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Insane Has A New Name:
Concept Cars

For some exquisitely odd reason, someone at the RS desk thought yours truly knew about cars. After the initial bafflement and panic search through Google, yours truly found the leprechaun's treasure at the end of the rainbow. And you thought imagination was dead. Welcome back from oblivion.

Peugeot 20Cup Motorcycles: bad. Why? They have only two wheels. Cars = good. Why? They have four wheels. So Peugeot came up with the 20Cup. It's got three wheels. A two-seater steered by the single-arm rear axle, it's light and incredibly awkward to look at, but compared to the rest of the three-wheel sidecar copies the world has come up with, this one just reeks extreme.

Ford Nucleon: Yes, someone actually came up with the pretty viable idea of a mini nuclear reactor to replace the internal combustion engine of a car. Basically running on steam, this thing would not only look spectacular, it'd be entirely eco-friendly and… hold your breath… safe. A power capsule at the rear end is supposed to hold a radioactive core, and of course no one took into account the eventual nuclear waste.

Assystem City Car: So it looks funny and has a weird name. Big deal. It can save your life. Literally. It has a biometric interface which determines whether or not you're too drunk to drive, navigation, and external cameras which recognize highway signs, pedestrians, and traffic lights, again in case you're too drunk to drive. It also works with both electricity and petrol. Unauthorized visitors can't steal it, since the engine will be immobilized if the car, which can change colours by the way, doesn't recognize said visitor. In which case you will also receive a text message from the car. There's a rumour that it's a hybrid, but everyone's pretty sure it's actually a spaceship from Neptune.

Aurora Safety Car: For starters, it was the dream car of a priest. It was to be the “salvation of mankind”, but unfortunately only turned out as the first Experimental Safety Vehicle. The dust and corrosion-proof body, crumple zones, hydraulic jacks, a roll cage, side-impact bars, collapsible steering column, swivel seats, pedestrian-scoopers and seatbelts (that's right) makes it officially the safest and ugliest car designed to date. The Aurora Motor Company of Branford, Connecticut, which was partially funded by the priest's congregation, went bankrupt after producing just one $30,000 (back in 1958, this was A LOT) prototype. Poor Father.

The Dymaxion: It was 20 feet long, 6 feet tall, aluminium bodied, seated 11 people including the driver, went 120 miles/hour, 30 miles per gallon of gas, and was teardrop-shaped. Designed by Buckminster Fuller in 1933 and arguably the world's first minivan. If you've heard of the guy, wild guess is that your mouth is closing up right now. If you haven't, you should know there are too many flies in Bangladesh. The interior of this thing was never designed and that's one of the reasons it never saw the light of day. The other reason is probably that the companies were too freaked out by its sheer awesomeness.

The Homer: This one receives top spot purely coz Homer Simpson designed it. Clearly the average American, who the car was originally built for, has no taste. There was an initial debate about whether or not to make this concept a reality before the developers remembered exactly why The Homer had put Powell Motors out of business. With giant cup-holders, soundproof bubble domes, three horns playing 'La Cucaracha', optional restraints and muzzles for the children and a V8 engine that signals the end of time, it was a disaster and undoubtedly the coolest car ever envisioned.

Sources: jalopnik.com, Wikipedia, and too many others to mention. All hail Google.

By Professor Spork

Book Review

Across the Nightingale Floor

Take some tragedy, add suspense, and then mix it with a bit of mystery. Stir thoroughly with romance. Leave to simmer slowly, and then bring to the boil. And finally, serve piping hot with a garnishing of bloodthirsty battle scenes. A full-course meal - that’s what this book is - complete with dessert that will leave you hungry for more.

Across the Nightingale Floor is the first book in the critically acclaimed Tales of the Otori trilogy. The series has been compared to the likes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter books. Movie rights for this book have already been snapped up by Universal Productions. So what's all the fuss about?

Basically, it's about three separate groups of people in an alternate medieval Japan. There's the Hidden, a strange religious sect persecuted by Lord Iida because of their beliefs. There's the Tribe, a group of assassins with supernatural powers. And then there are the feuding lords - Otori and Iida. The story follows the tale of Takeo, a young boy living peacefully in the hills with his family. Lord Iida comes crashing into their lives, determined to eradicate them because of their Hidden beliefs. While his family is dead and his village destroyed, Takeo is saved by Lord Otori Shigeru, lord of the ancient Otori clan, who has his own plans for the boy. Shigeru adopts Takeo and takes him back to his hometown to be taught by his old friend. From his teacher, Takeo learns of yet another part of his identity - of his actual father who was an assassin from the Tribe. Takeo's position as heir to the clan, together with the extraordinary abilities inherited from his father make him the most suitable person to kill Iida. Indeed, that is what Shigeru had been training him to do all along. At Shigeru's forced marriage to the daughter of Iida's ally, Takeo prepares himself for the attempt on Iida's life. But in the meanwhile, Takeo has met the beautiful Kaede, and he cannot forget her.

It's hard not to be overwhelmed by what Hearn has created - an alternate world that is at once real and magical. The pace of the story is good enough to read, though at times it gets too slow for the average reader to stay interested. The ending, on the other hand, seemed rushed. But the greatest weakness of the book by far is the characterisation. Even the protagonists, Takeo and Kaede, seem one-dimensional. The reader is given very little insight into what they are feeling, even at major turning points in the story. You can't help get the feeling that the characters are distanced from you somehow. Much of this is due to Hearn's style. Sparse, straightforward, and somewhat reminiscent of Haiku, those who have watched Samurai Jack will instantly know what this one is about. This kind of writing helps keep unnecessary details from clogging up the book; but at the same time it leaves out many of the more important ones.

But all the above can be blissfully ignored for the sake of the plot alone. Besides Takeo and Kaede falling in love a bit too conveniently, the story is flawless. A breathtaking storyline, with more twists and turns than a rickshaw ride in Old Dhaka - plot is where the book really shines through. Hearn successfully manages to bring together the three seemingly separate parts of Takeo's identity into an amazing finale. The ending itself is spectacular, and you should be prepared for a surprise, which may leave more than a few readers stunned. One event builds smoothly onto the next, leaving a seamless tale that you'll be completely captivated by.

There's a prequel to the series as well, called Heaven's Net is Wide. You may want to read that if you've finished the first book and liked it. Otherwise, don't bother. But by all means, read this book, and enjoy it too. But while its pretty amazing, its also got a few bugs in it that keep it from becoming what you'd call awesome. Worth a at least a couple of re-reads, though.

By TheAlien4mEarth

Gizmos you can live without

Canon X Mark I Mouse
It's an innovative idea yet there is a reason no one thought of it before - why would people pay for a mouse with a clumsy calculator on top? The Canon X Mark I Mouse has a calculator on top but also works for controlling the action on screen. Wireless thanks to Bluetooth, it works with both PC and Mac and can also be used as a numeric keypad for computers. It is also made using recycled Canon materials. If you have extra cash to splash and that too on clumsy contraptions it's probably a good bargain at £39.99. The only drawback is it won't be released until November. And that should be a long wait for people foolish enough to buy this mouse.

Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard
The latest wireless gizmo from Logitech is just a keyboard with illuminated keys! It has smart backlighting, which adjusts to the amount of light in a room. As your fingers approach the keys, motion sensors detect that movement and switch on the lights. It will then go off when you're not using it to save battery power. That's up to 10 days from one charge, depending on use. At £89.99, it's your best buy if you are the Dark Knight or the bogeyman who likes to work in the dark. For others, turning on the light would be more prudent!

By Nayeem Islam
(Source: www.thesun.co.uk)



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