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  • gilwilson 4:22 PM on January 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clockwork, history, , , , terminator   

    “The Clockwork Dynasty” By Daniel H. Wilson 

    32670125The Clockwork Dynasty
    By: Daniel H. Wilson
    Narrated by: David Giuntoli, Claire Coffee
    Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
    Release date: 08-01-17
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Take a little bit of Steampunk, mix it in with some mythology, maybe a hint of the Terminator, then take out the steam and use clockwork and you have yourself a new form of sci-fi created by Daniel H. Wilson in “The Clockwork Dynasty.”  Okay, I’m not 100% sure he created this new genre, but, until listening to this audiobook, I had never heard of the premise.

    The story jumps back and forth between present day and the 18th century telling the tale of a “race” of beings created to maybe help mankind.  I say maybe because some of the even further past events that are visited to me seem a little blurred.  I’m hoping this is because Wilson is planning on writing more books in this world he has created.  Each Automaton has a word which guides their actions and even creates some of their personality.  That word is built into their animus that serves as their soul.

    June, a scientist specializing in ancient technology carries an animus with her that her grandfather found after being saved by an automaton on the battlefield in Russia.  While working on a 300 year old doll June soon discovers the underground world and war between the automatons.  She is soon swept into the this world with Peter who once served the Czar.

    The narrators swap chapters depending on what time the action is taking place.  Claire Coffee narrates the modern day events while David Giuntoli narrates the past events and the life of Peter.  The two create a time travel experience through the different voices so the listener is never lost as to when is being discussed.

    Closing out this review, I have to say that the action in this book ranges from robotic sword fights, to a “Come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live” action sequence that makes this book a great adventure.  After rolling through this book and feeling like I had been on the adventure with the two main characters, I had to look more into the world of the author Daniel H. Wilson.

    What first attracted me to the book was the author.  I had read some of his robot books before (e.g. Robogenesis) and knew they were full of adventure.  But what I found out this time around was that he holds a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Masters degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  Now that’s pretty serious background work.

     

    Publisher’s Summary

    An epic, ingenious new thriller from the New York Times best-selling author of RobopocalypseThe Clockwork Dynasty weaves a riveting path through history and a race of humanlike machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries.

    In the rugged landscape of Eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact – a 300-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.

    Russia, 1725: Peter and Elena, two humanlike mechanical beings, are brought to life under the watchful guise of Peter the Great. Their struggle to serve in the court of the czar while blending in and to survive amid those who fear and wish to annihilate them will take Peter and Elena across Russia, Europe, and, ultimately, the centuries, to the modern day.

    The Clockwork Dynasty is Daniel H. Wilson’s masterful new novel. It seamlessly interweaves past and present, exploring a race of beings that live by different principles from humans but ultimately value loyalty. As June learns more about these beings, she is quickly drawn into a fierce battle that has spanned the centuries and will ultimately determine the survival or extermination of this ancient race. Richly drawn and heart pounding, Wilson’s novel expertly draws on his robotics and science background, combining exquisite characters with breathtaking technology – and unmatched action. The Clockwork Dynasty is a riveting breakout novel.

    ©2017 Daniel H. Wilson (P)2017 Random House Audio
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  • gilwilson 12:42 PM on June 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , americas, history, indians,   

    “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” By Charles C. Mann 

    1491: N1538183ew Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
    By Charles C. Mann
    Narrated by: Darrell Dennis
    Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
    Release date: 08-29-16
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    So when Columbus “discovered” America, as we are all taught in school, the country was barely populated and ripe for the picking.  Well, my problem with that was always that, well he only landed on a few islands that were populated, maybe not densely, like his hometown, but populated.  Had he traveled actually inland onto the main continents of North or Sout America he would have see a larger population of a land that was NOT India or China as he believed.  Rather, he would have seen that the land was more populated than Europe and had very intricate governments, civilization, and culture.

    This book provides evidence for a picture of North and South America that could have been the equal to if not better than the rest of the world.  Unfortunately with the journeys of the white man into the “New World” brought with them the white man’s diseases, most prevalent of them was small pox.  Small pox can be blamed for easily wiping out at least half of the original citizens of the Americas.

    Mann takes on a journey to the Americas before Columbus and even before the birth of Christ, where civilizations were using agriculture and government to an extent that may even rival today’s civilization.

