Books of Mars

In 1898, Herbert George Wells wrote what is arguably the most important novel in the history of science fiction. The War of the Worlds established a lasting benchmark for a whole subset of the genre, that of the alien invasion of Earth. But just as the Martians have journeyed here, so too have we engaged in flights of fantasy there, and could even Wells have imagined the wonders that our robotic ambassadors are now uncovering?

The way science has viewed the red planet has been integral to the development of the fictional Mars, and it is perfectly possible to trace how literature has changed along with our scientific understanding. Equally, it is also fair to argue that if not for the intense interest in creating fictional Martian landscapes and the way these worlds have captured the public imagination, we might not have expended so much effort and resource on attempting to visit this distant world. If we ever land a man or woman on Mars, it will be in large part thanks to the legacy begun by H.G. Wells.

The War of the Worlds has enjoyed an astonishing longevity. When Wells wrote it, I am sure that even he, the great predictor, would I have been stunned at how quickly his story struck a chord and was endlessly re-adapted for new audiences. It seems that The War of the Worlds has an organic and timeless quality that makes it ripe for such re-imagining.

When Wells wrote The War of the Worlds, it was common practice for a novel to be first serialised in popular magazines. Hence in the UK the story first appeared in Pearson’s Magazine, and was serialised in the United States in the pages of Cosmopolitan Magazine; not the health and beauty Cosmopolitan of modern times, but a far more erudite publication whose broad remit included journalism, serious comment and stories from some of the best known writers of the age.

The book in its complete form was published in 1898, but it was only a few months after The War of the Wars had been serialised in Cosmopolitan that a revised (and wholly unauthorised) version began publication in the pages of the Boston Post newspaper. Fighters from Mars took the original text and crudely dismembered it into a shorter version, switching English place names for equivalents in and around Boston. It is an extraordinary oddity, and one that proved so popular that it spawned a sequel, even more outrageous in intent, called Edison’s Conquest of Mars.

Post Apocalyptic

This would see the inventor Thomas Edison lead an invasion fleet to Mars to seek retribution for the Martian attack. Written by a noted popular science writer of the time, it deserves a place in science fiction history not only for the audacious nature of the project, but also for many firsts in the genre, such as space-walks and asteroid mining.

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White Dog

How to Choose A Vacuum for Pet Hair Like an Expert

Pet on Couch

You just moved into a new neighbourhood, and now you’ve been invited to join the local book club. However, with the whole moving process and your furry friends running around the home dragging in dirt and hair on your rugs, you’re frantic and wondering how you’ll clear that mess. You have probably even tried cleaning with some detergents and brushes, but nothing seems to clear out the hair and dander.

Well, if you don’t know already, by getting the right vacuum for pet hair, you can seamlessly clear out all the dirt and built-up cat hair mess. That said, here’s a comprehensive guide to usher you into the wonderful world of pet vacuum cleaners.

Upright or Canister Vacuums

The first thing you have to consider when buying vacuum cleaners is the type of vacuum system you want, and the most common types are the upright and canister vacuums. Both clean carpets and bare floors effortlessly, but upright vacs have a slight advantage, especially if your home is mostly carpeted. They can also work on bare floors, but it would be better if you chose one that offers you a switch to turn off the brush roll to keep the dirt from scattering as you clean.

Canister vacuum, on the other hand, makes vacuuming stairs more manageable, and they come with a long narrow brush attachment that makes it even simpler to clean the tiled and bare floors.

Bagged or Bagless Vacuums

Another aspect you need to consider is if you need a bagless or bagged vacuum cleaner option. Both clean well but if you don’t like shopping for and storing vacuum bags, the bagless option would be your best fit. However, it would be best if you kept in mind that bagless models feature dust receptacles that require emptying and frequently cleaning to maintain the vacuum cleaner’s suction power.

If you also suffer from allergies or are sensitive to pet hair, then you’d be better off with the bagged vacuum cleaner option.

Shop At A Store That Allows You to RoadTest the Vacuum

When you take your preferred vacuum cleaner model for a spin before you purchase it is an excellent idea. So, be sure to check if your local store allows it and check the hoover’s weight and manoeuvrability. Is the cleaner easy to push and carry around? Does it seem robust enough to handle the tough stains and massive pet hair buildup? Is it cost-effective and does it come with a warranty?

You need to be precise about everything and also try to see if the switches and levers are easy to access and also adjust. You don’t want to buy a vacuum cleaner only to end up more frustrated.

