Authors: Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter –
Publisher: Blackstone Audio –
Genre: Science-Fiction –
Overall rating: 4/5 –
Writing: 4/5 –
Duration: 11:37, 10:29, 11:46 (medium)
Narrator: John Lee –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Impressions: 5/5 –
Performance errors: 1/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 5/5 –
This review refers to the first three books of the series: Time’s Eye (2003), Sunstorm (2005) and Firstborn (2007). The series stops short and is not likely to continue (Arthur C. Clarke died just after the release of the third part). It is the main disadvantage of the series. The other one is the covers (see below).
The reading is performed convincingly which is quite an achievement. The characters come from a wide range of historical eras and most of them are female, while the narrator is male. Impressions are varied yet consistent. Although the third part seems to be lacking clear direction, the series remains memorable. The main trope of the series appears to be Anglo-Saxon stoicism depicted as a cheerful yet professional attitude in the face of total disaster. The story provides quite a score of role-model candidates. The series is uplifting, the language – subtle and concise.
Back in the early 2000s the authors seem to have assumed that Russia would remain one of the world leaders in terms of development and culture which, unfortunately, proved to be wrong (I read the series during the War in Ukraine, 2022). There are other wrong predictions in the series, such as positive attitude towards classic authors despite their non-egalitarian (especially: racist) convictions or the assumption that society is capable of adapting to sudden change without significant backlash. Such topics give food for thought which makes the series great entertainment. Especially recommended to experienced sci-fi readers.
I did not enjoy the covers much. It is, after all, something you glimpse every now and then when listening to audiobooks. The typography is unclear, the colors and brightness inconsistent. The third book has a different theme. They are too simple for stories of that complexity and appear to be made in haste.