Travelers Rest, SC, United States | Member Since 2005
I am really only rating this book as '3 Stars' out of honor for the other books in the series, which were VERY good in my opinion... If I'd listened to this book as a "Stand Alone" I probably wouldn't have even bothered to rate it, but since I enjoyed the other books in the series, I guess I have to give it at least a 'three' for filling in a little background on one of the main characters... Having said that, it's not a book I'd listen to again just for the enjoyment, and to be honest, I struggled to finish it.
As I said in my review of the first book in the series ("Old Man's War"), "The Sagan Diary" seems to be some sort of "Side-Step" to the main series, and in my opinion didn't really add anything important to the "actual" series. It was written as a "prize" for the highest bidder when one of the other books in the series was auctioned to benefit a library... I'm sure it's a masterpiece of prose, but I like "Sci-Fi" and action, not a deep treatise that I now remember only as "how do I feel about feeling when not born to feel?" (Those aren't exact words, but it's the "feeling" *I* got from reading it ;)
The narration by Stephanie Wolfe was very well done, and I truly think her performance was just about the only thing that actually kept me paying attention to the story overall.
I checked my iPhone's Audible App several times to make SURE the speed was set to "X1". I even paused the book and opened another book to make sure something else wasn't wrong with the speed setting (Nope, other books played fine). Mr. Rheinstrom just read through this book like he was narrating an Auction or something. EverythingIsReadSoFastYouHaveNoIdeaWhat'sHappening!!!
Several sentences are read multiple times, back to back... I am left with a feeling that this book was pushed through at an INCREDIBLE pace for some reason.
Mr. Rheinstrom obviously has a LOT of talent, I've listened to another book he's read, but he fires through this book like it's stuck on Fast Forward. Editing didn't catch a LOT of parts... in at least one place it was like he realized he'd fumbled the sentence and kinda ended up TRYING to make it sound funny, and then the sentence is immediately repeated a totally different way, with the "First time through" not removed... kinda like 'Bloopers Parts' got left in..
At first I thought the plot and story wasn't making sense because it was read so incredibly fast, but then I realized the time line was jumpy, and the story line and planning just wasn't thought out... it's hard to explain... nothing seems to make sense, plans aren't thought out, a year elapses between one sentence and the next... just, strange.
I've loved the Freehold Series for years, but somehow I missed THIS book until now. I've followed Mr. Williamson's Books for a LONG time, and knew he was going to make his mark on Sci-Fi almost from the start. I've talked with him several times in the past and several things were very clear within the first 5 minutes of conversation... He has a DEEP way of looking at Society (and "Societies"), and often flips problems on their side to look at them from unexpected angles. Whenever an author can point out flaws in "Common General Thinking", and make others REALLY think about "What everyone takes for granted", we can all learn something from it... Good, Bad, Ugly, or Beautiful.
Mr. Williamson has gone that extra mile to point out "What everyone knows with so much surety that we never even think about it", is OFTEN very flawed! Of COURSE it's probably flawed if we're so sure about something that we never "Think it out for ourselves". We are NOT the Center of the Universe. Just because we know, and admit, that we're 'flawed', doesn't excuse us for not at least TRYING to become better.
There is no such thing as a "Perfect Society", "Utopian Society", etc, and anyone that claims to be building one is reaching for your wallet with one hand, and your freedom with the other. If a society is NOT "In Flux", then it's definitely NOT improving itself.
I like several of the lessons from this book greatly... No one has "The" answer, but if we consider possible answers from many sources, we can at least obtain a 'better' answer overall... we fail right off the bat if we pre-judge the SOURCE of a possible better answer without at least listening to what they have to say. I guess that's the wordy way of repeating an old simple saying: "Don't judge a book by it's cover"
"Capitalism" is NOT a dirty word. There are evil Capitalists, just like there are evil Religious Leaders; Just because a few evil people practice a concept, doesn't make the entire concept 'evil' (You may think the short way of explaining that concept is: "One bad Apple doesn't spoil the entire basket". But actually, 'One bad Apple DOES spoil the entire basket of Apples'... Luckily, 'People', 'Concepts', and 'Societies', aren't 'Apples' ;) )
Back in College, a favorite Western Civilization Professor used to tell me, "NEVER think we have the ultimate society, or that our Society is the best ever obtained. We DO NOT, and it IS NOT. Our 'Technology' may be MUCH higher than that obtained by societies in the past, but there have been several societies in the distant past that functioned much better than ours, overall."
FINALLY someone has brought those lessons to life, in a way where our face gets rubbed in the examples provided. You may not agree with all of the conclusions and concepts, but at least you start thinking about "Things we take for granted", and reflecting on WHY they are taken for granted, for yourself.
WELL DONE! (yet Again!)
I expected book Two to get much better as the author got a little seasoning behind him, since I enjoyed Book 1 (BOTH book 1's).. Especially since I LOVE the "Mech Suit" genre,and there's not a lot of it around... But 'the good stuff' in the book seemed to me to be greatly off-set by a LOT more... I dunno.. "Whining, Crying, Over-Rousing Motivation Gut Speeches"? Usually followed by 'utter crying despair', 'giving up', more 'Over-Rousing Self-Motivating Speeches', 'deciding to soldier on'... "Wash, Rinse, Repeat"... Also a LOT of doing A LOT without "accomplishing" anything at all, after all is said and done, except constantly 'vowing vengeance' and 'vowing lots of payback and rivers of blood', but always "at some future time".
I (like many others it seems) got tired FAST of being beat over the head by "Brotherhood".. WAY too much 'Brother', 'you're my brother', 'where are my brothers', 'because we're brothers', 'brother this', 'brother that', 'my brothers', etc. etc. etc. I joined the Army as an Infantry Soldier "Back in the day" (I Retired from the Army, and THEN became an Electrical Engineer and Computer Programmer), I understand the close camaraderie of units (ESPECIALLY 'Small Specialized Units')... I've noticed authors who really know about it, always find a way to SHOW IT in their books, without ever ONCE having to resort to 'saying it' (especially not every 5 minutes!). *I* wouldn't write a whole paragraph about THAT issue alone, had it not been THAT massively over-used in the book.
I also feel like there was "a lot of action and disjointed moving around, for no apparent reason, and NOTHING accomplished by all of the action and movement"... A LOT of effort seemed to be expended again and again, for NO apparent gain, and the plot for the Series didn't seem to be "moved along" AT ALL by anything that was done... It SEEMED like that fact TRIED to be hidden by what (I assume) were supposed to be stirring motivational "Hard Corp and GRIT Speeches" to explain why it was OK that nothing got accomplished, and to QUICKLY change the subject! None of the 'Gritty Motivational Speeches' raised my heart rate any.
I GUESS all of this Action and Movement MAY BE meant to set up the next book??? Trouble being, I dunno if I'll put a credit on the next book, because I wasn't left with the solid feeling that there IS an overall plot (or at least not one worth caring about).
In fact (and I hate to say this), But I'm getting a distinct feeling from the available evidence that there IS NO "Overall Plot"... The First Book "Atlas: Atlas Series", got released... and then THE SAME BOOK was released AGAIN, titled "ATLAS: ATLAS Series, Book 1", Just with a Different Narrator (WITHOUT Telling Us BEFOREHAND, "This is the SAME BOOK, it just has a different Narrator")... So you end up buying the same 'Book 1' TWICE... BUT at least the first book(s) SEEMED to be heading toward SOME KIND of plot... The original plot (of 'BookS 1') seems to have been abandoned, like, "The plot in (both) 'Book 1(s)' is that The Hero gets through tough, Mech-Warrior, elite training.. so... uhhh... now what for Book 2.. Uhhh I mean 'Book 3, labeled as Book 2'???"
