All posts by ntbadmin

Joe’s Planet

Joe Satriani
Crystal Planet (1998)

This is possibly Joe’s best album.  What makes this album work is the great  rhythm section that rumbles and grooves along like a train, allowing Joe to do his 20 fingers stuff on guitar.

The album starts fast with “Up in The Sky”, the track has is a strong knock-out punch of an introduction and Joe illustrates his abilities with a few catchy fast repetitive phrases on top of a rock/thrash/gallop beat with sloppy open hi hats and a very plain but dominant and workable bass riff.

My favorite track is ‘Psycho Monkey’ with a great grungy feel. The rhythm section really piles it on with a belting magnificent low end.

A fantastic must buy album – highly recommended for when you need some musical inspiration or if you just want to be wowed by one of the best guitarists on the planet.




by Alan Dean Foster (2015)

An epic fantasy that takes place entirely underwater.
Best friends Chachel and Glint, a merson and a cuttlefish, are returning from a shark hunt when they stumble upon an unconscious female demon. Taking her back to their reef community to recover, while they decide what to do with her, they wind up stumbling into a unique friendship, one which will change their lives and community for better as the reef dwellers and the demon together fight to preserve themselves and their way of life in the face of enemies and their blue magic.

The best think about this novel is the world building. The environments, creatures and characters have been well thought out and generally obey known science (with the notable exception of talking fish). So there is plenty of scope for an interesting story. Unfortunately the one told is a rather conventional human-conflict type which pits mersons against crabs.

There is also an over-indulgence in coming up with new words for things we know about. The character names can sometimes be a bit weird, with no scheme or reason for some and just how pronunciation works can be confusing. The worst part is that the main protagonist, Irina does not have much agency, things just happen to her or she becomes swept along with the action.

It’s well written, while reading you become engaged with the story. Only after finishing did I realize that there wasn’t much to it. This is a long book that could benefit from some editing to pick up the pacing and remove some of the numerous characters.

The book ends abruptly, indicating that a sequel may be coming. I won’t be bothering.

The World’s End

The World’s End is a 2013 British comic science fiction film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Marsan. The film follows a group of friends who discover an alien invasion during an epic pub crawl in their home town.

Wright has described the film as “social science fiction” in the tradition of John Wyndham and Samuel Youd (John Christopher). It is the third and final film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, following Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).


This starts off slowly, with Simon Pegg as a rather obnoxious character trying to entice on friends on a drinking tour of 12 pubs. It’s funny immediately, the dialogue is quick and sharp and all five main characters have a good go at it. Then, at one pub, during an altercation people start losing their heads and spouting blue blood.
Finally the Science Fiction Horror genre has arrived. From then on, it ramps up the action to a world-changing ending.

This is a well-written comedy, with lots of verbal and physical comedy. Best viewed with a crowd indulging in drinking games, also enjoyable by yourself.


Frippian Influences

Frippian Influences

Robert Fripp laid the foundations for progressive rock when he formed King Crimson and released the band’s frightening first album “In the Court of the Crimson King” in 1969. Since then, over the numerous personnel changes and excursions, the band has somehow continued.

Although infrequently mentioned in the press, Robert has had an enormous effect on musicians of at least two and probably three generations. With the forming of the School for Crafty Guitarists in the early 1980s he laid the foundations for a new generation of musicians who would take a unique style and craft unique albums. Here are some of the best…….

California Guitar Trio
Formed by Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards after attending Robert’s Guitar courses, CGT has over 10 years of touring and made almost as many albums.

Trey Gunn
He was part of King Crimson that reformed in 1994 as a ‘double trio’. Labelled the ‘good looking one’ (he was the youngest) in the band, Trey also had his own band.

Agent 22
Where King Crimson would fill all the musical spaces with noise, distortion and even more noise, this band opens the musical mix. Every instrument is clear and distinct. This reminds me a lot of Manfred Esher’s ECM jazz output, the production is crystal clear, music like this is often the product of the modern jazz school. Everything may be beautifully produced and shined, but there is nothing of interest. The musicians probably liked it at the time, but for the rest of us, it’s just meandering self indulgence. That isn’t the case there. There are strong songs with a wit and often a swing.



Sully is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood and written by Todd Komarnicki, about US Airways Flight 1549 and its pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, based on the autobiography Highest Duty by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow. The film stars Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, with Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Autumn Reeser, Holt McCallany, Jamey Sheridan and Jerry Ferrara in supporting roles.


