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Brainwavz M3 In-Ear Noise Isolating Earphones
Brainwavz M3 In-Ear Noise Isolating Earphones
Offered by MP4NATION
Price: $79.50
21 used & new from $61.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Compact Earphones from Brainwavz, April 21, 2015
Brainwavz has been making some of the best designed, best built, earphones for both audiophiles and casual users recently. Its mid-range line includes the fine M2 that excels in giving listeners excellent bass sound, and the audiophile-friendly S0, which I noted in a review of it as one of Brainwavz’s “flagship” models. It also includes the superb M3, which strives for “exceptional balance across the lows, mids and highs, providing precise acoustical reproduction, crisp and clear vocals, with bass that won’t disappoint”. This advertising copy that I’ve quoted from is a most apt assessment of its sonic quality. What distinguishes it from its siblings includes its ergonomic design, with each earphone containing a slight flange that helps secure them to the user’s ears, as well as offering the maximum in user’s comfort. In plain English, it’s a terrific set of earphones. While the M3 isn’t nearly as audiophile-friendly as the new S0, it offers a wide range that will satisfy all, but the most discriminating audiophile, especially for those who are interested in using these earphones while jogging, running or biking. I’ve tried these earphones on an assortment of laptop speakers, a beaten-up Sony Walkman miniature radio and a Bose CD player, pleasantly surprised and delighted with its fine performance in presenting a broad range of sound, clearly and quite distinctively superior to those of similar earphones I have tried from other, more established, stereo earphone manufacturers. Brainwavz demonstrates the high regard it has for the M3 by offering a miniature hard carrying case, a shirt clip, and eight sets of ear-tips which listeners can choose from to ensure maximum enjoyment from these earphones. Its 3.5mm jack is compatible for iPods, iPhones, iPads, MP3 players, and other audio devices like the Bose CD player I own. While I remain indebted to Brainwavz for providing a sample for review, it hasn’t biased my review of it, especially when I tend to spend upwards to a week or more testing each and every sample I’ve received from its USA distributor. The Brainwavz M3 offers potential purchasers a well-made, high quality set of earphones that will offer great sound quality whether the user tends to be sedentary or active.


Tin Men: A Novel
Tin Men: A Novel
by Christopher Golden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, Quite Compelling, Near Future Dystopian Military Techno-Thriller, April 20, 2015
This review is from: Tin Men: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Christopher Golden's "Tin Men" offers a very well-conceived, often compelling, near future dystopian vision of a United States assuming the role of the world's hegemon thanks to sophisticated military robotic technology. Golden's latest novel is the best near future techno-thriller I have read, worthy of favorable comparison with Mark Alpert's "Extinction" just in terms of his fast-paced plotting and fine prose. While others, most notably William Gibson ("The Peripheral") and Rod Rees ("The Demi-Monde" novels), have written similar recent novels pertaining to human-linked artificial intelligence and robotics, no one else has written a near future work of robotic speculative fiction of the kind closely resembling Tom Clancy's finest military thrillers with regards to its pacing and intricate plotting. Golden also deserves ample credit for his fine world building, demonstrating how the United States could become the world hegemon, literally bringing new meaning to the term of "world's policeman" via the human mind-linked robots, the "tin men". He succeeds in demonstrating how world-wide prejudice and hatred against America's new found hegemony over much of the world might lead some anarchists and terrorists into plotting a doomsday scenario that literally brings down Western Civilization; a horrific dystopian near future far more credible than anything I have read recently regarding the aftermath of viral pandemics and nuclear war from mainstream literary fiction writers who, unlike, Golden, haven't mastered what J. G. Ballard and William Gibson have dubbed the "tool kit of science fiction".

