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  • gilwilson 10:49 PM on September 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1%, , , , book reviews, , democrats, economy, healthcare, james carville, middle-class, , , , stan greenberg, United States of America   

    “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!” by James Carville and Stan Greenberg 

    “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!”
    by James Carville and Stan Greenberg
    Read by the Authors
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx 7 Hours

    I’ve always been told that unless you want to start an argument, you should never start a conversation about religion or politics. In this age of social media, I have seen this statement prove to be so true. When someone tweets or posts on Facebook something immediately their “friends” will start debating the post. I find it a bit fun to post and just watch the emotions rise. Until now I have pretty much kept my blogs pretty neutral, but after listening to this audiobook, I’m siding with these die-hard democrats, James Carville and Stan Greenberg.

    James Carville, seems to be the one to come to when discussing anything democrat. He is an American political consultant, commentator, educator, attorney, media personality, prominent liberal pundit and even an actor. He was the lead strategist of the 1992 presidential campaign of Bill Clinton, that alone makes him one of the go to men when it comes to the Democratic party. He is married to Republican political consultant Mary Matalin, and I’ve always wondered what their dinner conversations sound like. As a reader of this book he is fun to hear. At times he gets pretty emotional about the subject matter and it shows, this makes his segments the good part of the book. Now, that being said, he is also from Louisiana and anyone north of Shreveport, may have a bit of a problem understanding his speech through his accent, especially when he gets really emotional about the subject matter. That may annoy some people but I wouldn’t have anyone else read the book, so if that gives you fits, bear through it, by the time it is done you will completely understand the accent and at the same time get a great political education.

    Stan Greenberg is a Democratic pollster and political strategist who has advised the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry and hundreds of other candidates and organizations in the United States and around the world. He’s a political scientist he has a Ph.D. from Harvard and taught at Yale. His study of Reagan Democrats became a classic progressive political strategy. His credentials are impressive and he’s yet another great representative of the Democratic party. Like Carville, he has moments where he gets caught up in the emotions of the material and speaks too fast or drops some word endings. His delivery was not due to a Louisiana accent but rather the speed of his delivery. After listening for a while I got used to it and again would not have had anyone else read the book.

    So there we got the delivery out of the way,  let’s talk about the material. Ask anyone what it would take to get this country back on track and you would probably get the number of different ideas equal to the number of people you ask. This book does present several ideas that if they were instituted sound as though they could get this country back on track, but, how do you get them instituted? My feeling is that no matter who is in office, unless you get all representatives looking to help the country rather than themselves, nothing will get done. This is especially true when it comes to legislation and policies that concern the middle class.

    As discussed in this book, the Middle Class has taken a hit for the last 30 years in this country. While productivity has increased wages for the blue-collar workers (middle class) have decreased (even more dramatically when adjusted for inflation, etc.). So with productivity increasing that means more money for the companies, but where does it go? You could say some goes back into the company for research and development, after all, the last 30 years have seen some of the most innovative products being created, but if you follow the money you will find that while middle class wages have decreased,even working longer hours with less benefits, C.E.O. wages and bonuses have increased exponentially.

    With the weight of this country being held up by the middle class; products and goods consumed or exported, tax base for the fiscal stability of the country, and our armed forces being manned by middle class families, it only stands to reason that policies that affect the country affect the middle class even more so. So as the authors of this book suggest, all our policies and legislation should only be discussed after the question, “How does this affect the middle class?” is asked.

    Topics such as healthcare, equal taxes, wages, benefits and even employment creation are all discussed in this book in very down to earth terms that make it seem as though everyone should be thinking this way. Unfortunately those making the political decisions have forgotten the middle class and as the large part of the constituency, the middle class need to remind them we are here.

    Check out this book and get a glimpse as to what could be the perfect set of ideas to get this country back on track. No matter what your political affiliation, you will find that this book makes sense.

  • gilwilson 7:52 PM on March 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , book reviews, , , , , , , ,   

    “Hell’s Legionnaire” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “Hell’s Legionnaire”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio (2012)
    Approx. 2 hours

    Another month flies by and it’s time for another release of a story from the golden age from Galaxy Audio/Galaxy Press. In April (2012) they will be releasing the L. Ron Hubbard far-flung adventure “Hell’s Legionnaire,” featuring three stories from the days of pulp fiction magazines. The three stories in this new release were all released in 1935 and each one tells a tale from the adventures of the French Foreign Legion.

