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David

Indiscriminate Reader

Member Since 2012

1236
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 253 reviews
  • 257 ratings
  • 530 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2015
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272

  • The End of Eternity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Isaac Asimov
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1166)
    Performance
    (832)
    Story
    (845)

    This stand-alone work is widely regarded as Asimov's best science fiction novel. Andrew Harlan is an Eternal, a member of the elite of the future. One of the few who live in Eternity, a location outside of place and time, Harlan's job is to create carefully controlled and enacted Reality Changes. These Changes are small, exactingly calculated shifts in the course of history, made for the benefit of humankind. Though each Change has been made for the greater good, there are also always costs....

    C. A. Milus says: "Superior Time Travel Story"
    "Great science fiction with cardboard characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love a good time travel story, mostly to see what this author's take on the usual time travel paradoxes will be. Anyone who writes about agents changing history has to explain how they deal with things like the Grandfather Paradox, meeting earlier or later versions of yourself, and so on. There are a handful of well-known ways to deal with these issues (alternate timelines, a deterministic universe, special laws of temporal physics, etc.) and Asimov is rather inventive in using several of them at once.

    The End of Eternity is brilliant in its construction of a civilization of time travelers and the history and technology that goes into their society and the way they meddle with time, but his protagonists are basically a bunch of whiny geeks who act like highly-educated monkeys fighting for the highest branch in the treehouse. Asimov's vision of a civilization that spans millions of years and thousands of realities doesn't include a single one where women become scientists and engineers and might join the Eternals' boys' club. The entire plot hinges on not one but two high-ranking Eternals who decide they are willing to throw all of reality into danger for the chance to get laid. I know this was written in the 1950s, but Asimov could have done better. It's like the idea of women as anything but sex objects to be coveted or to seduce men off the path of Righteous Scientific Objectivity just never occurred to him. So naturally when a girl shows up (the only female character in the entire book), she must spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E, and in this case, the end of Eternity.

    I enjoyed the story, but Isaac Asimov has never been my favorite among the Grand Old Masters of science fiction; there is something just a little too cold and calculating in all of his stories. For the ideas and the plot twists, this is a fun book with a great premise, but don't expect Asimov to wow you with his nuanced grasp of human relationships. His characters are wire dummies to hang a story on.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1207)
    Performance
    (1119)
    Story
    (1124)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Riveting military sci-fi"
    "Battlestar Galactica in the British Royal Navy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many reviews of this book refer to Battlestar Galactica, and it's pretty obvious why. A great big obsolete starship has been sitting around collecting the dregs of the fleet, with a washed out alcoholic captain, and then suddenly aliens attack and it turns out the Ark Royal is the only ship that can fight them. Christopher Nuttall obviously really loved BSG. He also seems to really love strategic space combat games and the British Royal Navy, and really hate reporters.

    There isn't much fleshed out in this future universe. All the countries of the early 21st century seem to be pretty much intact and similar in their relative power and politics in the future, even though they've all begun colonizing other planets. Humans have yet to encounter intelligent aliens. Then suddenly aliens attack a colony world and wipe it out. The alien ships are armed with plasma cannons, which the shields of all the newer starships cannot withstand, so a multinational defensive fleet is quickly wiped out.

    The admiralty decides to send the 70-year-old carrier Ark Royal on a crucial mission because they hope its heavy armor plating, built for a previous era of space warfare, will do better against the alien weapons. This despite the fact that they know the captain of the Ark Royal is a drunkard.

    Needless to say, the Ark Royal flies into glorious battle, there is much space combat, Captain Ted proves himself to be a great officer once he puts the bottle down, and also every single female officer about the Ark Royal is apparently sleeping around. (I don't think any woman had a scene without her breasts being described.)

    Ark Royal is reasonably entertaining candy for those who like military SF. Accept the premise that starships are just like naval craft, and the British Royal Navy once again rules the "waves," and it's fun to visualize ship counters moving across a hex map as the battles are described. (At times, I could almost hear dice rolling.)

    The writing is okay, though like a lot of self-published novels, the lack of polish is evident. Facts are repeated, heck, everything is repeated, and there are a lot of contradictory plot points. The worldbuilding is scant; just as much as is needed to put those ships counters on the map. Being a true SF fan, I don't just want starship combat, I want to know about the aliens, and by the end of this book, even though they have captured a few of them, they still know absolutely nothing about them or why they attacked.

    This was not a bad book, but it didn't stand out from the many similar series. If you like space combat, and the idea of an "old school" British navy fighting aliens, or anything Battlestar Galactica-themed, you'll probably like it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2405)
    Performance
    (1930)
    Story
    (1932)

    After a brutal battle with the underworld that nearly destroyed him, Locke Lamora and his trusted sidekick, Jean, fled the island city of their birth and landed on the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But even at this westernmost edge of civilization, they can't rest for long - and they are soon back doing what they do best: stealing from the undeserving rich and pocketing the proceeds for themselves.

    Anthony says: "This is how you write a series!"
    "Thieves, Pirates, and Cats"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Lies of Locke Lamora was a fun bit of thieving and rogueing in a crapsack fantasy world. Red Seas Under Red Skies is more of the same, plus pirates. I actually enjoyed it more than the first book, not necessarily because of the pirates.

    Locke Lamora is a thief, the sort of thief who makes people want to play the thief class in AD&D, and then find out that even if you reach 15th level you're still not going to be able to pull off epic fantasy novel stunts. Locke prides himself on being able to steal anything from anyone, and quite often Lynch will have him pull off audacious stunts offscreen, like waltzing into a nobleman's heavily-guarded mansion and stealing a prize piece of jewelry from around his mistress's neck while they are in bed together. But the plots that drive these books are capers — as is pointed out several times, if Locke and Jean just wanted to be rich, they could make off with a nice haul and retire whenever they like. But they always have to find a big, difficult, dangerous score, preferably one that involves pissing off powerful people. Then of course in the process of setting up a long game, they end up crossing even more powerful people, get screwed over every which way, and have to pull off a spectacular triple-plus-cross to get out of it.

    Following the events of book one, Locke Lamora, the Thorn of Camorr, and his bruiser best friend Jean, flee Camorr to lick their wounds. Locke goes into an alcoholic pity party while Jean starts building up a new gang of thieves in the small town they've wound up in, until in an effort to stir him from his depression, Jean provokes Locke into an overly audacious bit of thievery to demonstrate that he's still the most cunning bastard ever. This causes them to flee, and the whole subplot with Jean's little gang of teenage thieves is dropped, never to be mentioned again. I have noticed that Scott Lynch leaves lots of loose threads dangling, like the ancient race that left the Elderglass ruins, and the lost love that Locke has been moaning about for two books now. Either he's planning to wrap this all up spectacularly in a future volume, or he is just one of those authors who gets nifty ideas, doesn't know what to do with them, and forgets about them.

    Lynch's plotting is great, though — grant his main characters the sort of epic talents they are credited with, and their scheming is clever and entertaining enough to allow the reader to cross that bridge suspended over disbelief.

    Anyway — pirates. They don't really show up until about halfway in.

    Jean and Locke travel to Tal Verrar and spend two years preparing to steal from the Sinspire, a grand casino with successively higher levels one can only ascend with a combination of wealth, status, and game play. The Sinspire's vaults are, of course, supposedly unbreachable, and the Sinspire is run by yet another evil mastermind, so that's Locke and Jean's target. In the process of planning their con, however, they come to the attention of the Archon of Tal Verrar, who is a rival of the master of the Sinspire and a politician with a problem familiar to historical monarchs — he commands Tal Verrar's army and navy, but Tal Verrar's "priori," or ruling council, controls the purse strings. He needs a threat to materialize and convince the priori to loosen up their purses. Another pirate attack like that one seven or eight years ago would do nicely. Once he gets Locke and Jean in his power, he assigns them to... go recruit a bunch of pirates and attack Tal Verrar so the Archon can defeat the pirates and have a well-funded navy again. So Locke and Jean have to satisfy both the Archon and the master of Sinspire, convincing each that they are a double-agent for them working against the other. Meanwhile they've been poisoned, the bondsmagi they pissed off in the first book are after them, the Archon's right-hand woman is actually working for some unknown third power, and that's before Locke and Jean even get out to sea and meet the pirates they have to convince to attack Tal Verrar so they can all be hunted down and killed.

