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  • Salvation

  • Salvation Sequence, Book 1
  • By: Peter F. Hamilton
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 19 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 829
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 785
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 785

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. Cutting-edge technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transportation - including starships - virtually obsolete. Every place on Earth, every distant planet humankind has settled, is now a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful - until a crashed alien spaceship of unknown origin is found on a newly located world 89 light-years from Earth, carrying a cargo as strange as it is horrifying. To assess the potential of the threat a high-powered team is dispatched to investigate. But one of them may not be all they seem....

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Wait For Book 2

  • By StrikitRich on 09-26-18

Canterbury Tales of first contact

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

Reviewed: 09-20-18

The storytelling format may throw you off at first as it's a bunch of disconnected tales of life in future earth as well as of distant future humanity. It's reminiscent of Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos in some ways. At first, I was irritated and distracted by never getting to stay with anyone long enough to get into the characters. These aren't quite self-contained short stories with a satisfying ark (as in Hyperion). However, this is Peter F Hamilton - and this is Book 1. All those tales are tied together and deeply interconnected - and you only get the first hints of that near the end of this novel. There will be a lot more text before it's all clear. And I can't wait.
It may not be for everyone - it's long-winded space opera, but seems less frustratingly long winded than some of Hamilton's earlier work.
My biggest complaint is that John Lee's narration has all started to blur together for me. I've listened to a lot of Hamilton's work narrated by Lee. Lee doesn't have the biggest range of truly distinct voices - and Hamilton's novels have a huge cast. Within a single novel, character voices start to get a little blurred together - and after a few, I'm frequently confused which character I'm hearing and if they're from this novel or not...

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Out of the Silent Planet

  • Ransom Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: C.S. Lewis
  • Narrated by: Geoffrey Howard
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,196
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,485
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,501

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel of the Cosmic Trilogy, considered to be C.S. Lewis' chief contribution to the science fiction genre.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Original, complex, not middle of the road

  • By David on 05-27-05

A thinly veiled essay on Lewis's spiritual views

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

I could only handle it for four hours. While there's space travel and alien beings, I find this more of a parable or allegory showing Lewis's own spiritual and moral view than it is science fiction. Like his more famous Narnia series, certain characters embrace the guidance of a higher being while others remain base and ignorant, refusing to take the benevolent being's guidance. In this tale, the "ignorant" humans are harsh caricatures of a scientist and a businessman who are debased by their devotion to these base pursuits.
The alien planet and society are interesting and imaginative. The science is weak, but forgiveable, particularly from 1938. However, the societies portrayed are constructed for our hero to marvel at how much nobler they are than their earthly counterparts. I wouldn't mind any of this, if the veneer weren't so thin and the author's hand so visible.

  • The History of the Ancient World

  • From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
  • By: Susan Wise Bauer
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 26 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,745
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,462
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,444

This is the first volume in a bold new series that tells the stories of all peoples, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. This narrative history employs the methods of "history from beneath" - literature, epic traditions, private letters, and accounts - to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Historic Achievement

  • By Ellen S. Wilds on 04-25-14

An epic view of the rise of civilization

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

Reviewed: 06-14-18

This book gives history in context with the rest of the world - providing a unique perspective on how human civilization grew up. I've read a lot of history, but most books focus on a single region, culture, empire, (etc) and the immediate neighbours.
This book includes cultures the instant written history permits - and then follows them all in (more or less) parallel. You will not find the depth to cover the intrigues of each civilization, let alone each ruler, but you will understand how the world progressed. Equally important is the different perspectives on similar events. Great battles for one culture were often irrelevant skirmishes for another. Weak kings a generation ago in one civilization opened the door for another decades or more later.
It also gives a better appreciation of how fluid culture, religion and ethnicity are over the years. They all change, yet no one stops believing their current personal labels are the best and most important.
Some reviews complain of rushing through details - and yes, fortunately, this book does. It is already challenging enough to keep track of all the goings on in the world without even more detail. Use this book as your big picture map before diving into individual regions and cultures.
I think humanity would do well if this were standard reading the world over.

  • Earth Unaware

  • By: Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnston
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, and others
  • Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,937
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,566
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,578

The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. Other mining ships, and the families that live on them, are few and far between this far out. So when El Cavador’s telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, it’s hard to know what to make of it. It’s massive and moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

El Cavador has other problems. Their systems are old and failing. The family is getting too big for the ship. There are claim-jumping corporate ships bringing Asteroid Belt tactics to the Kuiper Belt.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The beginning- or a plot filler

  • By Don Gilbert on 08-22-14

Painful listen for a fairly empty story.

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

Reviewed: 05-11-18

I love the Ender series and I was impressed by Rudnicki (and others) in those audio books.
This book is a deep disappointment.

The narration is unpleasant - the tone used is often contradicted by the actual words. Nearly everyone sounds petulant, arrogant or some other type of over-emoting child.

The overall story is interesting, but so much of the detail comes over as whiny naval-gazing. Perhaps it's the tone of the readers, but the actual thoughts and conversations of so many of the characters are tedious.

For me, the final straw was bad science - physics especially. eg: the danger of docking at 70,000km/h. Relative to what? The docked ships are nearly stationary to each other. It's not like there's wind. There is no "full stop" in space, as the book seems to believe. Everything is always moving. There's just relative velocity and acceleration. And it's clear the authors don't really get that because plot point after plot point fails to take physics into account, making decisions and perceived threats nonsensical. I can usually suspend disbelief if the rest of the story warrants it. This story did not.

The only reason for 3 stars in the story (instead of less) is that I am truly interested in the overarching tale of how the Formic wars begin. There is suspense there... but it's obstructed by noise, poor characters and worse performance.

  • Flicker

  • Ember in Space, Book 1
  • By: Rebecca Rode
  • Narrated by: Stacey Glemboski
  • Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46

Getting sold to the empire was never part of the plan. Ember lives two very different lives. By day, she's a mysterious Roma future-teller, and by night, she struggles to care for her sick father. All she wants is the power to control her own life - no arranged marriage, no more poverty. Her future-reading talent is what will get her there. But when the Empire discovers her gift, Ember's life changes forever. Ember soon finds her innocent talent is far more dangerous than she believed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Flicker is more of a Flare of a good book

  • By Myztikal on 11-24-17

A space fantasy with potential...

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

Reviewed: 12-13-17

I have mixed feelings about this book. In some ways, I’d like to read the sequel before making a judgment. I think some it’s weaknesses could be part of a longer character/plot development that’s yet to come. And I will likely read the second book. In the meantime though, let’s look at the elements of this novel and what troubled me.

The easiest point is the narration – which is excellent. Characters have enough vocal or linguistic variation to make them easy to distinguish without ever becoming irritating or distracting. Well done without being overdone.

Overall, the book reminds me more of “fantasy in space” – focusing on elements like mystical powers, visions, prophecy, destiny, etc. – than “classic sci fi”. (There’s also a definite hint of the “romance” genre in there too.) None of that’s criticism, of course – one could make a similar observation about Star Wars. Just set your expectations right. (I realized after that I had been in the mood for something less in the realm of fantasy.)

The setting works well: a future time when the earth has been largely abandoned and vast areas of space controlled by two powerful groups. The main character’s ignorance of this larger world makes it very easy for us to discover it slowly without piles of exposition being dumped on us in a sloppy manner. There are a lot of hints of this larger world, but you don’t feel there’s a phone book of alphabet soup names for planets and races that you need to keep track of from the start.

Things start to fall a bit at the characters. In this novel, at least, we don’t get to see a great deal of complexity develop – though there are lots of hints. Ember, our heroine, spends a great deal of time worrying about whatever her latest predicament happens to be. In some ways it’s very natural, but at the same time it gets rather tedious. “Yes, dear, I know you’re worried about it – but you’ve had that same thought a dozen times now. It doesn’t make me feel any more compassion for you, it just makes me impatient with your implied self-pity.” I can see the intent – a caring, reluctant heroine who didn’t want any of these big events – but... other protagonists have gone through the same without being quite as exasperating. Her personality is also extremely fluid. Is she a rebellious, strong-headed woman or a meek, traditional girl? Neither she nor the reader are sure. Ember is relatively young and naïve. Her self-absorption and inconsistency aren’t necessarily unrealistic for her age. That said, reading about it wasn’t terribly interesting and certainly didn’t establish any better feelings for the character. It often looks more like her personality flexes however is convenient for the plot – not because she’s struggling with who she is.

Our chief villain for the novel has similar shortcomings – his negative attributes (and actions) being repeatedly driven home until you’re not sure if you’re accidentally listening to the same part a second time.

The repetition is unfortunate. There is development and strong hints at more to come – but it gets lost in the repetition of the “key points”. That repetition makes the characters appear dumb and the reader feel as if they’re being treated the same way. We got the point quickly – and we wish the characters would figure things out a lot sooner too.

Upon reflection – the Star Wars reference may be appropriate overall. Luke begins as a much more immature and whiny character than Ember ever is – it’s fortunate we’re not party to his thoughts the way we are hers. Had we left him too soon in the story, we might not be too sure about his potential – or likeability.

I feel much the same about Ember. I want to know where she – and this world – go. I’m intrigued and see great potential… but I’m really not convinced yet that I want to follow her on all of her journey.


I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author in exchange for an unbiased review (via Audiobook Boom).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Cast Under an Alien Sun

  • Destiny's Crucible, Book 1
  • By: Olan Thorensen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 15 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,020
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,851
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,853

Joe Colsco boarded a flight from San Francisco to Chicago to attend a national chemistry meeting. He would never set foot on Earth again. On planet Anyar, Joe is found unconscious on a beach of a large island inhabited by humans where the level of technology is similar to Earth circa 1700. He awakes amid strangers speaking an unintelligible language and struggles to accept losing his previous life and finding a place in a society with different customs, needing a way to support himself and not knowing a single soul.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Slowly we turn, step by step, inch by inch...

