This is a great story. I read the book at least three times when I was younger. The story is still wonderful, it's the reader that made me not finish the audio version. The main problem is his voicing of the aliens. I assume the reader attempts to sound like what a talking elephant would sound like. The problem is you can't understand everything the characters are saying. More importantly, the readers pronunciations of the alien names are unintelligible. It was impossible for me to keep up with which alien was talking or which one was being referenced. I was very much looking forward. to an audible release of one of my favorite books and now that it's here it is un-listenable. Very sad. At least Lucifer's Hammer lived up to all my expectations.
I'd have to agree with the other reviewers. The voice acting is over-the-top. Please don't make all the Russian voices sound like Pavel Chekov from the original Star Trek. I really wish narrators would just stop it with the ethnic voices. The alien voices are just terrible. I realize that narrator had his hands tied when it came to pronouncing the alien names, but simpering, lisping alien voices are distracting. Just read the damn story.
Overall the book is a good listen, but it fails miserably in the closing chapters, very much like some of Stephen Kings later works. The "well it's time to finish the book, this will be the last chapter" mentality. The ending is abrupt and feels unfinished with to many unresolved story lines. If this were the start of a series, the ending would be fine.
As others have mentioned - the reader is extremely annoying. Especially when narrating the alien parts of the story.
I 100% agree with the the other review. The reader's attempt at the alien names was distracting and annoying. I really didn't find a character I cared much about and by the end I was just hanging on to see if the human's won
The scene where baby elephant aliens are watching Linda Lovelace in "Deep Throat" was too much. Not for prudish reasons, but that it epitomizes the cheap prose of this book.
I just gave up midway through the second half.
I'm really glad this wasn't the first Audible title I listened to; if it had been, I never would have tried another. I read this when it first came out and loved it, so even though I knew there were problems with the narration, I thought I'd still enjoy it. Actually, the narrator did a pretty good job with the alien voices and the alien names. It was the human characters that drove me crazy. I guess there were too many characters for one person to do, but about half way through, I started imagining the characters being done by elementary school kids pretending to be adults – complete with oversized clothing and hats. Most of the adult voices sounded childlike and over the top - especially the "military" voices. My recommendation: skip this unless you are a die-hard Niven / Pournelle fan who is willing to forgive a lot.
I am a fan of both Niven and Pournelle from way back, and this is a great story. Pity it is stomped like bug by the horrible narration. The reader goes to a tremendous amount of effort to pronounce the funky alien names, but mispronounces names like Minot (It's my-not, not mee-no) and Shoshone (three syllables - sho-sho-nay, not sho-shone) and even more common terms like ensign (pronounced en-sin not en-sayn). Other reviewers have complained about the garbled alien speech and the cheesy Pavel-Chekov-Russian accents, so I will not. I like having this in my audiobook collection, but I hope it is re-recorded by someone else with a bit more attention to detail and performance style.
Not bad really, but the concept of the world being saved by amongst others, a think tank of science fiction writers, is too implausible for hard SF. (Not to mention conceited.). I think Niven is overrated on this account.
There were plenty of gaps in the physics, and the aliens were so stupid, it beggars belief that they'd be able to make the journey, but i did love seeing Project Orion brought back to life.
Much has been made of the irritating alien voices, but I think it's fair to blame Niven for this, in fact, I found this part of the story to be confusing and too ridiculous to be enjoyable.
I think SF has really moved on from this era, and I personally enjoy a better written novel. Try Iain M Banks if you like guns and overwhelmingly powerful starships, or Stephen Baxter, if you know anything about physics.
Nice story line but I was unable to get past all the profanity. There is a saying that the use of profanity is the sign of a weak mind trying to express itself forcefully. The use of profanity in this case greatly detracted form the story. If you like a lot of profanity or profanity that seems to be used just for the ability to use it, then this is for you. It was also not necessary to know the sex lives of most of the characters. This could have been an excellent listen.