As a story, Tea with the Black Dragon is superlative. It's a bit dated now, as a techology-driven story set in 1983, but MacAvoy gets the tech right.
As an audiobook, it's... average. Occasionally, it is obvious that the narrator is not aware of cultural nuances and verbal tics involved in other languages to get some of the vocals right. (Mayland Long is supposed to have an old-style Oxford accent, but the narrator uses a modern, well-educated North London). Since language also drives the story, it might have been better to get a performer who understood and could simulate nuances of accent better. Though in the face of that, Hayes does read aloud quite well, and has a pleasant voice to listen to.
Well, I originally read the book in the late eighties, but yes, the twists of the plot lead to unexpected places!
Yes, the differences in character were quite clear. She avoided simulating the basso profundo so many young female narrators use when reading the male dialog, only deepening subtly, but with clear differentiation between characters.
Tai-Pan is an excellent story on its own -- a ripping tale of the founding of Hong Kong.
But what impressed me about this audiobook was the performance. Because the characters come from many nations and social classes between nations, accents become very important to the appropriate rendition of the story.
John Lee does an extraordinary job of moving from accent to accent, even managing to render the pidigin used between the Western and Eastern traders as it was intended -- a stripped down trade language, rather than something for comic effect.
I highly recommend this, and really wish that Lee had been contracted to read Shogun.
Howard Pyle's Merry Adventures of Robin Hood was a favorite of mine from a young age. The roaring, rollicking Merrie Olde England was amazing, but as an adult, I appreciate some of the commentary thrown in about the social order drawn in crayon strokes -- it IS a children's book, after all!
It is meant to be a series of tales about Robin Hood, but Pyle did something unique (for the time) and strung together the stories so that while each one is self-contained and enjoyable, is still retains a narrative and a plot. Even though the text is over 100 years old, it has a very fresh feel to it.
The narration was amazing, though I don't know why I bother to mention it. Simon Vance IS one of the best in the business, and I've never been disappointed by a performance of his.
I'm never disappointed by Retrieval Artist novels. I love good science fiction, and Rusch has created an incredibly compelling and delightfully-researched world.
This novel re-introduces several characters from earlier Retrieval Artist novels and traces logical development well. Characters are wonderfully, imperfectly PEOPLE, and the plotting and pacing of this particular story are especially masterful. The story is full of politics, intrigue and plain old detective work.
Jay Snyder still does an excellent job of narration.
This is very much what I've come to expect of and love in the Retrieval Artist series.
I rarely hear REALLY well-done Heinlein titles. I don't think they get their best narrators for it, so I wasn't too disappointed. The one exception is Bernadette Dunne, who did an AMAZING job as Sharpie. Not surprising, as her rendition of Maureen Johnson was one of the best Heinlein audiobooks I've had the pleasure of listening to. She groks how to narrate a Heinlein woman!
The story itself was written for Heinlein fans who were also nostalgic about Golden Age science fiction. It's one of my favorites as a "fun" read.
They got a poor match for Deety. While they needed a "young" voice, the character WAS a strong-willed genius. Also, her rendition of male voices really didn't work out well.
It's a Heinlein novel. Of COURSE we'll screw it up.
If you were a fan of the book, you'll probably still enjoy the performance. As a fan of audiobooks in general, I just don't expect much of the performance for the Heinleins. Pity...
/FEED/ was flat-out my favorite book of 2010 and I am not in general a huge zombie fan. But oh my WORD is it an excellent and exciting story. It's a fairly logical extrapolation of the fear culture as posited by a zombie outbreak.
I'd give it five stars but the audio performance does not do the text justice. Ms. Christensen's vocal characterization of Shaun was a serious turn off.
Snow Crash is probably one of the best all-time science fiction books ever written. Genre-savvy enough to poke fun at itself, but packed with erudition as well. (Well, what do you expect from Neal Stephenson). The characters are interesting and engaging, and the plot appropriately-paced. As a computer professional and a language wonk, myself, it's one I always come back to.
Johnathan Davis' performance is surprisingly good. He manages to make each character's voice memorable, and has a decent facility with a range of accents.
I'm a bibliophile and do read a lot of books in print. I'll never, EVER read this one. The combination of Lenny Henry extraordinary performance and Neil Gaiman's brilliant writing create a whole that is even better than the parts.
The story itself is touching and funny and terrifying by turns. Don't expect an American Gods sequel. The mood and feel is equally GOOD, but it's quite a different story. (Though the Guidall performance is excellent).
Lenny Henry's performance, though I hate to use a cliche, is just masterful. There's no other expression for it. His vocal characterizations are clear and distinct. He handles the Atlantic-jumping accents with the greatest of facility, making you almost forget it's being narrated by just one person.
It's one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. Treat yourself. You won't be sorry.
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