Featured

Welcome to Sci-Fi Kingdom

Welcome to the new home of the Sci-Fi Kingdom book review blog here at wordpress.com.

 

First of all I would like to thank all of the people who supported the original website. Unfortunately, as you now know, I have had to relocate the blog. I have also decided to make a number of changes to the original format of my reviews by changing the rating system to a much more streamlined and practical 5 star system, rather than the complex 10 star system, as outlined below:

Continue reading “Welcome to Sci-Fi Kingdom”

Supernatural: One Year Gone by Rebecca Dessertine (Book Review)

One Year Gone is book seven in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Rebecca Dessertine. It takes place between the end of season 5 and the beginning of season 6.

 

…possible spoiler warning for those not familiar with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: One Year Gone by Rebecca Dessertine (Book Review)”

The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn (Book Review)

The Man in the Rubber Mask: The Inside Smegging Story of Red Dwarf

Now with 43.17% more smeg!

 

As the title suggests The Man in the Rubber Mask documents Robert Llewellyn’s time portraying the character of Kryten in the phenomenally successful BBC sitcom Red Dwarf. The book was originally published in 1994 but has since been updated to include 43.17% more smeg and republished by Unbound in 2014.

The story begins in 1988 when Robert is approached by Paul Jackson, the executive producer on Red Dwarf about the possibility of “some sort of part in some sort of sitcom”, and after meeting with the production crew he had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

Robert recalls the long arduous hours spent in makeup before filming could even begin and the various trials and tribulations of wearing a latex foam face mask and all over bodysuit, especially on things like his inability to eat lunch while on set.

It was Series 3 of Red Dwarf before Kryten’s character fully entered the show as a regular member of the cast, and Robert’s book provides details and anecdotes of life backstage in the company of Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Hattie Hayridge, the newly recast Holly.

The Man in the Rubber Mask is inherently an autobiography which depicts Robert Llewellyn’s life throughout his Red Dwarf years, all the way from series 3 through to series 10.

Check out this Kryten clip from the season 4 episode Camille:

 

Favourite Quotes:

“Half a pint of watered-down lager and I’m performing a sad, comedy stripagram on a bar-room table before you can say ‘keep your dignity’.” – Robert Llewellyn on why he doesn’t drink much. (p4)

 

“It helped me if I went slightly mad.” – Robert Llewellyn on adjusting to wearing the rubber mask. (p86)

 

The Man In The Rubber Mask provides an Interesting insight into the life of actor and writer Robert Llewellyn, as well as some insider details on the production and filming of all [at that current moment in time] ten series of popular British sitcom Red Dwarf.

Personally, having picked up this book as a huge Red Dwarf fan, hoping for a goosey into the interior of all things Dwarf, I was somewhat disappointed. Robert does of course go into painstaking details of his time ‘under the mask’ as it were, and while all this is indeed interesting I would have expected there to be more humorous anecdotes, stories and backstage banter between the actors. But then maybe my personal expectations were just a little too high.

Although I mostly enjoyed this biography of Robert’s portrayal as Sanitation Droid Kryten, it tended to veer off at times into some uncharted and slightly boring territory that didn’t seem all that necessary.

My biggest peeve however, comes towards the end of the chapter concerning the filming of series 8, when Robert veers off course and begins a tale concerning ‘Black Thursday’ which apparently takes place during the filming of The Rimmer Song (Chapter 10, p260). The Rimmer song actually appeared in series 7 of Red Dwarf, during the episode Blue, which would presumably have been filmed a couple of years previously. Call me tetchy but I’m a stickler for details and this particular continuity error grates on my nerves like nails down a blackboard.

At 4 out of 5 stars I would still recommend The Man in the Rubber Mask for any diehard Dwarfer keen to further develop their knowledge of the show. Those interested in reading Robert’s book can pick it up from Amazon.co.uk via this handy link.

