A Canticle for Leibowitz tells 3 tales (spaced 600 years apart) of a monastic order in the American Southwestern desert, founded by an engineer named Leibowitz who tried to preserve the knowledge of the human race following a nuclear holocaust. The first story is set 6 centuries into the new Dark Age, when a simple monk receives an unusual visitation...the second is set in the early renaissance, when an early scientist comes to study the old knowledge...the third is set in a newly modern age, as the world is on the verge of another nuclear war.
It was a brilliant set of stories...today it seems a little dated [e,g, the heavy use of Latin which, today, has largely vanished from the Church], but the stories are very powerful and the symbolism is thought-provoking.
Walter Miller wrote a bunch of great short stories and novellas, but this is the only novel he published during his lifetime. In fact, he never published another work after this one, except for another novel set in the same millieu which was published posthumously.
Tom Weiner's reading is good without being great...at several times, I wondered if he was the best choice for a reader, just because his style seemed a little incongruous. But he's a great reader and he does a good job with this.
God Emperor of Dune compares well with the original Dune, better than the previous two sequels (Dune Messiah and Children of Dune). It doesn't quite measure up to the standard of the first book, but few books, anywhere, do.
Warning: God Emperor of Dune is the third sequel to Dune. Ignore this book until you are familiar with Dune and the first 2 sequels.
It is 3500 years since Leto II Atreides donned his living sandtrout armor. Leto is now a living deity as well as galactic emperor...prescient, super-intelligent, supremely strong, vengeful...and more sandworm than man. Arrakis is now lush and green; the sandworms (except for Leto) are all but extinct. There is no more spice, excepting centuries-old stockpiles.
This is Leto's Golden Path...the future for humanity that he foresaw and planned 3500 years ago.
Like most of Herbert's Dune books, this book has an operatic feel...it moves slowly and most of the book is taken up with dialogue. The story really is the people, their motives and their schemes. This book revolves almost entirely around the title character (more so than the prior books), but, then, the God Emperor is the dominant story of this time and place.
The narration is very well done; Simon Vance narrates most of the book, with Katherine Kellgren reading the occasional female-dominated chapter and Scott Brick delivering the epigraphs at the start of each chapter. Three excellent readers who did a great job.
An excellent dystopian view of the future, "Make Room! Make Room!" shows a world that is depressingly believable...vastly overcrowded cities, failing infrastructure and the struggle to secure the basic necessities (especially water) dominate every-day life. The book is very prescient; it reflects current concerns over environmental destruction and exhaustion of natural resources, which seemed remote and hypothetical when the book was published in 1966 (only 4 years after "Silent Spring" started the environmental movement).
The novel is written as a police procedural set in the New York City of 1999. Making the protagonist a detective was effective as it allowed the reader to see many aspects of the "Make Room!" world in a natural manner. However, between the setting and the realities of police work, the book is very bleak.
The movie "Soylent Green" was loosely based on "Make Room! Make Room!" Very loosely. More accurately, the movie setting was taken from the book and some of the plot elements, but the story, the themes and the conclusion are very different. For example, there is no "soylent green" in the book at all. If you've seen the movie, you haven't read the book, or vice versa.
Those who want to study such things might want to compare "Make Room! Make Room!" to the more antiseptic future envisioned in "Brave New World" (which was written about 35 years earlier).
Summerer's narration is quite good. He really pulls the listener into the story, and his reading is well paced and the characters are voiced distinctly without much apparent strain on Summerer's part, or the listener's (it helps that there aren't really all that many characters).
In conclusion, an interesting, if depressing, listen.
I first read this book in paperback when I was very young and it has been one of my favorite Heinlein novels ever since. Although, as I got older, I found myself liking Heinlein's writing style less and less, I always had found memories of this book so, when I saw it on Amazon, I purchased it.
The first thing I found was that the Audible version is different from the version I first read back in the 1950s. I was surprised enough by the differences that I did some research about the early book. What I found was that some of the anti-communist content, which is in the current Audible version, had been removed from the print version that I originally read because it was felt to be inappropriate. That seems a little surprising to me considering that the 1950s was thought to be a strongly anti-communist period and yet the anti-communist content was removed so as to not influence young minds. Interesting fact.
More than 60 years after the first publication of this book it feels a bit dated. Heinlein always had a libertarian view toward society and that view is clear and present in this book, but many of the background assumptions simply seem odd today. Taxis do not fly, cars cannot jump over rivers and marriages are not contracted for a specific period of time. None the less the book is still a fun read and retains a good deal of the appeal it had for me when I was a pre-teen.
The one truly annoying thing about this book is the narration. Mr James has the habit of pausing continuosly thoughout the book for no specific reason. Person 1 speaks, pause, person 2 replies, pause, person 1 replies, pause, ... It got so bad that I ended up listening to this book at 1.25 x speed (using the Android Audible reader) and thought about trying to listen at 1.5 x speed. The pauses are just maddening and detract a great deal from my ability to enjoy listening.
Still, if you can put up with the pauses, I believe this to be one of the better Heinlein novels. Still enjoyable after more than 60 years.