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A Texan 2

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  • The Singularity Trap

  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,017
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,798
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,786

When Ivan Pritchard signs on as a newbie aboard the Mad Astra, it's his final, desperate stab at giving his wife and children the life they deserve. He can survive the hazing of his crewmates, and how many times, really, can near-zero g make you vomit? But there's another challenge looming out there, in the farthest reaches of human exploration, that will test every man, woman and AI on the ship - and will force Ivan to confront the very essence of what makes him human.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Too many problems. Too many poor choices

  • By A Texan 2 on 06-19-18

Too many problems. Too many poor choices

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-19-18

I really wanted to like this book. After all, it had everything going for it. Written by Dennis E. Taylor, who has recently finished what has become one of my all-time favorites series with his “Bobiverse” trilogy. As I almost always consume my books by audio anymore, Ray Porter returning to narrate was also another element strongly in favor of this new book.
Let’s get some positives out of the way, for there are several. As stated, Ray Porter once again brings an A game to the narration with distinct voices for the major characters…though, having finished the Bobiverse not too long ago and also having listened to him narrate the works of Peter Cline, it is getting a little harder to not notice some similarities in voices across the different books. Still, there’s only so many voices one person can produce. At this point, I liken it more to recognizing actors who tend to pop up in different roles on the various syfy shows being filmed up in Canada. As I say, for these books, the character voices are distinct and easy to tell who is who at any given time.
The characters themselves are well written and engaging. I can tend to forgive a lot of story writing sins if the characters are at least interesting enough to make me care about what they are going through. Once again, Mr. Taylor delivers on that front.
Finally, the concept itself showed a lot of promise. A first contact situation for humanity is a common science fiction premise, so it’s getting harder to come up with something original. Weaving in the Fermi Paradox and Game Theory as integral elements of the story gave this a different spin. So, while I give credit to Mr. Taylor for this take on first contact, it’s the execution that ultimately soured me.
Especially getting through the meat of the story in the middle, one name kept popping up in my head – Prometheus. The movie set in the universe of the Alien movies. If you’ve seen it, one of it’s biggest problems is how much of the plot is driven by supposedly highly educated scientists making a string of amazing dumb decisions. At every turn in the middle of the book, I kept finding myself questioning out loud things like “Why would they do that?” “Who’s been watching this guy?” “Why is nobody talking to this guy every day?” So much of the conflict arises from an unbelievable lack of communication by a group of people who are all together in the same facility. I can appreciate some level of mistrust on the part of the central protagonist as he moves through this middle part of the story. But with that, he shouldn’t have been able to get away with doing much of what he did without being noticed. What compounds all this, and in many ways makes it worse that what happened in Prometheus, it just how dumb the alien intelligence is as well.
I’ve danced around any major spoilers up until now. I’m going to get into a few more detailed examples to illustrate some of my issues. I’ll try to keep spoilers limited, but I am going to reveal some more details. The book starts off with an alien probe arriving in our system, identifying Earth as a place with a good potential for sentient life to emerge, and leaves behind a small part of it’s payload to….sit inert until someone is dumb enough to make a grab for it. After Ivan is “infected” and has gone through his transformation, he begins communicating with the machine that has essentially replaced his body. Ivan is asked why the aliens just left a small package to be discovered. He replies with something along the lines of it allowed the aliens to make due with a minimum amount of material. The implication is that the main probe wandering the galaxy has a limited payload, so it leaves a small, inert batch in each system it identifies that waits for the local species to become advanced enough at space travel to come out and find it. The problem is that this whole premise quickly falls apart. Mr. Taylor shows that the alien artifact has considerable manufacturing capability in the form of nanites. It uses them to very quickly conduct major planet changing transformations – building mega structures on Mercury, Venus, and Mars in a matter of a few hours or days. The technology makes the 3D printing capabilities of the Bobiverse look like a quilting bee by comparison. It’s hard to reconcile a collection of alien intelligence that advanced leaving a package to sit dormant, doing absolutely nothing until it gets discovered. You would think it would have built itself up enough in the ensuing millions of years to establish contact and make regular transmissions back to the “space address” for lack of a better term, that is had hard coded within itself. Reporting back on the progress of human development on Earth and getting updates on the state of the galactic war over the ongoing millions of years – even at 142 years a round trip, would have made far more sense than leaving the whole thing to chance.
The book suffers from a number of other structural issues particularly with regard to how time flows through the narrative and how quickly things are able to move and, as mentioned above, be built, relative to other moving parts of the narrative.
Finally, I just found the world building itself implausible and lacking in internal consistency. As most science fiction readers know, we have to engage in a certain level of suspension of disbelief to accept the world that we’re asked to visit through piece of media like this. Warp drives, laser swords, space folding – various concepts that we buy into. But, we expect some level of internal consistency; some set of rules that are either explicitly spelled out by the author, or implicitly communicated by the events of the narrative. Certainly some properties handle this better than others. A system with strong space faring capability, multi-planet settlements, and the ability to exploit the resources of the system via mining is hard to reconcile with an Earth that is still suffering from rising oceans and global warming. This same system suffers from what seems to be near poverty and desperation for most of the population, yet the system has an abundance of exploitable resources and the “big rock” strike turns a crew of mining prospectors into billionaires with monetary resources to impact the behavior of governments. If this book had been written 40 years ago, I could forgive some of this. But, a lot of science fiction has been written, read, and critiqued in that time. Even though the author makes explicit references to some of our commonly know science fiction, in many ways, it tries to operate as though none of that literature and the thoughts behind it are part of our common understanding.
The book feels like the author really wanted to offer lessons in Game Theory and the Fermi Paradox and wrote a story backwards to build toward them. However, at least for me, the whole premise that he starts from just doesn’t make enough sense to be able to believably follow this ride. I think if this were posted on Bobnet, the Bobs would take Mr. Taylor to task for this piece of writing. He’s demonstrated that he is capable of far far better than this.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Raven Stratagem

