This is the first book by Neal Stephenson I've read. Based on other reviews I had high hopes for a good, interesting story full of twists and turns. The twists and turns are there. Stephenson is a gifted story teller. Unfortunately it is ruined by poor writing and character stylization.
Much of this book sounds like it has been written by a horny thirteen year old boy who has never learned an ounce of personal discipline. The author assumes the male thought process revolves around sex and that it is commonplace for anyone to lace language with the word "f---". I don't mind characters being identified with certain language and expressions but when all the, supposedly differing, characters have a disturbingly common language and feel, it grows quite tiresome.
The story, though intricate, fails to deliver anything serous or thought provoking. It seems that after writing about half the book the author though, "oh, there better be some higher reason for this than a treasure hunt." and brought in some ideas of a new economy that would prevent future war but the concepts are fraught with holes for anyone much studied in economics.
The characters are generally unappealing. Most have few attractive features. I like characters to be real and have failings but these characters are very hard to care about much less like. The feel flat.
The story is very long at 40 hours. I like long stories when they are tight and keep me interested. Unfortunately the length is mainly because the author likes to take long periods of time meandering through sub-stories that take pages, even full chapters, when a paragraph would do. Again, Stephenson is good at story telling and these vignettes are well structured but they seriously impact story pacing and are often just gratuitous bringing nothing to the main thread of the tale.
Put simply, Stephenson needs to study writing so his writing will catch up with his story telling ability. He needs an editor to keep his ego in check. I'm not sure how one adjusts their personal values so that the characters reflected through their thoughts are more attractive redeeming but that seems necessary as well.
Narration: Dufris made up some rather hackneyed voices for the various characters. Perhaps that is because he found the characters as hackneyed as I did. Nevertheless I would have liked more mature voicing.
The concept of the Heechee and the technology they left behind is fascinating. It is a solid science fiction concept that would have been really interesting to pursue. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t explore the Heechee and their technology nearly enough. It dwells on Rob Broadhead, a blue collar minor on Earth lucky enough to win a lottery and travel to Gateway an become an interstellar explorer /miner.
Instead of going out to risk life and limb to learn about the universe and possibly become a wealthy man, Rob spends his time fearing the risks and acting as a coward.
Pohl tells Rob’s story through his time with a psychiatrist (computer based) and his memories of the events as they happened. The story telling is reasonably clever but not new (even in the 1980.) What should be the setup for an adventure ends up being the entire story. The ending (I won’t ruin it for you) reveals why Rob has such issues with this wealth and fame and why he feels incredibly guilty for his good fortune.
For me it just wasn’t that clever. Rob is a coward who lacks a moral compass and is generally the architect of his own misery. He is not a character the reader really wants to get to know. I was quite repulsed by his actions and choices and generally felt sorry for him throughout the story.
Most of the other characters weren’t any better. I expect that was by design but it didn’t resonate with me. There was so much potential for a diverse cast. Instead all the characters were similarly sick and flawed.
The story that was there to be told didn’t ever happen. Instead we learn why Rob is even more screwed up than he was before he became a “success”. The story should have centered more on the Heechee. If I someday read any of the other books in the series I hope that race will be further explored.
American Gods is a fascinating story concept. Neil Gaiman is a very capable writer who has woven an interesting story that draws the reader in. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end of being that tight. Perhaps it is because the concept of gods of myth and history being real is very hard to rationalize under close scrutiny. Perhaps Gaiman just needed to work harder on the story consistency. It is hard to say.
Regardless, the literary prose was quite fine but the actual plot failed to “suspend my disbelief”. While I found the story entertaining Gaiman took a number of directions I didn’t find particularly edifying while ignoring numerous concepts I would have found much more interesting and relevant.
I think Gaiman attempted to include too many “gods” from too many mythos without developing some basis for their interaction. I fear I may be too analytical in my story analysis. If you are similarly plot critical, though, I think you will find this story way to full of holes to live up to the idea that inspired this book.
This book is well researched and well constructed. It takes the reader through the development of sulfa drugs, their impact on history and there eventual replacement with modern antibiotics. The history here is fascinating.
The industrial brute force method of Bayer to find new products, the eventual understanding of why sulfa works, the competition between manufacturers, the expansion of the FDA and the implementation of prescription requirements for drugs. All this causes the reader to think how medicine got to where it is today and how blessed we are to have 'miracle' drugs at our disposal.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in science, medicine, and/or modern history.
The style of this mystery is rather reminiscent of Dorothy Sayers. Unfortunately, many of the plot devices are rather threadbare. Most of the twists and turns are rather predictable and have been done many times before.
The romantic angle is hackneyed and the character traits are very predictable. I would dearly love to find a series that is set in 1930's England but it needs to be more clever to keep one's attention that this one is.
Katherine Kellgren brings the characters to life and makes this a lot of fun to listen to. I'll be sure to see what else she has narrated.
Horowitz captures much of the feeling of the original stories but he seems to miss out repeatedly on the "Holmsian" logic that made the original stories so great. This Holmes failes to use his intellectual faculties to avoid dangerous situations and leaves a great deal to chance. That isn't the Holmes I remember.
That said this was still a very pleasant listen. If you like Sherlock Holmes you will find many attractive and interesting twists in this book that will bring back good memories of when you first encountered the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Feynman's stories are quite entertaining and offer insight into his work and his life. Please be aware it does not focus on his work in physics. Rather, it focuses on ineresting events in his life told from his POV and discusses the insights he gained from them.
These events are relayed in a conversational manner making you feel you are listening to stories told at a party. Many of the stories are quite humorous. It will leave you wishing you'd had the opportunity to spend an evening with him!
All the other recordings I ever purchased from Audible, whether I liked them or not, have been professionally performed. A low score usually denotes a performer who is not to my taste.
This performance was simply poor quality from all perspectives. The reader made numerous mistakes in inflection and even pronunciation. It was as if he was reading the work for the first time. The recording had background noise in many places and was generally of poor quality.
I spend $2 for this recording thinking that, despite many complaints in other reviews, it would at least be an ok listen as I looked for material for my daughter's competitive speeches. I compared it to the Libravox recording of this work. Libravox uses volunteers to record works in the public domain. They do a good job but it is a community work without sound rooms and expensive equipment. So the quality is only fair. I would highly recommend the Libravox recording over this one!
This is very much out of line with what I've come to expect from Audible. I have over 50 recordings in my library and none of the others have recording standards I would complain about.
Thomas Sowell does a fantastic job of explaining economics in simple non-technical terms that anyone can understand. He points out the many misconceptions about economics and helps the reader / listener understand events attributed to economics in a better context.
This should be required reading for every high school student. Certainly this offers the level of understanding every voting of our society must have before they can make informed decisions.
I would definitely listen to Ender's Game again sometime. The voice acting on this edition is excellent. The story is compelling to all ages.
Ender's Game is all memorable! The setting Card creates, the characters, the events that lead to the climax of the story. All are rare and wonderful!
The main readers cause the characters to come alive and help the listener get the full experience of the story.
A Little Child Shall Lead Them
Rarely do I feel a book is a must read. This is one!
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