Lancaster, PA, United States | Member Since 2010
Imagine an argument with great links missing from its logical chain. Then imagine simply inventing links of fact to fill the gaps... Links fit into place with welds blended and blurred by strong emotional distractions.
A deus ex machina is a literary or sophist trick... an ancient device that Wikipedia defines as a seemingly unsolvable problem which is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.
Robert J. Sawyer does that here in Calculating God... quite enchantingly. He "proves" the case for diesim by... well I use the word enchantingly in a couple of its meanings. It is much like a fascinating fairy tale that absorbs and charms you. And it is also a magical yarn that fits as well into the realm of fantasy as sci-fi. Indeed, it's an ingenious blend which proves nothing yet, seems to. Uh-huh, here the "calculations" and the "proof" are just like a guy suddenly and abruptly whipping a rabbit from a hat.
He does it so well, you forget that he's contrived to bring both a certain kind of hat, baggy-sleeved jacket, and well... his own unexpected rabbit.
Sawyer's good. And while you're enjoying this "calculatiion" ignore the man behind the curtain. There's nothing to see there... Just move along past :-)
Oh, and Jonathan Davis, or whoever... reads the book ... um... enchantingly.
I have not been so bored since I tried to listen to, Flaubert's Parrot. I'm thinking that this is perhaps a masterpiece of post-decontructionism. Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault along with their academic fan-boys will be proud that like Jullian Barnes, Stephenson has written a book about nothing.
Hell is a place with infinite facts that lack connection, which is exactly what deconstructionism is about - ferreting out and eliminating all connections. After hours of listening to Quicksilver try to start its engine… I finally concluded that it either lacks fuel.. or AN ENGINE AT ALL! Okay, maybe by the thirtieth book in this epic, I'll discover that there is a there, there somewhere. Unfortunately… As I concluded after simultaneously listening to Stephenson's Snow Crash… The guy wants not so much to be read… As to be studied.
Yeah, I get it, Stephenson's smart. He does a bunch of research. But look, I don't want to study a science fiction novel… I want to ride it. This one doesn't ignite.
I'm going to return Quicksilver.
Daniel Suarez and Neil Stephenson are two master fishers in the same sociological pond. They both are masters of social science as well as hard science fiction. They effortlessly toss-off ideas about the post-tech world with a scary competence. Their nonchalant attitude toward the inevitability of whole lines of tech and cultural evolution are wonderful.
While they each detest capitalism, neither seem confident about its evolutionary successor. In other words, they swim in the deluge that they predict will follow our moment in time.
And each author is intoxicated with the space between illustrated novels and film. They are entirely visual in their technique. No surprise that their fans beg for novels like Influx to become BIG BIG BIG blockbuster summer tentpole flicks.
In an odd way, this book's a logical extension of Tom Clancy's techno thrillers. Suarez understands that lots of male readers are gear-heads like me. Maybe a lot of women are too, but it looks like they're a smaller part of this audience. And the tone-deaf way that Suarez deals with girl/boy relationships probably won't sweep a lot of female readers into his fandom.
Regardless, his two dimensional characters are fun vehicles to race us through books like Influx. While my recent boredom with Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Quicksilver's kind of dashed my interest in his efforts: Influx, and it's totally competent interpretation by Jeff Gurner will keep me reading more Daniel Suarez.
Traber Burns is totally competent. He manages to stay invisible while bringing out the idiosyncrasies of each character in this ensemble… The guy has the spoken-artist chops for this Audible major league.
I don't know why it took me so long to try a Tanenbaum novel. If No Lesser Plea's typical… it's sure been my loss. This is a fine legal/thriller. The characters are sufficiently complex even when improbable. Even the toss-away folks in this book grabbed my attention. Tanenbaum has the pace of a NASCAR driver. He wails around the curves of internal action without losing traction.
How much did I like it? I'm off to download another Tannenbaum.
First off, Christian Rummel is terrific. While he does Emery's entire ensemble wonderfully, he's particularly effective in creating female characters.
But my problem wasn't in the presentation of these characters… who are quite fully created with resonant personalities… No, the problem I had was that I didn't like any of these people, particularly the lead priest. I know… I know… people are complex. And Father Brennan Burke kept getting complexer and complexer (!).. to a point that went beyond his annoyance to his attorney Monte Collins… To the point where he annoyed me. And Emery surrounded Burke with equally annoying colleagues. Grumble.
I don't like to pay to be annoyed. But maybe it takes a really talented writer to do that, huh? So, I'm not sure if I'll try another Anne Emery novel or not. At this point, probably not.
I read Reamde, gave Stephenson 4 stars. Read Cryptonomicon, gave him another 4 stars. I wasn't as impressed with The Cobweb, but figured it was a collaboration so perhaps the 3 stars were an aberration. So I listened to Snow Crash… Bad Decision!
This work is work… for the reader. Work as in TEXT-BOOK reading work. Stephenson wants us to study rather than listen to him. I listen to novels for pleasure, I read text books as a form of labor. Snow Crash is about speaking in tongues… appropriate because Stephenson's written it in tongues… Unintelligiblejabber, wrapped inside of a kind of comic-book/illustrated-novel tale… which lacks the illustrations.
Sooooo… Stephenson wants us to study them as he struggles to build them. Proving, that a picture is worth a thousand words - 'cause that's how many it takes for him to show each new scene to us. He's a very bright guy. He's having difficulty communicating. Snow Crash is his failure. How disappointing.
If you want to spend a lot of hours closely studying something… buy a copy of Marx, Samuelson's General Theory, or maybe read The Closing of The American Mind if you want to to swing from that side of life's ideology.
Even though there's a masterpiece of futurism in this book's creation of a dystopian culture evolving from our collapsing culture… Pass on Snow Crash… K? I guess this thing has snuffed my fascination with Stephenson… Pity.
Jonathan Davis, BTW, does his usually fine job. He almost made this string of fictional professional papers accessible.
“If y’wanna send ‘em a message, call Western Union.” That’s the way legendary movie producer Samual Goldwyn slapped down writers who tried to wrap sermons inside of movie scripts. Here’s the filling that’s inside Daniel Suarez tech-dazzling screenplay… Daemon/Freedom… “Capitalism is a dung encrusted delivery system for the kleptocracy’s herding of the masses.” I’ll tell ya’, Suarez delivers that message a lot more accessibly than Marx, Mao, or the lecture-blather that wafts from say, MSNBC.
And he does it with the bat-across-the-cranium bonking of his manic techno-literacy. This guy rocks! Subtle? Well that depends. Is Mylie Cyrus subtle? You think? But what’s it matter? Jeff Gurner plops the reader down inches away from an iMax screen, cranks up the color and mega-track volume to THROB! And then kicks into holographic hyper drive 3D. Warning: Your ears and eyes may bleed from the testosterone pressure.
Of course you’ll have to suspend disbelief. The is sci/fi…. Science FICTION… FICTION. And yeah, just like the first part of this book in Daemon, there are no multi-layered sensitive characters who’ll leave you clutching for your Kleenex. This is man-stuff. Hell, Suarez can’t come close to creating even an anorexic man/woman romantic moment. But: What’s it matter?
You want Bridges of Madison County? Watch a Meyrl Streep flick. This two-part book (Deamon is the first half) is for guys who crave a jolt of summer blockbuster, hero-saves-earth, CGI reality (not to be confused with any other reality). Okay, so Suarez loathes capitalism but seems insensible to human nature’s fangs and claws. Instead he substitutes kumbaya monks and monkettes living (without any loving… if you know what I mean) on utopian communes where everyone of every generation agrees in, and works joyously and effortlessly for the common good - without pot!!!! Yeah, he assumes away religious zealotry, cultural clashes, ancient ethnic animosities, and special interests who’ll chomp away the gonads of anyone that annoys ‘em.
If you crave a message to fire your anger, go read Marx, Mao, MSNBC or watch O’Reilly’s Spin Factor…. Instead, do this book for the way it snaps your head back when Suarez and Gurner stomp the techno accelerator.
Yes I've given Daemon 5 stars BUT… After a 16 hour listen…. This thing doesn't have an ending!!! It just ends mid-story with every plot-throbbing thread untied! Apparently it should stop with that Audible Voice Saying, "Audible hopes you've enjoyed THIS PART OF this book."!
Well, I did enjoy this part. It s whirlwind of action adventure (if frenzied in its movie herky- jerkies, especially toward the beginning of the 15th hours). If you like hot-season blockbusters well this is a man-flick pimped out in surround-sound, HD, 3D, and iMax frenzy. It razzels, it dazzles, it leaves you stinking of GSR, testosterone sweat, and a little deaf from the crack of explosions.
Oh… that's a good thing. Another good thing is the legitimacy which Suarez establishes in his comfort with video gaming. Games, which like the CGI of those summer tent-pole flicks, feed young (and not so young) men who are hot wired to crave a fix of this stuff.BTW, the cast of this book are not the stars, nope, it's driven by effects not characters. Expect comic-thin characters and roller-coaster techno rides with a sic-fi whirl of enigma-puzzles.
Okay, I'm off to download Part II of Daemon, a book by Suarez entitled Freedom that's also narrated by the way-competent Jeff Gurner. BUT THIS THING BETTER END THERE! Or Audible will have to add a truth in labeling comment… "BEWARE, THIS IS ONLY ONE PART IN A MULTI PART EPIC… YOU WILL NOT BE SATISFIED."
Frankly, I think they should have bundled these two together into one long listen. Instead they've got me paying twice for what is really one book (at least I hope so).
I wish this was an average mystery novel. That would make the level of books a lot higher. But among the books I enjoyed, this was average. Deputy sheriff is faced with a puzzle that may mean the world's in his hands? Sounds like a summer movie, eh?
It's a reeeely unlikely story, but then again, most of these stories are. Stephenson and George pull it off well enough to keep me listening right through. A lot of the credit goes to Marc Vietor's read.
Looking for an average GOOD LISTEN? Here it is.
You like a murder/legal/psychological thriller with bodies littering the set and gun smoke thicker than gallons of blood spew? This AIN"T your novel. Actually it's two novels for the price of one.
1. A legal/psychological puzzle that' maximum improbable but William Deverell will make you suspend disbelief… At least he did me.
2. A romance puzzle… Boy gets girl/loses girl/gets girl…like that. But the boys and girls are not at all stereotypical.
If I'd known just those two things before listening… I'd have passed on "Trial Of Passion"… but I'm glad I didn't… If only because of John Morgan's tour-de-force presentation of the way Deverell does a quirky exposition.
The author chooses to unravel the novel in three minds… Three POVs… Each in the first person and present tense. Whew! That's unusual and a total challenge for the reader. Morgan pulls it off BIG TIME!
Of course he's able to follow the intricately idiosyncratic speech (thought) patterns of each of the characters… patterns that reveal almost as much about them as their actions… No more about them.
This book ia a masterpiece of craft, and it kept my attention like trap springing on a hungry mouse. But.. but… Not being a romance fan, I gave it four stars… You might want to pile up a lot more… Or not…
Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller is perfectly crafted to fit my tastes. What it's not? Well, great literature. What it is? Well, great fun! Connelly writes this stuff for a living. He's like a successful architect who makes a bazillion bucks by satisfying clients.
Haller satisfies me this time by working his way through a decently challenging puzzle together with a cast that fills in all the holes… both entertainment and plot holes. From the opening grabber to the no-loose-ends wrap up… I want to know how this accused digital pimp'll get out from under the ton of evidence Connelly pours over his plight.
And Peter Giles directs this cast that he creates for us in perfect synch with Connelly's craftsmanship.
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