Golden also excels in creating believable characters, whether they are the unlikely pair of Private First Class Danny Kelso and Corporal Kate Wade of United States Army Remote Infantry Corps, 1st Remote Infantry Division, Sixth Battalion, Platoon C, or teenager Alexa Day, who quickly grows up during the course of an unbelievable, against-all-odds trek from Damascus to Athens and beyond. Linked electronically to their "tin men" patrolling the streets of Damascus, Syria, Kelso and Wade and the rest of their battalion deal with "anti-bot" terrorists seeking to destroy them, as the world literally goes to hell, when an EMP burst destroys much of the technological - especially digital - infrastructure of Western civilization, on the very day that the world's leaders are holding an important economic summit in Athens. Kelso, Wade, Day, and several others sail quickly towards Athens, seeking to rescue the President of the United States, even as unsuspecting acts of treachery are being committed back at their base in Wiesbaden, Germany by someone sympathetic to the nihilistic impulses of the "anti-bot" terrorists. "Tin Men" is a superb work of commercial fiction, breathtaking in its scope and one especially bold in its presentation of a fast-paced saga set against a near future dystopian future of the kind made memorable by William Gibson in his early "Sprawl"/'Cyberspace" trilogy ("Neuromancer", "Count Zero" and "Mona Lisa Overdrive") and John Shirley ("A Song Called Youth"). Golden may not be quite the literary stylist that Gibson and Shirley are, but he has done a most admirable job in presenting a compellingly frightening and realistic near future in "Tin Men" which, I am certain, will be appealing to many readers. It may well become one of this year's hits in commercial fiction.


The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering: A Novel
The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering: A Novel
by Jeffrey Rotter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26
58 used & new from $10.73

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither Darkly Comic Nor Wildly Original, April 17, 2015
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A friend of mine who teaches creative writing in college and graduate school once told me that he had to relearn everything he knew from the highly regarded MFA creative writing program where he earned his MFA degree, before he started writing excellent speculative fiction. Had Jeffrey Rotter opted to follow the same career path, I would be writing a superb review of his latest novel, "The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering", praising him for his fine writing and clever speculative fictional imagination. However, contrary to the claims made by his publisher, his novel is neither "darkly comic" nor "wildly original"; instead, it reads like a very pale reflection of some memorable Ray Bradbury novel crossed with another from J. G. Ballard, with maybe a mediocre blend of dark humor of the kind practiced by the likes of writer Douglas Adams and Monty Python. It is unquestionably the least distinguished novel I have seen from an alumnus of a New York City MFA creative writing program that should be viewed as one of America's finest. It demonstrates yet again that yet another mainstream literary fiction writer who claims to be writing notable speculative fiction isn't, incapable of practicing what J. G. Ballard and William Gibson have dubbed the "tool kit of science fiction".

"The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering" is a work of fiction heavily pregnant with logical inconsistencies of the kind inexcusable to those who have devoted entire careers writing memorable, truly first rate, speculative fiction. Rotter doesn't show how a far future America capable of keeping some form of jet travel and selling a popular soft drink like Fanta, would relegate to the status of mythology, early 21st Century astronomy and astrophysics. This is worth noting when early 20th Century Western civilization - including Japan - had a substantially superior understanding of astronomy, astrophysics and other physical sciences, than the dystopian future America he depicts. It is also incomprehensible how the Van Zandt family was able to use centuries-old NASA training videos at Cape Cannibal - by viewing truly ancient video monitors that somehow managed to perform well after remaining dormant for centuries. Nor should he be commended for changing the names of well-known cities, countries and places like Los Angeles ("Losang"), Tucson ("Two-Son"), Chile ("Chilly") and Cape Canaveral ("Cape Cannibal") when others have excelled in creating memorable, and realistic, futuristic versions of English in their speculative fiction. As a work of dystopian fiction, "The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering" pales greatly in comparison with such recent notable novels like Peter Heller's "The Dog Stars", Davide Longo's "The Last Man Standing" and especially, Emmi Itäranta's "Memory of Water"; the latter, a far more profound work of speculative fiction than Rotter's latest and one that should be viewed as an instant classic of dystopian speculative fiction. This year is shaping up to becoming a great year of notable new works of speculative fiction, with Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Buried Giant" as the only distinguished one I have seen written by a mainstream literary fiction writer; in stark contrast with Ishiguro's, Rotter's latest consists of words not worth remembering at all.


