Audiobook Review: Lost and Found by Alan Dean Foster

13 02 2012

Lost and Found by Alan Dean Foster (Taken Trilogy, Bk. 1)

Read by Oliver Wyman

Audible, Inc.

Length: 10 Hrs and 31 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: While Lost and Found is a light hearted science fiction adventure story, the true fun of the novel is in the wonder and sense of discovery as you meet new and interesting beings, as well as the relationships of four very different characters. Alan Dean Foster has created complex characters with heart, and explores relationships in interesting new ways.

Grade: B

I have always been fascinated by the idea of extraterrestrial life. Growing up in the Star Trek culture, the ideas of aliens excited me, but I was always worried that they would basically be like us, but with wrinkly foreheads or pointy ears. I like aliens to be exactly that, alien. I want lots of arms, and strange orifices. I want aliens who communicate through mental telepathy or by shaking bulbous fat patches in their skin. Three eyes, two heads, squid faces, elephant trunks, whatever, just give me something different. I find the idea of exobiology fascinating, how differing environments on different planets may lead to a differing evolution creating strange creatures. Meeting new alien species is one of the reasons I always enjoyed military science fiction tales like John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, but in those series, you are typically learning about species in order to find a way to kill them. So, when I discovered that Audible was releasing the first novel in Alan Dean Foster’s Taken series, and we’d get to meet a bunch of new  alien species, and perhaps, not need to slaughter them wholesale, I was ready to take the trip.

Lost and Found is the story of Marcus Walker, a Chicago commodities broker who, while camping in California is abducted by aliens. He is held in a cell, reconstructed from his campground without any interaction, until a while later another earthling comes trotting into his cell.  His new friend, named George, explains that they are being held by a strange alien species, called the Villenjji, along with a large number of other aliens. Walker instantly trusts his new friend, which makes sense, since George happens to be a member of a species known for being man’s best friend. Together, Walker and George meet new alien creatures and try to figure away to escape the grip of the Villenjjji. Lost and Found was a fun science fiction adventure. I enjoyed meeting the various alien species living aboard the Villenjji space ship. Eventually Walker teams up with two other aliens, the large monstrous Braouk, and a pompous squid like she-alien named Sque. Both of these alien characters were well realized and added humor and context to the plot. Yet, the heart of the story is the relationship between Walker, and his canine friend, George. George’s intelligence is enhanced by the Villenjji, but he isn’t just an anthropomorphized dog. Foster stays true to his doggy nature, and George acts as conscience for Walker as much as he is his partner. George’s sarcastic personality and loyalty is underscored by a life philosophy that isn’t human, and this made him more than just a cutesy plot point. Eventually, Walker and his friends devise a complex escape plan, and these scenes are well plotted, yet, they almost seem like an afterthought. The true fun of Lost and Found is in the wonder and sense of discovery as you meet new and interesting beings, as well as the relationships of four very different characters. Alan Dean Foster has created complex characters with heart, and explores relationships in interesting new ways. I hope audible continues the rest of the Taken series.

If you are going to write a book about a menagerie of exotic alien species, and need a narrator to give them voice, well, you can’t go wrong with Oliver Wyman. The highlight of his performance is, of course, his voicing of George the dog. George’s snarkiness, and underestimated doggy smarts is perfectly portrayed by Wyman. Another highlight is the big, monstrous Braouk, whose deep slow voice, takes on a rhythmic and melancholy tone when his love of poetry is discover. Brauok speaks in a haiku like fashion, and Wyman capture the poetic structure well. Listening to Lost and Found as narrated by Oliver Wyman is like Christmas morning, with a new gift around every corner. Science Fiction fans looking for a light hearted romp full of fun and humor should give this audiobook a try.

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One response

17 02 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

This sounds like a ton of fun and probably about right for my recent reading/listening mood.

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