  • Machineries of Empire, Book 2
  • By: Yoon Ha Lee
  • Narrated by: Emily Woo Zeller
  • Length: 13 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 118
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 117

When the hexarchate's gifted young captain, Kel Cheris, summoned the ghost of the long-dead General Shuos Jedao to help her put down a rebellion, she didn't reckon on his breaking free of centuries of imprisonment - and possessing her. Even worse, the enemy Hafn are invading, and Jedao takes over General Kel Khiruev's fleet, which was tasked with stopping them.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Talking, and talking, oh and hey, more talking!

  • By A Texan 2 on 07-18-17

Talking, and talking, oh and hey, more talking!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-18-17

I was really looking forward to this book. Ninefox Gambit was a compelling and original take on an interstellar empire.

Unfortunately, this book feels like it was written by a different author. The structure is completely different and the focus of characters is also essentially completely different.

The biggest disappointment for me was how little actually happens. Most of the book consists of conversations. Instead of the characters doing things, they mostly talked to each other about what they were going to do, or what other characters had done offscreen. Several chapters consisted of flashbacks for various characters that didn't really payoff for those characters in the present. It became draining to listen to and I found myself growing more incredulous with each chapter.

It seems structured the way it was in part to reveal a big "twist" toward the end. Quite frankly, by the time it came, I was neither surprised by it, nor did I care. I finished the book as much for completeness as anything. Were it a physical book, I probably would have put it aside.

What the first book introduced as an exotic universe with interesting characters who were human, yet alien - this second book largely squanders.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

  • Bobiverse, Book 1
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54,862
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 51,514
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51,424

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ignore the Publisher's Summary! This is Amazing!

  • By PW on 04-12-17

One of the most Sciene Fiction books I've read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-26-17

This may be the most Science Fiction book I've read in a long time. So what does that rather awkward first line mean? Simply that IMHO, it embodies the best of what most classic science fiction can be. If Isaac Asimov had been born Generation X, this is the kind of story he would write.

The basic premise is built on the concept of a Von Neumann probe - an interstellar ship run by an artificial intelligence sent out into the universe to explore, find habitable planets, and make them ready for colonization. They also have the equipment to build copies of themselves - a probe reaches a new star, builds copies of itself there, and those probes continue branching out.

So, that's the basic hook, but not what makes this a compelling story. For that, Taylor's premise for the AI - the recorded mind of a computer engineer who had himself cryogenically preserved at his death in the hopes of being restored later. He expected to be but into a new body when future science had found a way to make it happen. Instead, he finds that he and others like him were declared dead and the frozen heads became the property of various governments and corporations.

The engineer (Bob) finds himself "awake" as the AI in a computer box and told all of this and given an ultimatum - compete to be the selected AI that goes into a planned Von NeuMann probe, or be deleted. It's safe to say that Bob makes the cut, though the process is an interesting tale in itself.

The book then follows the initial Bob copy as it makes its way to the first star system and begins making copies of itself. The story branches out with chapters from different Bob's (who give themselves different names to keep things straight and develop variations in personality for the "original copy"). The book really becomes more of a set of short stories with the different probes running into various challenges, discoveries, and planets. Some stories intertwine, while others become pretty much their own isolated pieces - at least by the time this first book ends.

There's a lot of detail that I'm leaving out - you really need to discover it for yourself :)

A couple of things really enhanced my enjoyment of this one - first, and what kicks of my review - the strong feeling of plausibility in the technology and the consistency in its use and development. For example, the probes replicate themselves in part on the basis of 3D printer technology - a concept in its infancy today. Taylor's setting starts about 120 years in the future with the idea that 3D printers are capable of delivering construction on an atomic level - reminding me somewhat of the "The Fifth Element" where Leeloo is reconstructed by a machine that builds new tissue based on a small DNA sample. There are a few conceits that require bigger suspension of disbelief, such as the eventual development of near instant interstellar communication, but even that is grounded be fact that the first probe to figure it out has to send out the plans at light speed, so that it takes years to decades for other probes to learn the tech to join the instant communication network.

The other aspect I enjoyed was the subtle weaving of geeky and pop culture references. I've seen several folks compare this book to "Ready Player One" in this regard - but I think that does a true disservice to "We are Legion." I was not kind in my review of "Ready Player One," in part because of it's ham fisted, in your face bludgeoning of the ready with just how deeply its author knows the 1980's. This book is almost the opposite - Taylor rarely goes into much depth with the references, expecting the audience to be familiar with the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek, and such. I found this approach must more satisfying, even though I am sure there are things that I didn't get, because I wasn't into one aspect of sci-fi or another. But, such misses took nothing away from me, and the connections that I did make were all the more enjoyable because I "got" them without the excessive spoon feeding.

I will warn (although for some, this will just be welcome news), that the early foundation of the story is built on an almost cartoonish anti-theism. It's probably the weakest aspect of the story, but it eventually fades to become a minor annoyance later in the story. If you can get past it, you will be rewarded with a great book.

Finally - the audiobook was narrated by Ray Porter. I've listened to a few other titles that he has done and his narration style and voice are well suited to this book. Most of the dialogue of the stories comes from the various copies of Bob narrating in first person. Ray does a good job of giving each version a bit of a difference that goes along with the variations in their characters. Ray delivers a good, believable "everyman geek" that is pleasant to listen to. It would have been too easy to gives the Bob's the almost offensively stereotypical demeanor of geeks like you find on shows such as "The Big Bang Theory". That approach would have certainly ruined this experience and Ray stays far away from it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

  • By: Sarah Vowell
  • Narrated by: Sarah Vowell, John Slattery, Nick Offerman, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,121
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,951
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,940

From the best-selling author of Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes, a humorous account of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette - the one Frenchman we could all agree on - and an insightful portrait of a nation's idealism and its reality. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is a humorous and insightful portrait of the famed Frenchman, the impact he had on our young country, and his ongoing relationship with instrumental Americans of the time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Already waiting for Sarah Vowell's next adventure

  • By Michael on 10-25-15

Good History, Poor Narration

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-16

This is my first experience with a Sarah Vowell book and, sadly, will probably be my only one.

First, the strengths - I did truly enjoy the content of the book and pretty much forced myself through the narration on that basis. While she does tend to beat the reader over the head with her leftist/atheist mindset from time to time, for the most part she delivers a compelling journey through the twists and turns of the American Revolution and the role that Lafayette and France in general played in bringing it to a successful conclusion (well, for America, at least).

Truth be told, I think the book could have provided a bit more focus on Lafayette himself. While I probably learned his name decades ago in history class, it was not a name that had remained with me, probably because I don't live in the areas of the country where his impact was more directly felt. Still, he was a fascinating person and I would have liked to seen more of him in the book. As written, while his character was given more prominence than the others, this book seems to be more generally focused on the timeline of the Revolution and commentary that relates it to more recent events in our national history.

As a work of history, I think it succeeds greatly. It sheds a more realistic light on a time in our nation that has been rather too idealized and romanticized in the last couple of hundred years. The ineffectiveness of the Continental Congress, the several beatings the revolutionary army took, the luck that came in to play in victory, and the vital role that France played - these are not the things that folks think about when they reflect on the War of Independence. In light of how many in America see things today, includes much of our leadership, it's important that this history be relearned.

Now, why I probably won't listen to another book by this author - I just found her whole vocal approach painful to listen to. While she has clearly invested a great deal in her history research, which has paid off handsomely, she really really needs to invest in vocal coaching and acting lessons if she is going to insist on narrating these books herself. While I eventually got used to listening to her (sort of like you get used to the pain after you stub your toe), it never became...good. This becomes especially obvious with the intercutting of the professional clips used to give voice to Lafayette and the many other historical characters in the book.

There are a lot of strong female narrators that could have really done this book justice. Thinking through them, I think Allyson Johnson, narrator that I know best for David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series, would have been a great fit for this material. Truth be told, if this book were redone with her as the main narrator, I would gladly spend another credit and buy it again.

  • Heir of Novron

  • Riyria Revelations, Volume 3
  • By: Michael J. Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 31 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15,184
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14,132
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14,145

On the holiday of Wintertide, the New Empire plans to burn the Witch of Melengar and force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Spectacular fantasy series

  • By Ron on 01-03-13

What the hell?

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-15-15

Wow! After having enjoyed the first two books of this series, I almost wonder if the original author didn't get himself locked in a tower somewhere and an evil doppelganger stepped in to write this last book.

Where the first two were fun adventures with interesting characters, this last books is a series of poorly executed tropes, protagonists doing dumb things, and info dump upon info dump in place of story.

Cloaks that reveal thousand year old history conveniently in dreams, while also leaving out details that should have been obvious to the dreamer. Those details are instead saved by the author to be info dumped at the end. Things that, logically should have been known to the protagonists much earlier in the series.

The ending degenerates into essentially a tag team wrestling match that breaks any sense of belief, much less internal consistency.

All in all, this book was a train wreck, but I finished it anyway. It's akin to suffering through the third Matrix movie after enjoying the adventure of the first two.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Cycle of Arawn

  • The Complete Trilogy
  • By: Edward W. Robertson
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 66 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,401
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,584
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,581

The White Tree (book one): In Mallon the dark magic of the nether has been banned for centuries. Its users have been driven out or killed. Its secrets lost. But the holy book of the nethermancers has just been found by a boy named Dante. As he works to unlock the book's power, he's attacked in the street. The nethermancers aren't gone—and they want their book back. Caught between death cultists and the law, Dante fights for his life, aided by his growing skills and a brash bodyguard named Blays.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining and Fun

  • By jazmaan on 09-05-15

A case of quantity over quality

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-22-15

Like many, I suspect, Audible heavily advertising a complete fantasy trilogy (65 hours of audio) for one credit was sufficient to peak my interest. What finally convinced me to pull the trigger was the narrator being Tim Gerald Reynolds, whose work I had just enjoyed on the first Riyria Chronicles novel.

Overall, while it never got terrible enough for me to give up on, the writing and the characters just never developed to a level where I found myself compelled. If I were reading the physical books, I likely would have given up somewhere in the second one, but I tend to be more forgiving with listening to audiobooks. Reynolds narration helps elevate the material to make it more palatable, though even he seems to be giving up on it by then end. It may be my imagination, but the narration seems to grow flat towards the end of the third book, and several audio editing errors in the third book compound this.

As for the story itself, it starts off with a promising enough premise - a young man sees powerful magic performed and starts a quest to learn how to do it. He picks up a companion early on and we have the makings of a buddy adventure, the way Raymond E Feist used to do.

Unfortunately, the writing and characterization comes across as flat. Despite there being several different cultural areas and one major non-human race, the common tongue everywhere seems to be "snarky retorts". While I appreciate snark and a well delivered quip, it quickly becomes tiresome as it feels like no one can have just a normal conversation, regardless of the circumstances. It's really hard to care about the two main characters, or any of the problems that they run into along the way.

I tend to favor stories with strong characters, though I can and do enjoy stories where the characters are shallower but the overall plot is compelling. This trilogy, unfortunately, offers neither strong characters, nor a compelling plot.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • 14

  • By: Peter Clines
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,813
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,103
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 34,108

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't Get Killed By This Place

  • By Jim "The Impatient" on 06-20-13

Scooby Doo + H.P. Lovecraft + Joss Whedon

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-21-15

Scooby Doo meets H.P. Lovecraft, as told by Joss Whedon

That's my overall impression. This is not the type of title I would probably have picked on my own - but I'm also trying to make an effort to find books I wouldn't normally.

14 combines mystery, horror, sci-fi, and urban fantasy elements into a world with engaging characters and an interesting journey. 14 is the number of a locked apartment in a building that several residents live in. A building where rents are absurdly cheap and residents are in need of a place to stay with limited means. As the tale unfolds, the "Scooby Gang" discovers odd things about their building that don't make sense and work to unravel the mystery. For the rest, you'll have to read for yourself.

