Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)

Double Infinity is the fourth science fiction novel in the hilarious Brent Bolster Investigations series by author Michael Campling, and it is reminiscent of writers such as Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not previously familiar with the Brent Bolster series…

My review of book one, Dial G for Gravity can be found here.

Continue reading “Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)”

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 3 – The Surrana Identity (ARC Review)

The Surrana Identity is the third book in the Brent Bolster series by author Michael Campling, and is dedicated to fans of Douglas Adams.

 

Book three continues the hilarious adventures of Private Detective Brent Bolster and his oddball associates: Vince Claybourne, Rawlgeeb – a green humanoid alien known as a Gloabon – and Algernon, their pet fish who lives in a diving helmet.

Those who’ve read the previous books in the series will already be familiar with Brent’s nemesis, Surrana, the sneaky Gloabon Assassin who has already made numerous attempts to kill him. In this story, Surrana has been held captive by the GIT (Gloabon Institute of Technology) and experimented upon. However, she manages to slip her confinement and escape her tormentors, fleeing from Earth and into space.

Frustrated with the situation, and despite their need for tact and diplomacy, the GIT reluctantly hire Brent to track down their former captive. Brent has reservations considering his complicated history with Surrana, but Vince soon changes his mind and convinces him to accept the job. However, what is intended to be a simple stealth mission, turns out to have a rather different agenda completely, and the gang find themselves in a tricky spot.

 

As with its predecessor, The Surrana Identity begins with a helpful glossary of characters which allows the reader to easily keep track of who-is-who, and where-is-where, which definitely eliminates confusion for those not familiar with the characters. I must admit that I’m a bit of a geek for things like glossaries and appendices and maps, so anything with additional details that makes life easier is definitely a win.

Aside from Brent, Vince, Rawlgeeb and Algy, a number of our favourite characters return for this novel, including: Dex, Zeb & Dr. Cooper. As far as the story goes, I found it incredibly funny and I chortled so often, that I had to take regular breaks just to recompose myself. The ridiculous banter between Brent and his cohorts is what makes this series so great, from fancy pencils to popular culture references and alien abductions.

We also have serious moments too though, where the Artificial Intelligences, Jason and Dee, get caught up in some existential angst and question both their orders and their chances of survival. As a person creeped out by the idea of AIs turning on humans, I definitely found this part interesting.

At 4 out of 5 stars, The Surrana Identity is my kind of humorous sci-fi story, and in my opinion they just get better with each new release. However I received a complimentary copy of the book directly from the author and my honest review is compelled to point out a few missing words and minor errors – slightly more so than I’d like to see.

I for one am eagerly awaiting book 4, keep them coming Michael.

 

See also:

Brent Bolster: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity

Brent Bolster: Book 2 – Dead Men Don’t Disco

Brent Bolster: Book 4 – Double Infinity

 

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 2 – Dead Men Don’t Disco (Book Review)

Dead Men Don’t Disco is the latest offering from author Michael Campling and it follows on from the first Brent Bolster Investigations novel, Dial G for Gravity. Those not already familiar with this sci-fi comedy series can read my review of Dial G for Gravity here.

Having made an unfortunate enemy of Gloabon assassin, Surrana – see Dial G for details – Brent and his associates must now find a way to thwart Surrana’s attempts at revenge.

Meanwhile, simple government peace talks take a bad turn when a faulty translator forces Lieutenant Commander Dex to enlist Zeb, the science officer and slightly bonkers cybonic lifeform on board The Kreltonian Skull, to act as interpreter and translator instead. The result; a drunken kidnapping which sparks an interspecies war.

In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Rawlgeeb is escorted to The Gamulon but is then taken captive by Dex and Zeb on The Kreltonian Skull as hostage, in retaliation to the Gloabon Captain’s abduction of their crew. Concerned for his friend Brent undertakes a mission of rescue however, will his unusual methods of negotiation and coercion have the tact and diplomacy necessary to diffuse such a sensitive situation? Best grab that fancy coffee and hope for the best.

 

The more I read of this Douglas Adams-esque series, the more side-splittingly hilarious it becomes. Whether this is because the comedy level has increased from the previous book, or because I have become more comfortable or more at ease with the personalities of these characters, who can really say. However, my final review for 2018 is a highly recommended 5 out of 5 stars.

