Link: Best of May 2011 in Audible.com SFF: China Mieville’s Embassytown
Narrated by Susan Duerden, whose previous titles include Android Karenina, China Mieville’s Embassytown is my pick for the best science fiction and fantasy title to be released at Audible.com in May.
Here’s the publisher’s summary:
China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.
In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.
When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.
Duerden ably pilots us through the dense linguistic plot, and nice production touches give listeners a flavor of the Ariekei tongue of which readers can only be jealous, mashing words on top of each other to create a truly alien effect. (Here is a short, low-fi clip of me saying “Jeff” and “Chi” overtop each other in a similar way to give “JeffChi”.) Meanwhile the book never devolves into pointless and expansive background and detail, without leaving us truly in the dark. In short, Mieville creates an alien world and lets it breathe, with the sometimes horrific suffocation this can imply. That said, the book opens with an intimidating series of undefined terminology, and alternates chronology from “formerly” to the present, and is a challenging book to unravel — to the point of, at times, an exasperated “what is going on?” Sticking it out, however, is plenty rewarding.
- The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, narrated by Scott Brick, a non-stop plot-driven semi-hard sf heist novel and plenty of fun
ALSO IN MAY:
- Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton, a reboot of the classic H. Beam Piper novel Little Fuzzy (which the Fuzzy Nation download includes, with a narration from Peter Ganim) [my review]
- Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh, for which I’ll let the publisher summary speak: “What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America’s previously stable society apart, the “New Normal” is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.”
- A new audio edition of Anne Rice’s 1976 genre-redefining novel Interview with the Vampire narrated by Simon Vance (Random House Audio), along with similar treatment for sequels The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned
- Iain M. Banks’s 1988 novel, Consider Phlebas (St. Martins Press), which begins Banks’s Culture series. Hachette Audio produces this Peter Kenny narration, along with another Culture novel, The Player of Games.
- City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Hybrids by Whitley Strieber, alien invasion thriller.
- Stephen R. Donaldson’s October 2010 novel Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 3 (Putnam) comes off of the “Where is the Audiobook?” list courtesy of this Recorded Books production.
- Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney sees Gulf-hurricane-raised dead rise and the resulting zombie apocalypse
- Two volumes in the Harlan Ellison collection series The Voice from the Edge: The Deathbird & Other Stories (Volume 4) and Shatterday & Other Stories (Volume 5)
- Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion tells a zombie story from a existentially conflicted zombie’s point of view
- It must be zombie month, eh? Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon is another “small group of survivors tries to survive the zombiepocalypse” iteration for those who simply cannot get enough earwormed zombies
- You think I’m kidding? More zombies! The Infection by Craig DiLouie is narrated by one of my favorites, Peter Ganim; a virus wants to spread, and, well, zombies!
- Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia begins a new series for the Monster Hunter author, narrated by Bronson Pinchot
- Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez
- Non-genre alert! Doc: A Novel by narrated by
- Short: The Finding of Haldgren by Charles Willard Diffin (1932, Astounding Stories)
- Divergent is Verinica Roth’s much-anticipated YA debut concerning a dystopian Chicago
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (YA? YR?)
- Non-genre alert! Underworld by Don DeLillo: DeLillo’s 1997 novel finally comes to Audible courtesy Simon & Schuster Audio and narrator Richard Poe (2 credits, ouch!)
- The Hot Gate: Troy Rising, Book Three by narrated by
- The Throne of Fire: Kane Chronicles, Book 2 by narrated by Kevin R. Free, Katherine Kellgren
- Awakening: The Sweep Series, Book 5 by narrated by
SEEN BUT NOT HEARD: Unfortunately some books released this month did not come out in audio:
- Sensation (PM Press’s “Spectacular Fiction” series) and Starve Better (Apex Books, essay collection on writing) by Nick Mamatas, joining his May 2004 novel Move Under Ground on the Most Wanted List
- Mind Storm: A Strykers Syndicate Novel by K. M. Ruiz (Thomas Dunne Books) is described as “The first in an exciting new sci-fi series that’s being described as Blade Runner meets X-Men”. Discovered this one via Cybermage, along with The Deserter by Peadar Ó Guilín (David Fickling Books, UK) which would have been unexpected as UK-only releases are not exactly popping up on Audible with great frequency. Described as “Conan the Barbarian at loose in a Blade-Runnerish futuristic world on the verge of collapse.”
- The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam, Book One by Andrew P. Mayer (Pyr)
- Anthology: Eclipse 4: New Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books) includes original stories by Peter Beagle, Emma Bull, Andy Duncan, Elizabeth Hand, Gwyneth Jones, Kij Johnson, James Patrick Kelly, and Michael Swanwick (and more)
- Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick
- The Inheritance: And Other Stories by Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm
- World War Two Will Not Take Place by Bill James
- Zazen by Vanessa Veselka (Red Lemonade, May 22, 2011)
- The Order of the Scales by Stephen Deas (Gollanz, May 19)
- Stonewielder by Ian C. Esslemont (Tor, May 10)
- Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman (Orbit)
- Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Dutton Adult, May 12)
- The Grind Show by Philip Tucker (Kindle Edition – May 25, 2011)– Kindle eBook
- The Dark City by Catherine Fisher (update: available June 28: Relic Master: The Dark City, Book 1)
- I Know Not by James Daniel Ross (Dark Quest, May 31, 2011) — also in Kindle
Note: this post is back-dated from June 21, 2011, for sort order purposes.