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Black Ops

Expeditionary Force, Book 4
Narrated by: R. C. Bray
Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2,127 ratings)
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Summary

The elite crew of the pirate ship UNS Flying Dutchman had a simple mission: determining whether the Thuranin are sending another starship to Earth. Along the way, they became sidetracked by securing a future for the UNEF troops on the planet Paradise. When asked whether Earth was now safe, their ancient alien AI responded "Not so much"...now they have to deal with the consequences.

©2017 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Super-Skippy-Just-Fantastic-Expeditionary-Force!

Sit down strap in and get ready for another episode of one of the funniest and most inventive sci-fi series I've come across in a long time. Episode four of Alanson's Expeditionary Force sees Joe Bishop's Merry Band of Pirates careering across the galaxy, staggering from crisis to crisis only to end on another cliffhanger! Yes there will be even more to come after this one!

Earth is once again under threat so The Flying Dutchmen and her crew including Skippy, the sci-fi world's favourite beer can are once again embroiled in Alanson's heady mix of impossible situations, amazing alien politics and of course zany humour. In fact he really does go Spinal Tap on us and dial it up to eleven in this one.

I suspect that sense of humour is also being directed at his narrator here. His text has Maestro Bray doing everything from singing a high-pitched La Marseillaise of all things to a wonderfully credible Chewbacca. Being the trooper he is RC Bray rises to each and every challenge with suitable awesomeness!

I could split hairs over some of the editing including some very repetitive small passages but even I can't spectacularly miss the point of these books by quite that much. They are the Sci-Fi equivalent of a good boozy night down the pub with old friends. Good fun, warmly humorous and thoroughly satisfying until the following morning - when you realise you stayed up waaaay too late listening to it!

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Skippy the Magnificent

Another excellent installment , expertley narrated by RC Bray, believe in "The Awesomeness" of Skippy the Magnificent..

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Trust the awesomeness

Just trust the awesomeness and keep listening to another great story and performance by RC Bray. What will be in the next book......

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Incredible! Couldn’t get enough!

This book gets full marks from me! Seriously entertaining! When is the next book due to come out... I can’t wait any longer! Congratulations Craig this series is tremendous, please hurry and publish more audio books in the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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More outstanding work!

Another amazing adventure with Skippy and the merry band of pirates... Cannot wait for the next installment and hope it comes soon we rather than later 😀

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Oh you Bastards!

loved it
you didn't have to do that at the end... WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK!!!!!!!!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love it!

Not much to say other then I want more!!! If you liked the last 4 books your going to like this. The whole series is well worth a read if you haven't allready

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Damn it

Hurry up and write the next one haha. This guy is excellent at cliff hanger endings. Though I will say the inclusion of book 3.5 made me lose track a little with the main plot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

#trust the awesomeness

Some things are certain in life.

Death, taxes and Craig Alanson writing wonderfully fun books.

I feel bad only giving 4*, and really it's 4.5* as I stayed up to 3am last night listening. But after 3 super previous books this one seemed to just slightly lack the originality of the first books. R C Bray is his usually genius self and in Skippy, I think I've found an audio character that will never be topped.

It's just that the jokes are now more comfortably familiar than laugh out loud (though lots of sniggering) and action scenes felt just a little flatter with plot twists even more outrageous. This is of course like criticising Usain Bolt for only running a 9.9s 100m. It's still great by any standards, but not quite the best. So overall great fun and my standout series of 2017 continues to deliver.

Get listening!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic<br />

If you suffer from insomnia then this is the book for you. If you don't you may want to read up on the condition because you'll have it after this book. Great continuing story line and RC Bray brings it all together. I think I'll take a break before I listen to the next one as I need some sleep.☺

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tyson S Sukeforth
  • 04-10-17

Solid continuation that fizzles at the end

What I love about Craig's writing style that really shines in this book is diving into the randomness of an unpredictable universe. Exploring the minutia of various events along the story that are anywhere between game changing to inconsequential. And they can be either unfortunate or fortuitous or both. It gives the story more chance to tell a larger picture and creates a living world that, especially for a sci-fi series, feels very grounded in reality. Sometimes the story is a grind as they duck and weave through updating situations and unintended consequences because that's how combat and problem solving actually is.

Unfortunately he sticks to the style a little too well, as the book sputters at the end without a very satisfying conclusion before setting up the next book. By the end the characters are exhausted and strung out and so are we. And I appreciate that this is very likely representative of what most of real life combat is like. But the book just ends there, without excitement or satisfaction. Postponing the payoff to the next book. And since we already had to wait a little longer for this book to fit in "Trouble in Paradise", it's going to make the wait for the next story EXCRUCIATING. And not in a great way.

It hurts to say because I overall I really love the book and the series, and it's a small knock on what's otherwise a great read, unfortunately that little bit is what's going to stick with me while we wait the months for the next installment.

