John Alllen Paulos delivers a pretty straightforward look at disbelief using hard logic. Since the book uses logic problems (although little math), I found myself reaching for the rewind button to make sure I grasped the example or lost if I let my mind wander. I think as a book, would allow one to digest any of the exercises a little more easily. Irreligion isn't a damnation of religion as much as other works by Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins, nor would I expect devoutly religious to change their opinion having read it as it pertains strictly to the realm of logic. However, it is meant to provide a solid ground for logical arguments for atheism.
Much of the book is derived from basic if A+B = X then X must be... Its not the sort of topic that makes for excitement/entertainment so just be forewarned. I bought this having read some of the reviews.
Was the book bad? No, but some things aren't well suited for certain mediums. I think Irreligion is an example as an audiobook vs book. Its certainly listenable, but just not inviting and likely why this book has only received a 3 star average.
Year Zero starts off with a decent premise:
The rest of the universe is wildly infatuated with our music after it was discovered in 1970 and then redistributed the music The catch is:. Aliens who reach a certain point in technology are part of a multi-stellar conglomerate of civilized worlds. Due to the level of technology required to be a civilized world, the creatures in the civilized worlds dedicate their lives to the pursuit of art and consume the art in the way that honors the culture that created it.
Earth's intellectual property laws around music are unique. The copyright laws mean that the civilized worlds have been pirating our music, every song in existence for 40 years. Due to our overly egregious copyright laws (up to $150,000 USD per song) and the civilized world's deep commitment to the arts, the infractions threatened to bankrupt the entire universe.
Its a good start, humorous in theory.... except it isn't. The power of earth music is so great that it caused massed die-offs in civilized worlds but because, y'know, because classic rock is that good... to all sentient life. The main character, a low level lawyer with name that is similar to a once famous pop-star (cue the laughs), is the point of contact with two very human aliens who immediately accepts the story presented by the aliens at face value.
While its commentary on the cynicism of our IP laws in the world are entertaining and mild side-steps into pop culture and tech are clever, the story isn't so much. It's a bit of let down. The potential is there, but rarely capitalized on or explored. I'm not familiar with Rob Reid but this felt like a rookie novel as characters are pretty vanilla.
John Hodgman does a decent job with the material, although occasionally an alien voice or two are slightly grating (but are described as such) and even kicks out a half-sung rendition of a boy-band ballad, which in the wrong hands, could have been abysmal.
After reading Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet (buying most on a whim during a sale), I've avoided military sci-fi. Campbell's one-dimensional, wooden characters combined with his over-usage of a few basic human interactions (I started to cringe each time I heard "smiled without humor") and snoozefest battles seem to the be gold standard of the sub-genre. I'm happy to say that Christopher G. Nuttall is a much more capable writer than Campbell. Ark Royal occasionally falls victim to a few repeated issues, a character who has a relationship with a younger character "old enough to be her father" was constantly restated to the point of awkwardness and it falls victim to standard military fiction tropes like "all reporters are idiots" and "all bureaucrats are morons". Ark Royal also doesn't venture too much out of safety, but none of the main characters are infallible, each with their own internal conflicts. The characters are much closer to actual people opposed the Lost Fleet. Overall, its a pretty minimalist sci-military fiction, there's no real exploration of the universe at large and minimal world building beyond just enough to get you into cockpit of the space battles.
I picked this book up due to the comparisons to Battlestar Galactica. Beyond the obvious, an out-of-date carrier with a ruff and tumble crew, Ark Royal lacks the nuance or interplay between the enemy and humanity. I enjoyed the story but wasn't enamored by it either.
Ralph Lister has a great guttural commanding voice but doesn't have much dexterity for conjuring up unique voices or inflections for each character. I wasn't annoyed or put off by him but I found myself wishing he had more range. He's better than average, and doesn't detract from the material but doesn't add to it either.
I'll probably try out the second book in this series, perhaps it'll pick up steam.
Erik Davis's narration isn't the worst but his staccato delivery, and lacking dexterity of Jefferson Mays is wildly apparently. Some of the humorous/sarcastic quips by characters are undelivered (in a series that actually has sometimes quite amusing dialogue despite the heavy tones) and voices are just so-so. Sometimes, I find his broken fragments jarring but I'm still able to focus, (where as I have had a few books were the reader completely made the book unlistenable).
I am not a fan of Erik Davis and I'm unsure as to why the series would have been yanked from exceptionally talented Jefferson Mays, who made a great book even better (if it were pay, he's worth every penny and then some).
The analogy I'd use is having a super star actor to be substituted by an unknown from your community theater. Even if the performance is good, its just not the same... and sadly Erik Davis's performance isn't as good either.
There's no love lost for writing duo for the Expanse as authors rarely have much of a say in matters such as this.
The book is fine and quite enjoyable as morality ambiguity where neither side exactly begs for sympathy and the always-moral Holden has to navigate a situation that tests him.