Vacuum Cleaner Attachments

A ‘bag’s full ‘indicator light is also an essential feature to have on your vacuum cleaner, especially if it also comes with an in-built headlight.

Other attachments you need to consider including the incredible crevice tool that allows you to get the dust out of your drawers, heating and air-conditioning vents. You don’t want to host the book club only to have your guests breathing in the dusty air.  For your upholstered fabrics and drapes, the upholstery attachment offers you excellent service. You might also want to get the dusting brush for getting rid of dust from the blinds, lampshades and mouldings.

As a pet lover, you know that it isn’t easy dealing with shed pet fur. It can make you cancel on several events. However, you don’t have to be the neighbourhood, Debbie Downer. With the best vacuum for pet hair, you can tackle any task thrown your way and have the best time at the book club meeting!

Equity Release

How the Equity Release Mortgage Helped Lisa’s Venture

Lisa had always dreamt of being a published author. She was a financial expert and worked in the banking sector for twenty years. After retirement, though, all Lisa wanted was to make her dreams come true. After working in the financial world for more than a decade, she knew a lot about the equity release mortgage. So, she got her financial advisor, as required by the Financial Conduct Authority1 (FCA) and Equity Release Council (ERC), to help out with the process and get the cash she needed to get her books into the market.

Understanding Equity Release

Books of Mars

Equity release is a mortgage scheme that allows you to untie the equity tied up in your home. You receive the tax-free capital in the form of a lump-sum2 or as a monthly income. Typically, the plan consists of two schemes, the lifetime mortgage plan and the home reversion plan. The lifetime mortgage is the most popular and allows you to continue living in your home until you move out permanently or pass away. In this plan, you pay the total loan you received plus any interests accrued overtime, one of the best providers out there is aviva equity release.

With the home reversion plan, however, you sell a portion, or your entire estate to the plan provider, of which when you move into residential care or die, the lender puts up their house for sale and takes their share of the estate. The remaining proceeds go to your family. Unlike with the lifetime mortgage plan, in this scheme, there are no accrued interests.

Taking out a home reversion plan also means that you receive a pre-arranged amount of cash to spend as you wish, in return for selling the part (or all) of your estate to your lender. The money you receive is discounted since you continue to reside in your home as long as you want.

It also enables homeowners to raise a more considerable sum of cash as compared to the lifetime mortgage plan. You also get the chance to ring-fence3 a portion of your estate for inheritance purposes and benefit from your share of ownership when there are increases in the estate market value.

Lisa chose the home reversion plan since it best suited her needs.  After consulting her adviser and with her vast knowledge about equity release and other mortgage plans, she opted to go with Bridgewater Equity Release company, who helped her get the best home reversion deals.

Bridgewater is one of the best equity release companies.

It’s a subsidiary of Grainger PLC, the most popular home reversion plans specialists of residential property in the UK. Moreover, since Lisa lived in Wales, Bridgewater was her best option.  The firm offers equity release plans in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Bridgewater’s home reversion plan required the homeowner to be 65 years of age, and it offers you a flexible release plan with a starting lump sum of £50,000. Lisa’s home was worth €200,000. Thus, Bridgewater offered her a lump sum of about €120,000 – they offer up to 60% of your home’s market value in a plan based on the property value and age of the individual.

Lisa used this cash to finance her first book ‘The Financial Guru’, and with a sale of over a million books, she’s now about to publish her second book. Like her, you can also actualize your dreams with equity release. All you need is a home worth more than €70,000 in the UK, and be over 55 years of age. It’s that simple!

Probability Moon

Book Review: Probability Moon

Probability Moon
Author: Nancy Kress
Genre(s): Aliens

Synopsis wrote:

Humankind has expanded out into interstellar space using star gates-technological remnants left behind by an ancient, long-vanished race. But the technology comes with a price. Among the stars, humanity encountered the Fallers, a strange alien race bent on nothing short of genocide. It’s all-out war, and humanity is losing.


In this fragile situation, a new planet is discovered, inhabited by a pre-industrial race who experience “shared reality”-they’re literally compelled to share the same worldview. A team of human scientists is dispatched-but what they don’t know is that their mission of first contact is actually a covert military operation.

For one of the planet’s moons is really a huge mysterious artifact of the same origin as the star gates . . . and it just may be the key to winning the war.


