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Publisher's Summary

United Nations Special Operations Command sent an elite expeditionary force of soldiers and pilots out on a simple recon mission, and somehow along the way they sparked an alien civil war. Now the not-at-all-merry band of pirates is in desperate trouble, again. Their stolen alien starship is falling apart, thousands of light years from home. The ancient alien AI they nicknamed Skippy is apparently dead, and even if they can by some miracle revive him, he might never be the same.

©2017 Craig Alanson; 2018 Podium Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    14,234
  • 4 Stars
    2,417
  • 3 Stars
    325
  • 2 Stars
    52
  • 1 Stars
    21

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    15,129
  • 4 Stars
    874
  • 3 Stars
    52
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    5

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12,449
  • 4 Stars
    2,789
  • 3 Stars
    631
  • 2 Stars
    95
  • 1 Stars
    30
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Monkeys kick A**, but......

I love this series, but the story is getting bogged down in the usual rinse and repeat cycle. Skippy and Joe's relationship is still as engaging as ever (it even gets a bit emotional), but I wish some of the other characters had time to flex their wings, in particular the no nonsense Sgt Adams. The "Roach Motel" was a wasted opportunity to get some long overdue answers to questions brought up in the other books.

There is still a few laugh out loud moments and it was a enjoyable listen.

I hope things come to a head in the next book.

54 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • KM
  • 02-14-18

The middle sags with repetition

Another great performance from RC Bray, and Alanson gives him plenty of characters to play with.

However, the story really becomes tedious with repetitive situations that prevent the story from building any momentum. Here's the pattern: The crew faces an insurmountable problem, Skippy apologizes, at the last minute Bishop comes up with an idea, Skippy says it's stupid, Skippy realizes it can work, Skippy complains about being outsmarted by meatsacks, the solution works, almost immediately a new problem is presented. Repeat a couple dozen times. At no point do we wonder if they will be successful. The big picture can never form because we spend 10 - 20 minutes listening to the details about the problem, along with nearly identical dialog. This has been a signature part of previous books in the series, but this book seems to be especially over-written.

It is frustrating because there are some potentially great plot lines. It feels like the author is deliberately stretching the story, so it feels watered-down. Like the boy who cried wolf one too many times, the repeated use of the same story mechanics has erased all emotion from this book.

138 of 147 people found this review helpful

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

Just keeps getting better and better

I have been reading sci-fi, on and off, since I was a young teenager and have continued to do so as an Audible member. I buy a fair amount of sci-fi, but almost never buy all of the books in a series since the plots are generally not interesting enough to hold my attention through multiple volumes. That has not been true for this series.

I bought the first book out of curiosity, and the second book because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. After that, I was completely hooked and have bought all of the main books (but not volume 3.5 as it does not concern the main characters) as soon as they were available. As the storyline progressed I had expected to get tired of the characters or, at least, of the continuous series of catastrophes, but have not. In fact I find myself increasingly drawn into the story and concerned about the future of the individuals involved, including Skippy, the alien AI who has become as much of a real character to me as any of the humans.

Even more interesting are the open background questions that have not really been addressed - why is Skippy's memory missing information about his past, why have planets been moved out of their orbits, why and how have Elder cities been destroyed and equipment ransacked, and what really happened to the Elders? I keep thinking that the series, in its own time, may continue to pry loose some of this information but suspect that it may take a lot more books for some of this to become clear.

In some ways the missing information about the Elders has been more intriguing than the individual plots themselves but, as always, it is the back and forth between Skippy and Colonel Joe that forms the backbone of the book. Mr Alanson has done an absolutely wonderful job in making the new books fresh, in changing the crises just enough to keep them from getting repetitious and in keeping my attention.

R. C. Bray's narration is a large part of why I find these books so interesting. I started reading the Kindle version of this volume and found it lacked the humor and interest of the Audible version, and I suspect that without Mr Bray's wonderful narration I would have lost interest long before now.

Now, where is book 6?

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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

Let’s Be Honest

Oh yeah, still an entertaining series w/ lovable and snarky characters, but the least of the series, and the overall progression of story arc seems to be stuck in the mud.... Imo still fun and an absolutely excellent listen, and I’ll continue w/ the series, but would like to see a little more in the upcoming...

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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

Maybe my favorite yet

I love them all, but I breezed through this one with a huge smile on my face. For starters, R.C. Bray performs this book flawlessly. He's so friggin' good. Boggles the mind of us mere monkeys. He is perfect for Craig Alanson's story. Especially for the way he performs Skippy in total awesomeness. Bray does a fantastic job on everything he narrates, but he truly is a perfect for Alanson's Expeditionary Force characters.

This installment in the series moved rapidly, for the most part. Some of the reviews say they'd like more character development. I think the main characters are getting developed well. The secondary ones, perhaps less so. I thought Colonel Joe was finally going to have a love interest. Alanson has teased us with that possibility before. By the end of this book, though, it still hadn't happened! Come on, Craig, let the guy get his rocks off. I mean, even Chocula gets some. I think perhaps Craig wants to focus on the growing "love" affair between Joe and the Beer Can. Brotherly love. Nothing kinky. Although if Alanson doesn't hook him up with someone soon, that Beer Can better look out. Seriously, though, can you really imagine Joe without Skippy or Skippy without Joe? Still, Joe deserves to get laid :).

Like everyone else, I'm eager for the next part of the saga. I'll pre-order as soon as it's available.

For those coming to the series new, don't start with this one. Start at the beginning. You'll be glad you did.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

hire an editor

so much repetition and boring details.
I'm a sucker for the plot and idea but golly, just use a red pen and get rid of a few paragraphs and internal dialogue. we get it! there lots of internal thought process about keeping humanity's space flights on the DL but u don't need to bring it up Every timeeee.

otherwise a lovely book idea.

38 of 45 people found this review helpful

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

Getting Repetative

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I really enjoy these books but the author has to build some additional & unique plot lines into the stories.

This book suffered from 1) impossible situation 2) stupid monkeys/etc 3) sad moments/introspection 4) stupid monkey idea 5) fabricated supertech fix. Repeat for 10 hour narrative.

I like the characters, I think the narrator is perfect for the material but the author needs to stretch and present a better storyline. I WANT him to do better.

Another like this and I wont bother to buy/read the next.

Would you ever listen to anything by Craig Alanson again?

yes

Have you listened to any of R. C. Bray’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Good

Was Zero Hour worth the listening time?

Meh

Any additional comments?

Awesome opportunity to do some great things with this universe and cast of characters.

29 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very Poor

What would have made Zero Hour better?

I love the story line but come on, we know the characters, you could of cut 8 hours off and had a better story.

What could Craig Alanson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

story line cut to the last 6 hours and go forward.

What about R. C. Bray’s performance did you like?

Great

What character would you cut from Zero Hour?

none

Any additional comments?

I will continue to listen to the story but come on at this point we know everything we need to know just write a better story.

36 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

it was pretty good

I generally love this series, R.C. Bray makes the book but I feel like it's getting a bit long now. Yes, we are definitely progressing towards a higher goal but I am starting to get a bit fatigued now.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

Returning - needs more 3-D people and plot

About 3.5 hours in, and been bored all the way. Not one laugh yet. So much talking and a battle scene that just dragged on and on and nothing new or inventive.

This has been a fun series, I've put about $50 into it and a lot of time, but by now there should be some very fleshed out people in the series. Banter is fun, but there have been fewer fun cultural reference jokes than before. And, if there's a plot here, there should have been some interesting twists and turns by now. Nada.

Checking the iPod, there's 13+ hours left to go, and I am not willing to spend more time on this. Or money.

It's been fun.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Simon
  • 02-08-18

There Ain't No Stopping Us Now!

I'm not quite sure how he does it but this is another one that's fallen off of Craig Alanson's production line and for anyone that can't get enough of Skippy the Magnificent then just pile in because there's plenty more here. And apparently this book is a long, long way from the end of the series too so those with Skippy addiction have no need to panic yet!

