This book marks the beginning of Frodo the Hobbit's quest to resolve the question of the Ring of Power which hangs over the fate of Middle Earth like a menacing cloud. I read this book over 40 years ago and it has headed up (together with the others in the trilogy) my list of books to be stranded on a desert island with ever since.
Although the fantasy genre predates The Lord of the Rings, it is no exaggeration to say that Tolkien's books inspired the tsunami of fantasy fiction which is with us even today. More than once, I have read some particularly dreadful specimen of the same and thought to myself that J.R.R. Tolkien has a lot to answer for (tongue-in-cheek) but his genius speaks for itself and is recognized today. When I was in college, stating that The Lord of the Rings was a great work of fiction elicited (from my English professors) stares of incomprehension from some and mild contempt from others. As Norman Cantor has remarked, however, it is the reading public that determines whether a work is great or not and by that standard The Lord of the Rings is now a classic.
Rob Inglis is able to do the series full justice. Not only is he a superb narrator, but he can sing which is important in a work with such an emphasis on songs and music (not always the case.. sometimes I've cringed in sympathetic embarrassment as a narrator, competent in other respects, attempted to sing or chant his/her way through a song with dismal results).
In short, you can't go wrong with this series, particularly if you like stories about quests or knightly adventures. There's very little in the way of boy-girl romance however and no sex so readers who like plenty of that in their fiction may want to look elsewhere.
I love a good alien invasion story and I also love a humorous story; this little gem is both. The little green men featured in this story manage to conquer Earth without firing a shot. The conventional invasion story is not the only thing satirized here; we also get an interesting and occasionally thought-provoking discourse on the nature of reality itself. How do we know what reality is? Is anything real, perhaps we create our own reality, and so forth but all firmly tongue-in-cheek. There is even a little unintentional humor when some people, believing the Martians to be devils, decide that Mars is hell and Venus is heaven (the book was written before the Venera and Mariner 2 expeditions).
Recommended for 1950's sci-fy buffs and people who like off-beat humor.
This story is a classic by one of the genre's old masters. Shirley Jackson's fiction often reflects a preoccupation with themes of alienation; in "The Haunting of Hill House", the shy, socially awkward protagonist Eleanor struggles with finding a place for herself, a home, somewhere to belong. In the past, she served as a caretaker for her sick and not-very-affectionate mother (another character, Luke, informs her with some pathos that he 'never had a mother,' and the reader is left to reflect ironically on Eleanor's mother and suspect that there are worse fates). After her mother's death, she lives with her contemptuous sister and brother-in-law who grudgingly allow her to live with them.
Eleanor's sojourn at Hill House is the great adventure of her life and her unspoken wish is to find somewhere (and someone) with whom to belong. Unfortunately, Eleanor finds herself among a motley lot of oblivious or self-centered characters. The only one who really seems to want her is Hill House itself...
Think of this book as one of those Sci-Fi B movies you used to watch on afternoon television (or still watch on Netflix). An alien plant lands on earth and wants to...harvest...everything. Throw in some Appalachian good ol' boys, a psych professor with ESP and various other assorted odd balls and, well, 'nuff said about the story. Don't expect it to be logical or make sense, just go with it, and it's a pretty good time, even if the dialogue (read out loud) is often cringe-worthy/unintentionally funny. Although, who knows, the author clearly didn't intend the story to be taken seriously so perhaps the humor is intentional.
The narrator does a competent job with the story although his depiction of women's voices leaves something to be desired. Still, I imagine it is difficult to simulate a female voice if you're male and visa versa.
All in all, a good time to be had for lovers of science fiction B movies but if you like more realistic or thought-provoking science fiction (or horror, this one does overlap the boundaries), you might want to choose another title.
This is the funniest book I have listened to since the halcyon days of S.J. Perelman.
Initially I was listening to the book as I walked around the neighborhood but stopped as I feared the spectacle of a middle-aged woman alternately laughing and crying (to herself, apparently) might attract unfavorable attention, i.e., the men in little white coats.
Not only was the book funny, it was cathartic as well. Cursing Mommy's long rants against everybody, especially the Bush Administration, left me feeling curiously relieved, lighter almost. I think most people can relate to the simple little task that turns into a complicated nightmare even if we don't end up on the floor amid broken glass cursing Dick Cheney.
