If I had to sum it up in one word it would, unfortunately, be "disappointing".
I understand that a five book deal has been signed for the Long Earth series but I'm not sure if it was the authors or the publishers who came up with that number, if the pacing of this book is anything to go by it was the publishers. I still like the basic premise of this universe but this book really felt like filler with a little bit of setup for the next book...s?
Most everyone's back from the first book, with a few new additions, but generally the assorted sub-plots don't actually go anywhere, or do anything more than circle around so they're ready to kick off at the start of book three, like everyone was in a holding pattern for no particularly good reason.
There are flashes of interest, you can pick out Pratchett's dialog and plot contributions (although they felt startlingly lacking in this volume) and the ideas that Mr Baxter brings are reasonably obvious and interesting when they appear (usually in some monologue form) but the whole thing never gels. It was an incredibly frustrating read, made more so by these little sparks that appear here and there defining the bones of what could have been a stupendous, much longer, book.
This is also how I felt about a previous collaboration between Stephen Baxter and Arthur C Clarke, perhaps he just shouldn't collaborate, or perhaps he needs a better editing team, more willing to request changes from these two very well established authors.
I'm not going to be able to not read the next installment, but I wouldn't recommend this book to any but the most die-hard completist.
On the audio side, Mr Stevens did a bang-up job continuing on from the first book and I greatly enjoyed the way he read this, excellent personification!
I was a little surprised to discover, post-reading, that Falling Free was published in 1988 because it had the feel of a work much earlier in the SciFi genre (the tone reminded me a bit of the Lensman series, or maybe Heinlen). That said, I like early SciFi so it was all good!
The plot isn't particularly complex and it goes exactly where you think it's going to, nary a twist in sight. The characters are not really three-dimensional, although they're very nicely painted 2D. Basically it's a fun read about an engineer who runs into a moral dilemma and engineers his way around the evil bureaucrats and their perilously binding, emotionless red-tape and into a brave new world.
This was a great story and, I suspect, the fact that I listened to the audio version read by Patrick Tull actually significantly added to the experience!
I've always enjoyed older English historical fiction, especially the sailing/sea-faring genre and, as a child, I read all of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series which I think is what whet my appetite.
A lot of far better qualified folk than I have already addressed the content of the book so I'm not likely to add anything to the world by writing much here so I shan't beyond saying that it's a great read and you should get into it (although be aware that you're in for a 20ish book series, one that the author died before completing).
I also really want to plug the audio version read by Mr Tull, it was really amazingly well narrated. The book is written with the understated prose of the time it is set and Mr Tull reads it as written, without attempting to add anything to it, truly delightful!
First, a warning! If you are the kind of person who, like me, won't start a series until the ending has been published, be aware: one of the authors was inconsiderate enough to die before completing the odyssey. What Clarke and Baxter set out to write was, at very least, a tetralogy. What you _get_ is a trilogy with a multitude of loose-threads and a cliffhanger ending!
Time's Eye was...OK. At it's core is an interesting hard-science-fiction/alternate-history tale but when all's said and done, it didn't really seem to be more than an elaborate set piece, looking for a more cogent and complete story to be a part of. I guess that the remaining books in the series are that story but I didn't feel that there was enough left over to warrant having this part of the story be a separate book.
Having now read all three of the books I would advise that they're a little like the curate's egg, parts of it are excellent and it won't be a terrible waste of time to plough through them all.
John Lee who, as usual, did a great job.
I'm quite the fan of the neo-noir stories (my most recent favourite is Alistair Reynolds' Century Rain) so I figured it might be interesting to go back to one of the pioneering detective-noir stories to see how it all began.
Obviously, harking from 1930 it's a little dated, but it's just telling a story, not prognosticating the future (as are most other things I read) so it doesn't really suffer from this. The main thing that really kept annoying me was the role of the leading ladies, all of which were suitably (for the time) docile and demure and which to me somewhat soured what was otherwise a good story (I can't really explain without entering spoiler territory, so I shan't).
The story is described elsewhere so I'm not going to touch on that more than to say that it's well paced and Spade is quite unpredictable in his actions so knowing what's coming next is not quite as easy to suppose as you might think. The descriptive prose is brief, but effective. When it comes to places and scenes, transporting! I relished the language used in the evocative descriptions of old San Francisco.
Overall I enjoyed it, although I'd not be rushing out to read more of Sam Spade (which isn't a problem, since there isn't any).
With regard to the audio, Mr Meyers does an excellent job voicing the characters, both male and female (especially Gutman) and there's not the briefest hint of music or other audible interference (huzzah). There is a recording error at 1:23:11 when the phrase "Spade inclined his head" is repeated but apart from that it's all good.
Hmmm, I'm not sure what to say about this one. About half-way through I was convinced the entire book was going to be one long setup for a "To Be Continued" ending. I was wrong about that. The amount of loose-ends that got tidied up in the last few chapters was pretty phenomenal, although there's still plenty of scope for the sequels. Without straying into spoiler territory let's just say I was surprised at who was and wasn't standing at the end.
My main issue with the story is that it's a little trite and reads somewhat like early 50's sci-fi. On the pro side, I enjoyed the general plot, the chapter-starting quotes added nicely to the story. It's a fun, sometimes humorous read with an acceptable pace and the story never gets bogged down, although that is somewhat due to a lack of detail, which segues into the cons. There's obvious care gone into the depiction of some of the characters, but others are all but one-dimensional. Also, the constant stream of people falling in love (that I'm sure are a setup for later stories) was really starting to annoy me.
Overall, I'd say check it out if you're a Space Opera fan.
With regard to the audio, I found it mostly acceptable. It commits the cardinal sin of inserting music between chunks of narration although, thankfully, it only happens once about midway through the story (perhaps there's a Part I/Part II split?). Mr Corren did a great job and my only issues are with editing, as soon as the last word of a chapter is spoken there's almost no gap before "Chapter X" is announced, which can be a little jarring.
First off, this was a good book, but I think one that I would have appreciated a lot more if I'd read it rather than listened to it. A lot of the latter part of the book contains words that Lem created and being able to see the words spelled out on the page and thus analyse them for the implied (and probably sarcastic) etymology would have added to the fun.
It did take me a little while to get into the mood for this book, the sarcasm is not so much tongue-in-cheek as tongue-through-cheek, it's not subtle. That said, once the introductions were complete and the main plot kicked in I enjoyed the story and the humour.
The story is told first-person, transitioning to a chunked diary-style format for the last third of the book and there were moments where I felt presages of the book Fiasco in the tone and style of the story-telling.
I want to stress that I had no issues with this particular recording, I thought it was well narrated by Mr Marantz and was free of distractions (music, chapter breaks, etc), I just think that the content would be better appreciated with a bit more time to linger on the words and a better idea of how things were spelled.
Delightful vintage Pratchett! I really enjoyed this book, it's my favourite genre (science-fiction) but with a sprinkling of humour from one of my favourite authors! The way it read was somewhat reminiscent of Good Omens (another Pratchett collaboration, with Neil Gaiman) in the way that the obviously Pratchett one-liners popped out of the text but it's obvious that it's not just one-liners Pratchett provided. This is very obviously a collaborative effort and the Pratchett additions to the plot and story are reasonably obvious. I've not read anything by Stephen Baxter before, but I've just added his trilogy to my [To Read] list as a result of reading this book.
A lot of the enjoyment I got out of this book was the humour, the plot was interesting, although I have to admit that one of the pivotal plot points really didn't make any sense and there are definite inconsistencies throughout the book, especially when it comes to the grand finale (as much as part one of a series can be said to have a grand finale) which don't really allow the book to function very well as sci-fi, certainly not hard sci-fi (which I believe Mr Baxter is renowned for).
I went into this knowing that it was part one of a series, if I hadn't known that I would have been very, very upset with the ending. Don't start reading this if you don't like unfinished stories as The Long War won't be released until at least 20th June, 2013!
All in all, treat this as open-ended light sci-fi/comedy and you'll be alright!
Mr Fenton-Stevens did an excellent job and there are no annoying audio "features" added to the narration.
I think Rain Fall is Barry Eisler's first book and, as such, perhaps deserves a little forgiveness?
I liked the bones of the story but it really felt like Mr Eisler was trying to insert as many action/film noir detective tropes as possible which meant that John Rain just didn't feel like a believable character to me (as much as one can "believe" in these superhuman assassin types). In fact, if you're familiar with the similar character, Court Gentry (The Gray Man), I think I actually found him easier to swallow than Rain. My other comparatively minor gripe was a chunk of what appeared to be technobabble toward the end of the book with regards to copy management and lattice reductions that, although somewhat grounded in reality, didn't really make any sense.
Overall I enjoyed the setting and the descriptions of Tokyo and general Japanese minutiae but I never really engaged with the characters. I don't think I'll be following up with the next in the series.
I listened to the Brilliance Audio version, with Brian Nishii narrating. The audio version was excellent and Mr Nishii's obvious grasp of Japanese lent an air of authenticity to the vocalisation of the book. For the most part I was happy with the voices that he chose for the various characters except for Bulfinch and Yamaoto which were both oddly pitched and, initially at least, rather jarring.
This was another great read from [author:Daniel Suarez|1956402]! If you liked this book then you'll love [book:Daemon|4699575] and [book:Freedom (TM)|7132363]. This is not in any way related to those two books but it has a very similar style, kinda a like the love child between them and an early [author:Tom Clancy|3892]. If you like your stories to contain (mostly) factual weaponry and technology then you'll be happy.
The story is based around the idea of war, taken to the next logical advance, with fully-automated drones as the combatants. It is a little bit basic in the character department but the pace really doesn't slow down from the first chapter on, so there's not too much time to worry about the general lack of character development; The love angle could have happily been ditched in my opinion. It dips into myrmecology, automated weaponry and associated defense mechanisms, drones of assorted shapes and sizes as well as all manner of transportation. Great fun!
I listened to the Penguin Audio version read by Jeff Gurner. The music is thankfully minimal (limited to fade-in and fade-out at either end of the story). There are stylised chapter headings but they did actually add to the story, rather from break it up or detract from it, so "Yay" for Penguin Audio. My Gurner did a great job voicing a plethora of genders, races, ages and even species.
Report Inappropriate Content