Alternate History can be the matrix for some excellent speculation and a better understanding of what we are in this reality. This collection almost totally fails to live up to its potential. The Manhattan Project is shunted aside in favor of a rocket program that shoots down an incoming missile? Teddy Roosevelt recreates the Rough Riders to fight in WWI? These could be interesting, but are barely developed…and history doesn’t change much. Other premises are just silly: JFK goes back in time to see the real Camelot; Eisenhower rejects military training and becomes a jazz clarinetist. The only story with any texture is Rusch’s “The Arrival of Truth”, in which Sojourner Truth’s teaching leads to slave revolts.
First, these are not Advent or Christmas sermons, although that is the major theme. But principally, the reading was a disappointment. These were sermons given by a man who was facing martyrdom: Parks reads them casually as off a Teleprompter. Why not give us the feel of a public address, as with the wonderful production of the
I cannot imagine why I've never run across this gem before now...it is one of the best novels I've read in a long time, and the top book that I've read from Arthur C. Clark. Two brief comments: the science element is a bit dated; I knew without looking at the description that it was decades old (turns out it's from 1973). The explorers have to overcome obstacles that would be easily solved by 21st century technology. Second, the other reviewers are down on the narration, that it is dry and "robotic". Folks...to put it simply, that is how one should narrate an Arthur C. Clark novel. It's about the science, never about the human characters. I thought Peter Ganim's measured reading was right on the money. If you want human stories with good sf, read Orson Scott Card.
My first time to give 1 star to any book. I listened to about a half-hour and started to suspect that I was hip-deep in space-mediocrity. So, sez I to myself, maybe just a little bit more, since I hate to press ERASE on a book I've already paid for. Twenty additional minutes were more than enough.
The set-up? Wilson Cole, twice busted from captain of his own space ship because he can't live according to the regulations (i. e., he's convinced that he makes better decisions than his superiors, and so disobeys orders he thinks are dumb...all in time of war). All the cardboard scenarios are here, folks: the renegade who plays by his own rules; the brilliant intuitive decisions that only he can make; his million-to-one guesses about what will take place...and that of course do come to pass just as he predicts; his know-it-all expositions to his intellectual inferiors, who gaze with open-mouthed admiration at their hero. Puh-leeze! It's a stereotypical earth cop show transfered into hyperspace (and by the way, they travel at light speed and click off dozens of light years without a net...or any sort of escape hatch from relativistic physics). I just read Caesar's Commentaries from AudioBooks. A dictator, yes, but now there was a brilliant leader and strategist! And a wonderful writer, as it turns out. Pass on Mutiny, go for the Commentaries.
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