I've been a fan of Frank Herbert for many years, and I'm glad to see that Audible.com is FINALLY getting some of his work. Dune Messiah is every bit the fabulous book I remember, but the narration leaves something to be desired. The pronunciations of various words and phrases unique to the Dune novels are at odds with both the films and with other readings of Dune novels (like George Guidall's adept reading of Dune for Borders Audiobooks). It also seems unnecessary and disorienting to have multiple narrators, and some of them are too obviously English for the reading to jive with the cadence and syntax of Herbert, an American writer. Not fatal flaws, but something to gripe about...
Besides being a good 2 for 1 value, this book is quite enjoyable.
I am undecided as to which book ought to be listened to first, the original Piper story "Little Fuzzy" (part 2 of the download) or the reboot "Fuzzy Nation" (part 1 of the download).
Little Fuzzy is Sci-Fi classic, and tackles interesting intellectual issues through discourses insterted into its plot, much like Starship Troopers (for example). It has not aged well in many respects, but is still a good book and worth having and listening to. Incidentally, the coolest part for me was the book having a character named "Gustavus Adolphus", as I went to Gustavus Adolphus College.
The highlight of this download, however, is Scalzi's work. It contains deep and well-developed characters, an entertaining and engaging plot, and is very funny. Scalzi manages to harness the a-hole protagonist perfectly, and along the way contributes a subtle but substantive message concerning personal character and virtue.
My only wish is that Scalzi had predominantly used the term 'sapience' (as the original book does and as is strictly correct) to describe intelligent species rather than 'sentience'.
Wheaton as the narrator is brilliant. He was awesome reading "The Android's Dream" and he is awesome reading this book. Have whatever opinions you like of his acting career, I hope he reads more audiobooks, because he is really, really good at it. I own hundreds of audio books and would easily put Wheaton into my top ten readers list even with the small sample size.
Though Ellis' Pulitzer was not for this book, the qualities that earned him that prestigious award shine through. I don't know how many hundreds of books about GW and the era have been written, but this one is a gem that stands out from the rest. It is firmly grounded in fact, and filled with compellingly argued analysis where fact fails us. It is well organized and presents an insight not only into the doings of one of the very most important persons in American history, but into the personal character of GW.
Not normally a fan of biographies, but this one I listened to twice. The reader does an outstanding job not getting in the way of the prose. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment to the reader, I assure you it is not backhanded. It takes top talent in this field to turn the text into a living thing without distracting the reader into noticing that they are being read to.
Frank Muller, may he rest in peace, could make the phone book entertaining if he read it aloud. This book is no different in that it's outstandingly read. However, the plot is very very slow. The language is artful and the themes are interestingly explored. The world of the 18th/19th century shipping culture is vividly presented, but if you're not a fan of a literary genre that prizes style of presentation over brisk plot movement and character development, you may not enjoy this book very much.
For example, at one point Melville goes on for over an hour about the color white. The prose of this section is arful, and that can be enjoyable if you like that sort of thing, but not otherwise. It took me a while of starts and stops to finish this one, but I'm glad to have Muller's work, even if the writing was not my cup of tea.
I am very interested in all things space-related, but I hesitated to purchase this item because I've seen and read the exact same information about America's space program SO many times that I was afraid of more of the same. I think I've seen every minute of original footage with and without commentary, I've been on every space center tour more than once, went to space camp as a kid, and have read probably 50 books and autobiographies relating to America's space program. To my delight, almost every anecdote in this book is entirely new to me. It is wonderfully original and thorough and delightfully odd-ball at the same time.
This was a very good history. It mixes sketches of individual persons to provide an accessible perspective on a world with the larger movements and events in history. It has a good narrative quality, yet still manages to discuss the scholarly sources in a manner interesting to causal readers and essential for academics. It also challenges conventional views about the late Roman world, and quite successfully argues that this part of history needed the fresh look that this book provides. The narrator takes a bit of getting used to, but settles in nicely after about an hour or so.
As a lifelong academic and lover of history, I cringe inside when someone says that history is boring because all it is is names and dates and "this happened then that happened in this year and that year, test on Monday." History is about the uncovering of the past, and finding the truth and what it means for us. Real history is about interpreting and collecting evidence, and telling a compelling and useful story. Real history is so much more than names and dates, it is supposed to inform us of truths about the human condition by examining people in different times and places.
This book, however, is "history" in the boring sense that so many think history is. No interpretive work is done, no attempt is made to form a more personal narrative, and if you payed attention in your high school World History course, this book is not likely to tell you anything new. My fear is that people more open-minded about history will be turned off by this book if it is the first one that they listen to. There are many great histories out there. This is not one of them.
This is the second book written by both King and Straub, and is a companion, though not a direct sequel to The Talisman. The characterization and plot read just like every other King novel I've had experience with. The characters were interesting as usual for a King novel, and the story moved along well enough for a book with a rather pedestrian plotline, but I thought it was really unfair to this story and its characters that it was made into a footnote to the Dark Tower series in the end, as if King wasn't really paying attention to this story, but thinking of that other one he still hadn't finished by this point. What must Straub have thought of all this? Who knows?
In any case, my chief pleasure in this book was to hear Frank Muller talk for 26 hours, which was grand.
Robinson, already known for being able to construct detailed and realistic environments, makes the world of Galileo come alive with a vividness reminiscent of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Galileo as a character is at once charming, frustrating, and human.
The Jovian future scenes add an appropriately otherworldly flavor to the book, though these scenes cause the plot to drag at times, especially in the middle third of the book. But stick with it and you are rewarded with a story arc that is satisfying and thought provoking at the same time.
The way that Robinson weaves the facts of Galileo's life and his actual writings into the fictional, time travel sections is wonderful enough to make one wonder if it isn't true after all.
Guidall is without question the best in the business and this work is more of the excellence I've come to expect.
This book so far has the distinction of being the only book in six years of Audible.com membership that I've been unable to finish. And the reader is great. I generally like Greg Bear's writing, Darwin's Radio stands as one of the top ten best SF books ever written on my list. This one just stank. Had even more nonsense metaphysical garbage in it than Card's "Children of the Mind" which I didn't think was possible.
The book so far is very good. However, the combination of the narrating and one particular editing decision has turned me off of the audio version. So far I have only been unable to finish one audiobook I've purchased from Audible.com (out of about 150) and I may now have to change that number to two.
The Narrator: John Lee has never been my favorite, but I've had him read four other books in my collection, and he did fine. On this one, the voices for the characters are goofy even more often than in the narration of Peter F Hamilton's "Pandora's Star" and "Judas Unchained". In many scenes, there's just not enough vocal differentiation between characters to follow the scene clearly.
The biggest problem: Some "genius" editor decided that there would be NO pause, NONE at all, when the book changes scenes. Since there are multiple plot threads and not quite enough vocal variety between some characters, and the scene changes rather frequently, this editing decision is really disruptive to the listening experience. I was so confused about which characters were where and doing what that I had to start over after getting about five hours in, and it was only the second time through that I began to recognize that there were even scene changes!! There's less of a pause between scene changes than pauses between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. Nerd that I am I timed it! If the aforementioned genius editor hadn't decided to cut 5 minutes from the total length of the book in this manner, I might have bought the other four books from Audible. No chance now, unless some reviewer of the other books can tell me whether there are pauses at scene changes.
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