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  • The World Walker

  • The World Walker Series, Book 1
  • By: Ian W. Sainsbury
  • Narrated by: Todd Boyce
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,366
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,282
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,285

Just outside Los Angeles, a prisoner hidden away for 70 years sits up, gets off the bed and disappears through a solid wall. In Australia, a magician impresses audiences by producing real elephants. Nobody realizes it's not an illusion. Across the world, individuals and organizations with supernatural power suddenly detect the presence of something even they can't understand. At the center of it all, Seb Varden, a 32-year old musician with a secret in his past, slits his wrists, is shot dead and run over on the freeway.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Stuff

  • By DobieChuck on 01-15-17

Great Storytelling and Villains Trump Poor Science

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

Reviewed: 02-28-18

I like some science in my science fiction. No amount of tech hand-waving will compensate for the scientific non-explanation for Manna, the power that drives the plot. Yes, I know, any technology sufficiently advanced will seem like magic (A.C. Clark) and yet SOME explanation for the absurdly god-like capabilities that ignore entropy and energy would be appreciated. When characters can do almost anything, then consequences fade away and so does tension.

And yet, through intelligent plot maneuvering, Sainsbury manages to create tension and danger. And his character development is excellent. I really cared when sympathetic characters meet their doom, and I really despised the villains, who were not just cardboard characters.

We still have to deal with that super-villain nonsense cliche often seen in movies and here to, wherein any mistake by a minion is punished with death. I would just once like to see a bunch of henchmen, upon being ordered to shoot one of their own, quit enmass thinking, "hey, I could be next".

Sainsbury spends some time talking about meditation, and instead of yawning or skimming, I read with pleasure his descriptions of techniques and results. On an unimportant note: you can tell the author is British when he skips between feet and centimeters, and talks about automotive wings instead of fenders. No big deal.

The narrator is wonderful, and I have never heard a better English accent from an American, or, if I am being double-fooled, a better American accent from a Brit.

  • 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 56,156
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 52,714
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52,616

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

Niven, Scalzi, Taylor

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

Reviewed: 04-25-17

Yes, he's that good. Big Science, Big Story.
Irreverent, quick on its feet, clever, snarky, morally grounded.
Great narrator, even better than Will Wheaton because he can be more nuanced.

Just one thing: please learn how to pronounce "Archimedes".

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Collapsing Empire

  • The Interdependency, Book 1
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,892
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,231
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,197

Our universe is ruled by physics, and faster-than-light travel is not possible - until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transports us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It's a hedge against interstellar war - and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not the best of Scalzi

  • By Gonzalo on 05-11-17

One Third of a Dynamite Story

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

Reviewed: 03-31-17

If you want to hear the whole story, wait till Scalzi finishes it. If you want to read big stories that publishers don't break into 2 or 3 parts for profit, try someone like P.F. Hamilton, who creates amazing universes and stories that almost never seem to end and your are glad they don't.
Still, Scalzi is great, as usual: intelligent, irreverent, and these days it must be praised, even grammatical. This is a parable of today, but let's skip that and just say that in this story Mankind is linked by a river in space called "The Flow" that serves all of humanity, most of whom live in habitats and planetoids that would be unsustainable if it were not for the trade between them. Without the flow most of Humanity will die-- sooner rather than later given our tendency to get crazy when we should all be pulling together.

The dramatic personae all have crazy Star Wars kinds of names, all of which I will misspell since I listened to the audio version: like Renni Nohammed Pita, murderous conman scion of the Pita family, his smarter eviller sister Nadashey, Sir Ontane Mount, head of security, Jiwenn Tobland, investigator, and on and on. Lady Kiva Lagos, tiresomely profane daughter of the House of Lagos, and a business rep for her family, is one of the more entertaining characters.
Anyway, humble and sweet Emperox-by-Accident (sic) Cardenia has to save humanity in the face of the Guilds who will surely stick their heads in the sand and actively obstruct because their short-term self interest is at stake. There are a LOT of politics, but fear not, this is Scalzi, not David Weber, and the machinations are clear, wittily explained, and carried through with wonderful and entertaining dialog.

Ah, and romance may be in the offing. A young scientist is giving the Emperox the data she needs to understand and verify the catastrophe and he seems kinda cute too.

Actions scenes are few but very well written. Maybe the author will throw a little more military action into the next chapters of this story, said story being cruelly and unnaturally sundered no doubt at the behest of the publisher who would rather sell two or three incomplete stories and then the whole thing combined in a single edition in 2022.

Will Wheaton is great as usual, except for his tendency to become too strident in the dialog portions. Dial it back, Will.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Saturn Run

  • By: John Sandford Ctein
  • Narrated by: Eric Conger
  • Length: 16 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,549
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,367
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,360

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope - something is approaching Saturn and decelerating. Space objects don't decelerate. Spaceships do. A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best Sci-Fi Book in a While!

  • By Ted on 05-29-17

Hard SciFi, Treatise on Human Nature, Thriller

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

Reviewed: 10-29-15

If You Liked "The Martian"

John Sanford impresses more and more. Correct science in the "science" fiction: yes. orbital mechanics, check. Brilliantly delineated cynical politicians, nailed it. Character development: people you learn to care about in peril. The Big Idea--unique! Pacing and suspense, yes yes yes.
Humor, of course.

Sanford brought Ctein aboard for the science, and in hundreds of pages, only once did my nerd radar twitch. There is a delightful postscript too, describing the science.

Dialog is a Sanford forte and he carries it over to "Saturn Run". These are Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin level interchanges.

And WHAT is out there orbiting Saturn? What a great concept he comes up with! I have read thousands of pages of SciFi and it is hard to come up with anything that has not been thought of before. I will of course be argued with, but for me, this exact concept is new, and that is amazing. I just can't talk about it because spoilers.

I will say that keeping the crew of the "Richard M. Nixon" in the dark about the mysterious Chinese space vehicle gave an ominous tension to the book, and subsequent revelations inform us re human nature. Great way to handle that part of the story.

I do have a complaint: it ended. Yes, it ended when it needed to end: not chopped short and not dragged out. It was just right, of course. needs an Ah, but how I wished for another hundred pages.

Two comments:
-If humanity gets hold of a way to produce abundant antimatter before we colonize the asteroid belt we will kill our own species; all our eggs in one basket, as Hawkings says.

-Sandord views humanity with that American blend of cynical ill-regard of humanity en masse and those who come to control societies, counter balanced with optimistic ebullient affection for individuals of the species.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Armada

  • A Novel
  • By: Ernest Cline
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31,481
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29,514
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 29,462

It's just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He's daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom - if he can make it that long without getting suspended again. Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Lacked the freshness of Ready Player One

  • By Chad on 01-08-16

Major Spoiler Below

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

Reviewed: 10-29-15


First, and no spoiler, Narrator Will Wheaton did a great job with Scalzi's "Lock In". He just needed to dial it back for this book; way too strident; too much stress: exhausting.

And there are lots of problems with the story. Timeline was ridiculously compressed. As an example: the aliens will arrive in mere hours, no time to waste, "by the way, would you like to see my Dungeon & Dragons character sheets?" Additionally, our hero can be counted on in moments of tension or peril to screw up or throw hissy fits; he is not too likable. Combat scenes have time-management problems and are boring too boot.

Now. Please do not read this if you intend to read the book or until you have done so. You have been warned.


SPOILER ALERT

* * * * *


"Attention... Attention fellow aliens!-- Earthlings have finally approached our home. Their broadcasts reveal them to be warlike. Let us test their ability to embrace peace. Here is my plan: Let's tell them we are going to KILL THEM ALL! Let us attack them sporadically for 40 years occasionally killing some of them. Let us further send them supercuts of their own movies showing scenes of war. And we'll play the 5 note theme from 'Close Encounters' at the end of every supercut as an arcane clue that we want them to show us they embrace peace.

"How can they show us they mean us no harm? I'll tell you how: by staying the metaphorical dagger they have aimed at our moon to save their species while bearing their own breast to the huge armada we have aimed at their planet.

"Is this a cool idea or what!? Are you all with me? Well, are you?... anybody?"

there ar

By the way, "Ready Player One?" five stars. Listen to or read it.

  • The Second Ship

  • The Rho Agenda, Book 1
  • By: Richard Phillips
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,782
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,424
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,454

In 1948, an alien starship crash-landed in the New Mexico desert and brought with it the key to mankind’s future. Code-named the Rho Project, the landing was shrouded in secrecy, and only the highest-ranking US government and military personnel knew it existed. Until now....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Terrific story

  • By Mike From Mesa on 01-03-13

Great Story, Uneven Writing

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

Reviewed: 10-06-15

Second Ship drove me crazy. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, which is a very good thing meaning the story enthralls. On the other hand, Richard Phillips tone and writing varied wildly. I mean, he isn't Ludlum bad, or Coes bad, but at times it was "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the Alien Mystery" and then would shift to bloody psychotics and then yet again to painfully flirtatious Special Ops spies. Also, the narrator did the story no favors by being overly dramatic at times.

