The SFFaudio Podcast #251 – READALONG: Up Against It by M.J. Locke

February 10, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #251 – Jesse, Scott, and Tamahome discuss Up Against It by M.J. Locke.

Talked about on today’s show:
Hardcover, paperback, audiobook, who to blame?, it’s Jo Walton’s doing we chose this book (at the bottom), still a lot of juice in the genre, the ultimate cause, drawing in vs. pushing in, Corner Gas, a new wine bracket, the Radium Age of Science Fiction, Scott’s Goodreads review, Tam’s Goodreads review24, the characters, less torture, its more fun if you count the tropes, every trope is in there, including immortality, mimetic fiction (literary realism), Henry James, mimetic fiction in a science fiction universe, tiny infodumps, not one brand new idea, waveface virtual reality, Tonal_Z AI language (Chris Crawford’s Solvesol-interface concept?), in dialogue, Cory Doctorow (Whuffies), Bruce Sterling, Chris Crawford, Bruce Sterling’s Veridians (wow, it’s a whole big thing, design philosophy? manifesto), asteroid miner stories, Heinlein and later, The Island Worlds by John Maddox Roberts and Eric Kotani, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, there’s no newcomer, a generally agreed upon direction our future will be, John Scalzi’s brainpal, more than one kind of SF, rocket ships, the Charles Stross direction, Iain M. Banks, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, Amish tech, their tech is subservient to their culture, it seems inevitable in our world, the received future, Earth in Up Against It in bad shape, Vancouver shantytowns, Edmonton, this isn’t a utopian book, dystopia, dystopic Earth, why are they in the Asteroid Belt, good world-building, good but not new, nothing new but the idea, incredibly self-aware people is weird (and cool), gene tampering, Oblivion is a good introduction to SF tropes (for people born in the year 2000), the level of SF tropes in movies is very low compared to those in SF books, Darwin Elevator, bad physics vs. excellent physics, sugar rocks, there’s no intro character (other than the A.I. pov), Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, collaborative teens, a visual adaptation, Ender’s Game, Planetes, Gravity, Babylon 5 had nothing new, I don’t go to TV SF for new ideas, books are where great ideas, what great ideas haven’t been explored, the news coming out of Eve Online, Steen Hansen, political machinations, gold farming, a simulated universe, a libertarian alliance was trojaned or something, happening to real people, World Of Warcraft, our real future is in leisure, Tam liked it more, nose-piercings, tattooing, the gender neutral pronouns, why would you want a purple nose?, Jesse doesn’t understand trans-humanism, normal readalongs, why didn’t I like this more, Tam liked it fine, hands for feet, chromes and mutes, Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold, not too bright in the brain area, The Integral Trees by Larry Niven, a planetless solar system, a mashup of Doctorow and Heinlein, smile -> erection, Chekhov’s Gun, Heinleinian sex vs. Doctorowian sex, there’s too much going on, an immature writer, Elmore Leonard, “she pillowed her cheek”, nobody pillows their cheeks in Jack London stories, Jane as an older Ripley, an artificial spiritual awakening, too many compromises too much bullshit, an authentically political book according to Staffer’s Book Review, double dealings, the thriller plot, exploring space, what does Scott prefer?, does Scott have a right to review Up Against It?, is it maturity?, 2312, Tobias Buckell’s blog essay about mature reviewers, caveats, “and get off my lawn”, idea fiction, competent but unstimulating, why is The Lord Of The Rings more interesting than Up Against It?, the themes, the next episode of A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Luke Burrage re-reviews A Canticle For Liebowitz, what we do when we do READALONGS (we unpack books), The Odyssey, Community, currently airing TV series have podcasts?, books with allegories, Scott wants it to mean something to him, The Zimmerman Telegram by Barbara Tuchman, WWI, the German ambassador in Mexico, Woodrow Wilson, Tom Clancy, mimetic fiction from the future, a history from the future, history, in some ways Eve Online is much more real than any fiction book, Scott finds value in general fiction, Mario Puzo, Tom Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, meaning vs. ideas, horror, Snowblind by Christopher Golden for some alternative horror, The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, gothic fiction, witchcraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, there’s still potential for Science Fiction, a sequel?, an unneeded sequel, every subsequent milk of a book undercuts it, Dune has been worsened by every Dune that’s come since, Dune Messiah (Scott liked it), the fall of a charismatic leader, a backward casting shadow, Brian Herbert has done what his father wanted by ruining Dune?, why was Up Against It so long?, YA/adult book, George R.R. Martin doesn’t think Scott’s a fan of Hard SF, The Martian by Andy Weir, Phoecea, why are they mining?, there’s no economic reason to do so, was there an economic reason to go to the moon, we need to build a space fleet, no martian resources are unavailable on Earth, the Moon has Helium-3, Tam read Frank Schatzing’s Limit and his eyes are tired, what the frack, (was it ‘Simon pure science fiction like A Darkling Sea‘?  we didn’t talk about it but I thought I’d note it)

