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  • Fear the Sky

  • The Fear Saga, Book 1
  • By: Stephen Moss
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 20 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15,970
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,994
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14,954

From the Audie-nominated narrator of The Martian. In eleven years' time, a million members of an alien race will arrive at Earth. Years before they enter orbit, their approach will be announced by the flare of a thousand flames in the sky, their ships' huge engines burning hard to slow them from the vast speeds needed to cross interstellar space. These foreboding lights will shine in our night sky like new stars, getting ever brighter until they outshine even the sun, casting ominous shadows and banishing the night until they suddenly blink out.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Caught me by surprise, and held me till the end.

  • By Brian Perry on 07-21-15

Great storytelling by a not so great writer

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

Reviewed: 01-05-16

Stephen Moss has the knack for telling a gripping and engaging story with just enough surprises along the way to keep the reader guessing. The fact that he is able to do this in a first-contact, alien-invasion story is all the more impressive, because those stories have been done to death lately. The core idea is that humans wind up in a conflict with the advance guard of an alien race sent to ready the Earth for a full scale invasion fleet just a few years away. The aliens are sufficiently superior technologically that even a small advance guard should be sufficient to take us out, but things don't always go according to plan, and an epic struggle ensues. There are heroes, heroines, villains, traitors, and some well researched and interesting future tech to keep the story rolling.

My one serious complaint, and the major reason for not giving this five stars, is that the quality of the writing is very poor. As other reviewers have noted, there are serious grammatical errors on nearly every page, and the malapropisms would be hilarious if they were not so distracting. In a world of grammar checking software and instantly searchable dictionaries there is really no excuse for this. I managed to get through these distractions by dramatically increasing the playback speed on the Audible app on my iPhone, which is a shame because narrator R.C. Bray does a fantastic job, and it is not possible to appreciate his work at 2X speed.

In spite of these problems I am sorry that Audible does not have recordings of the two remaining books in the series, and I found the story sufficiently engaging that I will buy book two in print form to find out what happens next. I expect to spend a lot of time editing it while I read :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Anathem

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and others
  • Length: 32 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,760
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,529
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,536

In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected". But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • well imagined, absorbing

  • By Josh on 11-10-08

Takes a long time to fall in love with this one...

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

Reviewed: 01-19-15

...but if you give it time to develop you just might. Stephenson has often had a penchant for careful, detailed world-building that sometimes seems to overdo unnecessary features not really critical even for creating the necessary atmosphere, and for much of the first part of this book I thought this was another example of that tendency. However, a great deal more of what seems irrelevant becomes relevant later, and if you can keep it all in mind it will repay you with interesting insights. This is a book best heard in a few long sessions rather than in many smaller chunks, although that approach may seem painful for the first few hours. In the end this turns out to be a remarkable series of carefully researched discussions about some deep conceptual problems in physics and in philosophy (especially philosophy of science and epistemology). If this kind of abstract, meta-level discussion is not your cup of tea, then you might want to skip this one. If it is, then summon the patience to get through the first couple of hours and you will be rewarded.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Abaddon's Gate

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 18 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,822
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,931
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,907

The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The worst part is waiting for book 4

  • By Greg on 09-16-13

Excellent continuation of the series

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

Reviewed: 01-19-15

This remains one of my favorite first contact stories for a variety of reasons. (1) The science is (at least until this book) near-future-plausible, which lends an air of reality to the fantastic themes. (2) The characters are well developed and believable, with very few cliches employed even in minor players. There are bad people and good, but even the bad people have reasons for being bad -- no evil for the sake of evil here. (3) The portrayal of the human penchant for political intrigue, even when species survival is on the line, seems all too real and captures well some of the things that we all wish were not true about us. Together all of these elements make this a rare and excellent mix of good, old-fashioned hard science fiction and good, newfangled social science fiction. Of course you have to begin at the beginning of the series (Leviathan Wakes and then Caliban's War) before you try this one, but that just triples your pleasure.

