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Black Ops

Expeditionary Force, Book 4
Written by: Craig Alanson
Narrated by: R. C. Bray
Length: 16 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (403 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 53.75
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Publisher's Summary

The elite crew of the pirate ship UNS Flying Dutchman had a simple mission: determining whether the Thuranin are sending another starship to Earth. Along the way, they became sidetracked by securing a future for the UNEF troops on the planet Paradise. When asked whether Earth was now safe, their ancient alien AI responded "Not so much"...now they have to deal with the consequences.

©2017 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Read/listen to the entire series

I love this series so much it's sad to finish each book and wait for the next. The narration is amazing. The writing is so entertaining.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hail the adventures of Skippy the Magnificent!!!

Let me start by saying, book 4 is the very best of the lot. I am not going to give any spoilers, but let me just say,...if you thought you were on the edge of your seat,...you better wrap that monkey tail around a solid branch, cause you are about to go on a ride for the ages....

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

More fun than a Barrell of Monkeys

RC Bray does a great job of bringing the story and characters to life.

The entire audible series is really entertaining with good story, good characters and good pacing.

Craig Alanson is one of my new favourite authors.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Still good but not as good

Previous books have been better and the addition of a new "character" was annoying. It/she? felt forced in. I hope it pays off in the next book.

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great series

I love this series. was a bit annoyed I had to buy a half a book (3.5) but the series is great! perfect amount of action and humor.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

So much repitition

Concepts are repeated several times in each chapter. Needs a good editor to review it before its shipped.
Overrall it has gotten better in terms of more releastic outcomes, narration from multiple sources and some genuinely funny moments.

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Hold my beer this is going to be awesome!

Another stellar instalment in the series hilariously entertaining and ...wait for it... hang on... hold my beer fing amazingly awesome

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another great book

twist and turns the book keeps getting better and better now I need to buy the next one!

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Enjoyably entertaining

R. C. Bray is a fantastic reader, you can always tell which character is speaking without the typical he said she said, the story is quite entertaining and the characters are good once you get into it, the banter is quite humorous!

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Another fun addition to the series.

In complete honesty, I ALMOST gave the story 4 stars because of repeated trope lines that are a staple to the series, but whatever it's all good. I'M JUST JADED AF.

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  • Tyson S Sukeforth
  • 2017-10-04

Solid continuation that fizzles at the end

What I love about Craig's writing style that really shines in this book is diving into the randomness of an unpredictable universe. Exploring the minutia of various events along the story that are anywhere between game changing to inconsequential. And they can be either unfortunate or fortuitous or both. It gives the story more chance to tell a larger picture and creates a living world that, especially for a sci-fi series, feels very grounded in reality. Sometimes the story is a grind as they duck and weave through updating situations and unintended consequences because that's how combat and problem solving actually is.

Unfortunately he sticks to the style a little too well, as the book sputters at the end without a very satisfying conclusion before setting up the next book. By the end the characters are exhausted and strung out and so are we. And I appreciate that this is very likely representative of what most of real life combat is like. But the book just ends there, without excitement or satisfaction. Postponing the payoff to the next book. And since we already had to wait a little longer for this book to fit in "Trouble in Paradise", it's going to make the wait for the next story EXCRUCIATING. And not in a great way.

It hurts to say because I overall I really love the book and the series, and it's a small knock on what's otherwise a great read, unfortunately that little bit is what's going to stick with me while we wait the months for the next installment.

My suggestion, if you haven't jumped on this book as soon as it came out like I did, (and, admittedly, would likely still do even if I read my advice from the future because I am a sucker for this series,) hold off on this until it's closer to the next release, so you can jump right into the next for the payoff that we should have at least gotten a piece of in this one.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-10-16

Not as good as the first three

While still enjoyable, this 4th installment seemed long and overly complicated. In order to understand what was going on the explanations were long and convoluted. The banter between Skippy and Joe was not nearly as funny as before. I did gafaw out loud, but only a few times.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • manny_calavera
  • 2017-10-28

Still fun but losing a bit of luster

Still fun, with great narrator, but the story is losing some steam and the banter is getting stale.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve
  • 2018-01-02

Slightly better than books two and three.....

