Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

SandersonLegionSkinDeepWhy I Read It: I really enjoyed Book 1, Legion.

Where I Got It: Own it on Audible.com.

Who I Recommend This To: If you enjoy detective stories and multiple personalities, then check this out!

Narrator: Oliver Wyman

Publisher: Audible Studios (2014)

Length: 4 hours 23 minutes

Series: Book 2, Legion

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it can stand on its own.

Stephen Leeds is a kind of modern-day detective. He’s super smart, doesn’t stand out in a crowd, and has a whole team of specialists that help him out. What makes him unique is that he is the only one who can see, hear, and interact with his team; he thinks of them as his Aspects. Hence, he is sometimes called ‘Legion’. In this book, Leeds is hired by a tech company (I3) to track down a morgue and ensure it is cremated. The corpse use to be a leading scientist in a niche industry researching biotechnology and wetwear. He was working on a project that would allow humans to store info in their very cells; but because it’s a new science and there’s always unforeseen outcomes, I3 is deeply worried that corpse could release something biologically unwholesome on the populace.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series. Since much of the mechanics of Leeds and his Aspects were already founded, I could concentrate on the plot. Stephen starts off on a date but soon is distracted by his bodyguard, JC, as he notices a hitwoman dining a few tables over. Of course Stephen’s conversation with JC is all one-sided to his date and pretty soon she is a bit spooked. But then Yall, who is one of the head managers of I3, calls with a job for Stephen (so he doesn’t have to linger over his failed date).

There’s plenty of humor, some suspense, and a good dash of very interesting cutting edge technology. The characters are interesting and I can see that they grow a little in this book (and if you read Book 1, then you can see that they have developed even further). The action is interspersed with either detective sleuthing or with Leeds doing some introspection. Put all together, it’s an excellent installment in this series.

As with Book 1, Leeds learns more about his Apsects and about what they can and can’t do. There’s not a few theories kicked around about just what Leeds’ Aspects are, and not a few of these are put forth by the Aspects themselves. I am very interested to see in future installments what Leeds’ final form will be with all his Aspects, if he ever has a final frm.

The Narration: Oliver Wyman did a great job once again. He’s a great voice for Leeds, but he also has a variety of accents, male and female voices for the host of characters. I especially like his voice for JC.

What I Liked: Interesting core mystery; plenty of humor; very cool biotech.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a great book!

What Others Think:

Pat’s Hot List

Thoughts  & Afterthoughts

Around the Blogosphere, November 2014

SandersonLegionSkinDeepHeya folks, plenty of goodness happening around this time of the year, including goodness on the interwebs.

First up, Brandon Sanderson has released his sequel to Legion. Book 2 in the series, Legion: Skin Deep, is FREE on Audible.com for the first month of its release! Hurray! I am very much looking forward to this as I so enjoyed Book 1 in the series! Here’s the little Audible blur about the book:

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a short, distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson revealed a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. In the stunning sequel, Legion: Skin Deep, that talent is on full display.

Stephen Leeds, AKA ”Legion’,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at its most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent – and unpredictable – voices.

And here is an audio clip of the book so you can hear just how great a narrator Oliver Wyman is:

https://soundcloud.com/audible/legion-skin-deep/s-7sgzP

So if your a Sanderson fan, you will be all over this. If you have been wanting to give his work a try, or simply want to give an audiobook or Audible.com a try, this is a great way to do it.

VintageScifiBadgeNext on my list of fantastic is the upcoming (January 2015) Vintage Science Fiction Month hosted by Little Red Reviewer. I have enjoyed this event quite a bit these last few years and I look forward to enjoying once again. Since I am all about the audiobooks lately, I will probably be checking out Librivox’s Science Fiction section. As many of you know, Librivox is the noisy sister to Gutenberg project, bringing public domain books to eyes and ears FREE around the world. Everyone is welcome to join, and you can read/listen as much or as little as you want. You can also toss in old radio programs or SF tv/movies. The only rule (and it’s not like folks enforce these things), is that it is pre-1979. Simple, and a lot of fun!

Finally, I want to put a plug out there for The Pigeonhole, a kind of global book club with weekly installments in the ongoing book. They also have their previously completed books available for download. The monthly subscription gives you behind-the-scenes stuff on the authors and the Stories, which is cool. It’s also another way to support upcoming authors. So check it out and see if it is for you!

The Interview: Law Firm Erotica by Silk Jones

JonesTheInterviewLawFirmEroticaWhy I Read It: I was curious to see if erotica could make legal paperwork filing interesting….

Where I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you have a spanking fetish, then you will probably enjoy this.

Narrator: Shoshana Franck

Publisher: Waterview Publishing (2014)

Length: 51 minutes

Series: Book 1 Law Firm Erotica

Author’s Page

Laura decides to answer a job ad for a submissive legal assistant. She had previously worked as an accountant but was laid off with a generous severance package. Right up front, she knows that BDSM is part of the job requirements and she has to admit to herself that she is pretty curious. Showing up for the interview, she considers leaving because she has no experience in BDSM and is worried that she won’t be qualified. However, she waffles too long in the waiting room and Mr. Hobbs calls her in to the interview before she leaves. As he goes over her resume, he asks her plenty of questions and also lets her know what would be expected of her. Things heat up when the interview moves to the hands-on portion!

This was a fun, quick erotica story. It was easy to get into and to have fun with. I felt it was a good balance between the two characters with dialogue and they share the narrative (though most of the story is told from Laura’s point of view). While Mr. Hobbs lead the action, Laura always had the opportunity to walk out of the interview. This particular scenario involved a heavy spanking. Most importantly, both characters felt satisfied at the end of the tale. There was a little cuddling and the beginning of affection between the two.

My little quibble is that I would have enjoyed the two characters vocalizing during the act. While it was a hot description, it was just that: an internal monologue description of the act by Laura. Surely Mr. Hobbs was doing some sort of animal-like grunting at the least with all the physical action he was doing? This criticism won’t keep me from listening to further adventures of Laura and the law firm.

Once again, my man conveniently popped in while I was listening to this audiobook and helped fold the laundry. He did this with Zane’s tales too. I really should listen to more erotica so that I get assistance with housechores. Hmmm… I bet this book would go good with cooking dinner.

The Narration: Shoshana Franck did a great job. There was no hesitancy with the erotica parts and she was good voice for Laura. She did a decent male voice as well.

What I Liked: This book had some heat to it!; Laura seeks out the experience; both characters are satisfied at the end; my laundry got folded by the husband as he eavesdropped.

What I Disliked: I’m sure the characters made some noises while in the middle of the act and I would have liked that to be part of the tale.

What Others Think:

Cocktails and Books

Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung

JangDearLeaderWhy I Read It: I wanted to read something educational.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Care to learn more about North Korea? This is a very interesting tale.

Narrator: Daniel York

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 11 hours 43 minutes

Author’s Page

In this nonfiction tale of living and working in North Korea, Jang Jin-sung takes the reader through his life from a young age, through his schooling successes, his recognition by the Dear Leader himself (Kim Jong-il), and then to his flight from North Korea to China and eventually South Korea. I found this book fascinating. Granted, part of that fascination was due to my near total ignorance of North Korean politics and culture. And yet, I believe this book could hold the attention of those well read on the subject. Jang makes the information very accessible by bringing the reader into his life and his culture.

When I picked this book up, I thought it would be an educational, if a bit stuffy, read. Instead, I was riveted. I didn’t want to put it away in the evening and I found myself regurgitating tidbits of what I had learned to my man over dinner. Jang shares several anecdotes from his life that helped me to understand how tightly controlled the country is, how devoid of outside information it is. Having a book of classic English poetry in ones possession is dangerous. The image of the Dear Leader is nearly everywhere and is treated almost like a spiritual icon. At a young age, Jang was instructed to become a musician; however, this was not his calling. Yet it was very difficult to change the course of his education. As an American, I have so many freedoms and this book shined a new light on those freedoms and deepened my appreciation for them.

Eventually, Jang got a job in the government’s propaganda department. He was now legally sanctioned to view/read/listen to art, news, magazines, movies, music, etc. from outside North Korea. His focus was imitating the style of South Korean poets in order to write and have published (in South Korea) pieces that shined a positive light on North Korea. Now I figure every country has a propaganda department, but I was surprised at how controlled and insidious the North Korean department was.

The book has its poignant moments as well. Jang is given a week’s paid vacation and he wishes to visit his home village from his childhood (both he and his parents live in the capitol city of Pyongyang for the majority of the book). This allows hi to describe the difficulties inherent in traveling the country (so many checkpoints and train delays). Then he describes the state of his home village and the people (this is during North Korea’s great famine). Later in the book, Jang and friend must escape North Korea. There are plenty of desperate moments on that journey that show just how precarious their situation is. With so very little news and culture allowed into North Korean, many North Koreans know no other language. You can imagine how this would hinder their escape and make them stand out. This book also offers moments of great trust between one human and another, not only in North Korea but also in China. It was uplifting to see that so many people had a conscience and tried, even in a some small way, to make the situation better.

And then there was all the weird stuff – North Korean women paid and required to sleep with prominent politicians or business men from other countries and bear their children (who would be used as game pieces in politics); the whole Admitted cadre that grants the members extra food and political considerations; many songs are about Dear Leader (in a good light) or are whistling (as no one and nothing can be held in higher esteem than the North Korean leader). The list goes on. I won’t spoil things for you; just know that this book is a trove of cultural tidbits that I had not heard of before.

Over all, this book reads very quickly. There was one or two points where the narrative bogged a little in history of North Korea, but in my case I think this was due to information overload. 99% of the info in this book was brand new to me so in the few cases where lots of North Korean politician names were bandied about, I became a little lost. Still, that is a very minor negative in comparison with the wealth of knowledge I gained from this book.

The Narration: The narration was excellent. Daniel York did a great job with distinct character voices and emotions. I only know a little Chinese so I can’t speak to accuracy of his North Korean accents and use of Korean words, but I can say it worked for me.

What I Liked: Lots of intense moments; very educational; kept me entertained; several poignant moments.

What I Disliked: There were a few spots where the narrative slowed down.

What Others Think:

Co-Op

Ambassador by Wiliam Alexander

AlexanderAmbassadorWhy I Read It: I have loved other works by William Alexander

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For those who enjoy an alien adventure story that includes some cultural diversity.

Narrator: William Alexander

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 4 hours 37 minutes

Series: I sincerely hope this is Book 1 in a series – I want more!

Author’s Page

Modern day Minneapolis finds Gabe Fuentes babysitting his two younger siblings at the playground and surreptitiously chatting with his best friend. They aren’t suppose to be chatting. After all, their last get together involved a home made rocket and a small fire. Essentially, they have been grounded from each other for at least the summer. With a heavy heart, Gabe heads home with the twins in tow to his parents and his older sister. His parents are Mexicans that met in India and their homecooking is a fusion of the two cultures. Yum!

But I digress. You want to hear about the aliens. OK, so Gabe has an assortment of small unwanted pets he took in – a little fox, a bird, a lizard. And one night this sock puppet being pops into his room for a chat. He is Envoy and he is looking for a likely candidate from Earth to act as an Ambassador for the entire planet at the galactic assembly. Gabe is naturally intimidated by the offer but decides to give it a go anyways. Envoy proceeds to the basement where he uses odd bits and the clothes dryer to create an entagler to send the entangled Gabe to the galactic assembly. There Gabe becomes a target for at least one assassin and has a mystery to figure out. Meanwhile, back home his parents are facing deportation (since they are in the country illegally).

I loved this book. I really enjoyed William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets and Ghoulish Song but this is a new level of excellence from him. While suitable for all ages, it had a certain refined intensity that makes this my favorite Alexander book to date. I loved the multicultural aspect as so many SFF novels have Caucasians as the focus of the story. The Mexican-Indian cultural fusion of the Fuentes household, set in Minneapolis, reflects the real life I know and enjoy. Plus, I now want tasty curry tamales. Gabe’s awareness of this cultural diversity(with both the pros and cons of it) give him special insight for his new role as Earth’s Ambassador.

In the Galactic Assembly, the Ambassadors get to know each other through play. I thought this was a great point as well as allowing for fun and awkward moments. The author did a great job of capturing different approaches to communication from the various alien envoys, and also Gabe having to puzzle out the least familiar attempts at communication. Plus there is this nomadic warrior race that travels the galaxy dominating or annihilating any other alien race they come upon. They too have an Ambassador at the Galactic Assembly.

