I saw Old Man's War on a list of the top 100 sci-fi books. I had listened to John Scalzi's Red Shirts which I only had lukewarm feelings about. However, I decided to give John Scalzi a second chance, especially with William Dufris reading.
Old Man's War is surprisingly funny, a bit nihilistic, and clever. Scalzi dances the fine line between being serious and silly, creating a universe that's every bit as hostile as bizarre. Highly recommended.
Roughly the last hour is a detriment to an otherwise fantastic and forward thinking book. Sagan's ability to tap into critiques of science academia's views on gender-roles pertaining to the lead character to large scope astrophysics in a cohesive manner is impressive. Sagan, obviously comfortable as an author, fiction or non-fiction, lost me at the end with a little too thick of pan-humanist religious idealism.It felt like pandering to the religious majority. While the book certainly takes Sagan's fantasy of what clearly is his ultimate dream, and explored, the ending lasted perhaps a few chapters too long, and found me wishing for it to stop as humanity magically holds all the cards (or fingers) to unlocking the secrets of the universe meant specific for us. Very much worth a listen, even if the regrettable ending.
For a book series with a rumored TV adaptation, the 3rd book arrived on Audible with little fanfare. I awaited and searched for release dates for months only to randomly discover it on Audible last week, lacking proper cover art or any features on the website. (For any audible employees reading, a favorite authors system would be great). That said its finally here and it's wonderful to have.
There isn't much reason to justify The Expanse if you've already read the first two books (and if you're like me, you've read the short stories. It's a rich and strangely believable universe of humans and space, where the fab team that make up James S.A. Corey never loose sight of the humans of the story. Having made my attempts at other popular sci-fi series, The Expanse feels rich, detailed and populous, without the extremes hardware worship or the obsessively dry space battles. Its easily my favorite series (besting my previous favorite of Peter F Hamilton's neurotically complex commonwealth series)
This go around rotates the cast, Bobbie and the wonderfully foul-mouthed Chrisjen are absent with new characters, Anna, an immigrant priest with strongly defined moral compass as much as James Holden, and Bull, a tough-as-nails chief security officer on the Behemoth, as replacements. True to form, each adds to the colorful and blossoming cast of The Expanse, although neither quite trump the cast they're filling in for.
Without spoiling much, the ride is exciting although doesn't quite hit the sensational horror of the first novel or the intensity of the second. This isn't to say its lost itself but the arch pertaining to the proto-molecule is largely explained, and while clever, isn't as surprising as some of the other twists in the previous books, especially in the wonderfully unpredictable fashion of the first two. I will give credit where credit is due, as the mystery isn't compounded into irrelevance not is it drawn out to insignificance. Pulling off the big reveal is always difficult and the Expanse does it well. Any additions to the series will now face a new arch.
The book's end stops a few chapters too early but the best entertainment always leaves you wanting more.
I look forward to seeing what the next books will be like.
Its hard to find any fault with the performances in World War Z, each segment voiced by separate voice actor, lending credence to the oratory nature of the story telling. Audible doesn't list the full voice actor roster, which includes notables like Nathon Fillion, Denise Crosby and Common.
Where the story falls short is some of the silliness (Zombies can survive indefinitely on the bottom of the sea without being crushed and survive being frozen yet can be subdued with blunt force!?). Outside of a few logical stop-gaps that interrupt the suspension of disbelief, its a fun "What if..." scenario.
I enjoyed the book, when it waxes table philosophy on the concept of total war or why Cuba bested the rest of the world when it came to the Zombie apocalypse but not enough that I'd be inclined to jump further in the zombie genre.
After a year away from Taylor Anderson's "other earth", I'm starting to wait less eagerly at the next book in the series. Its fun, irreverent and entertaining and the expanding world is interesting but between the meat of the pages, I kept waiting for more ground to be covered. With a cast that now easily spans beyond a few dozen, I'd expect the novels to expand to fit the multiple plot lines and/or move slightly faster.
As much as the inner kid in me loves in the idea of dinosaur piloted zeppelins duking it out with a fleet of vintage WWII boats and planes piloted by Humans and Lemurs, I'm worried by the end I'll of experienced too much of a good thing.
There's only so many times Walker, Mahan Salissa and Catalina can make death defying escapes. Only so many Human enclaves that seem feasibly to be "off the grid" as far as the Grik and Lemurians are concerned and only so many antics that sideshow (stooges) trio of Dennis, Larry and Moe can perform.... before all the troupes are tired.
I'm all for this series but I'd like to see it wrap up. Perhaps an end could lead to more adventures but for now I just want the feeling that this series has a conclusion.... even if just for a moment.
I'm not the most picky about the audio quality but Snow Crash has a few issues:
* There's a bit of glitches, the audio cuts to distortion. I tried redownloading and it occurred in the same spots. Only happened four or five times, and only for a second.
* The audio quality sounds lower bit rate than the usual audio books on Audible.
* There's an omni-present hiss, its pretty low but pronounced if listening over the iPhone speaker.
*At the end of one chapter, there's a clear bizarre edit that lasts about 30 seconds. It sounds as if another reader reads the section of the book. Its disorienting and strange.
