Proxima: Book 1
Written by Stephen Baxter.
Narrated by Kyle McCarley.
Uri Eden, the name he choose to go by to retain some defense against abuse, wakes up for the second time in his short twenty years from Cryo Sleep. His existence has spanned nearly a hundred and sixty years from what the Solar System has dubbed the Heroic Era, derisively. He wakes up on a kernel driven starship during the first half of the ship’s trek to Proxima Centauri, Nearest star to Sol. He is one of near two hundred undesirables swept up by Peace Keepers to form the first Sydney like colony on a world in another star system.
This is so little of what is contained in this work you can be assured you have not had it spoiled. Some other ingredients range from AI’s, tri-pod alien life, Earth as a two power entity and much more. Baxter is an excellent world builder who hits all the important details including how people handle change. Narration was outstanding in vocal range appropriate to each of the characters giving you more than just the words to form a mind picture of each. Great job.
I’m hooked. Already listening to the sequel, Ultima. Awarding the rare five out of five entertainment units some call stars. Enjoy!
Written by James S. A. Corey.
Narrated by Jefferson Mays.
Now we’re talking. This was book five in the series and the narrator was in top form for this one. Good thing too because this installment was awesome.
Jim Holden is finally learning to keep his trap shut at appropriate times to…at least reduce conflict. The crew of the Rosenante have some down time while their ship gets pieced back together. Well down time is a bit misleading. Alex (the pilot) returns to Mars to reunite with the ex-wife and when that turns out as stupid as it sounds he gets to helping Bobbi (big Samoan Amazon goddess Martian Marine) go chasing down missing Martian Navy ships.
Amos Burton (Ship’s Engineer) returns to Earth to put closure onto his past and finds himself in a struggle for survival. It’s not the kind of struggle you would imagine of an ex-street thug/gangster. The Earth will never be the same.
Naomi (XO) also goes back to her past to try and right things that have been left askew. That goes about as good as anyone else’s plans. She finds that she has to use the inner strength she has acquired over the years to protect her new family, the crew of the Rosenante, from her old family. A bunch of Belter terrorists.
Back to Holden, who is also drawn into a missing ship conspiracy. These are Colony ships going missing past Medina Station and the system linking rings. Not to worry because the proto-molecule does get some story time here.
This does have a lot of potential and I hope the SyFy network doesn’t screw it up or half-ass the TV version due to release in January 2016. The story and narration here win 4 out of 5 starships from me. Good job!
Book 4 in the Expanse series
Written by James S. A. Corey
Narrated by Erik Davies
“The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity’s home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire. Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage, and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. The struggle on Ilus threatens to spread all the way back to Earth. James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the midst of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail. And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilization that once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed it.”
The above is the description of the book from audible minus the first paragraph which I decided was ridiculously misleading compared to the actual condition of Ilus. I’m going to get to the point in a hurry here because the author doesn’t need my help…the consumer does, although maybe the author should see this.
Cibola Burn falls into line telling the story of the Expanse in a logical and entertaining manner. Narrator points of view in this story include: James Holden, Bobby the Martian Gunnery Sergeant, Dr. Occoy (Spelling, oops I listened to the book), Basia an unwilling grassroots terrorist and Dimitri Havelock the ex-partner of Detective Miller from the previous books. Almost left one out but I’ll leave that one as a surprise. The interweaving of all these points of view was excellent but it makes for some awkward situations when action scenes are being. Maybe the best action scene in the books happens when an REC security guy impulsively kills one of the First Landing colonists just to make an impression. What makes it perhaps the best is absence of monologue.
Another issue with rushing to get matter out to the consumer here is that a decision was made to have Erik Davies narrate this one instead of Jefferson Mays. I noticed Mays will be returning in the narration of the next installment. As a consumer I got used to Mays range of voices and he helped develop my mental imagery of the characters. Mr. Davies either could not or chose not to follow these established characteristics and now it’s kind of embarrassing.
I’m giving this one a three out of five on performance and four out of five on the story.
by M. Pax
Craze is the name of a Verkinn barkeep on the almost forgotten planet called Pardeep. Pardeep has a distinction in that it is directly adjacent to a Lepper, or stargate in space, which you would think could stimulate business. Well it needs a little help. The planetlord is a whack-a-mole character named Pauder who is always in full PTSD mode with a bazooka. Pauder is not sure that he wants Craze dream of successful business to succeed if it will mean more people coming to his world.
The cast from the first 2 books is back: Meelo the Fo’Wo snitcher, Dactyl the squat ex-lawman, Rainly the sort of android woman and several others. No less than three subplots are occurring in this addtion to the Backworlds series. Something that I love in world building is when humans are genetically altered to survive an environment rather than a planet terra-formed. The author does not disappoint in this area or many others. I’m glad to see that the characters are actually growing.
There is a new Verkinn female introduced in this work, Kesaere, who may be a bit of a villain but I hope to see more of her character in future works. She might be just what Craze needs. I had fun in this one, especially when I figured out what happened to the Jixes. I hate Jixes. Also, with all this flitting about I think it is time to flesh out how ships like the Sequi and the Olvis actually get around and have some encounters in space. Anyway, four out of five satisfaction points for this one.