Vonnegut, I think, is required reading to understand the 20th century. These are accessible short stories. For the thoughtful reader, they will engender deep thoughts on morality and the value of patriotism. I don't always agree with Vonnegut, but I always enjoy him.
Another great classic Vonnegut. Not as strong as 'Breakfast' but plenty good. A few of the vignettes are really striking, particularly the lady Hoosier. I'll remember that one always.
The narration is fine, in a classic style that suits the books very well.
At several points in the book, for some reason, the producer chose to include a musical break of bouncy, weird, pseudo-tropical music...it's bizarre beyond description and really inappropriate, and for that reason I think Vonnegut would have approved completely. So roll with it. Recommended.
So, first off, Oliver Wyman does a fine job with all the characters save two. The teenage boy, Wan, is said in the text to have a high, annoying voice, and when Wyman doe this, he sounds *exactly* like Dean from the Venture Brothers. The 'Oldest One' robot is apparently imagined here as having a deep, sepulchral voice, but the best Oliver can manage is sleepy-sounding. Otherwise, the performance is fine.
The story is utterly disappointing, and more than a little confusing. Where did the sleep guns come from? Why did we spend so much time on the 'squint' character, if she didn't turn out to be the 'Oldest One' after all? Did Peter go into the dream couch as he was dying on purpose? Why? Why did Henrietta happen to spout a critical plot point that no one knew was important at the time when they talked to her? What was the 'Oldest One's' big plan anyway? If the Heechee took some proto-human hominids from Africa a few million years ago and put them on Heechee heaven and subjected them to an intelligence-seeking breeding program, why are they so far behind naturally-evolved humans in the book? Why is it obvious to every reader that the old ones are human ancestors, but no one in the book realizes that for chapters and chapters?
In the end, it's a big mess that ends with an un-dramatic thud as the only villain is killed with one lucky shot and everyone goes back home. Then follows almost an hour of exposition by the most-boring-est character as he drones on explaining everything the author didn't bother to include in the actual plot and setting it up for a sequel in a completely desultory way. No thanks.
This book is told in flashback during psychotherapy of the protagonist. It includes a few hours of banter between the patient and the AI therapist program to flesh out that aspect of the story. I found this to be a unique and unexpected way to move a narrative along, and I enjoyed it. Pohl does a fine job. It's not the best Sci-Fi book ever, but in a world of horrible ones it is a solid, enjoyable entry, with a memorable main character.
I know that not every book can justify a top-level, expensive narrator...but someone should have been listening to these performances and making corrections. Sci-Fi is often about technical terms and spacey-sounding names. When the narrators don't have a clue it's embarrassing and off-putting. If you don't recognize a word, people, ask. If it doesn't appear to be English, it probably isn't. At least strive to pronounce the *title* correctly. Sheesh. Short words in all caps are often acronyms. EVA isn't a woman's name in a space story. Try, really try, to determine which character is saying which line of dialogue before applying one of your oh-so-crafty character voices to them. Please.
Anyway...this is a book of solid, enjoyable sci-fi stories, most of which are narrated well, and a few of which are narrated so horribly that they are all I remember from the experience.
I think the best plots come from simple questions you can discern from reading the book. Like 'Spin' obviously came from asking 'What if all the stars went out?' A great novel resulted.
This one obviously came from asking 'What if all the useless cultural crap we carry around in our heads was the most important information we could have?' A fantastic novel has resulted.
The performance is almost perfect, except for some cringe-worthy mis-pronunciations. Is it REALLY that hard to have someone outside the booth to listen for that?
An easy 5 stars for me.
A bit monotonous...but that's the point of being marooned on Mars, right? A nice, fresh take on narration too. I liked it a lot. Recommended.
It's so hard to find a really good Space Opera. This is one. A really cracking good one. No, it's not absolutely perfect, but it's close. Good characters with human flaws. Good challenge. Good action.
Also a stellar performance for an American audience.
If, like me, you are looking for Space Operas that aren't boring slogs, try this one.
It's an OK story of the 'meddling kids' genre. It has the usual gaping plotholes. The kids are smart when that suits the plot, really radically dumb when that suits. Adults are 2-dimensional. Plot elements are taken from Teenwolf, ET, The Navigator, Berzerkers, and tossed in a workmanlike salad.
I won't read any more in the series, however, because of the dialogue. It's tough to write 'teen' dialogue, and this author fails. They sound flatter than any sitcom.
There's also a goodly dose of coincedences that will bug you. Finally, I had to sort of marvel at the idea of super-genius teenagers who can calculate the answers to mankind's energy problems, but who pee in the their pants to avoid being sent to the principal's office.
Weird, and not in a good way.
I'd have cast anyone with an American accent. If the intended market for this is the USA, casting a Scott as the narrator is risky. Casting a Scott with a truly cringe-worthy 'American' accent is worse. That Scott only using his 'American' accent when a cop is shouting at a suspect is even more cringe-worthy.
You can also tell when a recording session was starting, because he has a bad habit of letting each sentence trail off in volume, so that it's easy to miss the last word of every sentence until he gets warmed up.
There are so many readers without these issues. The performance reminds me a lot of various performances of "Hitchhiker's Guide" in which the Brit actors put on their 'American' accent for any character written to be an ass.
Please, please stop. I'll sign a petition demanding American actors quit faking British accents, if the Brits will please quit reading like this.
The hyperglider scene. I want that half hour of my life back.
It starts glacially slow. Really, really slow. New, unconnected characters are introduced for hours while you wait for any threads to connect.
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