Well, like everybody else, we’re taking a look back at 2012. It was the biggest year ever in terms of audiobook releases: Audible Frontiers published 750 audiobooks this year alone, not to mention the output from the other major and independent publishers and the influx of ACX titles this year. Did we listen to everything? Oh no. (More on that in the second part of this series. Much more.) Did the audiobook publishers get to every deserving book? Not quite. (More on that in the third part of the series.) But first!
PART I: We did listen to a pretty good stack of audiobooks this year, and there was a long list of excellent choices to consider for our best of the year. Last year, I picked an audiobook of a previously published book, Lewis Shiner’s Glimpses, as my favorite audiobook published in 2011, and gave 3 runners up in overall, 3 in narration, and 3 in story. This year, having listened to so many more current-year audiobooks, and with Dave aboard, we’re trying a slightly different approach to categories and such. Well, you’ll see. Without further adieu:
BEST NEW AUDIOBOOK OF THE YEAR:
Sam: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, read by David Colacci for Brilliance Audio — Finally unabridged, adding more than 17 hours to the 9-hour abridged version published in 2005, a wonderful, wonderful book read beautifully by Colacci. [review]
Dave: I’m totally with Sam on this one. Kavalier and Clay is my favorite listen of 2012, and one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever heard. [review]
BEST AUDIOBOOK OF A NEW BOOK: [Book and audiobook both first published in 2012:]
Sam: The Drowning Girl, by Caitlín R. Kiernan, read by Suzy Jackson for Neil Gaiman Presents. Reviewed in Sam’s August Listening Report as: “As of finally writing this review in mid October, my pick for the year’s best new speculative fiction novel of 2012. The Drowning Girl explores the edges between ghosts, art, and insanity, through the narrative device of a young schizophrenic woman’s typewritten letters to herself. Jackson’s narration suited me just fine, particularly her characterizations of Imp and even more so of her lover, Abalyn.” And now as 2012 has come to a close, it’s become quite easy for me to comfortably say that The Drowning Girl is the best new novel of 2012, and was my favorite audiobook of a new book as well.
Dave: The Troupe, by Robert Jackson Bennett, read by Luis Moreno for Recorded Books. Reviewed in full by Dave less than two weeks ago as: “[T]he best new novel I’ve listened to this year – let’s get that out of the way from the start. … The Troupe is one of those books that I didn’t want to end, was genuinely sad when it was over, and am very much looking forward to listening to again. It called to mind Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, along with Ray Bradbury, and a dash of Stephen King.”
RUNNERS UP, BEST AUDIOBOOK OF A NEW BOOK:
Sam: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, read by Sarah Zimmerman for Hachette Audio [review]; Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson, read by Sanjiv Jhaveri for Brilliance Audio [review]; and How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection by David F. Dufty, read by Bronson Pinchot for Blackstone Audio [review]. Honorable mentions: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, read by Joshilyn Jackson for Macmillan Audio [review]; The Rook: A Novel by Daniel O’Malley, read by Susan Duerden for Hachette Audio [review]; and Fantastic Imaginings: A Journey through 3,500 Years of Imaginative Writing, Comprising Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction edited by Stefan Rudnicki, read by a full cast for Blackstone Audio. Further mentions, science fiction: No Going Back: Jon & Lobo, Book 5 by Mark L. Van Name, read by Tom Stechschulte for Audible Frontiers [review]; The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, read by Peter Perkrot for Brilliance Audio; The Long Earth: A Novel by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, read by Michael Fenton-Stevens for Harper Audio; Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi, read by Wil Wheaton for Audible Frontiers [review]; Arctic Rising By Tobias S. Buckell, Narrated by Carolyn Michelle Smith for Audible Frontiers; Chimera: The Subterrene War, Book 3 By T. C. McCarthy, Narrated by John Pruden for Blackstone Audio; and Stellarnet Rebel By J.L. Hilton, Narrated by Gayle Hendrix for Carina Press. Further mentions, fantasy: Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, read by Steve West for Blackstone Audio; Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, read by Steven Pacey for Hachette Audio; Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, read by Phil Gigante for Brilliance Audio [review]; Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, read by Claudia Alick for Blackstone Audio; The White Forest by Adam McOmber, read by Susan Duerden for Brilliance Audio; Legion by Brandon Sanderson, read by Oliver Wyman for Audible Frontiers; and Clockwork Angels: The Novel by Kevin J. Anderson, read wonderfully by Neil Peart for Brilliance Audio. Further mentions, fiction: The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu, read by Xe Sands for Iambik Audio. Further mentions, non-fiction: Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson, read by Robertson Dean for Tantor Audio; and Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson, read by Jeff Cummings for Harper Audio [review]. Further mentions, other: V Wars: A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars edited by Jonathan Maberry, read by a full cast for Blackstone Audio.
