Black Ops

Expeditionary Force, Book 4
Narrated by: R.C. Bray
Series: Expeditionary Force, Book 4
Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (28,668 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The elite crew of the pirate ship UNS Flying Dutchman had a simple mission: determining whether the Thuranin are sending another starship to Earth. Along the way, they became sidetracked by securing a future for the UNEF troops on the planet Paradise. When asked whether Earth was now safe, their ancient alien AI responded "Not so much"...now they have to deal with the consequences.

©2017 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

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Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Slightly better than books two and three.....

If not for the fan-fu**ing-tastic narration of Mr. R.C. Bray, I would have stopped after book two. The stories are essentially the same narrative time and time again. Problem = Solution = Secondary Problem = Solution....and it's almost always a Bishoped plan with a Skippy (I hate my life) technical solution. How do we get onto that Starship/Asteroid/Planet or how do we intercept/transmit messages to gain or give information that will help our mission. Skippy is one giant Deus Ex Machina, and it's entertaining for a while, but when the narrative begins to argue with itself over what Skippy can and can't do....well, it's a bit much.

More importantly, the lacking character development is painful. This is book 4, and by now I would expect that some of our team would have grown, especially in light of all that they have witnessed. These characters are still paper thin with very little depth. I know almost nothing about our Protagonist Joe Bishop is basically Joe SixPack. An everyman that has been placed in the right place at the right time. In the first book, we watched him go from grunt to Sargent and then to Colonel...it was a feel good moment to see this everyman put in charge of an entire brigade, then a starship. When Joe and the Merry Band of Pirates returned home after their second journey, I expected another promotion. Instead we watched as he was dressed down by superiors for making decisions that were (at the time) very reasonable and even heroic. But for the sake of the story, I accepted this bizarre twist. And now we have Chotek (sp?) who is essentially an amalgam of every undesirable government agent from Earth. Now that he's seen the universe unfold before his eyes, has his disposition changed? Has he become a more tolerable leader? Has he come to understand that Joe is a hero and not a hapless idiot? No, no and no. There is no character growth here at all. These people have seen some sh*t and they need to behave in ways that make sense. The most ironic thing in this entire series is that Skippy has the most character growth of them all....an AI that supposedly lacks depth or empathy has the most complicated character arc of them all.

And for the love of all things Skippy, PLEASE resolve some of these loose ends. With every chapter we seem to get more hints at the origins of Skippy, but we learn almost nothing. It's book 4, we should have made some progress towards that goal. I cannot sit through another set of books waiting for progress.

I have so many more issues with these books, but I also love them so much, it hurts to be so critical. But if the author happens to be considering a change in narration, DON'T DO IT. R.C. Bray is your Tom Brady. Don't forget that.

71 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Solid continuation that fizzles at the end

What I love about Craig's writing style that really shines in this book is diving into the randomness of an unpredictable universe. Exploring the minutia of various events along the story that are anywhere between game changing to inconsequential. And they can be either unfortunate or fortuitous or both. It gives the story more chance to tell a larger picture and creates a living world that, especially for a sci-fi series, feels very grounded in reality. Sometimes the story is a grind as they duck and weave through updating situations and unintended consequences because that's how combat and problem solving actually is.

Unfortunately he sticks to the style a little too well, as the book sputters at the end without a very satisfying conclusion before setting up the next book. By the end the characters are exhausted and strung out and so are we. And I appreciate that this is very likely representative of what most of real life combat is like. But the book just ends there, without excitement or satisfaction. Postponing the payoff to the next book. And since we already had to wait a little longer for this book to fit in "Trouble in Paradise", it's going to make the wait for the next story EXCRUCIATING. And not in a great way.

It hurts to say because I overall I really love the book and the series, and it's a small knock on what's otherwise a great read, unfortunately that little bit is what's going to stick with me while we wait the months for the next installment.

My suggestion, if you haven't jumped on this book as soon as it came out like I did, (and, admittedly, would likely still do even if I read my advice from the future because I am a sucker for this series,) hold off on this until it's closer to the next release, so you can jump right into the next for the payoff that we should have at least gotten a piece of in this one.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Still fun but losing a bit of luster

Still fun, with great narrator, but the story is losing some steam and the banter is getting stale.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as the first three

While still enjoyable, this 4th installment seemed long and overly complicated. In order to understand what was going on the explanations were long and convoluted. The banter between Skippy and Joe was not nearly as funny as before. I did gafaw out loud, but only a few times.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Worst book so far

Rehash of themes and stories
There always seems to be the same kind of problem/solution/conflict resolution

Poor character development and lots of needless banter, explanations, and useless character introductions.

Overall it feels like you’re watching an infomercial that says “wait there’s more” and the more is just all very anticlimactic.

Voice acting is inconsistent, and the dialogue is hard to differentiate from narration at times.

The ending is disappointing due leaves you with, yet another very anticlimactic cliffhanger, which if you have basic critical thinking skills, you must know it will be resolved within the first chapter of the next book, or the mission wouldn’t be possible.

And yet, I’ll give the next book a chance to redeem this one and hope for more.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best book in the series so far

This is the best book in the series so far. Some of the criticisms that I have read in other reviews, such as the trope of “Joe has a stupid idea that Skippy didn’t think of”, are different in this book. The author changes up the formula pretty well and keeps it interesting. The end of the book, the last third or so, is some of the best action I’ve ever read in a military sci-fi novel. I would definitely recommend that you check this book out especially if you’ve gone this far with the series.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Like a filler episode

I could not get into this like the others and may be done with the series. It felt like filler. Nothing worth caring about. Just a time waster until they write something that matters to the story.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Skippy rocks but Monkey's save the Day

I don't like the ending and some repetitive. what's the point of Count Chocola? still going to listen to book five. Hey, Sarge Marge needs a heroine moment.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Starting to become repetitious

More fo the same, always pointing out they are saving the world, some unsolvable problem that gets solved. I am hoping now that earth is finally secure from any immediate threats the author will start developing the story line relating to the Elders and the sites the merry band of pirates discovered in their adventures.

Rc Bray does a fantastic job once again. He brings everyone to life. The story becomes very engaging.

The banter between Skippy and Colonel Joe is becoming a bit stale, it needs some fresh material, the whole skippy going on about how he hates his life when Joe solves a problem is getting old.

Heres to hoping the next book is not as repetitive as this one became.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good listen, but should have been 5 stars

R. C. Bray's performance & Alanson's writing were both great. I don't want to spoil anything, but I didn't like the ending. Obviously there's more to come, and that is great. However, after putting that much time into this book, to have it end on lackluster scene is depressing.

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 09-27-17

Super-Skippy-Just-Fantastic-Expeditionary-Force!

Sit down strap in and get ready for another episode of one of the funniest and most inventive sci-fi series I've come across in a long time. Episode four of Alanson's Expeditionary Force sees Joe Bishop's Merry Band of Pirates careering across the galaxy, staggering from crisis to crisis only to end on another cliffhanger! Yes there will be even more to come after this one!

Earth is once again under threat so The Flying Dutchmen and her crew including Skippy, the sci-fi world's favourite beer can are once again embroiled in Alanson's heady mix of impossible situations, amazing alien politics and of course zany humour. In fact he really does go Spinal Tap on us and dial it up to eleven in this one.

I suspect that sense of humour is also being directed at his narrator here. His text has Maestro Bray doing everything from singing a high-pitched La Marseillaise of all things to a wonderfully credible Chewbacca. Being the trooper he is RC Bray rises to each and every challenge with suitable awesomeness!

I could split hairs over some of the editing including some very repetitive small passages but even I can't spectacularly miss the point of these books by quite that much. They are the Sci-Fi equivalent of a good boozy night down the pub with old friends. Good fun, warmly humorous and thoroughly satisfying until the following morning - when you realise you stayed up waaaay too late listening to it!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gavin
  • 09-30-17

Skippy the Magnificent

Another excellent installment , expertley narrated by RC Bray, believe in "The Awesomeness" of Skippy the Magnificent..

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sfak107
  • 09-29-17

Trust the awesomeness

Just trust the awesomeness and keep listening to another great story and performance by RC Bray. What will be in the next book......

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CNS1995
  • 10-10-17

Incredible! Couldn’t get enough!

This book gets full marks from me! Seriously entertaining! When is the next book due to come out... I can’t wait any longer! Congratulations Craig this series is tremendous, please hurry and publish more audio books in the series.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 09-28-17

More outstanding work!

Another amazing adventure with Skippy and the merry band of pirates... Cannot wait for the next installment and hope it comes soon we rather than later 😀

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • allan smith
  • 09-28-17

Oh you Bastards!

loved it
you didn't have to do that at the end... WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK!!!!!!!!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-28-17

Love it!

Not much to say other then I want more!!! If you liked the last 4 books your going to like this. The whole series is well worth a read if you haven't allready

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Author Ray Ronan
  • 11-09-17

What do I listen to now??

A quirky space romp with great characters and lashings of humour. I'm a big fan. Highly recommended

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jamie
  • 11-05-17

Damn it

Hurry up and write the next one haha. This guy is excellent at cliff hanger endings. Though I will say the inclusion of book 3.5 made me lose track a little with the main plot.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • madjuba
  • 10-20-17

Fear for the awesomeness!

Another fantastic instalment in the series.

My only criticism would be that it is over far to quickly. Keep em coming!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 10-20-17

Love it

Been enjoying the series and has only got better
Can’t wait for the next one

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • shane.slape
  • 10-03-17

Trust THE AWESOME!

I love this series. I couldn't stop listening. I can't wait for the next book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gaston Tonietti
  • 09-27-19

Moar of the same

Great performance as usual but I feel like nothing happens anymore and I find myself very often just putting it on the background while I check something else. I'm not sure if I'll be listening to the next in the series.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 10-03-17

need more soon, very soon. is it out yet?

need more soon, very soon. is it out yet? why is it not out yet? us dumb monkeys need to bathe in the glow that is skippy

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-01-20

Tight combat in galaxy far away

Skippy is slowly skipping a beat, the crew is finding themselves in ever more "interesting" circumstances, the mission continue

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mitchell P Self II
  • 01-29-20

Outstanding

The toss and turns of “Black Ops” is an thrilling suspense. Each decision of the (not so) Merry band of Pirates brings about another thrilling twist that has me ensnared and outright craving to hear more.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-04-20

mistakes in the plot and getting predictable

I finished this book because I'm curious to hear what will happen in the future with the plot, but I'm rapidly losing interest. The jokes are predictable and there are mistakes in the story. for instance in a meeting someone looks at Skippy's avatar, but he doesn't introduce his avatar until later in the story. It's like no one proof read this book. Don't think I'll be continuing this series. Also, Naggata... Really? Jeez.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Craig McSpellcheck
  • 12-16-19

Best Wookey impression from the narrator

Id listen to it again just to hear the narrators rip the meanest Wookey ggrrrrooowwwlll.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jake
  • 09-12-19

amazing

voice Actor is superb! Loving the series so far.

please let skippy live!! and Nagatha

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve
  • 07-06-19

Spec Ops and the Merry Band of Pirates

With Skippy facing his own internal challenges it is fun to follow the hairless monkeys on their flying banana!! I am really surprised that Joe has not had a dig at Skippy having worms.....