While I’m not necessarily always a fan of robots/androids, I love the character of science officer Zeb, he is such tremendous fun. He’s probably up there in my list of top 3 robots/androids/cyborgs from literature, along with Kryten and Marvin The Paranoid Android.

Where the Brent Bolster series outshines Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series though, is in one fairly major area, its plot. By which I mean that Dead Men Don’t Disco actually has a cohesive storyline which is easy to follow, makes complete sense and doesn’t veer off on random tangents.

One final point to note is the handy glossary of characters that was included at the beginning of the book; a very useful addition if you ask me. While I was initially suspicious of the Brent Bolster series, I’m really glad that I decided to check them out as they’ve definitely put a few smiles on my face. If you’re looking for some light-hearted comedy to help you unwind during the overly-stressful festive season, then look no further than Dead Men Don’t Disco.

Watch out for book 3, The Surrana Identity, currently expected in early 2019.

 

See also:

Brent Bolster: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity

Brent Bolster: Book 3 – The Surrana Identity

Brent Bolster: Book 4 – Double Infinity

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity (ARC Review)

Dial G for Gravity is a fun sci-fi comedy book by Michael Campling, and its humour is reminiscent of Douglas Adams novels – both Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently.

The story follows private investigator Brent Bolster who goes missing for 10 days and suffers amnesia, after a botched alien abduction. Accompanied by his assistant, Vince and fellow abductee, Maisie, Brent must figure out what happened, not just to himself and Maisie, but also the thousands of other people who’ve recently vanished from Earth.

Meanwhile, falsely blamed for the spat of botched abductions by the Gloabon Government, Gloabon Liaison Officer Rawlgeeb is exiled to Earth, and tasked with an undercover operation to get to the bottom of the issue. He joins up with Brent, and together this unlikely team uncovers a major alien conspiracy that is sure to make you fear the existence, and motivations of extra-terrestrials.

 

Along with the nods to Douglas’s novels, this book also reminds me of the style of comedy that can usually be found in the writings of Red Dwarf creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. In essence this is my type of humour, and therefore my style of novel.

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Cooper, a minor character who works at the Gloabon Institute of Technology, and while I appreciate that this is maybe just a coincidence, the man held similar characteristics and peculiar mannerisms to his namesake, Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory TV show. I couldn’t help but imagine Sheldon in my head while reading Dr. Cooper’s dialogue, and this added to my enjoyment of the overall story.

All in all Dial G for Gravity is a pretty good space comedy, with well thought out characters and some interesting alien races in the Gloabons, Andelians and the Kreitians. I received an ARC of this book direct from Michael Campling and as it has a few spelling errors my review rating is just 4 out of 5 stars, however I’m looking forward to reading more about both Brent Bolster and the Gloabons, as well as Zeb, the cybonic lifeform, so hopefully there will be more books to come in the Brent Bolster Investigations series.

In addition, Dial G for Gravity comes complete with a handy list of characters at the end, for folks who appreciate that sort of thing.

 

See also:

Book 2 – Dead Men Don’t Disco

Book 3 – The Surrana Identity

Book 4 – Double Infinity

Red Dwarf: Backwards – Rob Grant (Book Review)

Rob Grant is half of the original gestalt entity known as Grant Naylor, who created the TV sitcom Red Dwarf, as well as co-writing the original two novels: Red Dwarf and Better Than Life, which can be found as one volume under the guise of ‘Red Dwarf: Omnibus’.

Backwards is Rob Grant’s first solo attempt at a Red Dwarf novel and is ‘in his own words’: “a reverse whodunit space opera western dealing definitively with the concept of post-destination”.

The story follows on directly from the events at the end of ‘Better Than Life’; David Lister, the last human being in the universe, is now an old man after being forced to live out his remaining years on a planet composed entirely of garbage due to a time-dilation incident involving a black hole.

When Lister dies, his fellow crew members bury his body on a planet similar to Earth, except time is running in reverse. Soon, he comes back to life and eagerly awaits the day, thirty-six years later, when the crew of the Jupiter Mining Corporation vessel, Red Dwarf will return for him.

Unfortunately, his crewmates consist of: a hologramatic persona of Lister’s deceased bunkmate, Arnold J. Rimmer, a creature that evolved from his pet cat, a sanitation robot with an overactive guilt-chip called Kryten, and Holly, the ship’s senile computer.

