and with all the usual caveats, I really did enjoy this book.

Ghost Fleet is very Red Storm Rising, one of my favourite Tom Clancy books. It's set in the near future, the exact date being left vague, but feeling like twenty years out to me. That's long enough to bring a lot of cutting edge technology into the mainstream, but not so far removed from our present concerns as to morph into science fiction. China is ascendant, but the Communist Party has been swept away. The emergent hyperpower is ruled by a nationalist cabal of billionaire tycoons and the military. The US is not just in relative decline; a series of foreign policy misadventures and economic travails find it in absolute decline. China's ruling clique, which styles itself as the Directorate, discovers vast reserves of natural gas on the floor of the Pacific in an area still controlled by America. They decide the time has come for Washington to learn a few ugly realities about the new blanace of power. Or what the old Sovs would have called 'the correlation of forces'.

And so we come to the point, or rather the first point of this novel, a tour de force of just how US could be driven out of the Pacific in our lifetimes. The Chinese plan is not far removed from scenarios being war gamed by all of the great powers right now. The guilty pleasure of Ghost Fleet is seeing the scenario-building worked out in narrative form.

Like Clancy, Singer and Cole deploy a broad canvas with a lot of storytellers. They do return to a couple of favourites however, a Navy captain who fights his LCS out of Pearl Harbor when the Pacific Fleet is attacked there, his old man, a retired Navy chief petty officer who is recalled to service with thousands of other old salts when the 7th Fleet is destroyed, a female Marine who turns insurgent when Hawaii is invaded, a Chinese-American scientist whose research holds the key to a counter-attack, and one of my particular favourites a British-Australian billionaire turned space pirate. (Seriously, this character is great fun and provides the only comic relief in an otherwise pretty serious endeavour). There are dozens of others.

No it's not Tolstoy. It doesn't even make a pretense at being fine writing. A lot of the secondary characters are just Lego pieces to click into place when building the story, and although the writers take some time with their favourite characters to fill out their back stories and emotional lives, it's largely a paint by numbers exercise.

So fucking what. You don't judge these books by the standards of Tolstoy. You judge them on their own merits, and I judged Ghost Fleet to be such enormous fun that I decided to take a day off work to finish reading it in one big, guilty binge. It helped that I had a bit of a hangover after the Melbourne Writers Festival. I was able to convince myself I would not have done any worthwhile work on my own books. Also, it made me think I should really write some more stuff like this.

A lot of the pacing, character, and formatting problems (those hyperlinks!) fall away as the story begins to accelerate under its own momentum. By the time the US has put together its counterstrike (the second real point of the book) most of the lumpiness of the early narrative has smoothed out and it's a fast run to a very satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed it. I'm happy to recommend the purchase.

Amazon affiliate link. (Hardback. But go the ebook).

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

41 Responses to ‘Ghost Fleet. PW Singer and August Cole’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday
Are you coming the raw prawn with me?? Arnold Palmer was commissioned to design a golf course on which Marine Corps Osprey's were setting down??

If true, that rocks my world, mate. Rocks my fucking world.

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted Tuesday

Not only was Arnold Palmer commissioned to design a golf course for Osprey training but Mario Andretti was tasked to design a race track for Abrams M1A2 Tanks to take on Russian T-14s, on-loan from the Ukrainians ... and Mark Spitz was called upon to design a cluster of Olympic-sized swimming pools for HALO SEAL insertions - but somehow the design parameters where not explained properly and that programme was unexpectantly terminated.

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Aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Tuesday
I heartily endorse your desire to write more military thrillers. And call the hero Tolstoy.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted Tuesday
"Also, it made me think I should really write some more stuff like this."
Fuck Yes. Who cares about characterization if there is an F22 skimming the waves with big arse ship splosions in the background on the cover?

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted Tuesday
+1

damian puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
I think the beginning of the SF&F immersion I've taken on in recent years has been to work out whether I'd like to write it. Whereas maybe what I really want to write is more along the lines of Alastair Maclean (I lost patience with the 80s era guys in the 90s). Getting the balance of ingredients right is probably the main thing. Terse, double-fisted prose. Or something, no idea really and time burns like a fuse.