And lastly, purely atheistic but each chapter has a goofy soundfont, it varies slightly but the faux gibbering often jarring, and worse, completely cheesy. I'm glad newer audiobooks have stayed away from this trend.
The book itself holds up fairly well, written over two decades ago, the who metaverse pre-conception the internet really holds up surprisingly well. The premise of the main story is a hokey at times, but I've heard some call this book parodying the world of Cyber-Punk. Perhaps so, the future is portrayed in classic cyber punk terms except the volume has been cranked to 11. Corporations don't just control the world, they've become nations themselves. Violence isn't just rampant, its the way of life. Hackers aren't simply the technocracy, they're the center of society. Inflation didn't just get out of control, trillion dollar bills are normal. There's a heavy dose of post-modernistic relativity that makes the chaos bitingly sarcastic while at the same time trying to covey a serious story. Its a disconnect that asks the reader to carry a bit the cognitive dissonance, likely purposely.
The book at first seems a bit chaotic, and attention-deficit but as you get the groove, it flows better.
As you listen, you'll probably find yourself thinking at times... "Is that where..." insert pop culture movie/tv show "Got there idea from?". Rightly so. Worth a listen. Johnathan Davis does a good enough job to carry the story, technical glitches and a few bad production calls aside. Certainly not for everyone, this book is something special and enjoyable.
The The Expanse series probably is my most eagerly awaited book series. Based in a newtonian universe (people aren't zipping across the galaxy yet), the Expanse explores recognizable and well-thought out universe, every bit as political volatile as the one we currently live in. There's a healthy genre blending of sci-fi, action, detective, horror and suspense, where Earth, Mars and the outer planets each have their own distinct cultures, but it never feels overly saturated with the details. Even though its environmentally rich, its a character driven novel, never too bogged down with its sci-finess or does the pace meander.
John Scalzi caught me with his Old Man's War series with a very post-modern style, in-jokes to other sci-fi, a healthy dose of biting sarcastic (often funny) dialogue, and well executed, imaginative plot lines, where the sci-fi elements are less emphasized than the story.
I held off reading Fuzzy Nation because the plot didn't seem all that interesting... my own ignorance almost had me pass this up. Its an unusual mxi of court-room thriller and sci-fi, unique and too much fun not to recommend. While Will Wheaton isn't my favorite narrator, for this book, he's A++, cast perfectly.
A few listeners haven't been too thrilled with audio book version but Minnie Goode is pretty solid, a few of her voices are a little awkward but fortunately are very sparse (her child voice is soppy and forced laughter is occasionally awkward). Despite a misstep or two, she breathes a lot of life into the book, giving characters unique voices and narrates with emotion.
A lot of the harsh criticisms reviewers tinge with "No girls allowed, this is sci-fi" sediment which is sad, considering the bulk of the book is from female main characters. I'm a little surprised. Would I listen to Minnie Goode again? Sure, possibly not my first choice she's solid, and probably will mature with each book. As near as I can she's a rookie, but clearly talented.
As far as the book, its a clever Sci-fi locked into a confined setting. The reader is clearly beyond the characters, as immediately the reader is able to piece together a semblance of the truth instantly. The comprehension of the situation is leveraged as the main plot point and surprisingly, its still electric when the truth is discovered.
I wonder if Hugh Howery is a fan of the video game series, Fallout? As the Silo seems much like the "Vault" premise. In any case, in our post modernistic society, the only way to make something new is to take something old and put your own unique twist on it. Hugh certainly has.
Santanic Versea likely will be remembered as the most controversial book of the later half of 20th century for the shear amount of political controversy it illicited globally, worthy or not. But what happens when you write one of the the most controversial books of the century?
Joseph Anton has the answer. Salmon Rushdie, in 3rd person, meanders through his entire life. Taking moments to ponder, life, love, religion and family from pre-fatwa to post. His journey takes him from his life as Salmon and his alias, Joseph, used under police protection.
The story is one of preserveance, despite some of his own short comings... A story that has him bumping shoulders (or more accurately rubbed) by Margaret Thacter, chats with Bill Clinton, dinners with Tony Blair, friendships with Christopher Hitchens, and even Bono. Despite what might have been mistook as glamour and ego was a caged man, who was barely able to leave his own house and difficulties performing basic father tasks with his son.
While Salmon, drops names frequently, to the point of blurring into the ether, what remains is story with personal victory with plenty off tragedy. Only knowing Salmon from appearances in the media, I finally was motivated to read one of his works and settled for the one that interested me the most. Having been narrowly old enough to claim to lived through the entire 80s, many of the books earlier events served as a portrait of the confusion of multiculturalism and a global society in a time I lived through but was not old enough to have meaningful comprehension. The extent of Iran's treachery even given today's misgivings is shocking, the British lack of desire to defend its own citizens is surprising and the global Islamophobia pandemic is current.
Salmon is a harsh judge of himself but also holds himself with regard, likely the same dignity that kept him sane. I enjoyed this book immensely, as Rushdie is passionate, insightful, and charasmatic.
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