Roger Zelazny's Amber series is one of the best-written and highly imaginative pieces of fantasy fiction ever written: you might not believe that if you only listen to the audiobook.
Personally speaking, I have nothing against Alessandro Juliani and have no cause to dislike him, but he is not the person to have read this series. This is true for a number of reasons. The first is his vocal timber.
Nine princes in Amber is a first-person narrative, a tale told by an interesting character, Corwin who is a son of the ruling family in a mediaval culture that contains the one true world of which our world is only one of an infinite number of possible shadows. He is over a thousand years old and has spent at least three- to four- hundred of those years as an immortal amnesiac, most often employed as a mercenary. Mister Juliani reads Corwin's voice as his own voice: his base voice. He makes Corwin sound like an accountant.
If that is bad, the voices of peripheral characters in his reading are worse with some of the reader's choices defying logic and so crashing the logic of the story as to be painful. In mister Juliani's mouth, highwaymen sound like Lord Fauntleroy, Oxonian officers retired from the British army sound generically British while Benedict, Corwin's brother, who was raised in the same household as he was, sounds like someone who was born in backwater in Louisiana and is trying to hide it with little success.
I love Zelazny's work, and I think I may well listen to all of the books, and I can say that Mister Juliani reads well and consistently but not convincingly for the material he is reading. It wouldn't be so bad, but every time I listen to a set of passages, I cannot but imagine how things would have been had they been read by someone who could sound more like someone who'd given and taken orders on a battlefield and less like a bearded virgin who was about to ask you about what deductions you wanted to claim.
This one really comes together. The text is great. It covers all the standard cliches of horror movie writing and it's read in one of the best ways of reading it: with the tough, weary cynicism of a veteran.
Yes, I would but for an odd reason: I'm not really listening to it. Back in the day, Niven working alone combined mind-blowing physics with fascinating events and glimpses of alien psychology. By comparison, this stuff is just a nice try. The Worlds books contain a pale imitation of better writing: Niven's ideas (sometimes with interesting details) glued to the kind of hack-stuff you find in all paperback thrillers: The same old, situation, conflict, complication, resolution stuff that is intended to work on readers who have never read anything closely and that Sol Stein will teach anyone to write for a fee. All that makes these books background noise. Without original, well-integrated ideas, it's pretty easy to guess when something's going to happen and wait for it. So yes, I listen, but I could read news articles while listening to it and not feel that I had lost anything.
No, BoW hasn't turned me off to the series. I don't think I'd be able to make myself sit through three-hundred pages of it in prose. As an audiobook, it works better than I imagine it would in print providing something good to space out on.
Tom Weiner is a fine narrator, just not for this book. He'd be great reading first-person-narrator detective fiction. His voice is rich and deep, but this limits his character range: everyone sounds like a guy in his fifties who smoked his first cigar when he was in diapers. There would be no problem with this except that his women sound like men and so do his puppeteers: aliens who all speak with sultry women's voices. Also, his accents are sometimes not the best. . If I were directing an audiobook project with cost no object, I would have used a cast with at least one man and one woman. It would have spared the world listening to, "he was transformed into a twenty-year-old" who sounded like Methuselah, or, "The woman no one has ever seen before with the bad Australian accent isn't a spy, she's one of us, yeah, that's it..."
Yes, it made me wish that Larry Niven could be young and fresh again instead of functioning as an editor for the guys who are picking his bones.
Good but with annoying holes and strange ideas. Altogether, it's doable as a good technical exercise in writing popular fiction (conflict, conflict, conflict) but life is short and you deserve better.
A frightening book.
Stiglitz paints a very compelling picture of American economic inequality and its consequences for America and the world. In its descriptions of area after area of the Economy, it functions as both an explanation and a warning that American Capitalism as it is practiced today is incompatible with anyone's model of fairness, reason or simple decency. His description of "rent-seeking" (the process by which companies and individuals seek forms of subsidy to make money faster and with less effort), is clear, compelling and almost painful.
Stiglitz and Boehmer make you understand this, and once you do, you understand the fundamental problem with American economic policy and why it is that YOU as an American have bailed out the richest slice of American Economic actors (who make money by *breathing*) but not the poor people who were the victims of unscrupulous lending policies made in the name of those at the top and who are even now being evicted from homes.It is a great book that is clear and current and one that will make you angry.
Paul Boehmer's vocal timbre and reading clarity make the writings of a world-class economist more easily accessible.
In most reviews, the usual approach is to say, "blah, this and that were good" or "blah, this and that could have been improved." With Stiglitz and Boehmer, the only thing to say is: "I recommend this and I think you should hear it."If you read it, you will understand and despise, Mitt Romney.
In Sharpe's Escape, you have an historical fiction written using Bernard Cornwell's fusion of masterful storytelling with British Military history that has allowed cornwall to write thousands of pages of fiction.
This is a great achievement, but it can be a trap that leaves the writer stuck in the trough of his own ability, writing material for which there is a demand, but which has lost all interest for the person writing it; casting him and his storytelling into a doldrums where what he writes becomes not a matter of inspiration and technique but a matter of technique and nothing else.
Sharpe's Escape, makes you wonder if Cornwell has reached this point because the liaison between the written word and the performed one never quite seem to gel well enough for you not to notice the holes, coincidences and other contrivances that are an integral part of most adventure fiction but which become painfully glaring in this particular performance and a lot of that can be laid at the narrator's door.
The previous elements of the Sharpes series as audiobooks are read by Frederick Davidson whose crisp, upper-crust English accent lends credibility to the things he reads. Unfortunately for the reader, Sharpe's escape, is read by Patrick Tull, who has an accent similar to mister Davidson's but whose reading lacks Davidson's range of the regional accents that differentiate characters.
Worse still, mister Tull seems to be more actor than reader: He doesn't seem to 'get' what Cornwell's prose is doing so that he constantly employs an annoyingly upbeat, rising emphasis on Cornwell's sedate transitions between scenes and paragraphs, which, when thrown together with the rest of his gravelly-voiced, asthmatic, swallowing-punctuated reading, makes for an experience that is distinctly rocky at times, if not at times, actually painful.
For most things, Tull is a perfectly adequate reader, but his making you miss Davidson is nothing to recommend his reading.
Nigel Planer's rendition of the Colour of Magic is good, but not great. His command of accents and ability to play parts is certainly there. He certainly has a repertoire, but some of his peripheral characters seem lackluster, but more important than that in his reading is his emphasis on the dramatic over the literary especially at the end.
Terry Pratchett's use of English is beautiful and effective--making him one of the few writers of genre-fiction whom one can read aloud for the charm not only of what he says but how he says it and at times, Planar's reading seems to simply fail to notice it, transitioning directly from voice-acting to bland recitation when reading passages that *should* be entrancing.
Planar's reading is certainly adequate to the task--it is hard to actually *harm* writing as solid as Pratchett's--but listening to the book to the end gives one the smallest impression of flatness as if everyone involved had been constantly aware that they had some other, better thing to do.
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