Penfield, NY, United States | Member Since 2013
I've listened to several non-fiction, historical works on audio over the years. This is in my top five, mostly for the depth of information presented without getting lost in minutia. The reader's performance (Robert Fass) is solid enough and does not distract from the information which is the real star here.
In many respects, this book reminded me of The Zimmerman Telegram. Not in content or historical period of course. Those Angry Days is about the late 1930s, The Zimmerman Telegram about World War I. What makes me compare them is the depth of information I didn't know.
I'm both a student and professor of history. I've done quite a bit of study and research into the periods in both books, and they both offered up to me quite a bit of information I did not know. Those Angry Days did so even more than I could have expected. It dashed quite a few of my cherished "beliefs" about the period running up to America's involvement in World War II, especially regarding FDR's conduct and attitude.
New information is refreshing.
New information presented well is outstanding!
At this length, hardly! But, that's not a bad thing. This is a book to be savored, not sprinted through. It's not a page-turner in the knuckle-biting suspense or action genre--it's a historical treatise, packed with information and insight. It's a book to be studied not plowed through.
Absolutely. The two readers were excellent, the story was solid, and the way Martinez wove the two separate story-lines into a coherent whole was excellent. Plus, there's the possibility of follow-up novels.
I've read a lot of Steampunk (though this doesn't quite fit the mold). I've read quite a bit of bad Naval Fiction, and not a small amount of good. This bridges the two. Imagine a Gaslight/Steampunk world (but based on alchemy, not steam) crossed with a modern detective story ... then spread it across the solar system. It's a melange I really can't compare to anything else.
There are a myriad of good scenes in the book. Arguably, I'd have to say the meeting with the Zon (Xon? Zhon?) is one of the best because so rarely does an author do exposition well. It's often necessary to convey information to the reader, but the tendency to just Tell quickly to get back to the story rather than show is always there. I think of David Weber and, to a lesser extent, Ringo and even Niven (but especially Weber) with the occasional Holy Infodump. The revelation on Saturn was well done rather than just twenty-pages (minutes) of exposition.
Solid book. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in something genuinely new-feeling.
This isn't the first novel I've read that tried to bring super-heroes to the literary page (sans images). I will say that it's the best. There were genuine moments of tension, a solid set of sub-plots, and the odd comic-book trope done well.
Everyone expects the final confrontation to be The Big Sell in a novel like this. In truth, I found the beginning more satisfying than the end. It's a comic book, and we all know how THEY end (with a few exceptions)--even when it's the first part in a series. But, the mystery involved from the very beginning is EXCELLENT, and the payoff at the end is strong.
While the main character of David is "on-screen" as it were the most, it is a 1st Person novel, after all, I actually found both Megan and Prof to be more interesting characters. I guess David's just a bit too much the comic-cliche.
"David is the only person to ever see Steelheart bleed and live. He will see him bleed again."
The only real short-coming in this book is the new slang terms. The world feels authentic--the existence of New 'Cago, Calamity itself, and all the other elements feel well-established. But the slang (slontz, sparks, etc.) just feel added in to generate a feeling of "this ain't Kansas no more." It's amusing that I was able to suspend my disbelief regarding the presence of super-heroes and super-powers, but every time I heard one of those faux-curses I jolted out of the narrative. I'll buy people with invulnerability powers but NOT that slang can change so far and so fast in just 10 years.But, that's more of a nit-pick than anything else.
This was an enjoyable book. It tries to walk the fine line between classic fantasy and the newer, Game of Thrones inspired political intrigue / everyone's a bad guy (and no-one thinks that about themselves) style of fantasy. It bridges the two fairly effectively, but tends to drift towards the classic fantasy elements more--which is good! There are genuinely good characters in this book, and virtue and heroism ARE rewarded with something other than a knife in the back.
It's a good palate-cleanser after OD'ing on Game of Thrones and other darker, more gritty fantasy.
TG Reynolds' performance was good in that each of his characters had a memorable voice AND a subtly different accent. Sure, some of the accents were cliche (where is it written that all Dwarves are Scotsmen??!?) but then, so are many of the tropes and elements of the book, so that fit.
Quite worth it. Could it have been better? Sure--but, it was a good way to spend some quality time with an interesting world and interesting characters. It's also nice to see a fantasy world where the Wise Old Mentor character spends most of his time NOT revealing things rather than simply existing as Exposition Man.
I'm looking forward to the next one.
Dune was one of the first books I remember reading, an old classic introduced to me by my father more than 30 years ago. Loved it then, love it still. The story remains excellent.
Unfortunately, this "All Star Cast" presentation of the book does NOT add to the experience. You expect each character to be consistently voiced by their designated actor. They are not. In many scenes, the entire narrative and all characters are voiced by Scott Brick. In other scenes, the characters have individual voice actors (the gentleman performing the Baron is outstandingly menacing). It's not consistent and the shift from actor to general narrator and back--often in the SAME SCENE--is too jarring.
There are many characters to love in this book. In many ways I think Stilgar, a secondary character, may be my favorite. It's rare that a supporting character really SUPPORTS the protagonist instead of simply supporting the narrative.
The primary narrator, sure. The others, sure. All together like this again? Probably not.