Making Nice
Making Nice
by Matt Sumell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63
82 used & new from $9.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable Tales About a Most Compelling Loser, April 14, 2015
This review is from: Making Nice (Hardcover)
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Alby, the main protagonist in Matt Sumell’s “Making Nice” isn’t someone you’d find mentioned favorably in the Bernie Taupin lyrics of an Elton John song; he’s far from the admirable, blinded Vietnam War veteran named in “Daniel” or the saintly John Lennon in “Empty Garden”. He’s the annoying, irritating, compulsive teenaged punk you might remember from your adolescence; someone with absolutely no redeeming virtues, period. Yet in this terse collection of interconnected short stories – or if you prefer, a novel consisting of short stories – Matt Sumell has created one of the most compelling characters in recent mainstream literary fiction; indeed someone to be compared favorably with characters as memorable as Holden Caulfield in J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” or Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer in Mark Twain’s great fiction. Tales that are told compellingly in first person narration from Alby’s perspective, emphasizing the author’s talents in memorable storytelling and crafting fine prose. What distinguishes Sumell from his peers in these memorable tales about family, love and grief, is his exceptional skill in making a character as dislikable as Alby someone you’d want to be rooting for, willing to ignore his drunkenness, his boorish sexual behavior towards girls and women, and his uncanny ability for getting himself into trouble, simply because he is acting out his grief over the untimely death of his beloved mother. Sumell introduces us to a suburban Long Island, New York as memorable as the Connecticut suburbs described by Rick Moody in much of his early fiction, or the New York City depicted in the fiction of writers as diverse as Jimmy Breslin, Scott Cheshire, Peter Hamill, Mark Helprin and Eleanor Henderson. Regardless of whether “Making Nice” is a short story collection or novel, it nonetheless represents the arrival of a noteworthy young talented writer of American fiction; Matt Sumell. Without question, “Making Nice” is one of the most notable works of fiction published this year, not least because of its memorable fictional portraits of Alby, someone you want to hate, but can’t.


Zeiss 35mm 1.4 Distagon T* ZM Lens for Zeiss Ikon and Leica M Mount Rangefinder Cameras - Black
Zeiss 35mm 1.4 Distagon T* ZM Lens for Zeiss Ikon and Leica M Mount Rangefinder Cameras - Black
Offered by PhotoCraft
Price: $2,290.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Fast 35mm Lens for 35mm rangefinder camera photography, April 13, 2015
I had the privilege of testing this lens for several days at last year's Photo Plus Expo in New York City courtesy of Carl Zeiss itself. I was able to test it using Kodak TMAX 100 and TMAX 400 film on several Leica M rangefinder cameras and the results were nothing short but spectacular. Wide open, at f1.4, I detected little or no light fall off, and the lens' superb image quality remained the same, even when I stopped the lens down to f8. (I can't provide a link to the best images, but Zeiss has them and I hope they will use them soon to help market effectively this superb, high performance lens.) If there is a downside to this lens, it may be its larger size than prior and current versions of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH lens as well as its larger filter size (49mm vs. 46mm for the Leica Summilux ASPH versions), but these should be minor considerations for anyone thinking of using this lens. Mechanically, seems as well built as any of the Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH lenses I have seen, including the one I own, which was the longest-produced version of it. IMHO it is the best 35mm f1.4 lens I have used in 35mm rangefinder camera photography. Without question, it is a welcomed new addition to anyone who uses Leica/Voigtlander, etc. M-mount rangefinder cameras and lenses.


