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.
Ready Player One is loads of fun for anyone who grew up in the 80’s and was in any way a part of the video, personal computer, and gaming worlds that came to life at that time. This book is full of references to arcade games, movies, and early computer technology. As a young adult in the 80’s I identified with these references and found them delightful. Wil Wheaton was the perfect narrator for this book! As a teen actor in Star Trek TNG, he is one of the 80’s icons this book alludes to, his reading made it that much more fun!
Unfortunately, the execution on this story falls well short of the great concept. Cline did his homework on 80’s pop culture but didn't bring a great deal of ability to the storytelling. Outside the many references to a decade gone by, the main plot was rather juvenile. The characters lack depth. A revelation which is doubly surprising since one of the themes focuses on what it really means to know a person. The plot twists are hit or miss. Some are quite clever but many more are rather well worn and predictable.
Cline’s predictions of a future some 25 or so years from now are particularly weak. The ideas are inconsistent to the point where they are difficult to get past much less take seriously. The world has run out of oil so transportation is a real problem yet there are still plenty of plastics in use. Everyone has gathered in and around the cities and unemployment is high yet there seems to be plenty of food coming from the abandoned wasteland to feed all these indigents. I won’t point out the myriad of other inconsistencies for fear I’ll ruin the story.
Needless to say a great deal more could have been made of this story. It is a shame so much was left on the table.
Many excellent books have been written on WW II but this one must be considered one of the best! Adam Makos has done a superior job of research then delivered a story that delivers both intellectually and emotionally!
This story reminds us of what honor and nobility are even during the horrors of war. It also offers rare insight into the regular (and in many ways not so regular) combatants that were on the losing side. This story makes the reader realize how tragic WW II was for so many on both sides, what sacrifices were made, and what heroics occurred.
Makos tells a very personal story and, in doing so, offers a unique perspective on the key events of the war through the eyes of those doing the fighting. If you have to select a single book that offers insight into the historical significance of the war, one that will be a very compelling read, this is where to go!
It would seem this story was cranked out quickly and with little inspiration. It follows the formula originated in the great Agatha Christie work "And Then There Were None" but offers no flair or originality.
The characters are two dimensional to put it nicely there are a wide variety of logic and consistency errors. The "Mark Spitz Diving Challenge" pinball game characterized the lack of effort put into developing any believability. (Spitz was a winner of seven Olympic gold medals for swimming not diving)
This appears to have been a quick knockoff for Audible. I hope Audible will put more effort into future original work. I'm pleased I didn't pay anything for it but, even for free,I think you can do better.
The performance was quite pleasant. I'd listen to the narrator again.
Steven Watts does an excellent job of revealing the numerous intricacies of this fascinating individual. Ford was an amazing force at the beginning of the last century that brought America and the world into the consumer age. He was far from perfect and had many failings. He was definitely human! A man whose life and times worthy of examination. A very worthwhile read!
This story is a landmark of the genre. In addition to being well paced and exciting, it will influence how you think of the world. It is also Heinlein's "Magnum Opus". Valentine Michael Smith, as a human that is effectively alien offers a view of humanity that is both convicting and uplifting. It will leave you thinking.
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.
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.
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