I worried that The Expanse might not have much more to go on after Book 3's ending that gave what I thought might be a series end. Instead, it looks like there's plenty to explore with the Rocinante.
Holden seems a little more cynical and also a little more fearful after everything he's experienced. Amos Burton is colder and harsher. Naomi Nagata confidence seems to gotten the better of her, each character internalizing the events of their previous adventures differently.
Having burned through several biographies (Hamilton, Einstein,Robert J Oppenheimer and four separate books on Theodore Roosevelt) it was time for me to branch to another historical figure. Harry S Truman fascinated me but I only had the history 101 treatment of Truman: successor to Franklin, made the decision to drop the A-bomb, and headed up the beginnings of the containment strategy of communism starting with the Korea War.
Harry S. Truman: A Life is a bit duller than most of the other biographies I read, where books like The Big Burn and The River of Doubt unfold like page-turning novels or the reader is left amazed by the brevity of details like in the case of Oppenheimer (ultimately making the reader wonder how he or she would have handled being accused of communism). Truman: A life mostly reports the events as they happened. The biography is at its best when the authors take stands on interpretations of events, such as Truman's decision to use the nuclear bomb option on Japan or Truman's stance on the Korean War, or Truman's disdain for McCarthy and critical of his lack of action. A personal mild criticism also comes in the when some of his more human moments underplayed such as when he asked the formerly disgraced Herbert Hoover to head up humanitarian aid to Europe post war.
The lack of edge comes to a close at the death of Hoover which simply reads his tombstone and closes without any further words, which feels cold and detached. There's no closing statements about the life of Harry S. or about what became of his widowed wife, his daughter and much about the historical weight of his presidency other than in early portions of the book. Character profiles of anyone outside of Truman are brief, his wife whom he was clearly dedicated to and his daughter feel like footnotes and accessories. By outward appearances, he was pretty close to them but the book failed to make much impression beyond that. Quite simply put, the title, "Harry S Truman, a life" is pretty accurate as its his life and hardly much beyond that. The best biographies often delve into the lives of other important people close the main subject to help better understand him/her (and it make usually for a better read).
Also to add to the sometimes anti-climatic nature of the biography, is Jeff Riggenbach, reads in a very academic measure, rarely using much variance of inflection to give quotes much weight or adding more life to the subject. He's clear, easy to listen to and a pleasant enough reader but lacks any flair, sad since Truman had some pretty great off the cuff quotes, and remembered as one of our most quotable presidents for his a-little-too-honest-for-politics remarks.
At times it was laborious to get through portions as names of cabinet members fly in rapid succession and other times I found myself truly enjoying the book. As far as biographies of Harry, A Life is "Where the buck stops". It could be better but it could be worse.
First and foremost, William Dufris is a great audiobook narrator and has read quite a few books in my library. Normally I consider him one of the absolute best.
That said, this isn't Dufris finest performance, and its never good mojo to switch readers in a series if the previous reader did a good job.
Secondly, while audio effects aren't always bad, there's some exceptionally poor choices here, with an effect that drones on and on, what sounds like a bad flanger + reverb over the voice to note certain interactions. Its distracting and pulls you from the story as it makes the book harder to understand.
Also beyond the narration Woken Furies feels meandering and aimless at times. Where as the first book really explored the the repercussions and a new interstellar universe, mostly dictated by the ability to transfer information at beyond-the-speed-of-light while faster-than-light speed wasn't possible, and the second book really focused on the ideas of humans and the exploration of the remnants of an alien civilization, Woken Furies seems to be locked solely in its own mythos of a departed revolutionary.
As a whole, Woken Furies seems decidedly unfocused, Kovacs is on a revenge-quest against a religious extremist group which makes for entertaining first portion of the book but the revenge-quest seems to rapidly dissipate. With a large rotating cast of characters (not necessarily a bad thing) only muddies the plot.
Due to some of the issues with the audiobook itself and the plot, this may have been better read than listened to. I didn't hate it but I lacked motivation to finish it.
Steel World is certainly inspired by other "troops in space" themed romps but its still enjoyable and certainly clever enough to keep me interested. Military Sci-Fi isn't my personal brand of sci-fi as authors tend to care more about gear/explosions/tactics more than story and character development (See the incredibly wooden Lost Fleet series for a textbook example) but Steel World delivers.
Its not quite as sharp as the Old Man's War series but still manages to be funny, action packed, gorey and it crafts a reasonably interesting world where there's still a rational why ground troops would even be a factor in a universe inhabited by interstellar spacefaring races.
While you won't quite find the supposition and philosophical exploration of the societal impacts of being able to 'relife' as you might find in a Peter F Hamilton book, the repercussions are still addressed.
I haven't read other BV Larson books but I'll certainly be picking up the next book in the Undying Mercenaries series.
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.
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