At 23, Jazen Parker has completed his Legion hitch a hero. But in four months, he'll have a price on his head. Worse, he's lost his past, and he can't find his future. Worst of all, he's chosen to search for them on the deadliest planet known to mankind.
When Jazen reluctantly hires on to a Trueborn Earthman tycoon's safari to bag a deadly trophy, the reluctant mercenary finds himself shipped out to Downgraded Earthlinke 476, the outpost at the end of the universe known to everyone except its tourism bureau as "Dead End". But the hunt goes terribly wrong, and Jazen must survive a tough, beautiful local guide who hates mercenaries, an 11-ton beast that can crush main battle tanks with one claw tied behind its back, and the return of a nightmare that has haunted Jazen since birth. Then Jazen learns that the stakes are not merely his own life, but the fate of an entire alien race.
©2011 Robert Buettner (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Buettner goes well beyond... military science fiction.... He understands... living as a soldier-the boredom punctuated by terror, the constant anxiety and self-doubt, the random chaos that battle always is, and the emotional glue that holds together people who may have nothing in common except absolute responsibility for one another's lives." (Joe Haldeman, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author)
"Entertaining. Buettner shows the Heinlein touch." (Denver Post)
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"CRAP ON CRUST"
ON DEAD END AMPUTATION APPEARED TO BE THE NEW BLACK
The beginning set this world up to be really spooky. The government agents our hero has to deal with when arriving our very funny. It is a jungle forest planet with some of the deadliest animals and insects in the universe. The biggest and badest animal happens to be sentient, but the humans don't realize it. ON DEAD END HUMANS DIDN'T MAKE ROADKILL, THEY WERE ROADKILL. A pretty good set up.
This feeling did not hold. Soon, the book goes into talking about guns. Another taking them apart and talking about how tough they are. As more characters are introduced they are two dimensional. If you are playing the arcade game the bad guys are running around with the bubble over there head saying bad guy. Giving a voice to the huge monsters almost saved the book for me. Still, it just was lacking something to get it over the booze line. It is not a awful book, just not a great book.
I must admit I didn’t think I would think highly of this book but it turned out to be a very good one.
I was highly entertained with the story and the human aspects. I hope there will be a second book.
There was just enough comedy and Sci-Fi to make me want more.
"Excellent first contact story"
Like the other reviews stated, I was very pleasantly surprised! The story was great, the narration was excellent, I ready liked the narrator's voices. Most of the story takes place on dead end, a world where humans are pretty much at the bottom of the food chain when unarmed. The story line is one where a few humans are searching for the secret ability of the top predator on the planet, who happens to be the top predator of the known galaxy. Overall, a very good audio book.
Jurassic Park & Enders Game meets Romancing the Stone.
Better then expected story. The story develops very quickly and has several unexpected twists. Military orphan without a past or future, highly intelligent horrifying alien beasts (grezzen), bounty hunter, plausible love interest, thought provoking, fast paced escapist science fiction.
This story has everything and then some. Ends way too soon but I guess that's why it's a series - looking forward to reading the others.
I hadn't read Buettner before, and frankly I wasn't expecting much when I bought this one. However, as soon as Mr. Andrews began to narrate the tale I was hooked. There are a number of facets to this book, but it is largely a first contact story from the point of view of a very alien (and ultimately pretty cool) alien. The ending is set up for a sequel, so it is kind of a jarring stop, but otherwise a great read. The author's knowledge of military armour is solid, true-born humans are arrogant jerks, and I'd imagine the orca was rather surprised (though only briefly)... read this book :)
"Wish it had a cliffhanger ending instead..."
If I had stopped reading this book at the 80% done point, I'd have only good things to say about it, and it would be a 4.5 star book. Unfortunately, the author carries the story on a bit too far and, to wrap it up, he chose to go "preachy". And, the salvation of the main character was deus-ex-machina... all that tension built up throughout the story only to have it never have been a problem in the first place?? huh... lazy.
I enjoyed the story while it was on Dead End - it was a sci-fi action novel with an interesting set of characters with an interesting dilemma ahead of them. It was when they left the planet (includes Miracle 1: available spaceship, Miracle 2: spaceship willing to carry the most dangerous creature in the universe) that the story became... well... ridiculous.
Dumb Act 1: guy on the run tells someone he barely knows that he is looking for a new identity (yes, of course a bounty hunter finds out, which is Miracle 3: bounty hunter is in the same point in the universe as the main character even though the character just arrived there after a very long journey). Then comes Dumb Act 2: marines shoot a rocket launcher inside a SPACESHIP - even I know not to do that and I've never even seen a gun. Here's where Miracle 4 and Miracle 5 occur: both the main character and the bounty hunter survive because there happened to be a left over forgotten emergency pod just where they were and alien monster survives the vacuum of space because the vacuum extinguished the fire that was going to burn him to death (but the vacuum of space itself was not fatal... hmmm).
... queue preachy moralistic interlude where alien monster kills intelligent non-human animal...
Then Dumb Act 3 occurs: main character is nearly dead from hypothermia but chooses to go back out into the storm to save the life of the man who plans to, at best, give him up to be executed and, at worst, kill him for the bounty on him.
Sigh... as I said, I wish the story had ended on Dead End, then none of these Miracles or Dumb Acts would have occurred and this book would have been very good. First time I've wished for a cliffhanger ending...
The narration is good. There is nothing graphic, no sex and no swearing.
