The book is brilliant, disturbing, classic.
The narrator puts too much of himself into the reading, however. His voice is aesthetically pleasing, but I felt pulled away from the writing on several occasions by the thought that he was enjoying listening to himself talk a little too much.
Don't let this stop you from enjoying an otherwise solid performance of a true classic.
Like most great science fiction this novel very believably examines human reaction to a future very different from the world we live in now. I don't know anything about this author's other work, but this novel is a very adult examination of love, loyalty, and the very essence of what it means to be human. It is nice to see a book from a female perspective that I would still consider "hard" science fiction. While we learn perhaps a great deal more about the emotional lives of the characters than we would in an offering from Heinlein or Herbert, the writing is unflinching in the examination of difficult questions and felt quite plausible from beginning to end. This book is one of my new favorites.
This series of books is long, huge, intricate, occasionally campy, and all over really great on audio. Listening to the books in order is a must.
I don't recall a book since Dune where I actually felt an emotional connection with so many characters simultaneously.
I was thinking that I might have enjoyed this book before puberty.. but then I realized I was reading things like "Childhood's End" back then. So I probably would have recognized it even at that age for the tripe that it is. Might be fun for people who both skipped all of their science classes and have never read a good science fiction novel.
If you like hard science fiction this is probably worth a listen. An expansive, harsh universe is revealed through multiple points of view in the book. Perhaps the most interesting ideas in this book are related to examining inevitable outcomes of multiple species evolving to the point of interstellar expansion... and, of course, conflict.
Three things that were distracting in the book for me:
1) The narrarator's conucopia of dialect: you can play spot the accent with French, Japanese, Russian, and (I kid you not) rastafari.
2) The insertion by the author of almost trite names for important players in the book like "sun stealer" and "nostalgia for infinity." Imagine if Frank Herbert had called Arrakis "the big sandy orb."
3) All the grand and mysterious buildup seems to end rather abruptly.. left me wondering if the author was writing to beat a deadline.
Those issues were not enough to prevent enjoying the book.. great concepts, interesting ideas.
Interesting collaborative approach to writing. Provides a worrisome glimpse into stark and very imaginable future, albeit with a silver lining. I could have done without the editors narrative between the stories- the explanation at the beginning was helpful but beyond that I wish he had just let the stories speak for themselves.
Fascinating to see how the author's experience driving real Navy warships gives him a great point of view for imagining the practical aspects of space combat. He also has interesting thoughts on the potential evolution and adaptation of human nature when faced with a conflict that spans generations. I listened to this book straight through (made a 5 hour drive seem like 10 minutes) and then had to wait a month for more credits.. which I am now about to spend on the next book in the series. You will LOVE this book if you liked those questions in college physics that started with "a train 1 km long is approaching a tunnel 2 km long at 0.99c..."
Took me back to the first time I read The Stand or The Body.. only these days I find myself enjoying King's stark portrayal of the human condition under duresse so fascinating that I was almost hoping that the inevitable invasion of supernatural horrors would never come. I suppose that is a rather absurd sentiment for someone who enjoys the work the work of one of the most prolific and talented "horror" writers of our time.
Looking back though, I realize that I've always enjoyed King's writing because he deals unflinchingly with the difficult, the frightening , and the absurd.. and real life is full of real horrors like that. The way he approaches storytelling from the point of view of a traumatic brain injury patient in this novel is nothing short of brilliant.
I tried this audio based on the strength of the Hyperion series as well. It is engrossing, bleak, and well written. I give it three stars perhaps only because it creates an atmosphere of cold, dark hopelessness so well that it was almost oppressive at times. I recommend listening to this in July or August, in your car during an afternoon commute when it's 98 degrees...
I found this book enjoyable and outright funny at times. The author does rely on some character stereotypes in the story, but remember the reason most stereotypes exist is because there is a bit of truth in them. I found the locations and characters particularly interesting in this book because I live and work 10 minutes from Pat Robertson's compound and my best friend taught English on the Navajo reservation in Ganado, AZ for 3 years.
A quick note: If you are the type that accepts a fundamental or literal interpretation of the lore and writings of any religion you won't enjoy this book, so don't bother with it. I've never been able to understand why "born again" types would fiddle with science fiction anyway- there's a lot of cookie-cutter fantasy out there tailored to that point of view that won't upset you with facts, logic, or reality.
Also important to mention that anyone calling this writer's point of view godless or atheist is dead wrong. I've always thought, for instance, that the mechanics of evolution were perhaps the best evidence in all of my scientific training that there might be a higher power involved in the running of the universe. If you understand that statement and why I find those that fight science on religious grounds to be so humor-inspiring, then you probably have the right mindset to enjoy this book.
Oh, and don't forget- Satan put fossils in the rocks to confuse us and test our faith. What fun!
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