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Influx by Daniel Suarez

April 21, 2014

InfluxInflux by Daniel Suarez

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daniel Suarez out-did himself with Influx! What an amazing story. It has so many elements of science fiction and science fact, as well as science probable! The story is very intricate and the characters are very well developed.

I don’t want to give away too much but suffice it to say that people (including our hero, Jon Grady) who have invented or discovered disruptive scientific technologies are disappearing and or being killed by a group of religious nuts who are apparently killing people brilliant people who are on the cusp of a major breakthrough in technology around the world. There is also a secret governmental organization created in the 50s/60s that has something to do with all of this as well.

I totally enjoyed this book! It’s long, but it is very well written and hard to put down!

Thanks so much Daniel Suarez! I hope you have your hands in the making of the movie so they do it well. I can’t wait to see it!

I listened to the audiobook version of this book from Audible and it is well worth getting!

Written by: Daniel Suarez
Narrated by: Jeff Gurner
Length: 13 hrs and 45 mins
Format: Unabridged
Release Date:02-20-14
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Program Type: Audiobook

View all my reviews

Also available from Amazon here.

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (February 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525953183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525953180
Influx by Daniel Suarez - click iamge to go to his website

Influx by Daniel Suarez – click image to go to his website

May also like to visit Daniel Suarez‘ website here where Daniel Suarez has the following to say about the book:

What if human civilization is more advanced than you know?

In his latest SciFi thriller New York Times Bestselling author, Daniel Suarez, depicts a world where the future has already happened…

INFLUX Story Synopsis & Preview Chapters…

Imagine that scientists and researchers have already achieved major technological breakthroughs that could transform billions of lives—but they’ve done so in a world where the open exchange of ideas is viewed as dangerous and major technological advances are carefully managed. All to prevent the social disruption that radically new technologies bring… ..

“The characters (even the not-strictly-human ones) are vivid, the pacing is perfect, the villain is capital-E evil, and the author’s near-future world is so well developed that you completely buy even his wildest speculations. A magnificent tour de force. ”
Booklist on Influx (starred review)

“Suarez once again mixes science and fiction perfectly.”
Publishers Weekly on Influx (starred review)

 

Enjoy!

Gabriel García Márquez Rest in Peace

April 19, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87 – NYTimes

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

“Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance,” the Swedish Academy of Letters said in awarding him the Nobel.

Gabriel García Márquez in 2002 - Wikipedia

Gabriel García Márquez in 2002 – Wikipedia

Rest in Peace, Gabriel García Márquez.

I only heard much about his books after he had passed away, but I am glad that something good could come of his passing. Otherwise it might have been much longer before I heard about his works, especially One Hundred Years of Solitude.

From the Wikipedia article:

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez (American Spanish: [ɡaˈβɾjel ɣarˈsi.a ˈmarkes]About this soundaudio (help·info); 6 March 1927 – 17 April 2014) was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabothroughout Latin America.

Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century,  he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.[1] He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism. From early on, he showed no inhibitions in his criticism of Colombian and foreign politics. In 1958, he married Mercedes Barcha; they had two sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo.[2]

García Márquez started as a journalist, and wrote many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), The Autumn of the Patriarch (1975) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magic realism, which uses magical elements and events in otherwise ordinary and realistic situations. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo (the town mainly inspired by his birthplace Aracataca), and most of them explore the theme of solitude.

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Wikipedia:

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) is a 1967 novel by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez that tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo, the metaphoric Colombia.

The widely acclaimed book, considered by many to be the author’s masterpiece, was first published in Spanish in 1967, and subsequently has been translated into thirty-seven languages and has sold more than 30 million copies.[1][2][3] The magical realist style and thematic substance of One Hundred Years of Solitude established it as an important, representative novel of the literary Latin American Boom of the 1960s and 1970s,[4] which was stylistically influenced by Modernism (European and North American) and the Cuban Vanguardia (Vanguard) literary movement.

Many thanks to those who translated the book into English so I could have an opportunity to read it.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

 

When I get this book, I will have to edit this to review One Hundred Years of Solitude. I am excited about reading it. I wonder if anyone has done an audiobook version of it yet? Will have to go and look into that…

Yes! One Hundred Years of Solitude is available on Audible.com as well as a second entry for Gabriel García Márquez called, García Márquez in 90 Minutes. They are both in my Audible wish list.

I have also added One Hundred Years of Solitude to my goodreads to-read list.

Rest in Peace, Gabriel García Márquez.

A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin – a Commentary

April 8, 2014

Dazzling, Powerful, Breathtaking, Giant, Monumental, Magnificent, Extraordinary, Ambitious, Brilliant, Vivid, Gripping, Poignant, Intense, Superb, Rousing…

 

 

  • Publisher: Avon Books (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380715899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380715893

 

Above are just a few of the superlatives used to describe this book by those obsequious gnomes who live in those small cubicles in newsrooms and magazine publishing houses the world over. They’re paid to make pronouncements such as these in response to their supposed personal experience with the author’s work sitting on the desk in front of them.

 

I’ll not be so bold as to say that I can sit and read a book of this magnitude and then find words sufficient to actually describe the emotions I felt while reading it and as the back cover closed for the last time. My poor command of the language is such that I could not even approach Mark Helprin’s artistry with words, light, shadows, music, and colors in order to describe his art here in this place. I would feel like I were drawing distorted stick men in an attempt to describe the colors and vibrancy of Leonardo’s Last Supper.

It will ever be beyond my artistry to describe such art.

 

Using my meager skills, though, I would like to, in some meaningful fashion, try to show you, dear reader, even a small glimpse of the beauty of this story and how it affected me as I read it and possibly forever afterward. Yes, it’s one of those books; one of the rare ones that is ever so much more than just an entertaining distraction from the pressing issues of every day life.

 

I’ve read a lot of books since becoming literate at a very young age; thanks to my mother, who spent time and effort in teaching me how to read and instilling in me her own love for books. After reading a book such as Helprin’s A Soldier of the Great War, I actually feel very sorry and sad for those who don’t read books. They will never know what they’re missing. Never.

 

In all my years of reading, there have only been a very few books that really, really touch that deep, secret place in my soul; that place where fears, loves, regrets, past joys reside and are occasionally re-experienced in poorly preserved and fading memories. This book took me to that place. I’ll bare my soul here and admit that I actually cried after closing that back cover. The tears had been working their way to the surface during the last 20 pages or so.

I haven’t cried in 15 years; the last time being two or three days after my mother died. I have not cried often since I was a child. It isn’t manly to cry, supposedly. Plays hell with the big burly biker image, too. ;)

 

About this book, though…

Helprin has used a fine brush on a vast canvas to paint a portrait of life, death, love, hate, fear, joy, and any other emotion you could possibly experience in a lifetime. He managed in just over 700 pages what it took an old man sitting and dying on a hillside in Italy nearly 75 years to accomplish. Using words that border, and often cross over into, the realm of artistry he fashions a tale so deep and vast as to literally suck the reader into the life it’s describing.

 

The life is that of Alessandro Giuliani, an Italian fellow, a professor of aesthetics from Rome who one day begins a bus ride that will become a journey of personal reminiscences, a mentoring of a young traveling companion, and a profound understanding of life and death which culminates on a sunny hillside in peaceful rapturous splendor.

 

Alessandro tells the boy Nicolo of his life and loves; of his horrors and losses; and of his understanding and feelings on beauty and art, particularly his appreciation of Giorgione’s La Tempesta. All this takes place as the two companions walk along roads and across fields and hills on the way to their destination. The bus ride didn’t work for Alessandro and Nicolo as they had initially planned. Isn’t that just like life?

 

I read many reviews of this book to try to get a feeling for how others would describe it. I did not find any review that even came close to what reading the book made me feel; neither do my own poor choice of words, as predicted, even begin to elicit from you the feeling I felt while reading this book. It’s just going to be something you’ll have to experieince for yourself.

 

Books are subjective things ultimately. You may not get past the first 20 pages before you decide the book is not for you. That’s the way it goes sometimes. No reviewer can ever fully transfer his own feeling on reading a book to his readers. It’s an exercise in futility. It’s like me trying to explain to you how delicious the salad I had for lunch was or how much it hurt when I hit my thumb with the hammer the other day. No. Words are poor substitutes for experience.

 

Get this book. Experience it for yourself. That’s all I can say.

 

Later…

 

~Eric

 

Image credits: generic book cover – Avon Books paperback version

 

This article is being published simultaneously on My Passion Is Books blog – all rights reserved by the original author. Copyright authority is that of Nocturnal Slacker v2.0 – V. T. Eric Layton.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price

March 22, 2014
Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Thanks you so much LearnOutloud.com! I never would have found this great audiobook by Chris Anderson, and downloaded it using the links provided on the LearnOutLoud.com page.

