As a lifetime SF fan and writer, I was amazed to learn there was so much more out there and where all the sf stories I love came from. Professor Drout has a very engaging voice and speaking style and seems to have read every SF story ever published! The structure of his lectures and the broad canvas of his topics make me want to listen to this lecture many times. He single-handedly tripled the size of my to-read book list. Well worth the listen for anyone interested in learning more about the history of SF literature and how it has developed over the past 200 years.
As I continue to read through the classics of Science Fiction, this book easily makes the Top 50 list of most of the people who know. Billed as one of the finest examples of a post-apocalyptic world I was looking forward to seeing what that world would look like from the eyes of a writer from the 1960's. Miller's most important assumption is one I agree with completely: if the world blows itself up, the Church and it's teachings (including a full Latin vocabulary) will survive. Miller was specific about the members of the Church he uses as his characters in each section, focusing less on the world after the burn and more on how the Order deals with the events of the world in each time and how it impacts their overall mission. On the whole, it's a good read and definitely worthwhile for any lover of SF. As a book on its own it's horribly dry. Whatever sense of conflict you may feel is so drawn and thinned out over the course of the chapters by the time the resolution comes you simply shrug your shoulders and move on. The lack of intensity in the prose is worsened by Weiner's monotone and bland recording. He uses the exact same inflection for the most impactful of sentences as he does the most mundane. I had to pause the recording several times and ask, "Whoa, what just happened?" because the sentence had been passed so quickly by the narrator. Weiner's Latin pronunciation is excellent, and as a former Latin student it was fun to flex my Latin muscles and see how much I remembered. For anyone but the hardcore SF fan, I doubt I'd recommend this book, and I'd certainly recommend any other recording of it. But Miller's lessons of a nuclear world shine through clearly, as are how the Church will thrive and ensure mankind's legacy is preserved in spite of our collective propensity to destroy ourselves.
My second Scalzi novel, I was looking forward to seeing what he could do with what is a very intriguing idea ... how would an alien race introduce themselves to 21st Century humanity? The logic of Scalzi's approach is sadly unquestionable. It turns this bland and unexciting novel into a worthwhile read. Scalzi navigates the world of Hollywood stars and agents well, implying to some extent first-hand experience with the industry. His choice of alien species is different and certainly eliminates all stereotypical first contact scenarios right off the bat. Make no mistake, this book is not "Rendezvous with Rama." It's not even in the same solar system as that one. This is a fun little novel about the sad world of Hollywood and just how much the mere appearances of the people there impact our daily perceptions of humanity as a whole. The hidden messages regarding the Holocaust are an interesting twist. However, I think if you really want an alien race to understand humanity and why we're even worth making contact with you don't show them humanity at its worst and then expect them to come down as friends, no matter how popular they get. Scalzi's writing remains an abused victim of overusing "he said," "she said," and an unending supply of adverbs, but at least it didn't kill the overall experience. Need a break from typical first contact novels, give this one a go ... just don't go in with too high of expectations.
There were a few reasons I was intrigued enough to purchase this audiobook. First, I was eager to read my first John Scalzi book and see what he could do. Second, I'm a fan of Wil Wheaton as a narrator. Third, I'm a huge Star Trek fan. So, the idea of a novel based around one of the funnier/sad aspects of ST:TOS, I was excited to read this book. My intrigue quickly turned to disappointment especially once the core story's big reveal took place and the course of the 2nd half of the novel came into focus. But to Scalzi's credit, I cared enough about his characters by that point that I wanted to find out what happened to them, so I read on. After finishing the book I had to endure the three codas. Interesting as they were, Scalzi had more than used up my patience by that point with the storyline and his writing. I was surprised to find the codas were written better than the main novel itself! I look forward to reading more Scalzi novels to determine whether this is one of his lesser works or if he really is this below-average a writer. Regardless, he should fire his editor who for some unknown reason allowed a novel to be published with a nearly endless stream of "he said" and "she said" on every page. You can even hear Wheaton begin to sigh at points after reciting "he said" nearly a dozen times over the course of 30 seconds. Wheaton continues to impress me with his narration skills, bringing life to a group of characters and making the story enjoyable enough for me to stick around. Fans of ST:TOS should enjoy the references as well as the take on the meaningless deaths of so many characters, but I for one think Scalzi could have approached the same idea in a different way with more success. Regardless, the characters are worth the time, if for no other reason than to hear futuristic space explorers/warriors cursing like modern-day truckers.
