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Michael G. Kurilla

ROCKVILLE, MD, United States | Member Since 2005

836
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 164 reviews
  • 458 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 6 purchased in 2015
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297

  • Swarm: Star Force, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By B. V. Larson
    • Narrated By Mark Boyett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4182)
    Performance
    (3824)
    Story
    (3836)

    Kyle Riggs is snatched by an alien spacecraft sometime after midnight. The ship is testing everyone it catches and murdering the weak. The good news is that Kyle keeps passing tests and staying alive. The bad news is the aliens who sent this ship are the nicest ones out there.

    Lamonica Johnson says: "If Micheal Bay Wrote a Sci-Fi Novel..."
    "Finally, an explanation for alien abductions!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Larson has crafted a novel twist on alien contact as well as solving the dilemma of advanced technology within a society temporally close to our own. In Swarm, alien vessels with alien advanced technology, but no aliens arrive on Earth and begin selecting, rather brutally, human candidates to pilot the ships in anticipation of future conflict with another alien enemy.

    Our hero is a college computer scientist who is the most successful at deciphering a functional interaction with the alien artificial intelligence powering the spacecraft. The bulk of the tale revolves around bootstrapping a military response to a malevolent alien invasion by what appears to be a machine intelligence, intent on wiping out humanity in order to use Earth as a source of raw materials.

    While some of the approaches to dealing with the alien invaders are contrived (and not well thought out), it's clear that Larson is setting up the opening salvo in what appears to a larger and longer story arch that will eventually introduce humanity to a more enlightened view of galactic politics (and lots of interstellar warfare as well).

    The writing is tight and the reading is well done making for an overall easy listening experience.

    33 of 36 people found this review helpful
  • Twelve Days: John Wells, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Alex Berenson
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (328)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (287)

    Wells, with his former CIA bosses Ellis Shafer and Vinnie Duto, has uncovered a staggering plot, a false-flag operation to convince the President to attack Iran. But they have no hard evidence, and no one at Langley or the White House will listen. Now the President has set a deadline for Iran to give up its nuclear program, and the mullahs in Tehran - furious and frightened - have responded with a deadly terrorist attack. Wells, Shafer, and Duto know they have only twelve days to find the proof they need.

    Robert says: "Great continuance of the John Wells character"
    "This time out it's a team effort"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Alex Berenson's Twelve Days is the conclusion to the previous installment, The Counterfeit Agent. "12" picks up where the last left off with Wells and his team of Vinny & Ellis having just 12 days to track down the real source of the HEU before the US invades Iran. While there are plenty of action scenes with classic Wells, John is beginning to rely more on his wits and quick thinking to get out of jams. Ellis shows that he still has the juice to gather the pertinent intelligence, while Vinny is clearly angling for something bigger in the future. John's family plays a cameo role suggesting their future involvement, particularly his son.

    The pacing is excellent while never knowing which way John will handle any given situation. Some enemies are eliminated, but several new candidates for future stories are introduced. Only the Saudi king angle is beginning to wear a bit thin. John also is coming to grips with his failures in the relationship department suggesting a new love interest in the near future.

    George Guidall's performance is simply outstanding with his rendition for Wells. His range for other characters along with tone and mood are perfect for the spy genre in general and Wells in particular. This story franchise with Guidall as narrator is pure listening enjoyment and not to be missed, although these tend to be quick listens due to a combination of story and narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • For the Time Being

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Marie Desjardin
    • Narrated By Jerry Sciarrio
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    The Pubbers, 10 gifted social misfits, set out one night to explore a set of steam tunnels beneath their campus, end up captured by aliens, and are transported by spaceship to another planet. Hoping to return home, they pool their talents to construct a time machine. The escape plan is discovered, and the Pubbers learn that building the device is why they were kidnaped in the first place.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Glee + Friends with Big Bang cast"
    "Glee + Friends with Big Bang cast"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For the Time Being is a lighted romp with college science geniuses abducted by aliens and forced to build a time machine in order to dominate another alien race - and that's about as deep as it gets.Throughout the story, time paradoxes constantly arise as the details for time travel are worked out. Both alien races have a fur fetish as well as one with a craving for mushrooms and another that goes through a tree phase.

