Colorado Springs, Colorado United States | Member Since 2013
After the introduction that is the novel TITAN this second volume in the trilogy widens the scope of the story into a vast playground. WIZARD lets us foray into the inner workings of the living artificial world that calls herself Gaea. She is insane, and that is the basis for all the fun. In this volume we learn the true lay of the land through what amounts to a travelogue of the wheel. There is much that much be laid out and put in place before we can feel we know our way around the place. This necessary tour sets the stage for the main event. This story unfolds and we are allowed to see the nature of the conflict that is brewing; never mind that it is a struggle that Gaea has carefully orchestrated to suit her sense of celluloid drama, she is, after all, crazy. When reading this for the first time I felt the ever widening sense of wonder that I had come to love from Science Fiction, and even now, twenty-five years later, I still enjoy this story for that amazing rollicking appreciation of strangeness. Varley has invented a scenario where almost anything can happen and still remain in the preview of Science Fiction. The being Gaea is so significantly advanced in her technology for her works to seem like magic. This is a fun book and a grand adventure on its own. But when you are done with this one realize that the next one, DEMON, escalates the conflict to Hollywood Epic proportions. I labeled TITAN the prolog. WIZARD can be thought of as the introduction. DEMON will be the main text. Let the games begin.
Allyson Johnson’s effort here is much more satisfying than in the previous book. Thankfully there are many more characters in this novel for her to explore her vocal range. She manages to cast her voice in a deeper tone much of the time which suits me better for long hours of listening. I liked how she assigned different accents to the various Titanides. The character with the French name carries a French accent. I liked it.
Having recently finished listening to Micheal Flynn’s EIFELHEIM, and enjoying it very much, I thought I would try another one of his books to see if he could attain the quality reached in that book. And, seeing as this is the first of a series, I was anticipating many hours of sense-of wonder Science Fiction entertainment. Here he falls completely flat. This reads like a plot outline from a Larry Niven novel but without the magic touch required to bring the story to life. I had to punch out on this book after only four hours.
Malcolm Hilgartner is just OK. I suppose that had he delivered an over-the-top dramatic performance that this audiobook could have been made interesting, but his straight narration is not enough to resurrect this lifeless story.
The narration by Luke Daniels for this series is so good that every time a new book is released I have gone back and started from the beginning. And this is not just to re-familiarize myself with the story, but to experience Daniels’ performance over again. Only a few narrators are able to deliver the level of dramatization necessary to make the book seem like a movie playing in my head—Luke Daniels is one of them. It was great to review TERMS OF ENLISTMENT. The boot camp gung-ho grunt scenes are the equal of anything put out by Stanley Kubrick or James Cameron. This is great entertainment.
Lest I give the impression that the narration is only good thing about this series, allow me to dispel that delusion. This is a well-paced story with engaging characters. The dialog is natural and even witty at times. The overall situation of humanity fighting for their survival against an incomprehensible and overwhelmingly advanced alien foe is nicely done and I always like such scenario where those plucky humans just can’t be kept down. We are the cockroaches of the galaxy—a pest that you just can’t get rid of—one that will fight to the death. Along the way there are plenty of human to human conflicts of personality. No military story would be authentic if some of the officers weren’t jerks. They are dealt with in appropriate and often hilarious fashion. Yes, there are many things to recommend about this series. When the next installment comes out I plan to start again from the beginning and let it roll over me all over again.
This is a wonder of a novel. It has many different elements that combine to make it grand. There is a bit of the First-Contact story here, of the clash of two races, and their quest to learn how to communicate with each other. A large portion of the book is set in the medieval period, and the ethical considerations of the devout Catholics encountering an alien race are insightful and respectful to the Christian faith. Michael Flynn’s familiarity with scripture is evident in the number of direst and indirect references throughout. The characters of the Middle Ages are well formed and are good examples of the lofty philosopher combined with the earthy people of that gritty and grungy time of history. People of that era took their religion seriously and the characters of this book do the same. Even when confronted with the threat of the Black Plague and the arrival of strange beings from another world they proceed according to the revelation from Holy Writ. It is refreshing that modern atheistic sensibilities are not imposed on these medieval fictional characters.
