This story is a good summer read. Published in 1985, it is dated story of humankind's first encounter with aliens. (It is so dated that in the story a 70 year old human is too aged to drive his own car!) The basic plot involves the American government, a group of survivalists, some hippies (of course), and some non-existent country called the Soviet Union. Written in a flat, expository style, the story at points has a cartoonish character. (The "Star Wars" portion has a lot of "wham, wham" in it.) The tale is basically about the "elephants" from space encountering the "monkeys" from earth; herd mentality vs. troop mentality. If you are interested in a better, more "hard" sci-fi-based imagining of what aliens might be like, then listen to Peter F. Hamilton's wonderful "Pandora's Star" and its sequel "Judas Unchained" or Robert K. Morgan's brilliant "Altered Carbon" and its sequel "Broken Angels", both available from Audible.
If you are the type of person who, upon finishing a book, likes to sink back into your chair and sigh, and think that was a great story, and wish it had not ended, then this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you are the type of person who, upon finishing a book, likes to lean forward and hold your head in your hands and think, “Why did this author write this thing and why did I listen to it through to the end?,” then this is the book for you.
If you liked Agent to the Stars, you will like this novel. Snarky dialogue among characters. Well done and funny!
The biggest annoyance with this production by Tantor Audio is that the producer apparently does not know that most audible books are listened to in automobiles that are traveling. This book has a lot of dialogue that is whispered between the characters. In that dialogue, the reader drops the volume of his voice and whispers. The road noise blocks out the whispers. So, if you intend to listen to this work while you commute, you are going to miss lots of passages. Sad. (Can’t Amazon get audio producers who know who their audience is and fix the sound level to accommodate that demographic?) Beyond that, the book is not well-written: the author never met an adverb he doesn’t use rather than showing the reader the action. The work ends with an epilogue where the author disgorges his ideas about quantum physics and cosmology. The sci fi ideas are interesting, but interesting ideas do not make a good book; interesting characters and their story do. When we finished our drive, the audio book ended and I asked my wife what she thought about it. “Blah, blah, blah” was her answer. Exactly!
In spite of the title, this is not an Army story. The Army base is just a backdrop for the action. A well conceived story with some unexpected twists. I should have seen the end coming, but didn’t, which is good. Very enjoyable story and well-read.
Dean Koonz writes horror novels. Some reviewers have indicated this story is a sci fi story. It isn’t. There are some interesting sci fi ideas and scenarios described in the story, but nothing is made of them except horror. Think “Freddie” from another dimension or another time or another something. No effort is made to portray the sci fi ideas realistically. They just happen, like magic. How can this be? “Paradox,” we’re told. Mongo Jerry thought this was crap. Mongo Jerry is correct. As far as the reader is concerned, he has a nice voice and inflects well, but he reads each sentence too fast. He pauses well between sentences, but reads each sentence so quickly he sometimes slurs his words, especially during exciting narratives. Get ready to slew back to re-listen to what the reader just said to make sure you got it – especially when things get really exciting. That is the very last thing you want to do during exciting scenes. The book is worth the price but don’t be mislead: Dean Koonz writes horror novels.
This book was so good, I listened to it twice. Another title for it might be “Star Stuff and the Exciting Stories About People Who Figured It Out”. This book should form the nucleus of a class given in every high school in America. It would hook many on basic science. The author has used the discovery of the nature of physical elements and development of the periodic table of the elements as a framework to tell stories about all the strange and exciting human goings-on surrounding the working out of the stuff our world is made of. Great story telling! Well worth the price.
Well-written and exciting history of submarine warfare during the Cold War. Describes how Soviet sub commanders during the Cuban missile crisis came a lot closer to firing nuclear torpedoes than we all thought. (Scary!) Many other exciting events are described. If you are former Navy, you will like this book. If you are a submariner or ASW sailor or airman, you will love it! The reader is good, but mispronounces several important geographic names that will grate on you if you are former Navy. For example, Sasebo, Japan, is pronounced “SAS-i-bo”, not “sas-SAY-bo”, and its not “mar-RAY” island in Northern California, but Mare Island, as in the name of a female horse. There are other glaring mispronounciations. (Why don’t producers makes sure their readers have a pronunciation key to the names used in a book?) Aside from that, the book is well worth the price.
I bought this book to listen with my wife on a long drive. I was guided by the reviews. Never again! I suspect the reviews were submitted by author groupies or college students hired by the author’s agent to spam fake reviews.
First, the hero and heroine in this book reveal themselves to be emotionally about 13 years old. And extremely narcissistic! Who can care about book-length navel inspections by thirteen year olds?
Secondly, the dialogue is poor. For example, the conversations between police and POIs are unrealistic. In this work, the police talk more like therapy group facilitators than cops. In fact, all the males in this work do not talk to each other like guys actually talk. This is especially true of the hero, and very especially true of the hero’s interior dialogue. (At one point, he thinks that a room’s décor is so 1960’s. I don’t know a single guy whose mind would cross this thought.)
Thirdly, the author did little or no research in writing this work. For example, no police department in America would launch an expensive missing persons investigation when a wife was missing for (possibly) only 12 hours. Maybe three days. Nothing sooner, absent clear evidence of criminality. They’d tell you to call all your relatives first, then call all the local bars, then call all the homeless shelters, and then to call them back only if nothing turned up. Then they’d get around to your problem a week or so later. Same for TV cable shows. The author has the hero being pummeled on a TV cable missing persons reality show just five days after the heroine went missing. Never happen! Maybe three months; nothing sooner. TV shows are in the can and queued up several weeks before they are aired. The author clearly just wrote off the top of her head with no knowledge and without checking to see how things are really done.
Fourthly, a press conference about a missing adult the day after they’re missing? This would never will happen. Maybe a fortnight after at the earliest.
There are few scenes in this book. Most of the book is author summary or author narrative via puppet characters. The device used for the heroine is that she reads from her diary. (Barf!) For the male character, the author narrates via the hero’s inner dialogue. These thoughts are not guy thoughts, not even gay guy thoughts. They are more like teenage girl thoughts.
Bottom line: If you’re a reader who likes well-researched and realistic fiction, the kind that holds your interest, such as that written by Dalton Fury (Black Site) or Brad Thor (Full Black) or James Lee Burke (Creole Belle) or Robert K. Morgan (Altered Carbon) (all available from Audible), you will not like this book.
When we arrived at the end of our trip, we were about half way through this book. My wife turned to me and asked what I thought. Not wanting to influence her comments, I deferred to her: “What do you think?” She replied, “I could care less about both of these characters. They are boring. And they are juvenile.” I agreed. We did not finish the book. Beware the reviews. They can’t be genuine.
This is an interesting story and I recommend it. It was not written as well as it could have been, but still held my interest – that is, I was able to suspend disbelief up to the point that the machine was messed with by the crazies. But then the author took his story in an implausible direction based on what his characters, given their past conduct, would actually have done. (Bicycles across an extremely hostile territory? These characters?? Naw.) Be that as it may, the book is still worth the money. By the way, it is NOT a haunted house story. More interesting than that.
This novel is a good beach read. Or perhaps I should say a good quick read in front of the fireplace at Deer Valley after a day’s skiing. Of course, it DOES contain the obligatory evil American capitalist and this made me contemplate downgrading my review. (Are ALL writers socialists?) If you are going to make a plot element an evil capitalist, couldn’t you at least make him a Russian? (Russian capitalists want to protect their petroleum empires, too.) You will not be taxed listening to or following the story of this book, nor particularly regret purchasing it.
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