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Brian

GALLATIN, TN, United States | Member Since 2011

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 2 reviews
  • 13 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 6 purchased in 2014
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  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5964)
    Performance
    (5669)
    Story
    (5679)

    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"
    "THIS is How Hard SF Should Be Done!!!!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I grew up reading Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, and other "hard" SF writers. This reads very much like early Heinlein, only with more obscenities. It will keep you up at night, because you'll be desperate to hear how Watney solves (by himself) this or that problem which arises. If you know someone at NASA, or one of the private spaceflight companies, make them read this book! The problems which arise and that Watney has to deal with could happen on any manned mission, and his solutions to them are brilliant.

    This book also proves that you can have an exciting story, while having it be scientifically accurate. When Watney starts to figure out how much food he has on hand, how long he's likely to be on Mars, and what he's going to have to do to keep from starving to death before help can arrive, it only enhances the tension. It lets you know, in just a paragraph, how dire Watney's situation is, and how hard the struggle to survive will be, and that's if nothing goes wrong.

    Years ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" series, because he knew I liked hard SF. This book isn't merely better than the "Red Mars" series, it takes that series into a dark alley, forces it to commit an unnatural act with sewer rats, then brutally bashes its brains in with a dumpster.

    The narrator is absolutely perfect for this book, and the tone, pitch, and inflection he uses while he reads it are ideal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Ray Kurzweil
    • Narrated By George K. Wilson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (593)
    Performance
    (472)
    Story
    (467)

    For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine.

    Sean Gately says: "Great Idea, terribly slow and painful listen"
    "My Gawd The Narrator is Awful!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made The Singularity Is Near better?

    Kurzweil repeatedly flogs the same minor points over and over about how powerful PCs will be in just a few years. I get that they will be 10 to the umpteenth times as powerful as the human brain. I don't need to hear it for what seems like to be every other paragraph in the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was nice to see some hard numbers on the subject (though it would have been better to then moved on from those numbers, rather than constantly revisiting them).


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of George K. Wilson?

    Frankly, anyone could have done a better job than Mr. Wilson. He has a weird intonation to his voice as he reads the book, which is reminiscent of William Shatner at his worst, played at a very slow speed. I found that playing it at twice normal speed helped things immensely.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Singularity Is Near?

    Each chapter begins with a future version of Kurzweil discussing with other supposed future individuals what life was like after the singularity occurs (in 2045). This reads more like a Mary Sue piece than anything else and does more harm than good to the work.


    Any additional comments?

    Spoiler alert! The future Kurzweil projects for humanity is that sometime between 2045 and 2100 we all turn into a cross between the Borg, a T1000 Terminator (minus the desire to kill all humans), and V'Ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Kurzweil sees this as a positive, even though such a scenario involves government mandated brain scans (to make sure we're not developing WMDs, and Kurzweil assures us that the government will never ever abuse this power in the way Nixon did). Frankly, while I like the idea of near immortality, and many of the technological advances which seem likely, I think that if what Kurzweil projects comes to pass, the future will be incredibly bleak.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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