THIS book, "ATLAS: ATLAS Series, Book 2", seemed to just kinda wander around LOOKING for a plot...
Cut To 'Female Hero Character', who Sighs and whines a lot about "things WE are supposed to be emotionally attached to, but aren't.. in the slightest". We're supposed to be reduced to emotional tears because we're SUPPOSED to be emotionally attached to her Killer-Pet "Hy-Bear" (Which was supposed to be "Near Sentient", but at best seems to be more like Lassie, except without the smarts) and so SHE cries and whines and reminisces A LOT about SEVERAL of theses type of Characters (None of which ended up having ANY real purpose!)... which got on my nerves so fast that I had to STOP THE BOOK, and set up a "15 Second Advance" Icon on my Audible App on my iPhone... and THEN stop the book AGAIN to change the "15 Second Advance" to "30 Second Advance" (Which I used LIBERALLY)
Now cut back to our Dashing Male Hero, who WILL be busy swinging from 'utter despair' and 'about to give up', but instead, making his obligatory 'rousing gritty pep talk to himself' so he doesn't give up, in situations where "Giving up" wasn't an option anyway... AND "I can't save my brother who has a sucking chest wound (ALL Chest wounds SUCK, trust me) because I don't have a piece of plastic in my Med kit that is used for stopping sucking chest wounds, all I have is this OTHER piece of plastic of the exact same size and shape"... wait 20-30 minutes, and it hits him, "Wait a Second!! I could use this OTHER piece of plastic!!!" (I've seen it done with a Plastic MRE Bag, it ain't Brain Surgery!)
If All of the above sounds confusing, it's because *I* was left confused... THREE books (REALLY only 'TWO Books', and 'a repeat'), and AFTER I'm over 27+ hours into this series, I still have NO IDEA what the plot is, or if there is now a NEW plot, or if there even IS A PLOT now. I SHOULD have stopped at Book 1 (either Book 1's), and treated Book 2 (3) as a different book entirely...
Look, I LOVE the "Mech Warrior" genre, and LOVED the parts where the Mechs ACTUALLY FINALLY GET USED A LITTLE... even if the technicalities and Physics are... well, let's say, "Creative", to be kind... I can overlook THAT (Hey' it's 'SCI-FI', I understand).. But book two (Or is it 3?) was just a confusing jumble of inconsistencies, like 'One Mech Is SUPPOSED To Be Nearly Invincible", except that ANY of the Mechs can EASILY be taken out of action by ANYONE attacking it from behind with a POCKET KNIFE, by simply cutting an EXPOSED fuel-feed-line, that NO ONE thought to ARMOR/HIDE/PROTECT in ANY way, from 'Model One", right up through "Model SIX", and there's NO WAY for the Mech to stop someone from cutting the line from behind!? Sometimes the 'Invincible 3-Ton Mech' can carry a TON of weight all by itself, then 10 minutes later TWO Mechs working TOGETHER, STRUGGLE to carry 'A HALF-TON Container, between them', and THEN FOUR MECHS STRAIN to carry that same Half Ton Container, and the action builds and fighting and hardships and "I'll NEVER QUIT!", etc... and suddenly ALL of that WHOLE story line just gets dropped, and the 'container containing the secret capture weapon' is NEVER EVEN USED, or mentioned again! Why did I just listen to 45 minutes of Story about a CONTAINER that is suddenly dropped from the story line????
An "8 Hour Air Canister" is used as a "Suspense Plot'... until it gets inconvenient... then it's revealed that the "8 Hour Air Canister" is REALLY some 'LONG Indeterminate Time Period Canister' due to "scrubbers and re-breathers".. and therefore could handle a two week journey on foot (which somehow becomes only a 6 hour journey on foot... I guess they found a shortcut), but we again have to worry about the '8 hour canister' running out of air again if they can't find air at the destination 6 hours away.
Starting to get the picture?
I rated it 'three stars' mainly just so my rating would keep the current ratings of everyone else the same when the ratings are "Averaged", AND so that MAYBE someone will start a GOOD "Mech" or "POWERED SUIT" Series....
Sorry folks, I REALLY don't mean to bash the Author or book, I'm just pointing out what you're in for... I'm sure *YOU* work as hard for YOUR money as *I* do, and I appreciate people telling me the TRUTH before I decide to buy a book, rather than worrying about if I'm going to get "Likes" or not... "It is, what it is".
For some reason, this book just didn't make my Bunny Hop.
I know Mr Ringo Slightly.. Met several times, Long Talks with groups of other people "Pool-side", etc... What he's not a DETAILED EXPERT about already, if the new subject crosses his path and catches his attention, He'll SOON BE an EXPERT on the Subject!
I know MANY people that know "a little about EVERYTHING".. Some of them know "Just enough to CONVINCE YOU that THEY ARE an expert", but when you start questioning their Math, or taking what they know about the subject to a higher level, you soon realize that they "Just learned enough about it to APPEAR to be an expert".. That Ain't Ringo!
I know Ringo has EXPERIENCED A LOT in his life thus far... We've crossed much of the same ground from Fort Bragg to Europe, the Caribbean, etc... If you think Ringo is "BRILLIANT", you don't REALLY know the HALF OF IT! And he's one of those rare people who just CAN NOT learn enough, FAST ENOUGH, to keep him happy. He's realized that it's "Impossible to FILL UP your brain", but he's CONSTANTLY TRYING!
You'd also expect an author who writes as fast as Ringo to fall into a rut of "Serial-like FAST Produced Pulp Books", but I believe Ringo would consider THAT to be an unpardonable SIN! He CONSTANTLY takes each new Book or Series in TOTALLY NEW directions! He seems to OFTEN be writing SEVERAL, RADICALLY DIFFERENT, books AT THE SAME TIME! He's also got a GIFT for Sniffing the Wind to see "What's popular among people right now", and then GIVING THAT TO THEM, from HIS UNIQUE Angle, Which makes his books enjoyable LONG after "Whatever Fad" has faded. (Heck, I'm wishing Audible would produce his old "Counsel Wars" Series, and that's one of his VERY old series.. Needs a better ending, but maybe they could talk John into "Touching up the Series a bit" before turning it into an Audible Series... THAT would be AWESOME!!!)
"Zombies are Popular Right Now".. But RINGO'S Angle on Zombies, twisted to fit with his love of writing "Military Sci-Fi", is "SOMETHING DIFFERENT ENTIRELY!"...
Even Better, he uses his past experiences to make characters "Real". Just when you think you're in the WORST spot POSSIBLE, Someone cracks a joke, and the tension eases and you get your mind back into the game... Ringo somehow allows you to experience that even if you've never "Been there yourself". I spend a lot of time with the "Pause Icon" until I can make myself quit laughing and pay attention again.
I TRY not to let my "Likes or Dislikes of an Author 'Personally'" affect how I rate their Books... I LIKE Ringo Personally, but if he signed this series of books "John Smith", I'd have STILL LOVED IT and given it 5 stars!!
If I feel a book starting to make me uncomfortable, or begin bashing my own Sacred Cows... I need to stop and reexamine why those cows are so sacred to me... I usually find it was something I was "Taught" when MUCH younger, and never bothered to "Re-Think As An Adult".. Ringo causes me to re-think a LOT of things at times. Sometimes I may not agree with him, but he CLEARLY came to HIS Opinions after MUCH thought and deliberation... I respect THAT HIGHLY! I can't say enough about the Man, OR (most of) his Books.
If you want to REALLY FEEL what it's like out there at "The Sharp End", Or in other parts of the World where "Life is Cheap", Ringo can take you there in TECHNICOLOR!... It's NOT all 'Sweetness and Tea and Dumplings'... it's often shocking, Physically AND MENTALLY Uncomfortable, RAW, and all-around unpleasant.. and at the same time, it can be mixed with GREAT Times and FUN! It's just how things REALLY ARE in some places, during some experiences... If you want to FEEL rather than just "read/listen", Ringo does that for you like the Master he is.