Given that the events here actually happened, it’s a surprisingly tense and suspenseful film. Of course it’s all in the way you do it, and Clint Eastwood really knows how to direct. The film starts after the events of the landing. Flashbacks during the hearing show how everything happened. Worth the wait and for those not familiar with the story, will provide a satisfying ending.


Alan Turing Test

Alan Turing

The Imitation Game is a 2014 American historical drama thriller film directed by Morten Tyldum, with a screenplay by Graham Moore loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (previously adapted as the stage play and BBC drama Breaking the Code). It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as real-life British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II.

I had seen the the Alan Turing story in a BBC production from years ago. This film brought him to mainstream prominence, mainly due to the popular Cumberbatch playing the title role. Keira Knightley seem miscast and to young to be playing Joan Clarke. It’s Cumberbatch’s performance that really makes the film work. Turing is an introverted and arrogant genius, always finding it difficult to get on with his co-workers.

The film is told in three timelines. The main narrative is of his time at Bletchley Park, from initial employment to the cracking of the enigma codes. The second timeline is after the war and covers his arrest and treatment for homosexuality. The final narrative is of his school days and the impact of his closest friendship. This is film that received numerous awards and accolades, and deserved them all.


Ex Machina

Ex Machina

is a 2015 science fiction psychological thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland in his directorial debut, and produced by Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich. It stars Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander, and revolves around a programmer invited by his CEO to administer the Turing test to an intelligent humanoid.


This is a very slick and sexy re-telling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It looks great and is well acted. The problem is that despite its pondering on themes  of ‘what is human’, in the final act it resorts to a predictable ending. This story has been told since the beginning of science fiction and the film doesn’t add much to those than have gone before.


Solomon’s Seal

Solomon’s Seal (Ogmios Team Adventure #2)
by Steven Savile (2012)

With the discovery of the long lost Seal of Solomon Konstantin Khavan and Orla Nyren find themselves in Jerusalem and Palestine fighting for their lives with enemies on all sides. They don’t know who they can trust. They don’t know which way to turn next. All they know is they have to find the Seal while diverting the detonation of a dirty bomb at one of Jerusalem’s most holy sites. Which would be fine, but Orla’s been here before, during the worst days of her life when she was a prisoner in Jenin, a refugee camp on the border.


This is more like ‘Crucible’, at 44,000 words it come in a novella length. It’s about a single operation to retrieve a piece of jewellery. May sound like nothing, but Savile ramps up the action to suitable levels to satisfy.  At times there is a but too much violence, pushing into the horror genre, especially its depiction of the actions against the female agent.

In the end, a decent but not complicated action thriller.


Silver (Ogmios Team Adventure #1)
by Steven Savile (2010)

Two thousand years ago, thirty Tyrian shekels were paid to secure the most infamous betrayal of all time. Melted down by the grandsons of Judas Iscariot, Menahem and Eleazar ben Jair, in the dark heart of the Sicarii fortress, Masada, the silver was re-forged as a dagger.

When Sicarii zealots committed mass suicide in AD73, the dagger of Iscariot and the truth of his sacrifice were lost. Until now. A religious cult calling itself the Disciples of Judas has risen in the Middle East. Its influence is pernicious, its reach long. In thirteen cities across Europe, thirteen people martyr themselves in the name of Judas, promising forty days and forty nights of terror.


There is more than a hint of Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in this book. In fact  in the author notes Steven Savile states that he felt he was overshadowed by Dan Brown as the books came out around the same time.  But this is a better story. It lacks the over the top breathless quality of Dan Brown.

Savile really knows how to deliver an action sequence, they are tense, gripping and usually have an unexpected way out for the protagonist.

What I have noticed in the writing it that he will spend more time on setting and the environment that most authors. This results in a more immersive read, but without the dreaded info-dump some indulge in.

The only negative aspect was the amount of Christian/Jewish history included beyond my minimal knowledge of the era.

Still a great thriller with an unexpected ending.

Lewis 8.30

Lewis Series 8
30 “Beyond Good and Evil”

(Originally Aired in UK 7 November 2014)

Thirteen years ago, Lewis successfully apprehended hammer killer Graham Lawrie. Now Lawrie is on the verge of freedom thanks to new evidence. Lewis fears the worst, but nothing can prepare him for a string of murders resembling the original case. With his mentor’s reputation in jeopardy, Hathaway races to catch the killer.


The last of the season and best of the season. This is due to the simplicity of the story. It’s a basic did-he-do-it plot. Was Lewis wrong in his original arrest of Lawrie. Is there someone else and who will die.

Alec Newman plays Graham Lawrie and gives a great portrayal of a psychopathic killer.  Hathaway finally gets to show some leadership as Lewis is fading into retirement.