Audiobook Review: Pillar to the Sky by William R. Forstchen

27 02 2014

Pillar to the Sky by William Forstchen

Read by Grover Gardner

Blackstone Audio

Length: 15 Hrs 30 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade: B+

More and more I’m convinced that without a concerted push into space, humanity’s time is numbered. For this reason, William Forstchen was totally preaching to a choir of 1 in his latest novel, Pillar to the Sky, a fictional history of the people who came together to build the first Space Elevator. I was quite impressed with Pillar to the Sky, a total change of pace from his post Apocalyptic EMP novel One Second After and his quirky military portal fantasy Lost Regiment series. Here, Forstchen describe big, world changing events through the intimate perspective of four major characters. It’s slow developing and uneven at times, so if you are looking for a rip roaring SF adventure, you won’t find it here. What you will find is a careful constructed character study built on top of the political machinations of disruptive technologies. While reading this novel, these characters truly came alive for me. I was often frustrated with the necessary big leaps in time, because I wanted to know what was going on with the characters. In many ways, the trials, missteps and small victories within the process of building the Space Elevator became a character in its own. Unlike the utterly dark mood of One Second After, Pillar to the Sky left me with a feeling of hope for humanity. While I am in no way an engineer, and have no idea of the feasibility of the project, I felt like Forstchen was writing a love letter to the American and human ingenuity. That, if there is a way for something to be done, and the proper motivation for people to do it, that despite the many pitfalls along the way, it will get done. Pillar to the Sky will not thrill and titillate you, but it will capture your imagination is your mind is open to the experience.

Grover Gardner will always have a special place in my heart for his wonderful reading of The Stand. While his performance of Pillar to the Sky doesn’t reach that level of awesomeness, I think he for the most part hits the right notes. Pillar to the Sky is filled with lots of technical jargon, and an international cast. Gardner gives a comfortable performance. Instead of trying to wow you with stunning voices, he brings an almost professorial tone, walking you through the intricate landscape with a friendly feel. He brought the characters to life, without pushing them on you, just letting them grow naturally. For a book that could easily get bogged down in the minutiae of detail, Gardner guides you through it with a veteran’s touch.

This Audiobook was reviewed as part of Audio Jukebox’s Solid Gold Reviewer’s program. Thanks to Blackstone Audio for participating.

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