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Neil Stoker

  • 8
  • reviews
  • 54
  • helpful votes
  • 20
  • ratings
  • The Trials of Rumpole

  • By: John Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Bill Wallis
  • Length: 7 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 98
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71

The irrepressible, audacious defence barrister Horace Rumpole whose court scenes are proverbial, and whose home is ruled by Mrs Rumpole, is back in these short stories by John Mortimer. The much loved stories were adapted from his scripts for the hugely popular TV series of the same name.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A very enjoyable read

  • By Flint on 07-12-14

Splendid continuation of the Rumpole stories

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

Reviewed: 03-01-19

If you're a fan of any of the other Rumpole audiobooks, you'll like this. Before purchase, I was a little concerned that I'd not be a fan of the narrator (it's not the same person who read the first recording) but despite a different style he delivers it very well and I quickly forgot any concerns.
The plots seem up to the usual standard and the final chapter ends of a great note (but no spoilers!)

  • Exactly

  • How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World
  • By: Simon Winchester
  • Narrated by: Simon Winchester
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 56

Best-selling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, a phone, a computer, a bicycle, a car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A beautiful and empathetic clarity of expression

  • By Alistair Kelman on 12-06-18

Full of fascinating insights

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

Reviewed: 02-11-18

Whilst occasionally I've struggled to explain the magic in this book to others, it's definitely there. The central theme is inspirational, but it's also the countless stories of the players big and small which are deftly worked into the larger narrative by Simon that keep this from being purely a technical outpouring. Having the author narrate the audiobook also adds a lot especially as he has brought in a few personal anecdotes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • A Legacy of Spies

  • By: John le Carré
  • Narrated by: Tom Hollander
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,131
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,031
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,021

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, is living out his old age on the family farmstead in Brittany when a letter summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself are to be scrutinised under disturbing criteria by a generation with no memory of the Cold War.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • New life into a favourite series

  • By nicole on 10-09-17

Fantasticly woven story

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

Reviewed: 08-04-18

I'd held off on selecting this book, in part because I was concerned how I'd feel if it didn't live up to the memories of the other Smiley books, but I needn't have been worried: it's superb and deftly weaves the original story line and the present day together. Tom Hollander is fine narrator too - I had thought he'd be wearing but his skill adds a lot to the experience and he varies his style expertly. He avoids falling into the "bad impression" trap many narrators good and bad so often do.

  • The Silk Roads

  • A New History of the World
  • By: Peter Frankopan
  • Narrated by: Laurence Kennedy
  • Length: 24 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,511
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,279
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,262

The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westward on its axis, it now turns to the east.... For centuries, fame and fortune were to be found in the West - in the New World of the Americas. Today it is the East that calls out to those in search of adventure and riches. The region stretching from Eastern Europe and sweeping right across Central Asia, deep into China and India, is taking center stage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • History that is as entertaining as it is educating

  • By Natalia on 03-12-15

It's an epic undertaking, well worth the time!

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

Reviewed: 08-01-18

It is a substantial undertaking, with around a continuous day worth of narration, which spun out to a couple of weeks worth of commutes. At first I wondered about the style but it grew on me pretty quickly. Like anything of this type, you need to be aware of biases and what is focused on, but I enjoyed the way the author doesn't shy away from giving groups the tough words they deserve without succumbing to dressing them up as clichéd "bad guys". Definitely one I'll listen to again and probably pick up different points second time round.

  • Foundation and Empire

  • By: Isaac Asimov
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 491
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 383
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 382

The Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are one of the great masterworks of science fiction. Unsurpassed for their unique blend of nonstop action, daring ideas, and extensive world-building, they chronicle the struggle of a courageous group of men and women to preserve humanity's light against an inexorable tide of darkness and violence.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Better than the first book

  • By Peter on 01-03-11

Classic Asimov

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

Reviewed: 17-11-17

Follows the usual style: very ponderous tedious style, starts slow but builds excitement over time.

  • Thinking Machines

  • The Inside Story of Artificial Intelligence and Our Race to Build the Future
  • By: Luke Dormehl
  • Narrated by: Gus Brown
  • Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43

The year 2016 marks the 60-year anniversary of the phrase 'artificial intelligence', and in this fascinating audiobook Luke Dormehl charts the weird and wonderful journey of one of mankind's greatest projects, the creation of Thinking Machines. This is a story of what it means to be human in the face of accelerating machine intelligence. It's about trying to make computers that are smarter than we are and what happens when it goes wrong. About what creativity means when all knowledge is data that can be stored on microchips.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A great summary of the field with some hidden gems

  • By Neil Stoker on 29-08-17

A great summary of the field with some hidden gems

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

Reviewed: 29-08-17

A very enjoyable overview of the broad topic of artificial intelligence, covering origins and exploring where it might go. It's a very different book from Super Intelligence by Bostrom but I found the style much more accessible and less plodding. It doesn't go deep into the technical details but gives plenty of context and is clear at all times.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Superintelligence

  • Paths, Dangers, Strategies
  • By: Nick Bostrom
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 341
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 310
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 306

Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful - possibly beyond our control.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Timely topic, ponderous style and robot narrator

  • By Neil Stoker on 16-08-17

Timely topic, ponderous style and robot narrator

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

Reviewed: 16-08-17

What made the experience of listening to Superintelligence the most enjoyable?

It's a timely topic that is covered in great detail, perhaps stating the obvious a bit too frequently. It is extremely thorough in the approach, delving into a variety of areas that support the central topic of AI and the potential threats it harbours

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator is a text to speech synthesiser rather than a real person, and whilst it is better than most, giving a fair degree of intonation, it fails badly at times (eg abbreviations said in a way no human would say) and because the tone is so repetitive any initial advantages in clarity are soon swamped by the monotony.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, and this is partly the topic, partly the style and partly the synthetic narrator.

Any additional comments?

It's remarkable that no reviews appear to identify that the narrator is synthetic (one person stated that it was spoken like one). It isn't clear from the sample if you are not prepared but it is obvious once you start to listen, as most words at the same point in a sentence have identical sound, lacking the subtle variation that human narrators provide. It is surprisingly clear but in the long run it becomes extremely tedious to listen to. This also brings the question of whether the book is good value, and given that the narrator being synthetic is not made clear to the purchasers I feel that it is not. Others may disagree and it's a matter of taste but you should be aware before you purchase

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Foundation

  • By: Isaac Asimov
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 8 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 998
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 801
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 797

For 12,000 years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future, to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last 30,000 years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire, both scientists and scholars, and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • On Audible at last!

  • By Peter on 01-03-11

A classic, worth perseverance

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

Reviewed: 26-07-17

Having loved it as a child I wanted to revisit it. To my surprise, it was a little slow to get into, but after persevering it built up interest over time and I was quite gripped by the final section.