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Ethan M.

On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through

Cambridge, MA | Member Since 2000

1502
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 79 reviews
  • 129 ratings
  • 691 titles in library
  • 8 purchased in 2014
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  • 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Charles C. Mann
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (623)
    Performance
    (504)
    Story
    (505)

    More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed totally different suites of plants and animals. Columbus’s voyages brought them back together - and marked the beginning of an extraordinary exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas. As Charles Mann shows, this global ecological tumult - the “Columbian Exchange” - underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest generation of research by scientists, Mann shows the creation a worldwide trade network....

    mavs says: "fasinating new perspective on history"
    "Moments of revelation in the Homogenocene"
    Overall
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    Story

    I have listened to a lot of history books on Audible, and I thought this would mostly cover ground I had heard before (in Guns, Germs, and Steel, for example). I was wrong.

    To be fair, not all of the historical incidents themselves were entirely new, but the book managed to bring them together in a way that was a revelation. In one powerful section on Jamestown, for example, you see how alien the landscape was for Europeans arriving in Virginia - they couldn't even recognize tended fields, because they looked so different than European fields. And, in return, by bringing earthworms, draft animals, and malaria, the Europeans create an entirely different ecosystem themselves which destroys or merges with the American one. The idea of settlers transforming a landscape so utterly feels like a science fiction trope, but the historical account is excellent, here, as it is throughout the book.

    Similarly fascinating are accounts of the way that Spanish silver destabilized China, the potato's role in European history, and the attempts to start a Confederate state in the Amazon. The history is not always pleasant, but it terrifically described. Along the way, Mann makes an argument that, since 1493, we are living in a new world, the Homogenocene, shaped by humans and globalization.

    There are only a couple of minor caveats. First, the author works hard to make sure his views on the Colombian Exchange are asserted, and he overreaches occasionally in trying to tie much of world history to the Exchange. This is forgivable, but can make some sections feel like a bit of a stretch. Also, the reading is solid, but not terrific.

    Reading reviews by historians, this seems to be well-regarded work, even though it wasn't by a historian. It is definitely gripping and occasionally revelatory. I recommend it very highly to those who like their history sweeping.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Eric Schlosser
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (239)

    Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America's nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved - and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

    Ethan M. says: "A miracle that we escaped the Cold War alive...."
    "A miracle that we escaped the Cold War alive...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Command and Control was excellent, if occasionally chilling, listening. The book takes the form of a thriller - flashing back between an accident at a missile silo in Arkansas in 1980, and the history of the control of American nuclear weapons. The thriller becomes a bit of a horror show as Schlosser shows how often disaster was narrowly averted, and the potential consequences of a catastrophic accident. There are many mind-boggling facts along the way: the Davy Crockett nuclear anti-tank rocket had a blast radius as large as its range, the military occasionally classified things so highly the president couldn't see them, and there were many occasions where a nuclear war nearly happened.

    The evolution of the Damascus Accident is especially well-written, as is the story of the evolution of nuclear strategy and command. As one reviewer in the LA Times pointed out, Schlosser is decidedly liberal, but the heroes of the book (such as they are) are McNamara and Reagan, who actually tame the nuclear beast, at least for a while. Similarly, there are great explanations of the development of the atomic bomb, and the technical details involved.

    There are only a few weaknesses. First, the emphasis on bomb safety and the final parts of the Damascus Accident drag a bit, making the last third of the book somewhat less pointed and novel than the terrific first part. Second, the book seems to lose steam after Reagan, barely giving any time to the post-Cold War situation, or to other countries. While this isn't necessarily bad, it means that we spend most of the book in increasingly high levels of concern, and are left without either a lot of discussion over how to reach a safer world, or a clear sense of what the nuclear system looks like today.

    In any case, this is a great read for fans of nonfiction and history, as it covers a huge amount of ground. And the final sentence is absolutely chilling and revelatory.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Dan Jones
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (165)
    Story
    (166)

    The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world. We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights.

    Benoibe says: "A rare and amazing look at the Plantagenets."
    "Generally fascinating history, with some quirks"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a period in English history where I had some glancing familiarity with key moments (mostly via Shakespeare, A Lion in Winter, Robin Hood, etc.) but no appreciation of the details or how it links together. As a result, I found the book fascinating, as it managed to give a very detailed, but still fairly fast-moving, overview of the Plantagenet era. Even more than the great biographic details, I appreciated the way that Jones managed to communicate how different the ideas of government were in the Middle Ages, and the ways in which rule and misrule led to the evolution of modern ideas.

