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Dubi

New York, NY
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  • Live from New York

  • The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests
  • By: James Andrew Miller, Tom Shales
  • Narrated by: Christina Delaine, Paul Woodson
  • Length: 28 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 209
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 196
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 194

When first published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, Live from New York was immediately proclaimed the best book ever produced on the landmark and legendary late-night show. In their own words, unfiltered and uncensored, a dazzling galaxy of trail-blazing talents recalled three turbulent decades of on-camera antics and off-camera escapades.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining but repetitive

  • By Michelle on 05-05-18

The First Forty Years ... and Counting

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

Reviewed: 10-21-18

Exhaustive but hardly exhausting history of Saturday Night Live over its first forty years. Originally published at the thirty year mark at 600 pages, this edition was updated to add coverage of the ensuing ten years, increasing to 800 pages in print and topping 28 hours in audio run time. And as we're already nearly halfway to the half century mark, with no signs of slowing down, expect future updates.

I don't know why you'd want to read this all-encompassing history of SNL if you're not a fan, but if you are a fan, or if you were a fan during your generation's incarnation of the ever-morphing series, this is just incredible stuff. I was a college kid in 1975 when the first season became a sensation among us kids, then lost touch with it during its downswing in the 1980s, became reacquainted with its stars but not a viewer during the 1990s, and then started watching regularly again around 2005 when my own kids became part of that generation's devotees.

The format is excellent. Almost all of this is made up of excerpts of interviews with most of the players -- cast members of course, guest hosts, musical guests, writers, directors, and other crew members, network execs, managers and agents, even friends and family of key cast. Broken down into short bursts on the same topic, we hear how the show was created; how the original cast and all subsequent casts were assembled, employed, quit or fired, replaced, and sadly how some died young; how many memorable skits and characters came to be; what happened off stage behind the scenes, especially during the raucous era of the original cast.

And every other aspect of the show you can think of -- most entertainingly, its many controversies, many covered in great detail from multiple sides of the story. There are of course some of the great onscreen controversies, like Sinead O'Connor's pope protest, and the great backstage controversies, like the appearance of Andrew Dice Clay as host, the fight between Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, and the firing of Norm MacDonald for his Weekend Update jokes about O.J. Simpson (NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer was a big advocate for his good friend O.J. at the height of his notoriety).

What I found most interesting, because it's almost by definition unknown to the public at large, is how some big name people failed to become part of the cast or failed as part of the cast and staff. Their stories are here in detail. How then-unknown Billy Crystal did not make the original cast even though he was scheduled to be on the debut episode, how Damon Wayans got himself fired from the cast by purposely sabotaging a skit, how Larry David and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were hardly utilized as writer and cast member, respectively, only to take that rejected material into Seinfeld, how Lisa Kudrow failed to make the cast but went on to Friends, and what Janeane Garofalo thought of her brief tenure.

And that's really just scratching the tip of the iceberg. What makes it so good in audio is that it's an *oral* history, as told by its participants in spoken interviews, the only notable absence of a living participant being Eddie Murphy, who continues to nurse some grudge toward the show that launched his career (all of which is explored in the book, albeit without his side to the story). So even though there are narrators rather than the actual people talking, it still comes off as wonderfully conversational, as if a roundtable of participants are reminiscing about their shared past. For fans of the show, truly great stuff.

  • Doughnut

  • By: Tom Holt
  • Narrated by: Ray Sawyer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 289
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 267

Things have been going pretty badly for Theo Bernstein. An unfortunate accident at work has lost him his job (and his work involved a Very Very Large Hadron Collider, so he's unlikely to get it back). His wife has left him. And he doesn't have any money. Before Theo has time to fully appreciate the pointlessness of his own miserable existence, news arrives that his good friend, a renowned physicist and Nobel laureate, has died. By leaving the apparently worthless contents of his safety deposit box to Theo, however, the professor has set him on a quest of epic proportions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fun world for scifantasy fans

  • By illgnosis on 06-19-13

Couldn't Finish This Donut

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

Reviewed: 10-01-18

I walk a few miles through Central Park every day. Listening to audiobooks helps me keep going when I feel like bailing out. Today, as I began my walk, I was about to fire up Doughnut, which I started yesterday on a flight back from Atlanta. I felt my heart sink when I thought about listening to it during my walk -- I already wanted to bail out of the walk rather than listen to the ten remaining hours. If that's not a sign to bail out of a book and not force-finish it, I don't know what is.

