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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

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What listeners say about Black Ops

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Love it

Been enjoying the series and has only got better
Can’t wait for the next one

4 people found this helpful

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Trust THE AWESOME!

I love this series. I couldn't stop listening. I can't wait for the next book.

3 people found this helpful

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Moar of the same

Great performance as usual but I feel like nothing happens anymore and I find myself very often just putting it on the background while I check something else. I'm not sure if I'll be listening to the next in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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need more soon, very soon. is it out yet?

need more soon, very soon. is it out yet? why is it not out yet? us dumb monkeys need to bathe in the glow that is skippy

2 people found this helpful

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One for the boys

Well read and the characters are developing this one is all about the fighting not much interaction between the crew but overall I enjoyed it and will get the next volume

1 person found this helpful

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Awesome

Loved it, great story and the speech work suits the story very well A+++

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You smelly Monkeys!

I am so hooked on this series and can't wait for every following book. I just want to know when the tv series will be out. 5/5 performance and narrative.

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a great sci-fi story

great story, very difficult to put it down and engage in other activities the storyteller has an excellent voice and fits the theme of the story

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It is great

I love this book soon much please read it. And enjoy as much as I have!

By Timothy Pleydell

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Awesome Story

The story is awesome
The characters are awesome
The universe is awesome
Just trust the awesomeness

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  • Steve & Mary
  • 02-01-2018

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.

107 people found this helpful

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  • Tyson S Sukeforth
  • 04-10-2017

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.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-12-2019

Best book in the series so far

This is the best book in the series so far. Some of the criticisms that I have read in other reviews, such as the trope of “Joe has a stupid idea that Skippy didn’t think of”, are different in this book. The author changes up the formula pretty well and keeps it interesting. The end of the book, the last third or so, is some of the best action I’ve ever read in a military sci-fi novel. I would definitely recommend that you check this book out especially if you’ve gone this far with the series.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Forest
  • 19-06-2019

Worst book so far

Rehash of themes and stories
There always seems to be the same kind of problem/solution/conflict resolution

Poor character development and lots of needless banter, explanations, and useless character introductions.

Overall it feels like you’re watching an infomercial that says “wait there’s more” and the more is just all very anticlimactic.

Voice acting is inconsistent, and the dialogue is hard to differentiate from narration at times.

The ending is disappointing due leaves you with, yet another very anticlimactic cliffhanger, which if you have basic critical thinking skills, you must know it will be resolved within the first chapter of the next book, or the mission wouldn’t be possible.

And yet, I’ll give the next book a chance to redeem this one and hope for more.

9 people found this helpful

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  • manny_calavera
  • 28-10-2017

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.

30 people found this helpful

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  • LBrown
  • 03-06-2019

Like a filler episode

I could not get into this like the others and may be done with the series. It felt like filler. Nothing worth caring about. Just a time waster until they write something that matters to the story.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Angela
  • 16-11-2018

Starting to get old

Perhaps listening to this entire series without a break is not the way to go. This is no Lost Fleet or Pillars of Reality where the 6 books flew by. There is really no hook that says "wow I cant wait for the next book, I wonder what will happen" because the same thing is happening in every book. Now if I was listening to these several months apart maybe it would not seem so tired and repetitive, so perhaps these books are better for long term, short session, listens.

This story picks up where the last one left off and there is more trying to stop ships from going to earth. The aliens are amazingly persistent in wanting to send ships on a long long journey to contact people who are out of contact it seems. So persistent that they would do stuff that seems out of character, but then 4 books in and we really don't know that much about their character. This book spends its entire run time trying to resolve that one issue, there is no helping Skippy meet his goals, just doing more and more crazy stuff to stop the ship. Some of stuff that happens is mildly interesting as we do see more into some alien societies (there is a genuinely sad scene) but otherwise there is not much you haven't heard before. Well, except one of Skippys subminds gets a name and personality but the character is poorly voiced and it does not really do anything, the plot thread doesn't really go anywhere. Skippy seems meaner somehow and Joe maybe dimmer. I doubt I will remember much detail of what happened in a day or so, and I don't really think there are any details that are important anyway. The ending was OK though, there was some good tension in the last mission and where we left off leaves hope that maybe they will do something else in the next book besides trying to stop an alien ship from going to earth.

