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Outland by Dennis E. Taylor #BookReview

“When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, it’s up to six university students and their experimental physics project to prevent the end of civilization. “

When an experiment to study quantum uncertainty goes spectacularly wrong, physics student Richard and his friends find that they have accidentally created an inter-dimensional portal. They connect to an alternate Earth with identical geology, but where humans never evolved. They go panning for gold and become millionaires overnight, while fantasizing about Nobel Prizes and patents. 

Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts on Earth in an explosion large enough to destroy civilization and kill half the planet. Richard and his friends have less than an afternoon to get as many people as possible across to Outland before Nebraska is covered in a lethal cloud of ash. 

Now Richard finds himself in charge of a disorganized and frightened band of reluctant pioneers, on a world with none of the modern infrastructure that people have come to depend on. Richard has been a loner all his life, and has always wanted to be part of something bigger– but this is far more than he bargained for. If he doesn’t get this right, it’s not just the lives of the people in his care that could be lost– it may very well be the end of human civilization. 

Book cover for Outland by Dennis E. Taylor

Title: Outland | Series: Outland #1 | Author: Dennis E. Taylor | Narrator: Ray Porter | Length: 10 hrs 30 minutes | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy of this book from Audible for review consideration and am voluntarily posting this review.

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Outland Review

I like the combination of Dennis E. Taylor and Ray Porter almost as much as I like Jonathan Maberry and Ray Porter. Y’all that is saying something! I mean, it’s true that Ray Porter possesses a nearly magical ability to bring stories to life instantly inside my head, but even he can’t make a silk purse out of a sow ear. (See Dead Moon for an example.) However, when he is given a story like Outland that is already all sorts of perfect all on it’s own? That is when the listening experience goes from enjoyable to Yes-I-know-it’s-2-am-and-no-i-can’t-turn-it-off-thank-you.

When I was asked if I wanted to review a copy of Outland, I didn’t even read the synopsis. I went straight to “Yes, please.” as soon as I saw the author and narrator names. It is a decision I do not regret. Taylor’s story is one that kicks off nicely and keeps going at a perfect pace.

From pop culture to multiverse theory, there’s a little bit of something for the nerd that exists inside us science fiction readers. I am fascinated by the idea of Yellowstone erupting and how that would play out for the United States in general. Taylor took me beyond that though as he explored how it would effect the world at large as the balance of power shifted and the long-lasting effect it would have on the human race.

One of the things he said outright depressed me for a moment. Now, this quote isn’t going to be exact because I was listening to an audiobook, but it was in the midst of a discussion about how far humanity would be set back and they were talking about resources. It was something like:

“We’ve used all the easily available resources (metals, oil, etc.). We’ve mined all the medium-difficulty resources. We’ve gotten the hard stuff too. Now we’re highly advanced technology to get to the hardest to reach stuff. Humanity will be in an early-Industrial age with none of the resources they need to rebuild.”

I paused the book, leaned back, and went “Well…shit. I never thought of that.” It took me a moment to press the button and ‘read’ on.

I loved the main characters of Outland. It is a mix of mostly nerds with some kick-ass women involved. There was scenes that had me giggling in pure enjoyment, and mentally cheering when some retribution was delivered in no-holds-barred fashion. None of them are perfect. There’s a hint of romance but it is never central to the story at all. They all deliver absolutely groan-worthy lines at one moment or another. They all know they’re not doing good enough and at some point their luck is going to run out.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Taylor’s writing is how he manages to keep it so well-balanced. Even when serious happenings are going down, there’s always a wisecrack or wry observation to lighten the mood. Taylor writes sci-fi for those who have happily owned their geekdom, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This one needs to go on your must read/listen pile, folks!


Outland is available today on Audible.

Published inAudiobooksScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
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