 

See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Red Dwarf: Backwards

Red Dwarf: Last Human

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 1 by David Hawk (Book Review)

Following on from the original Race Through Space trilogy, Event Horizon begins with a very interesting premise: Neil and Marie are now estranged adults, but when Marie gets into difficulty, Neil is called in to come to her rescue. However, when the story properly starts, we return to Neil and Marie as children, shortly after the original Race Through Space trilogy ends.

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of books 1-3 of The Race Through Space Trilogy here.

 

…warning: potential spoilers…

Continue reading “The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 1 by David Hawk (Book Review)”

Exoskeleton: Book III – Omniscient by Shane Stadler (Book Review)

Omniscient is the third book in the Exoskeleton trilogy from experimental physicist Shane Stadler.

Those not already familiar can find my review of Exoskeleton here, and book 2, Tympanum here.

…warning: spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “Exoskeleton: Book III – Omniscient by Shane Stadler (Book Review)”

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)

For those not already in the know, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, and the book begins almost exactly where The Shining left off.

You can read my review of The Shining here via this link.

 

…warning: spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (Book Review)”

The Shining by Stephen King (Book Review)

When it comes to Stephen King, I tend to struggle a little. A lot of books begin with a fabulous premise, full of promise and excitement, but somewhere along the way, they branch off toward tedious side streets and monotonous never-ending twisty plots. In a nutshell, I end up bored and these type of books can be difficult to finish. However, The Shining is one of those rare masterpieces that keeps me turning those pages and staying awake to read long past bedtime. Binge-reading chapters for hours on end.

Most people by now are probably familiar with this story: Recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance begins a new job as Winter Caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. He relocates his family, wife Wendy and five-year-old son Danny, to the remote location with him. As Jack struggles with his sobriety and anger management issues, the family hope that this will mark the start of a better future for them.

The main premise follows Danny, who has the supernatural ability known as The Shining. This essentially means that he has precognition or clairvoyance. He is more susceptible to paranormal activity, such as seeing ghosts of the past, and can also catch flashes of other people’s inner thoughts and feelings, or witness events before they happen.

As the Torrance’s arrive at the Overlook, Danny instinctively knows, thanks to his ESP (extra-sensory perception) that bad things are going to happen there. He’s not wrong, slowly but surely things go downhill for the unlucky family.

 

This is a bit of a slow-burn novel that gradually develops over time, it might not be to everyone’s taste as it’s a lot more thriller than it is horror. However, for me personally, I love this story with its leisurely pace and isolated location. It also has good character development, with the subtle change of Jack Torrance from his sober state to that of a mallet-wielding madman.

Having read this again after the passing of many years, I can understand the bad reviews and harsh critiques this gets for being dull and long-winded, but I honestly find it really enjoyable. I can always binge-read The Shining in a few days, despite struggling desperately with loads of other Stephen King stories. I also prefer it to the film, which for some reason didn’t really appeal to me much. The two formats are vastly different, and I find that most people will connect with one, but not the other depending on their own individual preferences.

Initially, this used to be a 5 star novel for me, but now I’d probably have to give it 4 stars at most. I love the little flecks of humour that are interspersed within the story, which always get me laughing-out-loud and cracking a smile. However, I often forget that Danny is only a five-year-old kid, as his character and inner dialogue quite often comes across as more mature and adult at times. My one other negative note is that my copy of this book had a few quality issues with spelling, which really shouldn’t exist in a professionally printed Stephen King paperback.

The Shining can be found here on Amazon.co.uk for those interested in checking it out, but beware if you’re looking for it to scare you, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

 

See also:

Book 2 – Doctor Sleep (review coming soon)

Supernatural: War of the Sons (Book Review)

War of the Sons is book six in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is co-written by Rebecca Dessertine and David Reed. It takes place during season 5, between episodes 14 (My Bloody Valentine) and 15 (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), taking the Winchester brothers on yet another trip across America, this time to a completely different decade.

 

…possible spoiler warning for those not familiar with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: War of the Sons (Book Review)”