Dave: Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, read by a full cast for Harper Audio [review]; Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi, read by Wil Wheaton for Audible Frontiers [review]; and The Rook: A Novel by Daniel O’Malley, read by Susan Duerden for Hachette Audio [review].
RUNNERS UP, BEST NEW AUDIOBOOK OF A PREVIOUSLY RELEASED BOOK: [Book first published prior to 2012, audiobook first published in 2012:]
Sam: Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott, read by Cori Samuel for Iambik Audio [review]; Osama by Lavie Tidhar, read by Jeff Harding for Audible Ltd [review]; and The Testament of Jessie Lamb: A Novel by Jane Rogers, read by Fiona Hardingham for Blackstone Audio. Honorable mention: Children No More: Jon & Lobo, Book 4 by Mark L. Van Name, read by Tom Stechschulte for Audible Frontiers [review]; Theft of Swords: Riyria Revelations, Book 1 By Michael J. Sullivan, Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds for Recorded Books [review]; Vampire Empire – The Greyfriar By Clay and Susan Griffith (2010), Narrated by James Marsters for Buzzy Multimedia [review]; Building Harlequin’s Moon by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, read by Tom Weiner for Blackstone Audio; and A Book of Tongues: Hexslinger, Book 1 By Gemma Files, Narrated by Gordon Mackenzie for Iambik Audio [review].
Dave: Viriconium By M. John Harrison, Narrated By Simon Vance for Neil Gaiman Presents [review] (I know this technically came out in mid-December of 2011, but I DON’T CARE!!!); Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber, Book 1 By Roger Zelazny, Narrated By Alessandro Juliani for Audible Frontiers; Fevre Dream By George R. R. Martin, Narrated By Ron Donachie for Random House Audio [review]; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By L. Frank Baum, Narrated By Anne Hathaway for Audible; and Dracula [Audible Edition] By Bram Stoker, Narrated By Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, Simon Prebble, and James Adams for Audible. Honorable mention: Osama by Lavie Tidhar, read by Jeff Harding for Audible Ltd [review].
BEST AUDIOBOOK OF A NEW BOOK, YOUNG ADULT:
Dave: Dodger by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs for Harper Audio [review]. Runners up: Black Heart: The Curse Workers, Book 3 by Holly Black, read by Jesse Eisenberg; Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, read by a full cast for Brilliance Audio [review]; and A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, read by Michael Goldstrom for Listening Library.
FAVORITE LISTENS FROM “NEW TO US” AUDIOBOOKS:
Sam: Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan; Among Others by Jo Walton; The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, read by Michael Page for Tantor Audio; On Stranger Tides and The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers; A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski; Light by M. John Harrison; Little, Big: or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley; Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, read by Kushner, Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, and others for Neil Gaiman Presents; The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Gaiman for Harper Children’s Audio; and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Of these, The Stress of Her Regard, Vellum, Among Others, Light, and Little, Big were all from 2011 and I would have been hard-pressed to omit them in my year’s best list.
Dave: Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory, read by David Marantz; Dreadnought by Cherie Priest, read by Kate Reading; Among Others by Jo Walton, read by Katherine Kellgren; Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, read by Justine Eyre; and The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett, read by Richard Poe.
Well! That’s what we loved out of what we listened to. Before you complain too much about your missing favorite, tune into part 2, in which we bemoan the long list of good-looking audiobooks we didn’t find time for in 2012.
