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Review of Kindle Unlimited Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books with Audible Narration

This is an ongoing review of books available with Audible Narration in the Kindle Unlimited subscription program. I’ve been an Audible customer for several years and greatly enjoy the selection but it’s too easy to burn through a credit each month when a good book is located. With Kindle Unlimited there is no monthly credit limit but the selection is more refined and I find it hard to locate desirable books. Below is a review of my favorite (and not so favorite) Sci-Fi and Fantasy books.

My Favorite Books

Frontlines by Marko Kloos – 6 Book Series

The books kept coming up as a recommendation but I kept putting them off thinking them to be a starship troopers genre space warfare series but I was pleasantly surprised to be disappointed. There were several good twists along the 6 book series and the level of detail was enough to be satisfying but not so much as to be boring. The story kept moving forward for a very satisfying listen.

The Origin Mystery by A. G. Riddle – 3 Book Series

If you like Clive Cussler style stories with adventure, mystery, and pseudo-history you’ll enjoy this. It’s a little slow to start with some seemingly unrelated events but as the story progresses it weaves into an epic science fiction adventure. It’s an easy listen with plenty of interesting plot points without going overboard on inane detail.

Fight and Flight (Magic 2.0 Book 4) by Scott Meyer

I had listened to the other books in this series and was pleased to continue listening to the series without wasting an audible credit. I started to get a little tired of the series since it didn’t seem that the universe established by the book was fully realized. The characters enter into interesting and funny situations and there were more than a few laughs but I always thought the premise of the book could lead to even more interesting adventures. Regardless of my opinion, it’s an interesting and fun listen.

The Elven (The Saga of the Elven Book Series) by Bernhard Hennen

This book is epic. If you like the Lord of the Rings books you’ll like this fantasy universe of elves, trolls, magic, and adventures that stretch time. While the universe reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings the writing style is contemporary and easy to follow providing enough details to build a rich multi-layer story without going through superfluous narratives. The audio narration is very well done and the story will leave you satisfied in unexpected ways.

Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke Collection)

Wow, just, wow. I’ve seen a lot of sci-fi and while the first part of this book reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode the unique ideas are captivating. While the content may seem dated by today’s standards the story stands the test of time. I had previously listened to The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke and absolutely loved all of the original and unique sci-fi ideas. This book didn’t disappoint and it was exciting to see a story so completely thought out and finished.

Books I Enjoyed

The Hobbit (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

Finding the audible version of this was a pleasant surprise. It’s an entertaining listen and interesting story but a little slow at times.

A Fire Beneath the Skin by Victor Gischler

This series doesn’t waste any time getting into the main story without wasting time while adding details about the world in just the right amounts. I found the fantasy concepts to be interesting and the story moved forward at a decent pace keeping my attention. Some of the plot points and themes are more mature and might come across as stereotypical (secret romances, brothels, wizard battles, pirates) but the universe tries to be unique yet relatable as to not lose the reader in details

Books that I’m Undecided On

The Kingfountain Series Book by Jeff Wheeler

I didn’t really give this a fair chance but the plot and beginning just didn’t grip me and came across as stereotypical. I might give this another try since I didn’t make it more than an hour or so into the book.

The Hundreth Queen Series by Emily R. King

Similar to the Kingsfountain book I had trouble getting interesting in the plot and it seemed a bit stereotypical. I don’t think I gave the book a fair chance before getting bored and moving on.

Atopia Series by Matthew Mather

I really wanted to like this and made it more than halfway through the first book but between jumping around the different and seemingly disparate characters I got lost and confused. This is hard science fiction that explores some interesting ideas about the future and was very interesting but I just couldn’t get into it.

Books I Didn’t Like

The Evermen Saga by James Maxwell – 4 Book Series

After about 2 hours of listening, I decided to move on. The book was well written but slow moving with too much detail to take in. There are some interesting points that I liked but in the end, it didn’t hold my interest to finish.

The Endarian Prophecy by Richard Phillips

The book started out interesting and kept my attention for about 4 hours but seemed to get bogged down in pointless details that didn’t keep the plot moving forward so I gave up and moved along.

The Fracture Worlds Book by Adam Burch

I wanted to like this book but it was hard science fiction and while the environments tried to be unique and the characters interesting I found everything somehow ordinary and didn’t get hooked on the plot line. I only listened to 5 hours of the first book before giving up.

Last Updates 2018-07-29

Review of ‘Pioneer One’ BitTorrent Movie

According to my personal rating standards sci-fi movies either fall into one of three categories, great, horrible, and fancy eye candy that flopped. Hollywood has a subtle way of transforming potentially great sci-fi into sub-standard, watered down sci-fi in an attempt to make it appeal to the masses. Sub-standard and watered down how? Take your pick; cookie cutter plots, stereotypical characters, old stories with new technology mixed in, predictable endings, etc.