    There are a few quirks to the book that keep in from being a five-star listen. First, this is a narrative, and not a historical discussion, so while not necessarily ignoring debates over particular events, Jones tends to present an authoritative view, ignoring alternatives (like discussions over the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston). This feeds into the second issue, which is that the author clearly has some strong ideas of what good kingship is like, and the result is a slight tendency to justify the less savory actions of some rulers that he likes, while being less forgiving of other monarchs. Finally, the narrative itself is a bit odd, since the author slides between occasional first-person segments ("Richard approached the gates of the city...") and the majority of the book, which is written as a historian. None of these are fatal flaws, but they, combined with the length of the book, did make it drag a little at points.

    Overall, though, a great, well-read history of a period I did not know a lot about. I found it illuminating, and would recommend it strongly to anyone interested in the history of government, England, or the Middle Ages.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Song: Raven's Shadow, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Anthony Ryan
    • Narrated By Steven Brand
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1012)
    Performance
    (953)
    Story
    (954)

    The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm. Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of 10 when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

    JPaladin says: "Wonderful Epic! Mature and well-written."
    "Wonderful in the details, loses the big picture..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First off, this is a wonderful first fantasy novel by a first-time author. Ryan writes with confidence, and does an excellent job in building a novel (relatively low-magic) fantasy world. At the same time, he takes a trope of these sorts of novels - the childhood training and maturing of a character touched by Destiny (think Harry Potter, Name of the Wind, Wheel of Time, etc.) - and manages to make it work by both the quality of his writing and his ability to produce compelling characters. There were many spots where I couldn't stop listening, and I am eager to buy the next novel as soon as it comes out.

    Why the 4 stars? In some ways, I feel like Ryan juggles too many balls, and some of them are noticeably dropped in the novel, making the set-up for the Raven's Shadow series less interesting than the events of this particular book. This is most obvious inhow the overarching enemy of the novel is established (I won't spoil anything there, but I will say that given the detail of all of the other worldbuilding, that piece feels tacked-on and contrary to other parts of the book), but it appears in other ways - important characters disappear from the narrative for long periods only to suddenly reappear for some key role; issues like religion seem critical and some points and unimportant in others; foreshadowing is obvious but of unclear value; and the story skips some interesting moments, choosing instead to concentrate on ones of less clear value.

    These are minor sins for a new novel that is of such high quality, and I strongly suggest epic fantasy fans read it. Though it is not high fantasy, and includes lots of bloody carnage, it isn't as grimdark as Abercrombe or Martin, and thus serves as a bit of fresh air in a genre that has tended towards the extremes of either light-and-fun or death-and-horribleness. The reading is great as well.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Steelheart

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Macleod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4556)
    Performance
    (4266)
    Story
    (4284)

    Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father.

    D says: "He got the idea from a near traffic accident"
    "Great, grim adventure, with Sanderson-y twists"
    Overall
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    Story

    As my other reviews show, I am a fan of Brian Sanderson, and this book is another excellent first novel in another new series. Again, he succeeds in creating an intriguing world, likeable yet reasonably complex characters, and fast moving plotlines.

    At the same time, Sanderson has certain tropes that he returns to over and over again, and this novel is no exception. Many of his stories involve outsiders looking to topple powerful god-like characters who do evil, set in intricately built and complex worlds. The slow reveal of the rules of the world and the background of minor characters are almost always critical to the plot, as is the gradual understanding of why the bad guys are so bad. This was true in Mistborn, it was true in Warbreaker, and it is true in Steelheart. Thus, while the novel sets up many mysteries, I was, perhaps, slightly less surprised by their outcomes then I would have been if I wasn't familiar with Sanderson's other works.

    However, the fact that Sanderson sticks close to form is not much of a disadvantage, because he has creativity and writing talent to spare, creating the amazing (if grim) world of Newcago, and lots of interesting twists and turns in the plot. The reader is also very good, though some of his female characters and accents were a bit jarring.

    Also, this is shorter than the typical Sanderson novel, and remarkably self-contained (though clearly much more is coming). I would recommend it to any current Sanderson fan, or anyone looking to try out the author for the first time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2797)
    Performance
    (2655)
    Story
    (2658)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold ""human error"" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Great old school SF, with the stress on science"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It has been a long time since I read a science fiction novel like this one: extremely detailed, extremely technical problem solving in a realistic near-future setting. The plot is ultimately straightforward: A lone astronaut needs to use his brains and his equipment to solve various realistic environmental and technical challenges on Mars; the fun comes from seeing how he does it. This is exactly the sort of thing that was the bread-and-butter of old school SF (think Asimov, Forward, Benford, and all of the other scientists-turned-writers of science fiction), and, it made me realize how rare this sort of novel is now, to the detriment of science fiction in general.

    Now, to be fair, The Martian has some of the disadvantages of these sorts of books: the characters are engaging, but rather two-dimensional; the technical infodumps include huge amounts of information delivered in the "as you know..." style; and the thrill is in the problem solving, not the plot. Weir, however, has succeeded in mitigating some of these issues by being able to write genuinely funny and engaging prose about air reclaimers and relative pressure levels, which helps make everything much more enjoyable and listenable. And the reader is generally good, except for his German accent, which has to be the worst single accent I have heard on Audible (fortunately, the German character is a minor one!)

    So, for those missing science in their science fiction, or who love problem-solving with duct tape, this is a no brainer. Others may find the technical details less interesting, and therefore the novel less fun. I was happy to stumble across it, and found it a wonderful listen that was more than the sum of its parts.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • One Summer: America, 1927

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (792)
    Performance
    (709)
    Story
    (701)

    One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive.

    Mark says: "Why 1927?"
    "Bryson is really good at what he does- a standout"
    Overall
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    Story

    If you have read Bill Bryson before, you know what to expect out of One Summer, but that doesn't make it any less amazing. In fact, in many ways, this is a masterclass in Bryson's unique style: a rapid engaging tour through a series of historical incidents (most of which will be unfamiliar to the reader) organized loosely around an unexpected theme. He has done this with science, with the rooms of a house, and now, oddly enough, with the summer of 1927. This ends up being a particularly interesting choice, since the 1920s is often undercovered in history, and the result is a fascinating glimpse of the world becoming "modern" as talking picture, mass celebrity, airplanes, and a host of technologies become mainstream, even as racism and antisemitism appear in virulent forms.

    So, we get to hear about Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, Babe Ruth, and a range of other compelling figures from the summer of 1927. Bryson does not feel particularly compelled to stick with 1927, and the history weaves back and forth, but, simply because Bryson is so good at this, the story stays compelling and suspenseful despite the loose approach to the telling of history and the many rambling directions of the book. And, of course, Bill Bryson is also a great reader. The whole thing is pleasantly gentle and humorous while full of surprising insights into the time.

    Really, just a wonderful example of popular history set in an understudied time. A great listen all around.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Daedalus Incident

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Michael J. Martinez
    • Narrated By Kristin Kalbli, Bernard Clark
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (59)

    Mars is supposed to be dead. Bizarre quakes are rumbling over the long-dormant tectonic plates of the planet, disrupting its trillion-dollar mining operations and driving scientists past the edges of theory and reason. However, when rocks shake off their ancient dust and begin to roll seemingly of their own volition carving canals as they converge to form a towering structure amid the ruddy terrain, Lt. Jain and her JSC team realize that their routine geological survey of a Martian cave system is anything but. The only clues they have stem from the emissions of a mysterious blue radiation, and a 300-year-old journal that is writing itself.

    Ethan M. says: "I wanted to love this more, but still solid..."
    "I wanted to love this more, but still solid..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I feel bad that I didn't enjoy this book more, since it was a potentially interesting mix of hard near-future SF and spelljammer Georgian sailor/astronauts - even writing that description shows the potential! And it isn't a bad book at all - the story relies on some nice elements of familiar Golden Age science fiction puzzle solving, mixed with more fantastic and swashbuckling adventures. So, there is fun to be had.

    Unfortunately, the author can't quite pull off the audacious storyline, mostly, oddly, because of failures of imagination. The overall setting is terrifically good, especially the alternate version of Master and Commander-style swashbuckling among the stars, but Martinez doesn't really do enough with it. Given the initial imagination, one wishes that the author would give us more exotic settings, but instead we get a moderately clever one-to-one translation of the world of the late 18th century to the solar system - Venus as Africa/South America, Mercury as Australia, etc. Similarly, the characters are rather stock, and the worldbuilding just sketchy enough to be distracting (the geopolitics and technology seem remarkably stagnant in the future, for example). This is coupled with clunky descriptions (a mining robot is described as looking like Curiosity rover, a vehicle is described as looking like a 20th century pickup truck, etc.). The overall effect is a book that you wish was written by a bit more capable writer to fully deliver.

    The reads are similarly almost good enough. A few accents are flubbed, some readings are a bit off - again, nothing horrific, but you wish for just a bit more.

    I certainly don't mind the time I spent with the book, but I kept waiting to get blown away and it didn't happen. In the end, solid enough, but it could have been much more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Larry Correia
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2155)
    Performance
    (2027)
    Story
    (2018)

    Only a handful of people in the world know that mankind's magic comes from a living creature, and it is a refugee from another universe. The Power showed up here in the 1850s because it was running from something. Now it is 1933, and the Power's hiding place has been discovered by a killer. It is a predator that eats magic and leaves destroyed worlds in its wake. Earth is next. Former private eye Jake Sullivan knows the score. The problem is, hardly anyone believes him.

    D says: "Started Strong-Finished Strong"
    "Summer Blockbuster and Satisfying Finale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You have to give Larry Correia credit for writing a thrilling story that would sound utterly ridiculous if he wasn't as talented at plotting and writing. All the elements of a summer blockbuster are there: a team of heroes assembled to face a superior foe, wise mentors, narrow escapes, heroic deaths, massive fights through collapsing buildings, clever plans, and of course, lots of guns. And, because it is part of the Grimnoir Chronicles, you can add ninjas, wizards, sky pirates, aliens, and a vaguely evil FDR. Looking back at those lists could make you worry that Warbound is actually some cliched fanfiction, but it is anything but. Instead, Correia manages to create a thrilling adventure where his terrific control of the seemingly crazy plot keeps you constantly guessing and on the edge of your seat - and all this despite the fact that every few pages has a new potential deus ex machina.

    Surprisingly for a gun-filled adventure, it is the likeable characters, remarkably well-rounded over the course of three books, that keeps the book centered. And it is the insanely amazing reading that makes the characters work. Seriously, out of 200+ books I have listened to, this is in the top 2-3 of the best read. Pinchot's ability to make the naive (but extremely powerful) Faye and the gruff Jake Sullivan both work is stunning.

    So, in short, if you have already read two books, you obviously should listen to this. If you haven't this is a great trilogy to start, though it occasionally drags slightly (especially in the second book), the third volume is almost entirely terrific. A great example of how an audiobook can be as compelling as any action movie.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Roger Crowley
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (309)
    Performance
    (133)
    Story
    (133)

    Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant detail, exciting story"
    "Military history, both epic and personal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Empires of the Sea is a fascinating look at the struggle between Christianity and Islam in the middle of the last millennium, as played out in the fight between the Ottomans and the Hapsburg. Crowley magnifies one perspective on this conflict: the military clashes in the Mediterranean and the sieges of Rhodes and Malta, and uses that as a lens on the entire conflict. In doing so, he is able to cast light on a few of the most interesting characters of the age - Mehmet, Don Jon of Austria, the Barbarossas, and many others. The result is an engaging take on this relatively overlooked but important war to rule the sea "at the center of the world."

    The books strengths can also be its occasional weakness. The sieges of Rhodes and Malta are described in very great detail, as unfolding narrative. Usually this is terrifically interesting, but some of the details drag a bit. The author's narrow focus on the war in the sea also somewhat limits the perspectives of the book, making it hard to understand how important it was relative to other events in the world. The critical siege of Vienna, the high water mark for for Ottoman expansion, is barely mentioned in passing.

    All of the strengths and weaknesses come together in the grand climax of the whole fight, the battle of Lepanto, with hundreds of thousands of sailors and galley slaves involved. It is told epically, but brings the book to a bit of an abrupt conclusion, with relatively little reflection on what the whole conflict meant on the wider stage.

    The criticisms are minor, however, and the reading is excellent. If you like military history or want to know more about this fascinating period in history, this is an excellent choice. The only real downside is that the author never included parts of the poem Lepanto, which would have been wonderful to hear John Lee read:

    White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
    And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
    There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
    It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
    It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
    For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
    They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
    They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
    And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
    And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lexicon

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Max Barry
    • Narrated By Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (458)
    Performance
    (416)
    Story
    (421)

    At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics - at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets": adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

    Tango says: "Fasten your seat belt..."
    "Terrific SF thriller, with more below the surface"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Max Barry writes a very unusual type of science fiction: they appear to be, from blurbs and a plot summary, thrillers set in the world of today, with a SF twist, along with a bit of farce and horror. This isn't wrong, of course, but it misses part of what makes the author so interesting. Barry somehow manages to combine propulsive plots with science fiction tropes in a way that is both really fun, but also offers insightful commentary on contemporary social issues. Jennifer Government pushed past the standard cyberpunk to satirize globalization and libertarianism, The Company goes beyond an Office Space-style parody of big business in interesting ways, and so on. I liked these, but I think Lexicon is his best book.

    In this case, the less revealed about the actual plot, the better (though Google "Langford's Parrot" to get in the properly paranoid mood). However, the twists on the power of language are interesting, both for plotting and in thinking about our world in a time of Big Data, online personalization, and targeted advertising. It is hard to not come away from the book without thinking more about how language causes individuals to take action. The book also manages to throw in a bit of Harry Potter (if the Muggles were treated by Wizards in the way that you would expect) and a new take on the zombie apocalypse for good measure.

    I loved the reading, though, even as a non-Australian, I could tell that the female narrator was having some issues with the accent, though these didn't bother me. Ultimately, I found myself coming up with reasons to listen, since it was that compelling. I would definitely recommend this, especially to those who like near future and thoughtful science fiction (Charlie Stross, Neal Stephenson).

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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