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M. Kalus

Jack of all Trades, Master of None

ratings
142
REVIEWS
12
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
6

  • Empire Builders

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ben Bova
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (86)

    Dan Randolph never plays by the rules. A hell-raising maverick with no patience for fools, he is admired by his friends, feared by his enemies, and desired by the world's loveliest women. Acting as a 21st privateer, Randolph broke the political strangle-hold on space exploration, and became one of the world's richest men in the bargain.

    Jan Saell says: "And excellent book and hard to stop listen to"
    "Technology has badly aged"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I think what I can say is that Bova sees to lack some imagination. This was already evident in Powersat (a book he wrote more than a decade later). The idea of a watch sized wrist computer is very.... 1980s?


    If you’ve listened to books by Ben Bova before, how does this one compare?

    This was my second book (see Powersat) and I pretty much have the same complaint, that at the end of the day Bova doesn't seem to be very imaginative. A lot of the technology in the books comes across as horribly antiquated.


    What about Stefan Rudnicki’s performance did you like?

    I think he captured the personalities of the characters well, it definitely helped me create the images in my mind.


    Could you see Empire Builders being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I could see it as a SyFy movie of the week.


    Any additional comments?

    Yeah, I had planned to read / listen to all of the "Grand Tour", the concept sounded interesting. After two books though I have decided not to continue, the lack of technological "dreaming" is just way too distracting for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Atlantis Gene: The Origin Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By A. G. Riddle
    • Narrated By Stephen Bel Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1675)
    Performance
    (1521)
    Story
    (1524)

    Seventy thousand years ago, the human race almost went extinct. We survived, but no one knows how.

    Until now. The countdown to the next stage of human evolution is about to begin, and humanity might not survive this time. The Immari are good at keeping secrets. For 2,000 years, they've hidden the truth about human evolution. They've also searched for an ancient enemy - a threat that could wipe out the human race. Now the search is over.

    january says: "Pretty bad, but not the worst I've ever read"
    "Dan Brown goes to Space"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes and no. It's nice "pop SciFi", but it feels like a Dan Brown novel, and in my book that's not a good thing.

    Considering the rating, I had somewhat high hopes, but unfortunately.....


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not the second book in the series. The idea is sort of interesting, but the way it was executed had me want to give up on it. It's one of the few purchase regrets I have and I am contemplating in returning it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    n/a


    Did The Atlantis Gene inspire you to do anything?

    Not really. Outside of considering returning the purchase and pick something else.


    Any additional comments?

    Yes. Neat idea, mediocre to awful execution. If you like Dan Brown's writing though you'd be happy to read this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Margaret MacMillan
    • Narrated By Richard Burnip
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (248)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (223)

    From the best-selling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I.

    smarmer says: "Detailed review of 1882 to 1914"
    "How the world became what it is today."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The War That Ended Peace again? Why?

    Yes, there are some interesting tidbits in there that are worth revisiting.


    What other book might you compare The War That Ended Peace to and why?

    I read this as part of a "trilogy", "Paris 1919" also by MacMillian which chronicles the treaty of Versaille as well as "The coming of the Third Reich" which deals with the rise of the Nazi Regime in Germany.

    All three of these books together paint a rather intriguing picture on how the world ended up the way it is today.


    What does Richard Burnip bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Nothing in particular. He does a good job of reading the script, but as it is mostly a factual book not fiction, he's not "creating characters", which is good. It gives the book a more "historical" tone.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Several, mostly because the book makes it abundantly clear how a bunch of small decisions can lead to very big changes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Michio Kaku
    • Narrated By Feodor Chin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (794)
    Performance
    (524)
    Story
    (522)

    In Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku—the New York Times best-selling author of Physics of the Impossible—gives us a stunning, provocative, and exhilarating vision of the coming century based on interviews with over 300 of the world’s top scientists who are already inventing the future in their labs. The result is the most authoritative and scientifically accurate description of revolutionary developments taking place....

    Gordon Lamb says: "Interesting Content, Irritating Reader"
    "How quickly future predictions date"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes, there is an interesting picture being painted about the future we are all moving towards to.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Michio Kaku? Why or why not?

    Yes, I have read other books of his and I think he's a good story teller.


    Have you listened to any of Feodor Chin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, this is my first time.


    Was Physics of the Future worth the listening time?

    Yes, though I would caution people, the book is three years old now and some of the ideas for the future already seem outdated.


    Any additional comments?

    It's hard to get the future correctly right of course. I think what this book suffers from, as will most other books that predict the future, is what I have called the "TNG Syndrome". Namely, how in TNG everybody had tablets, but they were just books / notebooks in the traditional paper sense.

    Odds are good you have a smart phone in your pocket, this is the tablet from TNG and it works quite a bit different then the tablets do in TNG.

    Likewise, in the book there are a few technologies that he describes that clearly are rooted in this TNG look of the future. A prime example is how he envisions your self-driving car to figure out a route via GPS (good), and then get traffic information over sensors that are embedded in the road. This is humours to me because if you have Google Maps on your phone, you can already figure out how thick the traffic is. How does Google do it? They use your device and others to measure density and flow of traffic. Likewise, a self-driving car would not have to rely on a central authority to tell them how the road conditions are. It could communicate with the other cars in the vicinity via mesh network, thus get information even if there is no network coverage available for it.

    This is just one example, there are a few others in the book. I think the ideas he has aren't wrong, it's just that his implementation of the technologies is often still insular, instead of connected. But it does give some good food for thought.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Narrated By Joe Ochman
    Overall
    (796)
    Performance
    (665)
    Story
    (668)

    In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish. Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner.

    Liz says: "big fan but what is up with the bleeps?"
    "Great, until his conclusions"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Antifragile?

    I think his description of the "State of the World" is quite good. It fails in it's conclusions though.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The "present day assessment" rang mostly true.


    What about Joe Ochman’s performance did you like?

    I like how he captures the voice of the author. It adds a nice familiarity to it.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How someone I highly respect can still turn out to be deeply flawed. See next section.


    Any additional comments?

    More of a negative note here: Over the previous books I developed a huge respecte for Taleb. I found myself also nodding along quite a lot with what he described as the state of the world, but where he lost me was in his conclusions and interpretations.

    Just two reasons.

    He rightfully admires "the ancients" (Romans, Greek) for their philosophical accomplishment. Having read Lucrecius "The Nature of things" I was in similar awe and surprise. Having said that, to extend their philosophical accomplishments into that of modern science strikes me as ludicrous.

    The second thing is one specific example: He writes about how can't we know that eating three solid meals doesn't have any benefits (in comparison to the recent recommendation to "graze" instead of stuffing yourself three times a day). The problem with this argument is that the three meals a day are falling back onto the industrial age, when life and time started to be dominated by the clock, not human nature. This flies straight into the face of his own assertion that he doesn't eat anything that isn't at least 2000 years old (I could now ask why 2000 years? But that's just nitpicking) because everything since then is "tainted".

    I admit, it makes me a bit sad to have gotten the impression that Taleb is a bit of a Neo-Luddite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Deep Space: Star Carrier, Book Four

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Ian Douglas
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (290)
    Performance
    (269)
    Story
    (270)

    Humanity had appeared to fend off the Sh'daar assault once and for all, though they never learned why the alien empire was driven to halt Earth's advancement toward technological Singularity. But in this war of worlds, victory is always elusive. And now a new battle begins. After 20 years of peace, not one but two fragile truces are unraveling. Alexander Koenig, the former Navy commander whose heroics forced the Sh'daar into submission, has won a second term as President of the United States of North America. But pursuing his mandate - sovereignty from the centuries-old Earth Confederation - becomes a risky proposition....

    Anandasubramanian says: "Excellent series and book"
    "Somewhat lost the plot there a bit."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    New to the series? No. As a continuation, yes, but with a few caveats. He lost the plot here a bit. Instead of continuing the question between Aliens and Humans, we now spend a whole lot of time on a contrived internal human conflict that really only makes sense if you somehow belief in American Exceptionalism.


    Has Deep Space turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Not from the genre, but I am questioning if I want to read the next book in the series.


    What does Nick Sullivan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think he adds a bit more character to the individuals he portraits. Douglas isn't really all that good in creating characters, they all are pretty two-dimensional.


    Was Deep Space worth the listening time?

    Still split on it. It was more of what was expected, but at the same time also more disappointing.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish Douglas would concentrate on the human vs.alien dynamic instead of trying to project human global politics 500 years into the future. The problem for me, as a non-american, is simply that I don't buy American Exceptionalism and his repeated retreat to it is annoying. It was, I admit, always there, but in the past books it was more a bit of a faint echo in the back, with this book though he has gone full tilt.

    So yes, he's America and served in the military and that he concentrates on ships that could be considered American is understandable and forgivable. But his portrail of the rest of humanity is less than flattering. If they aren't scheming people who try to destroy the "United States" (thinly veiled as USNA), they are shown as completely militarily incompetent. Funnily enough, it seems, they also all seem to be French. Guess Douglas likes his cheese eating surrender monkeys.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Pushing Ice

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (2052)
    Performance
    (1711)
    Story
    (1726)

    2057. Humanity has raised exploiting the solar system to an art form. Bella Lind and the crew of her nuclear-powered ship, the Rockhopper, push ice. They mine comets. And they're good at it. The Rockhopper is nearing the end of its current mission cycle, and everyone is desperate for some much-needed R & R, when startling news arrives from Saturn: Janus, one of Saturn's ice moons, has inexplicably left its natural orbit and is now heading out of the solar system at high speed.

    Jesse says: "Proof that a good story doesn't require a trilogy"
    "Grand in scope, but slightly missing the mark"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Pushing Ice?

    The large scope, the use of actual physics and a universe that hints at so much more.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I didn't really have a favourite character, they all had their charms and they all played an important role in the book.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    His character representation. I already had listened to him in previous books and I think he does a splendid job.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No, not really. There were moments of confusions though where I thought the audiobook was defective as it suddenly jumped forward in time. Maybe this could have been a bit better marked in the audiobook, though as I haven't seen the written text I am not sure how it went there. It felt rather abrupt at times.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George Dyson
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (116)
    Story
    (118)

    In the 1940s and '50s, a group of eccentric geniuses - led by John von Neumann - gathered at the newly created Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Their joint project was the realization of the theoretical universal machine, an idea that had been put forth by mathematician Alan Turing. This group of brilliant engineers worked in isolation, almost entirely independent from industry and the traditional academic community. But because they relied exclusively on government funding, the government wanted its share of the results....

    Monte Johnston says: "Needed an editor"
    "A fascinating look at the people behind it all"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Turing's Cathedral?

    It gave an interesting perspective about how and why the modern day computer was invented, including some amusing insights to some of the brightest minds of the 20th century.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That it was real :)


    What about Arthur Morey’s performance did you like?

    I thought it was well executed, as the book doesn't really feature any dialog or characters the "neutral" delivery was appreciated.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Nothing in particular, but there were a lot of little chuckles when it came to some of these people's behaviour. In no small part because it makes these mythical people human.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish there would have been a bit more attention being paid to other pioneers in the computing field, but having said that, their legacy really lives on by the technology I use right now to write these words so: *raises glass*

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mogworld

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Yahtzee Croshaw
    • Narrated By Yahtzee Croshaw
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (758)
    Performance
    (719)
    Story
    (720)

    In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been dead for about 60 years. When a renegade necromancer wrenches him from eternal slumber and into a world gone terribly, bizarrely wrong, all Jim wants is to find a way to die properly, once and for all. On his side, he's got a few shambling corpses, an inept thief, and a powerful death wish. But he's up against tough odds....

    Alyssa says: "Yahtzee learns to enunciate"
    "Funny story, not so great audio"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Mogworld?

    The story, and also Yatzee's performance (generally) was entertaining.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main protagonist, the dry humour / self-awareness is quite fun.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Not the narrator actually, but the audio editing is a bit screwed. Long pauses at times, bad transition between takes and some unevenness in the audio. A decent audio engineer could have probably fixed all of that. Shame.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    It's a comedy, I laughed a lot, but nothing specific really.


    Any additional comments?

    Yes, please get Yathzee together with a real audio engineer and it would be perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Devil Said Bang: Sandman Slim, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Richard Kadrey
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (740)
    Performance
    (677)
    Story
    (683)

    What do you do after you’ve escaped Hell, gone back, uncovered the true nature of God, and then managed to become the new Lucifer? Well, if you’re James Stark, you have to figure out how to run Hell while also trying to get back out of it... again. Plus there’s the small matter of surviving. Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James Stark.

    Steven says: "Not the best Sandman Slim book, but it was ok."
    "How to get rid of a job you don't want."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, excellent performance and the story is a notch up, in my opinion, from the previous book. We now also seem to have a clean slate, which will make it interesting to see where Sandman Slim goes next.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Devil Said Bang?

    I think the overall idea on what Lucifer actually does in Hell.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None in particular. The book is pretty fast moving and as such many things become a bit of a blur.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Yes, great fun if you don't mind very graphic description of violence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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