First if you are looking at this because the new TV show Haven says it's based on it then you should know only a couple of characters were LOOSELY based on characters in this book. This book gives you no back story to the show.
Second this is more of a commentary about the difference between stories and true mysteries. As they often mention in this book, this story has no plot or "through line" as they put it. I would not say the book is bad but if you are looking for a "story" then keep looking.
In much the same way as the HHGttG movie they pulled in bits from the other Dirk Genty book for no apparent reason. In several places you get the impression you are listening to a video struggling to figure out what a noise is or what they are talking about. In other places characters are given odd bits of dialog to avoid using a narrator.
The original story is a classic must read. Note listening to the lost Doctor Who episode Shada will give you a LOT of back story on the professor. That is what prompted me this, the longest version available here.
There isn't one. Having one would have helped. Actors were good.
Miss Pierce who is really from the second book.
The bits in this version that are not in the abridged versions here seem to bit all pulled from the second book which are mainly lost on anyone that has not already read the second book (Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul). Get the unabridged if it ever comes available but till then stick with the abridged version.
Everything is connected
Trying to increase potato harvests was probably the very thing that caused the famine.
When most farmers decided to grow tobacco instead of food.
The day everything changed.
Basically this book shows how the smallest changes can lead to world altering consequences. As in accidentally bringing Malaria to the Americas lead to slavery of mainly Africans and why only in the south. It also shows that short term solutions are often the worst option in the long run. It shows how actual events in our past have lead to where we are today and some of the challenges they have left us with. No matter your field there is something in this book that touches on it and will make you look outside your field for factors you make have not considered before.
Not only redundant with itself, if you have listened to his other 2 books (which I liked) you will hear a lot of the same info. In this book he seems to have pieced together a vision of the future from a few movies and builds a rationalization to show how it will happen. In some cases the basic premise seems just wrong. For example he thinks telecommuting will never catch on because people only feel comfortable with in person contact. Seriously? Must be why social networking sites are doing so poorly. Not to mention companies are already starting to figure out the economic advantages to having phone and tech workers working from home. So even if employees want to work from an office it might not be the norm much longer. Or the contradiction of maintenance robots will always be too stupid to do repairs unmonitored while at the same time your car drives itself and your AI can be the perfect assistant. We are talking Eureka's S.A.R.A.H. here. I could make many more examples but I think I've made my point.
There is a feeling running through this story of tiding up loose ends that constantly reminds you that this series as well as others by Terry Pratchett are coming to an end. It is fully understandable under the circumstances but it does add a thread of sadness to an otherwise delightful book. If you are considering this as your first Discworld novel I would suggest you at least read/listen to the other witch novels of the series (Equal Rites is first book) first to get the many references to past events / inside jokes. Though I would highly recommend starting with the first book (The Colour of Magic) and if you like it then glide your way through all 38 books of this series.
This book should probably be bundled with every school American history text book just to balance things out. It contains all the things left out of the main stream texts. As such you may think it is somewhat biased but the point here is to reveal the left out bits of most history texts than to present a "balanced view". Unlike many other texts the author is quite up front about this. If you think you know American history quite well you will probably find many new things in this volume. Conservatives too can benefit from this book. For example Tea partiers can find out that they really are like our founding fathers in many ways though probably not in the ones they think.
It has almost no relation to the movie but makes some very interesting points in its own right. In some ways I like it even better than the movie. There is a whole subplot in the book about people needing to care for the remaining animals on the planet only alluded to in the movie with the one line asking if the owl is real. In the book people that cannot afford real animals to take of get electric ones to keep face with the neighbors. The commentary on this and how culty people can be might turn some off but I thought it made the story more relevant to the real world.
Part 1 is the first quarter of the book for the first half and then sounds effects for the rest of the file.
Part 2 is the second quarter of the book for the first half and then sounds effects for the rest of the file.
He does not even get to String theory till the last 30 minutes and never gets to M-theory. If you have even a rough idea of what String theory is this book is too simple for you. You will be happier listening to " Parallel Worlds"
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