So I started a new book and was so engaged that I went an extra mile just to keep listening, and am already looking forward to continuing it during tomorrow's walk (and every walk for the next week or so, as it's 28 hours long). So clearly, I did the right thing.

I knew nothing about Doughnut or Tom Holt before getting the audiobook in a recent sale. But this is not the first time I got a book I knew nothing about by an author I never heard of just because it had a once-bitten donut on the cover (I'm American, that's how we spell donut, and obviously I like donuts). The first time turned out great -- Company by Max Barry, so good that I've since read all his books. This time, though, the donut cover theory of new authors did not work.

I may eventually, if I ever get through my huge backlog of audio titles, give this book another go, being a fan of alternate universe tales that try to be funny in the manner of Douglas Adams. That's a big part of the problem. If you try to be funny like Douglas Adams, you have to actually be funny. Mocking the name of the Large Hadron Collider by calling it the Very Very Large Hadron Collider, that's not my idea of funny, that's my idea of lazy. And that's one of the most accessible jokes in the first four hours -- although, to Holt's discredit, he repeats it at least two dozen times in that span.

So that's that, as far as I'm concerned. The only way I can be helpful is to recommend you listen to Company by Max Barry instead, especially if you feel (as I did) that it's important to have a donut with a bite taken out of it on the cover.

  • Player Piano

  • By: Kurt Vonnegut
  • Narrated by: Christian Rummel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 661
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 516
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 521

Kurt Vonnegut's first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul's rebellion is vintage Vonnegut – wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Poor narration

  • By Christopher Bowers on 09-18-17

The Future Is Here

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

Reviewed: 09-30-18

There is a book or a documentary (there may be more than one) that compares visions of the future as presented in the mid-20th century, particularly at the 1939 New York World's Fair ("The World of Tomorrow"), and shows just how wrong they were -- often comically. Kurt Vonnegut's first novel, Player Piano, by contrast, holds up well 66 years into the future, its vision having by and large come true in many ways, sometimes chillingly.

Based on his own experiences working for General Electric in the late 1940s, Player Piano imagines a future in which people are replaced by machines controlled by computers and the world is run by feckless managers and engineers. In the 1950s they called it automation -- we now call it robotics. People losing their jobs to robots is a reality that is part of our current political and economic discourse; unchecked corporate power is another hot button issue; and our 1% class structure is a near corollary to Player Piano's world where management lives north of the river in Ilium and the unemployed masses live to its south, the twain rarely meeting.

The populist anti-establishment screeds sprinkled throughout Player Piano cut across today's ideologies. The issues of corporate influence and the economic elite certainly echo liberal thought, but job loss to robotics and a Luddite nostalgia for a simpler past are hallmarks of conservatism. The nature of the working class left behind by automation also cuts across ideological lines -- demographically, they resemble red state conservatives, but their plight (especially how they're treated by the elite) resembles blue state liberal views.

Vonnegut's Luddite attitude toward technology is one example where he got it completely wrong. Those losing jobs to robotics may lament their unemployment, but no one is unplugging their WiFi or central air conditioners. And there are many new careers in technology than KV imagined. He mocks the corporate justification for automation -- improving people's lives -- but in today's world, few want society to go off-grid, they just want to keep their jobs or get new ones. On the other hand, he totally nails the manipulation of the populace via weapons of mass distraction, as did Huxley in Brave New World (which Vonnegut admits to happily ripping off).

This being his first novel, Vonnegut adhered closely to traditional literary structures. There are only hints of the meta-fictional style that is emblematic of his later work. The characters are straightforward, the plot line linear, the dialogue realistic. The most interesting departure from standard narrative structure is that some scenes seem designed to set characters up to deliver extended riffs and rants that communicate the author's belief system rather than furthering plot or characterization.

Vonnegut wrote Player Piano as a social satire of his own times, but by setting it in a dystopian near-future, the book was cast as science fiction. At the time, Vonnegut said it was news to him that he was a science fiction author -- he did not want to be seen as part of what he then thought of as a second rate pulp fiction genre. Of course, he went on to embrace the label and become one of its foremost practitioners, even taking a traditional WWII story and transposing it into science fiction (Slaughterhouse-Five).

For me, this completes my re-reading in audio of all of Vonnegut's novels I devoured in print as a youth -- seven of them leading up to the first that I read upon its initial publication (Breakfast of Champions). I remain amazed at how most of them (especially the lesser known titles) hold up to the passage of time, at least thematically (some details, like vacuum tube technology that drives Player Piano's world, have to now be rethought as integrated circuits). I also remain amazed at how well Vonnegut graded himself in Palm Sunday -- he gave Player Piano a B, and I have to concur. It's very good, especially for a first novel, but doesn't rise to greatness of the A books that followed.

  • American Nations

  • A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
  • By: Colin Woodard
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,771
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,564
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,572

North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory. In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of a Kind Masterpiece

  • By Theo Horesh on 02-28-13

Diving Down Into America's Regional Cultures

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

Reviewed: 09-19-18

A retelling of American history, from the early colonial era until today (well, until a couple of years ago), through the prism of various regional cultures that persist from those earliest days until now. We know the country is divided between North and South, red and blue states, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. But Colin Woodard takes a deeper dive to show how politics and mores evolved across nearly a dozen regional cultures rather than though binary choices.

I was thoroughly convinced by this thesis and fascinated by the lines connecting the first colonists through the Revolution, Civil War, Sixties, up to the present day, and many watershed moments in between. I learned, for example, that the Pacific coast is so closely aligned today with the Northeast because those areas were originally settled by New Englanders (places like Portland and Salem, Oregon, were named after the cities in New England) -- they still share the same values.

If you're from the South or Appalachia or the West, you're not going to like the unflattering views of those areas. I'm from New York and I was reminded that my city introduced the African slave trade to America, that our corporations exploited the Far West, that our financiers have been defrauding taxpayers since the days of Alexander Hamilton. Woodard's own home area, New England, is roasted for how badly they treated Native Americans and how insufferably they tried to impose their views on others (still do). So I don't believe any region gets off easy, except perhaps Quebec (New France) and what we call Middle America, the middle class, large parts of PA and the upper Midwest.

If I have any criticism -- and obviously I've rated this five stars across the board, so there's not much I want to criticize -- I did feel (as others have pointed out) once you get past the Civil War, the thesis starts to unravel a bit. That part of the history is rushed and not altogether convincing. Of course, with all that happened in the 20th century, especially advances in transportation and communication, waves of immigration and the Depression, people started to move around a lot more and lines did start to blur, so it's really a continuing part of the story that by definition dilutes regional homogeneity.

All in all, this is just great stuff -- unless you're sensitive about how your region is portrayed, in which case, this is not for you.

  • Been So Long

  • My Life and Music
  • By: Jorma Kaukonen, Grace Slick - foreword, Jack Casady - afterword
  • Narrated by: Jorma Kaukonen, Grace Slick - foreword, Jack Casady - afterword
  • Length: 9 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 27
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 23

“Music is the reward for being alive”, writes Jorma Kaukonen in this candid and emotional account of his life and work. In a career that has already spanned a half-century - one that has earned him induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among other honors - Jorma is best known for his legendary bands Jefferson Airplane and the still-touring Hot Tuna. But before he won worldwide recognition he was just a young man with a passion and a dream. Been So Long is the story of how Jorma found his place in the world of music and beyond.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Story Well Told

  • By Michael on 08-29-18

I'll Be Alright Someday

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

Reviewed: 09-11-18

The memoirs of Jorma Kaukonen, best known (and in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) as a founding member and lead guitarist of the Jefferson Airplane -- he is responsible for the haunting intro to White Rabbit and the searing solo that ends Somebody to Love. Better known to his fans and students as one of the greatest guitar players ever, especially fingerstyle.

This is not an anecdotal collection of war stories and name dropping (although he has the photos and audio tape to prove that he backed up Janis Joplin as early as 1962). This is a candid, heartfelt, personal story about Jorma's personal life from his childhood through his days of fame and fortune in the 60s with the Airplane through the ups and downs of the ensuing decades to his current state of content as a family man, teacher, and touring performer, and how it all affected his guitar playing, music, and songwriting. I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy from Net Galley, so you can read my full review (if you are so inclined) at Good Reads or Amazon.

What is most important for this particular review is, why would you listen to the audio version rather than (or as in my case in addition to) the print edition. Easy: Jorma narrates it himself. I've been a student of his at Fur Peace Ranch for the past number of years, have gotten to know him a bit, which you may read as a disclaimer, but it does put me in position to tell you that this IS Jorma -- this is how he tells it, this is true to life. Not only did he write it all himself (no ghost writer), he wrote it in his natural voice, and that comes through to perfection in audio.

When I read the print version, it felt a little jarring to see the phrases that punctuate his sentences, paragraphs, passages -- "so be it" or "you can't make this stuff up" and the like. I know that's how he speaks, but in print, it was strange to see. In audio, it's perfect. That's who he is, he's a song writer, and his little aphorisms are a rhetorical device, a lyrical device, a form of punctuation, a refrain in his storytelling, vocal rhythm and structure. It really works, better than reading it.

But whether you find that endearing (as I do) or a bit jarring (as I did in print), the most important thing is the depth of this memoir, whether you're a fan looking for insight into the music and musician that you love, or someone interested in the artistic process, how personal life and inner feeling translate into (in this case) music and lyrics -- many of Jorma's songs are described individually in detail. And five songs come with it as a bonus at the end of the audiobook. Certainly great stuff for Jorma's fans, but also illuminating listening for anyone interested in music.

  • No Second Chance

  • By: Harlan Coben
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 14 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,395
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,853
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,851

Marc Seidman awakens to find himself in an ICU, hooked up to an IV, his head swathed in bandages. Twelve days earlier, he had had an enviable life as a successful surgeon, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood with his beautiful wife and a baby he adored. Now he lies in a hospital bed, shot by an unseen assailant. His wife has been killed, and his 6-month-old daughter, Tara, has vanished. But just when his world seems forever shattered, something arrives to give Marc a new hope: a ransom note.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Really

  • By Ed on 07-05-07

If at First...

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

Marc Seidman wakes up from a coma to find that he was shot and left for dead, his wife was shot and actually dead, and his infant daughter is gone, presumably abducted. When a ransom demand finally comes in, he sets about trying to find his daughter and figure out what really happened to him and his wife. With the police believing that he did it himself, a classic double chase ensues where he has to prove his own innocence by finding the actual perpetrators.

But Harlan Coben have never been just about thrillers, mysteries, whodunit's, or whatever. It's always about fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, best friends, how far people will go to protect their loved ones. And like No Second Chance, it's almost always set in the supposedly safe havens of the New Jersey suburbs, where dangers lurk beneath every surface, no matter how wholesome it seems.

And often, as is the case with No Second Chance, Coben introduces an overarching issue (can't give it away here) that adds more to the matter than just finding out who done it and why. You could call that the McGuffin that is at the heart of every double chase, but it is at once more than that (in that it is an issue that exists beyond this particular story) and also less than that (in that it is not the be all and end all of this particular story, just one important element).

I've read several Coben books that follow this formula quite closely. I enjoyed this one, as I have enjoyed the others. But maybe because it is yet another variation on that theme, it was four-star enjoyment rather than five-star (for me, this time). Having the tiresome Scott Brick narrate did not help the cause, although I can't say that he's a detriment either (at least, not at 1.5x speed from the get go -- I might feel differently if I started out at regular speed).

  • Life After Life

  • A Novel
  • By: Kate Atkinson
  • Narrated by: Fenella Woolgar
  • Length: 15 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,924
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,535
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,545

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exhilarating, breathtaking book

  • By Kareol on 08-13-15

Wrong Title, Time Out, Just Plain Dull

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

Reviewed: 08-23-18

I don't know how to start this review, so here are three different tries:

1. If you have high hopes for this book, do not read this review. It may dash your expectations before you even start, and you won't be able to un-see some of these things.

2. I see a pattern emerging that I can no longer ignore -- the more prizes a book wins, the more five-star reviews it gets, the more I dislike it. Maybe I'm just a contrarian, taking perverse pleasure out of being a reverse barometer. Maybe I'm just incapable of adjusting to extreme expectations, inevitably getting less out of something I expect so much from, and conversely being pleasantly surprised by things I expect little from. Either way, I should stop reading highly regarded books.

3. Or maybe, as other reviewers have already noted, this book is just not as good as they say. This is my favorite theory.

The title is the first thing wrong with this book. It's a boring title, right off the shelf of pre-fab titles marked "banal". Plus, it is just plain wrong. Not that it needed any help in the sales department, doing quite well on the strength of its reviews, but imagine how much more it would have sold with a more accurate and provocative title of Death After Death. Ursula Todd may live life after life, but that's only because she suffers death after death, reliving life from birth after each death. Every life is about what leads to her next death. OMG, after a while, you just want her to off herself (which she eventually does, only to go back to Snow, 11 February 1910, the day of her birth).

Then there is the reason for her re-living life after each death. After 15-plus hours, I'm still waiting to learn the reason. There is none. It's just an artificial device to go back and retell her story from a slightly different angle (OK, in a few cases, too few, from a drastically different angle, which is good, but doesn't happen often enough). Look, Kurt Vonnegut did not have to make Billy Pilgrim come unstuck in time in order to jump around to different points of his life, but since he decided to do that to add a science fictiony element to Slaughterhouse-Five, which was primarily a WWII story, he explained it, even if it was a one-word explanation (aliens).

OK, but given that she is able to re-live life after each death, what makes each life different? After 15-plus hours, I'm still waiting to learn the answer. Basically, Ursula doesn't realize it's happening, except for maybe a premonition or deja vu or something, but most of the time, she just randomly without foreknowledge (or hindknowledge maybe?) does something different to avoid her prior fate. All of which adds up to, what's the point? Beats me, after 15-plus hours, I'm still waiting.

But when she does kind of figure it out, what does she do with that power? Of all the things in the 20th century, what could she possibly do with her life? Hmm. I know, let's kill Hitler before he gets to power. There's an original idea if I ever heard one. And one that makes all the nuances of all these past lives really come together. Not. (BTW, this is not a spoiler, she kills Hitler on page 1.) Anyway, think about it (I mean you, Ms. Atkinson) -- if every death takes her back to square one (11/2/1910), what does it accomplish to kill Hitler? History is re-set to pre-WWI. He will just rise again. You have to keep killing him in every life. What, I repeat, is the point of all this?

Worst of all, though, regardless of all those picky plot points, this book is just plain boring. Dull, boring. Probably 12 of its 15 hours is about the minutia of Ursula's and the Todds' day to day life, and it's not at all interesting. Less happens to them than has probably happened to you or me or anyone else whose life is basically ordinary enough that we're spending this moment reading (or in my case writing) an amateur review of an audiobook. Yes, their life is less interesting than ours. So what is the point?

At one point, I was wondering, is anything ever going to happen? That was about 5-6 hours in. Coincidentally, that is exactly when something interesting started happening (one of the best parts of the book). But alas, it ended a short time later, and although I don't want to diminish the seriousness of what happened, this is only the hundredth or maybe even thousandth book to take on that subject. And then again a few hours later when a second serious thing happens, only this time it goes on and on and on interminably, repetitively, and then interminably and repetitively again (like I just did there, only a hundred times over, imagine if I wrote interminably and repetitively a hundred times over, only instead of three words it was three chapters). Oy!

The narration, at least, was good -- except for one thing that costs her one star in my rating: why does she have to say "et" instead of "ate" every. single. time someone eats something? It's not like she does that to any other word (other than generally speaking in a British accent). It got to the point where I wanted to smash my phone every time she said "et" (but not as much as I wanted to bash my head against the wall every time I heard, "Snow, 11 February 1910", and Ursula was born again to live her boring life over).

  • Bandwidth

  • By: Eliot Peper
  • Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 149
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 147

A rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm, Dag Calhoun represents the world’s most powerful technology and energy executives. But when a close brush with death reveals that the influence he wields makes him a target, impossible cracks appear in his perfect life. Like everyone else, Dag relies on his digital feed for everything - a feed that is as personal as it is pervasive, and may not be as private as it seems. As he struggles to make sense of the dark forces closing in on him, he discovers that activists are hijacking the feed to manipulate markets and governments.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What. A. Ride. Peper’s Best Yet!

  • By Brian on 05-01-18

Timely Tale of Near Future

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

Reviewed: 08-17-18

Dag Calhoun is a hot young lobbyist who can expertly navigate the turbulent political and corporate waters to get his clients what they want and need. But when he finds himself manipulated from every direction, the unpredictable currents grow that much more treacherous. Each time he thinks he has found a way to achieve his goals, the goal posts move, and he falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole (to mix my metaphors).

Eliot Peper's near-future corporate techno-thriller is quite timely, the main themes being the manipulation of social media feeds (a la the 2016 election) and the impending consequences of climate change. We wonder why climate change deniers dominate the political landscape -- Peper shines a light on a motivation we may have failed to consider: the big money to be made as a result of climate change, and the puppetmasters of the powers that be who have a strong vested interest in how this unfolds.

But ultimately, what makes a novel work are the characters, and Peper has done well to create credible, fully realized characters, especially Dag, the protagonist who battles various inner demons while battling real world rivals. At face value, many of the characters seem drawn from familiar tropes, but Peper bring them to life as unique creations. Looking forward to the upcoming continuation of this series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • All These Worlds

  • Bobiverse, Book 3
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 36,972
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 34,613
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34,515

Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can't stay out of trouble. They've created enough colonies so humanity shouldn't go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Satisfying End to a Fun Series

  • By Craig Schorling on 08-20-17

Well Executed Series Conclusion

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

Reviewed: 08-16-18

The Bobiverse trilogy is brought to its conclusion in All These Worlds, and brought there in many satisfactory ways. If you're a fan of Dennis Taylor's creation, the Bobs, and Ray Porter's spot on performance of the many generations of Bobs, you're well taken care of here by writer and reader. If you haven't read any Bobiverse books yet, this is not the place to start -- the original entry, We Are Legion, We Are Bob, works well as a standalone read, but the follow-up, For We Are Many, leads directly to this final entry, operating as a single story.

The denouement with The Others is stunning. Sadly, there is no interaction with them, which was a highlight, albeit a brief one, in For We Are Many, but the way the Bobs combat them in All These Worlds is original and refreshing in its approach -- that approach being one part credible science by Taylor in his science fiction, and another part coherent battle scenes that are neither too long nor too short, and never padded with gratuitous or unnecessary detail.

I myself am not schooled in science and technology, so I can't say whether Taylor really knows the science behind his speculation, but at the very least, he has written about it well enough to come off as if he knows what he's talking about. The net result is the same -- everything, no matter how far-fetched it may be IRL, sounds plausible.

Taylor has said that his is the end of the Bobiverse trilogy (emphasizing the fact that trilogy means three volumes), but he has also said that that does not preclude returning to this universe for other stories. Here's one fan hoping that he does. But also curious to see what he can do in other settings, since he has proven his chops as a writer and as a humorist.

  • For We Are Many

  • Bobiverse, Book 2
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 41,665
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 39,007
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38,894

Bob Johansson didn't believe in an afterlife, so waking up after being killed in a car accident was a shock. To add to the surprise, he is now a sentient computer and the controlling intelligence for a Von Neumann probe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Denis E.Taylor Sets A New Standard For Sci-Fi

  • By Devin on 04-18-17

Many Bobs, Many Fans

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

Reviewed: 08-11-18

Tech nerd Bob, captured as an artificial intelligence after his death in We Are Legion, We Are Bob, has replicated himself dozens of times over and sent all of his clones out into the galaxy to seek out new life and new civilization (Star Trek reference intended). Forty years have passed, and the Bobs have to deal with new and ongoing issues with the Fuzzy Nation planet they discovered, the human colonies they established, and the survivors back on Earth itself. And then a new threat emerges, a Doomsday Machine populated by a massive implacable hive mind (Star Trek references intended).

The nods to Star Trek and Scalzi and others are no detriment to the Bobiverse. Indeed, the way Dennis Taylor handles them, they add to the fun for those familiar with the source material. The key is that there is much more going on than pop culture references. There is the carryover issue from We Are Legion of how a single personality can have so many subtle nuances when replicated -- and the way Ray Porter captures those nuances while mostly voicing the same character is excellent. Add to that Bob dealing with a God complex, with the Deltoid fuzzies treating him like a Cargo Cult deity and with his ability to bestow immortality on "ephemerals" by creating AI versions of them when they die.

All in good fun, infectious listening for fans of contemporary humorous science fiction. My only problem with the story, costing it one star in my rating, is a) the new threat is not resolved (which of course is to set the stage for the next entry in the series), and b) it is of such magnitude that the other sub-plots lose their significance in the face of its profound gravity. But I do give Taylor a lot of credit for the tone of the interim conclusion he reaches in this book, a risky move (which I will not give away) but one that works.

Looking forward to the third entry in the series...