    I remember when I was a kid and seeing on television some kid threatened to run away and join the foreign legion. I became intrigued and looked up the info at the time and realized that while I liked the kepi (the cap worn by the Legion) and the exploding fleur-de-lis symbol, I was not about to follow the kid on television and become an elite fighting force which allowed all nationalities a chance to fight for France. However, Hubbard has written several stories involving the Legion I can live out these adventures, even if only in my imagination.

    Once again Galaxy Audio has produced an audiobook that not only brings to life these classic tales from the master story-teller, L. Ron Hubbard, but also recreates the whole pulp-fiction experience into an audio format. They achieve this by creating a performance of the book that is very reminiscent of old-time radio shows from around the same time of the original printings of these stories. The voices, from the separate actors for each character all the way to the classic old timey feel of the narration keep the story realistic and yet over the top with each performance. The sound effects place the listener right in the middle of the shootouts between the Legion and the Berbers. The music between chapters and stories is superb and with the bugle calls of the Legionnaires as the building point for the original music, the listener can charge along and fight the Berbers or seek out the gold.

    The three stories in this collection are:

    “Hell’s Legionnaire” originally published in the July, 1935 issue of “Mystery Adventures” tells the tale of an american who is sentenced to a penal colony for killing an officer, even though it was self-defense, as he runs from the Legion but only to find he’s run straight into a Berber camp, the enemy. In this camp he discovers a beautiful American woman who is just about to be tortured by the Berbers. He can’t just leave her behind so using his cunning and skills learned in the Legion he fights to find away for them both to leave the country, while trying to not only escape the Berbers but the French Foreign Legion, as well.

    “The Barbarians” originally published in the December, 1935 issue of “Dime Adventure Magazine” tells of Captain Jack Harvey, an American in service of the Legion who is sent to avenge the death of a comrade. He flies behind enemy lines to confront the Berber tribal chief and after talking with the chief sees the war in an entirely new philosophical view.

    “The Squad That Never Came Back” originally published in the May, 1935 issue of “Thrilling Adventures” tells of a corporal in the Legion who, threatened with death, leads a group of fellow legionnaires to a lost treasure in the Moroccan desert.

    Each story is a great escapism story that will give you the chance for some great adventure while staying within your own comfort zone.

  • gilwilson 12:38 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , book reviews, , island, , michael boatman, , the cay, theodore taylor, ,   

    “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor 

    “The Cay”
    by Theodore Taylor
    Read by Michael Boatman
    Published by Listening Library (2006)
    2 hours and 58 minutes

    How many of you out there have read a Young Adult book?  Hopefully many, but for those of you who haven’t, I hope I can get you started in a new direction.  Young Adult literature are books that are aimed at the ages of 12-18.   These books run the gamut of genres and can be some very interesting reading.  Sure they are written for “the kids” but we adults can thoroughly enjoy them as well.  Take for example the “Eragon” series or the Harry Potter series, many adults found hours of enjoyment in those books, and there are lots more where those came from.

    A couple of summers ago I was introduced via an online community the group Audiobook Sync.  Each summer they have pair up  YA (Young Adult) audiobooks with a similar theme, so each week in the summer kids & adults can download 2 audiobooks for free.  Last summer I downloaded every week’s pairing and even though it has taken me until now to get to some, I love these books.  This book, “The Cay” was teamed up with “Storm Runners.” I haven’t listened to “Storm Runners,” yet but if this book is any sign, it should be fun.

    “The Cay” takes place during World War II but is not a war story, rather this is one of survival and friendship.  When WWII breaks out Phillip Enright and his family are living on the island of Curacao.  Phillip’s father was brought in from the states to help build oil refineries for the Island.  The Germans send submarines to the island to prevent the refining process so the non-axis countries cannot have the fuel.  When the island becomes unsafe Phillip and his mother board a boat, the S.S. Hato, to Virginia.  The ship is torpedoed and Philip is separated from his mother.  He finds himself on a raft with an old West Indian man, Timothy, from the boat and a cat named Stew. Phillip has been warned by his mother about black people, “They are different, and they live differently,” and is wary of Timothy.  Timothy rescues Phillip but during the boat attack Phillip was hit in the head and after a couple of days becomes blind.

    Phillip becomes extra dependent on Timothy because of the blindness.  Soon the odd trio arrive at a cay, a small island with no fresh water, and begin setting up camp for survival.  The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship by the end of the novel. The two characters learn to overcome their disdain for one another, and develop strong bonds of friendship. Timothy teaches Phillip how to do many survival skills, such as weaving sleeping mats, building ways to catch fresh water and ways to fish, all while overcoming Phillip’s blindness.  The trio overcomes many obstacles until a hurricane blows in and they must rush to tie everything down, including themselves.  During the storm they lose their shelter, also sometime during the storm Timothy, who is somewhere near 80 years old, dies, leaving Phillip to fend for himself,  Phillip soon learns why Timothy did the things he did, he was preparing Phillip to survive alone.

    This story was one of those filled with every emotion from anger, anxiety to love and friendship and will keep you listening until the very end.  Michael Boatman does a superb job of voicing this book, and captures the accents and emotions of both of the characters perfectly.

    • Bookish Hobbit 7:14 PM on January 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I remember when we read this book in school. The teacher had passed out copies for all of us to read along as she had the audio book playing on the cassette player. I actually was thinking about this book a month or two ago.


    • katkasia 4:33 PM on January 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve had this book since primary school (and I’m talking the 80’s here), although I’ve never heard the audio version. It’s a terrific read!


  • gilwilson 9:36 PM on January 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , book reviews, , brian minchin, , gareth david-lloyd, , , , , ,   

    “Torchwood: The Sin Eaters” by Brian Minchin 

    “Torchwood: The Sin Eaters”
    by Brian Minchin
    Read by Gareth David-Lloyd
    Produced by BBC Audio / AudioGO (2009)
    2 hours and 11 minutes

    One of the things that attracted me to the television series and audiobooks of “Torchwood” (besides being a “Doctor Who” spin-off) was that they could combine several genres into each and every episode, and, as I’m finding out, the books and audio releases.  The writers of this series are able to blend in Lots of sci-fi (of course) with some horror, drama, comedy and every once in a while a bit of romance.  The latter doesn’t grab me as much as the others, but hey, it’s there.  This story definitely weaves in the horror.

    A little background on the Torchwood series is needed here, especially since this story takes place right about the middle of the Torchwood series timeline.  This story takes place just before the third season of the four seasons that were broadcast, so far.  Torchwood is a super secret not quite government agency that basically saves the Earth from aliens.  Their base is in Cardiff, Wales which also happens to be the location of a rift in time and space from which aliens are always appearing and threatening humanity, sometimes intentionally and sometimes just accidentally slip through the rift.  The series originally started out with five team members but by the end of season two, two of the members had died, leaving only Captain Jack Harkness, the head of Torchwood, Ianto Jones the admin of the agency, now serving in a more prominent function since the loss of the other two members, and Gwen Cooper, former cop.  That’s when this book takes place, sometime just before season three.

    Gwen, Jack and Ianto are investigating some bizarre rift readings (which usually means something is coming through) when they discover a corpse on the beach, the body is clothed in a WWII navy uniform and the body’s face is covered in hundreds of tiny cuts.  They get the body back to the Torchwood base and discover small items within each of the cuts that appear to be egg sacs of sorts.  Further investigation reveal that the egg sacs hatch into small larvae that look like small shrimp.

    At this same time, Rhys, Gwen’s husband, awakes after a night of debauchery at a friend’s bachelor party to discover his friend, the groom is missing.  When he goes to the groom’s home and finds the mother of the groom dead, he calls Gwen.  Gwen and Rhys set off to find the groom after Gwen decides the disappearance and the larvae may be tied together.

    Also at this same time, the Reverend Hayward has found a way to take away people’s sins.  By placing small creatures (larvae?) into the baptismal font that take away the peoples sins, the problem is the creatures feed on the negative emotions and eventually totally consume their hosts.  But this does not stop the reverend in his quest to free humanity of its sins.

    Jack and Ianto discover, in the bay, a sunken ship teeming with the larvae.  The larvae are caring for their “queen” who has enough larvae to destroy all of humanity.  Now only Torchwood with their, better than Bond gadgets, and alien fighting wit must race with time to save the world from these “sin-eaters.”

    In a well told story that combines horror, sci-fi, and some good comedic relief Torchwood and it’s operatives will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

    This audiobook is read by Gareth David-Lloyd, who portrays Ianto Jones in the series.  He does a fantastic job of delivering the drama and even impresses with his voicing of the different characters.  In fact, his voicing of Captain Jack, is spot on, at times I thought I was hearing the voice of John Barrowman, the actor who portrays Captain Jack Harkness.  His voicework and the nice dramatic music for effect make this audiobook a complete adventure.

  • gilwilson 9:34 PM on January 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , book reviews, , joshua swanson, , , , sam sommers, , sociology   

    “Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World” by Sam Sommers 

    “Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World”
    by Sam Sommers
    Read by Joshua Swanson
    Published by Penguin Audio (2012)
    8 hours and 24 minutes

    I have always had an interest in psychology and sociology, specifically I’ve always wondered what makes people tick and how can you make them tick differently.  In fact while in college In my general ed. psychology class, my professor and his T.A. kept trying to get me to convert my major to psychology, I seemed to always have the best questions in class, I guess, and the grasp I always had for the concepts behind what makes the mind work impressed them.  But I was determined to change the world by becoming the best audio production person the radio world has ever seen.  Maybe I should have listened.

    Anyway, I saw this audiobook in the new releases from Penguin audio and wondered if this could help me with my copywriting.  Yes, just like any other copywriter I use psychology to try and make the audience realize that they need the product I’m writing about.  Sneaky? yeah, but it works.  So I saw this book, and after reading about the book I thought, well this sounds like it is probably a self-help book, and really I don’t subscribe to all this Dr. Phil self help junk.  In actuality I probably would have been a thorn in the side of the Psychology department because I feel that Freud ruined Western Civilization. In my humble opinion, I believe therapy is just a way to not have to take the blame for any of our own actions.  Knowing all this, you can probably see why I almost didn’t give this book a chance, but, I’m glad I did.  It seems that the author, Sam Sommers is also not a fan of the self-help genre, he even goes as far as saying so in the introduction.  This book explores not how you can improve yourself but rather how the invisible forces influence your life, in turn this shows how understanding them can improve everything you do.

    Sam Sommers is an award-winning teacher and researcher of social psychology at Tufts University outside Boston. His research specialties include how people think, communicate, and behave in diverse settings, as well as psychological perspectives on the U.S. legal system.

    The book is presented in a factual yet easy-going and at times humorous manner that shows through personal examples from the author and through various studies world wide about how the world around you shapes your instincts and sometimes most private thoughts.  Through this easy-going manner the book expresses the ups and downs that are the human experience.  Our lives are full of situations that are humorous and serious and this is perfectly reflected in the tone of this book.

    The presentation from the reader, Joshua Swanson, makes this an audiobook experience that emphasizes the humor and easy-going presentation written by Sommers.   Swanson reads the material in a manner that keeps the listener listening and makes the presentation of some of the statistical studies not merely a presentation but as though you and the author were sitting down and discussing the concepts presented.   This actually makes it so that the learning is fun or rather as Bill Cosby used to say in the Fat Albert show, “And if you’re not careful, you may learn something before it’s done.”  I know I finished the book with a clearer perspective of my fellow 3rd rockers.

    Some of the examples of context affecting our attitude are pretty dark and include such cases as a man dying on a subway and no one notices he is dead for several hours, the 38 witnesses to an abduction of a child and no one steps in to question the situation, and several studies where the test subject relies on those around to decide how to act.  In the listening of the different cases and studies, I found myself saying, “Not me, I would have checked the man to see if he was okay, or I would have not paid attention to those around me and would pull the fire alarm if smoke was coming in under the door to a roomful of people.  But according to all the cases and studies the facts point otherwise.  And looking at some situations, I tend to agree when in a crowd, and there is an emergency, I do find myself thinking someone closer to the emergency will do something.

    As the author says, “Just as a museum visitor neglects to notice the frames around paintings, so do people miss the influence of ordinary situations on the way they think and act. But frames – situations – do matter. Your experience viewing the paintings wouldn’t be the same without them. The same is true for human nature.”  By understanding the powerful influence that context has in our lives and using this knowledge to rethink how we see the world, we can be more effective at work, at home, and in daily interactions with others. He describes the pitfalls to avoid and offers insights into making better decisions and smarter observations about the world around us.

    Sommers covers several issues throughout the book from gender differences in society, how we react to emergencies in different situations and even racism.  I will say the section on racism was the most eye opening for me.  I won’t go into this chapter, because I want you to be able to experience the eye opener presented for yourself.  I will say that the overall message behind the book I took out of it, is that we are not who we think we are, because our selves change through time and in context.  Just knowing this can alert you to maybe in the next situation you can do something to help or just make your life easier.

  • gilwilson 9:48 PM on January 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , book reviews, , , , , , purification, , ,   

    “Autumn: Purification” by David Moody 

    “Autumn: Purification”
    by David Moody
    Published by Thomas Dunne Books
    329 pages

    I’m continuing in my excursion into the Autumn series by David Moody, and with the third book out of the way, I’m more convinced that this is NOT a zombie series.  Although the walking corpses do prevail in these books, the series is more about survival on a post apocalyptic world than just the horror of walking dead.  Ever since book one I’ve been wondering why these meatbags haven’t been eating the living, but at the same time with the constant despair and need to survive guiding those that were immune to the virus, this series is just a good story.  My love of all things zombie got me interested in the books, but it was the excellent storytelling by David Moody that kept me reading.

    In the first book, “Autumn,” we were introduced to Michael and Emma as a mysterious virus struck nearly 90% of the world’s population dead.  The deaths happened within seconds after contracting the virus.  Michael and Emma were among the few survivors that grouped together in a small town community center.  The two met up with Carl and decided that they had pretty much the run of the world since there nearly everyone else was dead.  When the bodies of those struck down by the virus began to rise and walk around the 3 decided to head off and find safety in an abandoned farm.  The bodies then actually started to attack, not eating the flesh of victims but just the mere mass of lots of bodies was enough to bring harm.  Carl tried to go back to the Community center but found it overrun with bodies and he finally fell to the horde.  Michael and Emma took off to find somewhere safe.

    In book two, “Autumn: The City,” the story runs parallel to the first book but this time from the view of survivors in a large city.  This second book also throws in that the military had a bit of a warning of the virus and military personnel were immediately sent to bunkers before the virus struck.  The survivors in the city are holed up in a university but the crowding from the walking cadavers soon makes it obvious they need to relocate.  When the military decides to send out a scouting party to determine what has happened and the current status, two of the soldiers are left behind when the troop transport is overwhelmed by walking dead.  One of the soldiers has his protective gear removed and dies within seconds showing the virus is still in the air.  The second soldier, Cooper, discovers he is immune and finds the survivors in the University.  Eventually with the help of Cooper the survivors escape the University to find the underground military bunker, on the way to the bunker they meet up with Michael and Emma in a motor home.  The few survivors get into the bunker but not allowed past the decontamination area, now safe underground.

    Now for book three, “Autumn: Purification.”  We join all the survivors as they continue to exist in the bunker.  Problems arise in the bunker when the now aggressive walking corpses are blocking the vents which feed air into the bunker.  The undead are blocking by sheer masses of bodies in the area, attracted to the living that are in the area.  The military tries to clear the vents but each time they go out they attract more bodies.  On the final attempt to clear the bodies, something goes wrong and the survivors must leave, able to save a few of the soldiers after the main bunker is closed to the outside.   In a convoy of the motor home, a prison bus and a troop transport they stop in a nearby town to regroup.  After clearing out a few animated bodies, the survivors spend the night in a relatively secure area.

    The next morning a helicopter arrives in town and lands in the secure area.  The survivors from the bunker are told by the pilot of a plan to go to safety.  The safety comes in the form of an island which had a small population.  Once the few bodies are cleared the island should be a haven of safety compared to the mainland.  The survivors then only have to drive to the airport where the pilot is stationed and then, using the chopper and one airplane go to the island.  Not as easy as it sounds, especially with the dead becoming more self-aware.