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Damian, if you can possibly break into writing through any other genre then for the love of God, go do that.
Don't get wrapped up in the mindless insanity of science fiction. Especially not after the spectacle which took place last weekend.

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Sudragon puts forth...

Posted Tuesday
It's not available on Amazon.com.au. It is, however, over on Google play.

Peter in the bleachers mumbles...

Posted Tuesday
Also at iBooks. I re-read Red Storm Rising about 3 months ago. I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed it back in the late 80's

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted Tuesday
Didn't Ralph Peters essentially write this novel back in the 1990s? Of course the bad guy was Japan, of all folks, not China. But it featured the same declining United States of America as the plucky come back kid.

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Aaron puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
I have seen loads floating around in book shops, very similar plot but because explodey goodness who cares.
I need to re read red storm rising, with some grilled meat on the side. Ahhh....

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Sudragon has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
And I turn on ABC and there's Peter Singer talking about the War on Isis....

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 24 hours ago
What program was that? That would be a cracker, and it'll still be available to download.

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Dick reckons...

Posted Wednesday
I read an article on this book yesterday. I believe whilst it is a novel, the authors are seriously also trying to role play a definitely possible outcome, and they are qualified to do so apparently.

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ChrisB ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
Looks like my Sunday is now set...thanks JB

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Aaron mumbles...

Posted Wednesday
The appeal for me is not so much the explodey but the interesting ideas of how to take out a powerful opponent like the USA. A classic example was the war 2006 book, a combined Mid East force taking on the west using an air denial strategy. It sounded good anyway. Red storm had some good bits like that as well.

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Sudragon would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
The trick is to write a book about a Superpower clash that isn't 400 pages of the extremely short period of time between 'launch warning' and 'earth-shattering ka-boom'

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TexasTeaserPony mumbles...

Posted Thursday
First, should the Master write more military SF? Absolutely. It's his highest and best use.

Second, Murph, you may be thinking-I think-of another Clancy book in which the US did have a dust up with Japan--remember when Japan Inc was scaring the shit out of some people? Clancy wrote a book to capitalize on that happy time.

Peters wrote a really excellent book called The Red Army--highly recommended for nostalgic Cold Warriors--in which a Warsaw Pact invasion of Germany is told from a Soviet point of view. The ending was interesting, to say the least. Highly recommended. Peters is currently doing a series of truly remarkable historical novels of various campaigns and battles of the US Civil War. His Cain at Gettysburg puts Shaara's Killer Angels to shame.

Red Storm Rising was the best of all the various efforts to try to write a WWIII book. So, with our Master's recc, I'll be buying and reading Ghost Fleet on tonight's trip to left coast. Thanks for that, Lord and Master.

As a footnote, Clancy wrote one where the US and NATO smacked the PRC around--we were helping Russia as I recall. He wrote a lot of stuff. As time passed, it got pretty same-same.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
That Japan book featured an airliner slamming into Congress. I recall TC having to explain why he wasn't responsible for 911

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
I remember very clearly back in the 1990s that everyone thought that Japan was the dominant future Asian power followed by a host of regional follow ons and that we, the United States of America were, doomed.

In an International Relations class at Park University (what do you get when you spell Park backwards) I basically stated that I thought their market growth was unsustainable and that regular predictions of U.S. collapse were just as regularly disproven. The instructor, an adjunct and my first encounter with one after two years of college, was convinced I was wrong. Well, history vindicated me with the collapse of the Tiger Economies and here in a bit I suspect when China implodes history will vindicate me again.






Dave W puts forth...

Posted Thursday
I think you raise an interesting point, Mr Murphy.
When I lived in the UK for a few years, I was staggered and impressed at just how important the country is. From the outside we get the impression that the place is crap and really is just a faded superpower. From the inside, though, it's startling just how influential and necessary (from a manufacturing, research and facilitation/financial perspective- probably militarily too) the UK remains. I suspect the same is true of the US.
I'd say that reports of their deaths are greatly exaggerated.

Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted Friday
Murph, you really think the PRC will go the same way as Japan and more recently, Korea? I would disagree, at least with the way it stands ATM. I studied Japan's economics and politics in the 80s when it was all Japan Inc. and Japan As No.1. I didn't agree with it then for Japan - too far, too fast and too naive. The PRC is a different beast and looks very much to the future and very long term strategies. Looked at the rare earth stats on ownership? Gold as well. It is at best uncertain and at worst, quite scary.

