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kynan

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, United States | Member Since 2009

11
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 14 ratings
  • 317 titles in library
  • 13 purchased in 2014
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  • Beyond the Aquila Rift

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 12 mins)
    • By Alastair Reynolds
    • Narrated By Tom Dheere
    Overall
    (84)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (50)

    Beyond the Aquila Rift: It's shorthand for the trip no one ever hopes to make by accident. The one that will screw up the rest of your life, the one that creates the ghosts you see haunting the shadows of company bars across the whole Bubble. Men and women ripped out of time, cut adrift from families and lovers by an accident of an alien technology we use but rarely comprehend.

    kynan says: "Great story, mediocre audio book."
    "Great story, mediocre audio book."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the universes that Alastair Reynolds creates, and the stories he weaves in them so I was a little disappointed to see how short this story was (it's only an hour long, take note of the price as it's probably worth purchasing it rather than wasting a credit). Length complaints aside, this is a great story and I really enjoyed it. It vaguely echoes some of his other work but it's definitely new and interesting material, telling the story of some off-track astronauts, shuttling between brief vignettes of "now" and "not too long ago" with a nice psychological twist at the end to keep you wondering for a while.

    That said, this audio version of it verges on terrible. I don't know if it's because I now unconsciously relate John Lee with Alistair Reynolds but the narrator (Tom Dheere) just didn't work for me. He sounded like he'd been challenged to read through the story as fast as possible and, to draw a traffic analogy, treated sentence ending punctuation much like a speedhump or chicane rather than stop signs or red lights. Additionally, the vignettes are separated by 15 seconds of music. WHY??? It's an audio version of a book, it doesn't need extra music or sounds effects, it just needs someone to read the words! If it's imperative to draw a distinction between separate passages then leave 2 seconds of silence to indicate it or something, don't start introducing lengthy chunks of foreign material where the author never intended them to be!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Long War: The Long Earth, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
    • Narrated By Michael Fenton Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (190)
    Performance
    (172)
    Story
    (174)

    A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by "stepping". A new "America" - Valhalla - is emerging more than a million steps from Datum - our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.

    Rachel says: "Excellent Sequel"
    "Meh"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Falling Free

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (679)
    Performance
    (469)
    Story
    (477)

    Leo Graf was just your average highly efficient engineer: mind your own business, fix what's wrong, and move on to the next job. But all that changed on his assignment to the Cay Habitat, where a group of humanoids had been secretly, commercially bioengineered for working in free fall. Could he just stand there and allow the exploitation of hundreds of helpless children merely to enhance the bottom line of a heartless mega-corporation?

    Sumit says: "Worth a listen"
    "Uncomplicated moral science fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Master and Commander: Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Patrick O'Brian
    • Narrated By Patrick Tull
    Overall
    (1862)
    Performance
    (789)
    Story
    (782)

    This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, Royal Navy, and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against the thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the road of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.

    Frank says: "Choice of Narrators"
    "Delightful period sea-opera"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Time's Eye: A Time Odyssey, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (570)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (245)

    For eons, Earth has been under observation by the Firstborn, beings almost as old as the universe itself. The Firstborn are unknown to humankind - until they act. In an instant, Earth is carved up and reassembled like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly the planet and every living thing on it no longer exist in a single timeline.

    Bryan says: "Save Yourself!"
    "Frankenhistory Deathmatch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Maltese Falcon

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Dashiell Hammett
    • Narrated By Eric Meyers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (64)

    Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, first serialized in a magazine in 1930, is best known through the iconic Humphrey Bogart film of 1941. But it was the book that created the classic "noir" genre with its tough private detective threading his cool way between the criminals and the law. Sam Spade, the private eye solving the mystery of the Maltese statuette, was the template for Philip Marlowe and a host of others…. but they come no more shrewd and cunning with Hammett peppering the text with one-liners.

    Laurie says: "Easy to follow mystery"
    "Classics brought to life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Legion of the Damned: Legion of the Damned, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By William C. Dietz
    • Narrated By Donald Corren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (479)
    Performance
    (301)
    Story
    (304)

    In the future, the terminally ill can prolong life by surrendering their consciousness to a cybernetic life form that is then recruited into the notorious Legion of the Damned, an elite fighting unit charged with protecting humanity.

    Steven says: "Worth the price of admission"
    "A fun Space Opera"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Stanislaw Lem
    • Narrated By David Marantz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure.

    kynan says: "Good story, but maybe better ingested visually."
    "Good story, but maybe better ingested visually."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Long Earth: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
    • Narrated By Michael Fenton-Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (547)
    Performance
    (483)
    Story
    (486)

    The Western Front, 1916. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong and the wind in the leaves. Where have the mud, blood, and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone? Madison, Wisconsin, 2015. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive - some say mad, others allege dangerous - scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson find a curious gadget.

    colleen says: "A Different Pratchett"
    "Part one of a great Pratchett collaboration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rain Fall: John Rain Thrillers

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Barry Eisler
    • Narrated By Brian Nishii
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1150)
    Performance
    (729)
    Story
    (727)

    Haunted by the past, John Rain kills to order and leaves no trace, but the death at his hand of an old man has unforeseen complications - and soon Rain is trying to protect not just his carefully preserved anonymity but his own life and those of the people he cares for. A stunning, page-turning reinvention of the hitman thriller, Rain Fall marks the introduction of a compelling new series character and major new thriller writing career.

    George says: "Great new take on the Assassin Genre"
    "Another superhuman hitman with a heart"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kill Decision

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Daniel Suarez
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2259)
    Performance
    (2021)
    Story
    (2020)

    Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her academic career has left her entirely unprepared for the day her sophisticated research is conscripted by unknown forces to help run an unmanned - and thanks to her research, automated - drone army. Odin is the secretive Special Ops soldier with a unique insight into the faceless enemy who has begun to attack the American homeland with drones programmed to seek, identify, and execute targets.

    Mark says: "LEO WAS RIGHT, PART II"
    "Fast paced nicely detailed techno-thriller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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