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M. Kalus

Jack of all Trades, Master of None

ratings
112
REVIEWS
9
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
5

  • 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
    (528)
    Performance
    (483)
    Story
    (490)

    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.

    Cliff says: "Sympathy for the Devil"
    "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
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Nassim Nicholas Taleb
    • Narrated By Joe Ochman
    Overall
    (567)
    Performance
    (486)
    Story
    (486)

    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.

    PHIL says: "Some good ideas, smart guy, not smart as HE thinks"
    "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
    (188)
    Performance
    (176)
    Story
    (176)

    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
    (1820)
    Performance
    (1523)
    Story
    (1532)

    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
    (111)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (97)

    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
    (536)
    Performance
    (507)
    Story
    (510)

    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
  • Empire Builders

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ben Bova
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (72)

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Powersat: The Grand Tour Series

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Ben Bova
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (56)

    Two hundred thousand feet up, things go horribly wrong. An experimental low-orbit spaceplane breaks up on reentry, falling to earth over a trail hundreds of miles long. And in its wake is the beginning of the most important mission in the history of spaceflight.

    Greg says: "Great book but substandard recording"
    "Interesting idea, horribly cliched execution"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Powersat the most enjoyable?

    Excellent performance and a great idea.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    As it was meant to set the stage for the rest of the series it ended pretty much as expected. This is probably the biggest fault of the book, it's not very original in it's execution.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    n/a


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Terrrrrrror in Space


    Any additional comments?

    As much as I admire the idea the book hasn't really aged all that well. One example is that one of the characters feels the need to explain the term "wind farm" to another (side) character.

    Overall, as said above, the idea of the Powersat etc. is interesting, the science appears to me solid too. Where it falls down is just how cliched the characters and their actions are. There was no surprise in it for me.

    So I give it an A for the idea, but only a D for the execution.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Annie Jacobsen
    • Narrated By Annie Jacobsen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1358)
    Performance
    (935)
    Story
    (941)

    Myths and hypotheses about Area 51 have long abounded, thanks to the intense secrecy enveloping it. Some claim it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, and nuclear facilities. Others believe that the lunar landing was filmed there. The prevalence of these rumors stems from the fact that no credible insider has ever divulged the truth about his time inside the base. Until now.

    A User says: "Reality, always more interesting than fiction."
    "Without the Epilogue it would have been four stars"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Yes, drop the stupid epilogue. It's pure speculation, no references etc. I have the feeling that's something the publisher just WANTED so the author obliged. It really left a very bad after taste in my mouth despite the rest of the book being quite good.


    Has Area 51 turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, not really.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The insight into the Oxcart program, I knew basics of it but there were some nuggets in there I hadn't been aware of.


    Could you see Area 51 being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Well, apparently they do turn it into a TV series. I COULD see this being exciting if they stay away from the stupidity that was / is the epilogue.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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