Dennis E. Taylor and Ray Porter once again come together to bring the audiobook listener a compelling, exciting and vast science fiction series called “Quantum Earth”. This review covers the premiere audiobook in this new series, an Audible Original, call “Outland”. Mr. Taylor is a masterful storyteller known for his well-received “Bobiverse” series. Anyone who has listened to audiobooks for any period of time has more than likely listened to one narrated by Mr. Porter’s, who is an exceptional narrator. What could be better than when this dynamic duo comes together and gives the audiobook community a fresh series to sink their ears into? Unlike with his previous space-based series, here Mr. Taylor takes the listener on a terrestrial journey to a different dimension, or parallel universe, from our own. If you like your fiction stories with a bit of apocalyptic disaster, a sprinkling of quantum mechanics, and some prehistoric creatures to give it a little Jurassic Park feel, you will be very happy listening to this first book in what is sure to be another hit for this team. I highly recommend you give this newly released Audible original series a listen; it is well worth your time and credit for the amount of entertainment and excitement you receive.
Mr. Taylor drops the listener into a believable scenario where a super volcano is nearing its eruption. At the same time, a team of college students unknowingly stumbles upon a way of opening a doorway into a parallel universe here on earth. This doorway appears at the same physical location where the machine used, but in a different timeline. Here, the author blends in ideas from TV shows such as Sliders or Quantum Leap. How can this team of students, or a government, exploit such a technology to their advantage? How do you keep such a technology out of the hands of a powerful nation state, the mob, or criminals? That is but one of the many twists our characters must struggle with and overcome. And, as we you will see, it is not as simple an answer as some might expect. The students begin making quick exploratory trips to and from the new world they have dubbed “Outland”. These excursions are fun at first, and they even begin to learn about this rather savage otherly world void of humans or any trace of them. Then the unthinkable occurs and this portal technology is used as a life boat saving a hundred or more from pending destruction by the Yellowstone super volcano eruption. The story contains multiple aspects of action, adventure, exploration, humor and suspense. I found myself being entertained from start to finish, and I can say that I have never been disappointed by this pairing of author and narrator. As with his previous work the “Bobiverse”, which has become a smash science fiction piece, just go and get yourself a copy as the style aligns and is just as engaging as his other stories, yet it feels new and fresh.
The author has a way of writing that certainly resonates with me. His use of metaphors and analogies in his story telling makes it feel vivid and realistic. This is one book, or series, which I could easily envision becoming a TV mini-series or movie that many would enjoy. Mr. Taylor brings the reader down into a well-defined story with well-established characters. I found that I could relate to the rather complex characters, and the ones I did not like were the “bad guys”; who I should not have liked anyways. The author has the ability of interlacing serious situations along with humor and even some romance. The audiobook simply comes alive in the story telling and narration. There are multiple pop culture and geek references throughout. References to “The Big Bang Theory“ TV show, DnD miniatures, and so much more. I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times while listening. The author drops in bits of light-hearted conversation to help break up the seriousness and dread of the characters grave situation. Lastly, I felt the level of scientific research, both from a physics and geological, perspective helped to make the story feel real and impactful.
Let me turn your attention to the audiobook’s narration. I have reviewed many of Mr. Porter’s works and I have found every one of them professionally done. His ability to take the written word and bring it to life in audio format makes him one of my favorite narrators to listen too. His work is often what I use as a measuring rod when I compare or contrast other narrators. The audio was clean and clear of any artifacts (pops, background noise, swallows, page turns, etc.) and the volume was consistent. Each of the book’s characters felt alive and unique because the narrator gave them personality and feeling. Mr. Porter is a master at his trade, and I gravitate to his works when I’m looking for something new and have nothing in my library.
For parents and younger readers, be aware that this book contains a fair amount of vulgar language along with some scenes containing rather graphic violence. The disaster situation may be difficult for some younger listeners to overcome. I would say that this audiobook may not be appropriate for younger listeners.
In summary, if you are one who enjoys really good story telling and audiobook narration, go and get this book. Whether you are a fan of the science fiction genre or not, I believe you will enjoy the story, plot and characters. In an ever-growing sea of audiobooks, I can say this one will stand out and be enjoyed by many in the coming months. Even though this is the first in a series of books, many of the story’s plot lines are concluded in the last chapter. Of course, there are a few open-ended elements which will carry over into future books in the series; as one would expect. Will the group survive exploring this new and harsh world of “Outland”? Will the population survive the devastating event of a super volcano eruption? Give this book a listen, you will not be disappointed.