I had to admit I could only remember bits and pieces of the book having read it last over 30 years ago. Listening to the audiobook was just like having Tolkein reading a bedtime story to me every time I turned it on. Great narration (and not a bad singing voice) and the plucky story makes it timeless! I couldn't help but put the faces of the actors from the movie in as I imagined the tale unfold. I had forgotten just how delightful a tale The Hobbit is without the clutter of prose and mythology that bogs down Tolkein's other works.
I read a review of this book in Entertainment Weekly and as an honest fan of "Quantum Leap" I was intrigued to pick it up, even with its young adult genre listing. Yes, this is a young adult book, make no mistake. The young characters seem to experience about every pitfall of high school over the course of the book, so prepare yourself. Even still, the idea of the character is very intriguing. The lives the main character falls into each have their story told equally which can lead to interesting tales and perspectives on young adult life. A bit preachy in parts, the messages are all positive. The ending is what really threw me. I won't spoil it here, but it was probably the only part of the book I didn't enjoy. The narrator is superb! Definitely worth a listen.
As Kevin Smith relates in this book, his fans already know and love him and go to see his movies and listen to his podcasts, and any fan will love this book about his life thus far. I, for one, enjoyed the earliest chapters where he talked about his beginnings as an artist and the mindset that got him into the business and eventually led to his continued success. The insider stories about his trials with Bruce Willis and Southwest Airlines are told with such heartfelt honesty that you just learn to like the guy even more. His chapters on making Red State and falling in love with his wife and enjoyable reads for any artist looking to find their purpose and/or soul mate. Admittedly, the first audiobook I've ever listened to by a stoned narrator (and you can tell sometimes), it's a great way to spend a couple of hours listening and laughing along with a down-to-earth guy that reminds us all that being an artist requires us to stay true to who we are, no matter the obstacles we face. Great read, Kevin!
Make no mistake, this book is an autobiography. The fun part is this book reads almost exactly like the comic books Morrison writes: long, adjective-heavy sentences that are meant to describe and enliven a static scene, this time his written words. You get the sense early on, and he never lets up, that Morrison is writing a philosophical history book with the prose techniques that have made him the successful comic book writer he is. Sadly, it can at times weigh the book down with long periods of prose that say little or advance the "story" to the point where I'd forgotten what the book was about. And then I realized that Morrison was telling the story of comic book history by telling us his own story. His slow creative climb into the business, the influences of drugs, music, fashion and British trends on his life and his career. This isn't a book about Superheroes, this is a book about Grant Morrison's life with superheroes. So, if you're a fan of Morrison and his work, pick it up and make it a favorite. If you're looking for an in-depth history and analysis of superheroes and comic book history, you might want to look elsewhere.
This book was one of the most entertaining books I've listened to in years. Cline is obviously a true Geek with enough trivia, movie quotes, comic book references and computer knowledge to satisfy anyone who grew up in the 1980's world of video games, Saturday morning cartoons and role-playing games. I found numerous times saying, "Oh, wow, I remember that!" when he added some obscure reference to his story from a cartoon I hadn't thought about in years. It was an enjoyable blast into my past. At the same time, you come to root for the heroes of the book, cheering at their successes and shaking your head at their failures. You can't help but imagine yourself sitting at the controls of the starship, wielding the weapons or dancing in the air with them. Wheaton was perfectly cast to read this book given his personal love of everything mentioned in the book, and his performance is filled with the right kind of passion to keep you rivted to the story. This is a must read for anyone who knows who Ultraman was, who knows the difference between a Firefly-class starship and the Millenium Falcon and anyone who wishes they could have stepped into a video game and played it as themselves.
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