I find myself lowering standards on some sci-fi so it will fall into the great category just because it is unique. Other movies that have great production and effects but are mutilated by the Hollywood syndrome and generally get put in the ‘fancy eye candy that flopped’ category because it’s worth watching even though the story is disappointing. If you don’t like sci-fi then your standards are probably high and everything that a I would bend the rules on you may put into the horrible category.

Hungry for some new and original sci-fi I watched the Pioneer One pilot episode that was featured on a recent Slashdot posting. Once the preconception of it being a low budget film was overcome I was surprised at the story and professional content. The story is original and sets the stage for a drama that is realistic and can incorporate some fascinating sci-fi themes. I’ve seen my share of horrible sci-fi movies but the pilot episode of Pioneer One easily falls into my great category despite being low budget.

Download the pilot via BitTorrent for free and decide for yourself.  More download options and movie information is available on the VODO Pioneer One site. Well worth checking out if you like sci-fi.

I’ve already donated to the project, what about you? Do you think it’s worth $5 to see the story unfold?

Review of the Russell T. Davies’ TV series Torchwood

Because it followed the Doctor Who series my hopes were high that this would be an exciting alternative while waiting for the next Doctor Who installment. Just as the Tardis is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside, so is the disappointment I feel inside greater than what my mind could possible contain. Torchwood might as well burn – I wouldn’t miss it. I’d be thankful for not having endured the filth of the series and the agony of the let down.

Torchwood is less about science fiction and more about liberal drama. All of the actors pursue sexual relationships with each other and the highest sense of accomplishment and purpose for living is to not be alone. Sure, Gwen comes on the scene as a compassionate heart who wants to help everyone  but that is soon replaced with a character who is empty and seeking physical contact to fill that emptiness. I don’t even want to admit to having watched some of the eipsodes. I’m sorry, episodes like “Day One” and “Countrycide” were just too raunchy and grotesque and should have been a clear indication the rest of the episodes weren’t worth watching.

I’m a sucker and wanted to give it one last chance so I started watching the “Children of Earth” season 3 miniseries. <rant>I can deal with time travel, regeneration from the dead, crazy inventions, but what is REALLY unbelievable is the gun fights in day 2. Torchwood explodes, Gwen and Ianto crawl from the wreckage and each manage to evade a well placed sniper who is watching for survivors.   First of all, the sniper wouldn’t use a laser sight for a distance shot thus revealing his position and allowing the characters to notice the marker and realize, ‘Oh, look, a light dot, someone is pointing a gun at me, Duck!” Second, a few minutes later Gwen manages to shoot the front AND back tires out of an oncoming vehicle from a free hand position over 50 yards away.  Really, I thought this was SCIENCE FICTION not FANTASY!</rant>

Don’t waste your time with Torchwood. If Doctor Who gets as raunchy and grotesque I might shed a tear.

A Stargate Enthusiast’s Review of Stargate Universe

As of this  articles writing Stargate Universe episode 5 “Justice” just aired. This post about Stargate Universe  can be summarized in this thought; instead of being something to someone Stargate Universe is on the path of being nothing to everyone.

Exploring the unknown, meeting new species, discovering new technology, and portraying how it all impacts our society is what science fiction is all about. Those of you are trekkies, wasn’t this the same reason why Star Trek is so fascinating? The original Stargate movie and Stargate SG-1 story line provided the same sense of science fiction as Star Trek. Instead of considering the future Stargate dealt with the present and provided exciting story lines that had an interesting tie in to human history. The episodes were (except for some of the very early season 1 episodes) were modest and didn’t contain gratuitous nudity, sex, or profanity. The SG-1 team was civil with each other and the unique personalities of Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, and Christopher Judge were a source of positive character development and wry comic humor. Unrestrained equines could not remove me from posting about the enjoyment the original SG-1 team provided. Not even if you used a swiss army knife *grin*.

It pains me to give Stargate Universe bad press because I liked Stargate SG-1 so much. If I only “liked” Stargate Universe just a little I might focus on it’s virtues. Sadly my feelings towards Stargate Universe can’t be stretched enough to say it is likable.

Stargate Universe isn’t science fiction – it’s a drama… dare I say, a soap opera? It is a struggle to find the virtues in Stargate Universe (SGU) that I found in SG-1. The characters are bitter and aggressive with each other, there is only a minimal sense of exploration, and there is too much gratuitous sexuality. I don’t want to see overtly sensual over tones in my science fiction unless it directly applies to a specific situation.  Don’t characters have private lives anymore? Other genres exist for these types of interpersonal “explorations”.  I admit, given the storyline these types of issues arise but there is way too much focus on it and instead of focusing on the science fiction of what could be there is more emphasis on the drama with a science fiction storyline.

Oh cry.