Very good Science fiction set about 100 years in the future of our solar system. There are three main political groups. Earth, Mars and the Belt. When the story starts it looks like Earth and Mars are united against the belt (inner plants versus outer planets and moons).
All that changes quickly when everyone finds out they have a common problem.
The story focus is on people and their relationships, the science and technology is just the background for the story. I usually like the hard science fiction stories, but I really did enjoy this book. I think it was mostly due to the fact that although the technology was not the most important part of the story, the authors made sure to keep the technology consistent and realistic.
Overall, the pacing was excellent, the story was original, the characters felt like real people and the plot was complex enough to keep the reader guessing for most of the book.
What more do you need?
A lot of reviews are really slamming the narrator, but I thought he did a fine job. The problem is with the producer/director. It appears that no direction was given to the narrator at all, it is the directors job to keep the pronuciations of the names consistent with the other books in the series. But it appears the director did not listen to the other books in this series. So the result was some rather jarring changes in the main characters name and the locations on Safehold. But once I accepted the changes the narrartor did a good job of voicing the various characters and keeping the narrration interesting.
As for the story, it did progress a bit in this book. By my calculations we will only need aabout 80 or 90 more books in this series before the humans of Safehold are ready to seek revenge from the Gbaba. I hope David Weber lives to be 160 so we can have a conclusion to the series.
I always wanted to read about the beginning of the Formic war that takes place prior to Ender's Game. Orson Scott Card has delivered a wonderful account of the events leading up to the war here in Earth Unaware. As always Mr Card is able to create very believable characters that drive the story. The science is bit contrived and the technology described for the asteroid miners does not always hold together or even make sense (in one scene a space craft is "stopped" so repairs can be made then re-accelerated again). But overall I really enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to next book from Mr Card in this current series. Yes, Earth Unaware ends just when things are about to get very interesting for Earth.
The story starts out slow and I was tempted to stop listening several time in the first few chapters. I recommend you keep going, a lot of interesting things will eventually happen. Unfortunately a lot of very uninteresting things also happen. It is almost like Brin had a goal of writing over 500 pages and was not going to let the fact that he only had 300 pages of material stop him.
On the plus side, the book has lots of great science fiction material, ancient aliens, machine intelligence's, high tech gadgets, and exploration of the solar system. It even has some very good characters (Human and alien). I also found his plan for how other intelligent races would contact and interact with whatever life exists in the our galaxy to be novel and well reasoned. It explains very nicely why we don't see any evidence of life when look out into the Milky Way.
Of course there are also some problems, for some reason Brin is not able to simply tell what should have been a great story. Instead he is constantly interrupting the story with whole chapters that have no relevance to the story or even any real purpose. To make it worse when reading one of the chapters that does tell the story he will invariable end the chapter as if it was the last show of the season for an action adventure series on TV. Ever one of these chapters will end with the narrator saying something like "and then she saw something that will forever change the way we think of the universe" or "then something unimaginable came around the corner" . The chapter then ends and we get 40 pages about something completely different (different characters, different plot line). By the time Brin gets back to the main plot I have almost forgot where the story left off. I can forgive an author for leaving the reader hanging once or twice, it helps to build suspense. But by the tenth or fifteenth time Brin does this is just annoying. It happens so often and with such ham-fisted prose, it becomes laughable which totally breaks the mood of the story.
Brin also goes to extraordinary ends to include elements of his Uplift books in the story. Even though they add nothing and actually impede the story. It is almost as if he had a bet with his publisher that he could include 5 chapters about Uplift without making it seem like an unrelated story. I assume he lost the bet.
Even with all the problems I am still going to recommend the book, just because I liked the big ideas the book presents.
It seems the main point of the book is to let the reader know that Jay Elliot is very important. After you are able to get past the constant name dropping you will find a nice collection of stories written by a person that worked closely with Jobs.
I would not recommend this book to someone looking for leadership skills. But if you are wanting a concise history of Apple and some insight into Steve Jobs you could do worse.
John Grisham has the ability to make any story interesting. I think he could write 300 pages about his last trip to the market and it would be engaging and funny. In a way that is what he did with Litigators. The actual story itself is anything but entertaining. A couple of sad third tier lawyers making bad decisions that work out exactly how the reader predicts. It is only the story telling ability of Grisham that makes this work. There are no surprise plot turns, no unexpected story lines. Just the excellent writing that tells this simple story.
So read the book, be drawn into the life of a small time street lawyer and enjoy the simple story
I read the first book in this series and really thought Ian Douglas had set up an interesting universe full of aliens, advanced technology and desperate situations. Unfortunately the second book was a huge disappointment. I don't know if Douglas just banged the story out in three days to fulfill a contract or if he has someone else ghost write the book. Either was it is a huge mess.
To me what makes a space opera interesting is when the author chooses a universe very similar to our real universe with one or two changes. Like a hostile alien race that is in conflict with us poor humans. Then determine what advances in technology is needed to make such a story possible and interesting.
In the Star Carrier series the there are three main technological advances.
1) Advanced nano technology in the form of star ship hulls that can change shape, replicators that can create most anything from feed stock, and nano bots that keep humans healthy and alive for a very long time.
2) Artificial intelligence that is faster and smarted than human intelligence.
3) FTL spacecraft capable of travelling many light years in a few days and the ability to create artificial black hole singularities that allow small fighter space craft to accelerate at 50,000 gravities so they can reach light speed in about 10 minutes. This technology also allows humans access to practically unlimited energy drawn from the quantum vacuum.
Now this could make for some very interesting stories if the author spent a few minutes to figure out how these technologies would change the tactics of space warfare. And write stories that reflect that thought. Instead Douglas fights the space battles as if he where using aircraft carriers and fighter jets.
Even worse he changes the capabilities of the technology depending on what the plot needs at the moment. For example in one scene the human shield technology can withstand everything an entire enemy fleet can throw at it for several weeks while waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Then a bit later we have a situation where the shields are brushed away by a single ship with the first shot. This sort of hand waving is scattered throughout the book so frequently it completely disrupted my ability to accept any of the technology as real.
As for tactics, if you have a technology that lets you accelerate things to light speed in 10 minutes then all you need to do is send light speed missiles to impact the enemy home worlds and bases. Plus the enemy would do the same to us. No need to send a fleet of ships. Just one ship that can launch a few light speed rocks and you win. Anything approaching at light speed is by definition undetectable and unstoppable. Even worse the humans have the technology necessary to create artificial black holes and it never occurs to anyone that a black hole might make a pretty good weapon. Even when several human ships are destroyed by their own black holes when they take damage.
So the technology is inconsistent, poorly defined and in many cases completely ignored if Douglas thinks the plot needs a bit of suspense.
This leaves the character development of the aliens and humans to make the book interesting. Not in this mess. The aliens had huge potential from the first book. Then in the second book the aliens are all over the place. Sometimes they are given god like powers and then a few pages later they act like brain damaged apes. The humans don't do any better, they are all caricatures at best. Completely one dimensional, predictable and boring.
In summary - if you read the first book cut your losses, put this book down and move on to something else. I recommend the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell.
Neal Stephenson does not disappoint. Even thought is is one of his first books the plot and character development are very well done. This is a very long book and I think the editing could have been a bit tighter. It could have been trimmed by a few hundred pages and been an even better book.
The story is about a fictional 1996 presidential election. Mysterious forces referred to as the Network have decided that leaving the selection of the president to the whims of the American public and the existing political parties is no longer a viable method of choosing the president. The network needs a method of ensuring they can elect whomever they want and then have complete control over the president (and government).
What I enjoyed most about the book was seeing how the technology that Stephenson saw as science fiction in 1995 is now almost common place and is certainly available, although not being used in the manner he imagined.
This was the first book I have heard narrated by Oliver Wyman. He did a great job! This book has a huge cast of characters and Mr Wyman was able to give each one a unique voice (even the women) and consistent emotional tone. I will look for other books he has narrated.
Lots of action, enigmatic aliens, giant FTL ships, Earth hanging in the balance. What's not to love. I hope the next in the series is as good.
I picked this up for some light reading between big novels (plus it was on sale at Audible). I was very impressed with the quality of the writing. Scalzi could have just written a simple comedy but instead he really developed the characters and worked hard to keep the plot moving forward.
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