    The sci-fi elements are crude, more consistent with golden age sci-fi with humanoid aliens with odd peccadilloes, faster than light drives, and a time machine. The science is minimally rendered, most of which has little internal consistency, while the alien races make little sense with features created mostly for weirdness. The gang of college students start as a quarreling, oddball collection that over time, fall in love and work together, to outsmart two alien races, build a time machine, and eventually get themselves home.

    The narration is adequate, but unremarkable with a good range of voices, although the aliens are rendered quite artificial. This is story that does not take itself seriously and neither should the listener.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Technician

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neal Asher
    • Narrated By David Marantz
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    The Theocracy has been dead for 20 years, and the Polity rules on Masada - but it is an order that the rebels of the Tidy Squad cannot accept, and the iconic Jeremiah Tombs is top of their hitlist. Tombs, meanwhile, has escaped his sanatorium. His insanity must be cured, because the near-mythical hooder, called "the Technician", that attacked him all those years ago, did something to his mind even the AIs fail to understand. Tombs might possess information about the suicide of an entire alien race.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Hardcore, technically sophisticated sci-fi"
    "Hardcore, technically sophisticated sci-fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Neal Ascher's The Technician, while a standalone story, is set in his "Polity" universe. The main tale takes place on Masada, a minor planet, 20 year after the overthrow of a theocractically controlled society. Humans are somewhat of a minor player as the galactic political structure is dominated by a wide diverse set of AIs. Masada is also the former home world of an extinct intelligent alien species that committed racial genocide. The explanation for this is part of the plot of the story. There's a good mix of petty human vengeful actions as well as planet destructive forces against a backdrop of solving the mystery of a strange creature who spared the life of a single human while inducing insanity.

    The sci-fi elements are varied and consistent with a time frame in the distant future. Artificial intelligence dominates throughout. Unusual, but well crafted human genetic adaptations are flawlessly inserted without disrupting the flow. There is also an internally consistent presentation of the unique biological constructs and evolutionary principles present on Masada.

    The narration is superbly done with an excellent range of voices aligned with the mood and pacing of the story. Overall, this is a hard listen and requires close attention not only to follow a complex storyline, but to also appreciate the well designed and integrated sci-fi aspects.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Genocide of One: A Thriller

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Kazuaki Takano, Philip Gabriel (translator)
    • Narrated By Joe Knezevich
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet. Representing the next step in human evolution, Akili can perceive patterns and predict future events better than most supercomputers, and is capable of manipulating grand-scale events like pieces on a chess board.

    Robert says: "Extraordinary."
    "Thriller with a super smart next gen human"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Kazuaki Takano's thriller, Genocide of One is a near future action tale with an evolved human going up against global state sponsored spy and anti-terrorism groups. The basic premise is a really smart child that has been deemed a threat and must be eliminated. Then ensues a series of action and sleuthing scenes jumping from Africa to Japan to the US.

    The pacing is well done with an edge of your seat feel. The story falls down in its over the top approach. A decades old think tank report that had suggested the possibility of an evolved, super smart human arising and taking over the world has apparently been front and center on the US government radar screen ever since. As a result, when vague descriptions emerge that it might have happened, plans are set in motion to eliminate the threat. The child however, has also anticipated this possibility and set in motion his own plans to fight back (which includes murder and mayhem). At the same time, the child has time to develop software to create a drug tailor made for the child of a mercenary who will get him to safety.

    The narration is well done with a solid range of characters of various ethnic backgrounds. The tone and mood are well suited for the fast paced actions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Antaran Codex

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stephen Renneberg
    • Narrated By Neil Shah
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    As mankind nears its goal of galactic citizenship, Sirius Kade, trader and Earth Intelligence Service deep cover agent, learns that wealthy and powerful leaders from across Mapped Space are vying for control of an alien relic they believe is the key to untold riches - unaware that they are being deceived. Sirius soon finds himself entangled in an interstellar plot to make humanity a cosmic outcast, denying it its place as the newest member of the vast and ancient community that has governed the galaxy for eons.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Probation is Sirius business"
    "Probation is Sirius business"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stephen Renneberg's the Antaran Codex is a solid sci-fi thriller with enough plot twists to maintain the tension through to the very end. Sirius Kade is a merchant captain with a secret intelligence operative background. Along with his crew, a drunken oaf and an alien outcast, as well as a sometime girlfriend who can't decide whether to swindle or bed him, Sirius goes undercover and finds himself in the middle of a plan to keep Earth from joining the galactic club of recognized sentients.

    The sci-fi elements are largely physics with faster than light drives along with various unremarkable alien species. The science is not the focal point, rather an elaborate mystery that Sirius must unravel is the main draw. The pacing is excellent with a good mixture of action scenes and detective sleuthing.

    The narration was quite respectable with a good range of voices and interesting renditions of the various alien races. While clearly a self contained storyline, the characters and this universe, make for intriguing follow-on installment potential.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Overlord

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By David L. Golemon
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    Overall
    (59)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (55)

    The plans of a million years are finally ready for what has always been coming - Armageddon. Finally, the first move is set in motion and the assassinations begin, eliminating the leadership and consolidating military control of the seas and airspace of the world’s most powerful nations. Only one element in the arsenal of the world can possibly give the Earth a fighting chance at survival - a tiny being that has already saved the world once in the Arizona desert is now called upon to outthink his former masters.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Event Group trilogy conclusion"
    "Event Group trilogy conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    David Golemon's Overlord is the 3rd and final installment of the Event Group trilogy concerning an impending invasion by aliens that was hinted at in the 1st two installments. Overlord is the codename for the plan to defend Earth. The story builds on the first two parts, Event Group and Legacy, but adds many more players to the mix. Final preparations for Overlord are consummated and the plan is somewhat executed. Mixed in are both intelligence and political opponents who lack insider information and harass, rather than hinder the main characters.

    The sci-fi elements are limited to wormholes with funky time effects and powerful lasers. While an engaging and exciting tale, with good pacing throughout, the story suffers from a crude, naivete. Basically, the overlord plan was designed and wholly known by just 4 individuals, one of whom is already dead, two who get injured and are out of action, with the last being the little friendly alien who has been holding back. This leads to the continual mantra of "need to know" which seems useless when world ending events are unfolding. 70 billion aliens in spaceships sailing across the galaxy looking for food also seems pretty lame (you can create an energy source big enough to bend space-time, but you can't produce food - really???). The actions of speaker and intelligence chief were also overly simplistic and farcical.

    The narration was quite good with an excellent range of voices that was needed for the expanded character set.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Janissaries: The Theogony, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Chris Kennedy
    • Narrated By Craig Good
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (128)

    The war with China was over and Lieutenant Shawn "Calvin" Hobbs just wanted his life to go back to normal. The hero of the war, he had a small ream of paperwork to fill out, a deployment with his Navy F-18 squadron to prepare for, and a new girlfriend to spend some quality time with. Life was good. Until the aliens showed up.

    Brenton says: "A good start"
    "Failed pitch for a TV miniseries"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Chris Kennedy 1st installment of the Janissaries: The Theogony is an unsophisticated tale more suitable to 1950's style sci-fi for pre-teens. Basically, Earth has been under the watch of an alien race with much of Greek mythology deriving from a prior contact. The alien communications beacon stops working and is interpreted as indicating that a previously believed extinct alien race of 10 foot man-eating frogs is still around and intends to invade Earth for a banquet. What ensues is an eclectic band of GI Joes types who ally with the watching aliens using technology from another extinct alien race that happens to be hanging around Earth and begin an adventure to save the planet and start exploring the galaxy.

    The sci-fi elements are basic and crude: wormhole travel for spaceships along with anti-matter and laser weapons. The multiple alien races are either humanoid or variants of terrestrial animals (birds, frogs, and lizards). Naive geopolitics include the US president getting a phone call from a war hero to come alone regarding an issue of national security. World leaders use body double for secret meetings and no one other than a select few know anything. "New" top secret classifications need to be created with the president working on establishing a unified world government. All of this is based on 3 aliens just saying so. Russia has reverted back to the KGB with a stereotypical femme fatale. The multiple aliens are either pacifists with a prime directive or blood thirsty carnivores who are pure evil and want to eat any intelligent life form.

    The narration is suboptimal with alien renditions of boring college professors and alien contact at the level of "we'll be your friends if you help us.". Also annoying is the repetition of the same information over and over again to different characters. There's a distinct lack of subtlety and nuance.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Atlantis World: The Origin Mystery, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By A.G. Riddle
    • Narrated By Stephen Bel Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (525)
    Performance
    (481)
    Story
    (483)

    Northern Morocco: Dr. Kate Warner cured a global pandemic, and she thought she could cure herself. She was wrong. And she was wrong about the scope of the Atlantis conspiracy. Humanity faces a new threat, an enemy beyond imagination. With her own time running out and the utter collapse of human civilization looming, a new hope arrives: a coded message from a potential ally.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Too much for a satisfying conclusion"
    "Too much for a satisfying conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Atlantis World is the 3rd (and hopefully last installment) for Riddle's Atlantis series. Most of the action takes place off world as characters hop from portal to portal piecing together the alien backstory. David and Kate attempt to recover Kate's latent memories conveniently dispersed to distant portal locations. Dorian is hot on their trail. What transpires is mostly a series of memory dumps by Kate and Dorian at each portal that provides the alien background info for how they came to be on Earth with divergent agendas. Added to the mix are two other sets of remnants of different alien civilizations (the sentinels and the serpentine armada). Dorian gradually arrives at the realization that Aryes has been using him and simply kills him over and over again with little purpose, while David and Kate unknowingly employ the Independence Day strategy to defeat whatever turns out to their ultimate enemy.

    The sci-fi elements are mostly alien civilizations that are never fully detailed or fleshed out. Why an advanced, intelligent race would need to freeze and thaw someone for decision making every couple of hundred years never made sense. The alien uprising / revolution was also poorly presented (after thousands of years, this society could not effectively deal with this issue?). Finally, most unsatisfying is that much of the tale breaks a cardinal rule of story telling in that the multiple memory dumps merely tell the backstory instead of showing the action.

    The narration is passable and renders as good a job as possible with a weak storyline.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Coming Home

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jack McDevitt
    • Narrated By Jennifer VanDyck
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (59)

    Thousands of years ago, artifacts of the early space age were lost to rising oceans and widespread turmoil. Garnett Baylee devoted his life to finding them, only to give up hope. Then, in the wake of his death, one was found in his home, raising tantalizing questions. Had he succeeded after all? Why had he kept it a secret? And where is the rest of the Apollo cache? Antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his pilot, Chase Kolpath, have gone to Earth to learn the truth.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Respectable, double action mystery sci-fi"
    "Respectable, double action mystery sci-fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Coming Home is the latest Jack McDevitt installment in the Alex Benedict series. The main character, Alex is a combination Indiana Jones / Sherlock Holmes with the narrator, Chase, playing his Watson / gal Friday. This story involves two independent tales with Chase heavily involved in the rescue of a large cruise ship caught in space / time warp that Alex figured out in an earlier installment. Added to the mix is that Alex's uncle is on board. At the same time, Alex comes into possession of an "ancient" (25th century) artifact that suggests a connection to a missing cache of early space exploration items. The story jumps back and forth between these two separate plots.

    This universe is set in the far future (beyond the 30th century) and a distant settled planet, although there are several Earth visits involved. One particularly unique feature of this series is the almost normal behavior of everyone in the story. People get hungry and go to restaurants; they go out to lunch with friends and discuss relationships; they go sightseeing on vacations, etc. There are no new sci-fi elements relative to earlier installments and the action scenes are muted and limited relative to earlier tales. McDevitt does provide a sense of the vastness of space which appears to slow down life in the future.

    The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices with good pacing. This series and narrator have always been an enjoyable listen and this time out is no exception.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Trafalgar Gambit: Ark Royal, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (724)
    Performance
    (661)
    Story
    (664)

    Humanity is losing the war. The once-mighty space navies have been crippled, officers and crew have been stretched to the limit and Earth herself has come under heavy attack. The end cannot be long delayed. For Admiral Smith and the crew of HMS Ark Royal, the stakes have never been so high. The one hope is to make contact with alien factions that might oppose the war.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy"
    "Satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Trafalgar Gambit completes Christopher G Nuttall's Ark Royal trilogy. The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of Book 2 with Earth having been directly attacked by the aliens while Ark Royal was on her mission in enemy territory. In the concluding chapter, Ark Royal is given the mission to make contact and negotiate with any alien faction intent on peaceful resolution. Along the way, the crew must deal with sabotage attempts both external as well as internal. The battle scenes are brief, but intense. Prince Henry is recovered and plays a decisive role in both negotiations and battle.

    The sci-fi elements are limited mainly to prior physics with some added alien biology and unique socio-cultural factors of the aliens, although there is little novelty. While the conclusion is satisfying, and likely signals the end of this series, there were some unanswered questions, from the mundane to whatever happened to Molly to how the geopolitical organization of Earth will evolve.

    The narration is excellent with good pacing and range of voices. This is both an enjoyable and engaging listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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