If they fail to rescue the only surviving human being from his backwards reality, he will go through puberty in reverse and continue to get younger and younger and younger, eventually culminating in a future far too disturbing to contemplate.

 

Favourite Quote:

“Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.” – Ace Rimmer. (p99)

 

 

While at times the backwards aspects of Rob Grant’s first solo Red Dwarf novel are a little confusing and difficult to wrap your head around, you have to admire the unique plot and sheer guts that it must have taken to publish a book in which a good chunk of the narrative takes place in reverse.

 

With its short snappy chapters and engaging premise Backwards is undeniably captivating, however it loses a lot of the witty humour that the Grant Naylor duo is famous for, and which made the first two novels so successful.

At 4 out of 5 stars Backwards is a good addition to the Red Dwarf Universe.

 

See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Last Human by Doug Naylor

Mostly Harmless (Volume 5 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

Mostly Harmless is the fifth and final novel in Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series, and unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, I just don’t seem to be able to comprehend what the point is to this final nonsensical story.

At the end of the preceding novel, ‘So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish’, Arthur Dent and his girlfriend, Fenchurch decide to leave the, rather oddly, un-demolished Earth where Arthur has been enjoying a vaguely normal existence, in order to locate God’s Final Message to His Creation. With the help of Arthur’s friend Ford Prefect, they hitch a lift on a spaceship which takes them to Preliumtarn, Marvin the Paranoid Android and God’s final message.

 

Mostly Harmless seems to have fast-forwarded in time (and possibly space) an indeterminate length, to a point where Fenchurch has went missing. Armed with the knowledge that he will never see her again, Arthur has now decided to find a planet on which to settle down. I’m not quite certain why he seeks a random habitable planet where he has a remote chance of fitting in, instead of just returning to the planet Earth on which he met Fenchurch?

All I can gather from the complex prattlings binding volume 5 together is that the reason has something to do with parallel universes, or multidimensional space-time, however the exact specifics are rather lost on me without any form of reasonable explanation.

 

I must confess that I am deeply disappointed and mostly annoyed with ‘Mostly Harmless’. Admittedly the entire series has been a bit shaky as far as plot is concerned, but for the most part there has always been enough humour and entertainment within the pages of the first four books that you can comprehend the basic gist. Not so with volume five.

My advice on book 5 of the Hitchhiker’s trilogy is that at 1 out of 5 stars, it is best to be avoided.

See also:

Vol 1: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 2: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Vol 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Vol 4: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

 

So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish (Volume 4 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

Having purchased Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker novels as a full set of five numbered paperbacks, I got a little confused on reading some reviews of book 3 ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ on Amazon, where reviewers kept discussing the plot as a ‘love story’ in which Arthur Dent falls in love with a character called Fenchurch, because on having read said novel it turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Now that I have continued on to book 4, ‘So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish’ which actually does contain the love story, I finally realise that for some rather odd reason, Amazon has got rather mixed-up and attached the exact same reviews to both novels 3 and 4. I’m just glad to know that I haven’t lost touch with reality, the resulting confusion was properly justified. Thanks Amazon!

Yes, anyway moving on…

 

Volume 4 in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s trilogy of five parts is ‘So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish’, in which back on a now non-demolished Earth, Arthur Dent falls in love.

Surprisingly, ‘So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish’ is actually one of the most enjoyable of the Hitchhiker novels so far. It has a clear cut storyline and unlike the majority of Douglas Adams’ other works, actually makes quite a lot of sense. Maybe it’s because a love story, regardless of the circumstances, is a plot which almost everyone can feasibly relate to, or just simply that this is the first novel which Douglas actually wrote from scratch, as a novel, rather than an adaptation of a TV or radio script. Either way, with a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, I feel like ‘So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish’ is a successfully, well-written tale, well worth reading.

 

See also:

Vol 1 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 2 – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Vol 3 – Life, the Universe and Everything

Vol 5 – Mostly Harmless

Life, the Universe and Everything (Volume 3 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

The unfortunate Arthur Dent currently finds himself living in a damp cave, stranded in Prehistoric Earth. The good news is that he’s back on his home planet, the bad news is that the next bus is not due for another two million years. Left, primary on his own, since his best friend, Ford Prefect went off and abandoned him four years earlier, Arthur is beginning to go a little crazy. Just as he finally decides to succumb to his insanity, Ford suddenly returns with surprising news; there are Eddies appearing in the space-time continuum.