This was mostly a weird read. The concept of “Shared-Reality” was a little confusing and mostly too “alien” to me for it to real catch on as a concept that was possible.

Sure, Science Fiction doesn’t have to be even remotely possible, but I find myself more drawn into novels that contain concepts/technologies that rooted with plausible science, the shared reality concept wasn’t really, to me, conveyed in that way.

Along with that I also found myself not liking or disliking any characters all the way through, leading me through the book as more of a casual observer than a true experience, which was a real let down.

Will I be reading the next part? The answer is yes, but I’m in no real hurry to do so. Will I be reading more Nancy Kress, definitely!

T-rex Dinosaur

Book Review: The Lost World

The Lost World
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre(s): DNA, Dinosaurs

After creating an initial hit of a sci-fi novel that explored the possibility of a return of dinosaurs to this world, Michael Crichton decided to follow up Jurassic Park with the sequel The Lost World. While many of the familiar names were missing in this book, some of the characters from the original did indeed return, including many of the deadly dinosaur types!


As with the first book, The Lost World really excels when the dinosaurs are on the pages. Crichton falls into a groove writing about these long extinct animals and knows how to use every one of them now. While no one will really ever know what the dinosaurs looked like exactly, Michael is great at painting a picture of what they should look like. And as always he does enough research on the subject to create pictures of what the leading scientists believe these animals would look like as well.

The most important thing to remember is that, as with most Crichton books, the movie is nowhere near the same as the book. There is no T-Rex rampaging through the streets of a suburb in California in the book, as there is in the movie. In addition many of the characters in the book do not appear in the movie for various reasons, and are replaced by people made specifically for the big screen.

One of the most critical parts that separates the book from the movie is the presence of the paleontologist Richard Levine. Without Levine the book would have lacked someone who could explain dinosaurs, while seeming credible, and add to the concept of the book. As Alan Grant did with the first book, Richard Levine enhances the Lost World and makes it a better book overall. The movies decision to cut out Levine enormously affected the quality of the production. Ian Malcolm, like in the movie, is also back in the book.

The action in The Lost World is just tremendous. The scene in the trailer, which is also in the movie but cut shorter, is one example of a great sequence in which the dinosaurs meet humans. All the familiar “evil” dinosaurs are back, from the tyrannosaurus rex to the raptors who hunt in packs.

All in all The Lost World is not as good of a book as Jurassic Park, but it attempts to use the same basic formula and comes up with a fairly fun read. Those who enjoyed the first book should pick up the second to see what it is about.

Science Fiction 2

Specialty Science Fiction in a Nutshell

I’m sure that a lot of young people today are beginning to discover written science fiction, as opposed to movie and TV SF, much as I did when I was a teenager. They may not be aware of an interesting and endearing phenomenon people my age experienced in the 1950s and ’60s, that of the specialty press publisher of science fiction.
I started buying Astounding SF in 1957, and before long I was seeing ads for books from Gnome Press, Shasta Publishers, Fantasy Press, etc. I think the names themselves clued me in to the fact that they were uniquely oriented to the SF field, but I had no idea that most of them were one or two-man operations.

Specialty Science Fiction

No idea, that is, until I ordered something that was out of print, and got a postcard about it, hastily typed and signed by Martin M. Greenberg, publisher of Gnome Press! Imagine ordering something from Doubleday and Co. and the chairman of the board drops you a line, “Gee, Billy, I don’t think we have any more of those, we’ll have to give your four dollars back. How’s your folks?”

It seems certain that the first and longest lasting of these publishers was Arkham House, founded as a venue to present the work of H. P. Lovecraft in a more permanent form than the pulp magazines in which he first appeared. Arkham went on to publish other Weird Tales authors like August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Robert Block, Greye La Spina, etc., but they also made infrequent forays into the world of science fiction with outstanding books like A. E. van Vogt’s Slan.

Fantasy Press did as much for Edward E. Smith Ph.D. as Arkham did for Lovecraft, and Smith was still alive to appreciate quality hardcover publication. They issued books from his classic Skylark and Lensman series, and Spacehounds of IPC, in very interesting and attractive volumes with a small illustration embellishing the initial letter in each chapter. Even when the major publishers began science fiction programs, they weren’t doing anything like this.

Probably most of the major serials from Astounding during John W. Campbell’s tenure as editor achieved hardcover publication. In addition, many of the better serials and short stories from other publications were collected, as well as a number or originals which had never seen print in the magazines.

And unlike the major publishers who obtained jacket art and design from the same agencies that provided it for the other fiction in their line, the specialty publishers built their list of artists for their illustrated books from names the fans were used to seeing in the pulp magazines and amateur journals.

Hannes Bok provided excellent painted covers for Skull Face And Others and the House on the Borderland, both issued by Arkham House, The Titan from Fantasy Press, and for John Campbell’s Who Goes There? from Shasta.

Edd Cartier had the covers for I, Robot, Foundation and Empire and Cosmic Engineers from Gnome Press, and a sinister Dr. Lell with an hourglass for Masters of Time from Fantasy Press.

Ric Binkley, not the biggest fan favorite, nevertheless turned in a very satisfactory series of covers and chapter headings for the Doc Smith books about Kimball Kinnison and for others such as John Campbell’s The Black Star Passes.

And every Avalon book I’ve ever seen has a cover by Ed Emshwiller.

Fiction wasn’t the only thing produced by the specialty publishers. Advent, for example, was primarily known for its books about science fiction: critiques, memoirs, concordances, SF history, etc. This has served a valuable function in helping fans, old and new, to keep in touch with the field and to appreciate its history.

The era of the science fiction specialty publisher has pretty much passed. Fantasy Press, Shasta Publishers, Gnome Press, FPCI, Prime Press, these are all gone. But limited editions are still being produced, and will continue to be issued by enthusiasts who decry the fact that wonderful pieces of imaginative fiction and art are lying ignored by businesses whose prime motivation must always be determined by the bottom line.

Ogivly on Advertising

Ogilvy on Advertising


I think it’s rare that you can truly say that a book you have read has changed your life, but I read one book that did just that. And I am not talking religious or self help, but a book on advertising. Back in 1984 when I was an advertising student I invested £6.95 in a copy of Ogilvy on Advertising.

The exact same copy sits on my desk as I type and has never left my side. David Ogilvy is truly a goliath of the advertising world; born in England he headed to the USA in 1949 and founded an agency, which became the globe spanning Ogilvy and Mather.

How did this book change my life? It made me realise that above and beyond anything in business, I am a sales man. As a result, I have spent the last 25 years selling and still quote lines from Ogilvy on Advertising to this day.

If you are involved in, or hope to be involved in, advertising, selling, marketing, I don’t care what sector, you simply have to read this book. Within its pages you not only have the chance to learn about one of the most glorious careers in advertising as David Ogilvy goes from researcher, to copywriter, to agency owner and industry guru, but on every page there are also gems of knowledge and guidance for any sales practitioner.

Each of the chapters is peppered with real advertising examples from some of the biggest brands in the world. Some of the ads may look dated but Ogilvy explains why each one works and why the same techniques would, and still do, work today. He also tells us how to produce advertising that sells, how to get a job in advertising and how to approach business to business advertising.

This book is so much more than one of the ‘advertising top tips’ pamphlets that are sprayed across any book shop’s shelves. Ogilvy goes into business management with his own experiences of how to run an agency and how to win business. And even if you do not ‘do advertising’, Ogilvy covers other channels such as television, radio and direct mail.

25 years on, Ogilvy is still bang up to date and explains on page 170 why you should not cut back your advertising budget during a recession.

If you only read one book on advertising, make sure it’s this one – it may just change your life.

A guide which explains how to create advertising that works, how to run an agency, how to write successful copy, and what the future holds for the advertising industry. The book was written some time ago, however, the principles are still relevant today.

In 1948, David Ogilvy founded the agency that would become Ogilvy & Mather. Starting with no clients and a staff of two, he built his company into one of the eight largest advertising networks in the world. He wrote three books about the basic principles of modern advertising: Confessions of an Advertising Man, Blood, Brains & Beer and Ogilvy on Advertising. Sadly, he died in 1999.

Office Meeting

Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business & Set Yourself Free

Who wouldn’t want to achieve that strapline? As someone who spent 20 years in a corporate world, I know how hard it can be to consider life outside the big companies. This book is a really powerful motivator to make you take that leap and come to terms with the fact that the days of single careers for single companies may well be over.

Own Business

Split into four main sections (Attitude – to get started, Enterprise – to succeed, Success – at maximising opportunities and Worklife – in the right balance), each section has around 30 chapters or ideas on making these leaps. It’s not an idealised view of the world of running your own business, but the realism and honesty about some of the difficulties are balanced by the motivational tone and plenty of reminders of the benefits of going your own way.

