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M. Umstott

Listener Since 2006

39
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 145 ratings
  • 136 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Artifact

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Patrick Astre
    • Narrated By Patrick Cullen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (740)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (93)

    Deep within a heavily guarded compound of the Brookhaven National Laboratory lies the nation's most protected secret: an active alien artifact. Estimated at several millions of years old, impervious to all efforts to penetrate its secrets, the artifact taunts researchers with bursts of mysterious radiation that may be efforts at communication.

    Richard A. Bamberg says: "Mystery of the Year?"
    "Quite bad actually"
    Overall

    I was thinking that I might have enjoyed this book before puberty.. but then I realized I was reading things like "Childhood's End" back then. So I probably would have recognized it even at that age for the tripe that it is. Might be fun for people who both skipped all of their science classes and have never read a good science fiction novel.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Kurt Vonnegut
    • Narrated By Ethan Hawke
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2277)
    Performance
    (994)
    Story
    (1010)

    Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

    William says: "What more can be said?"
    "Movie star swagger..."
    Overall

    The book is brilliant, disturbing, classic.

    The narrator puts too much of himself into the reading, however. His voice is aesthetically pleasing, but I felt pulled away from the writing on several occasions by the thought that he was enjoying listening to himself talk a little too much.

    Don't let this stop you from enjoying an otherwise solid performance of a true classic.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Host: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Stephenie Meyer
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4870)
    Performance
    (2504)
    Story
    (2541)

    Earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

    Keith says: "Great story in a genre only touched upon before"
    "Exceptional"
    Overall

    Like most great science fiction this novel very believably examines human reaction to a future very different from the world we live in now. I don't know anything about this author's other work, but this novel is a very adult examination of love, loyalty, and the very essence of what it means to be human. It is nice to see a book from a female perspective that I would still consider "hard" science fiction. While we learn perhaps a great deal more about the emotional lives of the characters than we would in an offering from Heinlein or Herbert, the writing is unflinching in the examination of difficult questions and felt quite plausible from beginning to end. This book is one of my new favorites.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Judas Unchained

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2804)
    Performance
    (1661)
    Story
    (1676)

    Robust, peaceful, and confident, the Commonwealth dispatched a ship to investigate the mystery of a disappearing star, only to inadvertently unleash a predatory alien species that turned on its liberators, striking hard, fast, and utterly without mercy.The Prime are the Commonwealth's worst nightmare. Coexistence is impossible with the technologically advanced aliens, who are genetically hardwired to exterminate all other forms of life.

    Susan says: "Exceptionally great book"
    "Great over the top social sci-fi"
    Overall

    This series of books is long, huge, intricate, occasionally campy, and all over really great on audio. Listening to the books in order is a must.

    I don't recall a book since Dune where I actually felt an emotional connection with so many characters simultaneously.

    Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Revelation Space

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1368)
    Performance
    (912)
    Story
    (916)

    Nine hundred thousand years ago, something annihilated the Amarantin civilization just as it was on the verge of discovering space flight. Now one scientist, Dan Sylveste, will stop at nothing to solve the Amarantin riddle before ancient history repeats itself. With no other resources at his disposal, Sylveste forges a dangerous alliance with the cyborg crew of the starship Nostalgia for Infinity. But as he closes in on the secret, a killer closes in on him because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason.

    Eoin says: "Defeated"
    "Great premise, perhaps overly intricate"
    Overall

    If you like hard science fiction this is probably worth a listen. An expansive, harsh universe is revealed through multiple points of view in the book. Perhaps the most interesting ideas in this book are related to examining inevitable outcomes of multiple species evolving to the point of interstellar expansion... and, of course, conflict.

    Three things that were distracting in the book for me:

    1) The narrarator's conucopia of dialect: you can play spot the accent with French, Japanese, Russian, and (I kid you not) rastafari.

    2) The insertion by the author of almost trite names for important players in the book like "sun stealer" and "nostalgia for infinity." Imagine if Frank Herbert had called Arrakis "the big sandy orb."

    3) All the grand and mysterious buildup seems to end rather abruptly.. left me wondering if the author was writing to beat a deadline.

