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Publisher's Summary

Runner has a problem. He and 499,000 men and women are trapped in a game. He also just happens to be the only person from IT who could log everyone out safely. And he doesn't remember his password.

He, like everyone else in this nightmare, had his memory scrambled or lost in the process of being loaded into the game. A single garbled message is his only clue to how to save everyone.

The problem is that whoever loaded them into the game loaded their minds completely. If they die, their brains get wiped.

Now it's time for Runner to flex his skills as a power gaming min maxer and see what he can do. Because every time he levels, he might gain the memory of the password. Time to go hardcore.

©2016 William D. Arand (P)2016 William D. Arand

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A unique, engrossing, and witty gamers tale

Let me start by saying, that the author (Mr. Arand) crafts an excellent story blending science fiction, fantasy, technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and adventure in the first book of this of what I hope to be a groundbreaking trilogy. Add to this the outstanding audio narration by Jeff Hays and I could not have hoped for a more engrossing and exciting story than what I received within Otherlife Dreams”. I am surprised that I have not heard of this trilogy earlier, and to be honest I wish I had.

If you like or are interested in MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online) games such as “World of Warcraft”, “EverQuest” or “Ultima Online” or RPGs (Role Playing games) in general, you will enjoy this book; and I’m sure the rest in the “Selfless Hero“ trilogy series. Even if you are not interested in gaming, the story is engrossing and has enough fantasy and adventure to keep everyone engaged. There are heroes, rogues, thieves, barbarians, sorceresses, and many other character types one would expect to find in both gaming and fantasy stories, but that is not all. One will find scenes including space marines, an unforgiving computer AI, and a greater story I suspect will be told over the series.

There were many time while reading/listening to this book that I laughed out loud as I too have been frustrated or experienced many of the same things the main character experienced while playing gaming. One can quickly see the inflexibility of the game system and how this often frustrates the player. The humor and whit, while not always gamer related, will be enjoyed by nearly everyone. The characters are likeable, developed, and believable. There is adventure, action, intrigue, and even some light romance all woven in to about 230 pages. Be aware that this book, like other trilogies, ends on a cliff-hanger so you will want/need to read the others to understand the whole story.

I will say that I was not a fan at first of the book’s cover art, however, after reading the book and knowing the story, this cover fits the book like a glove. If you think this is just a light or young adult (YA) story, do not be fooled, the tale told here is deep, captivating, and well worth your time.

I often leave a section at the bottom of my reviews to talk about narration for those interested in the audiobook version. However, with the amazing narration done by Jeff Hays for this book, I needed to include it higher up in my review. I cannot believe this book was narrated by a single person. I had to confirm multiple times that it was not done by a cast of 2 or more; it was done that well. Not only did Mr. Hays do an exceptional job in voicing the characters, the book almost seemed dramatized by his inclusion of lite sound effects, verbal queues, or other sound modification to differentiate the character in the game world, on the ship, internal speak, etc. If you are not one that likes their audiobooks dramatized, don’t worry as Mr. Hays uses it sparingly and it does not take away from the story in any way.

The narration quality of the audio version is something I would expect coming from a professional recording studio or publisher. The audio was crisp, clean, and contained no disruptive artifacts such as pops, clicks, or missed swallows. I cannot say enough for the level of excellence put into the narration of this book. I’m not sure how he does it, but Hays is able to distinguish all the different characters exceptionally. Thank you for making a great book excellent.

Let me address two items that may exclude your wanting to read this book.

The first is that one of the main character uses vulgar language in nearly every sentence, and in some sentences she could string together 3-5 vulgar words. At times nearly all the other characters also express themselves in this way. I know the author was attempting to create a character and set a personality based on this use of vulgar language, she is a thief. However, this could have been done in many other ways than to make her speak like that. For me, unnecessary use of vulgar words in a science fiction or fantasy story removes me from the setting and bring me back into the here and now as these words would not be used by people in the future or fantasy setting. They would have their own way of expressing themselves. The author could have simply done a search and replace for such words and either removed them or replaced them with not vulgar expressive words and the story would still be as good as it was. Having the amount of vulgar language, for me, would exclude it from young readers, and in many ways I think this audience would have enjoyed the book a great deal.

The second, which is not as prominent is the author’s inclusion of a rape scene, light sexual/sex discussion, and some other adult subject matter. These topics or subject matter are used sparling and not overly descriptive, but be aware that it is included in this book. It is not anything more than what one may expect from a role playing game, but if these items offend you or you were wanting to know if this book was one that a young teenager should read, I would say no.

If the above do not dissuade you from reading this book, I would say do not miss it. A wonderful story and excellent narration make this one of my favorite book of this year.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to the reviewer by the author, narrator, or publisher in exchange for posting an un-bias review.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Please fix audio levels

Definitely the best in the genre! Please fix the audio levels. The narrator's volume jumps around wildly from phrase to phrase; especially towards the beginning of the book.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Was Unexpectedly Over.

The only downside for this book was the harem aspect that it sets out on from the beginning.

*minor spoiler*

Seducing women is a pretty obvious outcome to the main character putting all of his starting stats into carisma. I just feel like there could be way more uses outside if this.

His stat for it is so high that the persuade and seduce command triggers on it's own every time he talks to a woman. Why not when he talks to anyone else?

Outside of that it was a good story. Jeff Hays is doing as good as ever with the narration. All of the lady characters have a great range of voices so I never once confused who was talking. I was especially impressed with the character that has a stutter!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not the story I wanted but the Story I needed.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book was a great mix of video game fiction and virtual reality life. it might have been a slightly easier read in print, but the Narrator made it VERY enjoyable to listen to.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Otherlife Dreams?

Finding out what happened to the crew of the ship! Great turning point in the story and makes me want to read the sequel.

Which scene was your favorite?

The intro, Having Runner figure out he is the Game Manager and learning how to level up and learn his abilities.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

A very dark scene involving a fortress of dead bodies. Pretty creepy and very well written to be placed in a virtual reality world.

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly enjoyed this story and will be looking forward to the sequels. It took a couple chapters to get past the narration of the game menus and it decreases in frequency as the book goes on.
i.e HEALTH -- 2
STAMINA -- 3
LEVEL -- 6. ETC. as the book goes on it is actually enjoyable.
Written in 3rd person I could read it as if I were the main character.
+1 for Jeff Hays narration. I don't think it would have been the same book with out his witty humor tones about the beetles!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Overall sci-fi gamer philosophical great book

I thoroughly enjoy this book. The story starts off with an almost cheesy starting point: The main character is trapped inside a game. Regardless of the almost-cheesy setting, and occasional humor that only gamers or techies would understand, they story is surprisingly engaging. So much so I flew through this book in about a week, listening every possible moment. Admittedly i played games when I was younger, and the setting had a bit of a nostalgia factor, but the story itself is still pretty good, and it really starts to get interesting at the end. There's a bit of philosophical concept exploration that sci-fi fans should enjoy. The performance is great, and on par or better than any other book I've listened to.
My one gripe is the foul language. As far as it goes, it was used in a way that complimented the story - meaning that while there was a lot of it, it was strictly for character building, and not for the sake of cursing. Only a couple characters cursed. But one in particular poured it out by the mouthful - though, it really added to the character. Overall, even though I'm not typically a fan of massive amounts of cursing, it didn't bother me so much, and I couldn't help but like the character.
If you are a gamer or techie, you'll love this book. If not, you'll probably enjoy it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Runner battles the game and his own memories!

Would you consider the audio edition of Otherlife Dreams to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version of the book, so I cannot accurately comment. I will say that the narrator did a very good job bringing the characters to life, which I believe the print version cannot replicate. The narrator has what I personally believe to be the most important quality in a narrator: the ability to disappear into the characters and story and bring the focus totally on the book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Otherlife Dreams?

The book draws you in with an amusing yet fascinating first scene: Runner up in a tree and hiding from a wolf whilst trying to get his bearings and figure out a way to dispatch the wolf with the limited skills and commands he has at his disposal.

However, my favorite moment had to be what I will simply refer to as "the betrayal". IT comes at such a late point in the book that it almost takes the reader by surprise, and there is real frustration felt as the scene plays out...the reader knows Runner's capabilities and feels his frustration in being helpless nonetheless.

Which scene was your favorite?

The most vivid scene for me was the last one. The author does a very good job describing it in so much detail that I found myself wincing as I pictured it in my mind. From the setting to the characters involved to the actions they were taking, the whole scene was very surreal and easily pictured in my mind.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"Otherlife: Death by Memory"

Any additional comments?