  • By Ron on 09-18-17

Thoroughly enjoyable in spite of its failings

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

Reviewed: 09-06-17

It's fortunate for us that things can be more than the sum of their parts. Despite having a long list of flaws, this book is still a very enjoyable read.

Very much a modern take on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, we follow our lead character to a strange new world with 18th century technology. He uses his skills as a chemist and all around science aficionado to better his new home. That alone makes for a fun romp. Unfortunately, despite him being perceived by the locals as the smartest person they've ever met, this reader wasn't really convinced by either the character or the supporting story. Giant projects are completed impossibly quickly in a world that doesn't have the supporting technology. Further, he makes few mistakes and rarely does anyone else do much besides admire his brilliance and help in some small way. It reads like an individual's fantasy rather than as a believable world. Still, it's a fun fantasy!

Jonathan Davis's performance is underwhelming. While not unpleasant, this is mostly a book being read, not performed. Some dialogue gets very confusing as everyone sounds the same. While not monotone, it feels as if there are a limited number of emotional settings - "excited voice", "angry voice", etc.

If you've got limited reading time, there are better things out there. But, if you're looking for a fun distraction and can accept obvious flaws... it's worth the read.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • NPCs

  • By: Drew Hayes
  • Narrated by: Roger Wayne
  • Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,856
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,318
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,309

What happens when the haggling is done and the shops are closed? When the quest has been given, the steeds saddled, and the adventurers are off to their next encounter? They keep the world running, the food cooked, and the horses shoed, yet what adventurer has ever spared a thought or concern for the Non-Player Characters? In the town of Maplebark, four such NPCs settle in for a night of actively ignoring the adventurers drinking in the tavern when things go quickly and fatally awry.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable if you manage your expectations

  • By Miachi on 01-23-15

Fun D&D style adventure, despite simple writing

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

Reviewed: 03-07-17

This is a fun story for anyone who has played some sort of RPG - table-top certainly, likely computer-based as well.
It's not brilliantly written, but not horrible. The story isn't entirely profound, but the perspective on the world is very different from most of what's out there. All in all, fun and enjoyable.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Dangerous to Know

  • Women, Crime, and Notoriety in the Early Republic
  • By: Susan Branson
  • Narrated by: Sally Martin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

In 1823, the History of the Celebrated Mrs. Ann Carson rattled Philadelphia society and became one of the most scandalous, and popular, memoirs of the age. This tale of a woman who tried to rescue her lover from the gallows and attempted to kidnap the governor of Pennsylvania tantalized its audience with illicit love, betrayal, and murder.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You owe it to yourself to read this one

  • By Jan on 09-19-16

Interesting, but not terribly engrossing.

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

Reviewed: 09-30-16

Looking at two characters from the early 19th century US, Branson tries to convince us of the significance of these women's actions and decisions, but mostly ends up painting a picture of two semi-incompetent rogues - one with no fear and a persecution complex, the other trying first to run her lady's journal with blunt application of guilt/pity, then by using more pandering and sensationalism to sell her writings. The characters are indeed interesting, but to me their notoriety comes mostly from their audacity while being middle class women.

The writing is good, but the structure of the book is a bit strange: quite academic in form, which leads to a certain degree of repetitiveness. I believe the narrator had a difficult task due to the structure and nature of the material. She’s clear and easy to understand, but also quite dry with little variation. There were even a few humorous mispronunciations, which I found surprising.

Overall, an interesting and coherent work whose academic credentials I can’t question, but one that I would be reluctant to recommend to anyone who does not have a deep interest in either the locations or the people covered in the book.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.

  • Caesar

  • Life of a Colossus
  • By: Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 24 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,008
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,829
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,827

Tracing the extraordinary trajectory of Julius Caesar's life, Adrian Goldsworthy covers not only the great Roman emperor's accomplishments as charismatic orator, conquering general, and powerful dictator but also lesser-known chapters. Ultimately, Goldsworthy realizes the full complexity of Caesar's character and shows why his political and military leadership continues to resonate some 2,000 years later.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Caesar and his times

  • By Mike From Mesa on 08-31-15

Thoroughly engaging and coherent history

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

Reviewed: 08-15-16

This engaging telling of Caesar's life and times is engaging, informative and very coherent.
As much as I like reading it, I don't often listen to non-fiction, especially history. The lack of narrative and the density of information can make these books ill-suited for my listening wants. Caesar: The Life of a Colossus makes every effort to present succinct narratives of the diverse aspects of Caesar's life as well as the events in his world that provide the context of his rise, fall and overall life. This structure does result in a bit of repetition, I found it welcome in the context of an audiobook - allowing me to tie the complex web of politics and events together with more ease.

The end result is an undeniably excellent historical presentation of Caesar and Caesar's Rome in the package of a page-turner of a book.

The greatest challenge that Mr. Goldsworthy can take no blame for is the confusing nature of Roman names - with so many similarly named people, clans and relations, which makes following the many alliances, marriages and discussions increasingly confusing over time.