Conquest (Chronicles of the Invaders #1)
By John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard; Read by Nicola Barber
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: February 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 14 hours, 33 minutes
Themes: / aliens / YA / wormhole / romance /
The Earth has been invaded by the Illyri, a beautiful, civilized, yet ruthless alien race. Humanity has been conquered, but still it fights the invaders. The Resistance grows stronger, for it is the young people of Earth who battle the Illyri.
Syl Hellais, conceived among the stars, is the oldest alien child on Earth, the first to reach 16 years of age. Her father is one of the rulers of the planet. Her future is assured. And Syl has hidden gifts, powers that even she does yet fully understand.
But all is not as it seems. Secret experiments are being conducted on humans, the Illyri are at war among themselves, and the sinister Nairene Sisterhood has arrived on Earth, hungry for new blood. When Syl helps a pair of young Resistance fighters to escape execution, she finds herself sentenced to death, pursued by her own kind, and risks breaking the greatest taboo of her race by falling in love with a human.
Now the hunter has become the hunted, and the predators become prey. And as Syl Hellais is about to learn, the real invasion has not yet even begun.
Apparently aliens are the new vampires and I guess I’m a sucker for aliens because this is the second YA book about aliens I’ve read in a year’s time.
In this one, out of nowhere, a wormhole appears at the end of the solar system. This spells the doom of mankind because an alien race has come to dethrone mankind, thus, Conquest.
Except, while these aliens take over the governments of Earth, they have also brought technology which can not only cure diseases such as cancer, but expand the human lifespan. I’ve hit on this topic recently, but here it comes again, are the trade-offs worth it?
What makes this one different?
This one takes a different spin than I was prepared for. Usually, and especially with a name like “Conquest,” it’s a story of survival, of a rogue squad who’s fighting back. While there is a bit of that, this story mostly follows the aliens themselves, in fact, one of them who is the first born alien on earth.
So instead of a fight for the world, you really get a bigger glimpse of the nature of the aliens, the culture, and the political machinations and infighting of the political parties.
This is good and bad.
Why it doesn’t quite work
Well, first, why did it work. I thought this was a great take on the alien story … at first. It’s almost like reading a fantasy book because you’re reading more about the society of this alien species and getting to know them and on the side you get some of the story of the rebel humans fighting against them.
What doesn’t work is that some of the tension is gone or really never intended to be there. I know it’s not really fair, but I expected more of a fight, which is there, but it’s in a very small degree. The culture is interesting but I can’t say I cared all that much about it, but that’s probably for a different reason.
The characters are for the most part, quite bland. I did listen to this on audiobook, so that could account for some of this, but by the end of the book I was still having to remember and figure out who some of the main people were. You get to know the main character, Syl, who’s as interesting as a prepubescent teen can be to a non-creepy male of 30 (spoiler, there’s not much we have in common).
But, by the end of the book, I really should have been able to keep track of the insurgent boys who help Syl out in the beginning and play a big part in the story, or Syl’s best friend who also played a consistent part in the story.
Again, it’s not all the novel’s fault, I take some of the blame, but I don’t think it’s all mine.
I enjoyed many parts of this book, but for the most part, it didn’t work for me. The alien societies were interesting, but a tad boring. The characters were mostly flat. I wanted to read this because I have some friends who are huge into John Connolly, but I’ll have to check out some of his other works for an actual understanding.
2.5 out of 5 Stars (Okay to good)
Posted by Bryce L.
Themes: / fantasy / World of Warcraft /
The brutal siege of Orgrimmar is over.
Alliance and Horde forces have stripped Garrosh Hellscream, one of the most reviled figures on Azeroth, of his title as warchief. His thirst for conquest devastated cities, nearly tore the Horde apart, and destroyed countless lives throughout the World of Warcraft.
Now, on the legendary continent of Pandaria, he will stand trial for his transgressions.
Renowned leaders from across the world have gathered to witness this historic event. As the trial unfolds, agents of the bronze dragonflight present shocking visions of Garrosh’s atrocities. For many of those in attendance, these glimpses into history force them to relive painful memories and even question their own innocence or guilt. For others, the chilling details stoke the flames of their hatred.
Unbeknownst to anyone, shadowy forces are at work on Azeroth, threatening not only the court’s ability to mete out justice…but also the lives of everyone at the trial.
I’m a recovering World of Warcraft addict. I’ve been clean for about a year since my guild’s raids fell apart. I played a good portion of Mists of Pandaria, but didn’t finish the last tier or two of raiding. Warcraft has always been one of my favorites games because I loved the big name characters and the lore they’ve built up. It doesn’t always make sense, but it’s usually a whole lot of fun. I knew enough background to know all the major players and that Garrosh Hellscream was the expansion boss this go around. I didn’t really know any of the details of how it all played out however. I can’t speak to how much of this book is in the game.
This book is full of all the major players from both factions, and everyone is angry. I’ve probably played more Alliance than Horde over the years, but I still like Horde better. Thrall is probably my favorite character of the series, and I was really annoyed when he stepped down as Warchief. However as an Alliance player, I enjoyed being able to work with him on quests in Cataclysm.
I found myself really not liking many of the Alliance characters in this book. In particular Tyrande Whisperwind. As my main character is a Night Elf, I was pretty disappointed with her. I found myself rooting for Baine Bloodhoof and missing my Tauren druid instead.