LearnOutLoud’s review from this page:

Editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine Chris Anderson follows up his bestselling book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, with his new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. And in practicing what he preaches, Anderson and his publisher Hyperion are giving away his new audio book for free! We’ve listened to the prologue and it sounds like a very interesting book regarding the future of business in the digital age. You can download this audio book unabridged on iTunes, Audible.com, and Wired.com. Or you can download the abridged version from the Hyperion website if you enter in your email address. Both versions are narrated by Mr. Anderson himself.

I wasn’t sure if I would even like the book at first because; well, maybe it was just another self help book, or business primer, or at least boring. ;) But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I now want to get Chris’ other book:  The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More

Anyway, about Chris Anderson’s audiobook, The Future of a Radical Price; it is an very well done and well narrated book! I am so glad I took a chance to download it from the Audible link on the LearnOutLoud.com page after reading the article on the Wired.com page that Chris Anderson wrote and posted an MP3 version to download. I wanted the MP3 he posted, but it was nearly 300MB and the one from Audible was less than 100MB. With my limited bandwidth issues in our rural area, I just got the Audible one. I have an Audible account so added it to it and this way I can also get the ebook from Audible’s link so I can read along with Chris when he narrates his book. Oh, yes, Chris Anderson narrates this book as well as having written it as noted in the LearnOutLoud review. And I think he did a wonderful job.

About this book from Audible.com:

FREE: The Future of a Radical Price

Audible review (normal price $18.89 at Audible by the way – the free version is linked on the LearnOutLoud.com page along with the other downloads, online listening link, and podcast versions.):

The New York Times best-selling author heralds the future of business in Free. In his revolutionary best seller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates niche markets, allowing products and consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that, in many instances, businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them.
If you have or wish to start a business in the current world, this is a must have audiobook to listen to. Thanks Chris Anderson for this book and thanks to LearnOutLoud.com for pointing me in the right direction to get the book!
I also have noted it as being read on goodreads.com here and put two of Chris Anderson’s other books on my To Read booklist: The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More and Makers: The New Industrial Revolution from the Amazon Chris Anderson page.
Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson - Amazon

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson – Amazon

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson - Amazon

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson – Amazon

 

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball – a Review of Sorts

March 20, 2014

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307908488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307908483

This is my fourth Jesse Ball book and I remain impressed.

Ball writes a book as though he were an artist making gentle brush strokes with oil on canvas. It’s obvious he has the heart of a poet. I can honestly say that I’ve never read any other written works that are quite like this young man’s.

In this book, Mr. Ball steps into his own “fiction” as a reporter researching a story of a series of disappearances in Japan many years previously and the resulting criminal investigations and the “justice” doled out as a result of them; justice that included the hanging of a man who confessed to the “crime”.

You may note that the words fiction and crime are both in quotes in the above paragraph. I do this because I’m unsure that the first is accurate nor the second morally correct. You’ll have to read Mr. Ball’s story to understand fully what I mean by that.

I must also mention here the physical appearance of the book itself, which is often an important component of my overall enjoyment of what the younger crowd is now referring to as a “dead tree” book. This book that I read was a Pantheon Book (Random House, LLC). The binding boards are pure white, unusual for most hardcover books, I believe. It’s also about 10% smaller in height/width than a normal hardcover.

Then there is the unique dustcover image; a stark set of eyes and hint of a nose shadow on slightly off-white paper with a dusting of threadlike debris. Note also the red wax pencil scribbling over the words “A Novel”. Or is this Jesse Ball’s signature? Interesting, hmm? As to the image of the face; is it that of one of the book’s characters? Could be. However, to me, there is also the hint of the author’s own face in that image. What do you see?

While this author’s first three books (also reviewed here) were unique in their own ways, this current offering is a notch or two above the others, in my opinion. The previous had their points to be made. They were entertaining. They were thought-provoking.

Silence Once Begun is deep; much deeper than it seems at first glance. A reader will wonder where this young man found his inspiration for this story. Was it purely a product of his imagination? Was their really some factual basis as stated by the author on page xii of the introductory pages of the book? Was any small portion of this story something directly reflecting the author’s own personal experiences? We may never know.

Ultimately, a book is judged by that feeling that the reader gets as he folds down the back cover after reading the words on that final page; the last series of words laid down by the author on that last blank sheet of paper in his typewriter or that last page of his MS Word document.

When that feeling is one of satiation, contentment, warmth, and many other complimentary and often contradictory feelings, then the book is a good one. Bad books only generated feelings of disappointment as that back cover is turned over.

