My favorite book, written by one of my favorite people (Carl Sagan).
I am writing this review to mainly focus on the major differences between the movie and the book.The book follows the same basic plot as the movie, but with a few exceptions (SPOILER ALERT):
- Ellie's mother is not dead, as in the movie. While Ellie's father passes away, her mother is around throughout her childhood and her adult life.
- Ellie and her stepfather (also not present in the movie) have a strained and reoccurring relationship throughout the book.
- Ellie's childhood, teenage years, and early graduate and internship years are described in a more detail.
- The President of USA has a more prominent, reoccurring role, and is female.
- Ellie has many romantic relationships (i.e., sexual relationships with a lab assistant early in her career, and then with Kent the Russian Scientist later in her career; and sexual tension with Drummond and then to an even greater degree with Vagay), albeit not with Palmer Joss who is the one individual she does have a romantic relationship with in the movie.
- Three machines, not two, are constructed (i.e., in the USA, Japan, and Russia). This was interesting because by the time the story concludes only two machines have been used (or should I say, one has been destroyed and one has been used and possibly is not able to be used again), with the machine in Russia still unused.
- Ellie is not the only individual who makes the trips; several delegates make the trip with her and have their own unique experiences.
- The conversation Ellie has with the alien is much, much more detailed and extensive, and for me was a real highlight of the story.
- Following her voyage in the machine, Ellie learns something interesting about the number for "pi" (i.e., 3.14...) that provides an interesting twist at the conclusion of the story.
In summary, excellent book, and not only because of the writing but due to the narrator's great performance as well. Lefkow did an outstanding job as a true Voice Actor. Most of the supporting characters are male and the narrator (female) did a superb job rising to the challenge of voice acting each male character without sounding odd or goofy.
Having read eight Stephen King books over the past decade, with the Gunslinger as my all-time favorite, yet this book is a new close second.
I won't summarize the story or plotline or provide spoilers, others I'm sure are taking care of that, but I will applaud King for some fantastic elements that stood out from this read.
First of all, King avoids stereotyping characters in this story. There were some tempting opportunities right from the get-go to characterize a a minister, a religious group of people, a junkie, etc a certain way. And I've seen King write into those stereotypes in the past (he's so good he can get away with it). Not so this tale. King takes some bold directions in developing characters against stereotype, particularly the young minister, even though it might have been more popular to write to the stereotype...and I respected that approach King took.
Second (and closely related to my first point above) King doesn't paint characters as good or bad for the most part. They're more gray ethically. And even when lines are more clearly drawn by the end, the ethics that lead characters to draw those lines involve hard decisions of "right" and "wrong." It makes you as a reader/listener question what you your self would do in a supposedly "evil" character's shoes/circumstances.
Third, King writes many of this book's "horror scenes" in a sort of postmodern, tongue-in-cheek sense. And I found that fresh and entertaining (as I believe he intended to make it sort of funny this way). The guy has written tens of thousands of pages of horror, and this time around -- instead of trying to be utterly original and serious with every horrifying description -- he names clichés and calls them right out. For example he'll describe someone screaming and say, "like that other girl who open the door in that old horror movie." Or a scary song will play and he'll compare it to "that creepy number popular decades ago". But with actual names and references you'll remember I just don't want to spoil it all here.
David Morse nailed the narration and I can't imagine anyone doing a better job. Flawless and heartfelt interpretation.
In summary, this novel isn't content to simply relay a fantastic story. King peels back the delicate skin of the story page by page to reveal a visceral, authentic experience that will challenge your expectations and haunt your thoughts long after the final page. The writing is as polished as King is known for writing, but the details are especially full of grit, spit, and heart this time around.
Perfect, superb interpretation.
The story is fantastic with plenty of tension and plot twists and turns. Best time travel story I've read to date.
The narrator sounds like a hillbilly or woodsman of sorts, and made it difficult for me to enjoy the characters dialogue. Would have been better, for me, without the folksy accent he read the story with.
Ok fellow Foundation fans - this review is not pretty (but, there are also no spoilers), but it's honest. And it's from a fellow Foundation fanatic who LOVED the first five books.
Plain and simple, there is not story here. Instead of clever plot twists and surprises, you get one straight-forward, predictable read, without the slightest interesting story until the final 30 pages of the book. The last 30 pages contain several large, ingenious surprises. Problem is, none of the previous story was needed to justify the final surprises.
In the first five books, we have a genius of a storyline with great suspense. In this book, no suspense to speak of. Someone gets left atop a rooftop and almost freezes to death, then someone complains that they have to wear a bald wig on a planet, then someone gets in a knife fight, and really nothing enlightening happens along the way.
I suggest you read the final 30-50 pages and call it a day. Trust a fan of the first five books, the high ratings this book is receiving would NOT have been provided had this been the first book in the Foundation series. There's no story here.
Caveat, The narrator did a Fantastic job.
As a Huge Fan of the following examples of humor...
- Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
- Saturday Night Live
- Arrested Development
- It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
- the deadpan comedy of Steven Wright and Jim Gaffigan (whose humor has been compared to that of Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts)
...I found this book entirely unfunny and stale. Unlike Deep Thoughts, this story is not funny in the least. I didn't crack a smile one time.
That is my opinion.
Even more than the great story and great techniques he shares, Neil's HONESTY is the best thing about this book. In spite of the amazing highs and fantastic adventures, Neil is brutally honest about the times when he fails, where he misses the mark, and the negative effects that sometimes ensue as well. That HONESTY and down-to-earth authenticity made the book the memorable read that it is.
Probably Do They Serve Beer In Hell, although this book is better.
Oh yeh. It took me a few days due to other responsibilities but yes one sitting given the time.
People who read Popular Mechanics. A huge portion of the book includes lengthy descriptions of the equipment and the work processes and the industrial environment in general in very technical language.
No, the premise was extremely good but the story failed to take off or develop. So many amazing directions this could have gone but it did not really go anywhere at all.
Someone who doesn't read with silly voices. The voices ruined the characters and made them melodramatic and corny. Amanda's normal reading voice is amazing, Grade A reader; but when she tries those voices of man not good.
Gaiman phoned in the narration and the story wasn't that good either. I like other books by him that I have read/listened to, so this was a surprising let down.
The book is one of the most inspiring books I've read. I read most of this book, then became short on time and finished it with this audio version.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the politics in the book, this books' characters and their resilience will inspire all. It was a life-changing read for me, to be honest.
The narrator's tone and interpretation were excellent and fit the material well.
This was one of the best books I have ever "read". Some have compared the writing to poetry of Biblical proportions. I would say that that genius is readily apparent.
Content-wise, the material is extremely dark and graphic, however, not for the purpose of shocking. There is a respectable honesty and maturity all the way through.
The narrator's gritty tone was perfect for the material.
The hard science discourses and tension that was building seemed a bit long winded for me, considering the payoff was not that grand at the end. The narrator was excellent.
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