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Martin L. Shoemaker

Hopkins, MI USA
  • 5
  • reviews
  • 22
  • helpful votes
  • 5
  • ratings
  • Primordial Threat

  • By: M.A. Rothman
  • Narrated by: Tim Campbell
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30

The year is 2066, and the world is oblivious to the threat it faces. The fate of humanity lies on the shoulders of Burt Radcliffe, the new head of NASA's Near Earth Object program. He's been rushing the completion of DefenseNet, a ring of satellites that are both part of an early-warning system as well as the means to eliminate incoming threats. Yet Burt knows that despite the world's best efforts, nothing can be done about the alert he's just received.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • How do you survive the Impossible?

  • By r3 on 08-29-18

An excellent “What if?”

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

Reviewed: 11-10-18

What if the Earth was threatened by a black hole? How could we survive?

This book provides one answer. Mixing theoretical science with hard-nosed sociological insights, it explores a world that hangs on the edge of a slim chance. Can we pull together to accomplish a high tech miracle? Or will our divisions tear us apart before the black hole can?

Rothman’s answer is satisfying. He “shows his work”, though you have to pay attention to fringe physics to recognize some of his sources.

If I had to name a negative, it’s that this could’ve been a longer work. There are sideplots I would’ve liked to see explored more. But it kept a good pace while keeping touch with strong characters whom I wanted to succeed.

The narrator did an excellent job at making major characters recognizable. Good choices for character voices. Smooth handling of technical jargon. Good pacing.

I enjoyed this book, and I want to read more.

  • Dusk and Shiver

  • Remy Pigeon Stories
  • By: Annie Bellet
  • Narrated by: Dan Boice
  • Length: 1 hr and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13

Three paranormal mystery short stories featuring Creole gentleman Remy Pigeon. Remy has a gift, or a curse. He touches objects and reads the past from them. Sometimes this lets him solve mysteries, but mostly it gets him neck deep in paranormal problems.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Palpably chilling

  • By Martin L. Shoemaker on 09-08-18

Palpably chilling

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

Reviewed: 09-08-18

I'm going to start this review in a roundabout way, by looking at the Kevin Bacon film "Stir of Echoes", which came to mind as I listened to this book. I don't think it's a great film, but I always watch it if it's on. Why? Because it has moments of greatness, moments of pure supernatural dread when the mysterious feels like it's just about to reach out and grab you. During those moments, that film is palpably chilling.

And I bring that up because "Dusk and Shiver" gave me that same palpable chill; but where "Stir of Echoes" had it in moments, this collection has the chill throughout. As I listened, I worried what I might touch if I weren't careful.

Because that is Remy Martin's gift: he touches things, and he reads their past, and sometimes a little of their future. He's a psychometrist, a reader of emotional echoes. And while he thinks this is more of a curse, his REAL curse is this: he can't let well enough alone, and he can't let injustice go unrevealed. When he touches these echoes of horror, he could easily run away. He knows he should. But instead he's compelled to run toward them and find out what lies behind the echoes.

And what lies behind is human weakness and venality. There are villains here, but there are no grand villainous masterminds. Instead, there are weak, petty people who let their weakness seduce them step by step from small, careless evil into dark, tangled traps.

In the first story, "Til Human Voices Wake Us", we meet Remy as he investigates a string of strange killings. But is he looking for a killer, or a victim?

In the second story, "Dusk and Shiver", Remy has a visit from a former client turned zombie; and thus he finds himself in a twisted family tragedy that he unwittingly played a part in.

In the third story, "Flashover", Remy's client is an unwilling arsonist. He must find who compels her to burn down seemingly random homes. This story is different from the other two in that Remy has found a sense of humor. Amid their darkness, there were moments of humor in the other two stories; but this one literally had me laughing out loud -- when it didn't have me shivering in dread.

I originally read this collection in Kindle format. When I joined Audible, this was one of the first books I downloaded. It’s just as good in audio. I highly recommend it!

  • Santiago

  • A Myth of the Far Future
  • By: Mike Resnick
  • Narrated by: Ruben Diaz
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 46

Bandit, murderer, known to all, seen by none...has he killed a thousand men? Has he saved a dozen worlds? His legend is as large as the Rim itself, his trail as elusive as a wisp of starlight in the empty realms of space. The reward for him is the largest in history.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Cheesy but fun

  • By J. Rhoderick on 11-14-11

An Epic Space Western

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

This epic space western hearkens back to the tropes of classic westerns, transposed onto distant worlds. Sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes grimly serious, the tropes seduce you in; but it’s the characters who keep you reading. And when the secret of Santiago’s empire is revealed, it becomes a very different book, with stakes that matter.

