Chicago 1871

A Science Fiction Thriller
Narrated by: Anthony LeRoy Lovato
Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
4 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

While present-day firefighters John Kirk and his partner are inside a burning house trying to locate the fire, something goes terribly wrong.

The next morning, John awakes in a hospital surrounded by a group of men claiming to be the crew of Engine Company 8 and that they had rescued him from the porch of a burning house, the night before. 

But their story goes much deeper than that. They insist that they are in Chicago, and the date is September 25, 1871.

©2018 James E. Merl (P)2020 James E. Merl

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

Great story ruined by laugh track

I am a total sucker for alternate history/time travel novels, and this one's story did not disappoint. The audio, on the other hand, was bad. Really bad. I don't mean the narrator; he was excellent! He did a very good job differentiating the characters and conveying the meaning of the text. For example: Joe, a native Texan, says that for fuel they use "co". (There's not really a better way to describe the sound.) My native Texas ear immediately recognized this as "coal", and the narrator did a lovely job of bringing this exchange to life.

I mean that the "sound effects"—95% of which was a bad, bad laugh track—were truly the worst things I've ever heard throughout my 650+ audiobook library. To be honest, I've never encountered *anything* like this in any other audiobook.

An example: The narrator says "They all laughed." This is IMMEDIATELY followed, and sometimes interrupted, by the world's worst laugh track: a strange mashup of fake laughs all done in the author's various voices. As in, five different sounds of the same fake laugh played simultaneously. This happened dozens—if not hundreds—of times, and it completely threw me out of the otherwise tremendous story. I know what laughing sounds like; I do not need such a jarring reminder. I don't know who came up with this idea but, please, do not ever do it again.

Otherwise, the story is really, really interesting, and 1871 Chicago is a unique choice of time. It grapples with all of the paradoxes, effects, and implications of time travel far better than most books. The characters were well-crafted, though it was an odd choice for the author to focus so much on the height of the main character. The main character is a short man. The main character is 5'7". The main character is the shortest person in both squads. This has absolutely no relevance to the narrative, so it was bizarre to hear it mentioned so many times.

Note to the author: In Illinois in 1871, interracial marriage was illegal. It was a felony for all parties involved. (I also felt that the other race issues were forced into far too quick and tidy resolutions—there was hardly any overt hostility from any of the white characters—that don't truly reflect the extreme racial segregation and resentment of the time. But this is a side plot that doesn't have anything to do with the main story.)

My recommendation? Read the story. Don't listen to it.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Dynamic Reader, Fun Story

This is a fun story: sci-fi meets historical fiction. The cast of characters is well played by the narrator, who does a great job portraying their personalities. This in turn helped me to keep the characters straight so I could enjoy the story, which has been a miss on other audiobooks I have given up on in the past. This was a fun listen that went by quickly and offered a welcome diversion. I’ll be watching for the next.