I enjoyed this, the reading was done well, much better than most.
The story was 98% setup then SHAZAM and it's all over. Bringing in a super powerful magic character to sort everything out is like using the get out of jail free card in Monopoly or having Scotty beam you up.
At the end the pressing questions were not answered. There was no ending.
Unfortunately Iain Banks died of cancer and took the answers with him. A very sad day for all of us. FWIW I love most of his books, but this one not quite so much.
I guess when I was a kid I would have liked this more. It would certainly have been informative about how out of control teenage girls are... if it is accurate. But then I have never been a teenage girl so what do I know. But I did have a teenage daughter and sometimes I wondered quite how insane she could be. Reading this as an adult it is just rather tiresome, because you can see the spectacular amount of stupid.
I won't be following along for the rest of the ride.
Overall I like the world and the people in it. But there's a problem with these books where the teenager turns out to be the smartest person on the planet and saves the day. Have you met many 18 year old boys? There's a reason the military sends the teenagers and it isn't because they are the smartest and coolest heads. The orbital physics is BS too, an elyptical and a circular path do cross and recross if they are in the same plane, but objects following them drift radically apart because the duration of the orbit is different. If you have the sort of velocity difference that has you passing out of visual range in minutes then your elyptical orbit is going to fall radically behind the circular orbit. There are a lot of things like that, where the science is not right. It pulls me out of what is otherwise a good story.
There were things I thought weren't practical, but who cares, it's science fiction.
It is good to hear another view of the daylight raids on Europe, this was a very hard way to go to war.
The reading style is the first problem with this, it is almost mechanical. Almost every word enunciated separately with a pause at the end. It detracts from the narrative by drawing continuous attention to itself. I also wonder whether it was a good choice to have an old man's story of his twenty year old self voiced by an old man instead of a young man. Pronunciation is odd too. Americans are often portrayed as unable to pronounce simple English place names. The ones I met when I worked at RAF Thurleigh which was the home of the 8th Air Force 306th bombardment group, seemed to have no trouble when they came to visit the place. The memorial outside the officer's mess (demolished) is still well kept. So I wonder if that portrayal is accurate.
This is mostly about people, which is reasonable enough, the US bases were very independent. There isn't a great deal of detail about the actions or difficulties of flying over Europe in daylight. I didn't learn anything from this. Though it was the first time I'd heard mention of some of the airfields I used to know when I was living in Bedford for 12 years.
Then there are the factual inaccuracies and anachronisms. Usually something passes out of use with age and marks the age of a narrative. In this case... well did he really say they bought a bottle of VAT 69 whisky? That is a blended whisky that was introduced when the UK joined the EEC in 1969 and changed from sales tax to Value Added Tax... hence VAT 69. No way he was drinking that in 1944. The Germans did not use infrared tracking, passive infrared capable of noticing a piston engine aircraft from many miles away was not available until the 1990s, the Germans did have some IR equipment but it required IR floodlights to be useful and was short range for use against ground targets. Glen Miller did not take off from Alconbury on his last flight, he had just played down at Milton Earnest and flew out of RAF Twinwood Farm in a UC-64 Norseman. There is also no truth in the extremely unlikely event of him being accidentally bombed out of the air by a British bomber, the aircraft has never been found, but given the conditions and the known carburetor icing issues of the aircraft the current theory is that the aircraft crashed in the English Channel when the engine failed.
If this book had been read differently it might have changed the whole character for me, but some fact checking would have been a good idea too.
Spoilers. I can't be bothered to avoid them.
In the first series Fitz was a petulant child and had reason to be, he was growing up.
As we join him more than a decade later he's done the equivalent of sitting on the couch and watching soaps ever since he saved the Farseers. And his stupid relations have let him. And he's still mooning after the girl he mistreated and left pregnant when he was a teenager. And his wolf still tolerates his perpetual self pity.
So here comes Chade again to tell him that his child desperately needs the training only he can give. And really, the fact that he wasn't in control of his body when it got his queen pregnant is no more distance than many parents have from their children. But no, our hero is still feeling sorry for himself because he is not having the perfect life with his one and only love of his life who went off with his old boss. Good grief, the man has serious mental health issues.
So that's it for me. Do yourself a favor and pretend the whole thing ended with the dragons.
Oh, and the magical rescue by the being somewhere out in the skill stream? The ultimate deus ex machina. Don't write yourself in to a corner that requires the sudden arrival of a mythical and all powerful creature to rescue your story. The Farseer line ended there and the rest of the books are just the dreams the God analog manufactured for the sullen child.
Gah! Why am I even doing this?
It's not a clip it's a magazine! Oh wait, she got it right that time. What do you mean her clip was empty? Clips are just things that hold rounds together for loading in to a magazine. A clip can't in the rifle when it is firing... with the single exception of the M1 Garand. The words mean different things and you are using them wrong.
Apparently the only military men this reader has ever heard were angry, sarcastic and threatening. Even the senior officers, when in a good mood, can't say anything without trying to make it sound like an angry insult. Was the book really written that way? If you try the words again without the sneering delivery they sound kind of reasonable.
The story? Lacks credible progress. If you discover a plot where major interests appear to be funding the attacks you don't then ignore it while allowing what appears to be another attempt at furthering their ends to proceed unopposed. Is everyone in this universe stupid?
I haven't finished it yet. The reading has currently irritated me to the point where I can't continue. I don't know whether I'd ever listen to this reader again. Probably not.
I loved this book because I read it with the main characters being a hard as nails engineered space soldier and a tough space captain. I can not stand this version because they are read as emotional wrecks on the point of collapse. Even when the narration in the fraught scenes is almost sobbed out. Oh god save me! Our tough captain isn't dissolving in pathetic tears when the battle scenes are playing out, she's tough and capable not some teenage ninny. So she is not happy, but she does her job.
In some ways this was an education for me, it proved that you can completely ruin the tone of a book by reading it in a silly voice. If that is how the authors intended it to be read then I am probably done with their work and their worlds. But they write about capable men and women, not about pathetic ninnies, so I'll persist and just avoid Kevin Collins in the future.
Kevin? Dude! What did you do to this book??!
The story is as classic. It exhibits some ideas which we now know to be wrong and even for the time had some very imperfect science. But for all that it is an interesting little story. The movies do not stock even close to the plot, so it is good to go to the source.
The reader is clear but has some amusing pronunciation issues for words he appears not to have met, like anemone. But that does not detract from the story.
This author took a great real story and so tarted it up with gushing anthropomorphism that it is almost impossible to stomach. It's all must haves and feels and psychic doggy moments. Anyone who has owned a real dog, and I have been honored by two German Shepherds, this has not one iota of credibility in it. There's plenty of fluffy minded people in the world who will love this, but I'd rather have had the story without the layers and layers of sickly icing.
This book has the common issue of authors who can't do simple maths or don't think their readers can do simple maths. If a projectile is fired at a substantial proportion of the speed of light, and has a two and a half hour flight time to its target then the fighters that launch from that target are not going to arrive in a few minutes. There's no coherent fake world under this SciFi and that makes it ArtFi, not SciFi. I don't mind having impossible capabilities, that's why I read SciFi, but it has to be a consistent world or it grates.
What is with the sexist garbage? Why are we going on about how pretty the female officers are? Why is the female midshipman called a midshipwoman? Why is she bringing in the coffee and cleaning away the empties? Navies have people for that, they are called stewards, and they don't call the females stewardesses just like they don't have captainesses or leutenantettes. But most especially, even a _female_ junior officer does not do scut work.
And so to the story. If you are expecting anything in the way of tactics or realism you need to look somewhere else. The protagonists are stupid and facile. The author appears to think that computing will end at a 1990s level, no expect systems, none of the capabilities we are starting to take for granted in cell phones, and this is set in the future.
The reading is pretty good, there's not a huge variation in accents, and the Scottish accent is amusingly bad when you consider the author is from Edinburgh.
And by the way Jock (the author is a Scott). It is The Royal Navy... all capitals. It was and will always be the first Royal Navy so that is its proper name, it is not the British Navy. Sometimes you write like a yank, is that deliberate?
The story, less the science and technical detail, is quite engaging as zombie books go. The whole science of zombies is ridiculous, but this is fiction so who cares.
The plot is reasonably complex and involved. The timing of events is reasonably well thought out, but the interactions with various military groups were rather far fetched. How much disbelief do you suspend?
Ah, the reading. As an English man I found the 'English' accents terrible. Can he only do an English that sounds like a brain damaged Cockney? This is the sort of 'English' accent that Americans use when they don't know they are being offensive. The bad accents were too much of the story to ignore. Other than that, and some weird pronunciation, Aden is Ayden not Ahden, the reading was OK. He was, at least, consistent. But really, not good.
It is a mistake to spend too much time explaining your fictional science, as an author you may be impressed with what you have learned, but it just provides more danger of revealing the holes. Prions are not indestructible, enzymes crack up proteins, even prions. They can be burned too. Reaction and action times probably come in this area too. The fastest anyone can react to a simple stimulus is around 100 milliseconds, typical is around 200. So NOBODY can react to a change and implement an alternate attack in 30ms. That's utterly ridiculous.
He really needs to find a better firearms instructor. That thing about 22s rattling around in the head and mushing the brain... did he learn that at a bar? It is rubbish. No professional chooses to take a hand gun to a battle as their primary weapon. No professional enters a combat situation without body armor. Nobody can tell the difference between a 9mm or 40S&W Glock without picking it up and reading it, they are virtually identical. A heart shot with a firearm will still take 20 seconds to incapacitate someone. The things you stick in semi automatic handguns are magazines, gang bangers use clips because they know no better. A clip is a device for holding loose rounds for loading in to a magazine.
People with a history involving the military don't go discarding advice to stay out of secure matters and go on to discuss what they have been told is secret with civilians. People who do do that sort of thing don't get hired, they get visits from
Then there's the weird love of therapists and apparent disdain for scientists. His therapist is a giant of a man who is so vastly impressive that he gets instantly hired by the secret agency and gets taken along on missions. Err. No. You see the shrink when it is all over. But our hero is so offended with the tame scientist that he wants to smash his face in for not being broken up by the reality of zombie involved slaughter. And yet he makes a big thing of not being too concerned himself later. I have worked with a lot of military types and that sort of expectation, even demand, for an emotional response is very artsy American, this modern emotional IQ notion perhaps. It is funny that on the one hand the author has to have had to talk to some fairly educated people about the science, and yet he needs to show disdain in his writing.
Over it all there was this weak minded pap about how damaged we were by 9/11 but that we didn't let the terrorists win by that and 7/7 and yet the US did let the terrorists win. The British, on the other hand, after 7/7, showed the US how it should be done. Life returned to normal the next day because you give terrorists their victory by changing how you live your life and spending trillions to attack uninvolved countries in a fit of teenage temper. That sort of attitude is not the attitude of special forces types who actually get the job done.
In the end the credibility gap in the zombie storyline if fine, because that's the fantasy of the book, but the ignorance of the people portrayed is the death of this book.
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