For a contemporary author of history to write a book of real merit it is required that the author have mastered the material that is the subject of the book, found wisdom in those studies, and most importantly must be able to present his work in a style that renders the material comprehensible and appealing to a wide readership.
When reading a work penned 150 years ago, one must allow for the change in writing styles from then to now. For example just try reading On War by Carl von Clausewitz or even Geoffrey Chaucer or even William Shakespeare in their original wordings. It should also go without saying that when the author refers to now he means his contemporary now of a 150 years ago, which means, his ideology reflect his era not ours.
Thus, Jacob Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy like The Prince by Niccol?? Machiavelli or The Inferno by Dante Alighieri needs some knowledge of the era to be truly appreciated. Because of the arcane style of this book, if you don't already have knowledge of both the Renaissance in Italy and the author's 1800's this work may not be the best place to acquire it.
Geoffrey Howard did an able job in his narration.
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Just a thought, does anyone else think this stilted, fill in the blocks book review is silly and actually detracts from a decent review?
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Nick brings tension and excitement that enhances the written story.
Who makes up these questions?
I think I know what I am about; I control my destiny by my actions. But how do I know if my perceptions and more importantly my motivations for my actions are entirely of my own?
Keith Goodnight takes the reader (listener) on an adventure. We learn that six impossible things may take place before breakfast. However, who defines what is possible and what is not? Good science fiction causes us to scratch our heads and wonder at the possibilities. Great science fiction like The Child is truly terrifying.
Keith Goodnight starts with and an “accident” and pulls us bodily through one mind wrenching consequence after another in such quick succession that we almost miss the subtle changes taking place around us. However, those changes channel us, push us, entice us, and ultimately convince us to push the button and change everything – forever.
An international collection of scholars and technical experts plan an interstellar voyage. Modeled upon a university, the scholars fawn over research credentials and have an almost universal contempt for authority. Starfarer’s construction reflects the most unusual design I think I’ve ever encountered in a Sci-Fi novel.
As the story opens, we meet the characters. Vonda notes with some detail what each character is wearing, how they’ve furnished their homes, their relationships, and their status on campus.
The mission is at most a backdrop to the soap opera of daily existence. We don’t have mission meetings that detail the operational situation. We have discussions of potential sex/family partners. We discuss coffee and art. We get to know the characters as they meet and socialize. We learn of class distinctions on campus, i.e. professors vs. gardeners.
When the external world does intrude into the story, those bad authority figures want to take over control of Starfarer and change its mission. In response, our heroines and heroes conduct a meeting. The meeting isn’t a clandestine one, but a public meeting. However, it’s more like a meeting of the academic senate in that you have to have status to speak. Never mind that your fate is at stake, common people don’t count much in this world. None-the-less, after much deliberation a plan is developed and anyone who doesn’t like it can leave for Earth. For what happens next, you have to read the book.
Did I like the book? No I didn’t. I found myself skipping ahead to get past the dull stuff right from the beginning. In that sense it was a fast read, but not in a good way.
Was there something big and important at stake? You know like finding a new home for mankind before an asteroid destroys the Earth. Well, no. What was at stake was who got to pick which home for their living quarters and what that said about ones ranking on campus.
Did this story tackle big social issues? Nope. I’d say the status quo was well accepted.
Are there flowers in the gardens on Starfarer? Yes, and you can read about materials used to construct the gardens as well.
Does Starfarer have advanced technology? It has a high tech sail, but residents still have to pay a lot to call home. There are coffee pots, but no replicators. There are no weapons. On whole, technology isn’t really a big part of the story.
Are the characters three-dimensional? Definitely, Vonda spends a considerable time developing the relationships in this story. Frankly, if that doesn’t roll your stockings down and give you a warm happy feeling this might not be the book for you.
This is the only one of her books I've read/listened too.
Gayle Hendrix gets 4-stars. She is versatile and imaginative in her portrayal of the numerous characters in this book.
At the top of the list.
When Dorothy meets Jacob.
I’m not giving away the ending by saying that we never get to Titan, but don’t be disappointed after page one I never thought about it again. Douglas Preston delivers an amazing thriller that just kept me listening when I ought to have turned the story off and done something else.
