- I, Robot (Narrated by Scott Brick)
- The Caves of Steel (Narrated by William Dufris)
- The Naked Sun (Narrated by William Dufris)
- The Robots of Dawn (Narrated by William Dufris)
Asimov’s work is enjoyable on much the same level as Heinlein’s, though there are vast differences in the style of their work. Heinlein was an author of characters while Asimov was an author of plots. That’s not to say that either one could not do the other. I’m simply stating their focus. Heinlein occasionally pulled off charming, while Asimov was ‘grave and sober.’ (Those were his own words used to describe his work in an anthology called Nightfall and Other Stories.) Heinlein was something of a fanatic with strong sociopolitical views, giving his storytelling an agenda. Asimov claims to have told stories for the sheer joy of doing so. He even described himself as being addicted to writing, mentioning dedicating 70 hours a week to practicing his craft and pursuits related to his craft.
Obviously, that did not preclude his chosen profession from shining through in his work. He comes up with sociologically interesting scenarios, populated by extremely neurotic characters (the ones who aren’t robots), none of which I found terribly likeable, and he runs them off in directions that are intriguing. The last three books on my list are part of a series of science fiction mysteries. He seems drawn to that ‘whodunit’ sort of plot. I found all three books quite enjoyable, but—no surprise—I believe the series of interrelated short stories called ‘I, Robot’ to be the real gem here.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Narrated by Douglas Adams)
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Narrated by Douglas Adams)
I’ll probably be strung up by my toenails for saying this, but this series became a bit overwrought for my tastes. I couldn’t face picking up the third book. The series starts off cute enough. In fact, I enjoyed the first book quite a lot. By about midway through the second book, I was struggling to finish. The plot bounces gaily from one absurdity to another. It lost me on about the third bounce.
- The MaddAddam Trilogy – Book 1 – Oryx and Crake (Narrated by Campbell Scott)
- The MaddAddam Trilogy – Book 2 – The Year of the Flood (Narrated by Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol, Mark Bramhall)
I’m not even sure what to say about this series. Two books I’ve read were both well written. I mean, we are talking Margret Atwood. She is one heck of a writer. The difficulty for me lies in deciding whether I liked the story. I’m not sure. The subject is a fairly plausible—at least in some respects—dystopian future. I’m tempted to finish the series before I really weigh in.
I will say that unlike many readers, I found the second book more enjoyable than the first. Both books cover the same time period from two completely different points of view. I found God’s Gardeners easier to identify with than Crazy Hammock Guy (Jimmy aka: Snowman) or any of his gene splicing friends (the ones who made the mess). Jimmy does one heck of a lot of whining over his somewhat superfluous role in said mess. That might be part of my problem.
- The Windup Girl (Narrated by Jonathan Davis)
This is another one of those ‘we’re treating the planet like a five-year-old does a juice box’ dystopian future novels. There are a few concepts here to love. The topmost in my opinion is the idea that calories have become currency in a world that starves. That’s a truism I’ve never seen employed quite so literally. This story is full of simple, clever stuff like that. The primary characters are all well formed. I enjoyed it.
Some people complained that it starts off slow and stays slow while the primary characters are being put through their initial paces. I didn’t so much notice that. I don’t mind a plethora of details as long as they’re useful to the plot. What I do mind is a lot of overlap. The narrative did suffer from a fair bit of the same characters expressing the same woes in exactly the same way. That did bother me a touch.As to the pacing, what I did feel was that the end was somewhat rushed. Perhaps I just became accustomed to the pacing at the beginning? I’m not sure, but there is a radical difference between the first half and the last, which makes the ending feel significantly less adorned with useful details and explanation, some of which it might suffer for. It’s hard to say. I wasn’t confused by the ending, but I didn’t find it particularly memorable either, even though the world and a few of its inhabitants were.
Iain M. Banks
- Culture – Book 2 – The Player of Games (Narrated by Peter Kenny)
The protagonist of this story wasn’t a terribly likeable person. Actually, the words ‘conceited’ and ‘curmudgeon’ come to mind. I suppose it’s a good thing that the plot was interesting. There were also enough amusing secondary characters to offset Mr. Scrooge. The plot was pretty linear. It was an enjoyable a romp.
That said, I’m not sure that I’ll pick up any of the other books in this series. It was good, but it didn’t hook me to the point that I needed to know more about the Culture universe.
- World War Z: The Complete Edition: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Narrated by F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Becky Ann Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Nicki Clyne, Common, Denise Crosby, Frank Darabont, Dean Edwards, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Maz Jobrani, Frank Kamai, Michelle Kholos, John McElroy, Ade M’Cormack, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Steve Park, Kal Penn, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Tee, John Turturro, Eamonn Walker, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter)
This is quite simply one of the finest audio books I’ve ever listened to. Ignore the movie. Grab this instead. There really is no better way to tell this story than what’s offered here.
The funny thing about this is that I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed these stories half as much had I just read the book. There’s something about the whole package of audio-drama and the interview format of the book that come together here to form something that’s highly satisfying. It was so good I listened to it twice in a row.
- The Dresden Files – Book 1 – Storm Front (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 2 – Fool Moon (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 3 – Grave Peril (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 4 – Summer Knight (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 5 – Death Masks (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 6 – Blood Rites (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 7 – Dead Beat (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 8 – Proven Guilty (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 9 – White Night (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 10 – Small Favor (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 11 – Turn Coat (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 13 – Changes (Narrated by James Marsters)
- The Dresden Files – Book 14 – Ghost Story (Narrated by John Glover)
- The Dresden Files – Book 15 – Cold Days (Narrated by James Marsters)
This starts off okay enough. It isn’t great, especially if you caught the television series on Sci-fi. The first book was actually delivered by the series with very few changes.
It grows. James Marsters grows as a narrator too. By about the third or fourth book, both the story and the narration are excellent. The one shock is when John Glover stepped in. That was a little rough. I hold with the majority opinion that it sucked.
The series is a pretty straightforward piece of storytelling created for pure entertainment. In as far as I can discern, there aren’t any hidden morality tales; no couched political or religious messages; no arty, poetic prose. I’ve referred to that on occasion as ‘popcorn fic,’ especially in short form, which this notably isn’t. Most people call that ‘leisure reading.’ My father and I discussed the series when last we were together. He’s been listening to it too and enjoying it quite a lot. I used my term and he agreed that this is a tad more substantive than the usual ‘popcorn fic.’ He joked that it was like almonds or something. I thought that was funny…and actually kind of a perfect analogy. This has a bit more meat. It’s a smidge better within the genre.
It should be noted that Jim Butcher does a fine job with the physics and physicality of action as well…until his narrative gets near a Harley Davidson motorcycle, then his sense of decorum goes straight out the window. It really is quite funny.
- In Cold Blood (Narrated by Scott Brick)
News flash: Truman Capote was a jerk. The fact that that totally comes through in the narrative is somewhat amusing. It’s still well worth listening to. Scott Brick’s performance is excellent, not that that’s anything new. The package holds only one real surprise for the uninitiated: one of the two murders is quite sympathetic. I recognized some of my own defects in him. I related to him a little too well. It was jarring. The fact that he was most likely the guiltier of the two parties wasn’t helpful at all.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Narrated by Davina Porter)
What can I really say about this? The narrator had a pleasant voice. I enjoyed it.
- 14 (Narrated by Ray Porter)
This was fun. The concept was amusing. The cast of characters was delightfully quirky. It was a solid piece of pure entertainment with broad appeal. The summary doesn’t make it sound like much, but don’t pay attention to that. This is one of those stories that would be very difficult to summarize without giving anything away. I suspect it would be best experienced without any foreknowledge, which is tough. I picked it up based on customer reviews that had given enough away that I had the basic premise of the plot. More’s the pity. Just know that it’s good and go in cold if you can.
- The Man in the Brown Suit (Narrated by Emila Fox)
- The Big Ten (Narrated by Hugh Frasier)
- The Seven Dials Mystery (Narrated by Emila Fox)
This is another case of ‘what more can I say?’ Of the two narrators, Emila Fox is better. I enjoyed both of the books she narrated quite a lot. Though, my reaction to the Hercule Poirot story might’ve just as easily been because of the character. He’s a cocky little cuss. I’m willing to give him another chance. ‘The Big Ten’ was his first appearance. It’s possible that as the mysteries get more intricate and therefore intriguing, that the character’s quirks will become less pronounced. Though, I think the real appeal for me will probably preclude Monsieur Poirot.
It’s too early to judge. I haven’t had much exposure to Agatha Christie’s work, just a few movies. I thought it might be interesting to see how she constructs a mystery. She is esteemed to be among the best. These early books are bound to be more simplistic. I suspect as I move forward that this tangent will become quite fun.
Kenneth C. Davis
- Don’t Know Much About Mythology (Narrated by John Lee & Lorna Raver)
This has possibilities as an excellent reference book. I considered getting a hardcopy or an ebook to use along with the audio copy. Unfortunately the audiobook’s chapter index is skewed, so using them together would never work. I’d recommend that if you’re interested, you should just purchase the book. It would ultimately be more useful, especially if combined with text copies of the actual myths.
I enjoyed listening to it, but as a reference, it’s pretty much useless.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Great Gatsby (Narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal)
I liked this much more than thought I would. The story was quite good and the performance was above par.
- Dominion (Narrated by R.C. Bray)
This just made me want to acquire the Coldfire Trilogy. The short story is such a small sample, just enough to give an idea of the author’s skill and taste of the world he created. It really was the perfect freebie. One day I will pick up the series.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Narrated by Neil Gaiman)
I absolutely freaking loved this. It’s likely to become another one of those books that I just pick up on occasion because I enjoyed it so much. I won’t tell you about it because that wouldn’t be fair. It’s typical Neil Gaiman, putting a face on another legend, complete with a memorable personality.
- The Winter Sea (Narrated by Rosalyn Landor)
- The Firebird (Narrated by Katherine Kellgren)
I picked these up on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. This isn’t, by any means, my usual fare. Both stories involve double-decker romances with one relationship forming in the present and another forming in the past during the Jacobite uprising during the late sixteen-hundreds and early seventeen-hundreds. The view of the past is afforded in both cases by supernatural means. The first book features a writer who is able to glimpse the past through her craft. The latter features a psychic who is able to reach into the past through contact with related items. Both books are very well written with intriguing plots that intertwine. I was impressed.