    What I really liked about this story of survival, is that David Moody uses the normal person as the main characters.  Not like other zombie movies.  Have you ever noticed how in other zombie movies your everyday average person suddenly becomes an expert marksman when zombies attack?  Not so in this book.  These people panic, don’t shoot straight, and often double think their movements.  Basically what your everyday normal human would do when struck by the sudden terror of not only being one of the last humans alive but also the terror of the dead walking around.

    Now for the fourth and final book in the series, “Autumn: Disintegration.”

  • gilwilson 9:26 PM on December 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , book reviews, , , , , , , , , them or us,   

    “Them or Us” (book 3 of the Hater Trilogy) by David Moody 

    “Them or Us” (book 3 of the Hater Trilogy)
    by David Moody
    published by Thomas Dunne Books
    354 pages

    David Moody has a way of creating books about zombies without having zombies.  In his series “Autumn” the “Z” word is never mentioned but there are reanimated corpses.  In the Hater Trilogy he has created a bunch of mindless fighters who never eat the flesh of their victims but go into uncontrollable rages until the victim is dead.  So while they may not be be zombie books, they still create the same horror of a zombie book, but without the gore.

    In the Hater trilogy, it turns out that some switch is thrown in the human brain where about half of the poulation become Haters.  The Haters see an Unchanged and that flipped switch causes the Hater to attack fight and not stop until the Unchanged is destroyed.  Even when a Hater has all his limbs incapacitated they will still fight until one of them is dead.  With this aspect Moody is able to explore the darker side of a zombie apocalypse.  The darker side being how do you survive when all is gone, every aspect of civilization breaks down and no longer is there a means for food to be obtained by just going to the corner market.

    In the first book, “Hater” the switch was flipped and all the population began a war that would leave the world scarred forever.  In this book we were introduced to Danny McCoyne who became a Hater but first watched the world collapse, losing is family.  In the Second book, “Dog Blood,” the world was at war Haters vs. the Unchanged.  Danny sought to find his daughter who he knew was like himself, a Hater.  The problem was, though, his wife and two sons were Unchanged.  Danny had to fight the Hate inside to sneak into Unchanged refugee camps to find his daughter without being discovered.  All this while a major world war was going on between the Haters and Unchanged.  When he found his daughter one side, whether it was Hater or Unchanged or both is never really known, launched nuclear weapons destroying all of the major cities.  Danny lost his daughter as they were trying to escape one of the blasts, when she went running back into the explosion.

    Now we come to the third book, “Them or Us.”  The world is torn apart and there are very few Unchanged left, what few there are are hunted down and slaughtered.  A small community of Haters is gathered that is ruled by a man who gained his position by killing the man in charge and putting up all the toughest fighters up in a higher social class.  So the haters now rule by might.  Danny is discovered to be able to hold in the hate and Hinchcliffe, the leader of the community, uses him to inifiltrate nests of the Unchanged so the Haters can slaughter them.  Danny becomes a sort of confidant for Hinchcliffe and learns all his secrets.  The big problem is that once all the Unchanged are gone who is left to fight, each other?  That answer seems to be yes when another community is discovered and Danny is sent to infiltrate and find out any logistical info so Hinchcliffe can attack.

    With the last of humanity struggling for survival Danny begins to question whether mankind should continue or just kill itself off.  The question of all time, do we really deserve to exist?  If so How? And what does war prove?

    This book is full of philosophic wonderings and some interesting action thrown in to keep the brain pumped.  I’ll warn you once you start reading this book or any book in the trilogy you can’t stop until the last page, even then you’ll want more.

  • gilwilson 9:05 PM on December 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , book reviews, , , , , ,   

    “Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles” by Michael Moorcock 

    “Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles”
    by Michael Moorcock
    read by Clive Mantle
    produced by AudioGO/BBC Audiobooks (2010)
    Approx 11 hours

    While anxiously awaiting the Christmas return of Dr. Who on television, I have to get my fix.  This time around I dive into a Dr. Who audiobook that is unlike any other.

    First of all the length.  This one is just about 11 hours where most Dr. Who audiobooks tend to be from one to three hours in length.  So I was strapped in and ready for a good long run.  This story would have easily taken an entire season to run.

