Many of the recent scary diseases have come from China, which makes sense given the large population base and population density. More than half the world's population lives within a circle in Southern Asia including China and India.
I think that this guy had some obsessive disorder against fruit. People have different tastes, which is obvious because there are a handful of foods that I can't stand. I don't like Tapioca and Rice pudding because of the texture. If I could get over my hangup over the texture I would probably enjoy their sweetness. I feel the same way about sauerkraut, although the taste has much to do with it. Foods that are too acidic taste kind of gross, like hot and sour soup which I can barely tolerate. I don't like weird breads like Rye, and I don't like blue cheese dressing because it tastes bitter to me.
Other recordings of this book have been removed from youtube, most likely for copyright reasons. This particular recording seems odd and not particularly the best quality, as if it was copied from audiotapes and maybe from more than one source. The quality is not consistent. You can barely hear some background interference like it is being copied from tapes.
However, I wasn't bothered by the inconsistency of the recording. The story is so good that I really enjoyed listening to it.
There are four recent prequels to this novel in the "Fleet of Worlds" series, which are not a prerequisite, but a delight to listen to. I paid Audible to listen to those.
I still have a problem with "space-time" as a unified thing. This leads to conclusions like time didn't exist before the Big Bang, which I find highly questionable. However, Special Relativity depends upon it. In order for space-time to not exist, we would need a completely different model of the universe.
I'm extremely skeptical. There is a real lack of evidence.
The distances between stars are so vast that the energy requirements for interstellar travel are by our standards almost infinite. The cost of the moon program in modern dollars was around a hundred billion dollars. Sending little robots to Mars costs several billion dollars. Any kind of interstellar program would cost at least a trillion dollars. It is not about money. It is about resources required, either by us or by another civilization, which are enormous.
There are also practical considerations. Space is very radioactive making it impractical for travel. It takes a great deal of effort to keep humans alive in space. Also, anything moving faster than 1% the speed of light is in danger of being obliterated by a grain of sand that happens to be in the way. At 10% the speed of light, the super thin interstellar gasses, although almost non-existent, are enough to create considerable resistance. I have heard that it would difficult to go any faster than this.
For this reason, if I were designing an interstellar craft, I would make it shaped like a giant needle with it being very thin. I don't know if this is practical.