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.
I had high hopes for Atopia and was eager to listen to the story. I knew right from the start that the book was not going to keep my interest. I thought (based on the descriptions) that this was going to be a hard science fiction story. The first 100 pages showed this was at best a very soft science fiction, the kind where the author introduces a new technology without any explanation or background. This is not always a fatal flaw, if the author then moves the story forward with strict rules about the limits and functionality of the new technologies. In Atopia we have a lazy author that never tries to understand the technology they are writing about. Mather uses the technology as a magic wand that behaves differently depending on the immediate needs of the story.
Sometimes when the story is lacking the science, it can make up for it with powerful characters that draw the reader into the world. Again Mather fails in a big way, there are many characters and I did not like any of them. I had no desire to see what would happen to any of the one dimensional characters.
So I did not enjoy this book at all and would not recommend it to anyone. I can only hope there will not be any more of them, but I fear there will be an entire horrible series.
This is a book with many plot turns and mysteries revealed. I must admit I did not expect the direction the book took. The plot moved quickly and the characters were very interesting and made me care about what happened. The only thing that prevented this from being a 3 or 4 star book was the numerous technical problems with the entire Aegis complex. It just keep breaking me out of the plot when the author would just ignore the serious problems with the logistics and engineering of the Aegis complex. The idea that the government would just allow thousands of people to enter a complex like Aegis with no medical care, no food distribution, no repair and maintenance staff. And on top of that leave all the mechanical spaces open the general population (even allow them onto the roof) and then just hope everything goes ok was difficult to accept. I just had to stop trying to make sense of all those plot holes to enjoy the book.
This is the seconds book in the Larson's Star Force series. I liked the direction the first book took, I thought there were some interesting things the series could explore and decided to ignore the problems with the first book and see where the second book went. Well now I know, we went to lazyville. Lawson must have written this book in about a week. The plot is silly, the characters are flat and the science has left the building.
Very sad, this could have been a very interesting series. I think Larson has the ability to write a much better book. But for some reason he just seems to be cranking out these books like cheap romance novels. Maybe that is how a writer needs to pay the bills these days - Volume. I think there are about another 9 books in this series, but I am in no hurry to read the rest.
On the brighter side, Mark Boyett did a great job narrating the book!
I wanted to read this before the movie is released. All I can say is, I hope the movie is better than the book. I have read lots of Zombie books (Day by Day Armageddon was the best) and I just did not enjoy WWZ. In my opinion it was just too disjointed, just a collection of short stories with a common theme. There was no character development, no sense of drama, nothing to bring the reader into the story.
The only thing I took away from the book was the desire to explore the theme of military logistics as applied to zombie warfare. WWZ touches on how the military needed to adapt to zombie fighting but does not really explore the options. A full length zombie novel told from the military leadership point of view would be an interesting read.
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.
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?
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
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