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Alex Levine

Florida, USA | Member Since 2015

52
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 21 reviews
  • 35 ratings
  • 628 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
2
FOLLOWERS
9

  • City at the End of Time

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Greg Bear
    • Narrated By Charles Leggett
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (21)

    In a time like the present, three young people dream of the fabulous ruins of a decaying city somewhere in the distant future: the Kalpa. The dreams of Ginny and Jack overtake them without warning, leaving their bodies behind while carrying their consciousnesses forward.

    Kenton says: "Not buying it."
    "Leggett 10, Bear 0"
    Overall

    Charles Leggett's reading is absolutely masterful--it's a shame he didn't have better material to work with. All his verbal skill couldn't get me to the end of this book. I gave up with only an hour left to go, which should give you a sense of how much excitement builds toward the conclusion. Borges could get away with describing the "indescribable," because his fiction was elegant and SHORT. Bear inundates his readers (listeners) with layer after layer of turgid, non-evocative description of perceptual impossibilities. Definitely to be avoided!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Sunborn

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Gregory Benford
    • Narrated By Richard Gilliland, Susan Hanfield, Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Their historic mission to Mars made Julia and Victor the most famous astronauts of all time. Now, decades later, they are ordered by the Consortium to Pluto, where they will rendezvous with another starship led by the brilliant, arrogant Captain Shanna Axelrod. Here, on the frozen ammonia shore of Pluto's methane sea, Shanna has discovered intelligent creatures thriving in the -300° degree temperatures.

    Adonis Skandalis says: "Unbearable"
    "I'm cranky this wasn't better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The print book has been out for some years, though I somehow missed it. There is some absolutely fabulous world-building here, but the continuity errors and various other inconsistencies keep getting in the way. In fact, they're maddening. Why is it so hard to communicate with the Beings? In the previous chapter, weren't they transmitting in English? The multiple narrators don't help. Some chapters are read by the incomparable Gabrielle DeCuir (who for some reason isn't credited on Audible) and a joy to listen to. She does a convincing accent for the Aussie character. But in other chapters we've got Susan Hanfield, who can't do Aussie to save her life. Continuity errors are compounded by a further layer of confusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2064)
    Performance
    (1906)
    Story
    (1911)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Riveting military sci-fi"
    "Fun--but only fun like a cut-rate Weber or Bujold"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I did enjoy this book, and the second in the series, but I've decided not to blow a credit on the third. The headline of my review pretty much sums it up. The essential space-operatic premises on which these stories operate were worked out by David Weber and Lois McMaster Bujold years ago, and Nuttall contributes nothing new. The technology and its constraints are exactly the same, and in a few instances the weapons systems, drives, etc, even bear the same names. Of course Bujold and Weber can only write so much, and if you're desperate (as I was) you could do much worse. The pacing is good, the narrator is solid, and the characters, if a bit stereotyped, are still believable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Castaway Planet: Boundary, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Eric Flint, Ryk E. Spoor
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Stranded humans must adapt alien technology to survive on a dangerous planet. Lost in the dark, half a year into their journey to the colony world of Tantalus, Sakura Kimei, her family, and her best friend, the alien "Bemmie" nicknamed Whips, are torn from the safety of their colony ship. In a crippled lifeboat, they have one chance to find a habitable world. But even then they will find that their apparent salvation is a world of a thousand secrets.

    G. Amundsen says: "Typical Sequel"
    "Nice Swiss Family Robinson reboot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This endearingly retro take on the castaway motif, with clear intimations of "Lost in Space," "Swiss Family Robinson," and Heinlein's "Rolling Stones" will evoke pleasant nostalgia in those old enough to remember such titles. For the young adult audience for whom the book is intended, I expect it to prove an exciting introduction to the genre. A young scientist couple and their five children (four human girls and one adopted alien boy) are marooned on an uninhabited planet. Fortunately all seven are geniuses, and the non-human among them is a badass apex predator, so they survive and flourish. Very satisfying, if not especially original. Prior knowledge of the "Boundary" series provides some background, but is not necessary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Mime Order

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Samantha Shannon
    • Narrated By Alana Kerr
    Overall
    (324)
    Performance
    (273)
    Story
    (273)

    As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden?

    TN Woman says: "I liked it as well as the The Bone Season"
    "Series maturing nicely!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I admit to have being undecided following the first book in the series, "The Bone Season." Though the alternate-historical world-building had its compelling aspects, I found the Rephaim a bit too gothic. That's still the case, but it doesn't matter, because like all good stories, this is now clearly a human drama, with the Rephaim merely part of the scenery. The alternate history is more vivid and plausible than ever, despite elements both counterfactual and supernatural; this London is eerily familiar.