That feeling as the cover is turned, though, is a very personal one. What I felt when I closed the cover of Silence Once Begun may or may not be what you feel should you have the opportunity to read this book. Therefore, I cannot judge for you. I can only tell you what I thought.

What I thought as I closed that cover on this book is that it is probably Jesse Ball’s best so far. I don’t often re-read books, but this may be one that I’ll have to stew on for a while and then re-read. Was this a good book? In my opinion, most definitely.

Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading: A very interesting interview of the author by Shawn Andrew Mitchell at fictionwritersreview.com

Image credits: book image, stock publisher’s image

This article is being published simultaneously on My Passion Is Books blog – all rights reserved by the original author. Copyright authority is that of Nocturnal Slacker v2.0 – V. T. Eric Layton.

The Hugo Voter’s Packet

March 16, 2014

Hugo Award logoWhat is the Hugo Voter’s Packet and why should you care? Hello! My name is Lonnie, and Fran has graciously invited me to stop by and help you answer that question.

If you read science fiction and/or fantasy, you may already know about the Hugo Award. Many people refer to it as the Oscar Award of the science fiction world, but I think that it’s more accurate to describe it as sci-fi’s People’s Choice Award, since anyone can nominate and vote for their favorite works.

Every year, the World Science Fiction Convention is held in a different city around the world. Last year it was held in San Antonio, Texas. This year it’s in London, and next year it will be held in Spokane, Washington. Members of the convention are eligible to nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards, given to the science fiction and fantasy works deemed worthy from the previous calendar year.

Since 2010, every sitting Worldcon has, with the cooperation of publishers and authors, managed to put together a package of all the “in print” nominated works in  DRM-free e-book format. This includes novels, short stories, magazines, related works, graphic novels, and much, much, more. The only cost for this treasure trove is a membership to that year’s convention. In addition to an attending membership (which is usually a couple hundred dollars), you can buy a supporting membership at a much more reasonable price. The current cost for a supporting membership is $40 USD for this year’s convention in London.

The reasoning behind the packet is to give the eligible voters a chance to familiarize themselves with all the works that have been nominated before they vote for them. Back in the early days of the Hugo Awards, it may have been possible to keep abreast of most of the new speculative fiction that was published; it is practically impossible to do that in this age of internet publishing.

If you are interested, you can see the works showcased in last year’s Voter’s packet. Also, you are not required to vote if you buy the packet, and if you do vote, you are not required to vote in every category. If you act quickly enough, there is still time to nominate the works from 2013 you’d like to see win the Hugo. All you need to do is purchase your membership and send in your ballot before March 31, 2014.

If you have any questions about the Voter’s Packet, the Hugo Awards or Worldcon, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.

ACX.com: Reverse changes to the Royalty Share Policy

February 28, 2014
Change.org petition acx: reverse changes to the royalty share policy; acx amazon platform

ACX.com: Reverse changes to the Royalty Share Policy – Change.org Petition

Audiobooks have really taken off in recent years, more so than ever before. Whether you are a very busy person who has found it easier to listen to a book while driving or going about your day. Or a person whose eyesight makes it easier to listen to a book rather than read it, or just enjoy the presentation of an excellent book by a talented narrator, audiobooks have made life even better for those of us who love to read.

I wouldn’t say the only reason that audiobooks have taken off is due to the narrator, but between the content of the book itself and the presentation by the narrator, this is what has made audiobooks really take off.

Even authors have been known to get their start in narrating their own works, to help get the word of their books out to the public via podcasts, and other forms. Librivox.org has shown that many people wanting to get their start in narration can do so and help get public domain books out there for folks to listen to.

The various presentation companies have made it easier to find them; companies like Random House Audio, Brilliance Audio, ACX, Tantor Media, and the list goes on. They have done a great thing in bringing together great books and great narrators for presentation under their brand.

And it really makes life easier to have a good company behind the ‘work’ to help get the word out, help edit and provide constructive criticism where needed, etc.

But one should never lose sight of the fact that it is the talent; the authors of the great books themselves, and the narrators who bring it to life in audio form that make an audiobook shine.

I think anyone who has ever listened to an audiobook as well as anyone who has ever wrote a great book, and anyone who has ever tried to record a piece of audio of their own creation or someone else’s creation for publication will realize what I am talking about. It takes a lot of time and talent to make that all happen.

ACX.com: Reverse changes to the Royalty Share Policy – Change.org Petition

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