NBlob reckons...

Posted Saturday
i miss the rambling geopolitic sessions we used to have in the old burger. Yeah the carpet was sticky and you wouldn't crap in the bathroom if you could avoid it, but geeze we tackled some big issues. Not so much with the "which ap on my iWatch do I like most."

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 13 hours ago
Their demographic ticking time bomb will do them in. I'm not overly worried about China in the near term, at least over the next fifty years.

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted 24 hours ago
Just Testing

damian ducks in to say...

Posted 24 hours ago
*takes a small bow*

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted 19 hours ago
Gold star.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted Friday
FK ME YES!!!!

its about time...thats YOU and TC..well he can't but you have no fkn excuse!...I'M BUYING IT!...got some time on me hands.
OH...and BTW. FKN NOT FKN HAPPY ABOUT MELB, but mum and dad come first...old boys been pretty crook!

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted Saturday
Spend every minute with him you can comrade. Bung him in the shotgun seat while you do your chores. Once he's gone you'll regret every chance you had & didn't. I know I do.

AuntyLou ducks in to say...

Posted 18 hours ago
Missed the chance with Mum. Dad is living with us at the mo...trying to find the good stuff amongst the day to day dross. Grateful for the chance. Thinking of you and yours Havs (PS I know you don't know me from Adam but I am claiming a degree of Burgerhood which I am probably not entitled to but proud of nonetheless.)

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Surtac would have you know...

Posted Saturday
Finished this over breakfast this morning while trying to fight jetlag here in NYC. It did a good job of keeping me awake and turning the virtual pages. Very reminiscent of the late Tom C in style.
Oh and the hyperlinks as rendered on the kindle (as underlined text) were easy to ignore after the first half dozen or so.
Thanks for the recommendation, John.


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pedrogb mumbles...

Posted Saturday
Saw an article on it online, thought about it, but after your post JB I bought the ebook version.As a long time fan of miltary SF, anything by Tom Clancy, (and showing my vintage now) James Cobb or Eric L Harry I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it.

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Steve would have you know...

Posted Saturday
I finished reading it yesterday, and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Red Storm Rising.
I honestly doubt that China would let itself get into a shooting war with the US. When you owe the bank a million dollars and can't pay, you have a problem. When you owe the bank a billion dollars and can't pay, the bank has a problem. China's biggest financial assets is its US debt holdings, which are in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, and these would become worthless overnight if a shooting war started.

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sibeen mumbles...

Posted Saturday
So, just finished the book. For all the wrap JB gave it I must state that I just didn't love it. I didn't hate it, but love was still far away.
The disinterest started fairly early. For a book that was supposedly thoroughly researched there was a line near the beginning where China's monopoly on rare earth minerals is one of the tipping points for their ascendancy. Thing is, rare earth minerals just aren't that rare. In fact they are reasonably common. There's shitloads just lying around. I could dig up some in my backyard, not cheaply, but I could do it.
That sort of crap just turned me off.
As a China vs USA novel, it really didn't do that for me as well. I was hoping for a new and improved "Invasion" by Eric Harry. It didn't even come close. If you want visceral blood, guts, strategy, etc, the Harry novel wins in a canter.

Sibeen gives this book a big pfft.


NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted Yesterday
I've had a similar experience in a number of otherwise entirely adequate yarns. Page 5 or 6 some hand-waving or a clumsy Maguffin unsettles me for the rest of the yarn, meaning I never properly engage and find myself @ page 300, still unengaged.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted Yesterday
Turn off the italics!

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robW is gonna tell you...

Posted 14 hours ago
Ditto on the footnotes, they drove me crazy. When I read the book like you I was instantly reminded of Clancy, but not just Clancy. It reminded me wistfully of Birmingham's earlier work. I thought of writing him a note asking why he [Birmingham] didn't write more along those lines, but then realized he isn't my book bitch. *sigh*

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TexasTeaserPony reckons...

Posted 13 hours ago
Invasion *was* awesome.

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