Other sections take place in the present and so we are treated to the biases and prejudices of modern Einsteinian physics. Even in these contemporary sections other scientific opinions are presented, not merely to be laughed at, as is so common in much of Science Fiction, rather they are explored as viable alternatives, as any utilization of the oft quoted but even more often maligned “scientific method” would require. The exploration of the nature of space and time, and especially the accurate portrayal of the subtle considerations on the problem of Variable Light Speed and Quantized Red-Shifts are well integrated into the story and compelling.
Eifelheim is another installment in the curiously well-populated sub-genre of Religious Science Fiction where Sci-Fi authors—who are exemplary students of the human condition despite being materialists—delve into the conspicuous human, and completely foreign, need for reverence to a higher power. Other note-worthy examples of religious-themed Sci-Fi: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr., The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, A Case of Conscience by James Blish, and Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the Long Sun.
Anthony Heald gives a portrayal that is well-nigh flawless, handling geeky female scientists, fourteenth-century Catholic priests, and insectoid aliens with equal aplomb.
This is another title that I acquired based solely on the recommendations of Audible reviewers. I am, once again, in their debt. Eifelheim was my first exposure to the fiction of Michael Flynn. I think his work warrants further investigation.
Told as a series of long recollections of the exploits of two unconventional, and therefore unexpected and well-suited, black ops agents; this book is like a classic WWII movie. The story is exciting and feels so right that you will want it to be true. As a lover of history I found this to be a rousing adventure and so well produced that its scenes were playing in my mind’s eye like a matinee news reel all the while I was going about my daily routine. This is what I am always seeking in an audiobook.
Dick Hill has a great voice for WWII stories. I had recently listened to his rendition of BROTHERS IN BATTLE, BEST OF FRIENDS and was impressed at his ability to deliver distinct voices for two very similar personalities in that book. In BLACK CROSS he really gets to stretch his vocal cords; giving voice to a variety of characters, both male and female, and from a broad spectrum of dialects.
Thanks to all my fellow Audible book reviewers who took the time to recommend this book. Your altruistic efforts caused me to listen to this book and my life is more full and more enjoyable because of it.
I tackled this book as preparation for Wouk’s lengthy THE WINDS OF WAR and the even longer WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, of which I am hoping great things, having been enthralled by the television mini-series of the same name. I was amazed at the well-rounded and fully fleshed out characters. None of them are larger than life hero types, but are realistic: self-doubting at times, overconfident at others. These characters make for engaging reading. The book follows the life journey of just a few central characters and is so authentic that I began to care about them. So, when things begin to turn sour the listener is so invested that empathy is assured. Every event the characters go through becomes a crisis. Every injustice, a tragedy. This is a truly grand story filled by real people.
The book is narrated by Kevin Pariseau who is truly marvel. He handles salty sea dogs and lounge singers with equal mastery. His performance is dramatic without being intrusive, always appropriate, enhancing this already excellent book.
This book has a dream-like quality to it—but I am not saying that as an endorsement. Just as a dream is a Technicolor mélange of disjointed episodes that one struggles to fit together upon waking; this novel is elusive and seems to always be just out of reach. I admire the prose style of Pynchon in the same way that I enjoy the words of William Gibson in NECROMANCER. It has an edgy, detached quality to it; one that does not encourage emotional attachment. This book, however has less going on to hold my interest than does the aforementioned cyber-punk classic. No cool characters, no sense-of-wonder to make me marvel at the inventiveness of the fictional invention. What tipped the book against me, I think, was the excessive and emotionally uninvolved over-utilization of explicit sex scenes throughout. These scenes are spaced regularly in the novel, as if they are supposed to fit into some larger story arc. I could not find the interconnection so they just came off as crude assaults on my thought process with no redeeming social value. George Guidall has a fine pleasant voice and allowed me to hand in with this book for six hours before punching out.
There is a strange appeal to stories like this; stories that expose the dark underbelly of society. It is somehow fascinating to peek into the violent world of organized crime. I listened to this book after I had already watched the first two movies, so my opinion was already partially formed. The first “book” of the novel was nearly identical to the first movie and, even without Brando, Pachino, Duval and Caan, this is an enthralling story. After this initial sequence the novel expands greatly upon the back-story and we get to know, if not to love, Vito Corleone and the other Siclian Underworld figures.