    When I first looked into this audiobook, I saw that it would be a 16 hour commitment and wondered if I was ready for that long of a history lesson.  Once in the book, it was very hard to stop and it the information provided made not only the time fly, but also made me want to seek out more information.  For example, here in Illinois we have the Cahokia Mounds location where history and archaeology have proven that it was a culture that rivaled the Incas and or Mayas and was just as ancient.  I now have an overwhelming urge to go visit that site and learn more.

    I’ve always known that the Americas were inhabited but how they arrived and to what extent I had no clue, now it can be read with the support of great evidence that our “discovered” country was thriving long before westward expansion of Europe destroyed it.

    Publisher’s Summary
    A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.

    Traditionally, Americans learned in school that the ancestors of the people who inhabited the Western Hemisphere at the time of Columbus’ landing had crossed the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago; existed mainly in small nomadic bands; and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas were, for all practical purposes, still a vast wilderness. But as Charles C. Mann now makes clear, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent the last 30 years proving these and many other long-held assumptions wrong.

    In a book that startles and persuades, Mann reveals how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques came to previously unheard-of conclusions. Among them:

    In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe.
    Certain cities – such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital – were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets.
    The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids.
    Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as “man’s first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering”.
    Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it – a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge.
    Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively “landscaped” by human beings.
    Mann sheds clarifying light on the methods used to arrive at these new visions of the pre-Columbian Americas and how they have affected our understanding of our history and our thinking about the environment. His book is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.

    ©2016 Charles C. Mann (P)2016 Random House Audio

     
  • gilwilson 4:04 PM on July 25, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , history, martin luther k, protest   

    Audiobook Review: “Letter from Birmingham Jail” By Martin Luther King, Jr. 

    birminghamjail

    “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

    By Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Read by Dion Graham

    Published by christianaudio

    Length: 51 minutes

     

    It’s time for a short history lesson.  I picked up this audiobook from the SYNC-YA free summer of audiobooks this year and was ready for some thought provoking commutes to work.  I got just that and even a bit more.  Martin Luther King, Jr. is the end-all be-all when it comes to the civil rights movement in the United States.  He was the leading force in the late 1960s in fighting for the rights of what are now referred to as African-Americans, back then called simply blacks.

     

    This book is a letter written on the margins of a newspaper April 16th, 1963. Birmingham, Alabama has had a spring of non-violent protests known as the Birmingham Campaign, seeking to draw attention to the segregation against blacks by the city government and downtown retailers. The organizers longed to create a non-violent tension so severe that the powers that be would be forced to address the rampant racism head on. Recently arrested was Martin Luther King, Jr.. It is there in that jail cell that he writes this letter; on the margins of a newspaper he pens this defense of non-violence against segregation. His accusers, though many, in this case were not the white racist leaders or retailers he protested against, but 8 black men who saw him as “other” and as too extreme. To them and to the world he defended the notion that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

     

    This audio is well worth anybody’s time to just absorb and think about the plight of humanity.   Throughout the listening of this book, I couldn’t help but wonder where Mr. King would stand on equal rights and recognition of homosexuals in America.  Much of the anti-gay stance revolves around the “Religious Right” and with King being a very religious man and calling on the word of God to emphasize the fight for human equality, I could see how he could become conflicted with the latest civil rights movement in America.

     

     
  • gilwilson 4:41 PM on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , history, , , peter macon, rastafarianism, , , timothy white   

    Audiobook Review: “Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley” By Timothy White 

    Catch-a-Fire-2811773

    “Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley”

    By Timothy White

    Read by Peter Macon

    Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

    Length 17.0 hrs

     

     

    All my life I’ve been fascinated with music, I’ve never been able to play an instrument but have loved listening to music.  I listen, enjoy and appreciate all genres of music, some genres I just appreciate for what they are trying to do, but I get it.   I never had the patience to learn an instrument but I could play a record, 8-track, cassette or CD so I went into a broadcasting career.

     

    One thing I have noticed is that not only does it take a lot of patience but there is something else that makes a star a star.  I read a lot of musician biographies and many times that something is passed down from generations of musicians.  So with great genes comes great talent.  Well not always.  This biography of Bob Marley demonstrates that while Marley had the talent for music, he also had a very unique spiritual background that led to his music breaking boundaries and pushing a new form of music, Reggae, into the mainstream.