I wanted to know what a Wall Street shark, a young boy all the way across the country, and NASA programing team leader had in common. It wasn’t obvious for a long time. Then in an instant, Dorothy brought them together.
Dorothy takes a while to get to know. She’s young and turbulent, like a teenager. She has feelings; she has fears, two things your average AI doesn’t deal with. She’s a good girl at heart, but at times, she’s an angry twelve year old with a gun, a scary thing indeed.
Melissa Shepherd and Wyman Ford chase after Dorothy while the FBI relentlessly chase after them. However, unlike a recent book by Dan Brown, Douglas Preston provides just enough chase to keep it interesting.
And then it’s over.
Well, not quite over. I think Douglas has yet another spell binding book on the way and I can’t wait for it to arrive.
It was quick, Terry's books can go on and on.
Abridging any book is a tough act. Abridging a fantasy book is double hard, because the story is about how they get where they are going rather than where they end up. This abridgment converted the book from one of showing the reader to simply telling the reader what happened. It didn't work. I recommend reading (listening to) the full version.
It was not his best book.
Dan is very good, heck maybe great at holding onto a secret. He’s a master at suspense and the action never stops. However, this book would benefit if pages 200-300 disappeared. You’d never miss them. The big secrets come later, much later. By the time I was ready for the climax he wasn’t even close to finishing. So, I put the book down and read three other books before I got back to it. On whole, it was ok, worth the money. However, I expect better writing from a big time pro like Dan Brown.
Not likely. My time is too valuable to waist on dated science.
He should have remembered that an author never subjugates story to exposition.
Disappointment for what he might have accomplished.
In Red Mars, Kim documents in encyclopedic detail his fascination with the ordinary, mundane, and inconsequential details of daily life in space and on Mars. The drama of the first 100 humans establishing a science station on Mars are so completely hidden in the technical details that I recommend you treat their discovery as the books first major subplot. I recommend paper and pen to record the infrequent clues. However, after a second or third reading, the story will become clear. Readers interested in 30-year-old science can skip the story and enjoy what might have been.
My time listening to this book was not well spent. The story moved slower than the Mississippi on a hot summer day and was just a predictable in its flow.
John Jakes could have written a better story by dropping the never-ending history lesson. What background I needed should have been included with the story not “told” to me by the narrator. Further, John seems to despise not only the Sam, but all of the wealthy people in the story. I don’t have any idea if that was intentional, but it lowers the story to a diatribe against the rich and famous. It is more than telling that all of the business ventures of Sam’s partners turned out to be failures. It makes one wonder how they ever got so rich.
None of the characters stand out as particularly noteworthy.
No, absolutely not.
While a good narrator can't save a poor book, Jack Garrett made a valiant effort in this case.
Yes, I loved Codex. I was reading (listening to) a New York Times member one bestseller with a sexy twist when I began reading Codex. I couldn’t stop listening to Codex until I had finished it. It moved along right from the first page. It sucked me into the story and kept me there. I highly recommend.
I liked the way that it kept moving forward without wondering off on needless side trips.
My favorite scene was when Margaret began assembling the Codex.
Andrew Carnegie was a very interesting man. He worked hard, took chances, and became rich. He then retreated from direct management of his operations, drove his managers relentlessly, and became even richer. He obsessed over his fortune, ground everyone including his partners under his heal, and became the richest man in the world. Then as an encore, he gave it all away. I can't say his moneymaking, made me jealous, but I learned that he was the friend and dinner companion of Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, and that did make me jealous.
David Nasaw certainly went through a massive research effort for this book. I wish he had stopped after he had presented three good examples and then moved on to his next point.
Grover Gardner gave a steady and solid performance despite the length of the book. He deserves high marks for this effort.
I like science fiction. I don't usually like Gothic romances. Deborah Harkness has fussed these two genres into a new hybrid that is very interesting. Stir in the blending of two usually hostile and wary families, a little taboo, and you've got a great story.
Jennifer Ikeda gave a very good performance of this book.
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