Alanson once again sends his Merry Band of Pirates careering through a universe full of bizarre alien races as they try to dodge all of them with them alone holding the fate of our species in their hands. Of course behind the microphone, there really is no other choice for this series now, RC Bray is put through his paces by this author's zany brand of humour.

I think it would be reasonable to suggest that some of this is repetitive and there are structural problems such as some gags being repeated very close together and I'm not convinced this book represents a logical section of the overall story line.

At the end of the day though these books are fun and imaginative. The pseudo science fiction leads through a series of dire situations met with no little ingenuity. The star of the show is inevitably sci-fi's greatest ever beer can though even he doesn't get it all his own way in this one . . .

I'm in for the long haul, these books never fail to make me smile and that is after all what really matters!

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • T. M. Brooks
  • 02-14-18

Second best EF book so far, but too much padding

I am a huge fan of the Expeditionary Force books, and this is the best one since the original. My only issue is that sometimes it feels like the author is padding the story out to make the series last longer.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-04-18

A bit tedious

although the performance was as good as usual, the depth of the storyline left a lot to be desired.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • STEVEN BAKER
  • 02-13-18

Good enjoyable story, RC Bray is the best

very good book which moves the band on and introduces another foe. Skippy is getting a tad silly but I enjoyed it. Recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. P. S. Gale
  • 02-28-18

Ok but a bit samey

Ok story and fairly enjoyable but the slightly lazy dialogue writing (skippy) was quite grating at times. It felt like many times the dialogue was just cut and pasted with the same very old insults used again and again. A bit sloppy and not very imaginative.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 02-14-18

love it.

This is by far the best in this series good plot great characters well read.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nick
  • 08-21-18

This series just gets better and better

I can't get enough of all this and have actually (and quite sadly) started to drop random things from the books into everyday conversations!

For example.,did you know that Amazon will be using drop ships to deliver parcels to people soon?

Slippy the magnificent is, well, magnificent in this one. I won't spoil the read /listen but I was crying with laughter towards the end when something happened to Joe Bishop.

It has to be said that the reader - Craig Alanson - is even more magnificent than Skippy. Bathe in his awesomeness!

Anyway, download the book and enjoy every moment.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clare
  • 08-17-18

Brilliant!!

Can’t wait for the next instalment!!

Love this series, Alanson is a genius, and love R.C. Bray’s utterly brilliant & comic narration! What a combination!!

Book 5 follows on with plenty of adventure for the Merry Band of Pirates, plus a good amount of Skippy banter to keep the laughs coming!

Bring on Book 6!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • W6 Jock
  • 08-16-18

Keep ‘em coming!!

Another barnstormer from Alanson & Bray...
Still mentally processing the awesomeness but what a great chapter in Ex Force!! No mid-series lull here!

Nice development of the main story arc and filling in gaps in the Skippyverse at just the right pace!! Suspicions on where the ‘big mystery’ may end but I’m sure the author will confound me ;-) almost too obvious.

One point on the cliffhanger...No spoilers, but not keen on where next book is heading first; not my fave sub-plot... hope it’s not the entire next novel. Won’t stop me devouring it though!!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • whodathunkit?
  • 08-13-18

What happened here?

I'm not sure what happened with this story. This book just seemed to have gotten lost and missed some great opportunities to do something, anything, other than the repetitive bickering between Joe and Skippy.
**Spoilers
They actually make it into this area of space where the most technologically advanced races of the universe have failed and what do we get? Another 'marooned on a planet' story. Joe and Skippy get to explore a Sentinel and..... nothing. This was the golden moment to arm the Pirates with some truly great tech and run amok and what we have is an ever more impoverished Dutchman and Joe having another crazy monkey brained idea. This outing was tired, stale and lacking imagination. Sorry, if the next installment doesn't pick up the pace a little then I'm done. Which is a shame as it started out with a great concept.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 02-22-18

Scared of it getting stale..

OK so not knocking the book because I enjoyed it. Great story, interesting ending and wonderful performance as always by RC Bray! But like some others here, I'm started to wonder where it's gonna lead... Will it be another 30 books or will it end in book 6-7?

Not because I don't enjoy the characters, but more that it's starting to remind me of how I felt about the TV show Lost. So many mysteries, and it was so awesome at the start but then it was like hey keep following these breadcrumbs until next season and then next season until you have the last season which was ok but the mystery got too big for one season to explain. Ok I'm starting to rant here..

Basic jist, if you liked the other books you'll like this one but I hope the writer starts moving the overarching series story forward with a bit with more pace..

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jenny Macmillan
  • 02-08-18

Getting Bored

Love the story and the characters but am starting to get a bit bored.
We have 5 books in the series now and am wondering what book 6 will bring - will it be more of the same or will it climax. I hope book six is the last otherwise this adventure is starting to drag out.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • 05-08-18

What Has Happened To This Series?

Book 1 was epic. No doubt about it! I read it in a day. Listened to Book 2, still good, book 3 started to drag, book 4 okay and 5 well…. I don’t know… I’m not going to spoil any thing because there is nothing really to spoil unfortunately. (To be fair, there are some good bits and a lead in to the next book at the end.)

Don’t get me wrong I like when a book goes in depth a little and develops characters, situations and plots, all of that adds to the overall story. But it seems like the ideas are running out here.
Skippy, Joe and the crew have been developed quite well and the individual stories that they hold are great, but you put them together and it’s this:
• Skippy: We are going to die
• Joe: Crap, I’ll think of something
• Skippy: I’ve thought of everything
• Joe: what about this … blah blah blah
• Skippy: Crap, I hate you Joe, I didn’t think of that…
• Flying Dutchman Saved

Next problem:
• Skippy: We are going to die
• Joe: Crap, I’ll think of something
• Skippy: I’ve thought of everything
• Joe: what about this … blah blah blah
• Skippy: Crap, I hate you Joe, I didn’t think of that…
• Flying Dutchman Saved

Aaaand repeat, over and over and over again…

Joe being Joe in the first couple books did whatever it took to get the job done, to the detriment of others sometimes, but since book 3 or 4 with his handler Hans Chotek it’s, (and I hate to say this because I love this series) stifled, restricted and boring. There’s no real struggle.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t want a 'Diehard in space' series, but it’s getting to the stage where you can just read the 1st chapter and the last and get the best bits of the story.
For eg:

• Joe: we need to do this to survive/save earth
• Hans: I’ll think about it…uh no I don’t want to do that.
• Skippy: We are going to die … etc etc etc

There is no spontaneity left anymore no real consequences, no real sacrifice, no gung-ho Joe like book 1 or 2 … just a whipped, hamstrung captain who can’t do anything anymore. And a confused beer can, who is still magnificent, but losing his shine.

Really hope the series picks up soon as I am a fan but I’m starting to lose faith.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • alain
  • 02-08-18

Enjoyable!

good book, looking forward to the next in the series. wonder storyline is cool and has potential to keep going g without getting dull

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • marcus woodlock
  • 08-09-18

Awesomeness acknowledged

This series has grown into my new favourite story , type and genre. Well written and performed (thanks RC ) . The whole concept has been revamped and delivered in an original and refreshing way. Keep it coming. Hi from Australia!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 07-29-18

Love this series!

The story is fun, and the performance is awesome!

If you're on the fence, just trust the awesomeness.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-26-18

outstanding storytelling and performance.

rc bray is perfect in his delivery. the complex story is holds together really well, entertaining and engaging. bravo.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 07-11-18

Another cracking adventure with the Flying Dutchman

Skippy and Joe, on another whirl wind adventure. Thoroughly enjoying the rich banter and dialogue of the crew.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher Yardin
  • 07-05-18

Fantastic oration - story was rushed at the end

Loving this series of books, but the major encounter at the end felt rushed compared to some of the less important adventure sequences in the middle part of the book. Still, I can't wait to "read" the next book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-01-18

great book series <br />

spent all day long listening to the book series shame number 6 is not out yet