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It's great that this title finally gets the audiobook it deserves. The Man Who Used The Universe was probably the best overall book written by Alan Dean Foster, in my opinion.
What makes this book most different from most books by Foster is the meat of the story actually exists, the middle of this book is there to move the central story ahead and not just to extend the length of the book.
Foster has always been a prolific writer with a penchant for original, weird, or otherwise odd premises and characters. This book is a more traditional sci-fi, centered around two star empires, one ruled by the Humans, the other by the ugly, slime Nuel.
The story itself follows Kees Van Loo-Macklin, starting from his first murder and through his rise through the underworld, and then eventually the legal world of commerce. Along the way he mixes an absolute rule of looking out for number one, himself, with an uncanny ability to see ahead and manipulate others into his web and under his control. The question throughout the book is simply...why? what is his eventual goal?
While the writing can be a bit clunky at times the story and premise shine through. If you enjoyed Piers Anthony's 'Bio of a Space Tyrant', then you will likely enjoy this book as well.
The only downside for American listeners is the British accent of the reader, and that only on the names. Kees Van Loo-Macklin first name is pronounced Kays instead of, I would supposed, Keys. Also, the main Nuel character sounds like a british schoolboy. Still, Paul Ansdell does a fine job narrating, and we get used to his accent quite easily.
Well done and worth the credit, after all these years. Hopefully 'MidWorld' will be along soon....
I first read this in paperback in about 1985, and when I saw it here thought I'd give it a shot.
A curious, if not bizarre reading from Ansell - he seemed to read every line as if it were coming to him as something of a surprise and was unexpected. After a while though it seemed to work, and fitte well with the storyline.
The story itself has aged well, but still suffers from the problem that Loo-Macklin is basically an unstoppable God-like being who triumphs at everything every time. There's no hardship to counter his success.
Early on it becomes apparent that although the reader doesn't know why he's doing what he's doing, it's obvious that he will be successful at it.
Character voices are all similar, and many of the accents seem to imply that everybody comes from Liverpool or the surrounding area, although a couple of the Nuel seem to have lived in Birmingham long enough to pick up an accent.
I enjoyed this book, and will listen to it again. The best part of the reading was the reading itself - better than the plot. It took a while to get used to it, and Ansell mispronounces a few common English words occasionally - which is a personal pet-hate of mine, but I warmed to it and am now considering other books read by him.
Great to see this fine work of Alan Dean Foster finally available on audio. The Man Who Used The Universe is probably Foster's best work as it follows the lifelong obsession of one man from the criminal underworld to the heights of power and influence over Humans and alien's alike. Great performance as well from the narrator.