When I was a teenager this would probably have been exciting. Not up to the standard of Larry Niven, but not bad. But I'm not 14 any more.
The story was hackneyed and the characters and the science were both laughable. Technology has moved on and left this book behind in many areas, in other ways the science is what it should be in SciFi... inexplicable.
In science fiction it is a mistake to try to explain how your science works, because your, most likely dumb, explanations don't bear any scrutiny and that breaks the scientifically inclined reader out of the story. The animal sex and the teenage boy like preoccupation with the sexual organs of anything female were really amusing in a pathetic sort of way. By the way, the bit on the outside is the vulva, the vagina is inside, and it's not a cavity, that's just a bad word for it. Did the author have no experience of anything female?
Anyway, there's a huge and nasty case of deus ex machina at the end, the sort of 'rocks fall, everybody dies' ending that authors despise.
The delivery was pretty wooden, like the reader couldn't believe he was reading this, any more than I could believe I paid money for it.
This is an immediately engaging story and it gets more interesting as it goes along. Some of the tech is already dated, but that almost seems to have been a choice instead of an accident and it did not reduce my pleasure in the story. He avoids the major mistake of attempting to explain technologies, which is very easy for SF authors to fall in to. The characters are engaging and distinct, as usual. There's a lot of imagination shown in various aspects of the story. I don't want to spoil it so I will leave it at that.
My other half and her friends are writers, we listened to this as we drove around Scotland together. If there had been significant mistakes it would have been torn to pieces, but the writers kept quiet and enjoyed the story.
In some ways the story line is a common one, but this is a good example of the type.
I was reticent about trying anything involving Terry Pratchett because so many people told me how wonderful they were. Now I wish I had started sooner.
I am not going to tell any spoilers. The book is as described. It also lives up to expectations. It is smart and amusing and entertaining. It shares elements of Stephen King (observation) and Douglas Adams (weird humor). That's about all I have to say about the story.
The reading is excellent. I have had a few bad experiences recently with over emotional and over colored readings. Martin Jarvis does an excellent job of reading the book and not applying his own tilt on the book. Now we will be listening to more Pratchett and more Martin Jarvis.
I enjoyed this, the reading was done well, much better than most.
The story was 98% setup then SHAZAM and it's all over. Bringing in a super powerful magic character to sort everything out is like using the get out of jail free card in Monopoly or having Scotty beam you up.
At the end the pressing questions were not answered. There was no ending.
Unfortunately Iain Banks died of cancer and took the answers with him. A very sad day for all of us. FWIW I love most of his books, but this one not quite so much.
CERN is pronounced sern, not kern. There are other examples and they break you out of what is otherwise a very compelling and informative book. From the few areas of this where I have specialist expert knowledge I could say that it isn't 100% accurate, but it is close enough for most people and the differences are more of academic interest. Some of it is also slightly outdated due to discoveries since it was written, but most is historic and won't change.
Bill Bryson wrote a lovely book. Then some inbred yank moron was given the task of reading it and decided to unleash every moronic parochial ignorant condescending notion he could muster up on the reading.
THIS SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN for the travesty that it is.
The smearing delivery is a disgrace to the book
I find Kevin Collins performance overly dramatic. I got annoyed with him in the first two books because the book says when the rimmer accent is broad and he interpreted that as Texas and used it all the time, even in internal voice. Do you think in accent? I don't, and it is irritating when the narration is delivered in the style of the person currently speaking.
Other than that I was happy enough with the book, I enjoyed the story though I don't think it is the best introduction to the Liaden universe.
First I really enjoyed the performance, I don't know whether the accent works as a Danish accent for Danes but it seemed reasonable compared to the Scandinavians I know. The only thing I wondered is whether it is necessary to have a foreign accent when the characters are actually speaking their own language? But in any case it worked for me.
While I could say that the story was a little predictable, and I think I did at the time, that is partially a middle aged man's experience and cynicism. We all try to predict where stories are going and by my age I should be quite adequate at it. That isn't a fair criticism of the book.
I enjoyed the world that Follett created, it actually made me want to visit Denmark. I enjoyed the people, though I didn't always agree with what they were doing, but there are always good and bad guys in stories or they wouldn't be worth reading.
I don't want to say too much because I think you should try this one for yourself too.
I still like the story but it is showing its age. I originally read this as one of the first books that really got me in to sci-fi and reading in general. All these years later and no longer at a boys school I find the attitudes grating.
I quite liked the performance, I don't remember having any issue with how the story was presented and characterized. I'd certainly listen to something by the same performer again.
So the purpose of the female interest in the story is to provide sex to the hero and to massage his ego? She's excess baggage and whether she is a useful part of the mission is purely down to how much use the hero thinks she will be in keeping him happy? So she might as well be a roast beef sandwich or something?
Other than the weird 1960s attitudes to women I would recommend this. But based on this re-reading he wouldn't be the first author I'd suggest for a late teen like my stepdaughter.
This book is in the middle of the pack. I like the story but the performance badly damaged it for me.
This story concludes the founding of the Liaden universe and explains how a reasonable subsection of humanity came to a place far from their origins. Mostly the story is pretty well told, but sometimes the flaws in characters are beyond belief. A person who is a general expert on just about everything who can handle complex mathematics and espionage who is also bonded to a sentient alien that defended a planet doesn't seem like the sort of person who would dismiss its communications as an irritant. Hard to believe the people who associated with the alien never bothered to talk to it. Is it cargo or something? Are they supposed to be that stupid? Now I understand why people write fan-fic.
How a story is perceived and the opinion you form of the characters is hugely influenced by the voice that you give to each person. A character can be benign, or angry, or calm, or casual all while saying the same thing. I found the choices made in this performance to be very detrimental to the stature of the characters. Contra is almost always played with a southern US accent and on the edge of anger. If you actually went through your life always on the edge of yelling or threatening you'd get nowhere. It certainly isn't how a person of poise and capability presents themselves. In the Liaden universe character and poise are a big deal and these first books are supposed to be the foundation of that universe. When Contra is supposed to sound like a young woman of refined origins she sounds like a quavering seventy year old. Maybe the reader never met a couple of high end combat pilots, he'd have done himself a favor if he had. Certainly the RAF pilots I knew were all very assured and confident. When you do have the capacity to unleash mayhem you don't shove it in everyone's face. The text also says when she's turning on the accent, it isn't necessary to use the accent for everything she says and for all the narration. People's internal voices are not burdened with a thick accent.
When I read this book found some of it very touching, but listening to it on a long drive through CA, OR, WA and in to Canada... well now I'm sorry I didn't just hand my wife the book and let her read it. We spent a lot of time laughing at odd pronunciation. I'd have to listen to it all again to identify the particular words, but the problem is that it pulls you out of the story and suspends the disbelief.
Listening to the performers interview with one of the authors made me want to give him a break. Dude, you aren't baritone. You are tenor. But I just found the performance too disappointing. It spoiled the book and made me less forgiving of some of the issues in the story.
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