An Audio-Book Review: Next Step; Start Over At the Beginning


The Lost Command

Book Two of the Lost Starship Series

By Vaughn Heppner

Published by Audible

Read by Mark Boyett

 

A Word from the Blogger:

I first took up these Audiobook reviews as a sort of experiment, part of which was to see how long I could post a weekly review before being forced to skip a week or two due to running out of books I had listened to. My first Audiobook review was posted on May 23, 2012. Well, I did not quite run out of completed books although I think that would have happened next week had I not forgotten to post this review last week, so I guess the answer is five years and four months, give or take a week or two. I now return you to my usual blog.

 

The Book:

I don’t think I am all that hard to please when it comes to science fiction or fantasy. Tell me a good story (hopefully with good pacing and fun or at least interesting characters) and I’m satisfied. I have really enjoyed stories that might never have made it to the NY Times Best Seller list, for example. Heck, I have devoured nearly everything writing by A. Bertram Chandler who, admittedly, is a very popular Australian author who, so far as I am concerned, did not write enough. I can’t call him a literary giant, however. He basically wrote a twist on Horatio Hornblower in space, but following the adventures of John Grimes from a fresh-creased ensign to disgraced independent merchant to privateer to grizzled old commodore on the very Rim of the Galaxy is just plain fun. I story does not have to be great literature to please me, but… it should be a good story.

The first book of The Lost Starship series was somewhat flawed in my opinion, but I thought it showed enough promise to go on and listen to the second. The characters had developed and grown over the course of the first book and I was certain that the writing would improve as Mister Heppner continued the series.

Sadly, the characters almost all appeared to have backslid, the one exception was Medda, a strong female character from a high-gravity world, who seems to have been demoted to damsel in distress this time around. Captain Maddox has become even more arrogant in the interim and is only matched in arrogance by the ‘New Men” from whom, it turns out, he is partially descended. That last was a bit of data we had been teased with all during the first and second book, only being resolved at the end of this volume, but, frankly, the only surprise would have been if he was not partially New Man and just very good at what he did.

The book adds a few new characters who appear to have been cut from the same bolt of cloth that Maddox and the New Men came from. Basically, almost anyone who is a strong character is an arrogant bustard. No, that was not a typo. A bustard, for those who do not know, is defined as “a large, heavily built, swift-running bird, found in open country in the Old World.” So, yes, so far as I’m concerned, most of Heppner’s characters are arrogant bird-brains, in spite of the fact that he has written them as super-geniuses. They really do not seem all that bright. In fact the one New Man we actually encounter in both the first and second books sounds more like he is just claiming to know everything rather than really knowing. Instead he just says that whatever conclusion the others have come up with is all too obvious and that they are all beneath him. When someone calls him arrogant, he replied that he finds that insulting. Darn it, the comeback should have been that it was meant to be insulting, but true nonetheless as had just been proven.

 

Sadly, the book not only fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion, but comes to no conclusion at all. In the first volume the characters spent most of their time getting to their destination after which they have a protracted battle and then the book ends happily. This time it was worse with the characters taking the entire length of the book to come together and once they do we get treated to, “Tune in tomorrow! Same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel.”

Feh!

 

The Audiobook:

I was frequently annoyed at Mark Boyett’s reading of this story. In an attempt (I guess) to show off his vocal talents, he frequently resorted to relying on funny voices and somewhat over-done accents to point at which it felt like he was trying to upstage the story. Most of the time I thought he was reading fairly well, but then a grating voice or cliché’ accent came out and I was annoyed all over again.

So, all told, while I will admit that there were some interesting moments in the story, the literary flaws compounded by the reading did not make it an enjoyable experience for me. In the interest of fairness, I will probably listen to the third book in the series, just to see if the lack of plot development this time around is resolved with a good second half of the story. However, if I get another “To be continued,” after hours of listening, I think that will be all the time I devote to this series and probably this author.

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