     

    I was actually surprised by the content of this audiobook in that it offered much more than just a history of Bob Marley and his music.  Timothy White created a whole feel for the whys and wherefores of Marley, Jamaica and Reggae music.  In this book the listener gets a bit of a rounded education in religion with the history of Rastafarianism.  While I had heard of Rastafarianism (what Bob Marley fan hasn’t?) I had never heard of it’s origins until this book.  White covers the history of this religion all the way back to King Solomon.  I was intrigued by all the rich history this religion absorbs.

     

    Continuing the education created by Timothy White, the listener gets a lesson in the history of Jamaica and the development of the island’s politics and scandals.  Along with this history the history of the music scene of Jamaica is covered in depth and how Reggae came about.  Of course, the meat of this book is the life of Bob Marley but all these histories explain in detail how Marley was influenced not only musically but spiritually and politically as well.  This explains how Marley is able to influence many generations of music fans for years to come.

     

    The reader of this book was outstanding.  Peter Macon was able to bring this biography to full-color audio life with his vocal skills.  Talking in Jamaican, British or African accents Macon made this book come to life and with his rich deep voice for the normal narration made this book an easy listen.

     
  • gilwilson 12:16 PM on January 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , geoffrey cowan, history, , , pentagon papers, president nixon, top secret, vietnam, washington post   

    “Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers” 2008 Tour Edition by Geoffrey Cowan 

    “Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers” 2008 Tour Edition
    by Geoffrey Cowan
    Multi-cast drama
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works (2008)
    Approx 2 hours.

    Where did it all go wrong?  When did the government become a source of distrust?  I don’t think there is one single event that caused this current distrust of politics and the government, but according to current Pew research only 26% of those surveyed trust the government.  A lot of this has come from current governmental scandals, but I would go out on a limb and say that a lot of this government distrust started during the Vietnam war era.  That was a time of coverups and secret wars that once the information reached the public the government in general seemed to be a bad guy.

    One of the events that reveal this cover up was the publishing of the “Pentagon Papers” by the New York Times and the Washington Post in 1971.  This release from L.A. theatre works brings to light the events surrounding the release of the Papers by the Washington Post, including the court trial which led to a landmark decision by the Supreme Court which is best summarized by Justice Steward, “without an informed and free press, there cannot be an enlightened people.”  The first amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  with the section on free press, provides another check and balance for the government to act in the best interest of its citizens.  This production from L.A. Theatre works not only provides a nice glimpse at this moment in history but also helps to further the lessons learned during this time of cover ups.

    The full cast performance of “Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers” stars; Diane Adair, Bo Foxworth, John Getz, James Gleason, Gregory Harrison, John Heard, Charles Janasz, Raphael Sbarge, Russell, Soder, Susan Sullivan, Peter Van Norden, Tom Virtue, Geoffrey Wade, and brings to life the events which led to the publishing of the papers and the battle which was brought to court by the Nixon administration.  The play is very well performed and written and with the audience effects LATW puts you right in the middle of the performance.  Based on interviews and court transcripts this story is one that must be heard by all.

    It all starts when an injunction has been served on the NYTimes to stop publication of the “Pentagon Papers,” and the Washington Post reporters and editors see this as an opportunity to scoop the NYTimes by getting their hands on copies of the Paper.  Once the Post begins publishing the Papers, after a long night of soul searching by the reporters and editors, Nixon’s administration jumps in taking the Post to court under the guise of National Security.    Through the trial the paper’s attorneys and editors battle down every argument against publishing the Papers and eventually win, even after the Nixon Administration appeals all the way to the Supreme Court.

    This play is a great representation of a time in U.S. history that changed the world, and is a key story in any freedom of press argument.  Grab this piece of history and enjoy.

     
  • gilwilson 9:01 PM on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deborah blum, , , , history, mediums, , , seances, sound library, william james   

    “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death” by Deborah Blum 

    “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death”
    by Deborah Blum
    read by George K. Wilson
    Produced by Sound Library (2006)
    approx 13 hours

    It seems to be a recent trend to go out and try to find proof of the existence of ghosts, spirits and all things paranormal.  We have “reality” TV shows showing ghost hunters and search amazon.com for ghost hunting and you can find all sorts of equipment that theoretically aids the hunt for ghosts.  But this trend has been with humankind ever since we began burying our dead and trying to find out what happens next.  Pulitzer prize winning writer, Deborah Blum takes a look at some 19th Century ghost hunting int the book, “Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death.”  During this time period Harvard professor William James, remembered more for his contributions to psychology and philosophy than psychical research, was one of the early leaders in scientific research aimed ultimately at determining whether consciousness survives bodily death.

