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matt hall

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  • Tiamat's Wrath

  • The Expanse, Book 8
  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 19 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 375
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 337

Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper. In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Yet another outstanding sequel

  • By Chris I on 05-04-19

they just keep getting better...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-04-19

huge fan of the series and a huge fan of Jefferson Mayes' excellent on-point narration. This is the penultimate book in the saga and so could easily have been an exercise in incrementally putting characters in the right place for kicking off the denouement.

instead we have probably the best installment of the series so far with some major shocks and changes along the way. this isn't what I expected to happen in this book. the series is all the better for the cottage of the authors.

tenterhooks for the next one!

  • Station Eleven

  • By: Emily St John Mandel
  • Narrated by: Jack Hawkins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,413
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,299
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,302

Day one: The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the Earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%. Week Two: Civilization has crumbled. Year Twenty: A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and it threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not just another dystopian novel

  • By Rosalynde on 20-07-15

haunting and superb

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-03-19

this is a wonderful book. a huge disaster told through the lens of a more human scale disaster. it's beautiful and human and complex.

Semiosis
    A Novel
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Sue Burke
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Caitlin Davies,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Daniel Thomas May
    
    


    
    Length: 14 hrs and 46 mins
    63 ratings
    Overall 4.1
  • Semiosis

  • A Novel
  • By: Sue Burke
  • Narrated by: Caitlin Davies, Daniel Thomas May
  • Length: 14 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 59

Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape - trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A fascinating idea

  • By Concerned3rdParty on 12-02-18

Tails off towards the end

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-07-18

This isn't a bad book. It has an interesting setting and some good characters, the central of which is a sentient plant.

The author does a nice job of worldbuilding, although I didn't find the plant very convincing - it was able to react too quickly and came across more like a sentient computer.

Things trail off a bit in the last act, and the denouement is a bit of a let down. It was OK, not fantastic.

  • Children of Time

  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Mel Hudson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,454
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,218
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,212

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed stand-alone novel Children of Time is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet. Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life. But all is not right in this new Eden.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tchaikovsky is still writing Symphonies!

  • By Simon on 11-05-17

Imaginative stuff, well told

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-06-18

There's a lie to like here. Genuine empathy for the other, albeit a very anthropomorphised other, and a plausible tale of the rise of a nonhuman intelligence.

  • The Order of Time

  • By: Carlo Rovelli
  • Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Length: 4 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 333
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 303
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 300

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant!

  • By Steffan H. on 29-08-18

Masterful and personal

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-18

This is partly a book about physics, partly consciousness, partly about being human and or limitations.

Rovelli spends a considerable amount of time discussing what physics has to say about time, before returning to the question of why we perceive time in the way that we do when the evidence is so strong that this is an illusion.

On the way he delves into philosophy, history, music, and literature and throughout cumberbatch's narration bring a resonance and erudition which make the journey an absolute joy.

As a physicist, there are points where the argument seems a little thin - the low entropy state of the early universe is dealt with as a dictation in a wider universe. Really just a statement of the anthropic principle, which is a little off hand. These are minor quibbles, though. The real point is the journey and the synthesis, which is masterly.

Thoroughly enjoyed this. I recommend it to anyone in a meditative frame of mind.

  • Noumenon

  • By: Marina J. Lostetter
  • Narrated by: Christopher Ragland, Laurence Bouvard, Madeleine Rose
  • Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 180
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 170

In 2088 humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system, and astrophysicist Reggie Straifer knows where we should go. He's discovered a distant anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics. It could be a weird natural phenomenon, or it could be alien. Convoy 7's mission to discern the nature of the star's strange qualities will use vast resources and take centuries, so in order to maintain the genetic talent of the first crew, clones will be used for the expedition.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Reminscent of the best of Foundation

  • By Matt Dovey on 16-08-17

Interesting read with the capacity to surprise

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

This is decibel not a buy-the-numbers novel. Get writing conceit and has a tenancy to zag when think it'll zig. Narration was capable, although if I was being picky the characterisation could have been more varied.

Overall very decent.

