LISTENER

Shellbin

  • 22
  • reviews
  • 112
  • helpful votes
  • 34
  • ratings
  • Aurora

  • By: Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Narrated by: Ali Ahn
  • Length: 16 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,530
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,342
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,339

A major new novel from one of science fiction's most powerful voices, Aurora tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system. Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful

  • By ewreirct on 07-14-15

A KSR book that comes from and speaks to the heart

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

Reviewed: 08-17-15

There is one glaring thing that at first rankled me as being far fetched in this book, which luckily got better as the story progressed. The tale begins at the point at which the travellers are about 6 generations in, however they act as if they had much more connection and understanding of old Earth than I think would be plausible. Six generations is a very long time. Eventually, the characters seemed more in character with what you'd expect from a culture who has only known life aboard a starship. The charming naïveté of the main character in particular elicited an emotional, poignant response in me.

Say what you want about the writing, plot, character development etc etc. The fact remains that through it all, Robinson presents some genuinely original insights. That alone, in my opinion, makes Aurora worthwhile. That it also sports a memorable story and characters is wonderful hydroponically grown gravy.

  • The Affinities

  • By: Robert Charles Wilson
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 9 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 159
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 144
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 145

In our rapidly-changing world of "social media", everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies - genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Compelling Concepts

  • By Madeleine on 05-20-15

Originality: What Makes RCW's Works Stand Apart.

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

Reviewed: 05-04-15

I loved this book. It's quite a trick to write something that is

1) Populated with characters who feel real, that we can connect to
2) Actually says something; make you think
3) Is genuinely original

The way 1 & 3 are artfully combined is what I think makes Wilson's books so enjoyable. Often originality is synonymous with 'weird' and hard to relate to. Not so The Affinities. The concepts of the novel are borne of a substrate made up of solid characters; indeed you could almost lose the science fiction aspect and still have a pretty decent book.

I agree with some other reviewers who have said that The Affinities could've been a bit longer. That's true, but the "fill in your own blanks" feeling one may be left with at book's end is I think even better. The reader is forced to think; in my case, not so much along the lines of "what happened next?" No, nothing like that. I was left in a place of newness; considering ideas new to me, some clear, others half formed, nicely coloured with an emotional aspect, also with its own unique flavour.

That, in my opinion, is science fiction gold.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Long Way Home

  • Chief Inspector Gamache, Book 10
  • By: Louise Penny
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,549
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,250
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,224

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he'd only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. "There is a balm in Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole." While Gamache doesn't talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache's help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There’s power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Louise, what were you thinking?

  • By Sharon on 09-08-14

If you're a Gamach/Ruth/Penny etc fan...

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

Reviewed: 01-07-15

Louise Penny's books are chronological. If you've not read her previous Inspector Gamache books, the impact of this one would I think be significantly less.

This latest tale of our beloved denizens of Three Pines is a slow burn for a long time, but is very much worth sticking it out for - again, if you're caught up with the series.

Once again, Penny nails it with beautiful, deep insights and second to none character development.

I cannot think of a cast of fictitious characters with whom I feel so involved. If indeed they are fictitious - sometimes I wonder!



0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Shaman

  • By: Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Narrated by: Graeme Malcolm
  • Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 305
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 285

There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories - to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who, in many ways, holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outsider and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple - and where it may lead is never certain.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By David on 03-17-15

His Best Since the Mars Trilogy

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

Reviewed: 09-19-13

Over the years since I read KSR's Mars Trilogy, when I have told others about it, my descriptions of that masterpiece have tended to include the phrases "science fiction, but in a class by itself" and also, "akin to reading history, but written 300 years in the future."

While I have enjoyed other books by KSR, none have been able to measure up to the Mars Trilogy - until now. Shaman, too, is a masterpiece. It is nothing at all like Robinson's other novels, which is a good thing - and testament to the author's abilities.

What makes it so great? First of all, the characters. In Robinson's other works, character development has tended to be something he seems to work at, but perhaps doesn't come naturally to him. With Shaman, his ship has come in. Creating characters who would have lived 30,000 years ago and making them believable is quite an accomplishment. In Robinson's depictions, they are at once Unknowable, mysterious and profoundly ordinary. His use of everyday speech for their dialogue, rather than some wholly imagined, affected "tribespeople" speak (whatever language was spoken 30,000 years ago will likely remain forever completely unknown) is a stroke of brilliance. It's easy for the reader to grasp that the characters are speaking in their own tongue, but with colloquialisms that are synonymic in our language. For example, they might have had an equivalent for "oh, fuck;" or even the quirky meaning behind our present day "mama mia" makes the (single) use that phrase not seem odd, or out of place.

The second bit of greatness, is that these characters, their actions, and the world they inhabit - both Natural and Spirit - come truly alive. Never again will I look at an ancient cave painting or other ancient art in quite the same way. In Shaman, by books end, Robinson has created an emotionally charged, believable bridge between those artistic creations, their makers and the present moment. This achievement by Robinson is no less than High Art itself. He's created Magic, in which the past is brought to life; for this reader, I am forever changed for the experience.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • The Beautiful Mystery

  • A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
  • By: Louise Penny
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,991
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,591
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,575

No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging, entertaining, and heartbreaking.

  • By Sparkly on 09-04-12

I loved this book

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

Reviewed: 07-18-13


I would place it in the category of "will mean more if you've been following the series."

It is a bit slow to get going - actually quite slow - however there is a mood to be set and such things take time. The basic story was good, but the thing that made the book truly great for me is how Penny has continued to develop her characters (in this book, Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir). At the point at which things come to a peak near the end, I was actually shaking with emotion - I'd become that involved!



  • The Martian

  • By: Andy Weir
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 163,827
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 151,215
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 151,054

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Worth it even if you've seen the movie

  • By R. MCRACKAN on 12-08-17

I loved it

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

Reviewed: 04-12-13

Great book. Decent science fiction novels are so few and far between; it was a treat to encounter this one.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Farside

  • By: Ben Bova
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 385
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 346
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 347

Telescopes on Earth have detected an Earth-sized planet circling a star some 30 light-years away. Now the race is on to get pictures of that distant world that show whether or not the planet is truly like Earth - and if it bears life. Farside observatory will have the largest optical telescope in the solar system and the most sensitive radio telescope, insulated from the interference of Earth’s radio chatter by a thousand kilometers of the moon’s solid body. But building Farside is a complex, dangerous task. And what they ultimately find stuns everyone, and humanity will never be the same.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not super impressed to be honest

  • By Gordon on 06-12-13

If You Like 1950s Sci Fi...

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

Reviewed: 04-06-13

It is hard to believe that this novel was written in the present era. At one point, the lead character, in a space suit out on the Moon's surface, asks one of his assistants to go inside and get him a camera. Right. Like in a century from now (or whenever the near-ish future date is) that there's not going to be a camera in his suit - or retina, or...There are several similar instances which reveal a poorly conceived future setting (a pad of paper, conveniently found in a desk drawer, on a limited-supply Moon outpost? Riiiight. Even today, the average N American only picks up a pen every few weeks) etc etc. Then there is the dialogue. It's not just cliché-ridden and cringeworthy, it's also frighteningly dated with regard to the sayings people use and rife with cultural references that are already decades past. MAYBE the author intended to use phrases so old that many of today's 20-somethings wouldn't even know what they meant - just so the book would come off as authentic classic sci-fi from another era. Sort of like what SM Stirling did with his Mars & Venus 'Sky People' alternative reality books a few years back. I sure hope so. The alternative - that Bova meant this to be a modern, credible science fiction novel - is scary to contemplate.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Marvel Comics

  • The Untold Story
  • By: Sean Howe
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
  • Length: 17 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,080
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 996
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 995

The defining, behind-the-scenes chronicle of one of the most extraordinary, beloved, and dominant pop cultural entities in America’s history - Marvel Comics - and the outsized personalities who made Marvel, including Martin Goodman, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It's as if this book was written for me!

  • By Greg on 03-15-13

If You're Into Marvel Comics...

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

Reviewed: 04-02-13

...you may enjoy this book. But if you're not, it may not be very interesting. As a fan myself, I personally was riveted. In the last third or so of the book, I felt sad at what I heard. There are good reasons as to why the comics of the 1960s-80s were often quite good and the 90s so dreadful, and they are delineated in gory detail in the book.

In some ways I regret taking in this book, because any illusions I had about Marvel were shattered. I will never again be able to watch a Marvel movie - or read the comics for that matter - without being aware of the stunning, greedy injustices that were perpetrated upon longtime creators who worked at Marvel, most notably Jack Kirby.

Quite recently, a judge ruled that Disney/Marvel owns the characters that Kirby created. In another ruling, the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich, was actually ordered to pay Disney 17K! Even though Friedrich created it - it says so very plainly on the splash page of the inaugural issue - it belongs to Disney/Marvel.

If you move over to another medium, say, if Stephen King writes a novel, does the company that publishes the book own the rights to the book?

Many of the ideas that have become substrate to the sci-fi and super hero movies seen today were created by chain smoking guys in tiny apartments in New York City decades ago, for very little money. They did not retain rights to the characters they invented.

The Avengers Movie of 2012, which mostly features characters created by Jack Kirby, had the biggest opening weekend of any movie ever in North America. It was also the fastest film in history to hit the $1 billion mark, and ultimately grossed $1.51 billion worldwide.

Kirby's family won't be seeing any of that money; nor would Jack himself, were he alive today.


8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Man On the Moon

  • By: Eugene Cernan
  • Narrated by: Eugene Cernan
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 166
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 166

This is the story of a unique American hero who came of age as an astronaut during the few dramatic years when man reached the moon. Cernan's career spanned the entire Apollo program, from the tragic fire that killed three of his comrades on Apollo 1, through the moment when he left man's last footprint on the moon as commander of Apollo 17.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Yet Another Perspective

  • By Shellbin on 12-28-12

Yet Another Perspective

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

Reviewed: 12-28-12

There are points in this book in which Cernan describes being on the moon and a VIBE comes across that is truly amazing. I have read/listened to many different accounts of the Apollo missions, but there is something about this one by Cernan that really stuck with me. Much of what he writes I already knew about, but the bits that I hadn't heard of - and especially, the "vibe" - made this book a real treat to listen to.

Sometimes it's better to let someone else narrate an author's work, however this isn't one of those times. Cernan's own voice adds a lot to the experience.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Winter of the World

  • The Century Trilogy, Book 2
  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 31 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,735
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,258
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,253

Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English, Welsh - enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant Sequel

  • By Tim on 03-15-13

Good, But Not His Best

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

Reviewed: 10-02-12



Pillars of the Earth and World Without End were, to me, "10s," whereas Fall of Giants & Winter of the World are more like "6's".

Winter is mostly compelling, but drags in places. It also has a number of coincidences which scream "novelist at work," which come deep into the book, when the reader should hopefully be fully absorbed into the story. I found myself wishing that the spell were not so easily broken.

Make no mistake: Follett is awesome; I've read everything he's ever published and jump on each new book immediately, however his new stuff is, for me, "good" rather than "transcendently amazing."

2 of 3 people found this review helpful