©1994 by Mike Resnick; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
This is essentially a sequel to, or the unwritten extended ending to, Resnick's earlier defining work Birthright: The Book of Man. If you enjoyed that, this is a must read. If you've not yet had the pleasure, pick that up first.
I started listening to this not realizing this. I was still captivated and enthralled. I love this piece. When I realized the connection it got even better.
While it certainly stands tall on its own, I believe it's best understood with the full background laid out in Birthright. If you read in it only a depressing epilogue consider first the glory, determination, and hubris that preceded it.
If you still don't buy my review next to the negatives, don't miss the notes of it's winning both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
Essentially, a coalition of alien races is exploring the site where humankind originated (Olduvai Gorge) and discovering some "examples" of (now extinct) mankind's history. As the title would indicate, there are 7 examples of man's past (pre-historic, ancient, modern, future) - all of which indicate just how ruthless, power-hungry and destructive mankind is.
It's not told in a depressing manner, but there are no "good" moments; humankind's worse moments are shown here, possibly because those are the moments that will be best remembered by future generations?
The narrator is okay. The story is short (and perhaps overpriced for such a short story?) but it's interesting and entertaining and I'm glad I listened to it.
Had it not won the Nebula and Hugo awards, I would never take the time to offer comments about a read I didn't much enjoy, but as it stands, I wonder what the Nebula and Hugo folks were thinking when awarding this piece an award as the best novella in 1994 and 1995, respectectivly. This is not a good book, short, long or otherwise.
A clever and interesting title, but the book is a simplistic and morally wan exploration of the human condition and character. The characters are stupid and brutish, the scenes each formed from some representative object, into a tableau of human history, in its entirety, is appropriately critical, but neither artfully rendered, or insightful beyond the pedestrian.
The plot is driven by the stupidity and unscrupulous behavior of its humans, and a truly banal group of investigatory aliens who respond to human behavior with only novelty and incredulity, as if the nature and history of a race that has, in this fictional universe, ruled wide areas, with much strength, go wholly unknown.
The points made in this novella are all fair, and I would never question them on their own merits. They only lack scope and imagination one likes to see in the genre. In the plainest, there is nothing new here, in terms of character, or story. It's fine to portray the race of human narcissistic brutes, but we're not nearly so stupid as Mr. Resnick depicts in this awful novella.
Who knew? Mankind the scourge of the Universe. Enslaver of millions (MILLIONS???) of worlds. Gone, but not forgotten.
Good writing and good narration, but a depressing book about humanity. If you are in the market for a really downbeat book this is it.
This is a wonderful story in the style of Asimov, Heinlein, Clark and Herbert. It is a wonderful thought provoking story about the history of man and his impact on the earth and and the rest of the universe. The story if so well written you will want to keep listening all the way through.. Very enjoyable !!
A very fitting follow up to his Birthright: Book of Man which leaves one with an undefined feeling at the end which was an excellent book. This book was creative and thoughtful. Good novella.
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