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Simon Fraser

Draws comics

NYC | Member Since 2009

15
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 9 ratings
  • 171 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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  • Pushing Ice

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (1820)
    Performance
    (1523)
    Story
    (1532)

    2057. Humanity has raised exploiting the solar system to an art form. Bella Lind and the crew of her nuclear-powered ship, the Rockhopper, push ice. They mine comets. And they're good at it. The Rockhopper is nearing the end of its current mission cycle, and everyone is desperate for some much-needed R & R, when startling news arrives from Saturn: Janus, one of Saturn's ice moons, has inexplicably left its natural orbit and is now heading out of the solar system at high speed.

    Jesse says: "Proof that a good story doesn't require a trilogy"
    "Solid Sci Fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It reads as classic old school sci fi. The writer knows his stuff and makes it convincing. I'm less enthused by the somewhat by-the-numbers characterisations, but this is typical of what I mean by 'old school sci fi'. It's a well paced book and I enjoyed it.

    I'm afraid that I have a big problem with the narration however. While Mr Lee has a fine voice and a relaxed tone, he adopts a sing-song cadence , rolling through punctuation as if it isn't there. This drains meaning from sentences and renders the characters even flatter than written. Despite attempts at varying accents , everyone sounds the same and frankly I got bored listening to it. Gritting my teeth to get through this book.

    In future I'll buy the paper versions of Alastair Reynolds novels and read them myself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sagan Diary

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 35 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Stephanie Wolfe, John Scalzi
    Overall
    (699)
    Performance
    (603)
    Story
    (610)

    Jane Sagan: Soldier. Killer. Lover. Dreamer. In John Scalzi's best-selling Old Man's War series of science-fiction novels, we see this warrior woman as the other characters see her - silent and strong, from the outside. But now The Sagan Diary shows us Sagan from another point of view: her own, as she prepares to leave military life and join her new husband and adopted daughter on a colony world.

    Sheldon says: "Even at free this was too expensive."
    "I can't say I wasn't warned"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Be warned this is more of an exercise in writing than a story. It's the subtext to another work in fact, the 'Old Man's War' series of novels. I'd have to say that even as a fan of those works and as a fan of the writers other works, this is more of an ordeal than a pleasure.
    The Jane Sagan character ( very ) literally speaks her mind for an hour and half. It's heavy and self-absorbed stuff. It adds little or nothing to the main text, it doesn't really add anything interesting to the character. There is none of the writers trade-marked wit and energy. Instead you have a rather humorless character trying to explain her feelings, for what feels like a very long time.
    If you are reading the 'Old Man's War' series, this part of it can be safely ignored.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Time Traveler's Wife

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Audrey Niffenegger
    • Narrated By Fred Berman, Phoebe Strole
    Overall
    (4065)
    Performance
    (1447)
    Story
    (1469)

    Clare and Henry have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36. They were married when Clare was 23 and Henry was 31. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

    Scott says: "Epic Drama & Love Story through Time Travel"
    "A cubist romance novel."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't read romance literature, which this certain is. I am a big Sci-Fi reader though and I'm particularly interested in time travel, which is a notoriously difficult thing to write. So top marks to the author for really thinking through the emotional aspects of it, if not the scientific. She uses the tool of time travel to fracture and rebuild a linear love story, constructing many poignant, clever and tragic moments by overlapping the characters lives in a telling, if sometimes too artful, sequence. The determinist universe is pretty much a necessity when doing this kind of story and that provides much of the drama, but the authors primary concern isn't the time travelling, it's the 2 central characters and their relationship.
    If I have a criticism it's that the relationship is a bit too fantasized at times, depending a little too heavily on the forced pathos of piecing together a fragmented narrative, rather than on real character based drama.
    I enjoyed the narration, though the female side of the double act ( Ms Strole ), while she has a pleasant and engaging voice, lapses into a slightly sing-song, wishy washy longing. While that may well have been suggested in the writing, I can't help but feel that a slightly edgier performance would have helped give Claire some backbone. Mr Berman was good, he has a fine ear for accent and inflection. He gives the young Henry a cocksure strut and the older one a feeling of weight.

    Criticisms aside, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It's a page-turner ( or whatever the equivalent of that is in audio terms )

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Robert A. Heinlein
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    Overall
    (2634)
    Performance
    (1480)
    Story
    (1498)

    In what is considered one of Heinlein's most hair-raising, thought-provoking, and outrageous adventures, the master of modern science fiction tells the strange story of an even stranger world. It is 21st-century Luna, a harsh penal colony where a revolt is plotted between a bashful computer and a ragtag collection of maverick humans, a revolt that goes beautifully until the inevitable happens. But that's the problem with the inevitable: it always happens.

    Gerald says: "Very Good Interpretation"
    "Great Sci-Fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read this book several times. It never ceases to impress me. The reading adds a new level to the story and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • West with the Night

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Beryl Markham
    • Narrated By Julie Harris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (531)
    Performance
    (332)
    Story
    (330)

    West with the Night is the story of a remarkable woman molded and shaped by many things: the African jungle, a certain dog, horses, airplanes, friendships with white men and black. There is no life, no story quite like it.

    Michael Moore says: "Top Notch Writing; Riveting Stories"
    "A story that takes flight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For as cool a character as Markham was this book is laced with supressed emotion, longing, grief, love and wonder. The narrator Julie Harris does a truly stunning job of giving life to the words. I can argue a bit with the technical presentation, it's a bit shaky, there's audio feedback coming through from somewhere, there's the sound of pages turning. Harris herself mispronounces numerous Kenyan place names. This is quibbling however. I loved the book and I loved the narration. At points while I was on my daily commute in the NY subway system I had to stop , take a few moments, let the story take over. This is transporting work and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Reamde

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3213)
    Performance
    (2812)
    Story
    (2844)

    Richard Forthrast created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game. But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe - and Richard is at ground zero.

    ShySusan says: "Not perfect, but worth a listen."
    "Stephenson in fine form"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read almost every Neal Stephenson book I could get hold of. He is one of my favorite modern writers. There is nobody else who can operate at the scale and ambition of Stephenson's best work.

    This is a modern techno-thriller , more in the pattern of Zodiac & Cryptonomicon ( more epic than the first, less ambitious than the 2nd ) Though it lacks the multiple time-periods and the intellectual ambition of some of his recent books, it's a taughtly constructed piece of writing, expertly researched, compellingly written and very entertaining to read.
    The plot does tend to feel contrived at times, especially with how all the principle characters arrive at the endgame simultaneously, but you so want them all to be there, to each have their closure, that it's forgivable.
    I have a feeling that this novel will date horribly , as it's balanced so precisely on this moment in time, the technology , the cultural references. Many of which are ephemeral or at least in transition even now. I'm not sure that's a problem , but I was very aware of how timely this book is as I was listening to it.

    Malcolm Hillgartner is a fine reader, he has an engaging voice and carries off the various characters individual speech/accents mostly quite well. However he gets a bit lost with his Scots accent, it veers wildly between Dublin, Glasgow and Karachi. He avoids trying a Welsh accent, which I think was for the best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mote in God's Eye

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
    • Narrated By L J Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3560)
    Performance
    (2048)
    Story
    (2072)

    The Mote In God's Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind's first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre. No lesser an authority than Robert A. Heinlein called it "possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read".

    J. Rhoderick says: "A great read!"
    "The Classic Book on First Contact"
    Overall

    I wasn't sure how well this book would stand up to rereading 40 years later, but I needn't have worried too much. The sexual politics are a bit clunky and it has a distinctly old school pulp sci-fi feel to it, especially with this narration. Nevertheless the intelligence and wit of the book are still as strong as ever. Niven has about the best command of hard sci-fi of any writer and that really helps sell the big ideas.

    I do have to criticize the strident tone of the narration, it's very 'boys own' which may be a legitimate interpretation of the text ( which is quite gung-ho ) but at times it almost felt like the narrator was deliberately camping it up. The worst by far is the attempt at a scots accent that is frequently made , but never successfully. It wanders between irish, welsh and gujarati , frequently all 3 at the same time. His russian seemed more convincing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Surface Detail: A Culture Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Iain M. Banks
    • Narrated By Peter Kenny
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (330)
    Performance
    (216)
    Story
    (215)

    Lededje Y'breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body bearing witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes, is at a price, and to put things right, she will need the help of the Culture....

    Sarah says: "Excellent story, excellent narration"
    "Very Banksian, Great narration"
    Overall

    I'll refrain from saying too much about the book itself , as I haven't finished it yet. So far it's classic Banks, that is to say as good as modern Sci-Fi gets. I would like to say that the narration by Peter Kenny is remarkable, subtle and controlled where it needs to be and with a formidable control over his vocal range. He does voices and accents , both male and female, young and old with great assurance. As a result , all the characters were clear and easy to distinguish. This is no small thing in a Banks book where there can be a great number of characters, aliens, humans, A.Is all with very different characters and points of view.
    I would seek out Mr Kenny as a narrator now...even if I wasn't sure about the book itself and that's no small thing for me to say.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost World

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By Glen McCready
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (35)

    Here is the precursor to Jurassic Park. Victorian explorers have heard there is a remote plateau where dinosaurs still survive, and a group set outs on a dangerous mission to find out more about it.

    Simon Fraser says: "Wit and Drama"
    "Wit and Drama"
    Overall

    I love this book, it's hugely entertaining with superbly drawn characters and a rip roaring plot. The reader of this edition, Glen McCready, voices the tale into colourful, energetic, life and really brings out the humour in the writing. I expect I'll listen to this one a few times.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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