    The next feature that makes it unique is the writing.  Michael Moorcock is a well know award winning author of science-fiction and fantasy, and I have heard his name bandied around in sci-fi circles, but I’ve never picked up one of his stories until now.  This story takes the Dr. Who universe and seems to pop it into a more surreal almost absurd series of events that seem to blend the writing styles of Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse.  At times the story is a humorous romp through the multiverse and at others a bit of a humorous whodunit.   Needless to say this is a fun book featuring the 11th Doctor and his companion Amy Pond.

    The reader Clive Mantle does a great job of delivering the story through this audiobook.  In some cases the characters are over the top and Mantle voices them just that way.  From his vocalizations you can nearly picture the faces of the characters.  Superb delivery.

    At times this story reminded me of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” with Amy pod as Alice and the Doctor as the White Rabbit, and there are a couple of hatters that do seem mad.

    In the beginning it at first seems as though the Doctor is out for a bit of sport as he and Amy join the Terraphiles, a group of humans in the far future obsessed with recreating Earth’s distant past and reenacting medieval Earth sports.  By the far future I mean about 50,000 years into the future, so you have to forgive if they get some of the sports wrong.  There’s a version of, I’m thinking Rugby, where the ball is an arrow and the bowmen/archers shoot the arrow and catch it.  I did say they didn’t quite get it right.

    As it turns out, though, the Doctor is trying avoid the collapse of the Multiverse from the mysterious “dark tides” that have begun to appear.  The Doctor and his new friends compete in a Grand Tournament in the Miggea star system, which lies on the border of parallel realities. The prize of the contest is an ancient artifact called the Arrow of Law, sought also by the Doctor’s old foe Captain Cornelius and his crew of space pirates.

    With the multivers on the verge of collapse the Doctor, Amy and the Terraphiles have to team up with the space pirates to try to save all of existence.  With some fun moments, the theft of a gawdy hat, and some strange sports, this is one adventure with the Doctor that you won’t soon forget.

  • gilwilson 4:24 PM on November 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , book reviews, , kevin d. anderson, , , , sam stall, , , star trek, , trekkies,   

    “Night of the Living Trekkies” by Kevin D. Anderson and Sam Stall 

    “Night of the Living Trekkies”
    by Kevin D. Anderson and Sam Stall
    Published by Quirkbooks(2010)
    253 pages

    Okay folks it’s time to put your “Geek” pants on and get ready to “Go where no man has gone before.” We are talking about combining the worlds of Star Trek with a Zombie Apocalypse, Okay actually just a bunch of fans of Star Trek and a Zombie Apocalypse at a Star Trek convention.  Being a huge fan of the Zombie horror genre and a sci-fi nut, this book just screamed at me.  I picked up the book and from page one I was hooked.  The Star Trek references were excellent and the authors even strategically through in some Star Wars references that make this survival from the flesh eaters fun and exciting.    On top of the intelligently placed references the authors even have thrown their own spin into the creation and world of zombies.  In this book there are 3 ways to kill them, but let me tell you the Klingon bat’leth is the coolest in this book.

    Another aspect of this book is the mult-genre appeal, the authors have combined Sci-Fi, Zombies, Comedy and adventure to create a quest for survival novel.  This book takes the best of all these worlds and creates a mashup that seems like it wouldn’t work but does and with a lot of fun.  To quote one of the characters from this book, Jim Pike (former soldier fresh from Afghanistan), ”
    Star Trek is all about applying the Federation’s high-minded ideals to difficult situations.  No matter how bad things get, you’re supposed to play by the don’t-shoot-first, don’t-mess-with-pre-warp cultures, don’t-alter-the-timeline rules. But in the zombie univers it’s all about jettisoning everything- morality, sentimentality, weaklings – that might keep you from seeing the next sunrise. Because no matter how impeccably you behave, you’ll never bring the other side around to your way of thinking.  They don’t think.  They just kill.”  But by using the rules of the Federation a rag-tag group of Trekkies in costume, a hotel security Guard, an exo-biologist, a videogame creator, and even a woman in a Princess Leia slave costume that spouts out Star Wars references, all battle zombies hoping to make it to the next day before Houston is nuked.