This audiobook was provided to me free of charge in return for an unbiased, honest review via Audiobook Boom.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not the right book for me

But may be the right book for some. Whatever floats your boat.

Parts of this reminded me of playing everything from WoW to Neverwinter Nights (Ugh, I'm old =\). Despite that, I don't think that I'm exactly the right demographic for this particular book. Very Haremy, as it turns out.

I'll start with the narration, which is the best part. Jeff Hays nails it. Runner's character was well performed, the accents were great (stuttering Irish girl was quite unexpected and really well done), and the effects (few there were) were great.

The technical parts of this book, by their very nature, are very repetitive, and that doesn't really lend itself well to audio. However, you can't just take that stuff out to make an audiobook flow better. Wishful thinking. I'm sure it worked much better in text, I just wish Runner skipped like 8 notifications earlier than he did every single time.

Now, the story. I was quite enjoying Runner's adventures until we made an actual harem of ladies, started giving them pet names and talking about how smoldery their eyes are. He admittedly doesn't get quite as creepy with the ladies as I was expecting, in fact he's quite protective of them. He becomes a bit of a social justice warrior on their behalf, actually. That said, every single girl he runs into starts as a damsel in distress, though it could be argued that they are damsels in distress more from being clueless NPCs than women, but then why *are* they all women?! It feels unnecessary, and turns the story into what more of less feels like 'Runner teaches the women-folk how to play an MMORPG' at ludicrous speed. Despite the fact that there are supposedly 500k actual people in this game, we don't meet another actual person until halfway through the book, and nearly every other male we meet is... just not a good person. I don't get it. I'll admit that the ending was rather interesting though.

I can understand the appeal of the idea. Space military officer becomes video game hero becomes de facto protector of his harem/party of lady NPCs and together they become a good team. The idea just wasn't presented in a way that was all that interesting to me.

It's a shame that a narrator can't make me like a book just based on narration. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it, and I think that Jeff Hays is most of the reason I didn't hate it.

tl;dr - Sword Art Online if it were a harem anime. Character teaches the wimmins how to play a game, eats bugs. Narration was awesome. ~fin

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Reg
  • McKinney, TX
  • 07-18-16

Runner...Unlikely Hero

Runner wakes up in a virtual reality game and quickly learns he is not going anywhere until he can either remember his password or level up to get his memories back. He quickly begins to assemble a team to get him where he needs to be. He has a problem though. Is it OK for him to 'use' his team members in the way he used to? Are they really as expendable as they were when he was on the outside of the game??

The first book in this series is a good one. I will be on the lookout for the second book. I like Runner and his motley band of npc's. Runner might not think much of himself but I think he is a hero in the making!

Jeff Hays is a great voice talent. He tells the story and performs the different characters voices perfectly (the only one I didn't care for was Kitten's). He used sound effects and did both male and female voices nicely. He made nine and a half hours of listening flow by very quickly and it wasn't all about storyline and plot. A lot of it was him.

I received this audiobook for free from audiobook boom! in exchange for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic characters and story!

Starting I didn't know what to expect but the humor of the main character drew me in and the fantastic characters kept me invested until the very end. Also the ending was very well ended with just the right amount of twist to really get you ready for the next book. Great start for this author and looking forward to more.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Perfect for gaming fans.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. I just couldn't get into it and found it so boring. It's totally a personal thing though, I think because I'm not a big gamer that I didn't like it as much as other people may. I play the odd game with my kids but I'm not into the RPGs. Initially I thought this was a virtual reality type of book, which is why I picked it up but it's not.

Jeff Hays did an amazing job with this. He has so many cadences and his female voices were exceptional. This isn't the first book I've listened to by him, and it won't be my last.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • colum
  • 08-14-17

thoroughly enjoyed!

great read, perfect if you're waiting for the second book of super sales on superheros!

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  • Mr C.
  • 11-24-16

An ok story, you'll need some MMO game knowledge though.

The story is reasonable, although slow paced. It picked up towards the end and made me interested in the follow up.
I found the lead character somewhat insufferable a lot of the time, and it was only the overarching plot that kept me invested.
The performance was good, characters were distinct.

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  • Josh
  • 08-05-16

Slow start but worth it!

Really enjoyed the book and eager to listen to the next one later on in my queue of books. Difficult to get into but worth the wait.

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