This novel reminds me of the Parker novels of Donald Westlake—at least in one sense. The character Parker, a career thief, and Don Corleone both share a sense of honor among thieves. For both, occasional violence is strictly business; a necessary part of the job. It is simply the way things get done. Violence is to be avoided until it is necessary, but then it is to be persued with alacrity and vigor. Strange as it may be for me to say—you may think—in a way this is a humorous story. Perversely, the murder and mayhem become a sort of expected punch-line to every anecdote; the rim shot that punctuates every plot episode. These men feign to be cultured and respectful to each other; family men, business men—men of deep principle, pillars of the community. Yet they are the worst kind of blight on society. Evil masquerading as good.
Joe Mantegna has a great Italian accent that adds to the verisimilitude of this story of the Mafia. His character voicing is well-suited for each of the people is the story. Without his voice this would still be a fine story. Joe Mantegna makes it truly great.
Try to consider this novel on the merits of its drama and story alone and try to ignore, for a moment, the dubious claims by Alex Haley that it relates the actual history of his supposed ancestor Kunta Kinte. This is a fine story and has as much relevance to the human condition and the desire to be free as any Military Sci-Fi Space Opera fighting the tyranny of alien overlords or any Zombie Apocalypse novel resisting extinction against impossible odds. The mini-series enthralled me in 1977, and this audiobook captivated me thirty-eight years later.
If you are not aware of the controversy surrounding this Pulitzer Prize winning novel consider just these two facts: (1) Alex Haley paid $650,000 after a court judgment against him to Harry Courlander for lifting eighty-one passages from the novel The African in 1978. (2) The slave Toby, the supposed Kunta Kinte in Haley’s genealogy, has a paper-trail in America going back four years before the slave ship the Lord Ligonier arrived on American shores.. While these problems of provenance do lessen the impact of this novel from a historical perspective—and should dampen any social impact of this false narrative— the novel, as a work of pure fiction, still stands on its own. The author’s afterward, detailing Haley’s journey of discovery of his family’s African history, should be treated as a short story; a coda added to give the work a sense of verisimilitude.
No one questions the horrors of the period of history involving the slave trade between Africa and North America. It is easy to imagine that accounts very similar to those in this book actually did take place. And that is why this book can still have some impact. The actual story may be false as a history but the story reflects a reality that transcends the veracity of the account. I only wish that Alex Haley had chosen to tell this story as a piece of fiction, avoiding plagiarism along the way. It is a shame that such a powerful book must be tainted with scandal.
Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space Nine) narrates this book with just the right tone of voice. The early chapters are told strictly from an omniscient 3rd person narration perspective, and here Avery Brooks does not get much of a chance to display his talents. But once Kunta Kinte gets established in the Plantation system of the Virginia colony, several other characters are introduced and Mr. Brooks begins to shine. He handles the accents of both slaves and the Plantation owners adroitly. He adds greatly to the audiobook experience.
This is Steinbeck’s masterpiece. Here is exposed the evil that is in men’s hearts. John Steinbeck depicts some people as monsters. Not the creepy paranormal monsters of Stephen King but a much more horrifying type of monster; the kind that lives in the head of everyone. The people in this book are complex and realistic, all the more so because their proclivities toward evil are uncomfortably familiar to anyone of Adam’s race. I recommend this as a lofty example of American novel writing, and an engrossing excursion into the true nature of man. Richard Poe narrates in a voice that just seems perfectly apt for that of a young Steinbeck. This is everything I look for in an audiobook: captivating entertainment with a hook that forces your mind to ponder.
Listening to this was like reliving the TV miniseries from years ago. Every chapter brought to mind a scene from the video production and I realized that the movie was very faithful to the book. There are very strong influences of the television production evident in this audiobook. Lee Horsley is wonderful as the narrator, and his voicing of the character Gus is a perfect impression of Tommy Lee Jones. There is so much beauty of characterization in this book that one must wonder what cruel intention was in McMurtry’s mind when he penned such fixation on death that pervades every story arc in this novel.
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