Up Against It by M.J. Locke

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Redshirts by John Scalzi

January 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Redshirts by John ScalziRedshirts
By John Scalzi; Performed by Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 11 June 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / Star Trek / humor / space /

Publisher summary:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is even more thrilled to be assigned to the ship’s xenobiology laboratory, with the chance to serve on “Away Missions” alongside the starship’s famous senior officers. Life couldn’t be better . . . until Andrew begins to realize that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) sadly, at least one low-ranked crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is . . . and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

I’ve been kind of on a Scalzi kick lately. I guess I’ve needed some light sci-fi without too much brain interaction. And I don’t say that as a bad thing. I know so many times “light” and “fun” come off in the pejorative, but I rarely mean it that way. Honestly, I think that’s the high watermark of fiction. I’m not trying to learn anything, although I always do. I’m not trying to to do anything but enjoy my free time.

I value other aspects of a novel plenty. I love a complex plot, great characters, beautiful prose. But the most important thing to me is fun. Entertainment. How wrapped up I am in a book is the most important aspect. Obviously many things contribute to that including plot, characters, prose, etc. However, a lack of any of these is also possible.

Redshirts is just that. It’s fun. It’s a story that keeps you turning pages, or in the case of this audiobook, that keeps you in your car longer than necessary. It’s far from perfect, in fact I had plenty of problems with the narrative and they mainly fall in the codas, but I’ll get to it.

The way Redshirts is laid out, it is a main story followed by three codas at the end called First Person, Second Person, and Third Person. The main story is an exciting mystery where the characters realize someone dies off each time there’s a mission. It’s funny at times, a bit overdone at other times**, but mostly a fun ride with an intriguing mystery I wanted to see solved. It had me until the end when I just couldn’t suspend disbelief anymore.

**I think reading the jokes that were overdone may have been funnier. Sometimes a joke that is funny on paper just isn’t quite so funny spoken aloud. Tis a fact of life I continually relearn. :)

Then come the codas. First Person was okay. It was an odd continuation of the story that kind of makes sense. Second Person is just an annoying way to read anything. Please no one write second person ever again. Ever. Who is “you” when it’s both the narrative and the protagonist using it? Third Person was also unnecessary. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Scalzi got to the end of the main story, realized it was the dreaded novella length (unsellable) instead of a full novel and started to explore some side issues and threw them onto the end.

Wil Wheaton

I’m not making any friends with this, but I had a hard time with Wheaton’s narrating in this one. He’s obviously perfect for the job, he’s a Star Trek star and his personality on The Big Bang Theory, Twitter, you name it, is as snarky as it gets. Perfect for a book about the redshirts that die off every episode. The only problem is he doesn’t really do voices. He changes his voice when people are slurring words or yelling, but not by character. I’ve grown a bit spoiled by this probably, but I really need that now to tell characters apart. I rely on it and when it’s not there, it’s tough.

Luckily, here there are not too many characters, but I continued to confuse people throughout the entire book and that doesn’t happen normally. Otherwise, sans dialogue, Wheaton’s incredible.

The Hugo Award

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with the choice of Redshirts for the Hugo Award this year even before I’d read it. Halfway through reading this, my mind hadn’t changed. After reading the codas nothing’s changing. However, the thing I’m actually quite happy about with Redshirts winning a Hugo is for the same idea I started this review explaining.

Fun. Entertainment.

I’m glad Redshirts won because I think entertainment is a great reason to win an award. I know the voting process for the Hugos has its own problems and it comes down much of the time to the author having a loyal following, but I’m still glad a book like this can win an award at all. I hope more do.

3 out of 5 Stars (recommended with reservation)

Posted by Bryce L.

The SFFaudio Podcast #232 – READALONG: The Prestige by Christopher Priest

September 30, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #232 – Scott, Jesse, Jenny, and Tamahome talk about The Prestige by Christopher Priest.

Talked about on today’s show:
Simon Vance, Blackstone Audio, The Prestige (2006), explicit, cursing vs. casting spells, I’m going to trick you, a nice complement to the book, Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, Momento, The Princess Bride, epistolary, Dracula, Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs, under the influence of the man on top of the mountain, David Bowie, Nikola Tesla, Any sufficiently advanced technology…, what is the genre?, Gothic fiction, old fashioned horror, Science Fiction, Scott’s review, Fantasy, a nice twist of Lovecraft, the deaths, “the other detective” (Jenny’s Freudian slip), a mystery, Sherlock Holmes, the prestige materials, Borden vs. Angier, Penn & Teller, seance (fake) vs. prestidigitation (the pact), the pledge -> the turn -> the prestige, you ruined our act, “when Simon Vance says…”, “some days you love me, some days you don’t”, did she know?, the honest liar, Christian Bale, does it matter who sired a child matter if you’re identical twin may have inseminated your wife?, which twin is it (the father or the uncle), Fallon, doubling, everything is doubled, a double agent, Olivia or Julia?, Andrew Wesley Borden -> Nicolas Julius Borden, Lord Caldlow, a book with two authors, revenge via tribute, A,B,C,D,E,F, what happened when the great-grandson of Borden was three years old?, a repeated pattern, a red herring, invited to Dracula’s castle, Franklin was imprisoned in California but his cult has a duplicator in the basement in England, another Angier wraith or the same one?, why Lovecraftian?, wiggling bodies, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, a return to a Gothic home, an explanation for the premise of The Outsider, did the wraith of Angier fail?, 100 times, noir, can the Tesla machine duplicate the soul?, AMAZING!, a side trip, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, wraiths, “waiting to wake up”, telepathy, addicted to transportation, pain and depression, is it a teleportation machine? a photocopier?, Star Trek‘s transporter, Think Like A Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, the metal rod, “that’s the thing about science”, “more like a real Tesla”, Tesla spoke English with an accent, Angier is American in the movie, Hugh Jackman, California, Jesus came out of the tomb, the cult denies the appearance of Franklin, a bi-locating religious fanatic, Angier’s first magic practice was at a pub called “The Land And Child”, The Church Of Christ Jesus, the history of the house, during WWII it was RAF Transport Command, Christopher Priest is really really smart, Angier -> Anger?, how the French get Angier and Angier and Angier!, his brother, because that’s what he’s looking for that’s what he sees, The Fly (1986), “explicit material”, The New Transported Man (PUN!) vs. In A Flash, a doubling and a denialing of the doubling, “he’s really stuck on the doubling”, The Lamb is The child, pointless and flat women, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, wooden women, Katherine, Borden’s wife’s journals, it’s a guy show really, everybody gets the short shrift except for these two and a half guys, where in literature are women magicians, Now You See Me, stage performance magicians, why doesn’t Luke Burrage go into magic?, Luke is the evil twin, would she wear the tophat?, Zatana (DC Comics), a female magician who acts as the assistant, a missed opportunity, Lady Katherine is very enigmatic and is playing some sort of game, a wink from The Invisible Man (by H.G. Wells), playing cards hidden under pint glasses, the James Patrick Kelly problem, killing yourself is ok if you have a copy?, Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War handwaves the problem away, they don’t rot?, was the soul transported too?, What’s with the echo?, Angier’s cancer goes into remission when the ghostly Angier gets closer, Good Kirk vs. Rapey Kirk, wimpy Kirk need the rapey Kirk, recombination, complete transfers work well for the transported Angiers, Borden’s injury, Angier’s injury, the Borden seaside history is all lies, the Bordens were cartwrights and coopers, IT’S ALL LIES, stop with the woodworking (the JESUS motif again), one of the mes, when did they start living as one man, you’re supposed to apply the lesson of the Chinese magician to the entire story, one of the few things unchanged between the book and the movie, a fake that’s also true (doubling again), the timeline is somewhat mysterious, one of the Borden’s is more of a writer and the other is more of an editor, “I’m staying with my girlfriend”, fantastic narrative, a relatively modern book that will become and remain a classic, it’s porous and open and hard, book vs. movie, Tam fell asleep and became confused, beautiful moments, Tesla is almost like a magician, he is like a wizard, brilliant genius weirdo, the nemesis, Thomas Alva Edison vs. Tesla (doubling), AC vs. DC, Edison’s DC vs. Tesla’s AC, and ultimately a synthesis, electrifying an elephant, “it’s like they were two magicians competing”, Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft is about a Tesla-like character doing essentially a Tesla-show, possibly an elder god, Dracula Edison Gothic Horror Science Fiction Horror Detective Noir Fantasy, The Inverted World, The Islanders, twins, fraternal twins vs. identical twins, the Christopher Priest Wikipedia entry, denouement, a tie-in edition of the paperbook, the movie’s editing, The Magic by Christopher Priest, David Langford’s review:

“It seems entirely logical that Christopher Priest’s latest novel should centre on stage magic and magicians. The particular brand of misdirection that lies at the heart of theatrical conjuring is also a favourite Priest literary ploy – the art of not so much fooling the audience as encouraging them to fool themselves… The final section is strange indeed, more Gothic than sf in flavour, heavy with metaphorical power. There are revelations, and more is implied about the peculiar nature of the Angier/Tesla effect’s payoff or “prestige” – a term used in this sense by both magicians. The trick is done; before and after, Priest has rolled up both sleeves; his hands are empty and he fixes you with an honest look. And yet … you realise that it is necessary to read The Prestige again. It’s an extraordinary performance, his best book in years, perhaps his best ever. Highly recommended.”

a prestigious career in newspapers, he wants to be a dead body (or many), the great reveal was surprising, Frankenstein, very much in the Gothic tradition.

The Prestige by Christopher Priest - read by Simon Vance

The Prestige - LEGOized

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Human Division by John Scalzi

September 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Human DivisionThe Human Division
By John Scalzi; Performed by William Dufris
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date:[UNABRIDGED] – 15 hours

Themes: / military science fiction / space opera / short stories /

Publisher summary:

EARTH IS BETRAYED. It’s a violent, competitive universe. And our home planet would have been an easy conquest, if not for the efforts of the Colonial Union — the human spacefaring military organization that has defended our world for generations. But the Colonial Union kept many secrets from humanity, until John Perry revealed them to Earth’s billions. The CU has fought an endless series of secret wars on (it claims) Earth’s behalf, while manipulating humankind into providing an unlimited supply of recruits who never return from space. And, it turns out, there are alien races that seem inclined toward peace and trade instead of battle. Indeed, Earth has now been invited to join a new alliance of multiple worlds — an alliance against the Colonial Union. For the shaken and uncertain people of Earth, the path ahead is far from clear. With that choice hanging in the balance, managing the CU’s survival won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning . . . and a brilliant “B-Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson — a team ready to deal with the unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

The Human Division is the most recent installment in John Scalzi’s series that started with Old Man’s War. The book was released in an episodic/season format and this book is the collection of those stories. The book takes place immediately following the events of The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale but does not follow the same characters from the first four books. The collection comes off like something by Isaac Asimov where all the stories work together to a conclusion while each presenting their own puzzles/challenges to the protagonists. Overall this was a great book and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

Warning: If you haven’t read the novels leading up to this one, some of the things said after this point could be considered minor spoilers. You have been warned.

I really like the world Scalzi created with Old Man’s War and we get to see more of it explored in these stories as the Conclave and Colonial Union try to court Earth to their side. We also get to see how Earth reacts to the revelations and new technology they have been deprived of for so long, often to humorous effect. John Scalzi does a great job of mixing intrigue with comedic timing and flowing dialogue that makes this book a great read. There are some slower, more character driven segments in the book, but even those come across as interesting as the author adds more dimensions to already interesting characters.

Generally speaking, the stories follow a political vessel carrying a lower level politician and some Colonial Union staff that are sent around to fight Colonial Union fires as needed. This team is the “B Team” as indicated by the name of the first short story. My favorite character is Lt. Harry Wilson who is an out of practice CU soldier constantly thrown into crazy circumstances. He does some awesome things, has an entertaining attitude, and gets the job done.

William Dufris did a great job with the narration of this book. The characters often find themselves in odd circumstances and Mr. Dufris does a great job of making them sound incredulous or indignant. He pulls of the humorous dialogue quite well and definitely had me laughing at some parts. The episodes are clearly labeled and it’s easy to settle into each subsequent story. I had some trouble following all the character names at times but it wasn’t hard to keep track of the main characters because I recognized the voices Dufris used with them.

Posted by Tom Schreck

The SFFaudio Podcast #229 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

September 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #229 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Paul Weimer talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
Tam is back, Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore, magic realism, Japan, kafkaesque, surrealism, 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, pretty books, Chip Kidd, rice paper, Requiem by Ken Scholes, Julie Davis, Tor, magic staff, earth in the future, The Steel Remains, “oh crap this is the future”, Gene Wolfe, Happy Hour In Hell by Tad Williams, Bobby Dollar, The Dirty Streets Of Heaven, urban fantasy, demoness tangling, Lankhmar, urban fantasy => a certain kind of fantasy, noir/detective => hardboiled, Otherland, Luke Burrage, cats, “the Walter Jon Williams effect”, MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, mostly dystopian, Oryx and Crake, quasi-humans, The Year Of The Flood, genetic engineering, racoon-pigs, storytelling mode, listening at 2X speed, competitive debate, Margaret Atwood’s preview of a review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, a sequel to The Shining, Atwood’s weakness for horror and terror, “because he’s Stephen King”, Will Patton, “don’t judge me people”, is there a stigma in literary circles?, Zoomer magazine’s profile of Margaret Atwood as “Queen Of The Nerds”, Twitter, tweetalong?, a genuine literary reputation, poetry, Orson Scott Card, does it matter?, dystopia, Dreamscape Audiobooks, The Night Lands by William Hope Hodgson, The House On The Borderlands, a very daunting book, big and ambitious, Lovecraftian?, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Earth Abides, class, mainstream post-apocalypse, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, a toothless grandfather, Drew Ariana, Goslings by J.D. Beresford, plague talk!, The Children Of Men, Y: The Last Man, the newspapers, HiLoBooks, “Radium Age” Science Fiction, Gweek, The Road To Science Fiction, classicism, sexism, barbarism, The Iron Heel, numeracy and literacy, the size of the universe or the age of the Earth, Simon & Schuster Audio, Rivers by Michael Farris Smith, Jenny loves destroying the earth, wiping the slate clean, Fallout, Tobias Buckell, Interrupt by Jeff Carlson, Hunter Davis, Brilliance Audio, simultaneously published with print, Neanderthals, the pronunciations, Robert J. Sawyer, Discover Magazine, literally means not literally anymore, it’s figuratively raining cats and dogs, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, Julie Davis, Simon Vance, science fiction thrillers, John Scalzi, plague, space elevator, working for the enemy?, a compressed schedule, writing 2X, a first novel!, military SF, “we’ve complinished everything”, Reflex by Steven Gould, Jumper, the physical audiobook industry (is it mostly for libraries), Paperback Audio, William Dufris, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, innate teleportation, the Jumper movie, Portal, post-humans, Nightcrawler without the bad smell, BAMFless, The Clockwork Man by E.V. Odle, Ralph Lister, no introductions makes Jesse sad, are there audio previews?, Affliction: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel (#22) by Laurell K. Hamilton, The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer, The Midnight Heir (Bane Chronicles #4) by Cassandra Clare and Sara Rees Brennan, building on The Hunger Games, Untouchable (Immortals After Dark #8) by Kresley Cole, Robert Petkoff, The Hunt or Capture, the reality TV version of The Hunger Games in The Hunger Games would be very boring, The Truman Show would be a very boring show to actually watch, in fiction the TV shows are without narrative, TVtropes show with an show, Hamlet, William Shakespeare did meta 500 years ago, epic traditional fantasy, traditional epic fantasy marriage, Crown Thief (Tales Of Easie Damasco #2) by David Tallerman, Giant Thief, sword and sorcery, golem or gollum?, Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Rosalyn Landor, , “Tolkien with the serial numbers filed off”, “its all about the elfstones”, The Lord Of The Rings, questing, trilogy vs. endless series, the Wikipedia entry for Shannara, a magical cataclysm, “a richer broader universe”, Revolution, S.M. Stirling, Robert Jordan, the Dragonlance series, Daniel Abraham, subverting the quest trope, The Eye Of The World, George R.R. Martin, gathering forces and subverting expectations, children’s fantasy, Roald Dahl, Matilda is read by Kate Winslet!, the musical of Matilda, The Twits, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator Futurama, Fry and the Slurm factory, Gene Wilder, great character names!, Dickensian names, The BFG, biography, crime, thriller, JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation Of A Man And The Emergence Of A Great President, Death Angel (Alexandra Cooper #15) by Linda Fairstein, The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth, George Guidall, “now it’s personal”, Penguin Audio, adding heat urgency of character development, adding a baby, Breaking Bad babies, the invisible baby or worse the artificially aging child syndrome, Mork & Mindy, Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, 30,000 years ago, prehistorical romance, hard edged scientific, Clan Of The Cavebear, Monsters Of The Earth by David Drake, Seanan McGuire, Soldier by Harlan Ellison, The Terminator, The Outer Limits, James Cameron, Philip Wylie, Tomorrow!, John Wyndham, When Worlds Collide, The Answer, nuclear war with angels, The End Of The Dream, The Murderer Invisible.