Logos: A Novel of Christianity's Origin
Logos: A Novel of Christianity's Origin
by John Neeleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.95
20 used & new from $13.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Debut Novel on the Birth of Christianity, April 13, 2015
Debut novelist John Neeleman's "Logos" should be viewed as one of the most notable works of fiction published this year - and one of this year's notable debut novels - and one that should have been published by a major New York City publishing house. This is a compelling, quite fascinating, account of the life of Jacob Ben Aaron, whom Neeleman establishes as the author of the unknown "proto-Gospel" that apparently inspired several of the Gospels found in the New Testament. While Jacob is entirely fictional, the novel introduces us to such key historical figures as Roman general Tiberius Julius Alexander, a Romanized Jew who was the deputy commander the Roman legion which lay siege to Jerusalem in AD 70, the enigmatic historian Flavius Josephus, and Roman emperor TItus. It is through Jacob's eyes that we see a most spellbinding account of Jewish religious and political strife in the streets of Jerusalem leading up to and during the first Roman-Jewish war (AD 66 to AD 73), and the gradual rise of Christianity, seen initially as a heretical Essene sect. Neeleman has done for 1st Century AD Palestine and Rome, what Hilary Mantel has done in covering the life and times of King Henry VIII in her novels "Wolf Hall" and "Bringing up the Bodies", demonstrating his own fine gifts for historical research, storytelling and prose. For those seeking a credible, historical fictional account of the birth of Christianity, then "Logos" should rank high on their lists.


The wine of violence
The wine of violence
by James Morrow
Edition: Hardcover
74 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Debut Novel from One of Speculative Fiction's Greatest Living Satirists, April 7, 2015
This review is from: The wine of violence (Hardcover)
Admittedly "The Wine of Violence" isn't James Morrow's best work, but even it, as a debut novel, illustrates much of the major themes present in his literary career, with an interest in exploring - and ridiculing - faith and in championing reason. "The Wine of Violence" reminds me a lot of some bizarre Philip K. Dick, with Kurt Vonnegut - before he renounced his ties to science fiction - and Harlan Ellison thrown in. It's a compelling saga in which two stranded human travelers stumble upon a society totally devoted to peace while co-existing uneasily with an almost subhuman tribe of cannibalistic savages; both societies the descendants of survivors of a long-lost Earth colony ship. Anyone who has been a fan of Morrow's work will find much to celebrate in his debut novel, while others may find themselves intrigued by the fascinating, often complex, protagonists as well as the settings, including a dark river in which those from the peaceful society have poured in all of their anger and hate. Morrow excels especially here as a superb satirist of ideas, anticipating much of his recent brilliant satire, especially in novels as stylistically different as "The Madonna and The Starship" and his latest, "Galapagos Regained".


Brainwavz AP001 Portable Headphone Amplifier
Brainwavz AP001 Portable Headphone Amplifier
Offered by MP4NATION
Price: $26.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Miniature Portable Headphone Amp, April 2, 2015
I've been testing the Brainwavz AP001 with a few Brainwavz earphones over the past few weeks and am very impressed that such a small unit can offer substantial improvement in sound quality, It does exactly what Brainwavz claims for it, as an OP Amp for "Powerful and Clean Volume and Bass Enhancer". This unit will work with any earphone or headphone with a 3.5mm audio jack. It has the ability of offering playback for more than 12 hours courtesy of a built-in rechargeable battery, but for most users, it can be powered from their laptop, tablet, etc. quite easily via its micro USB port. It has two ports for 3.5mm phone jacks for earphones or headphones, as well as a port for a microphone that uses a 3.5mm jack. Construction-wise, it is of the same high quality I have seen from other Brainwavz products. Having received this from the manufacturer has not in any way biased the content of my review.