    Juggling so many knives, Lynch does a pretty good job of grounding them without cutting off too many fingers. The piracy was entertaining, as he introduces a single mother pirate captain and a pleasantly silly bit of seagoing tradition in this world in which ships must always sail with women officers and cats and women.

    The world remains an almost unrelentingly dark one — some of the characters, including Locke and Jean, show streaks of nobility, and Locke in particular seems to be planning some sort of grand strike against the wantonly cruel upper classes. That said, this is a grimdark fantasy world. Casual cruelty, creative atrocities, humiliation and oppression and torture as sport, not to mention everyone being reliably treacherous at all levels, is par for the course.

    Lynch follows other predictable cliches as well, like as soon as Jean and his new pirate honey exchanged "I love you"s, I knew she couldn't have been more dead if she already had a sword through her neck.

    Despite following a few standard fantasy tropes, this was rollicking good fun, one of those books that is most entertaining not for the swashbuckling or the fantasy bits, but for the impossible situations the author puts the characters in, so the reader is forced to turn pages to find out "How the hell are they going to get out of this one?"

    Definitely elevated my desire to read the next book in the series, though I hope Lynch is going to eventually incorporate some larger meta-plot into the story, rather than just continuing to spin yarns about ever-greater heists.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, Jack Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5165)
    Performance
    (3646)
    Story
    (3679)

    Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic "last stand" in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

    Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance's one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic "Black Jack" legend.

    Justin says: "Kinda boring, mostly tedious, and frustrating"
    "Good space opera for RTS gamers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first book in a series set up to allow the author to keep churning out more books as long as they sell, the premise is a "long retreat" as Captain Geary leads his Alliance fleet away from a devastating defeat in the Syndic homeworlds.

    The ingredients are all standard military SF, with an untested commander having to deal with discipline problems, subordinates who don't trust him, and an implacable, two-dimensional enemy.

    The battles are described in great detail, and you can almost picture pieces moving across the screen as the narrator describes ship components, weapons options, and strategy and tactics.

    Worldbuilding and characterization is sparse, but for fans of space combat stories, this is a decent listen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 1 min)
    • By Edgar Allan Poe
    • Narrated By Earl Hammond
    Overall
    (126)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (113)

    A collection featuring three classic horror stories, read by actor Earl Hammond: "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Cask of Amontillado", and "The Black Cat".

    M.A. Wilson says: "Excellent Narrator Brought The Story To Life"
    "Perfect Halloween listening"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This collection has three tales: The Telltale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Black Cat.

    If you are unfamiliar with these classics, you should really read them. They are old-school horror, served chilled.

    They're all creepy as hell - Poe depicted narrators going completely mad better than just about anyone else, including florid ol' Lovecraft. This would be fine listening on a dark Halloween night.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Richard Wolfson
    Overall
    (403)
    Performance
    (355)
    Story
    (345)

    "It doesn't take an Einstein to understand modern physics," says Professor Wolfson at the outset of these 24 lectures on what may be the most important subjects in the universe: relativity and quantum physics. Both have reputations for complexity. But the basic ideas behind them are, in fact, simple and comprehensible by anyone. These dynamic and illuminating lectures begin with a brief overview of theories of physical reality starting with Aristotle and culminating in Newtonian or "classical" physics.

    Brady says: "I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would"
    "Great primer for hard SF fans and physics laymen"
    Overall
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    Story

    I was a little ambivalent about trying one of these "Great Courses" on audio, especially with references to diagrams and such, but the instructor promised at the beginning that you could follow along at home without needing the pictures, and he was right, though there are points at which it might benefit a listener to pause the the lecture long enough to look up the diagram if you are having trouble visualizing what he describes.

    This is a course on advanced physics for people who are not physics students. All that high-level stuff like General and Special Relativity, the three fundamental forces, quantum mechanics, why nothing can go faster than light, how time dilation works, what is really going on with black holes and whether "wormholes" really exist (answer: there is currently no actual evidence of them, we just know that the math supporting the possibility of their existence works) and a dozen other topics for any long-time science fiction reader.

    And that is why I downloaded this course, because I haven't had a physics class since high school, and I've had only a brief survey course on quantum mathematics, but I wanted to understand the physics behind relativistic travel and the formation of the universe and quantum theory and all that jazz well enough to feel educated when I read science fiction that tries to be "hard" (and even to have a better grounding for any SF I might write myself...).

    I would say this course works very well for that purpose. The professor promises that the math is minimal, so at several points he handwaves the formulas, saying "Trust me (but go look it up if you want to really understand it)" but assures us that the concepts he explains require no more than high school algebra, for the most part, and this was also true. So this is a very "math light" physics course for non-physicists, and thus for someone who is a veteran of hard SF there won't be much here in the way of new concepts - you have probably read Heinlein's Time for the Stars in which a pair of telepathic twins conduct the famous "twin experiment" with one twin staying on Earth getting old while the other twin sets off on a journey in a spaceship traveling at near-lightspeed. And you've read lots of stories about black holes and how they "slow time" as you approach the event horizon. (Go see Interstellar - it's a fantastic movie.) And you know that pure matter-energy conversion would be a billion times more efficient than nuclear fusion, if we could do it. And you've heard of Schroedinger's Cat and how supposedly we could use paired qubits to achieve faster-than-light communication (we can't). And gravity warps time and space, and light is a particle and a wave (and in fact so is all matter, really), and Einstein refused to believe God rolled dice with the universe.

    All that is covered here, and at the end of it, you'll understand it better, conceptually, but obviously this cannot replace an actual physics course and if you want to really, really understand it, you'd have to actually get deeper into the math. I now have a better understanding of what physics says about General and Special Relativity and black holes and time travel and quantum entanglement. Do I really, thoroughly understand it? You'll probably find several points Professor Wolfson covers need to sit with you awhile, and some stuff you'll really have to read more deeply to fully "get it." But you can get the gist adequately from this course.

    So, this course will not work as a substitute for taking an actual physics class. It probably won't even work very well as a primer. But if you're just a layman who already has some idea of the stuff you've been reading about in science fiction but you want to know more about it, you'll find this course quite valuable, and if you actually don't know any of this stuff, it will probably blow your mind.

    The lecturer builds up his topics very carefully, starting with what ancient astronomers and physicists knew, all the way back to Aristotle. There is a lot of physics history here, so you'll get your Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and Maxwell and Bohr and of course Einstein, and that part is also quite interesting, as there is just a little bit of biographical information about each person, but more importantly, what exactly they figured out and how and how it changed what was known up to that point in time.

    Overall, well worth the investment in listening to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Kiss Before Dying

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ira Levin
    • Narrated By Mauro Hantman
    Overall
    (457)
    Performance
    (409)
    Story
    (412)

    Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures.

    karen says: "Nothing like a classic....."
    "Pacey, suspenseful thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If at first you don't succeed, get rid of the girl and move on to the next sister.

    A Kiss Before Dying is a taut little thriller about a sociopath who conceives an ingenuous plan to seduce the daughter of a wealthy copper baron. Except she goes and gets pregnant before his plan can come to fruition. Since Daddy is the moralistic disinheriting type, he figures a kid before they are properly married and he's had time to work his charms and soften the old man up will just ruin everything. When he can't persuade her to get rid of it, he's left with only one option - a well-planned murder in which he manages to make it look like a suicide, and then avoid any connection between him and the dead girl.

    Which allows him to move on to daughter #2.

    But daughter #2 proves a little too intuitive — she starts putting clues together and realizing her sister didn't commit suicide, and wants to find out who murdered her. She figures everything out just a little too late.

    And our boy, as long on audacity as he is short on scruples, decides third time's the charm: the rich industrialist had three daughters, and after all that research he did to seduce the first two, he knows the oldest sister pretty well...

    As improbable as this story may sound, I couldn't really spot any plot holes. Sure, our protagonist needed a bit of luck here and there, but nothing so overwhelmingly coincidental as to be completely implausible. He's just a meticulous, cold-blooded schemer with a knack for manipulation.

    A lot of people want books with "relocatable" protagonists. Well, the protagonist of this book is a murderous, gold-digging sociopath. You want him to trip up and get caught, and you want his victims to get away, and at the same time, the exciting part is finding out how he's going to get away with it.

    This book is dated now — it was written in 1954 and it's set in the early fifties, so the campus life described, and the so-visible class distinctions are not the same as now, but that just makes this suspenseful novel a period piece as well. In fact, some of the period details are what made it interesting. For example, there is surprisingly little moralizing about the proposed abortion — she doesn't want to do it, but it seems more for emotional reasons than any real ethical or religious qualms. And it struck me that in some ways, the "boy from the wrong side of the tracks" was a thing that would be even harder to envision today — nowadays, we like to pretend that American society is less class-stratified, but that's because the rich are increasingly distant and out of sight. Working class people just don't socialize, at all, with the very wealthy, which makes it easier for us to pretend that there is no such thing as class.

    Ira Levin also wrote other thrillers, like Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives, and with this pacey, suspenseful novel, it's easy to see how readily his stories became a part of pop culture. Definitely worth reading, and motivated me to read more by him someday.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Boule De Suif, The Necklace, and Other Stories: 382

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Guy De Maupassant
    • Narrated By John Pether
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    Guy De Maupassant is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story and one of the form's finest exponents. The story "Boule de Suif", written in 1880, is his masterpiece. A protege of Flaubert, Maupassant's stories are characterized by their economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements. Many of the stories are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s and several describe the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught in the conflict, emerge changed. He authored some 300 short stories.

    David says: "Fantastic collection of Maupassant"
    "Fantastic collection of Maupassant"
    Overall
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    If you are considering a collection of Maupassant short stories on Audible, you should grab this one as Audible is practically giving it away, and it contains several of Maupassant's popular stories which are selling individually for several times the price of this collection!

    Since the description does not tell you which stories are included, I will list them below. There are thirteen:

    "The Moribund"
    "The Gamekeeper"
    "The Story of a Farm Girl"
    "The Wreck"
    "Theodule Sabot's Confession"
    "The Necklace"
    "The Wrong House"
    "The Marquis De Fumerol"
    "The Trip of Le Horla"
    "Farewell"
    "The Wolf"
    "The Inn"
    "Boule de Suif"

    The stories are all enjoyable and interesting, ranging from fireside tales about hunting and farming and jilted lovers and poor peasants and debauched soldiers, to a few, like The Inn, that take the form of a ghost story even if no actual supernatural apparitions appear.

    Definitely worth reading these, and I wouldn't hesitate to try some more Maupassant. John Pether's narration is clear and cultured and a perfect English tone for this translation of Maupassant's French.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Snow Queen

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 14 mins)
    • By Hans Christian Andersen
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan
    Overall
    (3194)
    Performance
    (2795)
    Story
    (2811)

    This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

    Sara says: "Strange & Fascinating"
    "Charming children's fable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This Audible freebie is a nice way to hear the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. It's not a particularly thrilling fable - boys meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back - though really, it's the girl who does the getting.

    The story starts with an evil hobgoblin (also referred to as a demon) who goes to magic school (why did Rowling not find a way to hook this into her mythology?) and creates a magic mirror which shows "reality" in the harshest, ugliest way possible. It is shattered into a million pieces, and spread around the world, where it becomes smaller mirrors, spectacles, or tiny specks of glass getting caught in peoples' eyes, creating mischief and cold-hearted misunderstanding.

    One such shard gets in the eye of a little boy named Kai, who then spurns his childhood sweetheart, Gerda. One day he goes wandering in the woods and is picked up by the Snow Queen. Gerda, convinced that he is not dead, goes on a quest to find him.

    There are talking flowers, talking crows, and a not-really-evil witch, and of course, the Snow Queen herself.

    A cute story with perhaps a few too many elements thrown in for the fantasy-minded modern reader, but it would certainly entertain children. Anderson does wrap this tale up with a rather saccharine Christian moral, but it's a story to please those in search of adventuresome girls and magical talking animals.

    Now maybe I should go see Frozen.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Damocles

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By S. G. Redling
    • Narrated By Angela Dawe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (230)
    Performance
    (215)
    Story
    (210)

    When Earth is rocked by evidence that extraterrestrials may have seeded human DNA throughout the universe, a one-way expedition into deep space is mounted to uncover the truth. What linguist Meg Dupris and her crewmates aboard the Earth ship Damocles discover on Didet - a planet bathed in the near-eternal daylight of seven suns - is a humanoid race with a different language, a different look, and a surprisingly similar society. But here, it’s the "Earthers" who are the extraterrestrial invaders, and it’s up to Meg - a woman haunted by tragedy and obsessed with the power of communication - to find the key to establishing trust between the natives and the newcomers.

    Brian says: "What did I tell you about that pie!?"
    "Humans are the aliens, linguistics FTW"
    Overall
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    Story

    Damocles is not an action-packed novel. Most of the book is talking, describing the laborious task of humans and aliens trying to establish communications when they share no culture or language in common. The linguistics are not described in detail, but the process of constructing a bridge to translation is realistic.

    This is also a "humans are the aliens" novel, in which it's the Earthers who come from outer space, to the shock and awe and terror of a less advanced civilization.

    The setting the Earthers come from is barely fleshed out — humans have expanded to other colonies, but the message from an older alien race giving Earthers the secret of FTL travel and telling them that there are other races seeded from the same DNA as humanity is never described in more detail than that. It's a MacGuffin to send the crew of the Damocles out into space.

    Damocles is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoints of Meg Dupris, the linguist aboard the Damocles, and Loul Pell, a socially awkward nerd in a dead-end government job when the Earthers arrive.

    Besides the realistic communications problems, the best part of Damocles is the realistic aliens, the Didetos. They are close enough to human that their psychology and physiology is understandable, but different enough that they're clearly not human. Their culture constantly throws the Earthers off-balance with its similarities and differences - Didetos don't sleep, and although they have an industrial society that has begun launching satellites, they have never in their history undertaken to explore their oceans. Yet, they have press conferences, a military-industrial complex, and comic book nerds.

    Loul Pell is one of the latter. A disgraced scientist, now working as a cubicle drone because he once presented a paper speculating about alien contact, he suddenly finds himself whisked away by Dideto Men In Black when aliens actually appear, pretty much where and how he said they would. And so he accidentally takes the role of speaker-to-aliens, and befriends a strange, willowy, extraterrestrial named "Meg."

    Although there are some misunderstandings and tension over miscommunications, and questions about whether the Earthers will be able to return home, there is no dramatic action in this book. It's a novel about inter-cultural communications, and if aliens ever do visit Earth, I can see Men In Black whisking S.G. Redling off to advise our first contact team on how to communicate with them.

    A thoughtful, intelligent sci-fi novel that explores linguistics and alien cultures in a realistic way. Damocles is not a particularly exciting book, but it's a fine work of genuine speculative fiction.

    I did not love the narrator, who particularly when listening at higher speeds (I usually listen to audiobooks on my Audible app) has a very high-pitched and sometimes annoying voice, though she was clear and did a good job switching between Meg and Loul's voices.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Junkie Quatrain

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Peter Clines
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, Therese Plummer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1066)
    Performance
    (979)
    Story
    (992)

    Six months ago, the world ended. The Baugh Contagion swept across the planet. Its victims were left twitching, adrenalized cannibals that quickly became know as Junkies. Civilization crumbled as people created isolated safe havens to hide from the infected... and the possibly infected. Now, as society nears a tipping point, lives will intersect and intertwine across two days in a desolate city.

    Tango says: "An awesome set of vignettes"
    "Four zombie shorts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a set of four interlinked short stories in post-zombie apocalypse Los Angeles.

    The first story is about one woman, traveling alone, who is supposedly immune to the virus that creates "Junkies" (so-named because they eat literally anything they can stuff into their mouths). She acquires a traveling companion, another woman. Trouble ensues.

    The second story is about a biological researcher who is brought to a research facility that is trying to develop a cure. He uncovers the Horrible Truth.

    The third story is about a band of professional scavengers in the post-apocalyptic city who run into something more dangerous than Junkies.

    The fourth story is about a mercenary/assassin who's still doing his thing after the apocalypse.

    There is some cleverness in the way each story feeds into the next, but there is nothing really new here for zombie fans. Peter Clines's Ex-Heroes series is more interesting, as he mixes superheroes with his zombies. This is a fun, short read, but it's nothing you haven't seen before.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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