These Eddies are proved to exist by the sudden appearance of a sofa in the middle of an otherwise empty field. It is due, in part, to the existence of said sofa and the Eddies in the space-time continuum, that Arthur and Ford find themselves back in London, two million years into the future and approximately two days before the demolition of the Earth – which you may remember is when Arthur and Ford originally hitched a lift on the Vogon spacecraft.

With help from an old friend, Arthur and Ford make a hasty exit from the doomed planet and embark on a journey to save the Universe.

 

Life, the Universe and Everything has a discernible plotline, which is a significant improvement when compared to its predecessor. However, it still falls short in the entertainment factor, although it has a number of rather amusing scenes. Not the best book in the series, but also nowhere near the worst at 3 out of 5 stars.

 

See also:

Vol 1 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 2 – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Vol 4 – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Vol 5 – Mostly Harmless

The Restaurant at the end of the Universe (Volume 2 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

Volume 2 of Douglas Adams’ trilogy of five parts, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, begins exactly where its predecessor left off. Having fled Earth on that dreadful Thursday, just before Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council destroyed his planet to make way for a ‘possible’ Hyperspatial Express Route, Arthur Dent has become a Hitchhiker on the stolen ship The Heart of Gold.

Arthur and his space-faring friends; Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin, are heading off to the Restaurant at the end of the Universe for a spot of breakfast. Blissfully unaware that the Vogon ship, piloted by none other than Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, is following on behind them. The Vogons are under strict orders to destroy the last two survivors of the human race, Arthur and Trillian.

As the Vogon’s begin their attack on The Heart of Gold, Arthur makes a very grave mistake. In trying to teach the spaceship to make a proper cup of tea he inadvertently jams the ship’s computer, stranding The Heart of Gold in deep space, and dooming the entire crew.

I won’t go into any more details on the plot here, in an attempt to avoid any possible spoilers. However, since there are a further three books in the series beyond this one, I think it is fairly safe to point out that through a rather complicated miracle and some even more confusing time travel, breakfast is finally served at Milliways.

 

Favourite Quote:

“If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?” – (p81)

 

At 1 out of 5 stars, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, unfortunately is nowhere near as entertaining as its predecessor. There is a distinct lack of cohesive plot, instead coming off as just a jumble of irrational events. Not even the occasionally brief appearances from Marvin the Paranoid Android, can make this novel worthwhile. I now begin to dread the contents of the remaining books.

 

See also:

Vol 1: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Vol 4: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Vol 5: Mostly Harmless

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Volume 1 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a science fiction classic from Douglas Adams, things are about to go terribly wrong for the main character, Mr. Arthur Dent. Arthur wakes up that morning in the hope of having a nice lazy Thursday; reading a book and brushing the dog etc. only to have his day ruined by a chain of rather stupid catastrophes.

First of all his house is demolished when the local Council decides that that particular area of England requires a bypass. Around the same time however, that event is put into perspective when his best friend informs him that the world is about to end. Aliens subsequently demolish the Earth in order to make way for the new Hyperspatial Express Route, being built across the Galaxy.

Sometime later, Arthur wakes to discover that he is rather surprisingly still alive. Having been rescued from certain death by his best friend Ford Prefect, an Alien from the planet Betelgeuse, he is now a hitchhiker on board a flying saucer, hurtling through space armed with only a towel and a book inscribed with the friendly words ‘Don’t Panic’.

Surely things can’t possibly get any worse…

 

Unfortunately for Arthur Dent, things do get worse. Having lost not only his home, but also his entire planet Arthur must now console himself with his new identity as Hitchhiker of the Galaxy, as he begins a series of adventures across the far reaches of space.

Accompanied by his friend Ford, a two-headed and three-armed President of the Galaxy named Zaphod Beeblebrox, fellow Earthling Trillian, and a rather depressed and paranoid robot by the name of Marvin, Arthur encounters many amazing sights never before seen by human kind and discovers the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the beginning of a five part trilogy, which having been around for over 30 years, is unlikely to require much by way of explanation. It is however, without a doubt, at 5 out of 5 stars, one of the most entertaining science fiction comedy series to ever grace our bookshelves, hence its cult status.

 

See also:

Volume 2: Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Volume 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Volume 4: So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

Volume 5: Mostly Harmless