“Cold Cosmos” is the first book in the “Last Night on Earth” series which appears to be the start of a new and exciting space opera. The book is a zany, fun, satirical and overall humorous blending of science fiction story with a western flair woven in for added interest. The book is authored by James Peters, and if have enjoyed one of his other series, “Black Swan Planet”, then you already know what you can expect from this one as well. The audiobook’s narration was wonderfully performed by David Swanson who has also previously performed a few of Mr. Peters other works. I can say honestly that I very much enjoyed the pop-culture references, vivid analogies, and other quips of humor which this author is able to pull off without their use becoming rapidly old. If you are one who enjoys a good western or a good science fiction, I think you will find this story a great blending of the two along with plenty of wit, loads of banter between characters, and an adventure that feels new and grand. If this summary sounds interesting, I recommend you pick up the audiobook on Audible and give it a listen.
What I enjoy the most about the works I have listened too of Mr. Peters’ is his ability to craft a complex story with intricate characters while still having a comical veneer. The book is initially presented as an amusing and light-hearted tale when you read the publisher’s summary and from the book’s cover artwork, but it is much more. I’m not saying that the author misrepresents his work, not at all. I’m saying that many will pick up this audiobook initially to listen to something more fun and entertaining, however as they listen, they will be drawn more into the story and characters along the way. It becomes less about the fun and more about the comradery and adventure.
This book contains many unique while somewhat familiar characters such as skin walkers (a form of witch-like creature), goblins, ghouls, and even a rather unique transforming bear like character. Funny saying such as, “It felt like 10,000 spiders crawling across my cheek” are vivid and memorable. Also, some of the fun little sayings like “it tasked nothing like chicken” had me laughing at times I would not have imagined. Be careful while listening in quite places as you may find yourself being told to leave. The author threw in some references to digestive issues for those who like a bit of potty humor as well.
Once the story moves outside of our planet, we are educated on null space technology which is a form of light-speed travel device allowing for intergalactic travel. We begin to learn more about our character through a number of flashback sequences throughout the audiobook. These flashbacks provide us with some childhood memories which are important to why the character is the way he is. Here we are also introduced to SARGE which is the ship’s quirky AI computer system; it has issues of its own as do most of the characters in this party of western space adventurers. Yet, we are shown how important friendships and relationships are as the group would not have succeeded without each other coming together toward a common goal.
Because this is a continuing series, the main plot is still not fully resolved at the end of this audiobook. An author needs to make money to feed himself and family. Many sub-plots and other details are resolved making the book feel complete. This way, the listener feels some satisfaction listening to the story, yet there is a hope of more to come. Our main character early on realizes that upsetting the horse gods is a bad thing and the consequences remain with him for some time.
The audiobook’s narration was performed well. It was overall very well done, and the audio was clean of any production artifacts. Voicing the many complex characters was pulled off without issue. For me, the book’s reading pace was a bit faster than expected, but it can easily be address by the speed setting in the application. There were some added sound effects, but these were not overly used throughout the book. I would have liked to have had a bit less effect tied to a given character, but this is only a preference on my part.
For parents and younger listeners, be aware that the book contains some mature material revolving around alcohol, prostitution, and gambling; it would not be a western if it did not. I have to give the author kudos for not lacing this book with the use of vulgar language. I do not recall any use of profanity at all from start to finish. Some light crude humor, but apart from the above, I would consider the book to be rather clean and could easily be enjoyed by younger teenagers and above.
In summary, the book was entertaining while providing a deep storyline and characters. The tale included enough unique aspects by blending science fiction and western motifs which works surprisingly well and at times felt normal. The author did a good job of keeping the audiobook clean for younger listeners even while including some of the more common activities (drinking, gambling, etc.). The story had some slow periods, but many of these were offset with the puns humor, and pop culture references. If you are looking for a new series that is fun and still contains a deep story, you might want to pick up this audiobook and give it a listen.