I foresaw the ending a couple chapters before it came. That usually spoils a book for me; but the author carried it off so well that I still choked up when I got to it.

I had one minor technical quibble with the performance. The narrator uses accents to distinguish many of the characters, a common enough technique; but halfway through the book, the author notes that one character is unusual because he HAS an accent. Communications have become so homogenized that accents are rare. And ironically, the narrator did NOT give THAT character any noticeable accent. This didn’t detract from the performance, but it did make me laugh.

  • Time and Again

  • By: Jack Finney
  • Narrated by: Paul Hecht
  • Length: 17 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,399
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,234
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,231

Transported from the mid-twentieth century to New York City in the year 1882, Si Morley walks the fashionable "Ladies' Mile" of Broadway, is enchanted by the jingling sleigh bells in Central Park, and solves a 20th-century mystery by discovering its 19th-century roots. Falling in love with a beautiful young woman, he ultimately finds himself forced to choose between his lives in the present and the past. A story that will remain in the listener's memory, Time and Again is a remarkable blending of the troubled present and a nostalgic past....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Best time travel novel; my very favorite audiobook

  • By Mark on 04-08-12

Slow. Very slow.

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

Reviewed: 08-19-18

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Third Level, a collection of short stories by Jack Finney. (Most of you have never heard of Finney, though you may have seen one of FOUR film adaptations of his novel The Body Snatchers.) I loved that collection, reading it over and over. It’s one of my formative influences.

Now, 40+ years later, I’m listening to one of his major works, Time and Again. And it is... dull...

It’s a time travel book, you can tell that from the blurb; but it takes until chapter 4 of 23 for the protagonist to learn that. Until chapter 8 (one-third of the book!) for even a brief excursion through time.

And until chapter 12 for even the MILDEST of conflict to occur. Halfway through the book before there’s any disagreement whatsoever. It’s not until chapter 17 that there’s any real danger. And how does the protagonist confront it? By hiding in a dark room with his female compatriot, spying on two despicable characters as THEY argue and fight.

And then spying some more as the victor searches through filing cabinets. For at least six hours. Literally long enough that the protagonist, his companion, AND the two men fall asleep in the middle of the search.

If I hadn’t been driving as I listened, I would’ve fallen asleep, too.

I’ll admit, the action picks up after that; but I’m having trouble caring. Four chapters left, and I kinda see that the ending will be “And so everything worked out the way history said it would, but now we learned something we didn’t know about it.” I can’t tell yet if the protagonist will return to the present and marry his fiancée, or remain in the past and marry the woman there. And it just doesn’t matter...

So if there’s no action and little time travel, what fills those other chapters? Mostly description. GOOD description, but overwhelming. There are literally two chapters in a row of description of 1880s New York. They do almost nothing to advance the plot (though there’s a little obvious foreshadowing). And many other chapters are packed with description as well. This goes beyond immersive and into tedious.

I had such high hopes for this book. I’ll finish it, but I won’t be rereading it.

UPDATE: The ending redeemed it A LITTLE. Not a lot, but I didn’t see that coming.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Level Five

  • By: William Ledbetter
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 806
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748

In Level Five, the debut near-future thriller by Nebula Award winner William Ledbetter, AIs battle for dominance, and nanotechnology is on the loose. And all that stands in the way of the coming apocalypse is a starry-eyed inventor who dreams of building a revolutionary new spacecraft and an intelligence agency desk jockey faced with the impossible choice of saving her daughter - or saving the world. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A firm 4 stars.

  • By Tony on 07-20-18

Techno thriller? Or hard science fiction? Either way, it’s excellent!

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

Reviewed: 07-22-18

Opinions vary on technothrillers. Science fiction readers think of them as a subgenre of hard science fiction. Marketing departments disagree, treating them as a genre of their own.

But however you see them, William Ledbetter is a master. Level Five has high tech adventure worthy of Clancy or Crichton, and a vision worthy of Heinlein — but with gritty, modern world-building. This book is amazing!

The story weaves together different lines with different points of view, both human and AI. I was constantly impressed with the narrator’s ability to give each character (and their sections) a unique, recognizable voice. (Though if I have a complaint, it’s that the voice of the little girl Abby was jarring.)

Some parts of the story I could anticipate. Others kept me guessing. And the ending is audacious. I give this book my highest recommendation.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful