This is the Gibson of Pattern Recognition, not Neuromancer. A contemporary novel about intrigue, but with passing reference to cutting-edge technology. The book itself I'd give 4 stars to- I liked the multiple story threads, and felt Gibson tied them together well at the end. The ideas behind the story itself are brilliant. But I never felt as engaged with Hollis Henry, the protagonist (of sorts) as I did with Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition. The other leading characters, too, were not entirely fleshed out. As for the reader, he does an OK job. Characters each have their own voice. Unfortunately he does not do accents well, so many of the characters who I'm sure would have unique accents only have a variation on an American voice.
Reminds me a bit of Clarke's /A Fall of Moondust/ - realistic engineering challenges in the space environment. Competence porn at its finest. I'll definitely be listening to it again.
Stross is always full of original ideas. I've read the book in paper before- this is a good reading. The Festival is weird, and I'm not sure I get it completely, but the Eschaton concept is very interesting. Rachel and Martin are likeable characters. They also appear in Stross's Iron Sunrise (although they aren't really the main characters there).
I won't review the story - you can find that anywhere. I was concerned that it might be hard to follow on audio, but it wasn't at all. It's a great book. On top of that, Ethan Hawke gives a superb performance as a reader. His near-whisper tones (don't worry - it's plenty easy to understand what he's saying) are just the thing for the book. I was sad when it ended. So it goes.
Fun to listen to on my work commute. Although not new to computers, I am new to the Mac, and I enjoy listening to what is new in the Mac world. Shawn and Jay are very entertaining--I like the give and take of their exchanges. Unlike another Mac internet radio show I've listened to, they don't interrupt their guests to cut to a commercial. The annual subscription price is a bargain for the entertainment and Mac tips I get.
I reviewed the Helmsman and said it was so bad that it was good-very entertaining. But in this second volume the horrible dialogue wears thin, and it isn't as much fun as the first book. The love triangle with Margo gets even more ridiculous. I'm sorry I wasted the time on it.
I really enjoyed the book as light, escapist listening. This is by no means great literature. The descriptions are overdone, the dialog stilted and cliche-riddled. The sex scenes are puerile. Nevertheless it really is a lot of fun--like a B-movie space opera.
I didn't pay close enough attention, so I didn't realize it was abridged. I read the book when it came out. The abridgement leaves out too much (although it does also leave out a lot of Honor's angst, which can get tedious).
Irritating writing style--Brown makes it clear that all of the characters know something you don't know. Shallow, fairly predictable plot despite all the "surprises." We're supposed to believe Brown regarding all sorts of esoteric knowledge, but he can't even get the form of address of an English knight correct (Sir Lee Teabing is referred to as "Sir Teabing" rather than "Sir Lee"). I really don't see what all the fuss is about.
One of the best SF novels in recent history. A compelling and original story.
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