Doug D. Eigsti
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McGill is Our Secret Weapon
James McGill, Earth’s best weapon against the Galactics, is once again at the center of the action, so much so that is becomes suspicious to others that he must be the behind the scenes leader of all Earth’s forces in disguise as an ordinary low ranking officer. This is an ingenious scenario and the resolution is a lot of fun. If you have made it this far then you are probably only concerned with knowing if this book is like the previous seven. I can assure all fans of B.V. Larson’s Undying Mercenaries that this is more of the same. More of the same great characters. More of the same witty dialog and more of the same James McGill acting as a loose cannon to dangerous to be left alone but too resourceful to be put on the sidelines. This is good entertainment.
And with Mark Boyett doing the voices this is a movie playing in your head.
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McGill Foolishly Risks the World and Wins!
This series keeps up the excitement. This is my favorite of all the Legion Varis books so far. The stakes are high but McGill rises to the occasion risking everything in his solo efforts to save all of humanity from being permed. If only his superiors could see what a valuable asset McGill was they he would not get into so much trouble. But then Undying Mercenaries would not be so much fun, would it?
I cannot say enough about Mark Boyett. It is amazing to hear his gravelly voice imitating a delicate female. It has given me pause on more than one occasion to suddenly realize that all these voices are are being done by one man.
Standard Military Sci-Fi
Several years ago I was exposed to Audible and began to realize that Zombies and Military novels had almost taken over the Science Fiction genre. I then began to sample some of these books. I was pleasantly surprised to find some excellent Military Science Fiction books. I am especially fond of Marko Kloos’ Frontline series and Undying Mercenaries by B.V. Larson. This Ember War two-book-set seems to be a typical offering of the sub-genre. For my taste it did not stand out from the crowd as the aforementioned books did.
Luke Daniels brings his top flight talent to this series. I loved him in the Frontlines series, and it is good to hear some of the same voices making appearances here.
Unlikable Character / Implausible Story
I loved The Martian and was excited to listen his next book. The Martian was full of altruistic characters and noble efforts to survive in the most challenging of environments. Artemis is a portion of a petulant twenty-six year old child used to defying all authority with impunity. I struggle to express how much this novel grated on me. Now I like a good crime drama and can even appreciate some of the motivations of the crooks in some novels but this character, Jaz, was always a bit too smug about her career outside the law. She has a conscience but never listens to it. The crisis moment of the book is wholy contrived and brought on by the character’s bad decisions (She tries to destroy the oxygen generation equipment her moon city, for money, and almost kills the entire population). On the whole this is an unsatisfying story concerning characters I just could not bring myself to like.
Rosarion Dawson has a fine voice but delivers this book in a fashion I would call a “straight read.” To be fair she is always easy to understand. I would have enjoyed her performance more had she provided some more emotion to the life of the defiant criminal Jaz.
Fun as Only Time Travel Can Be
I am always on the lookout for new time travel stories. It is rare that one manages to come up with a fresh take on the subject. In this book the characters travel through “history,” American history, exclusively. The reasons for this are bizarre but fully justifiable within the confines of the scenario established. This book has great characters, a solid plot, terrifying bad guys, and a satisfying ending. There is something very attractive about slipping into the past driving an American car. So, yes this is fantasy time travel (not having a temporal device). and, since it does not allow the past to be changed, this is “Nahin approved” according to the ideas put forth by science author Paul J. Nahin in his great book “Time Machines.”
Ray Porter is fantastic reading this book. He delivers a fine performance. I especially likes his voicings for “the Faceless Men.”
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Hard-Boiled & Funny Political Thriller
Klavan is first and foremost a gag man. Not that this book doesn’t have a strong thrilling plot—it does. Not that the characters aren’t well rounded and undergo significant development as the story unfolds—they do. Not that this novel doesn’t have a strong moral message that threads in and out the whole thing—it most certainly does. No, Andrew Klavan is a fine storyteller who populates this well-plotted novel with realistic characters who struggle with their own depravity…but if there is a possible joke in there somewhere, he will find it. This is a funny book; funny in the way that hard-boiled noir crime novels are funny: If you know the formula you will find it amusing when you encounter it.
I first heard of Andrew Klavan by listening to his often hilarious political punditry. I decided to listen to Empire of Lies when facing the Klavanless weekend. I knew that he could make some sense of this broken politically correct world, and I was right.
Andrew Klavan the narrator is superb at emphasizing the sarcastic moments. He get all the author’s jokes. One of the characters, Patrick Peresal, is a great caricature of William Shatner and Klavan has his rhythmic manner of speech down pat. This made me laugh out loud several times; to the point that I had to explain what was so funny to my wife lest she think me crazy. My only criticism is that all the female voices come across as nasally and petulant, maybe that is how they were written but there is a limit to how much nasal intonation one finds pleasant; this is too much.
Starting to Go Out with a Whimper
This may not be the end of the series but it seems to be coughing up blood. Gone are the interesting character interactions. Gone are the laugh-out-loud insults from Sgt. Fallon. In fact, the sense of humor is noticeably missing. It seems that as humanity’s situation grown more dire that the tone of the series has, correspondingly, become serious; serious as a heart attack. I think Kloos has lost his way. I think he may have forgotten just what made the series so great to begin with: character driven action and character driven humor. I hope this is not the last episode in the series. I would hate to think of it fading away. Kloos still has a chance to go out in a blaze of glory. He just need to return to the series’ roots.
That said, it does have a decent pot to drive the story. But my expectations are higher that the typical Military Sci-Fi fare. Frontlines has been much more entertaining. This fan frankly does not care if the story folds up into a nice neat package, I want to see the characters kicking butt and taking names all the while having a sardonic smirk on their faces.
Luke Daniels is great here nut he was not given the material to really stretch his legs with this one.
Cambrian Explosion Blows Up Neo-Darwinism
In this follow-up to Signature in the Cell, author Stephen C. Meyer writes the book that the critics of his first book thought they were attacking. The first book is a rigorous defense of Intelligent Design from a genetic level. In this second book Meyer continues his assault on conventional evolutionary wisdom and focuses his attention on the Cambrian Explosion. His argument draws attention to the incredible amount of biological information that supposedly came into being—using evolutionary terms and time-scales—in just a few million years. When ever since—again in evolutionary terminology—no new phyla or body plans have evolved. Forgetting the typical Creationist arguments Meyer starts by accepting the evolutionary time-scale and sequence of events, then goes on to informing his listeners of just how much information is needed to bring a new living organism into existence. The magnitude is staggering and should give any thinking person reason to abandon materialistic evolution and at least entertain intelligent Design as a possibility.
Derek Shetterly us a good choice to narrate this book full of difficult technical concepts.
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How Impossible is DNA?
This is not just a book promoting Intelligent Design (ID); one filled with thought experiments and just-so-stories—that is what his evolutionary counterparts are stuck on. Stephen C. Meyer has constructed a mathematically rigorous defense of ID as a scientific concept. Meyer is convinced that the only possible explanation for the existence of the complex information storage systems in the genetic code is that it was designed by an intelligent agent. Listeners of the book will know that he goes out of his way to distance ID from any taint of theism. When Meyer is through you will certainly know that the possibility of the information carrying capacity of the biological cell arising on its own, without any guiding influence, is so vanishingly small that you will be able to sympathize with the materialistic evolutionists who have resorted to the Multiple Universe theory to literally justify their existence as thinking beings. And Meyer has an answer for the Multi-verse as well. This is a difficult listen and requires the listener to pay close attention. It would be of some benefit to anyone who has had some exposure to the study of origins and also has a strong interest in genetic information storage systems.
The information on the Epilogue (Audible chapter 22) contains new information about the incredible nested storage capacity of the DNA molecule. One of the facts I found interesting is that a single sequence in the DNA strand can be used by many different protein coding genes to code for thousands of different proteins. This exacerbates the point-mutation problem of Neo-Darwinists to the degree that one mutation could affect many, many proteins. Another fact I found enlightening is that a gene can utilize DNA information on several different chromosomes.
Derek Shetterly is a fine narrator for the technical material in this book.
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E.M.P. Not the Star of This Show
Books 1 and 2. I am reviewing these two book s together since I listened to them back-to-back and they do seem to form one contiguous story. I have listened to several books by Smith strictly because I am a great admirer of the narrator, Bronson Pinchot. The books in the Extinction Cycle are above average Zombie fare and Smith has demonstrated to me that he understands what makes for interesting action sequences. The two Tracker books here are a welcome relief from the frantic Zombie books he usually offers. I recommend listening to the afterward first before starting the first novel. It will give you an appreciation as to what Smith was attempting.
When I first approached the book I was sure that it would be a carbon copy of the book One Second After, but—to my relief—it is chiefly a book concerning the efforts to track down criminals in the worst possible circumstance—the aftermath of an E.M.P. strike. Personally I thin thet E.M.P. effect is down-played too much but Smith manages to tell a decent story with this situation used as the back-drop.
Bronson Pinchot is good, as always, but he really did not have enough quirky characters with which to flex his vocal cords. Most of the characters are small town Americans. I hear those voices every day. But Pinchot is faithful to the story and does not engage in an extra exaggeration.