One of the things that makes it hard to write book reviews is that there is a conflict between wanting to express your own views and a duty to readers. My view is that this is maybe one of the best books I've read. It is Pynchon. It is one of a limited number of science fiction books that qualifies as literature. The author clearly worked this manuscript until it was perfect.
Ok....That was for me -- this is for you. Do not listen to this unless you really want to work on it. There are times it repeats. There are times it is relentlessly dystopian. There are times it is just plain sad and heartbreaking.
It is set in a not too distant post-something New York. Life is hard and not entirely well-balanced. There is a mystery, there is a dark humor. There is aggressive time-loopery. If you get to half way and think you want to kill this reviewer -- stick it out.
OK....I admit it, I'm more likely to read Sci-Fi or Non-Fiction history than mysteries. But I have read all of the Dexter/Hannibal Lechter/Scarpetta books. And every Summer I take some time off to try to find a few non-Sci-Fi audiobooks. How did I miss these? What a clever premise. What a smart writer. I guarantee you will like this if you can take the rough imagery (it is a sadistic serial killer after all.) Just try the first hour....hooked. Good narrator as well !
I wanted to take some time off from science fiction -- so I went to the "police procedurals" list on Audible and looked for the highest rated book with more than a few ratings. This was it -- and for good reason. I've read Crais before, but this seemed to be particularly good. Do not read it if you don't like dogs.
By Book 4, it should be assumed that readers like the characters and the series -- and pretty much know as much as possible about the premises. So this is for those folks. I start by noting that I was been a big fan of this series from the onset. Thus, I was horrified in the first 50 pages. I thought: "He's ruined it." It was ground-based and felt like a Captain America cartoon. I almost stopped listening. Then, just as suddenly, the majority of that stopped and we were in space and things were fine. The on-the-ground sub-plot even improved once it was fitted into the story.
In the end I enjoyed the book and look forward to #5. Part of what makes this series interesting is that the characters think their way through situations -- any moron can pull the trigger on a super-gun and survive catching bullets in their teeth while delivering pithy platitudes.
In the past I have suggested that every Audible.com subscriber who listens to more than 50 books per year should be allowed to award a SIXTH STAR just once per year. Sort of a frequent flyer club for hardcore listeners. This year would be hard -- I would have to give out two, and they could not be more different books. Silkworm, a detective novel by J.K. Rowling (writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) and the military sci-fi story Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall, a Brit living in Malaysia.
First, both remind me that these are audiobooks, and that involves either a reading or a performance of the book. These are performances. I have told everyone I recommend these books to make sure to listen to them rather than read. The performances are wonderful. There are a dozen books I've listened to where the narration makes the book even more......these go on that list.
Second, both are excellent writers staying within the bounds of their genre. Rowling is like a vacuum cleaner -- it is as though she read every single detective procedural from 1920 to present and decided to write the best one of that school. (One reviewer criticizes her for not using the "Harry Potter" imagination -- but that totally misses the point of what she has done.) It is not derivative, it is just really proficient. Similarly, Nuttall writes the quintessential military space opera. He does not try to go outside of the genre or beyond it.
Third, in both cases I feel sad that character development, language and sly intelligence are so sadly missing in many books. When I read these two, I realize how much you miss that when its not there. I won't give away either plot -- but I hope you take the time to listen to these as they are fun, interesting, smart and satisfying.
Finally, I know.....it is only July. But I feel pretty sure that these won't be topped this year, although there is a second book following Ark Royal.
This is a tough book -- there is a lot physical and psychological torture. The idea is not new, but it is well-done. Excellent narration. That all said, I enjoyed the intellectual challenges. It was like reading Kafka -- a book that ends up being as much about you as it is about the character. More literature than Science Fiction despite the excellent time-travel "rules." It put me in mind of "the Man in the Empty Suit".
interesting, unique perspective
I don't usually review books I can't recommend without reservation. But this is sufficiently good that even with a few reservations, it is worth the read. It takes a rather old meme (generation colony ship with "something going on") and infuses with a new perspective and a variety of unique ideas. Take a chance and read it -- it has twists and turns that I was not expecting.
Yes. She is always very good.
It isn't what it seems to be
I'll remember this more than a lot of other books.
Yes. Let me say that I am up to "Episode 8" and greatly enjoy the series. This is (by the author's own admission) neither deep nor wildly original SF. So what? Though I read and enjoy both historical non-fiction and science fiction -- some of it VERY complex -- this is like return to my youth of reading Heinlein, Tom Swift, Ric Brant. Most people don't know that Charles Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humor, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly installments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication.The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback (His wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities.) This series is what Star Wars was originally intended to be -- what it would have been if it didn't take 5 years an $100 million per episode. It is fun, sufficiently geeky, story-driven westerns in space with just enough science to make it smart.
Probably Loki. He is the long-suffering everyman who gets dragged to hero-dom despite his common-sense.
I like the narration. It picks up the nature of the books well. You've gotta love his reluctant captain.
I thought the battle scene at the end of Book 5 (which ends the first "cycle" was a hoot. It didn't move me deeply -- it was just a lot of run-on fun!
The Author's Webpage states "The Frontiers Saga is a series of Science Fiction novels that covers a century of human adventures in space. Part one is 15 episodes, with each episode being released at regular intervals. All story arcs begun within a part are concluded during that part. There will be 5 parts to the series, with 15 episodes per part, for a total of 75 episodes." NOW WE'RE TALKING.
I normally review SF, although I do read a good bit of detective and spy fiction. (I don't feel I have the breadth to comment on those areas.) But this book is so completely peculiar that I doubt anyone has the right background to provide expert commentary.
My wife insisted I listen to it. I really didn't want to read a Rowling romp. What a moron I am at times. I could not disagree more with those who suggest this is a great "first" effort in the genre. It is a really good book. Period.
This is clever and VERY "meta'" -- brilliantly narrated. It is as though someone had reviewed all detective stories from Chandler on, sat a LONG time digesting the body of work and then written what was supposed to look simple but was really a sly book. The author covers every single base on the "tough but scruffy British police/detective" checklist right out in the open....no pretending it is something else. But each is addressed in new and interesting ways -- and the author supplies all of the mandatory snappy patter. But in the end it becomes just a good story.
It is fun and self-deprecating. It delivers completely I thought.
One of my favorite series of books is Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, reflecting the poem by John Keats first published in 1818. They are a sweeping, sometimes tortured but epic space opera.
January Dancer is akin to an abridged version of that type of epic. That is not a bad thing....as I wonder how many people actually finish the Cantos. While long and winding in epic style, it is one book. A story within a story, it starts with three themes and uses a good deal of analogy to music. I liked it. A number of clever side trips add to a great ending.
The narration is also quite a bit of fun. Rudnicki's heavy Irish efforts are worth the listen alone.
There are new ideas here -- but it is not so bizarre that it become inaccessible.
Can't put it more clearly than that. It is long, requires a good deal of work and is very tough on the reader in parts. (The Hyperion Cantos include several books.) But you get out what you put in.
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