You no longer follow Ian C Robertson

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow Ian C Robertson

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

Ian C Robertson

Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010

299
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 96 reviews
  • 109 ratings
  • 239 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
20

  • Interface

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson, J. Frederick George
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (569)
    Performance
    (407)
    Story
    (411)

    In this now-classic thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a shocking tale with an all-too plausible premise. There's no way William A. Cozzano can lose the upcoming presidential election. He's a likable midwestern governor with one insidious advantage - an advantage provided by a shadowy group of backers.

    reena says: "Interface"
    "Back to what we love"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The last Stephenson I listened to was disappointing, but this was not. A relatively early novel, it shows all the promise that the author has since delivered in titles such as the Baroque Cycle and Cryptomnicon. True it is co-written with Stephenson's uncle (a historian and teacher of history, albeit under a pseudonym), but the detail and the thought that is apparent in the narrative and the plot is pure Stephenson, as we now know him.
    The plot is complex and clever. Having just returned from India, I found the Institute's trials particularly ominous, conscious as I am of how easily this could occur (if it has not already). Similarly the main plot line - how easily might this occur? Having just read Chris Mooney's, "Republican Brain", the GOP - Democratic nuance was entertaining, too.
    Most of all I loved the characterisation. With a book this long there is no excuse for bad character development and you will not find this one wanting. William A Cozzano is a terrific character (he appeared in my mind's eye as a benevolent incarnation of the Commodore from Boardwalk Empire), as is Ffloyd Wayne Vishniak. Despite his status (as a Jedi of the Dark Force), I like Cy Ogle, too.
    As to the performance, Oliver Wyman is an inspired choice. Besides the incidental double meaning his name brings to a well know management consulting house (not without significance in the context of Ogle's operations), his voices were spot on; entertaining, comic or sinister, as the need dictated.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the returned to this genre. If you are a Stephenson fan, I think you will too. If you haven't read him, this is a good place to start.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Fall of the House of Usher

    • UNABRIDGED (48 mins)
    • By Edgar Allan Poe
    • Narrated By Cathy Dobson
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (9)

    When Roderick Usher sends a letter begging his old schoolfriend to visit him, it becomes apparent that he is suffering from a severe mental illness caused by an extreme overload of his senses. His sister too is very ill, suffering from cataleptic deathlike trances. When Roderick announces that his sister has died, and they place her coffin in the vaults of the House of Usher for two weeks prior to burial, neither of them can imagine the horror which is to follow.Poe at his most macabre.

    Melinda says: "Subtle Horror"
    "Full of Pshchological Dread"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Over three decades since I last read this classic of the genre that Poe made his own and which he labelled in his anthology, the "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque", it has lost none of psychological intensity. Long before there was Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock before him, Poe was frightening the growing number of adults who were looking for something more than the prevalent romances of his time. In some ways, Poe borrowed from the noir repertoire that was entrenched in Paris, in others, as I have mentioned, he created his own style.
    The symbolism is almost as important as the literal, and it remains so.
    I regret that I did not care for Ms Dobson's reading. In my opinion she paused where there was no warrant to pause and her nasal delivery grated upon me. Also, perhaps strangely, she ended many sentences with a flat, downward inflection to the detriment of the words and the symbolism.
    The rating is a reflection of the narration, not the tale that remains as full of dread today as when I first read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • SPQR I: The King's Gambit

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By John Maddox Roberts
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (319)
    Performance
    (243)
    Story
    (243)

    John Maddox Roberts takes listeners back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike. So the garroting of a lowly ex-slave and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy.

    Michael says: "Pleasant suprise"
    "A Good Holiday Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I downloaded this title because of Simon Vance, one of my favourite narrators, and because I had enjoyed "Imperium" and cannot get the sequel in audio in Oz. The storyline does have similarities to the latter (and in fact assumes some knowledge of Cicero's famous victory over Hortenius in the matter of the regent of Syracuse) and Vance did not let me down with his reading skills. That said, the book is not a deep one, more a "who done it" set in Roman times and populated by some well known personalities, including Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and his co-Consul, Crassus. Of course, Cicero and the great filibusterer, Hortensius, play important roles, too. The plot is sufficiently salacious to be fun and the history is sufficiently important to the plot to make it interesting. Alas, the protagonist, Decius, is not good enough to be admirable, nor flawed enough to be pitied, so I am yet to make my mind up about his future appeal. However, I had enough fun to give him (and SPQR) another go so long as Vance continues to be his voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Solaris: The Definitive Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Stanislaw Lem, Bill Johnston (translator)
    • Narrated By Alessandro Juliani
    Overall
    (2376)
    Performance
    (1943)
    Story
    (1964)

    At last, one of the world’s greatest works of science fiction is available - just as author Stanislaw Lem intended it. To mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Solaris, Audible, in cooperation with the Lem Estate, has commissioned a brand-new translation - complete for the first time, and the first ever directly from the original Polish to English. Beautifully narrated by Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica), Lem’s provocative novel comes alive for a new generation.

    Burns says: "A comment on negative reviews"
    "A Fine Interpretation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Every audio book is an interpretation of the text, so it must be a daunting exercise to embark upon the production of a classic. This is certainly a classic and Alessandro Juliani's is a fine interpretation of its haunting and equivocal messages. I enjoyed the pace of his reading, as well as his tone. His Harey and Snout are both excellent, not how I had previously read them, and yet completely valid.
    As for the plot, it is one of those that can be debated ad nauseum and often is at both Secondary and Tertiary levels. Is Kris Kelvin imagining Harey, a past tragic lover? Are the rest of the crew of the space station deluded or delusional? Is Solaris truly alive? What other secrets does Dr Snout have? Does any of it matter if Solaris is alive? The questions are posed and not always answered in this complex, poetic, si-fi classic.
    If you like si-fi that makes you think (like "Blade Runner", or "Foundation", or "Eon") I suspect this translation and production will appeal to you for all the right reasons.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Diamond Age

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Jennifer Wiltsie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3381)
    Performance
    (1404)
    Story
    (1422)

    Neal Stephenson, "the hottest science fiction writer in America", takes science fiction to dazzling new levels. The Diamond Age is a stunning tale; set in 21st-century Shanghai, it is the story of what happens what a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life, and the entire future of humanity, is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.

    Tango says: "The rock could use a bit more polishing"
    "Good, but Too Long"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A primer is defined by the Macquarie Dictionary as "an elementary book for teaching children to read" and "any, often small, book of elementary principles". The subtitle of this work, I suspect, is intended to convey both of these meanings as well as a fundamental feminist message about the education of young ladies. However, the book is anything but small. Unfortunately, I have succumbed to the same fault in this review!

    This title is classic Stephenson; flooded with detail, interesting characters who are never wholly rouges or heroes, and stuffed with complexity. But, I regret to write that, in my view, it is too long. I would suggest that it might be worth waiting for an abridged version but I can see no abridged versions of any of his titles.

    That doesn't mean this is not worth the effort to listen/read. It is, but you probably already need to be a Stephenson addict to listen through the nearly 19 hours of audio and keep track of the characters. I was forced to write out a dramatis personae and to keep notes as the plot developed. Absent the notes, the detail would have been hard to keep in one's head. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing (I had to do the same thing for War and Peace and I had the benefit of the hard copy in that case), but it does require effort. If you want an easy read, then this probably isn't for you. Even if you come without that expectation, don't try too hard to understand the lingo for the first 1.5 to 2 hours; most of it is invented and eventually explained or becomes obvious.

    The short plot is worth noting. The story is set in Shanghai and the Leased Territories (the LT), but they now have more imaginative names like "Enchanted", "Coastal Republic" and the "Celestial Kingdom" (although the latter is more a political than a geographic description). The story concerns the creation of a primer to educate the niece, Elizabeth, of the influential Lord Alexander Chenk Shek Fingle-McGraw. Theprimer is copied and made available to his agent, John Percival Hackworth's, daughter, Fiona. The primer is an interactive book which teaches the young girls by the use of games, read stories and parables. These two girls and a clever, but uneducated waif from a dysfunctional home, Nell, learn from the primer and develop in self-absorbed but different ways. Nell (Princess Nell in the primer stories) is the principal character and her development and almost messiah like revelation is at the heart of the book. Keep an ear out because Stephenson summarises the entire plot in one paragraph about 2 to 3 hours in.

    The themes explore the education of girls (as opposed to boys), the relative value of female children, interactive learning as well as a number of subsidiary themes. All of this is done with Stephenson's normal cleverness, internet nous and wickedly comical sense of humor. For example, the parody of the Wizard of Oz is terrific.

    Two notes, bearing on reviews I read of this title from Audible readers. I agree that there is a lot of potentially offensive language, especially in the first two thirds of the book. A lot of this is gratuitous and could have been left out without affecting the listen, but it's there, so you may want to bear that in mind depending on who else might be listening. However, I disagree that the sexual content is unnecessary to the plot of the book. It (including the allusion to orgiastic indulgence) is essential to the plot. Personally, I thought it was well handled, without unnecessary vulgarity. What's there is important (and is really only in the last third of the listen).