If not for the fan-fu**ing-tastic narration of Mr. R.C. Bray, I would have stopped after book two. The stories are essentially the same narrative time and time again. Problem = Solution = Secondary Problem = Solution....and it's almost always a Bishoped plan with a Skippy (I hate my life) technical solution. How do we get onto that Starship/Asteroid/Planet or how do we intercept/transmit messages to gain or give information that will help our mission. Skippy is one giant Deus Ex Machina, and it's entertaining for a while, but when the narrative begins to argue with itself over what Skippy can and can't do....well, it's a bit much.

More importantly, the lacking character development is painful. This is book 4, and by now I would expect that some of our team would have grown, especially in light of all that they have witnessed. These characters are still paper thin with very little depth. I know almost nothing about our Protagonist Joe Bishop is basically Joe SixPack. An everyman that has been placed in the right place at the right time. In the first book, we watched him go from grunt to Sargent and then to Colonel...it was a feel good moment to see this everyman put in charge of an entire brigade, then a starship. When Joe and the Merry Band of Pirates returned home after their second journey, I expected another promotion. Instead we watched as he was dressed down by superiors for making decisions that were (at the time) very reasonable and even heroic. But for the sake of the story, I accepted this bizarre twist. And now we have Chotek (sp?) who is essentially an amalgam of every undesirable government agent from Earth. Now that he's seen the universe unfold before his eyes, has his disposition changed? Has he become a more tolerable leader? Has he come to understand that Joe is a hero and not a hapless idiot? No, no and no. There is no character growth here at all. These people have seen some sh*t and they need to behave in ways that make sense. The most ironic thing in this entire series is that Skippy has the most character growth of them all....an AI that supposedly lacks depth or empathy has the most complicated character arc of them all.

And for the love of all things Skippy, PLEASE resolve some of these loose ends. With every chapter we seem to get more hints at the origins of Skippy, but we learn almost nothing. It's book 4, we should have made some progress towards that goal. I cannot sit through another set of books waiting for progress.

I have so many more issues with these books, but I also love them so much, it hurts to be so critical. But if the author happens to be considering a change in narration, DON'T DO IT. R.C. Bray is your Tom Brady. Don't forget that.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua Harris
  • 2017-10-13

Worth listening to for the narrator alone

If you are even mildly into to science fiction this is a great book to pick up. The story is good as with all the other books in the series, but RC Bray's narration, especially his characterization of Skippy, is worth the price of admission all by itself. Trust the awesomeness

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua
  • 2017-10-02

This book was excellent.

I would recommend you wait for the next book to come so you don't get as irritated at the non-ending as i did.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • E. Erickson
  • 2017-10-16

Good listen, but should have been 5 stars

R. C. Bray's performance & Alanson's writing were both great. I don't want to spoil anything, but I didn't like the ending. Obviously there's more to come, and that is great. However, after putting that much time into this book, to have it end on lackluster scene is depressing.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • User 48D-X21A
  • 2017-11-06

A Good Middle Story Series Entry

This was a good book and RC Bray's narration was on point once again. The Skippy dilemma continues though as a beer can sized deus ex machina is used a bit much for another book. Luckily, the story is still enjoyable, but I wish this was more star trek and less star wars in the story. I find that I enjoy EF books that are more focused on the merry band on a planet and less on the spec ops side. Both sides are good, but Skippy + Bishop exploring the galaxy are fantastic to listen to.

I would probably have continued through this series if it stayed as that narrative of Joe Bishop alone. The book changed completely as soon as that beer can unlocked that first door. That was a total plottwist. Sadly, without the deus ex beercan, this series wouldn't really continue in any sensible way.

My biggest qualm this book is the freakin' non-ending cliffhanger ending. It feels like this story was either too long or too short for the narrative it was telling. Book 3 suffered from this problem as well, made even worse since Book 3.5 should've been interwoven into that to make 1 longer-than-normal entry into the series.

Now, time to sit around and wait for book 5, which is a guaranteed pre-order for me.

As always, trust the awesome!

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cain
  • 2017-10-13

More PLEASE

I got on board with the first book and have enjoyed the journey hugely. I look forward to more Joe Bishop and Skippy adventures.
NOW HURRY UP AND WRITE MORE.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • john
  • 2017-11-05

Skippy is losing steam

Still love the concept but plot was thin and ended on a cliffhanger that was passe. Here’s hoping that the next book will actually have some new and interesting developments that we haven’t seen before.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful