The stories were ok, but nothing special. The shared world gimmick really did not play a major role--these stories would have had the same impact as stand-alone stories (George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards shared world series is an example of how the shared world concept can be used to wonderful effect). John Scalzi's lighthearted tale of a pig farmer was the best of the bunch, probably because it was the least preachy and easiest to follow the plot. All of the stories seemed to follow the same basic format, i.e., outsiders trying to usurp the technological progress of the city-states. The biggest problem with this audio book is the varying quality of the readers. Michael Hogan snarls his way through Jay Lake's opening novella and Stefan Rudnicki growls through the final story by Karl Schroeder. Kandyse McClure and Scott Brick do good jobs, with Alessandro Juliani doing the best (or perhaps he was blessed with reading Scalzi's fun story). This audio book is nominated for the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Award for some inexplicable reason. It's ratings on Audible.com and LibraryThing.com are so-so at best, and it did not appear on any Best of the Year lists that I saw. My guess is that people voted for it based on name recognition without actually listening to it.
What you think you know about the Bible is probably wrong. With sincerity and humor, secular Jew David Plotz does exactly what the title says--reads the entire Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) for the first time in his life and describes his reactions. What he finds is an often disturbing, sometimes entertaining, and ultimately inspiring piece of literature. Plotz guides the reader through the internal inconsistencies and discrepancies from "common knowledge", and finds the true heroes and beauty of the Bible. Plotz doesn't gloss over the barbaric parts as many religious leaders are wont to do--the God of the Hebrew Bible is full of brutality and fickleness. There is also a fascinating chapter recounting Plotz's trip to Israel where he visits some of the historical locations he has been reading about. Overall, Plotz makes a persuasive argument that everyone should read the "good book" for themselves, unfiltered, and experience why the Bible is such a revered object of literature, history, and spirituality.
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