Dreamscape Audiobooks - Goslings by J.D. Beresford

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

July 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Agent to the Stars by John ScalziAgent to the Stars
By John Scalzi; Performed by Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours

Themes: / sci-fi / aliens /

Publisher summary:

The spacefaring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: they’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone to help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

If taken in a vacuum, knowing this is a novel that Mr. Scalzi wrote to see if he could, it’s pretty good. Of course things aren’t in a vacuum, and given my enjoyment of his later works, this one just isn’t as good.  I liked most of the characters. The normal Scalzi snark is present, but not as funny as in his other works.

The premise itself is an amusing one. Thomas Stein is an up and coming young agent in Hollywood. He works for one of the top agency’s in L.A. His boss is probably one of the best known people in all of Hollywood. It is for that reasons that aliens contact him.

The very benign Yherajk have a problem. Despite being very peaceful, they look terrifying, and smell worse. They’ve been watching our movies and TV for years, and worry about how the human race will react. They decide they need an agent. Tom is chosen by his boss as someone who can spare the time to work the problem without being found out.

Of course things don’t go exactly as planned. Just as I was really enjoying the story, the book took a turn. It really changed the whole tone of the book for me. It went from being a light sci-fi story to something more serious, and characters I liked were pondering actions I didn’t like. Things righted themselves a bit, and the ending saved the story from going completely off the rails for me.  Overall, I’d say this is one that could safely be skipped by all the biggest Scalzi fans. It’s enjoyable enough, but nothing that special.

This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to read by Wil Wheaton think it might be his best of the three. He does a much better job with voice variation for the characters in the book. Voices aren’t his strong suit, especially female voices. I still enjoy him as a narrator however.

##rob

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