February 04, 2004

Some Stuff Holds Up Better Than Others

I usually listen to audiobooks when I'm driving by myself because local radio is pretty lame (although there will always be a space on my presets for Bob & Tom). Right now, I've got Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man in one car, and Robin Cook's Shock in the other. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything Crichton writes is better than anything Cook writes.

For instance, The Terminal Man holds up very well, despite being written in 1972. With only a few minor tweaks (mostly involving doctors smoking (!) inside the hospital (!!) anywhere they want (!!!), references to homosexuality as a 'disorder,' and obsolete computer stuff), it could have been published now. Reader George Wilson does an excellent job keeping things moving along and performs the voices acceptably. My biggest quibble with this novel is a bit of a 'longshot premise' - the idea that a man paranoid about computers taking over the world would allow a computer to be implanted in his brain. I'll just file it under 'Suspension Of Disbelief - Major' and drive on.

OTOH, pretty much everything about Shock bugs me (and not just me; read the reviews on Borders!). The main female characters, allegedly graduate students, speak and act like teenagers. The dialog is stiff, the pacing is glacial, and the other characters are stereotypes. C. J. Critt's reading is just awful - slow, bad on dialog and worse on voices (which is strange, because I like her work on other stuff like Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series). I especially don't like the scenes where the characters use computers - it seems like Cook interviewed a hacker for fifteen minutes and then just used buzzwords to fill in the other stuff he needed to do. As an aside, that's one of my entertainment pet peeves: Impressive Sounding Tech Jargon I Know Is Wrong. '24' is about the worst offender here - from the dialog, you'd think everybody at CTU is a sysadmin. But I digress.

Bottom line here: when I finish both these audiobooks, I'm getting two more Crichtons. I doubt I'll get anything else by Cook for a long time.

Posted by Chris at February 4, 2004 05:10 PM

Category: General Weirdness