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review 2017-03-28 00:36
Spaceman of Bohemia
Spaceman of Bohemia - Jaroslav Kalfar


I started reading Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar expecting a story like The Martian by Andy Weir. Both are about an astronaut surviving the elements and loneliness. This is about where the similarity ends. The Martian is a book about survival; Spaceman of Bohemia is a book about a space journey, a metaphorical journey through a man's past, and a somewhat satirical, absurdist commentary through Czech history and current events. Best of all, it is a book that makes me think and leaves me thinking.


Reviewed for NetGalley


Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/03/spaceman-of-bohemia.html
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review 2016-11-26 00:00
SpaceMan - Tom Abrahams SpaceMan - Tom Abrahams Spaceman was a decent post-apocalyptic speculative fiction novel. I hesitate to call it science fiction because it very much seemed based in the right here and now. This book felt like it could happen tomorrow, with no adjustments needed to push the tech forward or back. I think the Martian has ruined me for any astronaut stories for a while, though. Because when one of my fellow reviewers mentioned this was kind of a cross of The Martian and Post-Apocalyptic work, I went into it with the expectation of much snark and geekery. Instead what I got was a more serious tale of human pluck.

The more serious note of Spaceman isn't a bad thing. It's just not what I was expecting, and I think I did myself and the book a disservice by going into it with a certain set of expectations. Regardless, though, Tom Abrahams does a good job of telling the story of Clayton Shepard on the ISS. The steps that Clayton must take, the surroundings, and his frequent internal monologs all are believable. Considering the situation the poor guy is in, he does a remarkable job. Abrahams keeps the viewer aware of how close to losing it Clayton is without ever actually overdoing it.

The author also does a good job chronicling the first few days after the solar storm, and how everything would play out. The chapters with Clayton are set against chapters talking about what is going on with his family down on earth. Both the tale of his wife and daughter, but also the separate tale of his young son, who was in a slightly different situation when everything happened. His wife and daughter are not quite as interesting as Clayton is, but they feel very real. His son is pretty much a nonentity. A character that's present only to allow the author to tell the tale of another set of adult characters.

There is a good bit going on, but readers don't have to worry about keeping track of a lot of stuff. The novel covers only a handful of days after the initial event that throws everything into chaos. This is only part one of a planned series, so it's really more of an introduction to the characters than anything. That, and the tale of Clayton trying to find a way to get back to his family, of course.

The pacing is decent. The dialogue is appropriate. You easily find yourself rooting for Clayton. The author wisely doesn't spend a lot of time burdening the reader with frivolous details. In terms of how it weighs up against other post-apocalyptic works - Clayton's struggles aside - it's not horrible. It doesn't exactly shine with originality, but it's not forgettable either. Clayton's struggles definitely make the book.

My favorite part of listening to Spaceman was the narrator. Kevin Pierce does a fantastic job reading post-apocalyptic works. There's just something about the soothing tones of a grandfatherly voice that make you want to sit in rapt attention. The timbre of his voice makes up for the lack of range, because he simply doesn't need to be able to do a lot.

Overall, I enjoyed Spaceman. Just not enough that I'll actively seek out more of the series in the future. However, I am definitely open to listening to more of Kevin Pierce's narration in the future.

I think if you liked the idea of The Martian, but were intimidated by all the science and such, Spaceman might be more your speed.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the narrator for review consideration.
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review 2014-06-14 23:33
Mr. Spaceman by Robert Olen Butler
Mr. Spaceman - Robert Olen Butler

Desi sits in his spaceship, on the eve of the millennium, preparing to unveil his spaceman existence to a world that, despite his kind having studied us for decades, he barely comprehends. He finds the concept of language and words utterly alien (heh, see what I did there?) and tends to speak in strings of advertising slogans. He has a beloved wife he picked up from Earth, and a yellow cat, and now, one last task before the big reveal to humankind: He's abducted a bus full of tourists on their way to a casino, in order to learn about them. He's a Friendly Guy, a Regular Joe, despite being a skinny alien with cat eyes and 8 fingers on each hand. Desi thinks humanity can be summed up in one word: yearning, another thing he thinks is alien. 


Yet this really isn't a sci-fi book at all.


It's a very beautifully written book, there are passages I just wanted to read and re-read and savour. I suspect one that you will either love or hate it though. It's a typical literary plot, as in, there really isn't one, or rather there is, but it's not the point. It's really an in depth exploration of the human condition, from one spaceman's point of view, and it covers a lot of ground: Racism, war, religion, history, parents and children and children and parents. A lot of ground indeed, for under 300 pages.


Anyway I'm just going to cop out on trying to sensibly review this: I liked it. A lot. And I highly recommend you check out the sample, you'll know within 2 pages if you hate it or not.

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review 2014-05-19 03:24
Review: Spaceman Blues: A Love Song
Spaceman Blues: A Love Song - Brian Francis Slattery

Originally read December 4, 2013


I had trouble making it through this book, mainly due to the writing style.  In some ways, the writing style was almost conversational, which normally isn’t such a bad thing.  The problem was, reading this book was like listening to somebody who rambles about random things and takes forever to get to any sort of point.  Some characteristics that I would normally like in a book, such as descriptiveness, backstories, and extra details, were a chore to get through in this book because of my difficulty with the writing style.  The paragraphs were often long and rambling, a page or more in length, describing something in a random and often incoherent fashion.  Sometimes I would lose interest partway through the paragraph and then forget which character or place was being described by the time I made it to the end.


I kept spacing out while reading, which forced me to go back and re-read sections just to figure out what was being described for fear it might be important to understanding the story. In fact, my reading behavior with this book was very similar to my reading behavior when I’m reading a dry college textbook -- I frequently had to skim back through things I had already read, and I sometimes even resorted to reading out loud just to force myself to stay focused on the words so I could make forward progress.


The characters were interesting, and many of them had interesting backstories. The rather odd thing is that we were often given their future stories too.  Sometimes something would happen to a character during the current timeline of the story, or the character would make a certain decision, and then the author would go on to describe the consequences of that event well into the future.  In some ways I liked that. It gave me a chance to learn about far-reaching consequences that wouldn’t have made it into the story otherwise because they would have been outside the story's time frame. On the other hand, it also reduced suspense because you knew whether a character lived or died. Sometimes it even spoiled how things would turn out by the end of the book.


When the book focused on the main story and events made forward progress, I found myself getting caught up in the story.  During those times, I looked forward to seeing what would happen next, which is what kept me from giving up on the book altogether. There was a good story in there, but it kind of got lost in what felt to me like rambling chaos.  However, the ending was not at all satisfying.  All of the main questions were answered, but nothing was really resolved.  In fact, things were in much worse shape by the end of the book than they were in the beginning.  Maybe the plan was to write a sequel, or maybe the author just likes to leave things open-ended, but I was hoping for a more satisfying conclusion to reward my perseverance.


The average ratings I've seen elsewhere seem to be pretty high for this book, so I feel like I must have missed something or else I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. But I think mostly the writing style just didn’t work for me.

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review 2013-02-03 00:00
Spaceman Deluxe Edition
Spaceman Deluxe Edition - Brian Azzarello,Eduardo Risso This one's a mindbender for sure.
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