This is quirky, funny, endearing and even uplifting story of the first colonists on Mars. Not only is this a sci-fi, “wild west” adventure, but it is a subtle indictment of what society considers “normal”. Historically, “Go west, young man” was a polite way of saying “Go way, weird guy”. This is the case with the initial population of Mars.
In this future, mainstream society is atheist, vegetarian, and non-alcoholic. So those who subscribe to a religion, raise cattle, or drink beer are societal outsiders. The dumping of mental institutions’ population has always been an excellent way to seed the new frontier, especially when antisocial behavior is what put the person in “hospital”. It’s an excellent way to get a blue collar workforce for a completely hostile environment.
It’s nice to see that corporate greed and corruption is alive a well in the future. Pay to move employees somewhere (Mars), then close down the business, lay off the workers and let them fend for themselves. Let’s not forget corporate sabotage, fraud, intimidation… all the oldies but goodies.
The center of this counter culture society is a bar at the end of the habitable tubes filled with people who are at their metaphoric “end of the line”. This cast of characters is well worth the listen. I especially enjoyed the malfunctioning interpreter program used to translate the local Pan-Celt dialect to Italian. There also a lone American that runs a mobile casino\dental\insurance\investment\hmmm…“companion” business. It’s fun to see how the dysfunctional make a functional society.
The Witness is the best performance of an audible book I have every heard. Julia Whelan’s portrayal of a defiant 16 year old girl, an exasperated 29 year old woman, a mellow 30 year old southern man, his mom, his ex-girlfriend, his town… well, it’s fantastic.
The story is an intriguing look into a genius girl who, after witnessing murder at the hand of a crime boss, goes on the run to avoid certain death. The main character leans strongly towards Asperger syndrome (spooky good computer skills, and a distinct lack of social acumen). After 12 years of running, she submerges herself into a small Arkansas community to lapse into obscurity. However, her antisocial, pedantic persona shines in stark relief against the Good Old Boy southern small town locale. But enough about Nora Robert’s intriguing story, let’s get to Julia.
Ms. Whelan’s performance is mesmerizing. To call this a “narration” is a profound injustice. Were this a one woman play, she would certainly rate a Tony. You forget that this “narration” is only one person. She transitions from a completely terrified northeastern woman to a calm southern man instantaneously, and then there’s dispassionate narrator voice that interdicts throughout. It truly pulls you into the story. You feel the panic, the irritation, the amusement, the distain, the passion, the frustration…the true persona of the characters.
I have listened to this book more times that I would like to admit. Even when I specifically have tried to just listen to the narrator’s technique, to see how she does it, I find myself drawn into this immersing story. I have listened to hundreds of books, but never have I heard such a masterful performance, this includes those of the marvelous Jim Dale (sorry Jim).
I truly enjoyed Nora Robert’s book, but this audible performance transcends the mere words of the story.
This was my first introduction to Tanya Huff. I REALLY enjoyed the sarcasm of this book. Having been an enlisted man who had to “guide” his junior officers, those inner sarcastic comments were EXACTLY what I was thinking at the time.
Tanya Huff’s characterizations are classic. In a way, it is a metaphor of the multicultural milieu that is the military. How many times has an impotent intellectual oligarchy sought the assistance of their perceived inferiors when they finally realize they need protection. I saw a great cross section of America when I was in the military. It is not a stretch to see it at the galactic level. Soldiers are soldiers, despite race (or planet of origin).
I enjoyed the pace, as it helped to develop the characters. Life in the military includes a lot of downtime. It’s when you learn who is beside you, good, bad, otherwise. I must admit, it’s nice if some of them had four hands instead of two, when you need an extra hand.
I have never been intimidated by a strong female (after all, I did marry one), and Torin Kerr could never be described as just “strong”. Here are times when you just have to persevere by pure force of will. This is where the metal of a… (well, the classic phrase says “man”, but that is truly BS)… is tested.
There is the juxtaposition of terror and humor, which is commonplace in stressful times. Sometime, when things are at their bleakest, something strikes you as funny. This was one of the first Audilble books I purchased, and to this day, the phrase “get it off me, get it off me” still pops up in the back of my mind. This is the humor persists in the darkest times.
I would really like to see this as a movie, but I don’t know of Josh Wheaton is available to direct.
I was surprised that this was the last “episode” of the book because the story just…stopped. I was initially intrigued by the episodic nature of this “book”, but I don’t think I will do this again. Keeping track of the 13 parts on my MP3 player is a pain. I liked the different perspectives portrayed through the episodes, but it seemed like a couple of them were just thrown in to fill out the “book”. William Dufris is a fantastic narrator, and I love the “Old Man’s War” universe, but there is a reason why books with multiple perspectives are 40 hours long. In general, I enjoy Scalzi’s stories, but someone should do a word count to see how many times the word “said” is used in his work. My wife will no longer listen to his books because of the repetition of that word. It seems to show up about every 10 seconds, which makes about 3600 times in a 10 hour book. I’m sure this is an exaggeration… well, maybe not THAT sure. Enough said.
I have tried to listen to this book a couple of times, but I failed. The story progression is slow, but that’s not all of it. The narration is really the issue. The voices of the characters are too painful to endure, especially the female ones. The narrator’s falsetto is reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch. His overly forced PRO-NUN-CI-A-TION-S would be helpful if I was just learning English, or maybe at a Spelling Bee, but the end effect is to progress the story with the lethargic stagger of a death march.
When you combine a slow story with a ponderous narration, the end experience is hard to take. I found myself two thirds through the book wishing all the characters would die just to make it end. I guess it’s time to stop listening.
The Human Division is a departure for John Scalzi. It is a book(ish) in the Old Man's War universe, but published in an episodic nature. I am intrigued because he seems to try out different styles with the episodes, and from different perspectives, but maintains the story line throughout (granted I am only half way through at this point). I love his return to Old Man’s War. He revisits lesser characters from previous books, but from a different aspect. This is reminiscent of George R.R Martin’s change of story perspective throughout the Game of Thrones epic, but without killing of all your favorite characters. I can only hope Scalzi learns a lesson from Anne McCafferty’s Pern novels, that there is infinite story potential once a solid foundation has been laid (feel free to write 30 more books).
WARNING: DON’T BUY THESE WITH CREDITS: Before you buy any episodes with credits, LOOK AT THE PRICE. Audible has priced these episodes at a about a buck a piece, but have done us a disservice buy adding their default “OR 1 CREDIT”. We generally think a credit gives us a full 12 to 40 hour book. If you don’t pay attention, this episodic “book” could cost you 13 credits (virtually $130), or it could be $13 if you bought each episode with actual money. I believe, in the future, Audible will offer “The Human Division” for a single credit, just as was Jim Butcher’s “Side Jobs”, a collection of Dresden short stories. However, that does not help us now.
In summary, good move Scalzi, bad move Audible.
I must say that I truly enjoy John Scalzi's work. I have every book of his available on Audible. I really enjoy his “Old Man’s War” series of books, but there is one thing that irritates me. Scalzi overuses the word “SAID”. In all of his books, it is “John said”, “Jane said”, “John said”, “Zoe said”. It is never ending. There is no other word that is used more in his books than the word ‘SAID”. Now, for the first time, there is a written work by John Scalzi without the word “SAID”. It was so refreshing. I feel free.
However, it didn’t last. The remaining episodes go back to the “SAID” monotony. There was a flirtation with the word “ASKED”, but “SAID” won out.
Did I say mention that this is a cool series? This episodic adventure is a nice departure from his other works. I like that he has expanded on the “Old Man’s War” universe. As someone who has had 15 surgeries in 15 years, I’d go back in the military for a new body. This is fiction, right?
This book seemed to take a very long time to make it through. I kept checking the timer of the player and thinking “2 hours and 30 minutes? How can that be?” I was thinking this book was about magic in modern societies, but I ended up believing this is a diary of a schizophrenic. The further I got into it, the more she sounded like the Chief from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”. Truly, the 200+ hours of the Games of Thrones series moved more briskly. I will never again complain that Peter F. Hamilton’s Void series was too verbose. This was the longest 10 hours of my life. If you only have 10 hours to live, this is definitely the book. Not only will it make those 10 hours seem much longer, but it will make you want to “cross over” so it will end.
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