The Madonna and the Starship
The Madonna and the Starship
by James Morrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.30
58 used & new from $5.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliantly Irrepressible Work of Satirical Pulp Speculative Fiction, April 2, 2015
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James Morrow demonstrates why he should be viewed as the George Carlin of speculative fiction in his clever, wickedly funny, and brilliant, satire “The Madonna and the Starship”, in which he pokes fun not only at Christianity, but also 1950s pulp fiction, most notably its science fiction. Morrow’s hero is Kurt Jastrow, the creator and head writer for the NBC television show Brock Barton and His Rocket Rangers, whose alter ego, Uncle Wonder, offers children lessons in rational thinking and the joy of doing science in his Uncle Wonder’s Attic, which follows every broadcast of Brock Barton. Much to his surprise, Jastrow discovers that he has fans that are truly out of this world, a couple – male and female – of crustacean aliens from the Planet Qualimosa, who promise to bestow upon Jastrow, one of their planet’s highest honors. However, upon their arrival on Earth – or rather, more precisely, New York City – they discover that humans are not the thoughtful, rational beings of the kind represented by Uncle Wonder and threaten to kill via a lethal death ray, all of the viewers – counting in the millions – of a popular religiously-themed drama that is shown nationally on NBC every Sunday. With only a few days to spare, Jastrow and his colleagues must write a script for that drama which will demonstrate to the Qualimosans just how rational humanity is, and discouraging them from committing a death ray massacre, by rewriting some crucial New Testament history involving Jesus and his disciples. Morrow’s terse novel is a most affectionate look back at New York City in the 1950s, which while focused on television, also introduces readers to the likes of one notable British poet noted for his all too frequent visits to a popular tavern in the West Village section of Greenwich Village. Long-time admirers of James Morrow’s fiction, as well as those unfamiliar with it will find much to rejoice in “The Madonna and The Starship”.


The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death)
The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death)
by Nnedi Okorafor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.60

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Notable Achievement of Magical Futuristic Fantasy, April 1, 2015
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Nnedi Okorafor is a living literary treasure of speculative fiction whose heart, mind and soul belong to two continents; her native birthplace of Africa, and her adopted home of North America. Recognized as one of the most unique and distinguished voices in contemporary fantasy, Okorafor’s “The Book of Phoenix” is a worthy prequel to her World Fantasy Award-winning novel “Who Fears Death” and a noteworthy achievement of fantasy writing as high literary art, taking readers into a near future dystopian landscape both familiar and strange, and one that offers substantially more realistic prose than virtually any American mainstream literary fiction writer who has dabbled recently in writing near future dystopian science fiction. Do you need to read her prior novel to enjoy “The Book of Phoenix”? I didn’t and I am confident that most readers will be interested in it as a compelling work of fantasy solely on its strong merits of superb descriptive prose, great character development, a whirlwind of settings that takes readers on a magical, but nightmarish, journey across the continents of North America and Africa, and a memorable plot that will hold readers spellbound until the final page. Okorafor demonstrates ample mastery of her terse, yet muscular, prose, giving readers truly vigorous writing that excels, often simultaneously, in its realism as well as its fantastical elements. A memorable tale told primarily in first person through the eyes of her protagonist, Phoenix, who will be celebrated as yet another of her superb cast of superhuman women encountered within her speculative fiction.

Phoenix is a child in an older woman’s body; her calendar age of three years in an adult female body that hovers around the age of forty. A recent “experiment” in the secretive research facility of Tower 7 located in heart of midtown New York, NY, Phoenix is barely aware that she’s been raised as an “experiment”, as a potential weapon of war, living in blissful ignorance until the day that her best friend, Saeed, sees something terrible and responds by committing suicide. Stunned by his death, and the refusal of Tower 7’s administrative and research staff to answer her questions, she realizes that she, like Saeed, has been residing within a glorified prison, unable to escape. Eventually, when she does escape, Phoenix will influence a chain of events in both the United States and West Africa that will change forever, humanity’s future; in other words, she plays the pivotal role in determining that future.

With great novels published already like James Morrow’s “Galapagos Regained”, John Love’s “Evensong” and Kazuo Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant” – the latter perhaps the sole notable work of speculative fiction published this year from a mainstream literary fiction writer - and forthcoming ones ranging from distinguished debuts from Kirsty Logan (“The Grace Keepers”) and Ken Liu (“The Grace of Kings”) to eagerly awaited new novels from Paolo Bacigalupi (“The Water Knife”), Neal Stephenson (“Seveneves”), and Kim Stanley Robinson (“Aurora”), 2015 is shaping up to be a notable year for distinguished speculative fiction. Without a doubt, Okafor’s “The Book of Phoenix” is yet another notable addition, and one destined to receive serious consideration for the literary honors it so richly deserves. A noteworthy addition that is especially praiseworthy for her elegant blend of African-American culture and history with the traditions and folklore of her native West Africa, and one that should garner a broad audience of enthusiastic readers.


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