The dialog was painfully stilted and unreal between the 3 teenagers-- except when it wasn't. The villains were cartoonish--until they were scary and hateful. The faux science was fun. The recreated space battle was terrible.

The story was complex without being confusing, which is a very good thing. The teenagers were idiots, even for teenagers, who are always sometimes idiots-- until they were clever and insightful.

The last few chapters almost knocked things down to 3 stars because they were disgracefully curtailed, as if the author was in a hurry to get to his sequel and lost interest in the current book.

Spoilers:

What, the kids HAD to turn in their cell phones to the ridiculously hostile teacher? What? Was she the Gestapo? Could they not risk a day in suspension to save their lives?

What happened to the young Rodriguez boy? And no angst from the teens at all about the suicide of Rodriguez senior?

I bet the Rag Man returns, and the spy guy should know that.

And why why why not send the video of the chief mad scientist torturing one of his staff to the NSA, if it can be done in an untraceable way?

So... lots of plot problems and some bad dialog trumped by a great story.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Flood Rising

  • A Jenna Flood Thriller, Book 1
  • By: Jeremy Robinson, Sean Ellis
  • Narrated by: Xe Sands
  • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 145

Alone and on the run, betrayed at every turn, Jenna's path takes her from sun-drenched Key West to the alligator-infested Everglades, the streets of Miami, and the Caribbean islands. Along the way brutal criminals, deadly assassins, and the forces of nature conspire to end her life unless she can rise to embrace an impossible destiny and unleash her own lethal potential. Everything Jenna has been told about herself is a lie, and the truth is a secret that may destroy the world--or save it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great twists

  • By Zach on 02-16-15

One Long Chase Scene

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

Reviewed: 07-06-15

But an exciting series of chases. From the first sentence of the book we are catapulted (now there's a just jacket blurb verb) into the action. Our teenage heroine ends up blasted and shot at, soaked and punched and on the run with almost no resources, and those are just the first few pages. A typical American teenager of current fiction, Jenna is quick to begin resenting her father despite some extremely positive actions on his part to keep her little hind end intact. This theme continues throughout the book and becomes a bit tedious, as do the chases. Just the same, the action flows naturally and does not have the robotic clockwork formula feeling of a Dan Brown thriller.

Jenna's origins are the big mystery, and we get our answers doled out in small breaks from the action in the form of flashbacks and exposition. Can anybody be trusted? Why are various Federal agencies tripping over each other like Keystone Kops? In fact, not just tripping over each other but shooting up big and expensive installations in a hail of gunfire. There seems to be an amazing willingness to kill civilians and cops as well. Although young adult in form, this novel has plenty of gruesome death.

On the plus side, the writing is clear, syntax lucid, and vocabulary and grammar all get a pass. This is no small thing these days when it seems anything can get published and good editors are scarce. The action shows a good grasp of physics. Nobody is surviving bomb blasts without a good reason nor flying cars off parking garage roofs into adjacent office buildings. On the other hand, people seem to heal up pretty darn fast from bullet wounds to little areas like, say, the thigh; up and about on crutches in hours.

In the end, it all turns out to have Big Answers that lead to more Big Questions with "to be continued" stamped all over them. I believe the authors have this all planned out and when we get to the answers it may not have been worth it. I think I will wait on the reviews when the sequel comes out, because I am not waiting with bated breath.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

  • By: Claire North
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,352
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,959
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,960

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now.As Harry nears the end of his 11th life, a little girl appears at his bedside. "I nearly missed you, Doctor August," she says. "I need to send a message." This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not what I'd feared

  • By Isobel on 04-29-16

Magnificent

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

Reviewed: 04-22-15

What a great story! What beautiful writing. And the Narrator sets a new standard in excellence.

If you liked Ken Grimwood's "Replay", you will love FFL.

Claire North joins PF Hamilton and Neal Stevenson in my personal pantheon of authors who write science fiction that is epic in scope, moving and literate. I started FFL knowing only that it was science fiction and quasi-time travel, or time-shuttling if you will. I expected something light like Brett Battles "Rewinder" or Lee Geiger's "Doctor Wasserman's Time Chamber". Instead I have someone whom I think is a first-time author who is now on my MUST BUY list.

In all of this gigantic story of detective work, spycraft, science and technology, history, love, mystery, friendship and fanaticism there is not one false note of dialog and again no artificial twist shoe-horned into the flow of narration because of plot problems. I hope a writer as skilled with language and as intelligent as Ms. North is young and can keep doing this again and again. some of the dialog is hilarious, especially the bon mots uttered by a character named Virginia.

Of course, I had to give her a pass on the Grandfather Paradox. This is almost a given in any story where the timeline can be altered. Well worth that particular suspension of disbelief.

For those Audible listeners: Peter Kenney is the best narrator ever to synergistically boost a story into the heavens. Subtle, dramatic, nuanced, intelligent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Rewinder

  • By: Brett Battles
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,076
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,847
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,834

You will never read Denny Younger's name in any history book, will never know what he's done. But even if you did, you'd never believe it. The world as you know it wouldn't be the same without him. Denny was born into one of the lowest rungs of society, but his bleak fortunes abruptly change when the mysterious Upjohn Institute recruits him to be a Rewinder, a verifier of personal histories. The job at first sounds like it involves researching old books and records, but Denny soon learns it's far from it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Poul Anderson's Time Patrol meets Jumper

  • By Bob on 01-23-15

Energetic YA Time Travel with a Naïf for a Hero

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

Reviewed: 04-22-15

First the good: energetic adventure in a new and strange alternate world. A likeable hero with a strong moral compass. Never a boring moment.

My problem: Denny Younger is advanced far above his humble caste by virtue of his interest in history and his brilliance. Supposedly. Well Denny may be a deep thinker but he surely is not a FAST thinker. Whenever he gets backed into a corner, his response is always (always!) "I... umm... uh" and I quote. It is the classic problem of the hero failing to see the obvious for the sake of the story. Surely this milquetoast can think faster than that. Also, he gets physically overcome by a girl his own age-- until it is time for a turnaround in the plot; THEN he is suddenly capable of physical defense.

A note: Brett Battles beautifully walks the tightrope of political neutrality in describing Denny's reaction to and description of an alternate timeline that happens to be our world. He is not going to make any Conservatives or Liberals angry here (and by Conservatives and Liberals I mean Conservatives). Well done.

As far as the big bugaboo of Time Travel stories, The Grandfather Paradox, the author does not so much ignore it as shred it into tiny pieces and shove it into plot hole oblivion where the sun never shines. In fact, Battles has one of his characters mentioning the confusion of meeting yourself and changing the future by saying: "Going down that road is a sure path to insanity". Just like the movie "Looper" when Bruce Willis dismisses any attempt to figure things out. That's alright. I always give the Paradox a pass just so I can enjoy the story.

Spoiler:

-Denny learns all about history in our timeline but never bothers to do a little research into how to recharge his time travel machine. It never even crosses his mind. ??

-At a penultimate moment Denny is forcing a deal on his enemies and yet there is absolutely no way he can enforce their promises.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Becoming Steve Jobs

  • The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
  • By: Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,299
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,699
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,691

There have been many books - on a large and small scale - about Steve Jobs, one of the most famous CEOs in history. But this book is different from all the others. Becoming Steve Jobs takes on and breaks down the existing myth and stereotypes about Steve Jobs. The conventional, one-dimensional view of Jobs is that he was half genius, half jerk from youth, an irascible and selfish leader who slighted friends and family alike.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Contextual, Insightful, Inspiring

  • By Douglas Vincent on 03-30-15

A Few Top-Level Interviews Make Good Overview

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

Reviewed: 04-07-15

"Becoming Steve Jobs" has a narrow premise, sticks to it, and succeeds. Steve Jobs began as a product-driven, cruel company-smashing maniacal marketing genius, and rebuilt himself into a product-driven humane, super company-building CEO maniacal marketing genius. Although BSJ is an unauthorized biography, it is actually far more authorized than Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" because of Brent Schendler's access to very high-level colleagues such as Iger, Ives, Cook, Catmul, Gates and of course, Steve's wife Laurene.

This isn't an in-depth analysis of the technology, which I would have liked. Nor are there many anecdotes from the many, many interesting people Jobs interacted with during his amazing life. It is a broad and illuminating look at how Jobs became a really good boss instead of a bomb inside the company gas tank. It is also, through interviews, the story of how Steve got less mean, more patient, and wiser. It separates his behavior outside of work: some people NEVER got yelled at by Steve. Starting a family with Laurene changed him. Watching creativity being gently fostered at Pixar, his "side bet purchase" changed him. He learned. He grew.

As for the leaps that were the music player, phone, and tablet look elsewhere for a real description of their technology and social impact. Although they are covered as pivotal events, the focus is always on Jobs, and that is fine.

There is a lot left untold in this useful new addition to the Lore Of Steve. I want more personal stories. I want more about the tech... lots more. Still, this is an excellent overview and the quotes from his friends and colleagues are valuable.

Oh, and one more thing: The book was written with love.