This is an excellent novel in its own right. My only complaint is that it's too short!
And there are reasons why Wheaton has become my favorite lector, and this is certainly one of them.
I've always really loved Tobolowsky as one of the nation's preeminent "It's that guy!" actors. Now I love him as a great storyteller, with a really interesting life.
I also never had a fan that the group "Radio Head" ultimately owes Tobo for their name. But that's another bit of trivia.
If I've been propelled through life by a continuously variable transmission, reading Murakami is like moving to a stick shift. And this is certainly an prime example of that.
Murakami makes you shift your perspective. Nothing as trivial as alternate universes (although he did use those in 1Q84), but more of a radical shift in how you perceive and model reality. If there is such a thing.
Many of Murakami's books take you to places that just require you to relinquish all control of your rationality. This one's a bit easier on you, having more of a standard narrative. It's only in the deeper contemplation of the story that you tend to lose your footing.
This book is all about deep emotion, how emotion defies all logic and reason, and how it is at the very core of our existence. In this respect, it's a surprisingly uplifting and empowering book, which is, to me, pretty good for what may look like simple storytelling.
We've all seen the movie, and we all more or less know the story. And if you're my age, and have a passing interest in science fiction, you've probably already read the book.
But, this refreshed the whole story for me. With a few more decades of maturity behind me, it was nice to look at the story afresh and gain a little deeper understanding.
My only issue with this production is the use of Dick Hill as the lector. It may be my own bias, but I'm far too accustomed to Hill's voice as that of Jack Reacher (Lee Child), and it was difficult for me to reframe his voice in the context of a science fiction classic. Let's face it, when you hear the voice of Jack Reacher saying "I'm sorry Dave, but I can't do that," the whole scene plays differently.
Not that this is bad. The story's still worthwhile, and as always, a welcome installment of Clarke.
Suarez really never fails to deliver. Here, we have another story by him, unrelated to his previous works, but just as engaging.
The book takes off running, then gets really fast and wild. Maybe too fast and wild, but whatever the audio equivalent of "page turner," this is it.
Say what you will about Ferguson, but you're never going to get the Cliff's Notes version of history from him. Agree or disagree, he manages to come at his history from a fresh, at least to me, perspective on things.
To be honest, I found some of his assertions to be hopelessly... um... unlikely/naive/doctrinaire, but overall, he offered me a new way to look at world history, in particular with respect to the ascendancy of the west, and fresh ideas are always a good thing.
The entire book seems to build to a rather predictable point, but in the end, it's more of the culmination of his arguments, and probably arguments that should at least be considered.
I have to say that the plot isn't great and the writing isn't high literature, but:
It is so nice to be back on Mars. I loved the TV show, liked the movie, but this book, coming right on the heels of the movie, provided me with more overall Veronica Mars goodness than any of the TV episodes or the movie.
This gives us all the highlights of what we expect from Mars, including a more elaborate story than is practical for a one or two hour video. The icing on the cake is Kristen Bell's narration, which pretty much sells the whole thing.
I'd love to hear her reading other books, although it might be hard to not hear Veronica's voice...
I had fond memories of watching this on PBS, so I decided to read the book. Or, more properly, anthology.
I really enjoyed the writing, the characters, and in fact, most things about the book. What I didn't like about the book was 70s era San Francisco. While I admit that I don't have too many fond memories of those times, I'd forgotten just how shallow and self-absorbed it was.
To be true, nothing in the story seemed at all inconsistent with the age; it was maybe just a little compressed.
I've read that some print versions of this book have been released as a trilogy. Were that the case on audio, I probably wouldn't have finished the second and third. And frankly, from the book's description, I almost expected a bodice-ripper with space ships and ray guns. Fortunately, we didn't get one.
The truth is that this book gets off to a pretty rocky start. The backstory for the universe is delivered in a rush, almost like the opening theme song to a 70s era sitcom, except that it didn't have a melody to engage you. Mostly, it's hard to care because there's little in the beginning to really snare you.
Likewise, the ending is rather obvious and you'll pretty much know where everything's going to end up very early in the story.
The book's strong point is its storytelling. It is a comfortable universe that moves at a comfortable pace. While with most audio books, I can get so caught up in the story that I want to hear it all in one sitting - with the requisite let-down that it's over and there's nothing to listen to, this provides a nice place that you can keep going back to over and over.
The narrative (excepting the beginning and end) moves at a realistic and even pace. You get to see the main characters develop, understand their motivations, and actually care about them. Better still, they aren't one-dimensional cut-outs that you so often get in space opera.
This may sound like a very lukewarm review, but the overall effect made it one of the better audio books I've "read" all year, and I "read" about a hundred each year.
I don't know if I'll ever be able to mentally separate Reynolds' writing from Lee's narration, but I have to say that I quite enjoy the combination.
This is pretty standard Reynolds fare, with his usual dollop of inventive future visualizations and a unique approach to what he imagines could be our future history.
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