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Nothing really matters

Rob Thomas

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2014

316
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 76 reviews
  • 80 ratings
  • 540 titles in library
  • 32 purchased in 2015
FOLLOWING
35
FOLLOWERS
40

  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Nelson Mandela
    • Narrated By Michael Boatman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (486)
    Performance
    (442)
    Story
    (435)

    Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world.

    History says: "Surprisingly honest autobiography."
    "Great book, great narration."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I started this book, I thought "Wow, a 27-hour long book! I'll probably be sick of it by the end." But, in fact I found myself wish it had been much more detailed and much longer.

    Nelson Mandela's life makes for a fascinating and inspiring story.

    Michael Boatman's performance was amazing. Most of the time, it felt as it was Nelson Mandela himself talking.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • This Fortress World

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By James E. Gunn
    • Narrated By Nick Sullivan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    SFWA Grand Master James Gunn's This Fortress World takes place in the far future of our galaxy, when countless civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving only their marvelous scientific achievements as legacy to those worlds that have now fallen into a new Dark Age. On the planet Brancusi, William Dane, an acolyte monk in the all-powerful Church, comes into possession of a nasty but valuable secret, one that all the cutthroats in the galaxy are itching to get their hands on.

    Nothing really matters says: "Jason Bourne meets Blade Runner"
    "Jason Bourne meets Blade Runner"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I think I bought this book because it was on somebody’s must-read science fiction list. I’m not sure I’d included it on a must-read sci-fi list, but in fairness it was entertaining. It was the author’s first published book, and that might explain some of the issues I had with the story.

    The story is an action-packed romp on a dark and grimy world set in a future following man’s triumphant expansion into the stars but after the collapse of man's initial, successful interplanetary society. There’s lots of intrigue and other cloak and dagger stuff. I was puzzled by the way the main character, an athletic monk acolyte quickly learns to be a super effective combatant, though. That might have been accounted for by the explanation of the main character’s special nature at the end of story. If so, though, that was never made explicit.

    Anyway, I liked the overall philosophical thrust of the story. But it had a few too many dramatic rescues and easily-flummoxed bad guys for my taste. That said, I think the story would definitely appeal to a younger (male, sci-fi fan) reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Needle

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Hal Clement
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    A manhunt within a man. The hunter from space's depths chose Robert Kinncaid as his "host" and invaded his body, controlled his thoughts, and began the search. The Quarry was lurking in another human being somewhere. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack- a needle that carried death and destruction.

    Nothing really matters says: "Original and refreshingly different story!"
    "Original and refreshingly different story!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story is one of the most refreshingly original and unique ones I can remember having read in recent years. [*Mild spoiler alert*] It tells is the tale of an alien policeman that, in pursuing a criminal of his kind, winds up inhabiting the body of a boy on earth. He carries on the pursuit of the criminal while occupying this host. The setting is earth (Hawaii, or some other Pacific island perhaps), not outer space. The time is the recent past, not some distant future. The main characters are a normal boy and two parasites locked in a death struggle.

    The story really works. I loved it. My son heard some of it, and decided he absolutely had to hear it too. Once he got a copy, he started listening immediately.

    And the narrator was excellent.

    Interestingly this book was, I was shocked to discover at the end of the book, originally published in 1949! You’d never have guessed. While reading it, and based on the style of the cover art, I assumed it was published in the 1970s, plus or minus a decade. Timelessness? Check!

    I highly recommend this unique story to lovers of sci fi and perhaps lovers of biology-inspired sci fi more particularly.

    PS: I found myself thinking it was likely this novel was the inspiration for the episode of Futurama in which, after eating a truck-stop egg salad sandwich, Fry’s body is infested with worms that heal his wounds and keep improving his mind and health ... until he kicks them out.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I, Robot

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Isaac Asimov
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1937)
    Performance
    (877)
    Story
    (899)

    They mustn't harm a human being, they must obey human orders, and they must protect their own existence...but only so long as that doesn't violate rules one and two. With these Three Laws of Robotics, humanity embarked on a bold new era of evolution that would open up enormous possibilities, and unforeseen risks.

    Herb says: "Forget the violence - Read this one for the humor"
    "Classic Old School Science Fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a collection of short stories revolving around a central character, a robot psychologist who is about to retire. She reminisces to a reporter and the stories represent the events she is telling the reporter about, although as told by a narrator other than the psychologist. All of the stories turn on the Three Rules of Robotics, which I’m sure another review or two have spelled out elsewhere.

    This book in the first in the series and although I have not read the others (yet), I can tell you the story in the Will Smith movie is not found in this book or any of the others. Characters, situations, and ideas from this book do appear in that movie, but the idea of a violent robot uprising runs contrary to the theme in this book of robots not generally being able to harm humans. Though, the final story in this book suggests robots may be able to subtly manipulate mankind to their mutual benefit.

    The stories are mostly clever and fun. The dialogue, the ways the characters interact, and the underlying “science”, now seem quaint of course. But younger readers will still enjoy this sci-fi classic if they suspend the part of their mind struggling with that and just enjoy the stories themselves.

    I recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of vintage sci fi.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Norman Maclean
    • Narrated By David Manis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (213)

    In A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean claims that “in my family, there is no clear line between religion and fly-fishing.” Nor is there a clear line between family and fly-fishing. It is the one activity where brother can connect with brother and father with son, bridging troubled relationships at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana. In Maclean’s autobiographical novella, it is the river that makes them realize that life continues and all things are related.

    Nothing really matters says: "Fly-fishing, US Forest Service, and Life."
    "Fly-fishing, US Forest Service, and Life."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As others have noted, there are parts of these stories that are very beautifully written. I rushed through the book, though, and missed some of the finer points. My loss. On the other hand, perhaps some of the points were too subtle for me to catch. I wonder it it’d become more clear to me if I saw the movie...

    In any case, the descriptions the author provides of life in small-town Montana and working in the woods with the US Forest Service in the early twentieth century were very interesting. And the fact these details were worked into the stories was neat.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Little Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs)
    • By Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (824)
    Performance
    (635)
    Story
    (636)

    A pilot stranded in the desert awakes one morning to see, standing before him, the most extraordinary little fellow. "Please," asks the stranger, "draw me a sheep." And the pilot realizes that when life's events are too difficult to understand, there is no choice but to succumb to their mysteries. He pulls out pencil and paper... And thus begins this wise and enchanting fable that, in teaching the secret of what is really important in life, has changed forever the world for its readers.

    Heather says: "A children's story for adults"
    "Wow."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this classic book (in paper format) many years ago to read to my kids. I started reading it to them twice, but never got far before giving up. To be honest, I wondered what the fuss was about. But then I never got past the first quarter or so of the book.

    The nice thing about audible books is, unlike a regular book, it's easier to keep reading than it is to stop. So, I decided to give this book a second chance yesterday when Audible put it on sale. I bought it and listened from start to finish. Wow, I'm sure glad I did.

    The story is very original. It tells the tale of a space-travelling child who meets an air-travelling adult. The final three quarters of the book sets out a profound and poignant view of life and does so in such a way that you can never quite decide whether it's aimed at children or adults.

    The story is very touching and thought-provoking and a good use of two hours of your life (or your kids’ lives). Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Erich Maria Remarque
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1173)
    Performance
    (1026)
    Story
    (1032)

    Paul Bäumer is just 19 years old when he and his classmates enlist. They are Germany’s Iron Youth who enter the war with high ideals and leave it disillusioned or dead. As Paul struggles with the realities of the man he has become, and the world to which he must return, he is led like a ghost of his former self into the war’s final hours. All Quiet is one of the greatest war novels of all time, an eloquent expression of the futility, hopelessness and irreparable losses of war.

    Alan says: "My Choice for Frank Muller's Best"
    "You think war is all glory, but it is all hell."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book moved me in the way the movie “Saving Pvt. Ryan” did (especially that movie’s initial D-Day scene). There are countless war movies and books, but these are the only two I am familiar with that were capable of bringing home the horror of war. My father fought in WWII and never told war stories or even talked about combat other than in vague ways. In his view war was a senseless “meat grinder”. I never felt I knew what he was getting at until after I'd seen Saving Pvt. Ryan and read “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

    All Quiet is written by a WWI combat veteran and tells tells the story of Paul Baumer who, along with his classmates is encouraged to join the war with a great deal of patriotic talk by those who, by virtue of their age or position, need never fight themselves. Paul soon discovers that, as U.S. Gen. Sherman said:

    "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."

    and

    "There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell."

    I finished this book thinking, for mankind to evolve, wars should simply be banned (or, as suggested by Paul and his comrades, turned into life-and-death tournaments between the world leaders and generals who declare them).

    The narrator is perfect and really does the material justice. And the writing itself is beautiful. Unreservedly recommended. A+

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Kiss Before Dying

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Ira Levin
    • Narrated By Mauro Hantman
    Overall
    (483)
    Performance
    (434)
    Story
    (437)

    Now a modern classic, as gripping in its tautly plotted action as it is penetrating in its exploration of a criminal mind, it tells the shocking tale of a young man who will stop at nothing--not even murder--to get where he wants to go. For he has dreams; plans. He also has charm, good looks, sex appeal, intelligence. And he has a problem. Her name is Dorothy; she loves him, and she's pregnant. The solution may demand desperate measures.

    karen says: "Nothing like a classic....."
    "Don’t get between a narcissist/psycho & his goals"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don’t usually read crime or suspense novels, but I read this one because of its author’s reputation and the reputation of the novel itself. I’m glad I did. Nothing impresses me more than when an author can really surprise you. And Ira Levin really delivers in this suspense classic. That’s all I’ll say about surprises.

    One of the reasons I usually don’t enjoy suspense novels is because they are, obviously, designed to make you tense. And, if you can’t keep reading, say because you have to go to work, then you remain in suspense. This book did keep me in suspense, but it was a fun ride, so no regrets.

    I recommend this book, especially if you are a crime/suspense fan and would like to read an early example of top notch suspense writing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Forever War

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Joe Haldeman
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    Overall
    (1583)
    Performance
    (985)
    Story
    (999)

    William Mandella is a soldier in Earth's elite brigade. As the war against the Taurans sends him from galaxy to galaxy, he learns to use protective body shells and sophisticated weapons. He adapts to the cultures and terrains of distant outposts. But with each month in space, years are passing on Earth. Where will he call home when (and if) the Forever War ends?

    John says: "A classic."
    "The Terrans vs the Taurans, + lots of weird stuff"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A fun read. It takes a realistic-feeling approach to the physics of war in space. The politics as well. The characters are refreshingly down-to-earth (no apologies, pun-haters), instead of someone's fantasy of what a cool and macho space warrior should be like.

    It's really an amazing book if you take into account that it was written in the 1970s. Until I finished reading it and checked, I had assumed it was written later.

    Final note: at double speed, which is how I often listen to fiction, the narrator sounded like Peter Parker from the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. Funny. I kept waiting to hear him say, 'Wallopping web-snappers!'

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Fuzzy Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4800)
    Performance
    (4242)
    Story
    (4242)

    In John Scalzi's re-imagining of H. Beam Piper's 1962 sci-fi classic Little Fuzzy, written with the full cooperation of the Piper Estate, Jack Holloway works alone for reasons he doesnt care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorps headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporations headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, thats not up for discussion.

    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn says: "Short, sweet, and satisfying storytelling."
    "Hard-bitten anti-hero saves Ewoks from Bill Gates"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, I have not read “Little Fuzzy” of which this book is an updated version. Second, this is the first John Scalzi book I have read. Third, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to sci-fi fans with one reservation.

    My reservation is that this is yet another sci-fi tale with a hard-bitten, anti-hero main character. Yup, the main character is a grizzled veteran of court-room battles who uses his superior intellect and knowledge to flummox the bad guys. And, of course, he isn’t afraid to throw a manly punch when needed.

    To John Scalzi’s credit, the fact that the main character is an antihero actually is relevant to the plot. At least at the very end. Okay, that’s good. But, still, I’m very tired of the macho outsider main characters that are almost standard in sci-fi, crime novels, and the like. I hope he does not use that sort of main character in all his books. Maybe he just inherited this character from Little Fuzzy, right? Otherwise, I guess I’m done with his books.

    A final thought. Little Fuzzy was published in the early 60s and you have to wonder if it was George Lucas’s inspiration for the Ewoks battling the empire and the basic plot elements in James Cameron’s Avatar.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Caine Mutiny

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Herman Wouk
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (1113)
    Performance
    (972)
    Story
    (973)

    Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

    James says: "Even Better than the Movie"
    "What is the right approach to poor leadership?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fascinating war story with several layers that are not initially apparent. The story starts off focussed on the main character and his entry into, and activities in, the US Navy during WWII. But with the introduction of new characters and changing circumstances, things get much more and interesting and complicated.

    It struck me as primarily a tale of bad leadership and subordinates' reactions to it and how young men mature in tough circumstances and possibly gain resulting wisdom. It takes a stand on what the right approach to weak leadership ought be. I found the suggested answer pretty much impossible to argue with. I also found it disturbing when I recalled how I’ve handled such situations through the years.

    It’s a long book, but rewarding and worth the time. It’s very well narrated and I highly recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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