Tag: Lifetime

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – The Long Utopia | Review

Title: The Long Utopia

Author: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 448

Rating 3.5/5



At this point, I’m pretty much just continuing to read these books to see what happens next. It’s not as though there’s anything specifically wrong with it, it’s just that I think the series was best right at the start when all of the ideas were still fresh. The idea of people being able to step from one world to another is a solid one, but there’s only so much that you can do with it. By this point, the concept no longer feels freeing, because a lot of the possibilities have been explored by now. Now it feels as though the story line itself is being dictated by its own constraints, and that could be a problem – especially for the last book.

Still, I’m enjoying myself enough, and I will be picking up the last book in the series. I’ve also come around to the way in which huge amounts of time pass between each book, because while it does get annoying just to discover that so-and-so broke up with their wife between books or whatever, it does at least mean we get to see each of the characters throughout their entire lifetime.

And the writing itself is pretty good, and I’m still enjoying the sense of humour as well. In fact, if I were to judge this as a standalone instead of as part of a series, I’d probably be a little more optimistic about it, because it is a good book. It’s just that this one and the last one had nothing on the first series, and we’re now getting to the point at which it feels as though they’re just tying up loose ends and following the science to its inevitable conclusion, instead of just telling a story.



But it still has all of the good stuff that made me love this series, including a whole heap of references to popular culture, popular science and popular psychology. This is one of those rare fiction novels where it actually feels as though you’re learning something when you’re reading it, and you come out the other end feeling much more intelligent than you did when you started.

So would I recommend this one? Of course I would, although I can also see how it might not be for everyone and there’s really no point skipping straight into it. Instead, you should start from the beginning and just keep going, especially if you find yourself enjoying it. What more could you want? Give the series a go – you won’t be disappointed.



Click here to buy The Long Utopia.


Michael Pickering – The Compass Dances | Review

Title: The Compass Dances

Author: Michael Pickering

Type: Poetry

Page Count/Review Word Count: 338

Rating: 7/10


Michael Pickering - The Compass Dances

Michael Pickering – The Compass Dances


Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

This book is an interesting one because it spans an entire lifetime – what we have here is Michael Pickering’s selected poetry, spanning from 1955 to 2015. The author himself certainly has a strong set of credentials – he’s a graduate of University College in Oxford, as well as several other universities, and he even taught English and applied linguistics in Finland for 27 years.

Now, this isn’t necessarily the type of poetry that I’d typically go for, but it was still an interesting enough read. One thing that I would say is that it’s the sort of poetry that tries to flaunt the author’s education, something which is mirrored later on in the book with the inclusion of a number of self-reflective essays that the author wrote about his work. He also uses far too many footnotes, at least in my opinion – it hampers the reader’s ability to draw their own conclusions, which is what good poetry is all about.

Still, as you’d expect from someone who spent a lifetime writing poetry, there’s also a lot here to interest and to tantalise the reader, especially if we’re talking about a reader who loves words. Whilst it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, I did have to admire the skill with which the author works words to his advantage. True, it often felt like you were reading the intellectual equivalent of dad jokes, with plenty of half-developed puns, but there were also moments of clarity where the author was able – with just a few, short words – to communicate a sense or a feeling.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re a serious fan of poetry – it can be pretty heavy, especially to someone who only reads prose, but it can also be rewarding if you stick with it. I’ll leave it up to your judgement.


Michael Pickering

Michael Pickering


Click here to buy The Compass Dances.