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Alex Shvartsman

Brooklyn, NY, US
  • 4
  • reviews
  • 6
  • helpful votes
  • 4
  • ratings
  • 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

An excellent but surprisingly dark near-future SF

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

Reviewed: 08-23-18

This near-future science fiction thriller liberally mixes a number of well-trodden threats in the genre; from nuclear and biological terrorism, to unchecked artificial intelligences pursuing their agendas, to weaponizing nanotechnology. And yet, Ledbetter takes on a role of an experienced DJ, remixing these familiar things in fascinating new ways, adding in a cast of fascinating characters and experimenting with interesting technologies that manage to feel both wondrous and entirely plausible within our lifetime.

Writers who are bullish on near-future technologies in ways Ledbetter appears to be earlier in the book tend to be optimists who can't help but allow their plucky technocrat protagonists to save the day in the end. Without giving away any of the plot I must say that Ledbetter does not shy away from darker sub-plots and that even the most charismatic of his characters are no more safe from the twists and turns of the plot than the Starks in George R. R. Martin novels.

This is a strong debut novel from an already-accomplished short fiction writer, and I look forward to reading or listening to whatever book he comes up with next.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Shadow Sun Seven

  • By: Spencer Ellsworth
  • Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal, John Keating
  • Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Performance
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    out of 5 stars 0

Shadow Sun Seven continues Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, an action-packed space opera in which the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity. Jaqi, Araskar, and Z are on the run from everyone - the Resistance, the remnants of the Empire, the cyborg Suits, and right now from the Matakas - and the Matakas are the most pressing concern because the insectoid aliens have the drop on them. The Resistance has a big reward out for Araskar and the human children he and Jaqi are protecting.

Trilogy picks up steam

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

Reviewed: 01-31-18

It's pretty common for the second book of the trilogy to be a little weaker, with some filler and side quests to get the characters (and the readers) to book three. Not so in this case. While Shadow Sun Seven does see the protagonists go on a side quest, of sorts, the book never really loses focus on the main story line and the side quest advances it nicely. The author also introduces a great new hero, and en entertaining new villain. And the ending makes me quite excited to pick up book 3.

  • A Red Peace

  • The Starfire Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Spencer Ellsworth
  • Narrated by: John Keating, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Length: 6 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Performance
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    out of 5 stars 0

A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth's Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy. Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Rebellion wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.

A solid sword-and-laser adventure.

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

Reviewed: 01-17-18

This is a well-written and superbly narrated first book in a high-concept space opera/sword-and-laser trilogy.

The recipe for Ellsworth's universe is a little bit Star Wars, a dash of Warhammer 40K, and a healthy portion of Simon R. Green's Deathstalker books. Although the tropes Ellsworth plays with in his inaugural novel are rather familiar to the fans of the genre, he spins an entertaining yarn that never outstays its welcome.

Will definitely listen to the sequel.

  • Greatshadow

  • The Dragon Apocalypse, Book 1
  • By: James Maxey
  • Narrated by: Jake Urry
  • Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Performance
    out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    out of 5 stars 0

After stealing a priceless relic from the Church of the Book, Infidel is the world’s most infamous mercenary. Now she’s got her eyes on a new prize, the fabled treasure trove of the dragon Greatshadow. Joining forces with a band of dangerous rogues, can she survive her own allies long enough to face the dragon?

Fun, over-the-top adventure romp

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

Reviewed: 10-24-17

Usually I'm not big on D&D-like adventures, but this book totally won me over, even though its plot literally involves descending into dungeon-like ruins to fight an actual dragon.

This novel is well-written, well-narrated, and full of larger-than-life characters that would feel at home in one of Simon R. Green books. In fact, it's really a superhero novel masquerading as a fantasy adventure. There's much to laud here: a snarky, engaging voice, satisfying character arcs, and thoughtful world-building, but what really stands out is the sense of fun that emanates from every chapter.

Maxey is a master storyteller and I'm already reading the sequel (which I bought as an ebook as it wasn't available in audio as of the time this review is being written.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful