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Richard L. Rubin

Oakland, CA United States | Member Since 2007

50
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 24 reviews
  • 203 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 24 purchased in 2014
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  • Ubik

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (421)
    Performance
    (226)
    Story
    (235)

    Glen Runciter is dead. Or is everybody else dead? Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic and paranormal crimes. But when its special team tackles a big job on the moon, something goes terribly wrong, and Runciter is seemingly killed.

    Mirek says: "Ubik - the classic of sci-fi"
    "A Masterpiece of Surreal Science Fiction!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of Philip K. Dick's best books and my own personal favorite. The story begins in the near future. The central character is Joe Chip, an engaging but perpetually broke fellow, employed by his older mentor Glen Runciter. Runciter Associates sell their services as "inertials" -- odd persons who have a talent for cancelling out the abilities of telepathic corporate spies who use mind-reading abilities to spy on companies. Runciter, Chip and ten other employees of Runciter Associates are lured to Luna Colony where they are the victims of a terrorist bomb blast that kills Runciter and leaves Chip and the others scrambling for survival in a reality which seems to be simultaneously slipping back in time and dissolving out from under them. Or is this what's really happening? Many brilliant concepts come into play to create a surreal and mesmerizing trip down the rabbit hole. There are dead people who exist in ???half life,??? a form of lying in state after death where the decedent remains available, in special mausoleums, for consultation with the living. Pre-cogs can see into the future and are frequently hired to engage in corporate espionage. There is omnipresent time decay which creates regressed forms of devices allowing a space-age hover car to regress to a Buick LeSabre, then to a Model T. Finally, there is UBIK itself, a miracle spray which reverses decay and may represent the only hope of salvation. Dark humor, nostalgia and intriguing concepts drawn from philosophy and a deep knowledge of history. Well narrated, this is a true masterpiece of surreal science fiction.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Godmakers

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Frank Herbert
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    On the edge of a war-weary and devastated galaxy, charismatic Lewis Orne has landed on Hamal. His assignment: To detect any signs of latent aggression in this planet's population. To his astonishment, he finds that his own latent extrasensory powers have suddenly blossomed, and he is invited to join the company of "gods" on this planet - and the people here place certain expectations on their gods.

    Richard L. Rubin says: "Somewhat Disappointing"
    "Somewhat Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Readers hoping for something approaching the richness and excellence of Frank Herbert's Dune masterpiece will find The Godmakers disappointing. The Godmakers consists of four closely connected short stories concerning Lewis Orne, an agent of the Investigative Adjustment (AI) organization. Similar to the Bene Gesserit in the Dune Universe, the AI employs made-up religious doctrine and applied sociology to neutralize threats posed by potentially warlike planetary societies. Also like the Bene Gesserit, AI agents possess extrasensory psychic powers and prescience which they employ to manipulate individuals and societies to their ends. Unfortunately, the stories in this book are not that interesting. The characters are one dimensional and spend entirely too much of their time pontificating at each other. One cannot fault the generally excellent narrator Scott Brick, who does the best he can with what he has to work with, for the failure of this book to engage the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sea Was Wet As Wet Could Be

    • UNABRIDGED (43 mins)
    • By Mel Gilden
    • Narrated By Commodore James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In a Los Angeles that is something like ours - but in which magic has become an integral part of society - P.I. Turner Cronyn and a beautiful woman named Astraea Scales investigate the theft of Big Al (the Triton)'s conch shell horn, which not only plays beautiful music at the Triton Club, but also has magical properties that could inundate greater L.A. And the villain appears to be the last of the surviving race of Sirens (of Circe fame), who still wants revenge on the Greek hero Jason!

    Tabitha says: "Hard boiled parody filled with urban fantasy."
    "Fun-Filled Detective Romp Through Noir L.A."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fun-filled detective romp through a noirish Los Angeles. The story takes place in a quirky environment populated with Sirens and others from Greek mythology. An enjoyable read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Days of the Cathars

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Mike Hoare
    • Narrated By Mike Hoare
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    In the middle of the 12th Century an unknown Christian sect emerged in southern France. They claimed to be the sole successors of the original Church of Jesus Christ. They called themselves Cathars. Despite their sincere belief, the Cathars were deemed by the Roman Church to oppose several of their fundamental principles of Christianity. Because of these unorthodox practices the Cathars were outlawed by the Church of Rome, and sentenced to a merciless extinction.

    Richard L. Rubin says: "Informative and Entertaining History!"
    "Informative and Entertaining History!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the story of the Cathars, a heretical sect which arose in parts of France and neighboring countries during the 12th Century. It's a fascinating and little known chapter in history which sheds much light on life and religion in medieval times. The Cathars, who claimed to be the sole practitioners of the true Christianity, as Jesus proclaimed it, were a strange lot. They did not believe in sex, owning property or eating meat or dairy. They probably would have died out of their own accord in a century or so, but the Catholic Church of its day was certainly not going to wait around for that to happen. In 1209 the Pope in Rome launched the Albigensian Crusade with the goal of converting or wiping out the Cathars and all other heretics in Southern France. This is an informative and entertaining book, written in a somewhat informal style which differs from the approach which might be taken by a professional academic historian. For example, the author imagines the thoughts of various historical figures and probably takes some liberties with the dialogue attributed to them. My one major criticism is that I thought a bit more detail was needed in places, particularly in recalling the Siege of Montsegur which amounted to the last stand of the Cathar faith. The book is enthusiastically and clearly read by the author.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A Maze of Death

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Benjamin L. Darcie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Delmak-O is a dangerous planet. Though there are only 14 citizens, no one can trust anyone else and death can strike at any moment. The planet is vast and largely unexplored, populated mostly by gelatinous cube-shaped beings that give cryptic advice in the form of anagrams. Deities can be spoken to directly via a series of prayer amplifiers and transmitters, but they may not be happy about it. And the mysterious building in the distance draws all the colonists to it, but when they get there each sees a different motto on the front.

    Darwin8u says: "JJ Abrams YOU are a book thief."
    "WELCOME TO DELMAK-O!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Welcome to planet Delmak-O where danger and confusion lurk
    behind every corner and reality is constantly shifting out from under you! Science Fiction Grand Master Philip K. Dick guides you on a surreal trip down the rabbit hole as 14 eccentric characters find themselves the sole colonists assigned to a fledgling outpost on Delmak-O, a strange and hostile planet inhabited by mechanical bugs, gelatinous tenches that answer questions based on the I Ching, and a sinister building which appears different to everyone who approaches. Offbeat god-figures manifest at various times to help and advise to the settlers. Death stalks the colonists as one by one they are killed off by each other or mysterious unknown forces. By way of a forward to the book, PKD acknowledges that this work found inspiration in LSD experiments and his interest in Eastern religion. This is an enjoyable listen for those who appreciate science fiction which explores metaphysical and surreal themes. The narrator does a good job with the various voices, male and female alike.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By J. R. R. Tolkien
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4231)
    Performance
    (3803)
    Story
    (3878)

    The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in the trilogy, tells of the fateful power of the One Ring. It begins a magnificent tale of adventure that will plunge the members of the Fellowship of the Ring into a perilous quest and set the stage for the ultimate clash between the powers of good and evil.

    Ellen says: "At last - The Definitive Recording!"
    "Well Done!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a truly wonderful story and it remains fresh and exciting even if you've read it once or twice before. Rob Inglis does a great job with all the voices and singing all of Tolkien's delightful songs. The magic is all there and more! Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Mark Owen, Kevin Maurer
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3382)
    Performance
    (3029)
    Story
    (3057)

    From the streets of Iraq to the mountaintops of Afghanistan and to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden's compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group - commonly known as SEAL Team Six - has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines. No Easy Day puts listeners alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the 24-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives.

    Darwin8u says: "Gripping, first-hand narrative of Op Neptune Spear"
    "History, Raw and Unadorned"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If newspaper journalists provide us with the "first draft of history," then "Mark Owen" (a pseudonym) has provided us with history's raw ingredients, the unadorned and unedited account of an important event. Owens doesn't reflect on the politics of the wars he fights or the philosophical implications of his job as a deadly 21st Century super-warrior. Much of the book is filled with the mundane details of his trade: the equipment he wears, his sleep cycle, the importance of emptying his bladder before a mission, the sit-ups and pull-ups he struggled to do to qualify for the SEAL program. He is not an introspective kind of guy and he doesn't describe his work in glamorous or romantic prose. But there are two things that make this book worthwhile. First, there are the Obama-era rules of engagement for the Afghan War which render SEAL and other military operations less effective then before in eliminating the enemy and which expose our own soldiers to much more personal risk then previously. Second, of course, is Owen's personal account of the Osama bin Laden raid. US government officials have questioned the accuracy of Owen's account of how the bin Laden killing went down, but for my money Owen's account rings true because it is more morally ambiguous and less glamorous then the official version and raises the question of whether bin Laden could have been captured and flown away without any real risk to the SEAL team. There's not much about politics here and it's clear that the CIA effort to locate and kill or capture bin Laden proceeded seriously and unabated from September 2001 onward and just happened to gel when it did in 2011. President Obama makes an appearance at the end of the book to watch the takedown by video in Washington and, of course, take credit for the raid which would have taken place when it did regardless of who won the 2008 presidential election. The narration is first rate. Recommended.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Planet of the Apes

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Pierre Boulle
    • Narrated By Greg Wise
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    Greg Wise reads Pierre Boulle's chilling, iconic novel about a nightmare world where apes rule over men. In a spaceship that can travel at the speed of light, Ulysse, a journalist, sets off from Earth for the nearest solar system. He finds there a planet which resembles his own, except that on Soror humans behave like animals and are hunted by a civilised race of primates.

    Cage says: "Monkey Business..."
    "You've Seen the Movies, Now Read the Book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even if you're very familiar with the classic 1968 Charlton Heston movie, there are a few surprises and plot twists here that make this an interesting and exciting listen. The main character is Ulysse, a French journalist who journeys with two other intrepid astronauts to the distant star, Betelgeuse, where they, of course, come upon the Planet of the Apes, inhabited by primitive humans and technologically advanced chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The themes are somewhat different from those of the movie, but this is a well written and exciting book with a tightly-constructed plot, which also raises interesting questions about the ethics of animal research and social behaviors which can bring about the death of a civilization. Well narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Steve Sheinkin
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (48)

    On a bitter cold day in January 1741, Benedict Arnold was born. Little did anyone know that he would grow up to become the most infamous villain in American history. But first, he would be one of the country's greatest war heroes. Fearless in the line of fire, a genius at strategy and motivating his men, General Arnold was America's first action hero. But his thirst for recognition would ultimately be his undoing.

    Richard L. Rubin says: "Fascinating History!"
    "Fascinating History!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Benedict Arnold was a fascinating individual, a gutsy and brilliant military leader, who most likely saved the cause of the American revolution long before he sought to destroy it. If you are unfamiliar with the details of his treason the last part of this book reads like a thriller in which you can't wait to see what happens next as the intrigue unfolds. This is history which not only shines a light upon the characters and their actions, but also gives you a feel for this historical time: the mores and customs, the technology and the means of warfare, so that you get a sense of what it was actually like to live during the era of the American Revolution.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island: A Radio Dramatization

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Joseph Zamparelli, Anastas Varinos, The Colonial Radio Players
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    After finding a treasure map belonging to the notorious pirate Captain Flint, Jim Hawkins, Squire Trelawney, and Doctor Livesey charter a ship and set sail for the Island of Treasure. However, they are unaware that most of the crew they have hired once sailed with Flint, including the man with one leg - Long John Silver - and they mean to take the ship and the treasure for themselves. One of the all-time great adventure stories, Treasure Island comes to life in digital stereo, a full cast, thousands of sound effects, and an original music score.

    Richard L. Rubin says: "Great Performance of a Timeless Classic!"
    "Great Performance of a Timeless Classic!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Treasure Island is a wonderful story and it remains fresh and exciting even if you've read it a few times before. The Colonial Radio Players do an excellent job with multi-cast presentation, great sound effects and music. The voice casting is very good and the magic is all there, with Long John Silver, Jim Hawkins, Dr. Livesey and all the rest.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Man Who Japed

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Following a devastating nuclear war, the Moral Reclamation government took over the world and forced its citizens to live by strictly puritanical rules - no premarital sex, drunkenness, or displaying of neon signs - all of which are reinforced through a constant barrage of public messages. The chief purveyor of these messages is Alan Purcell, next in line to become head of the propaganda bureau. But there is just one problem: a statue of the government’s founder has been vandalized.

    Richard L. Rubin says: "An Enjoyable Trip Down the Rabbit Hole!"
    "An Enjoyable Trip Down the Rabbit Hole!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a minor novel by Phillip K. Dick (PKD). It's certainly not in the same class as his masterworks such as UBIK or The Man in the High Castle (winner of a Hugo award), but it's still a very enjoyable trip down the rabbit hole. Like many PKD novels, this one takes place on a post-nuclear war Earth. The plot centers around Allen Purcell's mocking rebellion against a suffocating morally correct and politically correct social order and totalitarian state. On the surface, Purcell and his wife Janet are respectable upstanding citizens who run a successful agency that contracts with the totalitarian government to produce propaganda-oriented TV shows. But Allen finds himself subconsciously driven to repeatedly "jape" or mock the existing order, by secretly committing such pranks as defacing and decapitating the statute of General Streiter, the founder of the totalitarian order. It wouldn't be a real PKD novel unless mind altering drugs are ingested and reality shifts out from under the reader once or twice, but overall the plot of this book is relatively coherent and straightforward. There is humor here that withstands the test of time and a righteous cry for freedom that can't be denied. Excellent narration. Recommended.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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