  • Eon

  • By: Greg Bear
  • Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
  • Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 184
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 153
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 153

Perhaps it wasn't from our time, perhaps it wasn't even from our universe, but the arrival of the 300-kilometer long stone was the answer to humanity's desperate plea to end the threat of nuclear war. Inside the deep recesses of the stone lies Thistledown: the remnants of a human society, versed in English, Russian and Chinese. The artifacts of this familiar people foretell a great Death caused by the ravages of war, but the government and scientists are unable to decide how to use this knowledge.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent story

  • By David on 22-04-15

drags a bit

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-05-18

In many ways this is an interesting book. The parallels with Rendezvous With Rama are obvious, and Bear's writing is fairly reminiscent of Clark. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the scope of that ideas here is far greater than Rama, and in many ways this is a more sophisticated novel.

Interestingly, what really dates this is that it's so very rooted in the Cold War, clash of great powers mentality of the mid 80s. We see a 21st century Soviet Union and the threat of global war in a way which seems ironic given the changes that would occur just 4 years after this book's publication.

It's also a child of ours time in other ways. After the hard science fiction of the opening chapters, it gives way to more conventional thriller territory and you can see the influence of the emerging 80s on thriller genre.

Ultimately I found this unsatisfying. Once we establish what's actually going on in the stone the matador shifts to a fairly uninspired political thriller where the supposedly advanced future civilisation reveals itself to be easily fooled and out-thought in ways that don't seem plausible. The entire second half of the plot feels like it's lifted from a different, inferior, novel and the denouement falls to engage.

It feels a little as if a shorter, better novel was edited and passed out into something which the publisher thought would sell better, losing its punch on the way.

  • Angelmaker

  • By: Nick Harkaway
  • Narrated by: Daniel Weyman
  • Length: 17 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 376
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 311
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 315

All Joe Spork wants is a quiet life. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don't always get paid and he's single and has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he's not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, his infamous criminal dad. Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn't. She's a former superspy and now she's... well... old. When Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. It's a 1950s doomsday machine....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Now that is a great book. just so clever. you will

  • By Gavingks on 29-03-13

Another great harkaway

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-05-18

This was great, full of verve and style. Lots to enjoy, although for me at least not quite as good as The Gone Away World. Still worth your time, though.

  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

  • By: Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
  • Narrated by: Laurence Bouvard, Shelley Atkinson, Laural Merlington, and others
  • Length: 24 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 449
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 418
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 419

You think you know how the world works? Think again. From best-selling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed historical and contemporary novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller that questions the very foundations of the modern world. Magic has faded from the minds of mankind, until an encounter between Melisande Stokes, linguistics expert at Harvard, and Tristan Lyons, shadowy agent of government, leads to the uncovering of a distant past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The DODO may not be extinct just yet!

  • By Simon on 18-06-17

Fun, but...

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-05-18

This is a fun romp. Feels like the intro to a series. There's a nice mix of characters and a decent take on time travel with some fun adventures. It's diverting, it's decent.

Given that Stephenson's name is on the cover, though, it does feel a bit like he's phoning it in. There are some of his favorite tropes: science, the enlightenment, the birth of nations and the modern world, and many-worlds cosmology. All great, but all things he's visited before in the the baroque cycle and Anathem.

I love Stephenson and loved the baroque cycle and Anathem, but those are much more satisfying and deep takes on these ideas with more thinking and questioning than this book. This is more throwaway.

  • The Gone-Away World

  • By: Nick Harkaway
  • Narrated by: Matt Bates
  • Length: 22 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 168
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 168

The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out - but there's more to the fire than meets the eye. A story of love and loss; of ninjas and pirates; and of a friendship stretched beyond its limits. But it is also the story of a world, not unlike our own, in desperate need of heroes - however unlikely they may seem.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Weird

  • By Alathia on 14-02-15

Fabulous, moving, bizarre, hilarious

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-04-18

This is one of the most satisfying books I have ever read. It manages to convey almost every emotion and sentiment I can think of whilst maintaining a plot which genuinely surprises and delights.

The author's style is unique and glorious, and the narrator does a sprouted job of keeping up. There is genuinely something here for everyone. I would put this alongside Chandler or Douglas Adams.