Available as a Free Podiobook. Sub-Genre is Cyber Punk.
The book presented an imaginative future where bodies and consciousness are freely interchangeabAvailable as a Free Podiobook. Sub-Genre is Cyber Punk.
The book presented an imaginative future where bodies and consciousness are freely interchangeable through the use of computer network systems; this is very similar to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom except that the original birth body is preserved here and must be maintained while they are linked real time to specialized clone bodies for brief periods of time ... So there is a possibility of 'real' death. The ancient/feudal Japanese theme from which Mangan's vocabulary borrowed heavily was intriguing as well. As the story develops, the author reveals several sub-plots that deal with the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and self-awareness. This questions are left hanging in the cliff-hanger ending which I did not particularly care for, although a sequel has been promised....more
I really enjoyed the quality of the narration; Mr. Davis does an excellent job rendering the voices of the various characterNarrated by Jonathan Davis
I really enjoyed the quality of the narration; Mr. Davis does an excellent job rendering the voices of the various characters within the story.
This was a fun read for the most part ... although the heavy exploitation of various stereo-types might be offensive to some, it really is the key to most of the humor in the story; at least Mr. Stephenson is an equal opportunity satirist in creating his dystopian society. The story pokes fun at corporate franchises, Christians (Orthodox Russians, Catholics and evangelists), the feds, the mafia, Columbian drug cartels, pizza delivery drivers, skateboard couriers, gated communities (burbclaves), apartheid, Alaskan red-necks, and a host of others. The characters themselves are very shallow and underdeveloped, though most are still memorable none the less.
This central plot merges ancient Sumerian mythology as alternate history with computer technology to construct an idea that humans have a basic or innate language ability that was 'hard coded' into our brain. This direct neural wiring left humans vulnerable to a memetic or 'meta virus' that basically turns humans into automatons. Stephenson uses a series of interactions (info-dumps) with a database AI (The Librarian) to introduce reader to the concepts needed to fully appreciate the plot climax. Unfortunately this is where Stephenson starts to lose his way (and a star) while the satire becomes less skillful and the story displays more violence (needlessly so in some cases). The strange introduction of teenage sex with a much older and very violent male antagonist toward the end of the book really detracted from the story as a whole. Finally, the conclusion seemed confused and somewhat aimless and unsatisfying by the end (Where was Raven's kaboom!)....more
I listened to half the series as an audiobook. Add one star for the audiobook as this was very well done (and you can affReview Summary: Disappointing
I listened to half the series as an audiobook. Add one star for the audiobook as this was very well done (and you can afford to miss a large portion of narration without really missing much of the story).
Frankly that only reason I continued with the series was that fact that the world building wasn't half bad. You have a lost roman legion who setup a new society on another world/dimension where nature spirits manifest themselves a "furies" which are controlled by a communities of citizen sorcerers with a eugenics style breeding program to maintain and/or improve this power over their environment. Stir in several conflicts with barbarians (mongol style hordes, wolf men and ice men), and you do get an interesting backdrop for a story.
Book 1: The characters themselves seemed to be little more the exaggerated caricatures with very little nuance and emotional control. Sadly, this is a very similar style to how he wrote the Dresden Files, of which I am a fan; however, the style doesn't extend well into the epic fantasy motif. Too many characters and no enough obvious limits on plot development (a common probably with fantasy). After awhile, it felt like the "good" guys were perpetually "preaching" a limited point from a very weak straw-man position. It quickly grew tedious when it became apparent that the author was simply building his story from a collection of tropes and cliches. I truly found very little that was a unique contribution and that is where the bulk of my disappoint lies. All-n-all, it would be an okay youth fantasy story (right in the middle of the pack here).
Series: The main problem that I had with the series was that the storyline kept repeating with little to no character development and very limited world development. After about the 3rd or 4th time hearing that the enemy slammed into the defenders with "ruinous" effect, I had flash-backs to the Princess Bride when Montoya states "You keep using that word; I don't think it means what you think it means."
As a military fantasy ... the series is a complete failure (though perhaps my own military experience and awareness of military history makes me too hard here). I also found the over-arching plot development to be lacking discipline, as the protagonist and his allies frequently gets written into a corner where the author must break nearly all bonds of credulity to save them ... presumably to show of how clever they are. I just didn't see it that way; frankly this style of story telling is why fantasy as a genre has such a bad reputation....more
Narration Quality: Fair. The author narrated his own book and gives a relatively flat performance that exaggerThis was the narrated podiobook version.
Narration Quality: Fair. The author narrated his own book and gives a relatively flat performance that exaggerated the flat writing style; which consisted mostly of explanations ... which made it sound like a academic text with some dialog.
Character Development: Poor. None of the characters develop much beyond the basic elements of the fantasy archetypes.
Plot Development: Average. This was the only reason I actually finished it ... it was interesting enough, if somewhat mechanical and predictable....more
Flat delivery detracted from the story which was also somewhat limited in character development and narrative style (a lot of places where the narratoFlat delivery detracted from the story which was also somewhat limited in character development and narrative style (a lot of places where the narrator provides detailed background information aka info dumps). It had the feel of a novice effort....more