Review of Buffalito Destiny by Lawrence Schoen

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Buffalito Destiny by Lawrence SchoenBuffalito Destiny
By Lawrence Schoen; Read by William Coon
12 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Eloquent Voice
Published: 2011
Themes: / Science fiction / Aliens / Eco-terrorism /

We meet The Amazing Conroy at the beginning of his career as a stage hypnotist. He’s been stranded on an alien planet after making a delivery as a courier. This situation in and of itself begins to let the reader know about author Lawrence M. Schoen’s talent in combining the mundane with the unexpected. Certainly, I’d never have imagined earning my way around the universe as a stage hypnotist.

The book proper is set in Conroy’s present where he has smuggled an alien life form to Earth. Rarely has an alien been more adorable than the Buffalito Dog, Reggie. He is Conroy’s personal pet and the leader of the rest of the Buffalito pack which forms the foundation of Conroy’s corporation. Conroy has become incredibly wealthy by renting the services of his Buffalitos which literally eat anything and fart oxygen.

At the time we join the story, the Mexican president wants a demonstration of Conroy’s services to convince his government to clean up toxic waste sites. However, this plan is put in jeopardy by an anti-alien, eco-terrorist group with no qualms about using extreme force to achieve their goal of banning aliens and their technology from the earth. To make matters worse, Conroy has been having mysterious dreams which he must decipher in order to fulfill his destiny of keeping the Earth from being destroyed.

These are only a few of the features of this entertaining novel which include the joys of Mexican sandwiches, a huge region of temporal instability in Texas, and a bus tour of Mayan ruins that includes one of the most creative alien races I’ve ever read about.

There is a zany charm about this novel which makes any threats seem less serious, although I was extremely curious about how Conroy was going to fulfill his destiny. The oddest but imaginative elements come together in the most ordinary of ways and somehow all hang together pretty well to form a story that kept me interested.

It helps that I simply love William Coon’s narration although he does occasionally struggle with an accent (the Texan drawl was bravely attempted but not quite right). However, that is the only one that didn’t ring quite true for me. His reading is half the charm of Conroy’s character. This is the first time I’ve heard him use different voices for different characters and I feel sure that I wouldn’t be able to read the actual book without hearing Coon’s narration reading along in my mind’s ear.

The story is not always imaginatively plotted, perhaps because so much else was going on that the author could only juggle so many balls in the air. I was able to peg the main eco-terrorist quite early in the story and hoped against hope (as it turns out) that the author would be able to sacrifice a character necessary to the story’s integrity. However, there were other surprises that I didn’t expect so it isn’t as if the entire plot was obvious.

Buffalito Destiny is a great deal of fun even with a few plot glitches. And I’m ok with that.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of State Of Fear By Michael Crichton

Science Fiction Audiobook - State of Fear by Michael CrichtonState Of Fear
By Michael Crichton; Read by George Wilson DOWNLOAD – 18 hours and 7 min [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Techno-thriller / Global Warming / Ecology / Tsunami / Ice-Age / Eco-Terrorism /

A review by Guest Reviewer Barry

In Paris, a physicist dies after performing a laboratory experiment for a beautiful visitor. In the jungles of Malaysia, a mysterious buyer purchases deadly cavitation technology, built to his specifications. In Vancouver, a small research submarine is leased for use in the waters off New Guinea. And in Tokyo, an intelligence agent tries to understand what it all means.

I listened to Crichton’s State of Fear mainly because of a nicely done
interview with Crichton by Beth Anderson, available for free on

I’ve always been a bit of a Crichton fan since his first book The Andromeda Strain. The last book I heard of his, Timeline, seemed kind of silly and cartoonish and I was eager to get it over with. But Beth’s interview with Crichton was interesting and I expected something a little more mature. Boy was I wrong.

This is in many, many ways a very childish and often boring book. The characters aren’t even fleshed out enough to call them thin. Thin implies some dimensionality. Their parts in the story, which is no story, are contrived to enable them to give speeches explaining Crichton’s views while fending off killers and eco-terrorists, poisoners, lawyers and interesting dialog.

Crichton is convinced that the ecology movement has been overtaken by greedy lawyers
and that we’re being sold a bill of goods about global warming. While I can’t help but agree that the scenario he paints would be scary if it were real I don’t see much sign of it being real in the world I live in.

He makes some very good points about studies by universities and foundations being as biased as those of industry. But he seems to think that we the people are all firmly convinced that global warming is a reality because of the PR campaigns of these money-seeking foundations and a press who is always willing to jump on any bandwagon that attracts an audience. And while both of those things are easy to believe, I don’t see any sign that everyone believes that global warming is a fact and I don’t think I’ve seen attempts by the media to convince me of that.

Yes there have been pro shows on TV and articles treating global warming as a fact but the majority of those I’ve seen treat it as an open question; as a possibility.

His major point seems to be that we have a lot of questions and not many answers and that we should be asking more questions and studying and learning more before we try to insist on answers. I agree with that and I agree that it often doesn’t happen that way in
life. But it often does happen that way.

The book has almost no story of interest; no characters of interest at all; very little suspense with the exception of a couple of very surprising and tense and exciting scenes; and very little to offer.

To add injury to insult, this is a very badly made audiobook. It’s read by George Wilson, who I’ve heard and liked in other books, and it’s done badly. He doesn’t give us any way to distinguish the characters in a dialog and it’s often not possible to figure out who is
saying what. If there had been a story this would have hindered it terribly.

He sometimes reads a line badly and then reads it over. I guess that’s the editor’s fault, not the narrator’s; but it makes for bad narration from the listener’s point of view.

And, just to make sure the insult and injury were painful, Audible put their section markers right before chapter headings, which consist of the date and time, so that when you lose your place and are trying to find it, if you don’t remember the exact date and time of the section you were in, traversing the sections makes them all sound the same. That made finding my place after drifting off to sleep; a serious problem in this book; very difficult.

Everyone who got their hands on this book seemed to screw it up a little more. I probably even downloaded it badly. For all you Crichton fans, I suggest hearing Airframe if you haven’t already. It’s one of his best.

For you who want to be up in arms about a problem and don’t care if it’s a real problem or not, listen to Rush Limbaugh or something. This book is just too boring.