Copyright ©1976 by Ben Bova; Copyright (P)1998 NewStar Media Inc.
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This is a YA book written in 1976, and it has not really stood the test of time. Most of the big cities have so much pollution that they have been closed. Deemed too dangerous to live in or too unhealthy. New York City is open only for the summer. If you get caught there after Labor Day you are stuck for the winter. Then the city is run by teenage gangs.
The main character Ron, gets stuck in New York City for the winter and has to join a gang. He is accepted into the gang because of his abilities to fix things. This story reminded me very much of Heinlein's YA books. If you like Heinlein's YA books, then you might like this. It is not as good as Starman Jones, but not as bad as Podkayne of Mars. There are some flaws in the story, but toward the end I was starting to get into the book. There is a lot here on gangs and race relations. The biggest gang is black. They are portrayed as good doing good for the city, while the white gangs are very bigoted and selfish.
About the narrator Harlan. First let me say I am not as big a fan of Harlan as Harlan is of himself, But. I believe Harlan has taken a bad rap from some of the reviewers. I have a hard copy of the book and Harlan reads it exactly as it is written. Many of the sentences have ......parts to it to show the character is stuttering. Harlan follows this to a tea, just as it is written. The accents are written into the text. Shaddup instead of Shut up. I believe in 1976 Bova wanted these accents to be exaggerated. Now, there are also some funny parts where Harlan sounds like Sylvester the Cat.
Bova has been writing a long time and is still writing and he has put out a lot of material. I have liked most of his books, but not really loved any. On the other hand I have not ever really hated anything he has written. I am still looking for that great Bova book, but I have liked Sam Gunn Unlimited, Venus and Mars.
The story had an early-work feel, very predictable end, but overall good story. I don't think Harlan Ellison has any business on the microphone end of a book.
The story was just fine and had some very interesting parts to it, but I have to say that the narrator really caused this audiobook to lose much of it's quality. Inflection placed into the story for characters, story line changes, etc., is fine and very welcome by a narrator. However, Harlan gets way too excited and fills the story with incomplete words and sentences as well as running conversations between the characters into an incomprehensible glob. He needs to calm down and narrate the story FOR THE LISTENER, not turn the book into some kind of a "one man play" for himself.
I'm not sure of the narrator's current time reference, but the days of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson as gangland characters is long since gone. The character of Al was portayed more as "Fat Tony" on The Simpsons, rather than a murderous thug and ruthless gang leader. I believe the latter is actually how the author intended. Also the narrator's portrayal of Sylvia could only have been more annoying if Fran Drescher had been reading the story.
Ben Bova has written another fine story in "City of Darkness" but it just wasn't given it's due with the narrator.
It is the Best written, and Harlan does a fantastic job, though the audio quality is bad, I have haunting memories of Harlan's reading of the novel which was just a wonderful thing, the man is an actor with a lot of range.
Ron, because he learns so much.
Ron, because he made him so human.
I just loved it. One of my top favorites of all time like Hienlien's Tunnel in the sky.
This is a 70s classic, full of the era's paranoia. Unfortunately, the audio quality is poor. Harlan Ellison's narration is entertaining, but he's a better author than narrator. This book is also very dated.
He's passed his college entrance exams with flying colors. He can do pretty much whatever he wants. But what teenager Ron Morgan wants most is for his father to quit telling him what to do. Quit running his life. What better way to unwind than having a last blowout on Labor Day in the domed playground of Fun City: Manhattan.
Inside the dome, however, Ron loses his wallet and identity card. Worse, he's trapped when the dome closes for the season. There's no way out. Gangs roam the street. Food is scarce. Ron is on his own. All Ron wanted was some fun. He'll be lucky to escape New York alive.
The story is excently, but the audio quility is a bit sub-standard for Audible. A great Ben Bova!
The plot was ok. However this is the second audiobook I have suffered through narrated (er overly dramatized) by Harlan Ellison. He goes overboard with the theatrics and I am beginning to think that he is not even reading the books as they were meant to be read (word for word). Rather he is putting his own over-the-top spin on it. Thats fine if you are reading to a group of children but we are adults and its difficult to get the full experience of a book when he is putting his own spin on the story. Some of it is downright painful to listen to. His voicing of the characters was cartoonish. Especially Sylvia. I would have been perfectly fine with him telling us (the listner) that Sylvia was a typical New York girl, complete with that thick, Brooklyn accent. I am then able to formulate in my mind what she may have looked like and how she may have sound. The expierence would be diffrent for each listener because we would all have a diffrent idea of what Sylvia is like based on our own experiences with New Yorkers. Much of this is lost. This should be labeled a Dramatization rather that a narration. In the future ,I will be careful to pick books that AREN'T narrated by Harlan Ellison. He ruined an otherwise good book.
The previous reviewer thought that Harlan Ellison's narration detracted from the book, but I thought it was a fine performance, and is one of the few cases where I remember the narrator (in a positive sense) as much as the author him/herself. Harlan really brings this tale to life, and we have a very entrancing story.
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