    From the mediums speaking to the spirit of a dead girl to find her body to tricksters using various contraptions to fool the audience, several members of society’s Intelligencia (both British and American) were looking to prove or disprove psychical arts.  William James sought out to apply objective scientific methods to the study of paranormal phenomena.  Many times a fraud was found but sometimes during this book you just have to wonder.

    Deborah Blum tells this story of intellectuals, philosophers, pyschologists, Nobelists from the 19th Century into the early part of the 20th Century trying to bridge the gap between science and religion when religion was being questioned by the theory of evolution and the the new sciences.  I found it quite interesting as to how many folks were out to fool the public in the name of talking to the dead.  I had listened to the Mary Roach book “Spook” and she also talked of the the same fakes trying to earn a buck by holding seances.  In fact, this book would make a great companion to that book or vice versa.

    The narrator George K. Wilson (no relation) does a superb job of narrating the book and even throws in some voice changes and accents when representing quotes from various people in this documentary.  I have also heard some other books read by Wilson and I have decided that any documentary or non-fiction audio book I look at I will immediately get the book if he is the reader.  He has a way that presents the story or information with no opinion yet keeps the information very interesting to hear.

    So, if the study of the paranormal or you’re thinking about becoming a ghost hunter like on TV, check out the history of debunking and proof in this book.

     
  • gilwilson 11:04 PM on October 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: architecture, blizzards, , , , , , essays, fulcrum press, history, , , , niagra falls, sculpture, snow, thruway   

    “Buffalo Unbound, A Celebration” by Laura Pedersen a book review and how to win a copy of the book 

    “Buffalo Unbound, A Celebration”
    by Laura Pedersen
    Published by Fulcrum Books
    2010
    216 pages

    At the end of this review I’ll tell you how you can win a copy of this book and and Laura Pedersen’s memoirs of growing up in Buffalo, “Buffalo Gal.”

    Laura Pedersen columnist, trader, humorist and author loves her native city of Buffalo, New York.  In her memoirs of growing up in Buffalo, “Buffalo Gal” she told humorous stories of growing up during a time in Buffalo when times were tough.  In 2009 “Forbes” magazine ranked Buffalo as one of the top ten most miserable cities in which to live and then had the gall to repeat the insult in 2010.  Pedersen didn’t stand for this and has written a humorous and at times heartfelt book to retaliate and portray Buffalo, NY as a top-tier city and “The City of Good Neighbors.”

    Pedersen takes the reader on a wonderful journey through the history of Buffalo from the times when the Iroquois Indians ruled the land to now where the city is thriving with locally made candies, food festivals, multicultural events, theatre and stunning architecture drive away the reminders of great blizzards past.

    Each chapter/essay in this book covers something about Buffalo that I found fascinating, whether it was the history or descriptions of the beautiful and even some strange sights.  Buffalo is always changing with the times.  Laura Pedersen could always throw in some comment that leaves you smiling.  Her humor really makes this book one that cannot be put down.

    The Buffalo Chamber of Commerce had better have a thank you basket handy for Laura, because every section had me wanting to move to Buffalo and set down roots.  My only reservation, was the snow and cold.  Pedersen even covers the “Blizzard of ’77” and a few other tragedies such as the “Cleveland Hill Fire,” when an elementary school burned down killing many children, but the bright side, if there can be one in such a tragedy, is that this New York tragedy created the need for schools nation wide to organize fire drills.

    If you like architecture then you already know of Frank Lloyd Wright, but did you know of the many Buffalo area buildings he designed?  Architecture is covered as well as sculpture, and other arts, so it seems Buffalo has a bit of something for everyone.

    This book is a fun read that not only teaches a little history, but entertains with the not quite dry wit of Laura Pedersen and creates the urge to shuffle off to Buffalo. But there’s still that snow thing…maybe if a radio station in the Buffalo area needs an employee and will pay to move me there, for that I would love to see the sights written about in this book, maybe I’ll have to plan a vacation to Buffalo, after all Niagara Falls is close by.

    Now let’s talk about how you can win a copy of this book.  All you have to do is comment on this posting and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win not only this book, “Buffalo Unbound,” but also Pedersen’s memoirs, “Buffalo Gal.”  Comment and make sure you leave a way for me to contact you.  If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email address then email me gil (at) gilwilson (dot) com and let me know you commented.  Drawing to be held Friday, October 22, 2010.

    Also check out Laura Pedersen’s website for more information about her and her other books.
    http://www.laurapedersenbooks.com

     
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