When writing a review, I like to wait a few weeks after listening to a book. I find, when I look back, that my memory is able to distill some of salient points and I am better able to reflect on the essence of a particular book. As far as this work is concerned, here are the reflections that come to mind:
1. In my opinion, there seems to be a theme, perspective, tone, whatever one wishes to call it, by physics/hard science authors that their particular field entitles them to comment on or critique general issues or questions with a greater weight or authority than others. This also tends to create hyperbolic and grandiose titles like "The Begining of Infinity: Explanations that Transformed the World.No doubt this is related to the rigorous standards of their discipline. One may have heard such statements like " there is nothing else but physics" (I am heavily paraphrasing). In particular, one section of this book asks us to believe that even beauty is objective, can be given criteria and scientifically explained. That's right, beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder but is subject to the laws of physics too. Thus, following these suggestions to their conclusions, all art curriculums should be replaced by science courses and legitimate beholders will have first interned at Fermilab.
Very often however, they neglect to point that their positions, postulations and conclusions are based on a particular interpretation and not necessarily on proven fact, though they would have us think otherwise. In this case, the author is known for espousing ideas based on the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, hardly a widely accepted view. Listening to this book, one would never know that.
2. I liked the beginning of the book. It started well and I felt it had some promise, but about mid-way through it seemed to go off the rails a bit. Beginning about the time the author is imagining dialogs with Socrates, I began to lose the thread of the material. By the time it was finished, some 12 hours later, I felt and still feel like there were a couple of different books buried in the contents. It was as if the author had gone back and picked out particular essays or short works over his career and tried to stitch them together into some sort of coherent framework. Perhaps in one of the many alternate quantum worlds this and similar techniques are more successful.
3. One of the books' main arguments, as I found some 18 hours in, is that in the authors view, mankind has potential limited only by the laws of physics. Given time, anything that is possible will be achieved (more or less - again I am paraphrasing). In my opinion, the gentleman is far too sanguine with regard to humans and human nature. The last couple of hours seemed almost pollyanna-ish. Perhaps I am being too hard, it was after all very close to a listening marathon, but I seriously doubt anyone would suggest that this book is an example of the objective beauty it suggests. It did, in fact, infinitely transform me in a being 20 hours older than I was before.
As a long time of the Patrick O'Brien books, specifically the Patrick Tull narrations, I had hoped that the Hornblower stories would at least provide the same level of interest for me. The same applies to Cornwell's Sharpe books, too. Sadly, this is not the case. I could go on about the writing style, use of language, character development, etc. But it boils down to this: I do not like the character Forester has created, at least in this book. He is wooden, weak, false and shallow in my opinion. For example, his continual self-doubt and agony over his abilities and his career make him irritating, not interesting or complex. It is as though he is an actor playing the part of ship's captain. It's just not believable. A person with that temperament would not, and could not advance in the royal navy of that time, let alone accomplish the feats attributed to him. And then there's the silly shipboard romance making no sense at all. I understand that this is the first of a series and will try not to judge all of the books based on this one, but I will have to carefully consider purchasing another one and will not do so for at least some time. The narration was workmanlike and adequate, but could not save the experience.
I might try another book, but it would have to be an exceptional case.
No, hope springs eternal.
Overacted. Strange inflections and intonations like circus music. Creepy women and children's' voices.
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