One aspect I enjoyed about this was its rather geeky references, both subtle and obvious. As the group digs further into the mystery, the players even start to identify themselves as members of the Mystery gang..or at least trying to decide which members of the gang each of them are. It's also reminicent of the Buffy the Vampire TV series similar self references to the "Scooby Gang". Indeed, the language and mannerisms of the characters convey a strong feeling of something voiced by Joss Whedon. All of this makes for a generally engaging and entertaining tale.

As for the H.P. Lovecraft, that comes into play later, similar to the way Edgar Rice Burroughs comes into play in the telling of John Carter of Mars. Honestly, the shift in the later portion of the story is not as successful as the beginning, and the main reason I give this only four stars.

Still, the overall effect is more satisfying than not, and I find myself able to easily recommend it. For the audiobook, Ray Porter does an excellent job bringing life to the characters and providing a clear view of the world they live in.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The History of the United States, 2nd Edition

  • By: The Great Courses, Allen C. Guelzo, Gary W. Gallagher, and others
  • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo, Gary W. Gallagher, Patrick N. Allitt
  • Length: 43 hrs and 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,723
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,551
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,535

This comprehensive series of 84 lectures features three award-winning historians sharing their insights into this nation's past-from the European settlement and the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, 19th-century industrialization, two world wars, and the present day. These lectures give you the opportunity to grasp the different aspects of our past that combine to make us distinctly American, and to gain the knowledge so essential to recognizing not only what makes this country such a noteworthy part of world history, but the varying degrees to which it has lived up to its ideals.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By Christina on 09-09-14

A journey worth taking

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-09-15

Probably one of the best credits I've spent on Audible. 42 hours - 84 lectures covering a pretty thorough survey of the history of the U.S.

Much of it I remembered from school, much I had forgotten, and still more I had never heard before. It was particularly interesting towards the end, hearing historical lectures about the recent decades that I have lived through.

Overall, I found it to be a pretty even handed telling. This is our story - the good and the bad. Going through it all with a more sober and adult level of comprehension offered me some new insights into how our nation and society have come to be where they are now.

The one minor ding is that I believe this was recorded back in 2006, so the presenters do not have the benefit of being able to incorporate or compare with some of the most recent major events in our history. Still, the journey was well worth taking.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • A New Dawn: Star Wars

  • By: John Jackson Miller
  • Narrated by: Marc Thompson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,674
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,362
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,360

For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed - and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire. Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic

  • By ira on 09-28-14

Decent introduction to new major characters

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-15

After having watched the first several episodes of the new Star Wars: Rebels series with my son, I was interested in this book that gives an introduction and some back story to a couple of the main characters. I was also hopeful as this is the same author who also produced the most excellent "Kenobi" novel recently.

While decent, it's no "Kenobi". That's unfair to a degree, I know as this story has to essentially introduce new major characters to the new Star Wars canon, while "Kenobi" gave us a missing chapter in the life of a well known existing character.

Still, while the novel serves as a useful introduction to the characters, I think they deserved a better story. This one has something of a carbon copy feel of other Star Wars stories we've seen and read about before. Miller is definitely capable of better.

The biggest saving grace of this story, at least for the audiobook form that I consumed it in, is once again Marc Thompson's excellent narration.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century

  • By: Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator)
  • Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
  • Length: 25 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,472
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,109
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,096

What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Audio format still useful to get the gist of it

  • By Kazuhiko on 06-14-14

An important and challenging work

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-15

Audible put this one on sale as a $5 special, so I thought it was worth seeing if this book lived up to all the hype it generated in 2014.

Subject wise, it's probably one of the most important and insightful books that I've read. Through an extensive survey of the available economic data of the last three centuries, Piketty lays out the case of how wealth grew to be more and more concentrated in the hands of a powerful few leading up to WWI. The period from WWI through the end of WWII saw much of this wealth destroyed and redistributed. After a post war period of growth due to having to rebuild the world, the last portion of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century lead to a return to the pre-WWI pattern of wealth concentration. There has been plenty of data showing that most of the benefits of economic growth in the last forty years have been taken by those at the top, while the rest have seen their purchasing power either stagnate or decrease. Piketty's work gives some explanation of how this came to be.

The final portions of the book suggests ways to address the growing inequality - principally through taxes on the large resources that have been accumulated by the millionaires and billionaires of the world.

It is a challenging, but compelling narrative and deserves to be taken seriously.

I would have given it five stars, but I have to dock a star for the structure of the presentation. The book is very long, and I feel like Piketty repeats much of the information over and over. I think a good bit of the fluff could have been cut down without detracting from the overall message.

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