Ian Sanders writes with a really chatty style (you could read this in a couple of days) and provides a book that is easy to dip in and out of, at whatever stage of the journey you are. He also calls on his own experiences (everything from work experience at a local radio station to losing a large client) and stories from other people to bring the messages to life.

This is not meant to be a book about how to set up your business (writing plans, getting funding etc), it’s about attitudes and approaches to working in a different way. Be warned though – if you aren’t enjoying your corporate life, take this on holiday and you may never be the same again!

Times are changing fast. Traditional working practices and the concept of a conventional job are increasingly becoming things of the past as we make sense of a new marketplace where the only limit to success is our own imagination.

What does it take to survive in this new scrambled up world of work?

Attitude – to get started
Enterprise – to succeed
Success – at maximising opportunities
Worklife – in the right balance

The challenges – and the opportunities – for the ‘entrepreneur–within’ are huge. For micro–businesses, home–workers, freelancers, it’s all for the taking.

That is the essence of LEAP! A stimulus for taking the plunge to go it alone and set yourself free… and for making it up as you go along!

Wisdom of Enneagram

The Wisdom of the Enneagram

Personality Types

The Wisdom of the Enneagram was originally published in 1999. It has since served many thousands of people around the world who are searching to understand themselves more fully and, as importantly, their relationships with all the many different types of personality they come into contact with.

Riso and Hudson documented their research and developed a model called the Enneagram which states that in their view we all have one of nine possible personality types.

These are:

The Reformer
The Helper
The Achiever
The Individualist
The Investigator
The Loyalist
The Enthusiast
The Challenger
The Peacemaker

It is very important to note that no one ‘type’ is superior to another, we are who we are, however we can change in positive and negative ways. I am an ‘8’ and, after studying this approach for 10 years and taking the various tests both online and in this book, have always come out this way. Interestingly, though, as I have increased my personal awareness, especially in times when I’ve been ‘in the zone’ i.e. ‘integrating’ as the authors describe it, or becoming ‘melancholic’ or ‘disintegrating’, my type follows a path of integration to the best side of being a ‘2’ i.e. a Helper or the downside of a ‘5’ Investigator and I lock myself away from the world to sort my problems out on my own. (I no longer do this now that I am aware and share much more freely). Interestingly, having used the material in a professional context, I referenced and embedded it in my own book ‘Customers are FICKLE™’, also reviewed on this site by Roger.

The nine types are also sub categorised into 3 areas and you can easily relate to this by asking yourself how you make decisions. Types 2 to 4 are ‘Heart’ people, 5- 7 Head people and 8 to 1 ‘Gut’ people. I have always made my most important decisions with my Gut, irrespective of any logical analysis like ‘pros and cons’ etc.

The book is almost 400 pages long and talks in depth about our passions, fears, desires and distortions that make our lives and interactions so challenging and interesting, so in a short review like this its difficult to relate the depth and quality of the material and how, if you embrace it, it has the potential to change your life in many positive ways.

In my view if everyone adopted the principles in this book and maybe combined them, as I have, with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), then they would not only become more centered in their outlook, but happier, confident and more enabled to meet and enjoy productive relationships with a far broader range of personalities than they ever have before. If someone could write a sequel that incorporated how to relate to different international cultures as well, the world would be a happier and safer place……..


The ancient symbol of the Enneagram has become one of today’s most popular systems for self-understanding, based on nine distinct personality types. Now, two of the world’s foremost Enneagram authorities introduce a powerful new way to use the Enneagram as a tool for personal transformation and development. Whatever your spiritual background, the Enneagram shows how you can overcome your inner barriers, realize your unique gifts and strengths, and discover your deepest direction in life.

The Wisdom of the Enneagram includes:

Two highly accurate questionnaires for determining your type;

Vivid individual profiles, focused on maximising each type’s potential and minimising predictable pitfalls; Spiritual Jump Starts, Wake-Up Calls, and Red Flags for each type; Dozens of individualised exercises and practical strategies for letting go of troublesome habits, improving relationships, and increasing inner freedom;

Revealing insights into the deepest motivations, fears, and desires of each type.

Highly accessible, yet filled with sophisticated concepts and techniques found nowhere else, The Wisdom of the Enneagram is a strikingly new fusion of psychology and spirituality. It offers an exciting vision of human possibility and a clear map of the nine paths to our highest self-expression.