Don't get me wrong, I am not someone who needs some grand over arching story, I really enjoy episodic shows that explore just for exploration sake, or books that just have fun characters who I want to "hang around" with, but we are now doing the same thing in every book and the witty banter is starting to not be so witty. It is interesting to learn more about the alien races, but we don't learn much and what we do learn only makes me wonder why humans can't figure out their tech since none of them seem all that intelligent. Certainly humans should be smarter than lizards that are only interested in war and enslave half their population. Perhaps I should have read the 5 hour 3.5 book, it would have been a break from the same, same, and there is a sidequest in this book that is likely directly related to that book, as it references a ship that was mentioned in book 3, but $20 for 5 hours doesn't seem worth it.

Looking ahead I guess the series is not yet finished as I had assumed. It looks like book 6 is an expansion on that 3.5 story so this next book is the last in the main storyline that is currently out. Hopefully we are done stopping people from going to earth and can do something else interesting like exploring around to keep the promise to Skippy.

Bottom line, the book was fine. It had humor and action and was probably as good as 3 but could have been better if it was not still running the same basic mission as book 3. It is a big galaxy and you have an Elder AI that wants to learn about itself, how can this story be bogged down in the same spot?(/rant). Anyway if you are reading the series you really can't skip this book, because I THINK it setup something for the next book. Was it worth the credit? I would have preferred to have gotten this on a 2 for 1 sale with book 3.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-10-2017

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.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Abraham Tingey
  • 07-02-2019

Starting to become repetitious

More fo the same, always pointing out they are saving the world, some unsolvable problem that gets solved. I am hoping now that earth is finally secure from any immediate threats the author will start developing the story line relating to the Elders and the sites the merry band of pirates discovered in their adventures.

Rc Bray does a fantastic job once again. He brings everyone to life. The story becomes very engaging.

The banter between Skippy and Colonel Joe is becoming a bit stale, it needs some fresh material, the whole skippy going on about how he hates his life when Joe solves a problem is getting old.

Heres to hoping the next book is not as repetitive as this one became.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous
  • 03-06-2019

Skippy rocks but Monkey's save the Day

I don't like the ending and some repetitive. what's the point of Count Chocola? still going to listen to book five. Hey, Sarge Marge needs a heroine moment.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 27-09-2017

Super-Skippy-Just-Fantastic-Expeditionary-Force!

Sit down strap in and get ready for another episode of one of the funniest and most inventive sci-fi series I've come across in a long time. Episode four of Alanson's Expeditionary Force sees Joe Bishop's Merry Band of Pirates careering across the galaxy, staggering from crisis to crisis only to end on another cliffhanger! Yes there will be even more to come after this one!

Earth is once again under threat so The Flying Dutchmen and her crew including Skippy, the sci-fi world's favourite beer can are once again embroiled in Alanson's heady mix of impossible situations, amazing alien politics and of course zany humour. In fact he really does go Spinal Tap on us and dial it up to eleven in this one.

I suspect that sense of humour is also being directed at his narrator here. His text has Maestro Bray doing everything from singing a high-pitched La Marseillaise of all things to a wonderfully credible Chewbacca. Being the trooper he is RC Bray rises to each and every challenge with suitable awesomeness!

I could split hairs over some of the editing including some very repetitive small passages but even I can't spectacularly miss the point of these books by quite that much. They are the Sci-Fi equivalent of a good boozy night down the pub with old friends. Good fun, warmly humorous and thoroughly satisfying until the following morning - when you realise you stayed up waaaay too late listening to it!

29 people found this helpful

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  • Gavin
  • 30-09-2017

Skippy the Magnificent

Another excellent installment , expertley narrated by RC Bray, believe in "The Awesomeness" of Skippy the Magnificent..

7 people found this helpful

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  • sfak107
  • 29-09-2017

Trust the awesomeness

Just trust the awesomeness and keep listening to another great story and performance by RC Bray. What will be in the next book......

5 people found this helpful

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  • CNS1995
  • 10-10-2017

Incredible! Couldn’t get enough!

This book gets full marks from me! Seriously entertaining! When is the next book due to come out... I can’t wait any longer! Congratulations Craig this series is tremendous, please hurry and publish more audio books in the series.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 28-09-2017

More outstanding work!

Another amazing adventure with Skippy and the merry band of pirates... Cannot wait for the next installment and hope it comes soon we rather than later 😀

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-09-2017

Love it!

Not much to say other then I want more!!! If you liked the last 4 books your going to like this. The whole series is well worth a read if you haven't allready

4 people found this helpful

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