I've been a fan of sci-fi for thirty years now, I've read hundreds of books and listened to hundreds more here on audible. The vast majority of these books I find entertaining and enjoyable but from time to time I come across a book that feels like more than entertainment, its a book with a message, a work of real literature. In this short list are books such as The Hyperion Cantos, Armor, The Ender series, and a handful of others.
Anathem is now added to that list. I will admit, I usually like more action in my books than Anathem provides but it creates a world so rich in detail that I was three quarters through the book before I realized that no one had died...yet. Just because this book takes its time getting to the violence doesn't mean it doesn't have any.
"So you like it, I get that, but what kind of book is this?"
This is a hard question to answer and I don't want to spoil anything because much of this books strength lies in mystery and discovery. I can't really compare it to any other books because its not really like any other books, not even other books by this author except in his use of humor.
The best I can do is this: Imagine a world with nearly seven thousand years of technological history but one that has remained as at more or less current levels due to a series of wars, natural disasters and politics. In this world are a society of scientest-philospher-monks living inside sealed monastery like compounds. They have virtually no contact with the outside world and have been denied the tools of modern science by a larger world that is afraid of what they could create given their dedication to knowledge. Anathem is written from the point of view of one of these people, an eighteen year old apprentice working under the tutelage of an astronomer/theoretical physicist.
As a last note I will say that this is one of the best read audiobooks I have ever listened to and the brief musical clips at the begining of each chapter fit the story perfectly.
I would have liked it much better if it had stuck with the intense, serious tone it started with rather than turning into cheese after the first few chapters. Its really too bad, the basic premise of this book is a good one and the characters, at least at first, where pretty likable
To my OMGZombies! friends I would recommend it, it has some fun parts and the writing is solid. But to my actual prepper friends, the kind who have actual disaster codes in place and view the zompoc as a metaphor for what is really going to happen to the world after about three weeks without electricity, no. There is nothing here for the serious survivalist, too much is just ridiculous. A 13 year old girl wearing 120lbs of gear jumping into a ship and slaughtering dozens of zombies single handedly? Yeah, I don't think so. It would have been hard to believe if it had been a navy Seal, its impossible to believe when its a young, civilian teenager.
Also this author seems to know very little about real world guns and a lot of about internet stereotypes. You would think Ringo would know better but as others have hinted at, I think this book was ghost written.
He did a good job with the accents, which was appropriate for the characters but it did get annoying eventually.
Maybe. It probably would have made a better movie than a book.
Yes this little book from a no name author is actually one of the best books I've listened to in a long long time.
Some books are great because of the plot, Some because of the setting or the writing.
This book is great because of the character and the sheer amount of science that is put into it. If your tired of sci-fi glossing over the details in favor of melodrama then this book is for you.
The plot is as simple as can by, survive 500 days on mars, travel 3200 kilometers, by yourself, with no contact with earth. Accomplish this mostly with duct tape. Yes, its sound preposterous but its little different from what the crew of apollo 13 did when they built an air filter out of duct tape, plastic bags and socks.
Sound dry to you? Its not, for just one reason, the protagonist is as hilarious as he is smart. Get tired of talking about Kilowatt days? Invent your own unit of measure, the PirateNinja. Hurt your back and need to spend a few days recovering? Study maritime law and figure out that if you achieve your goal you will technically become the first space pirate.
How else do you survive almost two years alone on mars? Learn to find humor in everything, even your own imminent demise.
This is a must read. I wish I had followed my instinct and bought it when it first came out instead of waiting for the positive reviews to stream in.
Like many people, I loved the first two books of the Day by Day series, and like many people, I felt the third book was a steaming pile, the kind of thing written by a nine year old on a three day caffeine high.
With this short story J. L. Bourne shows that no, he didn't have a stroke or if he did, he has recovered. This story is everything the first two where and more. The only downside is that it was so short, barely had time to finish cleaning my AR before it was over.
Here is hoping that when the author talks about time being a fluid thing that he is hinted at disavowing the third book in the series and re-writting it as it should have been done in the first place. Don't worry, every author is allowed one terrible book as long as they move past it and get back to what they do best. We'll happily forget your mistake and buy your next book if its anything like Grey Fox.
Don't want to waste too much time trying to review this, and as I could only make it through the first half hour of the book there really isn't much to say. I was at first disgusted and then bored.
This author doesn't understand the difference between 'gross' and 'horrifying' Sure, stepping in dog feces may be the first thing that you do during the zpoc but that doesn't mean it should be the focus of first chapter of the book. Main character and his wife are utterly unlikeable. Story is generic and only sets its self apart by how much it focuses on the smell and texture of dog poop rather than the matter at hand. Its an apt metaphor for the experience.
Day by Day Armageddon and Beyond Exile are two of my favorite books. This book, while modestly entertaining, is just another cliche zombie adventure. I guess the author really had no idea why his first two books where so loved. For that matter, did he actually even write this one?
The only good thing I have to say about this book is that its not actually so bad that it retro actively ruined the first two books, but its not one that I will ever listen to again or keep in my library.
I'd loved all the other Stephson that I have read but this book just didn't do it for me. I couldn't stay awake, and couldn't figure out what was supposed to be going on or why I should care. There didn't seem to be any story here.
I usually don't even look twice at books when audible promotes them or when I see them on the best seller list. Generally this is where they stick the pop culture cheap thrills that I generally can't stand. Its like the top review on a google search, you never click on it because it always just a paid ad and never what your really looking for.
But this book kept popping up in forums around the net and I finally decided to give it a try.
And boy, am I glad I did. The thing is though, this is actually a rather hard book to describe. In some ways it makes me think of Harry Potter for adults, not in the plot but in the feel and pacing of the story. For much of the book the characters are more or less comfortably making there way through their lives while getting to know each other and the building they live in. Each of them has discovered some mysterious facet of their apartment and most have simply accepted it. Unlike most 'mystery' books these characters are not merely monster fodder but likable and interesting. They feel like real people, struggling to pay the bills, looking for romance and simply enjoying the sunset.
Things start to pick up when the new guy, our protagonist, decides to systematically explore the mystery. Soon he has a team of fellow renters who are helping him and over several weeks they realize that there is a lot more to the mystery than they first thought.
This is where the plot turns from Harry Potter like everyday exploration into H.P. Lovercraftian horror with a good chunk of steampunk thrown in. Yes, I said Steampunk, there is a lot of in this book although you won't know that until your half way through.
Is this mystery? Is this fantasy? Its both really, and its all good.
Most of the books in my audible library I've listened to only once, some twice. This book was so enjoyable that upon finishing it I immediately started it again.
That was my reaction after the first finishing this book.
For a long time I thought that the the story of the first bugger war was one that needed to be told but it this is not that story.
I don't really know what this is. Shameless cash in comes to mind. Poor copy of B movie alien invasion possibly. Whatever it is this is not the Orson Scott Card of Enders game or Speaker for the dead.
This book seems to be mostly composed of recycled elements from previous books that all feel out of place in this one. Super intelligent 8 year olds? check. Young men and women with troubled family relationships? check. Excessive and gratuitous attempts to show off just how much the author knows about spanish culture? check.
What is worse, this book has no ending. It is not the story of the first bugger war, it is the story of a bunch of hateful, ignorant or simply confused characters trying to find themselves, and failing to do so before the author simply seems to lose interest in his own book and pulls the plug on the whole thing without ever actually getting to the climax.
The whole thing reads like Independence Day but with less interesting characters. Orson Scott Card has actually managed to write an alien invasion that is so boring that it is even ignored by most of the characters in the book.
If you have ever read (or listened) to Pandora's Star or the Void books you don't need to read this review, you already know what it is like.
Although this is a stand alone book in a separate universe it may as well be a prequel to the Common Wealth books.
Wormholes linking colony worlds with earth? Check. Strange alien menace that most people do not believe exists? Check. Working class colonist family drawn into epic conspiracies? Check. Every character model from his other books is represented here. Police detectives, Ultra rich families, genetically modified women with uncertain morals. Nothing is left out. This author very clearly has a certain set of characters that he likes.
This however, is not a really a bad thing. He writes with clarity and humanity and the plot moved steadily, punctuated with bits of explosive action and violence that can erupt from out of the blue (literally) Again, if you have read his other books you know what I am talking about. If you haven't just keep in mind that if the book every starts getting boring just hold on for another chapter or two, before long there will be a massive alien attack or sun exploding just to mix things up.
It really is a good book, just not an innovative one. If you read a lot of sci-fi don't expect anything that you've never heard before, this is solid adventure but nothing mind bending.
It really is a shame that he didn't just market this as a prequel to his other books. The technology and culture is so similar to the history of the Commonwealth series I found it distracting and it made it hard to accept this universe as a separate than his others.
It also would have been nice to see him branch out a little and try something different but since I really liked his previous books I guess I can't complain when he writes more of the same.
The narration is somewhat hit and miss. The reader speaks with a strong british accent, which is appropriate for most of the characters, but not all of them. It would have been better if he had just stuck to that accent for all characters but unfortunately he attempts to speak with other accents when appropriate for the character. Some readers can pull this off, this one cannot. His American accent is so horrible its almost funny.
All in all the author paints a world that I would love to live in and which I have no trouble getting lost in for a few hours, even if it feels very familiar.
Unfortunately, this book is not really science fiction, or at least not the kind you normally expect from Larry Niven.
Taking place eleven years after the events in The Ringworld Engineers this book oddly is mostly about sex, and no, not romance but a kind of formalized inter-species ritual that all the the cultures on the ringworld seem to be obsessed with. They do it to seal trade negations, celebrate battle, or whenever they meet someone new.
Oh yeah, and vampires. Lots of vampires who emit a pheromone that makes everybody....you guessed it....want to have sex.
Now I don't mind sex and I don't particularly mind vampires but neither subject makes a good focus for what is supposed to be a hard sci-fi novel.
This really is a far cry from the the first book and very disappointing. I don't think I will continue with the series.
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