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Alan

United States | Member Since 2010

ratings
6
REVIEWS
6
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
2

  • A Deepness in the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Vernor Vinge
    • Narrated By Peter Larkin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (384)
    Performance
    (239)
    Story
    (246)

    After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. There are two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds.The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches.

    Amen-Ra says: "A science fiction classic"
    "Better than expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The other reviews are right: You have to stick with this book. It seems at first to be a standard space opera, but the plot gets more complicated as it evolves. The description of a sub-light speed space faring community is well thought out and believable. And the author knows his science.

    Less believable are the aliens, who seem very human in their reactions. Given the cultural differences among earthlings, it is hard to believe that an alien world would have such similar psychologies to Americans. And the plot's pacing is somewhat erratic, sometimes slow and sometimes fast. I didn't mind it, but others may. And, yes, the author repeats things, but more as a reminder of where you are in the plot and where the character is at that moment. There are a number of leading characters to keep track of.

    The story has its share of unexpected twists and turns, which kept me engaged. I look forward to more stories about the deep space traders.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Great North Road

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By Toby Longworth
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (966)
    Performance
    (871)
    Story
    (878)

    A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies. Or maybe not so friendly....

    Flapjack says: "Get the Timeline and Cast of Characters"
    "I wish this was 2 different books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This very long audible book encompasses two novels. One is a well-written and well-plotted mystery that launches the book. (Great narration, too) The police detective characters are great and the way they solve the mystery is smartly written and plotted. The other part is basic horror story: Isolated team gets picked off one by one by knife wielding monster that stalks them. Cue scary music. And why do characters go out in a blizzard by themselves to get slaughtered again and again? Be warned: How the horror story resolves itself may make you scream: WTF! I can't help but wonder if the publisher was screaming at the author: "Finish the bloody thing already."

    Despite all of this, I do love what Hamilton tries to accomplish in his novels. He imagines interesting new worlds with complex people. I also don't mind the back and forth of the narrative, as he jumps back into time to give the reader background stories on the various characters. In this case, it is partly to keep the reader guessing. He hides key clues by doling out details slowly.

    And, yes, I'll probably listen to another Hamilton story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Influx

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Daniel Suarez
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2392)
    Performance
    (2204)
    Story
    (2206)

    Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they've been working toward for years: A device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics - the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel Prize. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring.

    Craig says: "Solid to Silly to Inane"
    "Dumb plot, weak characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't get the positive reviews on this book. The plot is unbelievable, the characters are two dimensional, and the idea that snatching a few individuals can stop technological progress is a complete mis-reading of how science advances. This is paranoia run rampant. Why would governments suppress technologies in the interest of humankind? It is the other way around, governments use every technology at their disposal to gain an advantage.

    Worse, the story is poorly written; the dialogue becomes more unbelievable as the story progresses. The "good guys" are far too clever and the "bad guys" are far too evil. Of course, the good looking babe switches sides to the good guys--how original. And the characters seem totally oblivious to the growing body count as they fight each other. Really?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7004)
    Performance
    (6664)
    Story
    (6676)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

    Brian says: "Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped"
    "Geek out on Mars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "How does he think of this shit?"

    That line comes from one of the book's characters says, and neatly summarizes what happens in this hilarious and science-rich tale. I was laughing out loud listening to the story.

    Accidentally trapped on Mars alone, the book's main character uses his wits and out-of-the-box thinking to survive. It is tempting to compare the character to TV's fictional McGyver, but I would rather think of Richard Fenyman--the great physicist and "curious character" who could really think outside the box. The solutions are soundly grounded.

    If it weren't for the profanity, I would say that this book should be required reading in every high school. When was the last time that stoichometry--balancing chemical equations--played an important part in a fictional story? There are dozens of other examples in which real science and technology plays an important element in the story. I hope some science teachers pull out elements for classroom problem solving.

    I do have to add that this book could be enjoyed without understanding any of the science. It is simply a good yarn. Yes, the main character is bit too good at coming up with solutions. And, yes, NASA does come off as a bit too rigid and unimaginative. But it is all part of the fun. (Fun being trapped on Mars alone--that is quite a concept.)

    The narrator has a great sense of comic timing and the dialogue really come alive. However, he should stay away from accents. He keeps slipping in and out of them. Minor quibble.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Old Man's War

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3769)
    Performance
    (2728)
    Story
    (2750)

    John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First, he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So, we fight, to defend Earth and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

    Michael says: "As good as Heinlein"
    "An awful vision of the future"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from John Scalzi and/or William Dufris?

    No


    Has Old Man's War turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Old Man's War?

    I would have rejected the book.


    Any additional comments?

    This book makes little sense. People sign up for a stint in an intergalatic military and know nothing of its mission? The mind transfer is right out of a bad 1930s sci-fi film. And the characters seem mostly unaffected by the carnage happening all around them.

    This book reminded me of an snide comment that was around during the Vietnam War. Join the army, travel to exotic place, meet interesting people and kill them. It is a weak vision of our future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2120)
    Performance
    (1332)
    Story
    (1338)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "Excellent book; a wonderful tour of science"
    Overall

    As a chemist who has loved the periodic table since high school, I thought I knew all of the element discovery stories. However, Kean tells plenty of new tales that I've never heard, and when he re-tells one that I know it is so lively that I listen fascinated. Think Bill Bryson. I also love how he handles the science. Unlike many so-called science writers, he doesn't shy away from the details, but presents them in a lively and clear manner. Quantum chemistry for everyone--a neat trick. And Kean is right--the development of the periodic table ( and his forays into a few interesting side topics) is, in his hands, a story of the past 200 years of human civilization--good, bad and strange. Bravo.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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