  • The Nano Flower

  • The Greg Mandel Trilogy, Book 3
  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Toby Longworth
  • Length: 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 939
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 826
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 825

Julia Evans, billionairess owner of Event Horizon, has for 15 years been the power behind England’s economic renaissance – but now she’s in trouble. With her husband missing, and rival companies suddenly claiming to have acquired a technology impossibly superior to anything on Earth, she has no time to take notice of a single flower delivered anonymously. But this flower possesses genes millions of years in advance of any terrestrial DNA.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sci-fi mastery in full bloom for the nanoflower

  • By Michael G Kurilla on 02-10-12

A very unusual first contact story

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

Reviewed: 04-06-14

Peter Hamilton always writes great aliens, in part because he really thinks about how the biology might work. This is an early example with some clever ideas in play. It winds up being a bit predictable (in fact, the story here really deserves a 4.5 rather than a 5.0 for its predictability at key points), but it manages to be quite suspense filled even though one can sometimes see where it must be going. There is a satisfying set of resolutions in the lives of characters who have been the reader's friends and heroes since the first novel in the trilogy (Mindstar Brigade), and there are some excellent combat sequences, as well as some very neat technologies described in sufficient detail that one can imagine living in the world that Hamilton has created. All in all a very satisfying listening experience, enhanced and elevated as always by Toby Longworth's excellent characterizations.

  • A Quantum Murder

  • The Greg Mandel Trilogy, Book 2
  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Toby Longworth
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,017
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 904
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 907

Dr Edward Kitchener, a brilliant researcher into quantum cosmology, lies dead with his lungs spread out on either side of his open chest. Only a mercenary or professional killer could have breached the premier-grade security system - but why would a professional waste time in ritual slaughter? Greg Mandel, psi-boosted ex-private eye, is enticed out of retirement to launch an investigation into a past which - according to Kitchener’s theories - might never have happened.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent sci-fi murder mystery

  • By Michael G Kurilla on 01-25-12

Second book in the trilogy is as good as the first

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

Reviewed: 04-06-14

The intriguing characters from the first novel (hormone-augmented Greg Mandel with his psi abilities, Julia Evans with her machine-augmented links to alternate personality cores) return to solve a very bizarre murder mystery with world-changing implications. Hamilton plays a bit fast and loose with the quantum mechanics hinted at in the title, but the story is so well told that it is easy to suspend disbelief. It's certainly a must read in order to get to the final novel in the trilogy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Mindstar Rising

  • The Greg Mandel Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: Toby Longworth
  • Length: 14 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,508
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,358
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,360

It's the 21st century, and global warming is here to stay, so forget the way your country used to look. And get used to the free market, too – the companies possess all the best hardware, and they're calling the shots now. In a world like this, a man open to any offers can make out just fine. A man like Greg Mandel for instance, who's psi-boosted, wired into the latest sensory equipment, carrying state-of-the-art weaponry – and late of the English Army's Mindstar Battalion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Portrait of a SciFi master as a novice

  • By Michael G Kurilla on 01-13-12

Excellent first book in top-notch trilogy

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

Reviewed: 04-06-14

Peter Hamilton's first trilogy already displays the vivid descriptive writing and complex character development that are hallmarks of his later, more ambitious work. You won't find a better example of the mystery-meets-science-fiction hybrid, and every major character is post-human yet remains profoundly human at his or her core. Fascinating read, great suspense, satisfying resolution.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Human Division

  • Old Man's War, Book 5
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: William Dufris
  • Length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,691
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,374
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,389

The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance - an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Middling Position

  • By linda on 05-23-13

Not quite a novel, more than a set of stories

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

Reviewed: 01-31-14

The Human Division is organized as a set of Episodes, each of them involving the B-team, a group of low level diplomats with their side-kick and Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) technical expert Harry Wilson, well known to readers of Scalzi's "Old Man's War" series. The B-team is really an A-team that has been recruited to solve unsolvable problems, but they do not know how well they are regarded by the powers that be. This makes for some fun moments and interesting twists as our diplomatic heroes attempt to keep the Colonial Union out of fights it can't possibly win against a conclave of hundreds of other races determined to keep humanity from spreading through the galaxy as quickly as it would like.

You don't have to have read the previous Harry Wilson books to enjoy this one because the episodes are very self-contained and self-explanatory. Indeed, the one flaw in this collection is the redundancy that comes from assembling stories each of which was written so that it could stand alone. That means that the same background material often gets repeated. You will, however, want to read whatever Scalzi writes next in this universe because the episodes end just as new threats and mysteries are revealed. I can't wait to find out where he takes us.

Reader William Dufris interprets Scalzi's sarcastic and amusing characters exactly as I would have imagined them, so kudos on the performance as well.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Cyteen

  • By: C. J. Cherryh
  • Narrated by: Gabra Zackman, Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 36 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 709
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 639
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 649

The saga of two young friends trapped in an endless nightmare of suspicion and surveillance, of cyber-programmed servants and a ruling class with century-long lives – and the enigmatic woman who dominates them all.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • This is a Heavy Book (lovely too)

  • By troy on 05-20-12

Strong science underpins a compelling story

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

Reviewed: 11-27-13

On the surface this is no more than a satisfying coming of age story, full of strong characters struggling to make a life in a hostile universe. But underneath this is a very sophisticated piece of science fiction, emphasis on the science. A lot of genetics-based science fiction garbles the science pretty badly, but Cherryh nailed the complexity of the relationship between genes and the environments in which they are expressed at a time when this was still confusing to many professionals. Most amazing is that she made these ideas the heart of the story, so the unfolding lives of her characters actually embody the idea that genes and environment evolve together, neither of them possible without the other. Who we are may be explainable at some abstract level, but that doesn't make us predictable, even to ourselves. This is a very gratifying read both as fiction and as science. The unresolved nature of some key issues at the end was a bit disappointing, but only because I wanted more. That's the only reason I didn't give the story five stars.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition

  • By: Seth Lerer, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Seth Lerer
  • Length: 18 hrs and 27 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 267
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 230

This course offers an overview of the English language that is literary, historical, cultural, political, and scientific in its scope and designed to give you greater insight into the written and spoken word.The lectures provide a thorough understanding of the history of the English language - from its origins as a dialect of the Germanic-speaking peoples through the literary and cultural documents of its 1,500-year span to the state of American speech today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sparkling

  • By Amazon Customer on 02-26-15

Fascinating and informative

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

Reviewed: 09-24-13

I listened to the first version of this course on cassette tapes way back in the day and found it truly fascinating. The second version contains much of the original material, and it was fun to be reminded of the things I had forgotten. It is a testament to the original course that I also remembered quite a lot! The new material at the end brings the history of English up to date by covering the ways in which new technologies are transforming the language. Professor Lerer presents the lectures at a perfect pace, uses great examples to illustrate abstract concepts, and clearly loves this material. His enthusiasm is infectious. Highly recommended as a way to learn not only the history of English but also some widely applicable principles of philology and linguistics.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Lexicon

  • By: Max Barry
  • Narrated by: Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,441
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,221
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,229

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics - at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets": adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fasten your seat belt...

  • By Tango on 06-22-13

Persuade me to like this book

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

Reviewed: 08-19-13

This is Max Barry's take on the theme of how language affects thought with a special focus on language as a code for hacking the brains of other people in order to control them. There are many interesting ideas here, although the fiction does tend to outweigh the science most of the time and the book slips into the fantasy zone on occasion. Nevertheless, the story is strong enough to counter the hand waving going on, and you can't help caring about Barry's very complicated and compelling characters. I would recommend Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash," and Samuel R. Delaney's "Babel 17" as earlier novels on this same theme. If you read them first, you will actually catch some of the subtle nods to these stories in Barry's book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful