If you are a gamer (as in video, xbox, etc.) then you'll recognize Amped as another word for Augs (Augmented) in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Same basic plot - humans with augmented robotic abilities are shunned by a purist society, both of whose sides have fuzzy motives. The protagonist is alternately brave and wimpy and some characters sort of run together. If your're looking for a story in this "genre" you're better to play Deus Ex in "Story Mode" this book. The narrator, however, was quite excellent, bringing interest and some life to the characters. Also, for my fellow gamers out there - this is not about snowboarding (grin).
This was an amusing sci-fi romp with a Hollywood twist. Probably the best of the Scalzi works I've listened to and also probably the best narration I have heard from Wheaton. I think Wil Wheaton is a great guy, good actor, super-nerd extraordinaire. In other books his enthusiasm makes up for the lack of character distinction. Here, however, he has found a way to give each character a somewhat unique voice, and that makes all the difference between a "reading" and a "performance". Scalzi's contemporary sci-fi writing style is very loose and, as in other of his books, the dialog can be snappy, yet bland, if that's possible. Scalzi rarely interjects the tone or intensity into his dialog, sometimes leading to long "he said", "she said" passages. With Wheaton taking the reins of the material and parsing some distinctiveness to the characters, it was an enjoyable ride.
I got this as frequent listener special and found the story to be unusual and interesting. Similar in many ways to the new USA series "Perception", its a unique look at the sane and insane side of schizophrenia. Both Legion and Perception treat the illness as an asset making the protagonists a type of savant. There are hints to a backstory and future possible episodes that makes me wonder how this came to be. Was the author testing the waters for a possible new book series. It was good enough that I'd take another journey with "Legion"
I sort of landed on this book by accident while poking around at Audible suggestions. The description sounded interesting, but even more so were the preponderance of rave reviews. They are all absolutely justified. This book is a fast-paced thriller with EXCEPTIONAL NARRATION. I will definitely look at other titles Ray Porter has narrated. He is by far the best Audible narrator I have heard to date!
The biggest compliment to author Cline's work here is that he creates three-dimensional characters that really matter. Their backstories inform the fabric of the overall plot and in the end, even the minutia seem relevant in many ways. I feel invested in these people and feel teased to know how they fare after the events of the book. This probably isn't grist for a series, per-se, but just because you end up really caring for the characters. They are real and relatable with real human strength, frailty, and foibles.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Take a chance and drop a credit here. I'm certainly glad I did.
The final book of the Robert Sawyer's WWW series, "Wonder" attempts to answer the ultimate question: Can an entity who knows everything. Unlike the first two books, however, it appears that Sawyer was attempting to make "Wonder" more accessible to those who had not read the previous volumes. A good 1/3 of the book involves the characters recapping action that occurred in the previous two books. This repetition becomes tedious at times, and detracts from the narrative flow of the story. I think from the onset, this story was broken down to be a trilogy, however, the final act, edited appropriately could have been told in two volumes instead of 3.
Jessica Almasy & Mark Vietor continue with their excellent characterizations from the point of view of Caitlyn and "the entity". The production greatly suffers for the disappearance of Jennifer Van Dyke's narration of the Primate Researcher Shoshanna. The passages from her point of view are ready by Almasy in this production. While there is nothing technically wrong with Almasy's characterization, her intonation and emphasis differ greatly from what we might have heard had Van Dyke had continued with the role. With the three volumes being a "tight" package, this change is somewhat jarring.
You will have to make up your own mind, about how satisfied you are with the ending of the series. Perhaps it takes the well known exclamation "Information longs to be Free." to the extreme, and I still am not very settled with how "the entity" manipulates people as a means to the end he seeks. In "Wake", "the entity" is given his prime directive by Caitlyn and the bulk of the story revolves around how an independent observer with virtually unlimited power would achieve that end.
Completing my thoughts across the books, however, I was very entertained by Sawyer's writing style and enlightened by his knowledge of both pop culture and hard science, blending it together into an interesting brand of science fiction that is highly contemporary and teeters on the edge of the possible. This was the first of his works I've read and I'm eager to go back and check out his other writings, especially the original novel "Fast Forward" upon which the ill fated ABC series of the same name was based. It will be fun to see what was actually intended and left hanging by the aborted production.
The second volume of Robert Sawyer's "WWW" trilogy picks up right where we left off at the end of "Wake". The once blind, now sighted hero Caitlyn struggles to deal with the exponentially expanding intelligence of an unknown and non-corporeal entity. Their bond is strong, but as much trust as Caitlyn puts into her new friend, there are dangerous others who fear for the destiny of the world as the entity becomes more and more omniscient. Plotlines that hang from "Wake" start to coalesce in a meaningful way and many questions are answered, while others remain for the final volume.
This book, the best of the series, moves at a brisk pace as the entity contemplates "his" role in his "new" world. Excellent narration propels this story beyond theatre of the mind into a whole new stratosphere. As perspective changes among the players, the readers are able to make each character distinctive.
Like the first book, this one ends without a definitive climax, rather sets up the pieces for the final book. Plenty happens,and if you enjoy cyber-thrillers with smart, sound science to back it up, you'll find this enjoyable.
There is a strong incentive to compare Veronica Roth's yet to be completed "Divergent" trilogy to "The Hunger Games". Both are part of a trilogy; both are marketed as young adult books; both revolve around a strong female character plucked from their familiar environment and thrust because of government intervention into circumstances of a dystopian future. I could make more comparisons, but you get the point.
Despite that, they are very different books both in tone and structure. While in "The Hunger Games" adult characters rarely drive the story forward (at least until "Mockingjay"), the Divergent series puts these young adults on par with their adult counterparts.
The driving conceit of the books are that upon a person's sixteenth birthday, they have the opportunity to decide into which of the the "factions" of society they belong, and must partake in an initiation ritual to become full members. Successful initiates join the ranks of their new comrades, while the unsuccessful can end up "factionless" or worse; impoverished at the edges of society.
Emma Galvin does an excellent job at interpreting the voice and tone of the many, many characters. She truly makes Triss and the other characters come alive.
The only thing I can fault is that Roth has yet to complete the promised Trilogy and has, at time of this writing, even announced a name for the volume.
Kudos to Audible Frontiers for taking on more popular science fiction that might have been neglected in the past by traditional audio book publishers. For me, this was my first exposure to the writing of Robert J Sawyer, who is actually a very prolific sci-fi futurist and novelist. Although the events of the story happen in the not-too-distant future, the characters and setting is very contemporary. The ability to capture the essence of scientists and young adults in this decade give the characters immediate authenticity which makes them instantly relate able.
I purchased this title as part of a sale promotion based upon its description and didn't realize that it was the first book of a trilogy. You should be forewarned, then, that the conclusion of this book is soft, at best, and the next book in the series "Watch", starts literally seconds after then "ending" of this book. This is not a criticism of the book itself, just a note that you should plan to be in it through the long haul if there is to be any catharsis after turning the final page.
The plot of the story revolves around the essence of sight vs. insight and consciousness vs. intelligence, and the fragility of the boundaries between them. In the story, blindness is a metaphor for many things. The old adage "I was blind but now I see" seems applicable to every character, whether they are literally blind, or figuratively blind due to bias, culture, disability, or, in fact, even species.
Audible is especially to be commended for their ensemble reading approach. While any of the performers could pull off reading this book convincingly on their own, the variance in voice and perspective clarifies and enhances the presentation. (Although I'm still having a hard time shaking Marc Vietor as a major character in this book to his similarly engaging performance as Tengo Kowada in 1Q84).
Now that I have awoken, I'm eager to watch how everything unfolds, and wonder how things will be in the future.
Hopefully I got your attention with the lighthearted headline, but my actual point was to again commend Daniel Suarez for writing another engaging story. Kill Decision is much more of a techno-thriller than his previous works Daemon & Freedom(TM) (which I've come to find out from interviews were actually written as a single book and then separated on advice from the publisher). The plot here is more concise, and doesn't have some of the plot lines that start good and disappear through the narrative. Here its very focused on the subject at hand and the unlikely protagonist who is indirectly responsible for the ensuing crisis.
I'm sure you've discovered, so it shouldn't be a spoiler, that this book focuses on Drone technology. I've you've watched any of the coverage of US involvement in Middle East conflict, the use of reconnaissance and target drones may already be a familiar topic. Currently, these drones are controlled and monitored by soldiers outside the area of engagement, sometimes literally in bunkers on the other side of the world. Kill Decision takes this real-world technology and projects it forward into a plausible future.
What if there were huge advances in this technology? To what lengths would the government and industry go to protect this technology and maintain secrecy about it? What place do natural systems play in the field of artificial intelligence and what are the consequences of doing so? Does the interdependence of the military and technology industries make for a safer or more threatening world? These are among the many questions the book approaches in a fast-paced action thriller format that will make you want to consume the entire story in a single sitting.
The production is extremely good and Jeff Garner is an outstanding presenter. He is also the voice of Daemon and Freedom(TM) among many other great Audible titles, and his ability to make characters, both male and female, as well as ones with specific ethnic backgrounds seem vibrant and believable. Strong performers, like Jeff, are one of the most compelling reasons to engage in the audiobook format.
I enjoyed this, and hope you do as well.
Far from King's best work, this quirky novel is more about a microcosm of characters forced to live together without a clear chance of escape. The indefinite nature of the event (you know it involves a big dome - its in the title for goodness sake) is the catalyst for a variety of political and social machinations. Kind of like the "Big Brother" TV show, except its an entire city, and nobody can get kicked out.
The battle lines are clearly drawn, and there is no ambiguity to King's portrayal of the different town factions once the fabric of life there starts to fray.
I want to give especial Kudos to the narrator, Raul Esparza. If you are not familiar with him, he is a brilliant Tony-award winning Broadway actor. I've seen him transform himself from the sexually ambiguous Emcee in Cabaret, to Stephen Sondheim's everyman in Company, and the Professor in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". He's got range and chops, but sadly, he has no occasion to sing or dance in this narration. What he does do is bring vibrancy to each character in the story. At first I thought it was a bit too subtle, but once I got into the flow I couldn't think of another voice that would do justice to the assorted residents of the town.
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