Cursing Mommy will never win an award for Mother of the Year but her dysfunctional family putters along in its own way and the tale has its own kind of morality. For example Cursing Mommy never succumbs to the temptation to investigate the particular shade of grass represented by the client/boss's unflagging pursuit of her (he's rich too). Given that her husband's love is devoted to his capacitor hobby and her eldest son bids fair to become another Ted Bundy (if setting fires in childhood is indeed a early warning sign of serial killerdom), her steadfastness is admirable altho it may be due to her fondness for alcoholic products.
The narrator's tone is exactly suited to Cursing Mommy's life. I love the way she can go from soft, Yoga-inspired cliches of peace & harmony to full-out Defcon 3 cussing. Perfect.
Perhaps the problem is that I'm starting this series in the middle. I get the impression that momentous events happened in the previous volume so perhaps the slow start of this story is a welcome breather for fans of the series.
Be that as it may, the deal breaker for me was the incredibly stupid behavior of the main character. Dr. Alan Gregory and his cop pal are implicated (possibly) in the suicide/homicide of a woman who threatened to kill the children of Dr. Gregory & the cop but nobody knows this except Dr. Gregory & the cop pal. There is a rumor that the case may be opened on the basis of new evidence, a possible witness the night of the woman's death may have seen a visitor prior to her death.
On nothing more than the possibility of a reopened case, Dr. Gregory decides it would be a good idea to go to the town where the death occurred (on a bicycle no less) and start lying about who he is and generally messing about. Why??? This guy is supposed to be smart! Why not just paint himself red and hang a sign around his neck saying 'suspicious character.' I got so annoyed by this idiocy that I quit listening. So the story may improve later, I don't know (may try it in print where you can skip over especially annoying parts).
Dick Hill is a wonderful reader and kept me listening even though I found the early part slow going (as mentioned above.)
Or even anyone who doesn't like endless, graphic descriptions of sex with emphasis on S&M, ritualized murder, and debasement of women. I love haunted house stories and even horror stories but not stories enshrining sexual perversion & death. Haunted house stories usually involve sex at some point but this book is only about sex and demonic rituals. Overall, it was a yawn. Not scary. The horror is all about shocking (and titillating) the reader with perverse sex, death, & demons.
The narrator was not bad at straight narration but I didn't care for his character voices. His male voices mostly sounded like old men or foreigners but were not terrible. His female voices were pretty terrible although I give him points for trying. It can't be easy imitating voices of the opposite sex.
Overall, I rate the book as only 'fair.' The Legend of Hell House is a far better book in a similar vein; on the other hand, I did listen till the end.
Dark Matter is a moody, atmospheric ghost story reminiscent of James or Poe. There is little obvious gore; the horror lies in the claustrophobic struggles of the protagonist who is tormented by his inability to decide whether he is hallucinating or really being haunted by a ghost. He is temporarily alone at a pre-World War I arctic research site. The cold and the dark close him in. He is constantly counting off the days until his companions return and that return repeatedly gets delayed. His only companion (apart from a brief visit from a trapper) is an Inuit husky. How he goes from being a dog hater to having his sanity saved by a dog is one of the more interesting subplots (if you like dogs, I do). The narrator is excellent and makes the most of a good story. Recommended if you like ghost stories without a dead body every ten steps...not for action junkies.
I bought this book despite the poor reviews because I am a fan of Lovecraft inspired fiction and enjoy reading stories of the Elder Gods. Unfortunately, the bad reviews are right. Even for a fan of the Lovecraft fictional universe, this is a pedestrian effort with little to recommend it. Stereotypical characters are a feature of this genre but the thrills & chills are supposed to make up for it. In this case, they don't.
The narrator makes a mediocre story worse. Although he sounds professional when simply narrating the story, his efforts at a West Virginian accent are so bad that they suggest self-parody (perhaps this is his way of suggesting his opinion of the novel). As other reviewers have pointed out, his 'woman's voice' is not very successful either but might not have been quite so annoying if he hadn't attempted the accent on top of it.
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