My suggestion, if you haven't jumped on this book as soon as it came out like I did, (and, admittedly, would likely still do even if I read my advice from the future because I am a sucker for this series,) hold off on this until it's closer to the next release, so you can jump right into the next for the payoff that we should have at least gotten a piece of in this one.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-10-17

Not as good as the first three

While still enjoyable, this 4th installment seemed long and overly complicated. In order to understand what was going on the explanations were long and convoluted. The banter between Skippy and Joe was not nearly as funny as before. I did gafaw out loud, but only a few times.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • manny_calavera
  • 28-10-17

Still fun but losing a bit of luster

Still fun, with great narrator, but the story is losing some steam and the banter is getting stale.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua Harris
  • 13-10-17

Worth listening to for the narrator alone

If you are even mildly into to science fiction this is a great book to pick up. The story is good as with all the other books in the series, but RC Bray's narration, especially his characterization of Skippy, is worth the price of admission all by itself. Trust the awesomeness

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • E. Erickson
  • 16-10-17

Good listen, but should have been 5 stars

R. C. Bray's performance & Alanson's writing were both great. I don't want to spoil anything, but I didn't like the ending. Obviously there's more to come, and that is great. However, after putting that much time into this book, to have it end on lackluster scene is depressing.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • User 48D-X21A
  • 06-11-17

A Good Middle Story Series Entry

This was a good book and RC Bray's narration was on point once again. The Skippy dilemma continues though as a beer can sized deus ex machina is used a bit much for another book. Luckily, the story is still enjoyable, but I wish this was more star trek and less star wars in the story. I find that I enjoy EF books that are more focused on the merry band on a planet and less on the spec ops side. Both sides are good, but Skippy + Bishop exploring the galaxy are fantastic to listen to.

I would probably have continued through this series if it stayed as that narrative of Joe Bishop alone. The book changed completely as soon as that beer can unlocked that first door. That was a total plottwist. Sadly, without the deus ex beercan, this series wouldn't really continue in any sensible way.

My biggest qualm this book is the freakin' non-ending cliffhanger ending. It feels like this story was either too long or too short for the narrative it was telling. Book 3 suffered from this problem as well, made even worse since Book 3.5 should've been interwoven into that to make 1 longer-than-normal entry into the series.

Now, time to sit around and wait for book 5, which is a guaranteed pre-order for me.

As always, trust the awesome!

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua
  • 02-10-17

This book was excellent.

I would recommend you wait for the next book to come so you don't get as irritated at the non-ending as i did.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Cain
  • 13-10-17

More PLEASE

I got on board with the first book and have enjoyed the journey hugely. I look forward to more Joe Bishop and Skippy adventures.
NOW HURRY UP AND WRITE MORE.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve
  • 02-01-18

Slightly better than books two and three.....

If not for the fan-fu**ing-tastic narration of Mr. R.C. Bray, I would have stopped after book two. The stories are essentially the same narrative time and time again. Problem = Solution = Secondary Problem = Solution....and it's almost always a Bishoped plan with a Skippy (I hate my life) technical solution. How do we get onto that Starship/Asteroid/Planet or how do we intercept/transmit messages to gain or give information that will help our mission. Skippy is one giant Deus Ex Machina, and it's entertaining for a while, but when the narrative begins to argue with itself over what Skippy can and can't do....well, it's a bit much.

More importantly, the lacking character development is painful. This is book 4, and by now I would expect that some of our team would have grown, especially in light of all that they have witnessed. These characters are still paper thin with very little depth. I know almost nothing about our Protagonist Joe Bishop is basically Joe SixPack. An everyman that has been placed in the right place at the right time. In the first book, we watched him go from grunt to Sargent and then to Colonel...it was a feel good moment to see this everyman put in charge of an entire brigade, then a starship. When Joe and the Merry Band of Pirates returned home after their second journey, I expected another promotion. Instead we watched as he was dressed down by superiors for making decisions that were (at the time) very reasonable and even heroic. But for the sake of the story, I accepted this bizarre twist. And now we have Chotek (sp?) who is essentially an amalgam of every undesirable government agent from Earth. Now that he's seen the universe unfold before his eyes, has his disposition changed? Has he become a more tolerable leader? Has he come to understand that Joe is a hero and not a hapless idiot? No, no and no. There is no character growth here at all. These people have seen some sh*t and they need to behave in ways that make sense. The most ironic thing in this entire series is that Skippy has the most character growth of them all....an AI that supposedly lacks depth or empathy has the most complicated character arc of them all.

And for the love of all things Skippy, PLEASE resolve some of these loose ends. With every chapter we seem to get more hints at the origins of Skippy, but we learn almost nothing. It's book 4, we should have made some progress towards that goal. I cannot sit through another set of books waiting for progress.

I have so many more issues with these books, but I also love them so much, it hurts to be so critical. But if the author happens to be considering a change in narration, DON'T DO IT. R.C. Bray is your Tom Brady. Don't forget that.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • john
  • 05-11-17

Skippy is losing steam

Still love the concept but plot was thin and ended on a cliffhanger that was passe. Here’s hoping that the next book will actually have some new and interesting developments that we haven’t seen before.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful