This is an immediately engaging story and it gets more interesting as it goes along. Some of the tech is already dated, but that almost seems to have been a choice instead of an accident and it did not reduce my pleasure in the story. He avoids the major mistake of attempting to explain technologies, which is very easy for SF authors to fall in to. The characters are engaging and distinct, as usual. There's a lot of imagination shown in various aspects of the story. I don't want to spoil it so I will leave it at that.
My other half and her friends are writers, we listened to this as we drove around Scotland together. If there had been significant mistakes it would have been torn to pieces, but the writers kept quiet and enjoyed the story.
In some ways the story line is a common one, but this is a good example of the type.
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.
This is a story about a child's growth in to the adult world. I guess people are used to the common trope of the all powerful whatever. Too much deus ex whatever. So this deals with the story of an imperfect person, somewhat more real that the usual in that way. There are enough reviews that I am not going to bother repeating all that they say.
I found the book well paced and engaging.
The 'hero' is a selfish and arrogant Republican who thinks that so long as he and his family have what they want he can then apportion the remains to the rest of the peons who should be happy with his rule.
Disaster strikes and, being the sharpest tool in the shed, he dashes to the pharmacy and strong arms the pharmacist in to giving him five months supply of insulin for his daughter despite the fact that they don't have much on hand. After all, only his family deserves to live. Next stop the local store to buy, but not pay for, three cartons of cigarettes. After all, if the world is going to hell what do you need except insulin for your daughter (not a bad choice) and smokes.
Naturally the hero turns out to be one of the few people who has a working car, and he keeps it despite the police needing transport because, naturally, he is by far the most important person, to him, so no one dare try to take his car.
Many of the locals are smarter than the smartest man in this story, so by the time he turns up at the grocery store everything is gone. But at least he has his cigarettes!
Progress through the book is measured by his consumption of the cartons of cigarettes he scammed out of the store owner, before telling him that they'd become a much sought after trading item... once he had his at the normal price... not that he paid.
Every major character in this book is either a nicotine addict or a recovering nicotine addict. Try to smoke in my office, chum, and I will physically deposit your behind in the great outdoors. It takes a privileged and entitled smoker to think people react like that to their stinking habit. So, naturally since he is Mr Important, he ends up in charge. Well he s the most important person.
Like Republicans before him, he accepts the horrible cost of sending other people's children out to die, but not his own. He threatens to send his army to save his daughter from a lingering death. But spends lives in the civil war way instead of trying to keep them all alive the way a modern army works. Frontal charges have not been popular since WWII. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
Thank god he's a firearms expert. But just a second, he thinks the magazine on a gun is called a 'clip'. No. A gangbanger uses a clip, a shooter knows that thing is a magazine. And he leaves his house defended with a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with bird shot. So he wants to irritate attackers but isn't interested in actually stopping them? Not that I'd want to be shot, but if it were my house in these circumstances I'd have showed the ladies the semi automatic rifle that he admits to having towards the end. He takes off with an old single action revolver. Because he thinks it looks impressive. He does get a 9mm Glock later.
So this is a Republican survivalist wet dream. Very right wing and right coast. Very condescending about hippies and other liberal losers.
And he lets his daughter die because he is stupid. Dude, you people are living on pigs and cows. You need insulin for one kid and you are throwing away the cow and pig parts it was harvested from. Go to the library and look up how it was made before 1984 then go down to the slaughterhouse and pick up the spare pancreases that nobody wants. Extracting the insulin is pretty easy. Pathetic losers. If he wasn't so clearly the leader he'd not have made it through the first week.
Let's get the reader out of the way first. She is an award winning New Yorker who has awards for being a top class reader. If she was reading something else then probably I'd agree, but her supposed English accent is littered with words that just aren't right. This is an English accent the way Americans think English people speak. She has been there often enough, she should know some of her problems. As a fifty something English car enthusiast, and having lived half my adult life in Bedfordshire, I have never met anyone who pronounced Daimler as "diemlar", in my lifetime I have only ever heard "daymler". In some ways it would work better if the accent was just ignored and read in American, as it is the inaccuracies are irritating. Being an immigrant to the US now I can tell you that the headline accent differences are not the things that mark you as foreigner, and this gets the unusual things wrong. But narrating a badly written book opens her up to more negative scrutiny than she probably deserves.
It is funny that a book about time travel has so many time problems. A woman takes a child to the railway station to be early for the afternoon train, so it is early afternoon and light. A few minutes later she is talking to some other kids and the delayed morning train turns up. She sticks the first kid on the train (Which is populated with sexually aggressive and suggestive Americans with English accents and uniforms. A British soldier of that era would not behave that way, and especially not in those words). The kid gets on the train and suddenly it is dark and they are late home. What? When did that happen? I know the author and reader have been to Britain, it isn't the tropics, dusk and dawn above 50 degrees north do not happen fast.
The characters are endlessly banging on with an internal dialogue of "what if" this that or the other goes wrong. It never settles down to getting on with the story. What was the point of this book anyway? Oh, it never gets to one. Just endlessly bangs on in this "stranger in a strange land" way. One of the characters gets stuck with an American accent, but it also seems to turn him American. He can't do anything right and suddenly has no understanding of Britain and British culture. Why would someone spend an entire day trying to get a lift somewhere he could have walked in a few hours?
Why would a letter from one part of Britain to another have a 2 CENT stamp on it? The Royal Mail has never used cents. In 1939 first class mail was 1 1/2 pence and second class was 1 penny. So there wouldn't be a 2 anything on a letter.
A naval gentleman makes one of the characters a cup of coffee and then starts making dinner. Initially he lights a fire under a kettle and that turns in to a Primus stove. Moments later he decides to feed the character a stew of bully beef and potatoes. A few words of dialogue and the coffee is cold and the beef has become sardines? An open can of sardines was mentioned, but that's not what our officer was said to have dumped in the pan. Unless we are peeling through alternate universes this is just badly edited. This seriously needs an appointment with the editor, to remove endless streams of pointless nothingness while the story isn't progressing in any way. It is apparent what is going on in the story early on, but the characters and the delivery are soooo slooowww that it takes hundreds of pages before realization and revelation even begins to dawn.
This reads like American Harry Potter fan fic. Full of incongruities and essentially unedited and delivered in a fake English accent by someone who can almost carry it off. Which results in a jarring sense of wrong.
I really really don't need to waste the money to find out how this ends.
And some really strange pronunciation. Sword... who pronounces the 'w'?
I was gratified that the author gave up on the usual American rehash of the dehumanising method the American military uses to beat its people in to their required, unthinking, shape.
The story is OK, while being way too video game. But whatever, it's a spin-off. Just accept it and it's not bad. But it really isn't 'good'.
But forget the physics making any sort of sense. The author obviously has zero understanding of the scale of space, even a solar system like ours, and the huge speeds that would be necessary to get around. If you can transit a system in a few hours then you are doing millions of miles per hour. So if you are at a range of a few miles you are within a microsecond of a collision. Conversely kinetic, unguided, weapons are almost entirely useless. If your ship is a mile long, then a microsecond difference is a total miss. Sub-light weapons, well you can see them coming thousands of miles away, and if you can see the things moving then there's loads of time to make a tiny course adjustment and miss by miles. It just doesn't make sense. You certainly can't collide with another ship at stellar speeds and survive. Even at orbital speeds a glancing impact releases fantastic energy.
SciFi for ignorant children.
The reading was decent. Perhaps the reader might have put too much selfish whining in to the reading, but I think it was there in the writing.
Spoiler alert. The method of storytelling, a mixture of psychiatrists sessions and retrospective details of the real story, was irritating at best.
Perhaps it is because I am British and we don't really do all this navel gazing shrink junk. The pathetic selfish attitude. The drugs, alcohol, smoking and gambling.
So basically it was just a recipe for making me happy to see him dead. There was nothing redeeming in the character for me.
If the main character had had some professionalism this could have been very different.
The science fiction side is the epitome of not explaining the science. I actually don't have a problem with that. I think it is a huge mistake to try to describe speculative or pure BS science in detail. But so much more could have been done with this. The destinations were uninteresting,
At least it was cheap.
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