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  • gilwilson 8:56 PM on January 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , daniel suarez, , jeff gurner, kill decision, military, , , , tech,   

    “Kill Decision” by Daniel Suarez 

    kill decision

    “Kill Decision”
    by Daniel Suarez
    read by Jeff Gurner
    published by Penguin Audio
    13 hours and 6 minutes.

    When I first found out about this book I knew it was a science-fiction novel and because that is my favorite genre, I knew I had to give this a shot. As I was listening to the audiobook I kept hearing more and more news reports about drone aircraft in action around the world and I realized that this piece of science-fiction is not too far from science-fact which is a bit scary.

    Before we get to the plot of this book the term “Kill Decision” may need some explaining for the non-military lay-person. The kill decision is what keeps the human touch in modern warfare. While many forms of drone (unmanned) aircraft are used today the actual decision to fire on targets is made by a human, usually a high-ranking military person. This decision to fire on targets is the “Kill Decision.” This book focuses on the idea of what happens if we leave that decision to the machines.

    The author, Daniel Suarez, definitely did his homework and covered all bases when creating a technology that sounds like it could logically happen today. We already know about the militaries of the world using drones and doing so with remote control using onboard cameras. Suarez explores not only the possibility of what would happen if someone were to try fully automated drones that pick their own targets, he takes it even further by explaining how all of this technology could come together. From facial recognition software, to graphic analysis software, to hive mentality of insects used as a model for numerous drones working together. Suarez then goes even further to explain how the spin doctors would use social media to create positive views of unmanned warfare. Altogether this creates an in depth sci-fi techno thriller that sounds like something that could be happening right now.

    The reader of this audiobook, Jeff Gurner, deserves some sort of an award for this production. He was able to present every little detail of the story with some masterful voicework. He presented each character with subtle voice changes that made it so each character, even the minor ones, came to full three dimensional life. Even when two of the major players were free falling from a plane being bombed by drones, through Gurner’s voice work I could see the Earth getting closer and I found myself holding my breath until chutes were pulled. Actually thanks to his delivery and the excellent writing I found myself holding my breath several times throughout this book.

    This book takes the listener from Iraq, to Stanford University, to Africa, to Pakistan, to Kansas City, to Utah, to Mexico to China and numerous other places in tracking down who is creating fully automated drones and using them to start a war.

    A group at Stanford have created code that allows computers to have their own vision and use video feeds to alert users of strange occurrences. Just as they are about to publish and make millions their lawyers inform them that the code is already on the internet and cannot be patented. Just as the group is discussing what to do about who stole their code their building is destroyed by drones.

    Linda McKinney is in Africa studying the swarming behavior of weaver ants when her camp is attacked by drones. Luckily (maybe) for Linda she is saved by a government agency whose members are buried so deep in the secrecy of government operations that they actually don’t exist. The group’s leader, Odin, tells her her study in the swarming of ants is being used as a prototype in creating automated drones. Not believing this Linda escapes and is captured by the FBI. When she tries to explain her story the FBI do not believe her, but once Homeland Security becomes involved Linda thinks someone is about to believe her.

    Through thrilling stops around the world the team try to track down the manufacturer of the drones and attempt at preventing a war in which all killing will be done by the drones and all of humanity is in danger. In what is an excellent mix of several science-fiction and espionage genres of storytelling, “Kill Decision” will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last word and after that will keep you looking over your shoulder.


  • gilwilson 9:15 PM on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , john w. quinn, , , military, , , spoken word inc, U.S. Navy   

    “Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy” by John W. Quinn 

    “Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy”
    by John W. Quinn
    Narrated by Jim Meskimen
    Published by Spoken Word Inc.
    5 hours 50 minutes.

    A couple of factors attracted me to this book and intrigued me enough to give this one a listen. I can’t say I normally seek out memoirs, but I have on occasion picked one up. The first factor that brought this book to my attention was the narrator, Jim Meskimen. I have been a fan of Jim Meskimen’s work for a while now and have been highly entertained by his celebrity impressions. He has some fun YouTube videos of various impressions and not only are they good but very funny. He is a man of a million voices. You may recognize him from the commercial for a wireless provider in which he portrays a boss reviewing an employee’s vacation pics.

    I will admit that I was curious as to why an impressionist would be reading a memoir type audiobook, after all there were no celebrities to be imitated. I soon learned that Meskimen’s talent for voices carries over to a memoir excellently, in that he is able to narrate/read the book and create the necessary vocal changes to clarify which character is talking during dialog moments. That is not the only selling point in his reading of this book. Jim Meskimen’s delivery of this book makes it feel as if you were sitting down with a friend as he tells you his life story. Great smooth delivery that kept me listening and made me feel I was right alongside Senior Chief John W. Quinn for the whole ride.

    The other aspect that attracted me to this book was that it was the story of a Navy Veteran. Being a Navy Veteran myself, I love to hear about other’s experiences in their Navy career. John Quinn and I could have actually run into each other through our experiences and there were times where in his service time where he mentioned events that I remembered being near at the time. He went to bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois two years before me and described events that brought back memories. He also served in San Diego where I spent a good chunk of my time. He took part in Operation Earnest Will, the operation where the U.S. Navy protected Kuwaiti Oil Tankers from 1987-1988 and I took part in Operation Praying Mantis which was the last major action in Operation Earnest Will. So, our lives coincided with our Navy Careers. However Senior Chief Quinn had a bit more of a struggle through his career part being a secret he kept from the Navy and part being the pain he had to endure through not only his Naval career but throughout his life.

    This audiobook is not a military book but rather the everyday life events that create major challenges for someone like John W. Quinn. Quinn had an excellent career in the Navy despite his affliction with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy encompasses a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement. The condition is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. In Quinn’s case it occurred during pregnancy and he was brought into the world with this debilitating condition. Through the will and determination of his parents he was not allowed to think of himself as disabled. All his life he endured painful physical therapy to try to keep his body in as much “normalcy” as possible.

    After seeing his older brother come home from boot camp Quinn knew he wanted to be a sailor. Quinn enlisted but failed the physical testing and was sent home. He was sent home because he couldn’t duck walk, nothing was noted about his Cerebral Palsy, so after a year of rigorous days in his parent’s basement he retrained his body and overcame the disability and tried again. Once he was in he struggled everyday to keep his CP a secret and even while doing PT with the Navy Seals he was able to fight through the pain. Later in his career his constant battle and then the suicide of his brother almost seemed too much and alcoholism threatened to bring him down. Again not ready to give up he fought on.

    In this constant heroic struggle of the everyday life of someone living with constant pain and struggling to keep up and even going above and beyond, “Someone Like Me,” will change the way you think and maybe even give you a little extra boost to get through your own life.
    The inspiring story of Senior Chief John W. Quinn and the excellent delivery of Jim Meskimen combine to make this audiobook one that you will want to share with everyone. Enjoy and be inspired.

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