    A word needs to be said about the narrator, Alana Kerr. Hers is clearly the voice of protagonist Paige, Irish accent, weary compassion, and all. She does not have a huge expressive range, and sometimes distinguishing character voices can be tricky in dialogue. However, there is one moment in this narration that makes up for all the defects. Usually narrators simply "punt" when confronted with verse the reader is supposed to imagine as sung; they either just read the verse, or they improvise embarrassing half-melodies. Not so Ms. Kerr. I won't say any more about the scene here, except that it was deeply moving, demonstrating extraordinary musical and affective sensibility.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • William Shakespeare's Star Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Ian Doescher
    • Narrated By Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Ian Doescher, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (693)
    Performance
    (649)
    Story
    (647)

    Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas's epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 'Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

    Amazon Customer says: "To Thine Ears, Brilliance This Doth Be!"
    "'Tis a fine conceit--but no more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I downloaded this book on the strength of the very clever idea behind it, together with the brief preview sample. Unfortunately, Ian Doescher can't write quite well enough to see his inspiration through. In a way he's set himself up, by advertising this as a work by the greatest playwright of the English language. Very few could write to that standard. What we have here is a few formal elements of Elizabethan verse, with very little substance. It's a shame. Shakespeare gave us some amazing villains (King Lear's Edmund comes to mind), and a truly vile yet tragic Darth Vader might have been cut from that cloth. Doescher's Vader is pallid. Another part of the problem is that the dialogue hews too close to Lucas's original. And let's face it, George Lucas may be a visionary, but his dialogue is notoriously weak. In the original series, this fact was masked by inspired casting. Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guiness, and James Earl Jones could coax melody from a lawn mower. But we don't have them in this recording. Lucas's dialogue is not notably improved by the insertion of archaic verb forms, the occasional inverted word order, and an surfeit of asides and short soliloquies. The amusement value of hearing words like "droid" and "blaster" amidst this tortured syntax soon wears thin. If you like Star Wars but don't really know or don't care about Shakespeare, this may be for you. Or not. It's certainly not for me.

    And why do we have a "chorus?" Jeez, is this supposed to be Shakespeare, or Sophocles?

    6 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Great North Road

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By Toby Longworth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1170)
    Performance
    (1065)
    Story
    (1072)

    A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies. Or maybe not so friendly....

    Flapjack says: "Get the Timeline and Cast of Characters"
    "Hamilton at his baroque best"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a wonderful, great sprawling sci-fi mystery book, and a great way to remember what you liked about Hamilton if you've been suffering from series-fatigue after some of his recent efforts. The classical elements (setting, plot, character) all come together in a delightful tangle.

    Setting and characters are greatly enhanced by the skillful narration of Toby Longworth, who gets to show off his range to superb effect. The array of UK accents is exactly what the author ordered, all internally consistent and consistent with the text. Even the American accents are at least credible--unusual in a British reader. Female characters sound female, male characters sound male. It's all precisely as it should be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The City & The City

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By China Mieville
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (952)
    Performance
    (525)
    Story
    (527)

    When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlof the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined. Borl must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own.

    James says: "Interesting Premise"
    "Wow. Look down: those waters are DEEP."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No one could reasonably describe China Mieville as a risk-averse author. He never sticks with a safe formula, preferring to take his chances on a Big Idea. Inevitably, such efforts sometimes fail. Personally, I would classify Perdido Street Station and Railsea as such failures, and The Kraken as at best a marginal success. But when Mieville succeeds, as he does in this book, he succeeds spectacularly. With great risk comes great reward.

    Perhaps I should mention that I grew up in Cold War Berlin, the divided city. The Wall came down nearly a quarter-century ago, but the recollection of an ordinary residential street interrupted by grey concrete, a sight so familiar that it goes unseen despite its profound wrongness, continues to haunt me. This book tapped into that haunting, reminding readers along the way of the manifold ways in which human perception yields to human will, human history, and human politics.

    For the first few hours, I was wondering: how did this setting come about? And why? But these questions subsided, because the way the characters dealt negotiated this setting was so compelling and so plausible, despite the fundamental implausibility of the setting itself. In other words, Mieville has used the conventions of genre fiction to reveal aspects of the human condition that ordinarily go unremarked. Does any of us truly understand all the historical and cultural baggage with which we must contend in ordinary life?

    Big Idea books can get pedantic, but this is not one of them, because Mieville is a master storyteller. Even listeners who like their entertainment light will enjoy this book as a straight detective story.

    I go hot and cold on John Lee's narrations. He sometimes has trouble with dialogue. But I have no complaints about this performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Century Rain

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (601)
    Performance
    (470)
    Story
    (467)

    Three hundred years from now, Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to the technological catastrophe known as the Nanocaust. Archaeologist Verity Auger specializes in the exploration of its surviving landscape. Now, her expertise is required for a far greater purpose. Something astonishing has been discovered at the far end of a wormhole: mid-twentieth-century Earth, preserved like a fly in amber.

    DAVID says: "One of John Lee's best performances"
    "Very successful fusion of noir and hard SF"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is my favorite Reynolds novel so far--though I still have quite a few more to read. The plotting is very tight, including a satisfying joint resolution, toward the end, of several seemingly unrelated subplots. The characters are distinctive, and mesh nicely. As for the high concept, I don't want to risk spoilers by saying too much about it here. I found it very appealing. As a student of 20th Century history, I was particularly fascinated by the very subtly-crafted wrongness of Reynolds's 1959 Paris.

    I can't decide whether the occasional references to "Casablanca" are fun or just a little too cute. I'm also not hugely enthusiastic about Mr. Lee's narration, especially the character voice for the main American character, with accent and phrasing just far enough off to be occasionally irritating. On the other hand, a supporting character with a Danish surname sounds pretty credible to my admittedly non-Danish ear. The defects are all minor, though. I'd give this one a strong recommendation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Far Time Incident

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neve Maslakovic
    • Narrated By Mary Robinette Kowal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    Thanks to the time travel lab at St. Sunniva University, history is no longer a mystery. But when the beloved co-inventor of the university’s time machine is inexplicably smeared across time, academic exploration and the future of St. Sunniva is thrown into doubt. As assistant to the dean of science, Julia Olsen is tasked with helping Campus Security Chief Nate Kirkland quietly examine this rare mishap…then, just as quietly, make it go away.

    Colin Croft says: "Tries to be all things"
    "Academic Mystery with a Time Travel Twist"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a genre-bender, albeit in a very conservative way. The basic plot is that of an academic murder mystery ("The Professor did it!" No, "The secretary did it!" No, "The Dean did it!," etc.). The twist is that the University in question operates the world's first time travel lab. Otherwise, it's set in the eigenpresent, at a fictitious Minnesota university, even if much of the action takes place about two millennia ago.

    I read Maslakovic's first book, "Regarding Ducks and Universes," and enjoyed it. This book offers similarly well-mannered prose, with equally well-mannered characters. For the most part, it all works. As a career academic (20+ years on the tenure track), I am doubtless more sensitive to lapses in verisimilitude (there aren't that many) than most readers or listeners.

    Ms. Kowal's narrative range is limited, and this book unfortunately does not especially suit her limitations. There are probably more female narrators who can manage male voices credibly than there are males who can manage female voices; unfortunately, based on this one sample, Ms. Kowal does not appear to be one of them.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Red Planet Blues

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Robert J. Sawyer
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (477)
    Performance
    (420)
    Story
    (426)

    Alex Lomax is the one and only private eye working the mean streets of New Klondike, the Martian frontier town that sprang up 40 years ago after Simon Weingarten and Denny O’Reilly discovered fossils on the Red Planet. Back on Earth, where anything can be synthesized, the remains of alien life are the most valuable of all collectibles, so shiploads of desperate treasure hunters stampeded to Mars in the Great Martian Fossil Rush.

    Craig says: "Gumshoe on Mars"
    "Predictable. Did I say predictable? Predictable."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In general, I like Robert Sawyer. But I have to say that his Ontario is a lot more credible than his Mars. Wonder why? The central premise of this work is easy to grasp, and since it's obvious enough from the blurb, I can't call this a spoiler: this is a Raymond Chandler style Philip Marlowe mystery, transported to Mars. Cute, clever idea, right? Wrong. It's been done before, many times, and much better. The Marlowe character, an off-the-shelf, hard-bitten, morally ambiguous noir-detective, is pure cardboard. Every twist and turn of the plot, even those meant to be surprising or genre-stretching, can be predicted from the first half hour, leaving the listener resigned rather than intrigued.

    Christian Rummel's narration is excellent as always, but he deserves better material. This is the first Sawyer I've heard since his enjoyable WWW trilogy, and I have to say I'm disappointed.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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