A sprawling SF saga that probably should have been a trilogy
As big as Star Wars. As desperate as Hunger Games.
On August 20, 1977, we sent a message into space. Only recently did Voyager 1 go beyond the outer reaches of our solar system and into interstellar space. On it was a map of Earth, our solar system and details of our planet–it was also printed on a plate of gold, one of the rarest metals in the galaxy. And one day we got an answer…
A thousand years in the future, an alien empire has overrun the planet, and the human race has become an endangered species. Now all that stands between mankind and total extinction is a courageous young man determined to rally the scattered tribes of his species to take on the technologically advanced oppressors.
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Source: I received this book free in return for an honest review.
Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard, read by a Full Cast, published by Galaxy Audio (2016) / Length: 47 hrs 32 min
I read this book way back "in the day" and, despite its length, even reread it once. I was very excited to see that there was an unabridged version. Something I learned in listening to it this time is that I apparently did a lot of skimming, particularly of the parts where the Psychlos were just interacting with each other. I am giving the book a 4* rating; this is an average. There are parts that I love and would give 5 stars to, and one part that I really disliked and would give 0 stars to (see below).
I won't ever relisten to the whole thing from start to finish again, but I will bookmark my favorite parts and revisit them occasionally.
Note: The cover above is from a previous edition of the book, clicking on it will take you to the wrong version. The new cover features a (mostly) naked woman in a disturbing position, and I therefore have chosen not to use it. To access the correct one, please use the buttons.
Also note: Although Jonnie is young, I am classifying this as an adult book rather than YA. It just doesn't read as a YA, despite some of Jonnie & Chrissie's immature choices at the beginning.
Jonnie Goodboy Tyler: The central figure in this saga. A primitive hunter tracker who leaves the dubious safety of his dying village seeking a better location. He doesn't believe the stories of monsters; he's wrong. After being captured, and learning the history of the conquest of earth, he becomes determined to try and save what's left of humanity. I like that despite the fact that he is the fulcrum everything rests upon, he is not super human in any way. He seeks and accepts help from everyone who is willing, and each contributes their own skills and talents.
This is one of those books that includes dozens of other characters. It isn't possible to list even the most important ones in the space I have.
It is also one of those mega scifi "worlds" that were popular at the time - 16+ universes, lots of alien races, and over a million habitable planets (although not all habitable by humans).
There is a lot of time spent trying to figure out the technology (even things as common today as a camera or vehicle), science, and math. The piece of technology that actually makes the whole book possible, is the teaching machine. Without it the humans wouldn't have had a chance.
The audiobook starts with a 25 minute Introduction written by the author.
The pacing is very uneven for a single book. As I said above, this should have been a trilogy. There are 3 major story arcs (although they aren't necessarily of equal length). Just when you think you are resolving the main plot line, a total new one arises.
I disliked the epilogue.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
Frankly it is almost impossible to pick favorite parts from a book so long, and most of my favorite things are spoilers. So generally - I loved the Scots, from little Bittie to Robert the Fox and everyone in between. I liked all the stuff with the grey men, especially the parts with the elderly Scottish woman and her yarb tea. The stuff about the Airforce Academy was very touching.
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: The Psychlos literally only experience pleasure when causing pain to others. The book therefore includes discussions of torture (although no actual descriptions). / Plus there is an extremely primitive tribe of people who are cannibals, and also think nothing of grabbing a random woman and having sex in public (again, no details). Frankly I could have done without everything that had to do with them.
OTHER CAUTIONS: The women in this book have definitely been sent back to the dark ages. They don't participate in the main events except as cooks, nurses, etc. / Also, there are some derogatory comments about a character who is a "cripple" (and an antagonist).
"A fully immersive experience unlike any other audiobook ever produced, featuring over 65 actors from television, film, animation, and video games, led by Grammy Award-winning audiobook producer and narrator Stefan Rudnicki.
State-of-the-art audio engineering created a wholly cinematic soundtrack including full orchestral musical compositions combined with more than 150,000 sound effects to create a captivating reality."
NARRATION: I have listened to quite a few full cast audiobooks and this is one of the best. Other than some voices that they processed to represent aliens, there weren't any performances that I disliked. / Although I can't judge authenticity, I liked all the accents. I have a fondness for Scottish accents and there were plenty of those here.
SOUND EFFECTS: I have had both good and bad experiences with effects in audiobooks in the past. Again, there weren't any bad ones here, and most really added to the experience. I didn't even mind some screams & shouts (which are usually really badly done).
MUSIC: Here is where things broke down for me. I disliked most of the music, and really disliked the music they used between chapters. It totally pulled me right out of the experience. The music didn't ruin the experience, but did undermine it. The biggest exception was the excellent, haunting piece used when Terl has finished his very important bit of technology and is preparing to use it. I would rank that piece right up there with some of the best bits of movie soundtrack.
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