I liked the notion of a trial and the involvement of the Bronze Dragons to present key moments in Warcraft lore, not only for the current expansion but back events involving the history of the Orcs.
Overall, I found this book a lot more enjoyable than Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde. I think this is one that Warcraft players will enjoy, but that probably won’t offer much to everyone else. If the goal of this book was to get the reader to want to play the game, they succeeded. I was already planning on picking up the next expansion and playing again for awhile, but now I’m itching to maybe try to do the raid that serves as background for this, so Mission Accomplished Blizzard.
Scott Brick is a fine narrator, and does accents for the trolls and a few other races.
Review by Rob Zak.
Themes: / global warming / post-apocalypse / apocalypse / survival / floods / eco-disaster /
It had been raining for weeks. Maybe months. He had forgotten the last day that it hadn’t rained, when the storms gave way to the pale blue of the Gulf sky, when the birds flew and the clouds were white and sunshine glistened across the drenched land.
Following years of catastrophic hurricanes, the Gulf Coast—stretching from the Florida panhandle to the western Louisiana border—has been brought to its knees. The region is so punished and depleted that the government has drawn a new boundary ninety miles north of the coastline. Life below the Line offers no services, no electricity, and no resources, and those who stay behind live by their own rules.
Cohen is one who stayed. Unable to overcome the crushing loss of his wife and unborn child who were killed during an evacuation, he returned home to Mississippi to bury them on family land. Until now he hasn’t had the strength to leave them behind, even to save himself.
But after his home is ransacked and all of his carefully accumulated supplies stolen, Cohen is finally forced from his shelter. On the road north, he encounters a colony of survivors led by a fanatical, snake-handling preacher named Aggie who has dangerous visions of repopulating the barren region.
Realizing what’s in store for the women Aggie is holding against their will, Cohen is faced with a decision: continue to the Line alone, or try to shepherd the madman’s captives across the unforgiving land with the biggest hurricane yet bearing down—and Cohen harboring a secret that may pose the greatest threat of all.
In a near-future apocalyptic Mississippi, hurricanes and flooding are so frequent (nearly constant) that the government has redrawn the southern border of the country above the disaster zone. Anyone living south of The Line has no government assistance, no security, and must fend for him or herself. This setting is one of the most realistic apocalyptic worlds I have read. I’m intentionally not using the word “post” because throughout the novel, destruction continues. People are trying to survive below The Line, but hail and winds and rains are still a bigger enemy than the sprinkling of humans trying to create lives for themselves.
Cohen is a man who holed up in grief until he goes against his instincts and gives a ride to a man and woman on the road. Various events force him to make the next moves in his life in order to survive. I was quite interested in the story in the first half and in the end, but the middle almost lost me as Cohen seems to wander more in his memories than in solving his problems.
I listened to the audiobook read by the author. I didn’t realize he was the reader until the end, and thought he must just be a voice actor I hadn’t heard before. His accent is subtle but places the listener within the region, and he sounds slightly worn, slightly tired, which fits the character completely.
Posted by Jenny Colvin
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
The 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.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Mist, a legendary audio dramatization based on a 1980 Stephen King novella, is available from Simon & Schuster Audio. It’s actually been available since the mid 1980s. It started on LP, being released by it’s producers at ZBS Foundation, then was acquired by Simon & Schuster to be released on cassette and later CD. Today it’s still available on CD, as well as a Audible.com download. Every time it has been re-released I’ve been reminded of how astoundingly great an audio drama it really is.
Here’s the official description:
After a mysterious mist envelops a small New England town, a group of locals trapped in a supermarket must battle a siege of otherworldly creatures . . . and the fears that threaten to tear them apart.
And here’s the text from the back of the first CD edition:
Sound so visual you’re literally engulfed by its bonechilling terror! Stephen King’s sinister imagination and the miracle of 3-D sound transport you to a sleepy all-American town. It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? The Mist has you in it grip, and this masterpiece of 3-D sound engineering surrounds you with horror so real that you’ll be grabbing your own arm for reassurance. To one side—and whipping around your chair, a slither of tentacles. Swooping down upon you, a rush grotesque, prehistoric wings. In the impenetrable mist, hearing is seeing—and believing. And what you’re about to hear, you’ll never forget.
The YouTube version, below, is NOT in stereo. Stereo is ESSENTIAL to the experience, but if you want to get a sense of the story and how it plays out, have a look:
Here are two illustrations from the Dark Forces: The 25th Anniversary Special Edition , which came out 25 years after the original publication of the original Dark Forces anthology that included The Mist:
And of course there was a film adaptation which was, surprisingly, great too:
Posted by Jesse Willis
In the Tall Grass
By Stephen King and Joe Hill; Read by Stephen Lang
Approx. 90 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Themes: / Horror / Separation / Supernatural /
Cal and Becky are brother and sister, born 18 months apart, and inseparable. It’s said that there was never a cross word between them. They stop by the side of the road one day after hearing a cry for help from a field full of tall grass. They go into the field to help, but the moment they do they are supernaturally unable to find each other. They can’t find the person that cried for help either, but they are not alone in the grass.
Some stories stay with you. This is one of those. By creating main characters that were so emotionally close, Stephen King and Joe Hill delivered an experience of the horror of separation to their readers. This story would be tough to watch if it were a film – it’s grisly, gory, and this is a terrifying situation.
Stephen Lang narrated admirably. He had my attention to the very last sentence.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson