I was a bit put off by Stephenson after Cryptonomicon, but he more than makes up for it in REAMDE. The characters are cerebral and distinct, each with their own quirks that come out brilliantly in the dialog.
The plot is continuously shifting, and each turn is punctuated by the resilience of the book's primary protagonist. No slow muddled storyline (which was my biggest gripe with Crypto) in REAMDE. Also, Stephenson show off his real 'nerd cred', which is as always technically accurate and non-embellished.
The narration is second to none. Hillgartner pulls off Russian, English, and CHinese accents with authenticity, and he often does it in the same breath.
This is good scifi. Sometimes you're in the mood for Space Opera, sometimes Military Scifi, sometimes straight up action. Well this book is all of these things and none of them at the same time. Part alien invasion pulp, part spy novel, I was hooked in early and this book held me till the last word. Sometimes you just want a good entertaining aliens taking over the world story. Here you go.
RC Bray is probably my favorite narrator as of late. He is very good at providing just the right amount of inflection to be believable in whatever voice he does, without pulling you out of the story with acute mannerisms or distracting accents.
Can't wait for the sequels!
This book starts out a little slow but very quickly builds up steam. It's a very simple premise: people trying to prevent a war despite the best efforts of foes with superior planning and resources.
It's the lengths that they go to in order to save the day that make this a great story.
Exciting and fun read, with a few things thrown in that will make your jaw drop.
No one could ever accuse Stephen King of failing to create completely mesmerizing characters. He does it here just as well as in any of his other books.
Hardcore sci-fi fans take note: this book doesnt get into the hows and whys of time travel, nor does it explore such thought experiments as the Grandfather Paradox, but it does exquisitely illustrate the 'realities' a person may face if they suddenly found themselves travelling 50 years into the past...and the ramifications of altering that past.
The villians in King's novels always show a little bit of humanity, which blurs the line between good and evil. This too is done here, using a little bit of that Derry, Maine mystique to add a little crazy to the party.
The narration is top-notch. Wasson's characters are distinct and memorable.
All in all, definitely worth the credit.
I started listening to this on recommendation (of the printed book) from Steve Gibson at GRC, who raved about it. The material seemed pretty good, but I just could not get over how unbelievably bad the narration is. The speaker has a very limited range, and when she tries to emulate male characters, she comes off sounding like Millhouse from The Simpsons. It is very distracting.
This story is very character driven, and you can tell that the scifi sugar was definitely secondary. That doesnt really matter, though, because the narrative moves along just fine without it. The characters' eccentricities are shown in punctuated spurts, and every time they do you end up forming a new opinion about them.
I definitely wish the author spent more time in One-Ungo-Wen's (sp?) world, but all in all the story was compelling.
The story was pretty much straight-up scifi. I kind of wish the details of the alien species was fleshed out a little more, but you learn enough about them to create a good mental image.
I think they should have taken another strategy when trying to emulate the alien voices. There's a multitude of digital voice changers that the narrator could of used, but instead he opted to slur his speech as if he just had all of his wisdom teeth pulled out. You got used to it, but it was still distracting.
Also, the ending was definitely sequel bait. It's been almost 26 years and no sequel.
This book was very difficult to sit through. From the absolute lack of understanding of physics, to the completely lackluster encounters with alien beings (especially a particularly drawn-out yawn inducer with a giant 'crab-pus'), I have to advise that anyone expecting a solid sci-fi experience look elsewhere.
There's a little joke in the software development community:
Q: How many 37Signals' developers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: F!#k You.
I always thought that joke was a product of the snobbery that comes out of the RoR community. Now I realize that it's more about a philosophy of keeping things as simple as they need to be.
This book will get your mind churning, and will make you want to start to de-clutter your work.
This book probably appeals to fans of Michael Bay and Uwe Boll films. There's not much in terms of content or character development. Nor is there much exploration of the world that the author is trying to describe. The depiction of alien species is handled with the scientific understanding of an eighth-grader, and the story complexity follows along the same lines. If you want a world to capture your imagination, you wont find it in Looking Glass.
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