Audiobook Review: The Tau Ceti Agenda by Travis S. Taylor

26 04 2011

The Tau Ceti Agenda by Travis S. Taylor

Read by William Dufris

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Some intriguing political and military intrigue ruined by muddled, confusing action scenes.

Grade: C+

Travis S. Taylor is smart. I mean, totally book smart. He has doctorates and masters degrees, and probably kicks ass at jeopardy, especially in the science and military categories. He’s definitely smarted than me, although that’s not really resume fodder. One of the things I loved about his Looking Glass series, is he used those smarts of his to talk about quantum physics. Even though I maybe only understood like 10% of what was being said, it was still pretty baddass, I love it when an author, who really knows what they are talking about, can write interesting fiction blended with the stuff they are expert in. I mean, there are probably talented people writing Physics articles out there, and we all know there are tons of solid writers out there, but to combine them both, and be entertaining, well, that makes me giggle. In a manly way. So, being that I enjoyed The Looking Glass Series, I thought I would give his “One Day on Mars” series a try. I read One Day on Mars, the first book in the series, about a terrorist attack by Martian Separatists on Mars. The second in the series is The Tau Ceti Agenda.

Travis S. Taylor is smart. Not only book smart, but smart enough to plot a complicated science fiction, military/political thriller. This book is well thought out, full of complex military engagements, political double dealings, well developed technology, a heroic president, and intrigue. Unfortunately, all these parts get muddled together in a not so interesting way. One or two of the subplots are interesting, particularly one dealing with the president and another about a spy in the Separatists camp, but those interesting moments are sandwiched between confusing battle scenes and other out of place moments that take away from the highlights of the books. Taylor creates some fun characters; from Mecha clad Marines, to savvy officers, to brave and cunning fighter pilots. The problem is, the only way we know they are brave and cunning is to be told, because the battle scenes are so hard to follow, and filled with unexplained military jargon and acronyms. There were moments while listening to this book, where I perked up, and was able to follow some bit of intrigue, or clear moment, but then we are thrown back into the blender, hoping to be able to identify the little bits floating in the yogurt.

My problems with the book had nothing to do with the excellent work by William Dufris. What made many of the characters memorable was the spins put on them by the narrator. Dufris is a veteran of the multi-character science fiction tale, and handles it with ease. He is clear and doesn’t rush the action scenes, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to make those scenes clear. There is one more book in this series, and I may listen to it, just to find out how Taylor resolves some of the intriguing political scenarios, but I won’t be rushing to put it on top of my To Be Listened to pile.

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