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Publisher's Summary

In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the Plague of Infertility, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the 60 stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York City.

In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation's spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again.

Then, out of Labrador come tales of a new Ajax - Captain Commongold, the Youthful Hero of the Saguenay. The ordinary people follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is...troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the falsely accused and executed Bryce.

Treachery and intrigue dog Julian's footsteps. Hair's-breadth escapes and daring rescues fill his days. Stern resolve and tender sentiment dice for Julian's soul, while his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients, and his adherence to the evolutionary doctrines of the heretical Darwin, set him at fatal odds with the hierarchy of the Dominion. Plague and fire swirl around the Presidential palace when at last he arrives with the acclamation of the mob.

If Jules Verne had read Karl Marx, then sat down to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he still wouldn't have matched the invention and exuberance of Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock. As told by Julian's best friend and faithful companion, a rustic yet observant lad from the west, this tale of the 22nd Century asks - and answers - the age-old question: "Do you want to tell the truth, or do you want to tell a story?"

©2009 Robert Charles Wilson (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

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  • Overall

Excellent tragedy with very good narration

Julian Comstock is an unusual story for science fiction, a 16th century tragedy, presented in a 19th century style, set in the 22nd century. It's also a first person account written by a friend of the title character, which has the consequence of leaving much about Julian, and about the world in which the story is set, unexplained. If you're looking for an uplifting adventure story, or a geeky exposition on post-collapse technology, you might look elsewhere. But if you like a good story, beautifully told, check this one out. Although the stories and characters are quite different, the tone reminded me a bit of The Great Gatsby, particularly Fitzgerald's last line: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." The narration is very well done, though a bit melancholic, but it fits the nature of the tale. Like a previous reviewer, I really didn't want this one to end.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Vivid characters and great dialogue

This was my first Robert Charles Wilson novel, and I can tell that his strength is in characterization and dialogue. The setting reminded me of Orson Scott Card's THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER series in that it is a 19th century setting but a post apocolyptic idea without the doom and gloom of THE ROAD. Wilson's characters are well drawn with desires and motivations that are universal. Julian Comstock would have been my pick for the HUGO award.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting idea that falls short

The book jumps forward two hundred years to a world transformed by catastrophe into a 17th century-like landscape. An interesting idea, but the story is decidedly weak and the ending (most of the book) is both predictable and very disappointing. Scott Brick is usually a good narator, but here he slows down and introduces so much dramatic voice that it interferes and extends a story (maybe he was trying to save an otherwise mediocre book). Not as good as the author's "Spin" by a long stretch.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I'm not even done and hope it wont end

I love reading and listening to the classics of the 19th century because I love the english of that era.
This story feels like a classic. Its hard to shut off and I love the characters.
Scott Brick could read a shopping list and make it sound good

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

How did I stick with this??

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I love speculative fiction, and the premise intrigued me. I tried reading it some time ago but was put off by the narration. At loose ends for a book, I decided to give it another try. I tried to ignore the narrator and focus on the story, but that didn't help much. The main character was fatuous and so lacking in the ability to make inferences that I was frequently frustrated by the author's depiction of him. The characters all lacked depth.

Has Julian Comstock turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, but I'll do more research on unfamiliar authors and narrators before making selections, based on this experience.

Would you be willing to try another one of Scott Brick’s performances?

Absolutely not. His performance was the most melodramatic attempt at pomposity I have ever experienced.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was disappointed, but felt I should read to the end so my review would be based on a complete reading.

Any additional comments?

This is the first book of dozens I've downloaded from Audible that has been disappointing to this degree. Nothing has come anywhere near this close.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

tedious prose

The concept of the story is very interesting, but the prose is tedious and distracting.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Masterful Writing, Not My Genre

Robert Charles Wilson is one of the best writers. I love the way he writes and this is wonderfully written. It just is not my cup of tea.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Thought is was a bit far fetched

The timeline of the book was to short. The book started too close to the current time for such a drastic change in society. The author tried to make some justifications but it felt more like a fictional built story from the American Revolution.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wanted to like it, but gave up

I really liked what I had read about this book, and although I love long, detailed books, and have enjoyed many varied futuristic envisionings, this is one of only 1 or 2 audiobooks I've ever had that I couldn't force myself to listen to til the end--I almost made it, but found I couldn't care less what happened--that boring. And the narrator absolutely drove me crazy with his weird, melancholoy style--usually I can get past the narrator if I am interested in the book, but I just couldn't tune this guy out.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Pretty Bad

Five hours eleven minutes. That's how long it took me to conclude I could take no more.

The disconnect between this late 22nd century world and all that had preceded it was not explained well and left much confusion as to why they were so painfully and selectively ignorant. Character development is slow in coming and weak when it arrives. At nearly a third the way through the book, I really don't know much about the main character and worse, I don't care about him.
The overly verbose flourishes of language seems pretentious and contrary to the characters and world described, as if the author is trying desperately to impress someone.

The narrator is, frankly, horrible with a constant lilting and descending of tone and tempo that evokes a cheesy (think Saturday Night Live) characterization of a letter being read from the Ken Burns Civil War documentary. The narration simply grated on me.

I've only not finished one other audio book out of close to 200, so I'm used to toughing out the occasional weak book. This one was unbearable.

6 of 18 people found this review helpful