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Pop in, Pop out and go Pop!

PoP Travel

by

Tara Tyler

This is the first book in a series by Tara Tyler. She gave the book to me to read after I obtained the second book in NetGalley for review and suggested I read this first as it sets the scene. And what a scene it is…

Here we see how we will travel in the future. As in Star trek we will be using transporters that break us down into our essential atoms and then put us back together again – hopefully, with everything in the right place! There were a few accidents it is true when they were trying to perfect the concept but now-a-days it was no problem. Or so everyone thought and happily popped around the world time after time after time – much more frequently than was recommended it was true, but then it was all safe – wasn’t it?Star-Trek-Transporter

But some people have doubts. And so does our hero Cooper after he meets Phisner and starts to investigate his missing sister. And then there is the hot agent who is supposed to stop Cooper but…

I really enjoyed reading this story – it ‘popped’ along at a good pace with some interesting concepts in it, even tough one must say not necessarily new ideas. And of course, the conspiracy buffs will have all their fears recognised here, and I do love a good conspiracy myself.

The writing was fresh and clean and accessible. We weren’t overwhelmed with jargon and science as such a book could have done, but were told just enough to understand the theory and principles.

So worth a read and I’m giving it 4 stars. I shall read the next book Simulation shortly and look forward to it.

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The Winds Chime

The Windchime Legacy

by

AW Mykel

A NetGalley Review

This was the first novel by AW Mykel and was originally written in 1980. Unfortunately this shows in a number of places. If it had been updated  – just a little – I would have given it 4 stars but it just fails due to being out-dated.

When it was written the spy world described with Russia and the US and the UK were very true. But unfortunately for this novel we all know that the Russians were very good at trapping people through sexy spies and no-one would be fooled by that these days – after Christine Keeler all politicians and defectors knew only too well to look out for a gift-woman and avoid them like the plague.

Then there is the computer and Sentinel. For its time, the novel was verging on fantasy but this computer is easily imagined today as are the implants and you would need to go further in what it could do – after all Google knows where all the missile silos are!

So update the hardware – the phones, the computers and some of the behaviour and what is an interesting spy novel would become good, but it just missed it for me as it seemed I had read it all before – even the idea of the Nazi plan for later world domination and a mysterious notebook have been seen in other books now – though it may have been the first to have these ideas.

The author has stopped writing but appears to live in Texas but always wrote under a pseudonym so we don’t know who it was but Brash books have some knowledge – I wonder if there are royalties to be paid to him for the re-publication? If so, they know where he lives!

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Why Tuesday is Best

Tuesday Falling

By

I. Williams

 

A NetGalley Review

 

This novel was written for me personally – I swear.

S/he [profile picture shows a male but…] has picked all my favourite topics to write about, from a feisty young woman who stands up for herself – and others – against immense odds and some real nasty villains, to hidden London. And the Internet and world of the Dark Net and coding and…And all in an easy, acceptable, riveting [and amusing] style, that makes a story compelling you to read until the very end.

Williams says s/he got the idea Whilst travelling the London Underground and spying an indy girl with stay away eyes and F you clothing I immediately wanted to write a book with her in. And so he did.

For me this book ticked so many issues including what it must be like to grow up in such an abandoned area of social environment, where lawlessness has ruled for a long time and where retribution is unknown. A world in which you believe you deserve what you get and thus don’t protest or protect yourself from harm. The baby mothers who are just children themselves but are needed for their homes for drug trafficking in ‘comfort’. What is clear from the various UK Governmental deprivation indices available, is that these deprivations tend to occur as clusters – ie social deprivations go alongside economic, health, physical environment and activity deprivations, and have a tendency also to cluster crime within these boundaries of deprivation. In London the deprived areas are also clustered around the areas where immigration is a key factor such as Hackney.

Within these deprived areas, housing is an issue as is skills and education with many children not completing their secondary schooling due to health or other factors which can then lead to criminal behaviours to obtain money or to maintain a social role and standing within the peer group. And thus we gain a culture of crime being an everyday, expected and anticipated occurrence with no attempt to live outside the criminal mentality.

This is the setting from which Tuesday appears on the street as a young abused child, homeless but with a razor sharp intelligence that enables her to learn fast and to plan strategies with the best generals – Sun Tzu would be proud of her. She benefits from the online culture of today to assist her in her plan. Her plan, that has every move calculated precisely with all the potential outcomes also factored in and thus responses also provided. Her plan to help those abused like herself turn the tables on the abusers – with ferocity and determination that astounds all who encounter them and her.

 

So I went through the novel bookmarking madly.

Firstly there are all the computing aspects – which not all of which I knew about, and I do try and keep reasonably up to date here. For those less techno-able I have collected a few and will now try and explain very briefly what they are about.

  • Open-source hacking: if you go to the Internet you can actually find articles about how to be a hacker. A hacker is not just the adolescents who break into NASA but also the people who create new ideas within the software world – crackers break, hackers don’t. hackers solve problems and build things and believe in mutual help to solve problems. Open source software is software that doesn’t belong to a company such as Microsoft but is created free to use. Thus an open source hacker is using free to use software to solve a problem. In this novel, Tuesday is often a cracker rather than a hacker as she uses the software to break connections etc.
  • Mirror protocols: a mirror is basically just that – a second site or set of protocols that mirror – replicate – the original site or protocol so that the instruction goes to both and thus can be intercepted before action.
  • Spirit-slide: this seems to be something quite difficult to find but seems to be related to mirroring and shielding and routing in programming and you need to be able to program in C++ to be able to do it!
  • Silk Road: Now I already knew about the Silk Road but it had been shut down by the police and FBI in 2014. It was basically an online illegal (and anonymous) sales site especially for drugs and guns but it seems that it was so popular that Diabolus Market (cannabis only) immediately went into business as the new Silk Road [https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/good-bye-silk-road-2-0-welcome-silk-road-3-0/]
  • Dark Web: I had also heard about this – [http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/how-to/internet/what-is-dark-web-how-access-dark-web-deep-3593569/] this site explains the dark web as a series of web sites that are publically visibly – such as the Silk Road – but hide the IP addresses of the servers behind them. They are thus effectively anonymous and difficult to police. The Dark Web can be useful for legitimate uses such as when you live in a country that has banned external contact, you can do this through the Dark Web, but mainly it is for illegal activities.
  • The Deep Web: includes the Dark Web but also all user databases, webmail pages, registration required web forums, and the pages behind paywalls. This means that every page visible on the internet has maybe millions of Deep Web pages behind it which can be accessed.
  • The Dark Internet are further networks, databases or websites that cannot be reached over the internet and are proprietary, niche, or very private.
  • BMR – ebay for dark Webbers – Black Market Reloaded – another illegal sales site.
  • Interzone: which is described as –scuba-diving through a police sea – in the book is the place where the internet’s heavy users inhabit. They live through the use of digital media and physical presence is secondary to virtual presence.

“If the Interzone as William S. Burroghs anticipated it represents a transitional phase in between, the Internet would then be an interzone between real life and the virtual life that creates the illusion that what you see is what you get” [The Internet as an Interzone by Laura Borràs Castanyer, (University of Barcelona), p5 2011?]

 

The second major aspect of the book is all about Secret and Underground London – and there is so much of this favourite topic of mine in this novel, that I am going to give this its own post and take my readers through the places mentioned and some more they maybe also hadn’t heard about!

I really can’t believe myself here, but I’m going to give this novel, 7 stars out of 5!

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Hawks Vs Doves: A mystery in a puzzle

Dunn’s Conundrum by Stan Lee

A conundrum is a puzzle, a mystery, a problem to be solved and I am real puzzle fiend – this is why I love mystery novels and spy and crime fiction. I like to work who did it. But here the character Dunn is trying work out just who is the Doctor? The spy in their midst? And there is a lovely twist on this we find at the end.

Now I really loved this book, my first 5 star of the year – and I don’t give them out lightly. It is right in my field of expertise and research – information and knowledge management and the contradictions and issues that are raised by them. The book eloquently shows that there is a tremendous difference between the two, and in the end, as knowledge is informed by intuition and leaps into the unknown that then demonstrates new linkages and understanding, it shows that you cannot just rely on information. Intuition, is also linked to that ‘gut’ feeling , and now that we know that humans have a mini brain in their stomachs, (see http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/10/26/the-brain-gut-connection-for-mental-well-being/ and https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201110/your-backup-brain) we can be better sure that when our stomachs indicate we may be doing something wrong, then we may well be doing something wrong!

I was slightly confused when reading it as it did seem a little dated in parts and then getting to the end, I found out that not only did the author die in 1997 but that the book was written in 1985 (I found an original review of the book form 1984! https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stall-lee/dunns-conundrum/). Interesting how such scenarios, if well written, can stand the test of time. Update the technology a little and what might be the difference? I suspect that as time has moved on we actually empathise more with the scenario then they did then when such computer links seemed very implausible. After all the personal computer was in its infancy in 1984/5 and we certainly had not yet thought of information management as a main business tool.

There were some very interesting quotes that I would like to put in here as I found them amusing or illustrative or otherwise significant of the writing style or content:

‘Ives was a design-center American: hew was within all tolerances. Medium height, medium weight, not handsome, not ugly, a white Anglo-Saxon Catholic who didn’t practice but had a daughter doing time in an ashram.’

‘Dunn had considered hiring a novelist for the job. They were born undercover agents. Voyeurs, secretly making notes.’

‘Nobody knew everything, which cut off countless possibilities for cross-fertilisation. And prevented any kind of sensible control.’

‘We inevitably think of information, data, facts, as inherently good. An asset. Something positive in our lives… information gathering permitted the advance of civilisation….some information is clearly negative…..negative information is that which, immediately upon acquitting, causes the recipient to know less than he did before…that which subtracts from one’s store of knowledge and wisdom…’

‘…You’re never going to understand the world. Know why? Because you’re ignoring everything that doesn’t fit.’

Now garbage is also interesting. Because, of course, what you throw away does say a lot about you. Especially today when we are urged to recycle so much. Although if you allow for a compost bin you will get a very limited view of what we eat. It also only works for single-occupancy households, not flats, as if you all share the same dustbins (UK word here) who know just who throw away the whiskey bottles? But in the scenario posited here in the book, they were monitoring single occupancy houses and presumably the servants had separate bins.

Now in our flats we have different bins. Blue, grey and green. The green covers the garden and also food waste that cannot be home composted including meat and bones. The Council takes this composts in their machines which go to very high heat and produce wonderful very strong material that you need to adjust 3 parts soil to 1 pat compost otherwise the plants will burn. The blue is for recycling and the grey for general rubbish. All 4 flats use the same bins so that would definitely confuse any Garbageman.

So this book is basically a Hawks Vs Doves story with political connivance and convenience thrown in. And as stated in the book, the Hawks in the US can always tell a good story to try and convince John Doe.

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