I found Richard K. Morgan's world and his unabashed expectation that the reader keep up to be quite refreshing. So many science fiction and fantasy novels go to extreme lengths to explain the technology, sociology, or general "world" of the story that it can get boring. The Holy Infodump can really get in the way of the story. Morgan doesn't do that. Much of the technology presented in the book (and the concept of sleeves is ESSENTIAL to the story) is just presented as a given. He challenges the reader to keep up, explaining only the core bits and only just enough to let the reader follow along. It's wonderful to actually DISCOVER for a change!
It's intricate, but not tricky. The characters are all interesting, even those not meant to be sympathetic. And, despite it being a 1st Person story, there's just enough introspection to provide the reader with a grounding and not so much that it becomes maudlin or moralizing.
I'm certain I'd have loved the book on the page as much as the audio version. McLaren provides a good, steady reading. It doesn't improve the story, but it doesn't have to.
Well, I'm curious about Morgan's next book. Does that count? :)
If this was truly a debut novel, then Richard K. Morgan is either quite talented or quite lucky. Either way, he's got a lot to live up to from here-on out!
I've always been interested in the old, classic noir books like those by Hammett, Spillane, and others. So, when this one came up for my listening pleasure I was prepared to get right into it.Unfortunately, I turned out to be not much of a fan. My biggest problem with the book is the author's portrayal of women--none of the female characters are relatable or, even in the case of Spade's secretary, particularly likeable. The audio performance does NOT help as Mr. Dufris appears to go for whiney rather than pleading when portraying desperation.I'm also quite annoyed with the ending. Everything Hammett does in the final confrontation seems to imply one ending. It virtually shouts it. Then, zoink, nope, new direction.Of course, I guess it WOULD have been unusual to have the villainess win in the end.
Hammett was a product of his times. His misogynist, unsympathetic portrayal of women is something I would love for him to have changed--it's just not realistic to have that expectation of someone writing in this genre during that decade. His portrayal of two clearly homosexual characters is, if anything, even LESS flattering!
Unfortunately, what he brings to the book is more of a negative than a positive. His performance is actually quite good ... but only when it comes to the male characters. His tone and the voice he chose for the female characters flatters none of them. He appears to have chosen whiney as the base format, with a side of breathy desperation. Of course, the writing is so unsympathetic to begin with that it would be hard to play these characters well as written on the page.
I'm glad I listened to it once, just to get a handle on the author and as an example of the genre. I won't be listening to it again.
Absolutely. It's one of those beautifully written, beautifully performed stories that can continue to touch. It's a product of a different time, so the style and some of the characterizations take getting used to, but it's still profoundly eloquent and moving.
I'd have to compare it to other classic literature. And, so far as the classics on audio go, this is the best one I've listened to so far!
There's a sense of personality to Buck and a sense of urgency to the story that otherwise might be lost in the narrative. This story is written to be read aloud--it's almost an epic poem but in narrative rather than lyrical form. Read on the page, it just wouldn't be the same. Mike Boris' performance is excellent, his voice just the right timbre for the story.
Neither laugh nor cry, no. But it did make me slap my forehead and ask myself why I hadn't read this before. Thank goodness THIS was my first exposure to it!
Good story. Good performance. Good length. A perfect long-drive book.
While I enjoyed Paul Ansdell's reading, I kept confusing him in my mind with the actor Michael York. I will admit, this distracted me somewhat from the otherwise solid performance. As to the story, while it's a sold old-school Gothic tale, it's too slow for my tastes.
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I expected to. The level of psychological horror was there, but it could have been both darker and more pervasive. That, and the main character's tendency to faint at moments of extreme stress didn't help.
Overall, I guess the fact that one critical element of the climax of the book is telegraphed throughout the whole of the book was sufficiently distracting. The climax simply isn't climactic ... not when we, the reader, know exactly what's coming and are just waiting for it.
Still, it was worth a listen.
I have read to destruction at least three copies of Ringworld over the decades. It's one of the books on my "yearly treat" list--once a year, I re-read it for the sheer pleasure of it. Now, I have a copy I can't ruin as I read it!
The audio version has all the perks of the print version--excellent story, fascinating characters, a narrative that set a very high bar for most science fiction that followed--plus the twin virtues of being able to listen to it whenever I want (reading a book while driving is NEVER a good idea, but listening ...) AND the copy is indestructible.
I'll keep my printed copies safe for now and, instead, add this to my yearly listening playlist!
I continue to be impressed at the various characters Larry Niven manages to weave together, along with all the back-story of the Known Space series. The very fact of the Ringworld itself is one of the most memorable moments in the book--an artifact that can frighten even the mighty puppeteers!
Oddly enough, it's his enunciation and pronunciation that I am happiest with. Reading the words puts certain tones and audible-cues into your head, including the occasional mispronunciation. Parker's various characterizations are excellent (especially for Speaker and Nessus) as is his ability to pronounce names like Harloprillalar without stumbling!
I've read this book in a single afternoon many times. I actually enjoyed the slower pace brought about by listening to it. The trouble with re-reading a book you're familiar with is that you might skip past phrases, sentences, or even whole pages of "boring" material to get to the good stuff. Parker's rendition, combined with the simple length of audio vs. printed media, stretches out the book. It's not long, by modern standards, but as an audiobook it's riveting stuff!
The sequel is high on my list of Things To Purchase With My Next Credit. Of course, that list is LONG. :)
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