Pretty soon Gabe has lots of concerns. Someone is trying to kill him and he thinks it is another Ambassador. Plus his parents are facing deportation for being in the country illegally. I found these scenes particularly poignant as Gabe is trying to save himself, potentially the world, and now his family in particular. So much on one young man!

The ending was satisfying. It tied up the overall plot arc but left some questions open for a sequel (and I really do hope there is a sequel).

The Narration: William Alexander narrated his own story, as he has done with his other works. Once again, he was amazing. I have lived in New Mexico for over 2 decades and Alexander’s Hispanic accent for Gabe and his family was very believable; he didn’t over do it as so many non-Spanish speakers will at times. I also loved his various alien noises he had to come up with from time to time. He has clear distinct voices for both the male and female characters. In short, he is a joy to listen to.

What I Liked: Curry tamales!; Envoy looks like a sock puppet with google eyes (great imagery); Gabe loses a lot in this book but still continues on; the ending was satisfying and sets us up for a sequel.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was a great book!

What Others Think:

True Book Talks

Interview: Fred Wolinsky, Audiobook Narrator & Producer

FredWolinskyVoice Over HeadshotEveryone, please welcome Fred Wolinsky. He’s an Audible.com approved narrator, an actor, a puppeteer, a sign language interpreter, and all-around entertainer! Today we chat about audiobooks, fantastical worlds and fictional people, the differences of live performance versus narration, and much more. Enjoy!

What fictional world would you like to visit?

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by fictional worlds — Neverland, Oz, Wonderland, and others. That is one of the reasons I really enjoyed narrating “The Doorways Trilogy” by Tim O’Rourke.  His fictional world of Endra borrows from many others, and sets up its own intriguing rules.  If I had to pick just one fictional world to visit and explore, it would probably be Narnia.

O'RourkeDoorwaysIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

In thinking about that, there are actually 2 very different book series that I would like to experience again – “The Tales of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, and “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin. I read them both when I was very young, and would probably have a whole new perspective now, with more life experience.  Narnia presented the wonder and innocence of childhood shattered by evil, and saved by magic and faith in the good.  That series touched me in the soul, as well as my sense of adventure.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Tales of the City” presented a large cast of quirky, flawed, and lovable people in real world San Francisco.  It presented its own kind of innocence of young people growing up through a changing time.  That series touched my heart and my sensibilities, and I would like to meet those people again, looking back in time.

I am hoping that some of the books that I narrate, like “The Doorways Trilogy” will become experiences that others will want to experience again.  One of the benefits of narrating audiobooks is that people can experience the stories in a whole different media, providing a new perspective.  After hearing my narration of his book, Tim O’Rourke responded that “The book really comes to life and even though I wrote it, I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.” Readers can have that same experience and listen to books even if they have already read them.

O'RourkeLeagueOfDoorwaysWhat are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

My favorite parts are meeting lots of interesting people — even if only virtually — and getting the support of blogs like yours.  I love getting feedback and hearing people’s views.  I also like writing and designing promotional material.  The worst part is the frustration of limited market reach, and the inability to break through a glass ceiling of visibility.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to narrating?

I have been fortunate to have jobs that I enjoyed throughout my life, so there is no “worst” job.  All have their simple moments, and their difficulties, but the difficulties present the challenges that make them exciting.  The most challenging job I have ever had is that of a Sign Language Interpreter.  The mental challenges of handling 2 languages simultaneously, each with very different structures and thought processes, plus dealing with each individual’s linguistic styles and accents, makes it extremely intensive work.  Experts have called the process of interpreting the most challenging cognitive process that man is capable of.

Narrating has its challenges as well.  Each book has a different style, tone, and “voice,” plus each character should have a unique voice and personality.  It is similar to sign language interpreting, in that acting and narrating is also a form of interpreting — interpreting the author’s thoughts and words, and delivering that message to the listener.  The mental challenges of switching instantly between character voices and narrative can be comparable to interpreting.  However, interpreting is done live, in real time.  Narrating, on the other hand, has the luxury of being able to stop and start and then edit it together to appear live without having to actually do it within the confines of real time.

LongoInsanityTalesWhat does your Narrator’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess?

That depends on the eye of the beholder.  I have my various piles around my desk that I feel are neatly arranged, and I know just where everything is.  However nobody else would be able to make sense of it.  So, it could probably be described as a tidy mess.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I am a tea drinker, so I would love to have tea with Merlin, Gandalf, Aslan, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot — all wizards of either magic or of the mind.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another’s work?

I have only been doing audiobook narration for a little over a year now, and most contact with fans are virtual.  Even though I have 20 books available through Audible.com at the moment, and several more in production, I have not had much direct interaction with fans.  However, as a puppeteer, I had much more direct contact.  Perhaps the most awkward moment was when someone saw me at a conference and just gushed over how much they loved my shows.  As they talked about it, I realized that it was not one of my shows they were talking about, but actually someone else’s show.  I tried to explain that to the fan, but she insisted that it was my show, and suggested that perhaps I just “forgot.” (Having done each show dozens or perhaps hundreds of times, I know which are and are not my own shows, but this fan had a different opinion.).   So, rather than argue with a fan, and especially since she loved the work, I just smiled and thanked her for her praise.

PhillipsHallsOfHorrorYou are also a puppeteer. How does the real live audience experience compare with recording a narration that will be enjoyed by an audience at a later date?

I have been a puppeteer and an actor — both performing before a live audience.  While there are many similarities to book narration, there are also many differences.

They are similar in that they both require bringing characters and words to life, and interpreting an author’s story.  They both require extensive use of the voice, including character voices and accents, sometimes many different character voices in one performance.

One of the differences is that with narration, the entire illusion must be created with the voice.  In acting and puppetry, there is a visual aspect which is just as important if not more so.  Another difference is the amount of preparation.  Since acting and puppetry are presented before a live audience, extensive rehearsal is needed to do it in real time, without the ability to stop and correct anything.  It is performed over and over again, each performance being essentially the same, but always slightly different than the others.  Narrating involves very little prep, but you have the luxury of stopping and starting, correcting, and retaking until each component is just right — then it is frozen in the recording.  And a final difference is that with live performance, you get immediate feedback from the live audience — hearing their responses — and can adjust your performance accordingly.  With narration, you have to imagine and anticipate the audience response, and do not have the pleasure of actually hearing it happen.  You do, however, get feedback from authors and listeners. In some ways the artistic rewards (the pleasures of creating the art) last longer in narration, but the ego rewards (the praise from fans) are more hidden and delayed.

PhillipsApocalypseTangoAs a sign language interpreter, do you occasionally find an animated person who talks with lots of gestures inadvertently signing off-beat things? Due to this skill, have you modified any of your own gestures?

Actually no.  In both spoken and signed languages, gestures and language complement each other, but are different.  Sign language is an actual language.  Just like spoken languages, it also incorporates gestures, but the gestures themselves enhance rather than replace the words. I have never seen anyone doing a gesture that inadvertently translates into an unexpected lexical sign.  However, I have experienced times where I am trying to express myself verbally to a hearing person, and find that my thoughts are more clearly expressed with sign language.  I then automatically start signing without thinking about it, but quickly catch myself and remind myself that the person I am talking with does not understand sign language, and I have to figure out how to express myself verbally instead.

TaylorToLightTheDragon'sFireFinally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I currently have 20 books available on Audible.com.  My most recently completed projects have been the first 2 books of the paranormal fantasy adventure, “The Doorways Trilogy” by Tim O’Rourke.  You recently reviewed book 1: Doorways.  Book 2 (League of Doorways) is also currently available.  The third book (The Queen of Doorways) will not be out until sometime the first half of 2015.

In production, and coming out soon will be Insanity Tales, a collection of stories of murder, mayhem and madness by David Daniel, Stacy Longo, Vlad V., Ursula Wong, and Dale T. Phillips, with an introduction by the New York Times Best-selling author Jonathan Maberry.  Also coming out soon is the paranormal fantasy romance, To Light the Dragon’s Fire by Margaret Taylor.  I have several other books in the production queue as well that I am working on.

For the latest information about my books, to listen to a wide range of audio samples, and to see a short video of me narrating an excerpt from Doorways, check out my website at http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/

Places to find Fred Wolinsky

Website

Audible.com

Kyrathaba Rising by William Bryan Miller

MillerKyrathabaRisingWhy I Read It: Post-apocalyptic world, aliens, and virtual reality – what’s not to like?

Where I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For post apocalyptic fans who like a few twists.

Narrator: Christine Padovan

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Series: Book 1 Kyrathaba Chronicles

Author’s Page

Kyrathaba is the name of a virtual reality world. Set in the future by nearly 200 years, humans exist in only subterranean remnants. The Earth suffered a devastating attack from aliens and what few humans are slowly dying out due to radiation poisoning. Sethra, a member of compound A-3, has found a way to enter Kyrathaba, and perhaps stay there indefinitely. Things look grim and Sethra, along with a few close friends, seriously contemplate the possibility that humanity as we know it may not be able to continue in their current form.

The story starts off with Sethra and Byron sharing a morning beverage of U Tea. Since they live in these completely enclosed underground capsules, everything, including their urine, is recycled. I am sure you can figure out what goes into the U Tea. Of course, I was enjoying my own morning cup of tea when I listened to this part of the book. And yes, I stared at my tea suspiciously.

So you can see that I was sucked into the straight-faced humor of the book right away. I enjoyed learning about the characters first, letting their current world unfold around me as Sethra and his friends went through their daily routine. Radiation poisoning is killing them off bit by bit. Even though they continue to reproduce as quickly as they can, attrition may well win out; humans are facing the very real possibility of becoming extinct. Compound A-3 has a regular security force who have a regular schedule. Their food is bland. The medical staff and care is the best they can maintain under such circumstances. And there are robots, which is the cool part in all this gloom.

While Sethra looks deeper into the possibility of long-term virtual reality habitation, Earth has a bigger issue. There’s an alien ship in orbit and it’s sole purpose is to monitor the remaining humans. I don’t think humanity could stand up to a second alien invasion. Meanwhile, the geoscientists explore drilling further into the Earth to escape the radiation and expand their living quarters. They discover an underground cavern with a clean water source. In exploring the depth and width of the water source, they make a very surprising discovery. I think this was the secondary plot line I enjoyed the most and want to learn more about. So many questions!

Kyrathaba itself is a Dungeons and Dragons kind of world; there’s magic, Orcs, plenty of sharp weapons, and paragon points to be earned. This magical world complimented, rather than contradicting, the science fiction tone of the larger story. I don’t always enjoy scifi and fantasy melding, but in this case it was done very well.  The story had a good mix of characters, both male and female characters having crucial roles to the plot. Plus we had a range of ethnicity and ages. Definite plus!

My one criticism lies in the use of radiation poisoning to be the initial driver of the plot. I did radiological work for several years, dressing in yellow Tyvek, full-face respirator, nasal swabs, etc. To make it very simple, you either have a radiation source emitting radiation or you have radioactive particles that you have ingested or inhaled. For the first, you put shielding between you and it and you should be good. Shielding can be lead, several meters of earth, etc. And compound A-3 had all that in place between it and the surface of the contaminated Earth. The story didn’t really mention the possibility of the population all repeatedly inhaling, imbibing, or ingesting radioactive particles. Basic HEPA filters would take care of this problem and would be the first solution for signs of radiation poisoning. Also, with enough radiation to be causing prolonged radiation sickness over generations, then we would see the electronics failing left, right, and center. Electronics do not hold up well in the glow of radiation. At the best, they get buggy and stay that way. In this tale, we have a lot of cool tech and all of it was working just fine, showing no signs of electronic wear due to prolonged exposure to radiation.

But if I wasn’t such a know it all, the radiation threat would probably work just fine. Over all, I enjoyed the tale and the multiple plot lines. I really want to know what is in that big cavern pool of water! I want to know what happens to Sethra and his friends in the virtual world of Kyrathaba. There are enemies every where it seems, human, alien, and potentially something else. Indeed, there is plenty of worth in this book to propel the reader into the next installment.

The Narration: Padovan did a decent job of narrating. Her characters were each distinct. In fact, she did most of the book with a geek accent which was well suited to many of the characters as they were half raised by their computer implants. Her male voices could use a bit more masculinity, but that is my only negative comment.

What I Liked: Good mix of scifi and fantasy;great character development; multiple plot lines to give the reader much to think on; the ending answered enough questions to be satisfying and left the door open for a sequel.

What I Disliked: The use of radiation poisoning was superficial and doesn’t match up with the science we have on the subject.

What Others Think:

Rob’s Book Blog

Scifi & Fantasy Reviews

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