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.
I had high expectations for this book. The premise sounded great and the reputation of the author is good. Unfortunately it didn't live up to expectations.
I found the technological concepts to be a hard to buy. Hamilton would be wise to become better educated in physics and chemistry before attempting to write believably about technology.
The characters lacked depth, originality and most significantly likableness. Among the large list of characters Hamilton has created, most are not particularly engaging or attractive. There is a lot of speculation about how extremely long lives due to cellular regeneration will affect perspectives but little of it is positive and the exploration of this idea is woefully incomplete as are many other concepts that make up the rather shaky foundation for this story.
The book is very long because the number if independent threads that Hamilton initiates and eventually brings together is gratuitously large. It is as if Hamilton is attempting to win a bet for the most threads he can incorporate in a single story. It took over 20 hours to establish all these story lines and they weren't that engaging. They did leave the reader wondering how things would come together. Unfortunately I, at least, didn't end up caring about most of the characters to be excited about the next chapter.
This book ends quite abruptly without tying anything up. After 37 hours the author should be able to deliver some conclusions. Instead the reader is left hanging on nearly all fronts having to get the next book if they want any resolution. This is cheap on both the author and the publishers part.
Hamilton is obviously talented, He can definitely weave an intricate story and he has some very clever ideas. A better education in science and technology would help him write a more believable story. Better understanding of character development would help him create more interesting characters with which readers can identify. A decent editor would have cut this book down by half.
On the other hand John Lee is a fantastic narrator! He is the only reason I saw this book through to completion. He brings the characters to live which, for this book, was particularly important. I'll look for other books he narrates.
The navel history of World War I is critical to understanding the war and therefore all of early 20th century history. This book does an excellent job of presenting this story in a factual but interesting manner. The level of detail makes it plod a bit but overall it is well worth the time.
This is the second book by Alistair Reynolds I have read. Both have the same problems. The story is impressively complex and intricate and is told in a manner that keeps the reader well engaged. Information is revealed in a manner that slowly drives to a story climax without being overly foreshadowed and predictable.
Reynolds appears to have a very low opinion of humanity generating characters that are rather dislikable antihero types lacking any solid values or direction. I would infer from his writing that he has bought into moral relativism and the very empty existence that goes with it.
His world is also quite dark and, while quite creative, are also distasteful and don’t resonate well with basic physics making it hard to suspend ones disbelief at times.
The narrator, John Lee, is exceptional! He does a fantastic job of providing voices for a wide variety of characters and pacing his delivery such that you hang on his words. I hope to listen to him read books from other authors who tell more positive stories.
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.
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