Six audiobooks this month, down from eight last month, this time heavily skewed toward sf (5) over fantasy (1):
- To Marry Medusa By Narrated by for Blackstone Audio — Rudnicki’s a fan of Sturgeon’s, and I’ve heard him on More Than Human which, along with To Marry Medusa, explores the idea of emergent parapsychology. It’s a reminder that, along with Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, science fiction (and science) actually took telepathy quite seriously. In To Marry Medusa, an alien spore finds its way into one of humanity’s crummiest, grimiest members, opening a conduit for communication with a great interstellar hive mind. The hive mind wants to awaken humanity’s latent mass consciousness, but may be getting more than it bargained for. As usual, Rudnicki is clear, and I enjoyed his characterization of the alcoholic Dan Gurlick. But overall, the central premise of the story is too unreachable for me, an uber-skeptic of the 21st century. 3.5 stars. (Out of 5.)
- The Stress of Her Regard By Narrated by
- Leviathan Wakes By Narrated by for Recorded Books — I read the first chapter of this in print last summer, and had a good idea I wanted to get to it sooner or later. Well, sale-priced and on the heels of being recommended by George R.R. Martin on his blog, I decided that now was the time. I’m of quite a few minds on this one, but space opera just isn’t my bag, really. Some clever ideas in and around a solidly built world, but not quite enough backstory of how we get to THERE from HERE for it to feel fully realized and solid; the alternating storylines of gritty Belter detective Miller and ice hauler CO Jim Holden advanced things pretty well, but I never felt much of a connection with either under Mays’s narration here. I am a bit more interested in the side-short The Butcher of Anderson Station than in picking up forthcoming sequel Caliban’s War (June 26) but neither really that much. Again: space opera really isn’t my bag. 3.5 stars.
- Arctic Rising By Narrated by for Audible Frontiers — As above, thrillers aren’t generally my bag, either, though I found a lot more to like, sf-wise, in Arctic Rising than in Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, another “sf/thriller” hybrid of recent memory. (This isn’t a fault necessarily of Reamde, it is after all set in a future as near as next year.) For Arctic Rising, I very much enjoyed Smith’s narration, my first experience with her as a narrator. She handled African and Afro-Caribbean accents well enough, along with a clear mainline narration, though her Russian accents left a little more to the imagination. Story-wise, an interesting and sophisticated near/medium future of a climate change with winners and losers is marred only a little by the incredulous parade of near-deaths and escapes which drive Anika to and fro. 3.5 to 4 stars, somewhere in there.
- The Gravity Pilot By Narrated by for Audible Frontiers — Buckner really “dives” (oh, I am so sorry) into a grim near/medium future of ecological collapse and pollution, focusing on skydiver Orr Sitka and an immersive (and addictive) virtual reality construct. Some very interesting ideas, and as always more than capable narration from Snyder, but in the end it fell a little short of my (admittedly high) expectations. 3 to 3.5 stars, somewhere in there.
- A Door into Ocean By Narrated by for Blackstone Audio — In a word: amazing. Landor’s narration is beautiful and lyrical, with well-detailed characterizations across the cultures and classes presented in Slonczewski’s award-winning novel of feminism, pacifism, and anarchism in a far-future of multiple visions of post-humanity. It immediately vaults into my all-time favorites list, though perhaps a half-step behind The Dispossessed and Parable of the Sower. 5 stars.
KIDS CORNER: Speaking of Hugo and A Monster Calls, this month I also listened to quite a few “kids” titles (I’m a dad, it’s what we do!) — but that will be a post for another day.
APRIL LISTENING PLANS:
- A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, from Blackstone Audio
- The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson (among several other co-authors), from Brilliance Audio
- Children No More by Mark L. Van Name, read by Tom Stechschulte for Audible Frontiers
- The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith, read by James Marsters for Buzzy Multimedia
- A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, which I’ve had on review from Blackstone Audio for a good while and really want to crack open
And in “real” reading: Any Day Now by Terry Bisson (hat tip to Gordon Van Gelder for putting it on my radar) and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel Delany (Magnus, April 17), though the latter has seen its publication date slip a half-dozen times since originally being slated for last fall and some catalogs already list it as May 1. I have had it on pre-order since late last summer, and eagerly await the bookstore’s phoning me that I can come pick it up. Any day now… And I’ve also got my hands on another unpublished manuscript which I’m very much looking forward to. But that’s all I’m saying about that for now.