APPENDIX: For mostly my own interest, my (Sam’s) list of other audiobooks listened to in 2012, in chronological order:
- Sisterhood of Dune By Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Narrated by Scott Brick for Macmillan Audio — Series: Dune Saga, Book 17
- Shadows in Flight By Orson Scott Card, Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Emily Janice Card, Scott Brick, and Kirby Heyborne for Macmillan Audio — Series: Ender’s Shadow, Book 5
- Burning Chrome (2009) By William Gibson, Narrated by Jonathan Davis, Dennis Holland, Kevin Pariseau, Victor Bevine, Jay Snyder, Brian Nishii, L. J. Ganser, Oliver Wyman, Eric Michael Summerer, and Marc Vietor for Audible Frontiers and (in MP3-CD) Brilliance Audio
- Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2011) By Sara Gran Narrated by Carol Monda for HighBridge –
- Mr g: A Novel about the Creation By Alan Lightman Narrated by Ray Porter for Blackstone Audio
- The Hum and the Shiver: The Tufa Novels, Book 1 (2011) By Alex Bledsoe Narrated by Emily Janice Card and Stefan Rudnicki for Blackstone Audio
- Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1 by Kevin Hearne, read by Luke Daniels for Brilliance Audio
- Storm Front: The Dresden Files, Book 1 by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters for Buzzy Multimedia
- Exogene: The Subterrene Trilogy, Book 2 by T.C. McCarthy, read by Bahni Turpin for Blackstone Audio
- To Marry Medusa By Theodore Sturgeon, Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki for Blackstone Audio (review copy) — reviewed in March, along with:
- Leviathan Wakes By James S.A. Corey, Narrated by Jefferson Mays for Recorded Books
- The Gravity Pilot By M. M. Buckner, Narrated by Jay Snyder for Audible Frontiers
- A Canticle for Leibowitz By Walter M. Miller (1959), Narrated by Tom Weiner (2011) for Blackstone Audio (review copy) — reviewed in April, along with:
- Galapagos By Kurt Vonnegut (1985), Narrated by Jonathan Davis (2008) for Audible Modern Vanguard
- The Mongoliad: The Foreworld Saga, Book 1 By Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E. D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo (2012), Narrated by Luke Daniels (2012) for Brilliance Audio (review copy)
- Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury (1953), Narrated by Christopher Hurt (2005) for Blackstone Audio
- Giant Thief: Tales of Easie Damasco, Book 1 By David Tallerman, Narrated by James Langton for Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio
- Memoir: Bossypants By Tina Fey, Narrated by Tina Fey
- Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk, read by a full cast for GraphicAudio (review copy)
- A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, read by Paul Michael Garcia for Blackstone Audio (review copy)
- Hamlet’s Father by Orson Scott Card, read by Stefan Rudnicki for Blackstone Audio (review copy)
- Clementine: A Novel of the Clockwork Century By Cherie Priest, Narrated by Dina Pearlman and Victor Bevine for Audible Frontiers
- Earth Unaware By Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston, Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stephen Hoye, Arthur Morey, Vikas Adam, Emily Janice Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, and Roxanne Hernandez for Macmillan Audio
- Into the Black: Odyssey One By Evan Currie, Narrated by Benjamin L. Darcie for Brilliance Audio
- Vlad By Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alejandro Branger, and narrated by Robert Fass for Dreamscape Media
- The Sagan Diary By John Scalzi, Narrated by Stephanie Wolfe with an introduction by John Scalzi for Audible Frontiers
- Glory Road By Robert A. Heinlein, Narrated by Bronson Pinchot
- Fragile Things By Neil Gaiman, Narrated by Neil Gaiman for Harper Audio
- The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, read by Emily Janice Card for Random House Audio
- “The Cage” by Jeff VanderMeer, read byMarBelle for PodCastle
- The Thing from Lover’s Lane by Nancy Collins, read by Shandon Loring
- The Mongoliad: Book Two by Neal Stephenson (et al.)
- Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- A Sudden Outbreak of Magic: Contagious Magic by Michael Jasper, read by Alyson Grauer
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, read by Valente for Brilliance Audio