plot: comet hits earth, civilization crumbles.
definitely among niven/pournelle's best, and if you like the genre (end of the world) it is a classic. originally published in 1977, some aspects are understandably dated (cold war still in full swing, 'pocket computers'-i.e. calculators-are the height of technology) but it still feels relevant.
the narration is very good also, well-paced and inflected without being melodramatic and annoying.
This version is abridged. Not by the industry standard HUGE amount, but maybe as much as 25% of the writing has been taken out. It is as if the book were 'tightened up' by an editor who didn't realize how much brilliant social commentary was between the lines of Wyndham's digressions. The BBC has done an unabridged reading of this, as has (i think) Books On Tape. Both are better than this one by a long shot--and they are complete.
A decent enough story, but the format--supposed excerpts from surveillance tapes--is a bad match to the audio format. The story is dated, it was written several decades ago, when new york was a war zone, and the idea of civilian surveillance was a fresh one. But it's hard to hold that against it. it's more just an issue of the awkwardness of all the steps of listening to someone reading written transcripts of someone supposedly speaking. I never thought i would write these words, but i almost think this one needs a *shudder* dramatic performance with an ensemble cast in order to get the authors story across.
IMHO, skip this one, and go right on to 'The First Deadly Sin' an excellent novel well performed.
This book, although listed as first in the series by audible, is not needed to understand the series.
Hope that helps.
The caveat first: the protagonist of this magnificent alternate history--set in a world where England rather than Germany suffered humiliating defeat in The Great War and subsequently descends into fascism--is a homosexual. There is some description of sexual acts between two men in this book--and also of absent longing of one man for another. This is not the focus of the book--and the protagonists homosexuality really serves more than anything to emphasize his alienation in a fascist state, but threre it is. if you are very uncomfortable with/have no desire to read about/cannot accept the idea of 'the gays' you should read no further, but mark this review as helpful and move on to find a more suitable book.
That said, I am so glad that this was not enough to scare me off. Because it is without exaggeration that i say that this is possibly the most literary entry in to the genre of mid-century alternate history since Dick's 'Man in High Castle'. I love this genre and i have read all of them that i can find, and this is by far the best that I have read recently. Is it on par with orwell? probably not. But it is on par with 'Man in High Castle' and 'American Pastoral'. Blows out of the water anything that the pulp authors in the genre-turtledove and the rest--have ever written. (And i love and read those as well.)
What truly made this book a treat though was the narration. Steve Hodsons slow British accent was so perfectly suited to the story that it felt more like listening to the protagonist speak than like being read a book. The narration is so perfect, in fact, that i am almost hesitant to suggest the print book to anyone because i don't know how much my sense of the quality of the writing comes from the flawlessness of the narration.
Hope this helps.
Formulaic and mediocre tale of rebellion against the Pan-Asian Alliance, which has invaded and subjugated the American people. I listened all the way through--I was on a long road trip--and it had some okay points, but i would strongly suggest against this title.
The narration was quite good, showing a pretty good dramatic range--more than the story itself, actually. It was enough to keep me listening, but not enough to make me glad I had.
Please do yourself a favor and read (or re-read) either 'Starship Troopers' or 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress' instead of this one. Your time and money will be far better spent. Heinlein, at his best, transcended the time he was writing from and portrayed the universal. He just didn't do that here. At all.
Lastly, I would especially warn off those who might find it objectionable to listen to Asians being referred to (often and throughout the book) as "flat-faced monkey-men" or "slanty-eyed baboons".
This (overly forgiving IMHO) discussion of race in the book is from the Wikipedia entry on The Sixth Column:
"The book was written in the same year as the attack on Pearl Harbor, while its hardcover publication coincided with the Communist victory in China; with the PanAsians being both Chinese and Japanese, it had a direct topical relevance in both cases. It is notable for its frank portrayal of racism on both sides. The conquerors regard themselves as a chosen people predestined to rule over lesser races, and they refer to white people as slaves. "Three things only do slaves require: work, food, and their religion." They require outward signs of respect, such as jumping promptly into the gutter when a member of the chosen race walks by, and the slightest hesitation to show the prescribed courtesies earns a swagger stick across the face. One character is Frank Mitsui, an Asian American whose family was murdered by the invaders because they did not fit in the new PanAsiatic racial order. The Americans in the novel respond to their conquerors' racism by often referring to them in unflattering terms, such as "flat face", "slanty" (a derisive reference to the look typical of Asian eyes), and "monkey boy".
The only thing would add is that Heinleins understanding of the 'Asian world-view' is so stereotypical and dated (remember: 1941) that it is laughable where it isn't tragic--or horrific, considering what was just a few years away.
Hope this helps,
If you like Cormac McCarthy, Steinbeck, and Stephen King you will probably not regret shelling out a credit for this one. don't get me wrong, it ain't Steinbeck or McCarthy (IMHO), but it has the flavor of both--as for king, well...yeah, both better plotted and more thoughtfully written than anything King has done for a long long time.
just not that good. tagline for this could read 'an exceedingly dull romp through time' two guys bounce through time, hitting all the high-spots in history, but never with enough happening to make it interesting. at all. seriously. not interesting at all. when the climax in the story comes, it induces a yawn and some gratitude that the book must be coming to an end.
the narrator gives it the college try, but without much to work with, he comes off as trying too hard. don't waste your time or credit.
i suppose this book might be interesting to very young readers, or if it were still 1952 and time travel were a brand new idea in fiction. but it ain't.
I bought and enjoyed oryx and crake, and am generally a fan of Atwood, and dystopic/post-apocalyptic fiction is by far my favorite genre, but i was seriously disappointed with The Year of The Flood. It was slow as hell, and even a top quality narration could not rescue it for me--although it is why i was able to listen through to the end. Only buy this one if you are a truly die-hard Atwood fan and will read anything she has written regardless of quality or if you were so utterly enthralled by everything about Oryx and Crake that any trip back to that world would be worthwhile for you. There is less of a story here than there is a meandering struggle alongside a handful of characters--and what little story there was is unresolved at the end.
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