    Those issues were not enough to prevent enjoying the book.. great concepts, interesting ideas.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • METAtropolis

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, and others
    • Narrated By Michael Hogan, Scott Brick, Kandyse McClure, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1226)
    Performance
    (485)
    Story
    (490)

    Armed camps of eco-survivalists battle purveyors of technology in this exclusive, original production featuring five sci-fi masters and five all-star narrators.

    james says: "Not a wasted credit"
    "Interesting"
    Overall

    Interesting collaborative approach to writing. Provides a worrisome glimpse into stark and very imaginable future, albeit with a silver lining. I could have done without the editors narrative between the stories- the explanation at the beginning was helpful but beyond that I wish he had just let the stories speak for themselves.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Lost Fleet: Dauntless

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jack Campbell
    • Narrated By Christian Rummel, Jack Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4168)
    Performance
    (2727)
    Story
    (2758)

    Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic "last stand" in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

    Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance's one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic "Black Jack" legend.

    Howard says: "Great Military Science Fiction"
    "good hard sci fi"
    Overall

    Fascinating to see how the author's experience driving real Navy warships gives him a great point of view for imagining the practical aspects of space combat. He also has interesting thoughts on the potential evolution and adaptation of human nature when faced with a conflict that spans generations. I listened to this book straight through (made a 5 hour drive seem like 10 minutes) and then had to wait a month for more credits.. which I am now about to spend on the next book in the series. You will LOVE this book if you liked those questions in college physics that started with "a train 1 km long is approaching a tunnel 2 km long at 0.99c..."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Duma Key: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By John Slattery
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4758)
    Performance
    (1459)
    Story
    (1449)

    A terrible accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. When his marriage suddenly ends, Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived his injuries. He wants out. His psychologist suggests a new life distant from the Twin Cities, along with something else.

    Amazon Customer says: "Play the Book and Let the Book Play You"
    "Classic King"
    Overall

    Took me back to the first time I read The Stand or The Body.. only these days I find myself enjoying King's stark portrayal of the human condition under duresse so fascinating that I was almost hoping that the inevitable invasion of supernatural horrors would never come. I suppose that is a rather absurd sentiment for someone who enjoys the work the work of one of the most prolific and talented "horror" writers of our time.

    Looking back though, I realize that I've always enjoyed King's writing because he deals unflinchingly with the difficult, the frightening , and the absurd.. and real life is full of real horrors like that. The way he approaches storytelling from the point of view of a traumatic brain injury patient in this novel is nothing short of brilliant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Terror

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Dan Simmons
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (76)

    Their captain's insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of HMS Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn't the ever-shifting landscape of white, the provisions that have turned to poison, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean. The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching and brutally killing their fellow seamen.

    Edward A. Kokkila says: "Great Story - better if unabridged"
    "Worthy"
    Overall

    I tried this audio based on the strength of the Hyperion series as well. It is engrossing, bleak, and well written. I give it three stars perhaps only because it creates an atmosphere of cold, dark hopelessness so well that it was almost oppressive at times. I recommend listening to this in July or August, in your car during an afternoon commute when it's 98 degrees...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Blasphemy

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Douglas Preston
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1090)
    Performance
    (214)
    Story
    (212)

    The world's biggest supercollider is locked in an Arizona mountain. The Torus was built to unlock the secrets of the very moment of creation: the Big Bang itself. Will the Torus divulge the mysteries of the creation of the universe? Or will it, as some predict, suck the earth into a mini black hole? Or is the Torus a Satanic attempt, as a powerful televangelist decries, to challenge God Almighty on the very throne of heaven?

    carl801 says: "This makes"
    "Fun"
    Overall

    I found this book enjoyable and outright funny at times. The author does rely on some character stereotypes in the story, but remember the reason most stereotypes exist is because there is a bit of truth in them. I found the locations and characters particularly interesting in this book because I live and work 10 minutes from Pat Robertson's compound and my best friend taught English on the Navajo reservation in Ganado, AZ for 3 years.

    A quick note: If you are the type that accepts a fundamental or literal interpretation of the lore and writings of any religion you won't enjoy this book, so don't bother with it. I've never been able to understand why "born again" types would fiddle with science fiction anyway- there's a lot of cookie-cutter fantasy out there tailored to that point of view that won't upset you with facts, logic, or reality.

    Also important to mention that anyone calling this writer's point of view godless or atheist is dead wrong. I've always thought, for instance, that the mechanics of evolution were perhaps the best evidence in all of my scientific training that there might be a higher power involved in the running of the universe. If you understand that statement and why I find those that fight science on religious grounds to be so humor-inspiring, then you probably have the right mindset to enjoy this book.

    Oh, and don't forget- Satan put fossils in the rocks to confuse us and test our faith. What fun!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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