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Publisher's Summary

The Merry Band of Pirates are in desperate trouble after the end of their last mission, and the real danger to humanity is just getting started.

Hostile aliens have discovered there is something odd going on with wormholes in the galaxy, and their investigations could lead to finding a shortcut to Earth....

 PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Craig Alanson (P)2020 Podium Audio

What listeners say about Critical Mass

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[SPOILERS AHEAD] Craig, please take a break.....

I honestly wasn't going to pick up the new book after how disappointed I was with Valkyrie; but I hit a book drought and saw nothing but praise for Critical Mass on the audible reviews and on the subreddit, so I decided to give C.A. a chance at redemption. The main reason I decided that I didn't like Valkyrie is because the book was almost entirely filler content with an information dump in the form of a bullet-point list at the very end, and Skippy abandoning everyone in the crew at the finale just felt so thrown together at the last minute and went against everything established thus far in the series. Now, my almost immediate problem with Critical Mass is when Skippy just "decides" to care about his friends again and the Quachines honestly felt like bullshit. C.A has become the king of deciding that anything in his previous works does not matter which for a listener makes me feel like I shouldn't care about anything that happens because at any given moment, he can just decide that past experiences and exposition do not matter anymore. For Joe to forgive Skippy so early on due to the fact that "20% of his decision was original programming" was insulting, and it felt like it became an unfunny running joke for the rest of the book. I understand that Joe believes he doesn't have an option as they need Skippy to do anything; but that's only because C.A. wrote himself into a corner on his own. On that note.... Simms convincing the hostile AI to switch sides was so promising, it had potential to stop relying on Skippy and the dynamic seemed like it would have been interesting and could have opened some options as to where the story goes as well as entertaining interactions with the crew/Nagatha. Instead the build up of Simms pleading for it to change sides was thrown out almost as soon as it started which again made me wonder what the point of giving this AI a small "redemption arc" was, but later in the book when Bilby was introduced (I personally think "stoner" humor is very lazy so I'm not a fan of Bilby) I was left wondering why we couldn't have just kept the Maxolhx AI as Bilby just seems to be comedic relief; but so is Skippy? So what's the point of having two? After being introduced, Bilby doesn't really do anything? I blew through the book in 2 days so maybe my brain isn't recalling anything meaningful that he did. At one point near the end Skippy was boasting about something awesome he did and Bilby chimes in to say "ugh dude that was actually me mannn" and I paused the book and wondered why he is even a character.. The book then followed the same formula of having almost no progression in the story and it took nearly 75% of the book just for the end result to be that the ships and everything was right back to the state it was in during Valkyrie and everything up to that point was just them recovering from the poorly written ending of the last book. This to me is C.A. padding his 4 hour story into a 19 hour slog. The side plot of Adams and Bishop was non existent with the author even saying that people are tired of the "will they, won't they" back and forth so it was stopping now. Half of the time I forgot about Adams until Joe would say "oh by the way Adams is on MY ship now"; okay? You've already established that nothing is going to happen in the department in this book so why are you constantly bringing it up? Again, I felt like I shouldn't be caring about their relationship or lack thereof because C.A. has told me not to care about it anymore. With what feels like nothing happening for most of the book, again C.A. formulates some artifical drama with the gas giant near Avalon which accidentally saves the day kind of.... maybe..... because the next book might start by saying the Elder weapons plot doesn't matter anymore. So, I'm left once again disappointed with his work, the front page of the subreddit has a post giving it a 10/10 calling it the best book in the series. I'm wondering what I'm missing? Everyone seems so impressed that he's pumping these books out quickly; but nobody is talking about how he is basically writing 7 chapters of story progression and 31 chapters of filler.. I'm sorry for the wall of text, I'm passionate about this series and I'm just extremely disappointed with the direction it's going.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome

Great continuation of the adventures of those crazy pirates. Not that I didn't like the last couple books, I certainly did, but this book is a bit better then them. It feels fresh.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it!

A fantastic final (?) chapter to this series. Twists and turns all over the place. Sad if this is the end - great series all around.

1 person found this helpful

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AMAZING as usual for this series!

AMAZING as usual for this series! loved every minute of the story and as usual RC Bray was an amazing dirty monkey!

1 person found this helpful

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Why aren’t you reading this book!!!!

You may ask yourself why am I writing this when I titled this review Why aren’t you reading this book!!!! I don’t actually know, anyhoo First off Id like to take this time to point out that Craig Alanson is a royal Butthead. That cliffhanger in the last book was epic, and things don’t immediately resolved in this book either......grrrrrr Really at this point I don’t know why you have not purchased this book and started listening. Oh and we all know this will be another homerun in the series. Go skippy the Meh

1 person found this helpful

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AWESOME - MORE!

WE NEED MORE!!!!! I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE!! WHEN IS IT COMING OUT ?!

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Great book.

Love the entire series, can't wait for the next book. The bloopers at the end are amazing, so glad that they have add more.

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Great Book in Series

I like all the Expeditionary Force books, but some do little to advance the story, although always entertaining and funny. That cannot be said about Critical Mass, don't want to give anything away. But the story moves forward in a good way. Definitely a must read for fans of the story

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Magnificently Wonderful Listen

Craig and RC are my constant companion voices in my head for 2020. Critical Mass is by far the best yet. Thanks for bringing it all together in such an amazing way. The characters are amazing, the storyline and plot compelling. Just when you think there is no way they are getting out of the biggest pile of crap imaginable "Joe, always comes up with something" not sure I'd bet on him in Vegas, but then I usually lose money at the tables anyway. I can't wait for book 11 to see what Skippy and Band of Idiot Monkey Pirates are up to now.

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nice

been listening and watching with my brain stuff, one of the best series out there. Mr Bray does an impressive read and I feel he deserves a raise.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-08-06

Money Grabber.

Full of extremely boring conversation and pointless talk or description, page fillers. Half a chapter talks about how Bishop likes vegan food and the other half was trying to get me interested in buying the author's other series. Skips over important stuff but focuses on pointless events. Same old jokes are used and not much new materials are provided. Lazy writing and total money grabber. Disappointing. Last dime I spent on this author.

102 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Greg
  • 2020-08-05

Well...that sucked

Its really hard to take a book plot seriously when 50% of the book is explaining why a certain path is the only way to do things....and then those explanations thrown to the wind on the next encounter. In the first/second books, this approach can be granted some measure of plausibility. By book 10....yeah, its just poor. I had skipped the first 4-5 chapters, because yeah it was that bad. The series has jumped the shark. We don't care who shot JR. He can neither confirm or deny that the book is good. Weapons of mass destruction have not been found. Take a pass.....unless you have completely forgotten the rest of the series....because maybe then its ok...maybe. The writing is ok.

88 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-08-06

I finally had enough

the story was okay. but halfway it became the same rinse and repeat rutine from the the other books. (expect Armageddon) oh no.. earth will be attacked, save them, new threat again and again. still no character development. all the women in books could be very cool, but gets annoying. (raising an eyebrow, is disappointed, we will have words, uhh huh!!, suck it up) I finally had enough. Craig Alanson writes Joe and Skippy so good that you get to love the characters. the last 3-4 books the way the crew treated Skippy became too much. Very mean spirited. in the start of the books there was a good feeling in their banter. but the last 3-4 books it made me sick, that the only family Skippy ever had was constantly treating him like a thing they could all be cruel to. Basically a slave it disgusted me and destroyed the mood of the story totally for me R. C. Bray did a wonderful job as a voice actor.

61 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-08-08

Not worth it anymore

It's unfortunate to 2 star performance to make sure this is rated properly because RC Bray is great as always. I had 1 credit left on audible for months and after losing my job due to Covid and being unable to put money towards something like an audio book, I made sure to hold on to that last credit for months for this Book 10 because I was so looking forward to it and wanted to make sure I got to experience it. Book 9's cliffhanger was great. I was in a state of shock and "WTF" after what happened in Book 9. Within a couple of chapters of Book 10 I was disappointed. It completely wasted the awe and story that the series FINALLY built up to, and made it an extremely lazy way to rinse and repeat AGAIN. This series has been 80% rinse and repeat but had enough to keep me interested. Until now. Now, it's just insulting. Book 10 is a waste and clear sign the series is over. Any books coming out now are purely for a money grab. I don't say this as an upset reader. I loved the series, I respect the writer, and love RC Bray's work, but book 10 was 100% nothing more than previous books mashed into it but at an extremely slower pace and absolutely pointless chatter. Introduction of new characters, which should have been interesting, was an absolute slap to the reader with assumption we are stupid (Billy and Bob was just pathetic - I cringed when RC Bray had to read parts).

48 people found this helpful

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  • Luke
  • 2020-08-05

Amazing

The last ten chapters, I couldn't stop listening. Thank Skippy this book didn't end on a cliffhanger as bad as the last one!!

43 people found this helpful

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  • Tony E.
  • 2020-08-06

Restoration of Awesomeness

After the numbness that we were left with at the end of book 9, book 10 starts with the customary unraveling of what seemed inevitable to an unexpected exit. It all turns out okay. I have to admit, I had a hard time getting through Mavericks, Book 2. It was a drag at times and I had to force myself to get through it. I did not have that problem with this book. The difference is Joe Bishop. Joe brings an energy through the narrative that is missing in any other part of the story with which he isn't involved. I found myself once again engaged, excited, and involved. There were some emotional parts in this story. I shed some tears of joy when we learned we could truly trust the friendship when the awesomeness was in doubt (stolen from someone else's review.) I laughed out loud several times in the last few chapters when what we've all been waiting for came around in the nature we were hoping it would. Fan service? Maybe, but it sure made up for the pain at the last book and I loved it. This book is high energy and it starting to tie up some of the loose ends that have been built in the previous 9 books, as well as the 3 side adventures. You can see a huge finale coming up in the next few books that will be extremely satisfying.

34 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • smb
  • 2020-08-06

Too much situation and not enough plot

I guess when you write so many books it must be difficult to write plot vs. situation. And there's the profit motive as well. The author wants to sell more books. My husband likes this series but I think that there's only enough plot in ten books to make about two or three books. End the series already.

34 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • James M.
  • 2020-08-05

Survive the first two chapters and you'll love it

I was going to go for a refund, but I loved the previous books so much that I would give it another shot. I have in fact given it 6 shots. By the middle of chapter 2, I am completely lost. Understand that through chapter 2 the story is not composed of full scenes, but tiny snippets. After chapter 3, the book was absolutely awesome.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard Lawrence
  • 2020-08-05

Excellent start to finish...

no spoilers.... you can trust the friendship, even if you can't always trust the awesomeness.

26 people found this helpful

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  • fullMETAL reviewer
  • 2020-08-05

more ramblings of stupid monkeys

well.... that was a hell of a wild ride. great story and narration. really hope there will be more.

19 people found this helpful