    Finally, to end this long review, it would be remiss not to congratulate Jennifer Wiltsie. Her characterisations are terrific, especially of the younger females.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (566)
    Performance
    (500)
    Story
    (505)

    One of the 20th century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize-winning career. The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Rich and brilliant, it is a chronicle of life, death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the beautiful, ridiculous, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

    Greg says: "Outstanding Audiobook!"
    "Sadly Underwhelming"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love this book. It has been described by no less a judge than Salman Rushdie as one of the best books in any language in the last 50 years! High praise indeed, and thoroughly deserved. It is a tour de force of imagination, perseverance and detail. The carefully drawn portraits, like looking at charcoal sketches brushed together when the subject wasn't watching, are exquisite in their details and perceptions. I read it with vigor over a few days.
    But that was some time ago.
    Having listened to "Love in the Time of Cholera" recently, I really had to have another go at this classic. I did this despite the reviews that warned of Lee's narration and the difficulty people had following the plot line. I was wrong; I should have paid attention to reviewer's I trust. That said, I was underwhelmed by this production for different reasons than those advanced in earlier reviews.
    My main problem with this production was with the narration. I have scored it accordingly. However, it was not the speed (or not just the speed) and it was not the complexity of the repetition of names (as generation after generation of Aurelianos and Arcardios and Ursulas passed accross the virtual pages of the story). Really, if I am truthful, it was the accent. Lee has a hint of the Scott in his voice that makes him sound like Sean Connery from time to time. With the affected Spanish overtone this reminded me (by unfavourable comparison) with Connery's Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in the "Highlander" franchise. It just did not fit. Add to that the speed and the Spanish/Latin names and it just didn't work for me. I really had to push myself to listen to the wonderful ending to this wonderful book.Such a pity.
    In retrospect, I suggest that you get the hard copy and read it. I hope you love it as much as I do. Alternatively, wait for another version to be released.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Sheltering Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Paul Bowles
    • Narrated By Jennifer Connelly
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (258)
    Performance
    (231)
    Story
    (236)

    The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of 20th-century literature, a novel of existential despair that examines the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness of the desert. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream) gives masterful voice to this American classic.

    Melinda says: "A Teacup Full of Sand on the Highest Dune"
    "Worth the Waiting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have been awaiting some time a copy of Bertolucci's movie to arrive. In the meantime I listened over and over to the Police's "Tea in the Sahara". When the DVD arrived it was from the wrong zone. So it's taken some time to complete the circle of information that I wanted before I commenced on the review. In a way, the waiting was a fair reflection of the tedium that the book so casually describes. "Casual" is an appropriate word too, because Port and Kit (the protagonists) remind me of Fitzgerald's "careless people"; their lives are so self-absorbed, it is really quite hard to like either of them. Tunner (the third leg of the stool) is not any more redeeming.
    It took me a while to get into the novel. It wasn't until I started approaching it like a long, un-parsed poem, just listening to the words without really trying to make them mean too much that I started to get a feel for the solitude and lack of solicitude that Bowels brings to the whole landscape. On reflection now, I think it is an inspired piece of writing, but for a third of the novel, I struggled with it and with the narration.
    When I got it, then I appreciated the narration that Jennifer Connelly brought to the words. The flat, toneless delivery contrasted so starkly with the eloquence of the language; "the meaningless hegemony of the voluntary" and the title driving, "Reach out. Pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky and take repose". Just writing the words brings forth the images that are so beautifully captured by Bertolucci's lens and Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme.
    I must say I loved this book more after I finished it than when reading it. That suggests to me that it is not for everyone. However, if you are the one for it, get yourself a copy of the film after you have finished listening. A young Malkovich and a very young Debra Winger. You won't regret the wait.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Children Act

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful 17-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.

    Jane says: "Packs a memorable and rewarding punch"
    "Welcome Back!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have struggled with the last few McEwan titles although I have been a long-time fan (ever since I first read Amsterdam). This is a welcome return to Amsterdam form. I do not know if my familiarity with the legal themes helped with this perception, but it certainly did not hurt. In fact, there were times when I thought a person who was not intimately familiar with the English common law system and the precedent system particular to the United Kingdom (which is different in nuance from the US, for example), might have missed some of the subtleties of the narrative. It made me wonder if I have missed like subtleties in recent books (say about the publishing houses referred to in Sweet Tooth) and thereby misjudged them. In the end, I ignored the nagging doubt and settled back to enjoy the book. I don't think a legal background is a prerequisite
    I thought Lindsay Duncan's read a very good one; not unlike Carole Boy's reading of Atonement and Juliet Stevenson's reading of Sweet Tooth. I suspect that whomever chooses Mr McEwan's narrators has a preference. For my part, I would not argue with that. The one constant in the three titles that I've mentioned is the high standard of the narration. This time (and with Atonement, notwithstanding my second time doubts), the content and the performance were a par.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By John le Carré
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    Alec Leamas has ended his time in Berlin. Or his time has ended him. The last of his Eastern agents has been killed, like the others, by the Abteilung. Back at the Circus, Leamas is put on the shelf. He turns to drunkenness and dishonesty and finally disappears from view, a seemingly broken man. But unknown to anyone except George Smiley and his master, Control, Leamas has been given his toughest mission ever. He will have to be himself but more so.

    Pita says: "Outstanding Novel, Brilliantly Read"
    "Still Chilling"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It has been a long time indeed since I read this title. I recall it being rather dull and somewhat disturbing for a reason I couldn't quite put my finger upon. Now, with the benefit of time, I understand that I was not old enough to appreciate the chilling undertone to a book, where there is so little violence (although a fair number of people die), but an eerie threat permeates the text. That threat is like a fog that I associates with East Berlin, the Wall and all thinks KGB, NKVD and the other counterpoints to MI6 and the CIA. Listening to the narrative now I appreciate the grit, the ugliness and the end justifies everything mendacity that drove people like Smiley, Leamas, Mundt, Control, Fiedler and others. It is the reverse of the superficial sense of fairness of Liz Gold.
    This is still a cracker story with a terrific ending. It's not the same as the film (with Richard Burton terrific in the Leamas role) although the core scenes are pretty close. Le Carre had a hand in the screenplay, so I guess that's not so surprising.
    As for Michael Jayston's reading, I vacillated between loving it and being frustrated when he dropped the accents. In particular, his Leamas starts with a distinct Burton-like quality, but by the final chapter it had gone completely. I am not sure if that was an intended conceit, but if it was, it did not work for me. In the end I gave it a 3, but overall it is probably about a 3.5.
    This was a very enjoyable re-discovery. I am sure it will prompt me to re-read the Karla Trilogy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Memory of Light: Wheel of Time, Book 14

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5666)
    Performance
    (5142)
    Story
    (5206)

    Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, listeners have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over 40 million copies in over 32 languages. When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork.

    Amazon Customer says: "End of one of my favorite fantasy series ever."
    "A Fitting Ending"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Given the journey it was hugely important that the last stanza lived up to its billing. In my view it does. There will be those who are disappointed with the very end, but generally the threads are well woven together and the ultimate duel is a great revelation. I won't give it away, but it suffices to say that it is not Almoth Plain again, or Dumai Wells, but something deeper and more considered.
    Sanderson is to be congratulated for rescuing this epic work that seemed on the verge of expiring with its erstwhile creator, prematurely. His rejuvenation is the hall mark of the series after its fantastic beginning with the WOT.
    The Narration is steady and consistent. I still felt the doubling up of character voices was unnecessary (for example, Talmades might be read by Kramer or Reading, meaning that the character sounded different depending on who was narrating), but overall it enabled a long piece of narration to remain interesting.
    Fans will be happy, I think.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Leopard: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (160)
    Performance
    (121)
    Story
    (120)

    In the depths of winter, a killer stalks the city streets. His victims are two young women, both found with twenty-four inexplicable puncture wounds, both drowned in their own blood. The crime scenes offer no clues, the media is reaching fever pitch, and the police are running out of options. There is only one man who can help them, and he doesn’t want to be found.

    Lia says: "Exciting and captivating"
    "Approaching the Bounds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I regret to say that my favourite Scandinavian Knave detective really pushed the boundaries in this outing. Whereas to now Nesbo has been building to the level of complexity that others (the UK reviewers, notably) compare to Larsson, I could not help but feel that in this episode he crossed the edge of reality. There was too much evil, too much counter-point and too much that was just not "real".
    What I've always liked about Harry is how real he is; flawed in his many ways, but deep down, honest. This time he was too resilient, he survived too much. I barely recognise the tall, thin blond cropped anti-hero of the past novels. I can only say that I hope Nesbo returns Harry "home", where he belongs.
    For all that, the story is suspenseful and the action exhausting. That's another thing; I felt like I was reading a movie plot, not a Harry Hole. This won't keep me from reading on, but I am trusting that Harry has not plateaued.
    Sean Barrett is, as usual, excellent, but I got the impression that even he was having trouble believing what Harry was up to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.