    Jim Pike is a bellhop for the Botany Bay Hotel in Houston, the Botany Bay is the home of GulfCon, now in its 5th year, which is billed as the largest Starfleet convention in the Western Gulf Coast Region.  He used to be a big Star Trek fan but after two tours of duty in Afghanistan the what-is-it-all-about question has set in and Jim just wants to get by in life not responsible for anything.  Jim’s sister is a Trekkie and she’s bringing her new boyfriend, a videogame creator, to GulfCon to enjoy the festivities and see her brother.

    Meanwhile an accident at a military underground bunker near Houston has released a strange virus that animates the dead.  Many people are calling in sick and the convention is just beginning to go full force with all sorts of activities.  Jim is now being forced to act as security for the Botany Bay and with his un-erring intuition Jim begins to suspect that the world is coming to an end.  When the nightfall comes the zombies begin taking on their prey with more fervor and Jim is forced to lockdown the hotel and gather the few survivors and fight to escape the brain-eating zombies.

    With tons of sci-fi/Star Trek and comic book references this book is full of hilarious moments and with tons of zombies it is also full of some thrills that will keep you anxious to read the whole book in one night.  Some  of the fun in this book, if you are a fellow Trekkie are the names used and who they are used for, for example Jim Pike, the lead character, get’s his name from Captain Pike, the first captain of the Enterprise (in the original series) and Captain James T. Kirk. And yes there’s an awesome “Dammit Jim,..” quote or two.

  • gilwilson 11:45 AM on November 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: allen davis drake, , , , benjamin button, , book reviews, , classic fiction, , cloud mountain studios, f. scott fitzgerald,   

    “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

    “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
    by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Read by Allen Davis Drake
    Produced by Cloud Mountain Studios (2009)
    1 Hour 9 Minutes.

    Every so often I find myself going back and revisiting a classic, this time around it was a strange set of circumstances to getting this audiobook.  I have always tried to get my son interested in audiobooks and having to compete with the videogames and television the lack of pictures make it hard for me compete.  This time around I lucked out.  We had an upcoming 2 hour drive and I knew I’d have to find the perfect audiobook.  I know what you’re thinking,  if I have a hard time competing with TV and Videogames how is this classic story by F. Scott Fitzgerald going to get his attention.  Well, here’s where it gets funny.  We never saw the movie based on this story starring Brad Pitt, and probably never will but my son and I are fans of a TV show based on Mad Magazine.  “Mad” airs on the Cartoon network and just like the magazine features parodies everything including movies.  There was one skit in which he and I found pretty funny titled “The Curious Case of Benjamin Batman,” in which Batman was aging backwards.

    So we had that as a start then a friend sent me an email with a link in which I could download several classic stories in audiobook form.  The choices ranged from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to “Treasure Island” to “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” and including this story.  So loving the classics I downloaded all I could.  (After all they were all free, and were professionally produced, not the lower quality found on Librivox and others.)

    So with him now curious about the story and the long car trip planned we listened, and we were entertained.

    First of all the gist of the story is that Benjamin Button is born a 70 year old man.  His father is embarassed and flabbergasted and at first does not know how to accept this medical curiosity.  The hospital wants Mr. Button to immediately remove the abomination and after buying a suit for his new born son takes him home and life begins at the end for Benjamin Button, having to go to school at the proper age (based on birth) Benjamin is a site in schoolboy shorts at the age of 65.  His life progresses backwards as we follow him to college and then marriage where he falls in love with a 20 year old woman as he appears to be 50.  He then goes off to fight in the French and Indian War and comes back a younger man.

    The story is based on a quote from Mark Twain, “Youth is wasted on the Young.” and a conversation between Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The reader delivered the story with skill, keeping my 10 year old son and myself interested in the story and delivering the comedic scenes with just as much ease as the scenes when trying to be able to live as a married man who is growing apart from his wife due to the reverse aging and the turning over the family business to his son because he is getting too young.

    The story is fun and at times and poignant at others and sometimes both.  A great view of the life of man.

    • Laurie 8:23 PM on November 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      My 7 year old daughter is in love with this story. We got her the graphic novel this past spring and she loves reading it. Maybe you could see if your son likes the graphic novel as well as the audio.

      I love that the youth can appreciate Fitzgerald.


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