Already Pre-Ordered Book 4! BRING IT ON!
I listened to the samples of this book back when the all of the complaints were being written about the narration.. I admit, just from the sample, I passed on this audio-book the first time around because of the bad reviews on the Narration, and from the sample I listened to (Even the sample was enough to let you know how bad it was).
I stumbled back onto the first book of this series the other day, read the reviews as late as just a few months ago, and thought "Yeah, I remember this one", and started to click my "Back" button on my Browser... THEN I saw the New note from the publisher saying the Narration had been redone, and even sound effects added.
...So I took a chance...
The NEW Narration is VERY good!!! The background sounds are subtle, and don't come anywhere near being a "Performance", and they ADD TO the book, rather than distracting from it! I started hearing this slight "Rumble" early in the book and at first thought "Oh no, Bad recording with a hum in it", but then I realized it was just the low background Hum of being inside a Spaceship! The Low "Spaceship Hum" (MUCH lower than the Noise inside a large Commercial Aircraft that you learn to tune out), drops out when the People hit Planet-Side! The Low Hum lets you know each time you're on a space craft.. along with lightly hearing digital buttons being pressed, "Acceleration Gongs", "pops and pings" as metal cools, the noises made as enemies cut into a space craft hull, etc... ALL of which are LOW in the background so as not to be annoying, and DO compliment the overall story.
The Narrator does SUCH a much better job doing THIS book, than he did previously on the first attempt... I was impressed by such a radical turn-around in the Narrator's style.
As for the Writing of the book itself, it's kinda long winded in some places, and slows WAY down in many action scenes when you really want the speed to pick up and get on by the sections that clearly have WAY too much unimportant detail...
Overall I enjoyed this book highly with the new narrator, and I think any flaws in this Audio-Book now have to be laid at the writer's feet... But it's well written except for the Constant (out of place) chuckles and the CONTINUOUS forced laughter when it's not Really appropriate, and the delays in "Getting on with the action" by putting too much unimportant trivia in SOME of the action scenes.
In the Future, the Gender Roles are reversed since men become nearly extinct in the past a few hundred years before this Book's Time Period takes place... Females may squeeze a Man's Butt, or "Pat his Package", by surprise, as has LONG been the case with men doing the same to Women in Sexual Harassment matters... Not to mention Men hitting "The Glass Ceiling in their Careers" due to their Gender... That whole concept is VERY well done! It gives men a glimpse of the CONSTANT crap that women are often forced to "just deal with".
If you listened to this book with the old Narration and couldn't get through it, or HATED IT, yet you still have in your library, just delete THAT copy, and download the new one.. According to Audible, replacing the old version with the new one is absolutely free!
I LOVE 'History' (among many other things), especially this time period in history. When you get into 'real' history deeply enough, you come across A LOT of times where you read an account of something, and think, "WHAT?!?! That's ALL?!?! No No No No! SOMETHING else OBVIOUSLY happened here! How could you spend YEARS getting some place, then doing 'something' huge, then spend YEARS going back home, gathering up a BIGGER army, going BACK again... and then stick a note in your diary that basically says: 'Nothing really happening here, So I just suddenly decided to leave'.(?????)"
I think Mr. Watson's story about one of these times might actually be as good as whatever 'really' happened between the Romans and the Brits. I just know I've spent a LOT of time and money wandering around the MANY sites where the 'Fiume Rubicone' flowed as it changed it's banks and beds over 2000 years... and Caesar's (SPARSE) account of Britain just doesn't feel ANYTHING LIKE the 'Caesar' *I* have come to know... Waton's story about Britain feels more like something Caesar would have written, than what Caesar actually wrote!
My Head is still PACKED, trying to totally sort out and comprehend what I've 'read'...
Every once in a great while, I wish I could give an "Overall" score of MORE than 5 stars... Sometimes an Author and Narrator (and everyone else it takes to produce works like these) team up, and the books end up being greater than the sum of the parts that produced it...
...and there's MORE coming?!?
I said early on that Evan Currie was going to get better with each book, and he hasn't disappointed me yet!
Aside from the books he's turning out at a pretty steady pace, I really like a lot of things about the Author "personally" (I don't know him personally, I just know what I've SEEN that he's DONE)... He doesn't just 'write about' "Perseverance" and "Courage" and the usual things; He displays those qualities himself! The First book I read by Currie was "Into The Black", which he'd originally Self-Published. As I said while reviewing that book, "Some people have a story inside them that they believe will connect with readers, if only they can get that story in front of the intended audience. For a new author, getting a book published the traditional way is very often a lesson in 'Why you can't', punctuated by stumbling blocks that seem almost designed to say 'give it up, you don't believe in it enough'". It takes a LOT of Perseverance, Courage, and belief in YOURSELF and your own abilities, to 'push on through' when 'the experts' are telling you, "you can't". I LOVE seeing people turn 'You Can't' into 'THEY DID!' That's the same mix of qualities that you HAVE to have to go far in the Military, "Push On Through!", which is one of the things that shines through in Currie's Military Sci-Fi Books!
At first, "Seal Team 13" felt like a sudden sharp left turn away from the other books I've listened to by Currie, but in a great way! Looking back, it's not really such a hard sharp turn, Currie seems to love writing Military Sci-Fi (Which I just happen to love reading, so it works out well ;) but Currie's past works had a "Space Based Theme" to them early on... This book doesn't go "Into Space", instead it goes "Across the Veil", which was the good twist that made me feel like he'd suddenly made a turn from his earlier works...
Currie also has this knack of introducing "New Tech" in such a way that you don't realize it's "New Tech" and that it doesn't really exist, until later on after you kinda reflect on the book... Then I kinda slapped myself on the forehead, said "Duh", and thought, "I have GOT to get away from my Work-Bench more often" ... As a side note, If I DID 'get away from my work-bench more often', that would be about the time my wife would gleefully whip out her video of me 'Riding Fence' on one of our horses, with a CAD program open on my Palm-Top Computer, designing a new circuit that suddenly hit me... so let's just not go there ;)
Currie kinda "Slips the new stuff in on you" WITHOUT screaming "This is NEW STUFF that *I* thought up" the way many authors do... Nope, he just slips something in, and you don't even realize it doesn't exist... It may be the cool way he has of not trying to "Teach you how to build one yourself", instead he just writes about it like, "Yawn... this is common as dirt, EVERYBODY has one" as the character whips it out and uses it... 5 minutes LATER, your brain catches up and you think, "A WHAT? Wait a Minute...."
I also liked the Narration by Todd Haberkorn a LOT more! The "Odyssey One" Series, was a bit hard to listen to at first, and I kept thinking "But the writing seems to be good, maybe it's the Narration that's pulling the experience down for me".. Then in the last book of that series, the Narration switched to David deVries, and the book came alive! Usually swapping Narrators in the middle of a series is a recipe for disaster from fans, but I noticed his book ratings suddenly seemed to go WAY up, and *I* thought it was a great choice (not that what *I* think means much, until it's time to pay the bills ;)! So I think Mr. Haberkorn is going to the same amazing job of Narration, and "bringing the Characters to life", as deVries brought to the Odyssey One Series! I mean, there HAS to be another book here! Currie closed the book down, but he left the story line wide open for MORE!
...And OF COURSE, "I want MORE"!
It seems like I waited FOREVER for "The Dark Defiles" to FINALLY come out and make it "Across the Pond" and onto audiobook.. I Pre-Ordered it when I first saw it on the "Coming List", and then I waited some more... I was VERY pleasantly surprised when it suddenly showed up in my Audible App's Library on my iPhone, and it was WELL worth the Wait! I have anticipated this book for so long that I Stopped listening to the book I was listening to at the time, to start This one!
I have to say that I liked "The Dark Defiles" A LOT MORE than I liked "The Cold Commands" (Which I liked quite a lot, despite the seemingly endless "Grey Spaces Treks")
The HARD-CORP Sex is toned down and cut back a LOT more in this book than in both of the previous books of the series... After the 'Over The Top', HIGHLY Detailed, scenes in the other books of the series, it was nearly unnoticeable (as such things go)... I didn't even have to hit the "Forward Ahead 30 Seconds Icon" even once! ;)
It WAS a bit confusing... Morgan doesn't do a lot of "Rehashing Of Previous Books" when he writes, which is one thing I LOVE about his writing style, but I had to stop the book early on, and go back and listen to the last few hours of "The Cold Commands" again to regain my sense of "what was going on" in The Dark Defiles. It was like "The Last book Ended, and this one continued on almost in mid-sentence, as if no time had passed at all between the end of The Cold Commands and the release of The Dark Defiles" (it's only been a gap of THREE YEARS after all ;)... But once I got my feet back under me, I started The Dark Defiles again, and went right on straight through!
I finished up the book, and still felt a little confused about "EXACTLY" what happened in some places in the book, so I listened to the ENTIRE book a second time, and found where I'd missed some details while trying to Work around the Ranch and listen to the Audio Book at the same time.. Came away from the Second Listen satisfied and stable! ;)
A LOT of people won't like this book, I'm Sure... But even though I have always considered myself a "Military, Space War, Sci-Fi Fan" I've found myself really liking this style of book more and more, especially since 'The Bigger Name Writers' are really starting to get into the Genre and turn out some excellent work! Morgan ALWAYS seems to like to put his Signature "Roughly Used Future" into his books, and I was glad to see that prominently displayed, and 'The World' of 'A Land Fit For Heroes' explained in MUCH more detail, in this book also!
I should have HATED this book! "Should Have"... Within the first 30 minutes, I THOUGHT I knew how this plot was going to play out. Typical "Good Versus Evil, On A Far Future Earth"... I rolled my eyes and thought, "Maybe it'll surprise you.. At least keep listening until you go to sleep"... Didn't Sleep AT ALL That Night!!
I SHOULD HAVE Hated this book, because a young man with "Special Powers" goes WAY 'over and above' to help people he had NO REASON to help, other than "It was the right thing to do", even at a HIGH cost to himself, Every time...
...This, on a future Earth where EVERYTHING about your future is decided BEFORE you're even old enough to TRY to better "Yourself".
Your parents get divorced? Then YOU can't marry because your genes predispose YOU to have the tendency to "Produce Children and then frivolously divorce YOUR spouse". Basically, "The Sins of the Father (or "Parents" in this case) are visited upon their Children"
Don't do well enough in your School's Mandatory Tests that show your "Probable Abilities In The Future"? Then AFTER you graduate, you're stuck in a menial job with no chance of ever doing better...
And then the young man with 'Special Powers', grows to develop "SUPER POWERS!" And the Earth's Police Forces, with their BRILLIANT Investigators, assisted by their Special Scanners, Cameras, 'Truth Fields', etc, placed EVERYWHERE "To keep the Population under control", try to track the young man down for, well, 'No Good Reason'. Which SHOULD BE especially crazy, considering that GANGS of Murdering Thugs seem to be able to freely Murder masses of innocent people at will, and never get caught... Yet the Police hunting the young man for 'No good reason', hunt him by making THE WILDEST "Crazy Assumptions and Guesses" about things they COULD NOT POSSIBLY know, and coming up with scenarios that they ALL admit COULD NOT POSSIBLY be true... Except that ALL of those Wild, Crazy, 'Not Possible', Assumptions, just happen to be EXACTLY "The Truth"! ... I SHOULD HAVE Hated this book for THAT alone!
Yet... When other "More Advanced" Races describe "The Human Population", they keep describing us as "A Very Peaceful Civilization, with NO 'War-Like Tendencies'..".. THAT is when I realized how jaded I have become.. I mean, "Humans are ALWAYS described as War-Mongering and Evil".. Right? I kept backing the book up to make SURE I was hearing things correctly.... Yup... WE are "A Peaceful Race That DOES NOT Wage War On It's Neighbors".. WTH???? Well, It seems that WW3 was so horrible, that NO ONE wanted war any more! And so ALL Movies and entertainment shows are made where life is great, and people fall in love, and the ending of nearly ALL entertainment shows is some version of "and then they all died in Nuclear Devastation". So in the future, we HAVE become a VERY Peaceful Race, All things considered.. Not "Perfect", but "Peace Loving" and we DO NOT want War with ANYONE, unless FORCED to defend ourselves!
Yeah... that all seems confusing on MANY levels.. but somehow, the Author makes it work! The longer you listen, the more you begin to understand that what you "Think" are inconsistencies in the plot-line; AREN'T! You just don't know enough about Human Culture 800+ years in the future... Yet! At some point as you Listen/Read, You'll realize that you're applying our 20th and 21st Century Values and Thinking, to "A Culture In The Far Future with VERY different Values and Thinking!"
I usually Dislike "Super Heroes that are nearly invulnerable".. I mean "What's the point of the plot if the Hero can't be harmed?"... OK, now make the Super-Hero become a 'SUPER SUPER Hero', AND throw in a "Gift" of "God-Like Special Powers"... And then realize that while the Earth's Policies and Governments are FAR from "Perfect", that MOST people genuinely ARE 'VERY GOOD People' who WANT to help each other; So the Limitations placed on people by "The System", CAN be overcome by good people doing good things when 'a wrong' comes to their attention.
....THEN we find out that the Earth's Technology is UNIMAGINABLY Superior to even THE MOST Advanced Races, who have always considered themselves "Our Overlords"... We're so pathetic in the eyes of those other races that we aren't even worthy of joining their "Alliance of Advanced Ruling Races"...
Humans have just grown to dislike War so badly, that we kept our Superior Technologies and abilities to ourselves, and we let the SCORES of 'Galactic Overlord Races' think whatever they want to think about us... We'll even take a LOT of crap from them, and obey their unfair edicts they issue to us... "As long as they leave us alone"...
But OF COURSE they don't leave us alone! So they get to find out WHY we don't like war... and THEY won't like 'War' any more either, after they figure out how exceptionally GOOD we USED TO BE at waging it! Just because "We Choose NOT To", doesn't mean "We CAN'T"! The 'High-Technology Aliens' who evolved on Hostile Planets and LIKE to Fight and Dominate each other (and everyone else), just haven't had the time and experience yet to learn what WE'VE learned from OUR time of being "War-like" in our distant past!
A VERY good Twist on "Races", and "Warfare"... and FOR ONCE, "WE" are the Highly Superior, Peaceful, Benevolent, Race! I had to listen to the whole book TWICE, Back to Back! Once with my 20th and 21st Century Values and Ways of Thinking, and the second time with "800+ Years In The Future" Ways of Thinking!
Someone else gave this book low ratings because it was unbelievable that a 17 year old young man went from "A Nobody, to being the Top Dog and an expert at War in just a few years.. too unbelievable!"... I think we need to remember that 'Alexander The Great' was a GENERAL by age 17, Assumed the Throne of Greece at 20, had created the largest empire of the ancient world, built HUGE new Cities and made changes to Human Culture that STILL shape our world today by age 27, and was bored with life and had run out of 'worthy goals' before he was 30! His innovations in Warfare are STILL taught in military academies today! It DOES happen!
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