This is not the typical sci-fi I normally read. In fact, while there is some good sci-fi in there to keep me interested in the story the interaction between Ziggy and Bob have me trapped in the story. I was planning to move on to some other books I've downloaded since starting this one but now I have to finish the series. Just too dang good.
This was a very good listen. Both a space adventure and a psychological drama. It would be nice to see the rest of the books in the series available as audiobooks on audible.com.
Letting the rest of the world go by
The book has what I think is the most interesting character I've ever come across in fiction, Siegfrid von Shrink (or at least that's what the main character calls him). I found myself eagerly anticipating all of their sessions and I, the listener, was never disappointed when he was present in the story.
The book is also interesting for another reason. It's a rare book where the whole purpose for the book is really stated in the last line of the book (don't worry, I'm not giving away a spoiler, but by all means make sure you listened to the last line).
I definitely don't want to give away too much, so I'll speak circumspectly, the book explores what it means to be human and tells us why we are special in the universe and all of this comes together with the last line in the book.
I enjoyed the book, but it's definitely not pure sci-fi in the classical sense, and just dances around the physics and the science except for the character of Siegfrid von Shrink. He makes the book highly listenable and worth a credit.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
After a rather long hiatus from writing reviews, one would think that I would return with one about a well received book. Unfortunately, this is not to be the case. I was enticed to read this book based on a great review by Ryan who, it turns out, writes a great review about not so great a book. He said he read the book several times since he was a kid. While it is not a particularly interesting adult book, it is definitely Not a “kids’ book.” This book managed to capture not only the Hugo award but also the Nebula. How it did so is beyond me except there must not have been very good writing back in 1978.
The premise of the story starts off interesting: a long, disappeared race of beings leaves behind a fleet of spacecraft that present-day “prospectors” take to unknown destinations in search of wealth and fame. The destinations are unknown because the craft are not well understood and the explorer / prospectors just go along for the “programmed” ride and hopefully don’t end up dying along the way or at their destinations because after millennia the destination star system may have gone or is in the process of going nova. Or, maybe the destination is invested with poison ivy and the visitors get all itchy and scratch themselves to death. No, I’m not making this up.
The hero, who is not much of a hero, let’s just call him the protagonist, throughout the book has conversation with a robotic teddy bear who is his automated psychotherapist. These sessions include excursions into the realms of not so traditional sex to our protagonist’s relationship with his mother. I’m no prude. This is not what’s so wrong with this book. It was just all pure detritus. The book was not interesting, the narrator could not and did not save the written word. Sometimes a good narrator will do that. Not here. The book has an unsatisfying ending and in no way, shape or form could I recommend it for anyone or anything… Not for anything except maybe starting a fire in your fireplace on a day like this. And if you have a digital copy, well sorry, it’s not even good for that.
The performance is excellent. The story holds together but seems somewhat contrived and really challenges believability. Also the personality of the hero would never pass screening tests for any space flight assignment.
As I started listening, I couldn't understand why this book had gotten so many accolades. But it speaks for itself. "Wow!" Was what I said after the final line of the book. Powerful. And worth the read. Oh! And with some pretty amazing soliloquy and characterizations as well.
Space travel not so fun
The Shrink well there is only 2 in the actual story
Not yet I will I have a long wish list
Being back form space is the hard part
A must reed for every ScyFi fan
I loved this book as a child and I loved it even more now. The real beauty of the book is that the protagonist really is just as horrible a person as he thinks he is. For most of the book, the reader is compelled to support him, despite his crippling emotional problems -- even pity him for them. The final reveal at the end of the book changes your view of him completely. It's very unexpected to the reader, but not unanticipated by the story. And when you're still reeling from that, Sigfrid von Shrink closes the book with one of the most powerful scenes I've read/heard.
The narration of this book is solid, each character has a distinct voice without resorting to silly accents. The scenes with Sigfrid are extremely well acted, without too much melodrama, but enough trembling and emotion in the voice of the main character (and their complete absence in the voice of Sigfrid) to really convey the story effectively.
One of the things I'd really like to see is a revised edition where they include the sidebars with contextual fragments (letters, quotes from magazines, corporation regulations) that were in the original text, but are missing here. Perhaps use a separate narrator for those.
Apart from that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable listen for me. One of the only bugbears I have is that Pohl's original characters seem sometimes to be racial caricatures. (Bakin is a name basically reserved for a famous japanese novelist. No one is called Bakin anymore. Shikitei isn't a name, and Ituno isn't even a name that can be pronounced in Japanese. Dane isn't a russian name, etc.). Many sci-fi authors are guilty of this, though (I'm looking at you, Orson Scott Card).
Definitely. The characters feel very real and flawed while at the same time Pohl makes you feel this sense of wonder and adventure and terror of space.
The AI. Its the most likable character by far.
He's a good reader.
"Would you go?" - shows the open hatch and dark interior of a gateway ship.
Pohl really knows how to get you into a story and make it feel real in a way few sci-fi authors can match. The whole gateway series maintained or even improved this as it progressed.
This was my first exposure to the work of Frederik Pohl, and the result was surprising. Going in I expected this novel to be more dated and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh it was. The science fiction aspects are still thought provoking and the humanity that binds the story always will be.
Also, I've listened to many titles from this narrator, who is always great.