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THE SPY WHO LOVED ME By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Those expecting nuclear submarines and dastardly spy shenanigans are likely to be disappointed, as Fleming experiments with an almost non-Bond Bond novel. Here we have a book narrated in the first person by a young Canadian woman in an empty motel, Vivienne Michel, reliving her past loves (basically abuse at the hands of men), and whiling away the hours until dawn arrives and she can leave. But half way through the night two men (gangsters) turn up and things get nasty. They seem intent on giving Viv a hard time and one even beats her, the threat of rape and murder hangs in the air, and when Viv tries to escape she is shot at.

Fortunately, about three quarters of the way through the novel, Bond turns up and takes matters into his own hands.

So, not your standard Bond novel then. The use of Viv as a filter for the hardened Bond character works well, and was probably a nice change for Fleming, but it could be seen as a strange departure by fans expecting a typical Bond novel.

Although there is the subtle hint of menace throughout the book, this is a strange kind of love story, with Viv becoming besotted with her hero almost as soon as he arrives. The book is enjoyable enough, Bond is on hand to help ramp up the action for the final quarter, and the book is short enough and well-written enough, to keep your attention. But this seems like a step too far from the traditional Bond stories, Fleming’s evocative and stylish prose isn’t as effective here, and the lack of action and tension that normally drive the books is missing.

Fleming was by this time moving away from his pulp fiction beginnings and into detective/mystery territory with the novels, but apart from the love-story echoes this is pure pulp. The gangster criminals in the shape of Sluggsy and Horror could easily have come from a Charlie Chan or Spider novel. A departure from the Bond canon, but not a bad book, a more female view of the action hero that is James Bond, license to thrill.

STEVE JOBS By Walter Isaacson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Fans of Steve Jobs are likely to find much of this book uncompromising and possibly offensive, in its no-holds-barred look at the visionary behind Apple.

Despite Jobs’ obvious skills it appears he founded Apple on the back of the other Steve’s (Wosniak) invention of the Apple computer. Sure, Jobs had a hand in the design, and his powerful personality brought the commercial success of this and many later products, but he wasn’t the brain behind it, more the brain behind the brain.

Indeed as you read further Jobs becomes the powerhouse, the businessman and CEO of Pixar and again of Apple and his unrelenting determination to drive his staff to produce the best possible products is what makes Apple great.

The book follows Jobs rise and fall at Apple, his ten years in the wasteland of NEXT and the beginnings of Pixar. It doesn’t give much insight into how he developed his businesses, and it’s quite harsh on Jobs’ uncompromising nature. A nature that, when he was brought back to Apple and eventually took over, helped to create the world’s largest company (by market cap, positions have changed once again since the book was published).

Jobs comes off as a man of contradictions, a Buddhist interested in products, a foul-smelling, mean and uncompromising brat. A man who either loved or hated you, thought you were a genius or an idiot, and had little patience. A salesman, a visionary with the ability to see what people want before they know what it is they want. A control freak determined to perfect every single detail.

But his fierce determination to control everything is what lost him the company he built, it’s also what brought us products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Jobs’ successful return to Apple is where the book excel, although I would have liked even more detail. I remember the advertising campaigns from the 1984 one through to those of the dancing silhouette for the iPod and the new iPad adverts, I remember Adobe refusing to write software for the Macs and the original iMac which revolutionised PC design.

Jobs might not have been a particularly nice man, and from the book it doesn’t seem he mellowed much, despite his bouts of cancer and near death experiences, but he was an intelligent man who creates masterpieces of simplicity and genius design that makes Apple one of the most profitable, and now largest, computer manufacturers in the world. Jobs will be pleased that his legacy in Apple is a strong company, but where will they go without their glorious leader? Only time will time. Sadly for Steve, and for us, his time ended too soon.