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Michael G. Kurilla

ROCKVILLE, MD, United States | Member Since 2005

793
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 160 reviews
  • 454 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2015
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286

  • Last and First Men

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Olaf Stapledon
    • Narrated By Stephen Greif
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (37)

    One of the most extraordinary, imaginative and ambitious novels of the century: a history of the evolution of humankind over the next 2 billion years. Among all science fiction writers Olaf Stapledon stands alone for the sheer scope and ambition of his work. First published in 1930, Last and First Men is full of pioneering speculations about evolution, terraforming, genetic engineering and many other subjects.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Quite impressive for 1930"
    "Quite impressive for 1930"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stapledon attempts to convey the evolution of humans over a 2 billion year epoch. The breadth and scope of concepts are extensive and even somewhat surprising given the extent of scientific thinking at that time. Interestingly, he also nails some geopolitical evolution in his near term in that the US and China end up vying for global supremacy as well as identifying Germany dominating Europe economically (interestingly due to their pacifist nature following their WWI defeat). What follows is a natural progression of stages with current day being the "first" men and ending with the last, or eighteenth iteration of "humans". The story is conveyed as a message from the last to first when the last anticipate their eventual destruction.

    The sci-fi elements are varied and Stapledon covers the gamut (only missing computers). He brings in biological warfare and anticipates genetic manipulation, first on microorganisms and finally animals, plants and even humans (some of which serve to demarcate the 1 - 18 progression). He envisions nuclear fission (annihilation of matter which leads to disaster), loss of fossil fuels, geothermal and wind power, space exploration (etherships instead of spaceships), Martian and Venusian lifeforms, alien invasion of Earth, planet wide terraforming, contact with the past and much more.

    One particular note - this is not a story with characters and a plot. The tale unfolds more along the lines of a history professor's class lectures with emphasis on the dominate themes driving each version of man along with the forces shaping their evolution and transitions. The narration is excellent and makes up for what would otherwise be a pedantic soliloquy.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Antaran Codex

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stephen Renneberg
    • Narrated By Neil Shah
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    As mankind nears its goal of galactic citizenship, Sirius Kade, trader and Earth Intelligence Service deep cover agent, learns that wealthy and powerful leaders from across Mapped Space are vying for control of an alien relic they believe is the key to untold riches - unaware that they are being deceived. Sirius soon finds himself entangled in an interstellar plot to make humanity a cosmic outcast, denying it its place as the newest member of the vast and ancient community that has governed the galaxy for eons.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Probation is Sirius business"
    "Probation is Sirius business"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stephen Renneberg's the Antaran Codex is a solid sci-fi thriller with enough plot twists to maintain the tension through to the very end. Sirius Kade is a merchant captain with a secret intelligence operative background. Along with his crew, a drunken oaf and an alien outcast, as well as a sometime girlfriend who can't decide whether to swindle or bed him, Sirius goes undercover and finds himself in the middle of a plan to keep Earth from joining the galactic club of recognized sentients.

    The sci-fi elements are largely physics with faster than light drives along with various unremarkable alien species. The science is not the focal point, rather an elaborate mystery that Sirius must unravel is the main draw. The pacing is excellent with a good mixture of action scenes and detective sleuthing.

    The narration was quite respectable with a good range of voices and interesting renditions of the various alien races. While clearly a self contained storyline, the characters and this universe, make for intriguing follow-on installment potential.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Overlord

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By David L. Golemon
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (49)

    The plans of a million years are finally ready for what has always been coming - Armageddon. Finally, the first move is set in motion and the assassinations begin, eliminating the leadership and consolidating military control of the seas and airspace of the world’s most powerful nations. Only one element in the arsenal of the world can possibly give the Earth a fighting chance at survival - a tiny being that has already saved the world once in the Arizona desert is now called upon to outthink his former masters.

    Matthew says: "I think I lost my watch down south..."
    "Event Group trilogy conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    David Golemon's Overlord is the 3rd and final installment of the Event Group trilogy concerning an impending invasion by aliens that was hinted at in the 1st two installments. Overlord is the codename for the plan to defend Earth. The story builds on the first two parts, Event Group and Legacy, but adds many more players to the mix. Final preparations for Overlord are consummated and the plan is somewhat executed. Mixed in are both intelligence and political opponents who lack insider information and harass, rather than hinder the main characters.