"Unexpected view of the world"
This book was somewhat a surprise to me - I had it in my library for quite some time, and never really gave it any thought. I am assuming I bought it at a surprise sale. However once I actually listened to it, it ranked up with some of my favorite stories.
Well, saying it might very well be a spoiler - thus I will let it show itself when you listen to it.
Personally I really liked the voice given to the characters, made them come alive and added to their personality.
I can highly recommend this book for those that like a blend of Sci-fi, adventure and mystery. It gives a fairly unique look into a planetary society, with twists and turns that leaves one hoping for the next chapter. I sat up into the late hours just because I was waiting for my favorite character to make another appearance.
Only sad thing is that the next in the series is not quite as good, though it is definitely a solid listen.
I hope the author continues the series. I also like his writing style (lots of short chapters). But the main character's parents certainly should be named.....Worst Parents in the World! Their actions were equivalent to an American couple having their second baby in 1970's China. The State Police show up and claim that the child violates the one child law, so the parents hurriedly hand the child over to a hog merchant to hide.......for 16 years!
"Standard SciFi adventure"
This is a fairly standard SciFi adventure novel. I can't say that it is great, but it is a solid listen for what it is. If you want something that delivers something between military SciFi and an almost pulpy big game adventure/heroic adventure feel, this is it. I suggest buying this if you are bored or it is on sale.
"A surprisingly intriguing military sci-fi story"
I originally bought the book as an impulse buy from Audible because they kept taunting me with a deal on certain books. This was one of those books whose description was written in a way to capture the reader's attention while still managing to be vaguely suspicious. I wasn't sure if I liked the cover (recovering cover snob that I am), but I decided to give this a try, even if my brain did try to tell me that this was probably going to be Space Rambo. However, since this was my science fiction month and I wanted to round out my selection and adding to the fact that the reviews were mostly favorable, I decided to give it a chance. Surprisingly, it was an interesting listen.
Twenty three year old Jazen Parker agrees to go to a planet known colloquially as "Dead End" with a rich tycoon to hunt one of the deadliest animals in the universe. The payout from this job will help Parker to get a new identity and start his life anew without the threat of the former mercenary group he worked for since he was a teen or the bounty hunters who want to take him back to his home planet to answer for his "crime." He was born illegally on his home planet, and even though that wasn't his fault, he can still be punished for his parents' crime.
It's really hard to talk about this book without spoiling most of it. You think you're going into the book just getting a straightforward sci-fi military story with lots of action, and you do get that. However, you also get a well crafted sci-fi story that won't allow itself to be shoehorned into just another shoot-em-up story. This story explores human nature and the similarities and differences that could exist between two intelligent races by giving us chapters from the alien's point of view. He finds much of human behavior complex and needless. His own race is at an apex where they are absolutely on top of the food chain on their home planet and don't need many of the behaviors that humans possess. The longer he travels with his human companions the more he learns about things such as empathy and sacrifice, notions he doesn't have in his own culture because individuals in his race live solitary lives. They're firm believers in allowing an individual to meet his destiny alone.
We also learn more about this other race in the process. We learn about their loose society structure and how they've managed to thwart genocide by humans by pretending to be dumb creatures. As stated in the book: "Overall the human species tolerated dangers in nature. What they did not tolerate were rivals." Even though they know they are more intelligent and capable than humans. Humans possess knowledge and skills that make them very dangerous, especially to a territorial, solitary species like his where teamwork is downright disrespectful because it means encroaching on each other’s boundaries. However solitary they are, there is a thread of unity between them, a way they exchange knowledge, history, and ideas among themselves. They're stubborn about their worldview being the only view and humans are obviously delusional in their opinion until circumstances causes one of them to embark on a pivotal journey.
Humans in this book have conquered most of the known galaxy, becoming so numerous on some planets that it's a crime to reproduce without consent. (And I don't really understand why Parkers parent traveled to a planet where it's a criminal offense to have Parker, but maybe they had no other choice.) It's even mentioned that they have destroyed other intelligent species after being given resources they needed and have turned back to warring against each other, but with more dire consequences (such as slavery, even though it's supposedly humane, is a fate for the conquered). Humans are detached from earth, most having never seen earth and know little of its history.
Humans not knowing about their history, even if they've never laid eyes on earth, pains me. Parker will sometimes gripe about how trueborns think earth is the cultural apex of the universe and how names like George Washington mean nothing to him. While I can understand the sentiment, there are no other cultures present since it seems that humans have wiped out any other intelligent species, and the culture Parker complains about is the same culture who opened up the universe to humans. Just as Parker’s home world should be just as important to trueborns because it the collective history of humanity. Why wouldn't the history of earth and humans be some kind of required reading? I'm over thinking this thing.
I didn't know if I was going to enjoy the narrator at first, but he did very well and I think his characterization of Parker is what really stood out to me. He really made him feel distinct and alive for me. He managed to capture the youth and battle weary aspects of Parker's personality. Parker is young and naive about many things outside of battle like women, but he's seen so much war and death as a legionnaire. And MacCleod Andrews did a great job of capturing that.
This was an excellent story. There were a few parts that seemed kind of mystifying (Parker's parents' decision on where to have him) and parts that seemed to be quickly cobbled to the story as it neared its end. However, Buettner is knowledgeable about military and made it work in a way that isn't overwhelming for readers. He also knows how to make characters engaging, and I thought more than once he'd probably be a great writer for the Mass Effect series. I'll be moving on to book two in this series soon, hopeful that some mysteries remaining are solved.
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