    The sci-fi elements are limited to wormholes with funky time effects and powerful lasers. While an engaging and exciting tale, with good pacing throughout, the story suffers from a crude, naivete. Basically, the overlord plan was designed and wholly known by just 4 individuals, one of whom is already dead, two who get injured and are out of action, with the last being the little friendly alien who has been holding back. This leads to the continual mantra of "need to know" which seems useless when world ending events are unfolding. 70 billion aliens in spaceships sailing across the galaxy looking for food also seems pretty lame (you can create an energy source big enough to bend space-time, but you can't produce food - really???). The actions of speaker and intelligence chief were also overly simplistic and farcical.

    The narration was quite good with an excellent range of voices that was needed for the expanded character set.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Janissaries: The Theogony, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Chris Kennedy
    • Narrated By Craig Good
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (103)

    The war with China was over and Lieutenant Shawn "Calvin" Hobbs just wanted his life to go back to normal. The hero of the war, he had a small ream of paperwork to fill out, a deployment with his Navy F-18 squadron to prepare for, and a new girlfriend to spend some quality time with. Life was good. Until the aliens showed up.

    Brenton says: "A good start"
    "Failed pitch for a TV miniseries"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Chris Kennedy 1st installment of the Janissaries: The Theogony is an unsophisticated tale more suitable to 1950's style sci-fi for pre-teens. Basically, Earth has been under the watch of an alien race with much of Greek mythology deriving from a prior contact. The alien communications beacon stops working and is interpreted as indicating that a previously believed extinct alien race of 10 foot man-eating frogs is still around and intends to invade Earth for a banquet. What ensues is an eclectic band of GI Joes types who ally with the watching aliens using technology from another extinct alien race that happens to be hanging around Earth and begin an adventure to save the planet and start exploring the galaxy.

    The sci-fi elements are basic and crude: wormhole travel for spaceships along with anti-matter and laser weapons. The multiple alien races are either humanoid or variants of terrestrial animals (birds, frogs, and lizards). Naive geopolitics include the US president getting a phone call from a war hero to come alone regarding an issue of national security. World leaders use body double for secret meetings and no one other than a select few know anything. "New" top secret classifications need to be created with the president working on establishing a unified world government. All of this is based on 3 aliens just saying so. Russia has reverted back to the KGB with a stereotypical femme fatale. The multiple aliens are either pacifists with a prime directive or blood thirsty carnivores who are pure evil and want to eat any intelligent life form.

    The narration is suboptimal with alien renditions of boring college professors and alien contact at the level of "we'll be your friends if you help us.". Also annoying is the repetition of the same information over and over again to different characters. There's a distinct lack of subtlety and nuance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Atlantis World: The Origin Mystery, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By A.G. Riddle
    • Narrated By Stephen Bel Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (421)
    Performance
    (385)
    Story
    (387)

    Northern Morocco: Dr. Kate Warner cured a global pandemic, and she thought she could cure herself. She was wrong. And she was wrong about the scope of the Atlantis conspiracy. Humanity faces a new threat, an enemy beyond imagination. With her own time running out and the utter collapse of human civilization looming, a new hope arrives: a coded message from a potential ally.

    Michael P. Long says: "Great conclusion to the trilogy"
    "Too much for a satisfying conclusion"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Atlantis World is the 3rd (and hopefully last installment) for Riddle's Atlantis series. Most of the action takes place off world as characters hop from portal to portal piecing together the alien backstory. David and Kate attempt to recover Kate's latent memories conveniently dispersed to distant portal locations. Dorian is hot on their trail. What transpires is mostly a series of memory dumps by Kate and Dorian at each portal that provides the alien background info for how they came to be on Earth with divergent agendas. Added to the mix are two other sets of remnants of different alien civilizations (the sentinels and the serpentine armada). Dorian gradually arrives at the realization that Aryes has been using him and simply kills him over and over again with little purpose, while David and Kate unknowingly employ the Independence Day strategy to defeat whatever turns out to their ultimate enemy.

    The sci-fi elements are mostly alien civilizations that are never fully detailed or fleshed out. Why an advanced, intelligent race would need to freeze and thaw someone for decision making every couple of hundred years never made sense. The alien uprising / revolution was also poorly presented (after thousands of years, this society could not effectively deal with this issue?). Finally, most unsatisfying is that much of the tale breaks a cardinal rule of story telling in that the multiple memory dumps merely tell the backstory instead of showing the action.

    The narration is passable and renders as good a job as possible with a weak storyline.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Coming Home

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Jack McDevitt
    • Narrated By Jennifer VanDyck
    Overall
    (58)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (51)

    Thousands of years ago, artifacts of the early space age were lost to rising oceans and widespread turmoil. Garnett Baylee devoted his life to finding them, only to give up hope. Then, in the wake of his death, one was found in his home, raising tantalizing questions. Had he succeeded after all? Why had he kept it a secret? And where is the rest of the Apollo cache? Antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his pilot, Chase Kolpath, have gone to Earth to learn the truth.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Respectable, double action mystery sci-fi"
    "Respectable, double action mystery sci-fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Coming Home is the latest Jack McDevitt installment in the Alex Benedict series. The main character, Alex is a combination Indiana Jones / Sherlock Holmes with the narrator, Chase, playing his Watson / gal Friday. This story involves two independent tales with Chase heavily involved in the rescue of a large cruise ship caught in space / time warp that Alex figured out in an earlier installment. Added to the mix is that Alex's uncle is on board. At the same time, Alex comes into possession of an "ancient" (25th century) artifact that suggests a connection to a missing cache of early space exploration items. The story jumps back and forth between these two separate plots.

    This universe is set in the far future (beyond the 30th century) and a distant settled planet, although there are several Earth visits involved. One particularly unique feature of this series is the almost normal behavior of everyone in the story. People get hungry and go to restaurants; they go out to lunch with friends and discuss relationships; they go sightseeing on vacations, etc. There are no new sci-fi elements relative to earlier installments and the action scenes are muted and limited relative to earlier tales. McDevitt does provide a sense of the vastness of space which appears to slow down life in the future.

    The narration is superb with an excellent range of voices with good pacing. This series and narrator have always been an enjoyable listen and this time out is no exception.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Trafalgar Gambit: Ark Royal, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (580)
    Performance
    (537)
    Story
    (539)

    Humanity is losing the war. The once-mighty space navies have been crippled, officers and crew have been stretched to the limit and Earth herself has come under heavy attack. The end cannot be long delayed. For Admiral Smith and the crew of HMS Ark Royal, the stakes have never been so high. The one hope is to make contact with alien factions that might oppose the war.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy"
    "Satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Trafalgar Gambit completes Christopher G Nuttall's Ark Royal trilogy. The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of Book 2 with Earth having been directly attacked by the aliens while Ark Royal was on her mission in enemy territory. In the concluding chapter, Ark Royal is given the mission to make contact and negotiate with any alien faction intent on peaceful resolution. Along the way, the crew must deal with sabotage attempts both external as well as internal. The battle scenes are brief, but intense. Prince Henry is recovered and plays a decisive role in both negotiations and battle.

    The sci-fi elements are limited mainly to prior physics with some added alien biology and unique socio-cultural factors of the aliens, although there is little novelty. While the conclusion is satisfying, and likely signals the end of this series, there were some unanswered questions, from the mundane to whatever happened to Molly to how the geopolitical organization of Earth will evolve.

    The narration is excellent with good pacing and range of voices. This is both an enjoyable and engaging listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Abyss Beyond Dreams: Chronicle of the Fallers, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Peter F. Hamilton
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (685)
    Performance
    (622)
    Story
    (626)

    The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel - self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void. Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics.

    C. Hartmann says: "Intersection of the Void and Commonwealth - Super"
    "Another Void adventure"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Peter Hamilton's latest, The Abyss beyond dreams, initiates another Void adventure that appears to be occurring concurrently with the previous Void trilogy. The action takes place in another part of the Void and involves Nigel attempting to reach the 1st Void world, but ending up on another. This story concerns a prior human colony ship that ended up in the Void. Quantum states are completely screwed and 3000 years have passed resulting into a semi-stable societal organization. Another trapped alien life form plays havoc with the humans. In typical Hamilton fashion, we experience the story through multiple perspectives that only later intersect. Nigel gradually pieces all the various bits together, while inciting revolution along the way.

    The sci-fi elements are pure Hamiltonian with Void style space time distortion along with enhanced psychic abilities. There are also novel alien creatures with unusual powers which also provides additional background to the Void in general. While Nigel is eventually able to rescue the colonists from the Void, the tale ends with a setup for further adventures for the rest of the trilogy.

    John Lee is nothing short of spectacular in his narration. His mood, pace, and tone are expertly delivered for a truly satisfying and entertaining rendition.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Nelson Touch: Ark Royal, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (814)
    Performance
    (748)
    Story
    (751)

    Ark Royal - the Royal Navy’s outdated space carrier - has won a smashing victory against the enigmatic aliens, capturing one of their starships and returning to Earth. Now, Admiral Theodore Smith and his crew are assigned to command a fleet charged with making a deep-penetration raid into alien territory, a fleet made up of carriers from four different nations. But with a crewman who isn't what he seems, untested pilots and international friction - and a new and dangerous alien plan - can Ted and his crew survive their mission?

    Espen says: "Did not live up to expectations."
    "Commendable sequel with an evolving story arc"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Nelson Touch is a great sequel that builds on the above average introductory story of the Ark Royal series. Basically Nuttall has created a future universe with faster than light travel, while preserving the current geopolitical structures during an era of expansion akin to 18th and 19th century colonialism. In the opening salvo, mankind encounters an alien race seemingly bent on human annihilation. An old, mothballed British "carrier" is the only spaceship that can put up a fight and takes the lead with a crew of rejects in defending humanity.

    In this installment, humanity goes on the offensive and takes the fight to the aliens with several surprising developments. Details about the aliens are slowly revealed. There is the addition of a "mystery" crew member this time out and Nuttall does a great job of alternating big picture developments with a host of personal revelations with the major characters, including career advancements. Nutall also displays an excellent sense of portraying the fog of war throughout. Finally, the author sets up the 3rd installment with Earth hanging in the balance and a potential diplomatic solution. Sci-fi elements are limited largely to alien biology.

    The narration is excellent with a great range of voices, tone, and mood.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Event

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By David L. Golemon
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (149)

    In the summer of 1947, an unidentified object crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. There were no survivors. Now it's happened again. But this time, two creatures have emerged from the wreckage alive.

    Kim Venatries says: "Enjoyable!"
    "Area 51 shenanigans"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Event by David Lynn Golemon creates a supersecret United States agency started by Abraham Lincoln to investigate archaeological sites. The proffered rationale was to "learn" stuff, but why the US would feel the need to run covert military ops for national security reasons in recovering buried treasure was never made clear. So with such an organization in place, Roswell, NM takes on a a different flavor. Furthermore, the alien artifacts from 1947 were stolen by someone believing that they could protect the nation better than the US government. 60 years later, some of the original players are still around ready for round 2 with the alien return.

    The sci-fi elements are limited to alien "stuff" mainly little green men and a rabid, killer, engineered alien lion like creature designed to eat humanity. At the same time, there is a freelance former French legioneer with a penchant for old things who simply gets in everyone's way. All the action occurs against a backdrop of military and espionage lite action.

    The narration is quite good with a solid range of voices and excellent pacing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Z 2136: Z 2134, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Sean Platt, David Wright
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Several months after Jonah’s death, Adam Lovecraft is once again following in his father’s footsteps, this time as a contestant in the infamous Darwin Games. In The State’s latest iteration of The Games, the odds of survival are slimmer than ever before, and Adam soon finds himself pairing up with an old friend of Jonah’s.

    Michael G. Kurilla says: "Mercy would dictate cancellation after season 3"
    "Mercy would dictate cancellation after season 3"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Z2136 hopefully, completes what will only be a trilogy. Written in the style of a made for TV mini-series with each book containing a series of episodes to comprise a single season, this is basically Hunger Games with Zombies. Book 3 doesn't so much bring resolution and closure as it simply runs out of things to say and do. The unlucky Lovecraft family, now only brother and sister spend most of their time trying to to connect with one another with disconnected battles against zombies, psychotic maniacs, and barren baddies. Jonah was successful in the last installment in damaging city 1 and his old boss is forced to take over all the cities.

    The story breaks down on several levels. Everyone in a position of power is either corrupt, demented, or megaomanical with almost everyone else either a loyal follower or a freelance sociopath. The backstory for the zombies makes no sense whatsoever with the intention in the 1970's to turn the world into zombies while a small cadre of selected people ride out the storm underground. The tale ends with the supposedly upbeat tempo of the one individual who has done the most to persecute the Lovecraft lineage finally seeing the light and dedicating his life to... not persecuting Lovecrafts anymore.

    The narration is well done with a good range of voices and nice pacing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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