Listening Report: February 2012

Quite a month in listening, with 8 audiobooks (up from six in January), but I really fell by the wayside in my print reading. A train trip to and from StellarCon (where I’m a guest, along with guest of honor Patrick Rothfuss and a long list of people much more awesome than me) this weekend should make for some dedicated reading time, when I hope to finally finish up James Maxey’s Greatshadow and get back to chapter 3 or so of Nancy Kress’s After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, and continue chipping away at that monstrous “to read” pile. The best listen this month goes to Little, Big: or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley, read by the author for Blackstone Audio. Anyway, making room for six of the eight covers:

  
  

HEARD:

  • Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2011) By Sara Gran Narrated by Carol Monda for HighBridge — hat tip to Chapel Hill Comics owner (and pro artist, with an alternate cover for Adventure Time #1 to his recent credit) Andy Neal, whose glowing review of this book on Goodreads added it to my “to read” list — Claire DeWitt is a detective on the cold trail of a man gone missing amidst Hurricane Katrina in post-flood New Orleans, following clues, her dreams, her intuition, etc. Nothing “explicitly” speculative here per se, and it isn’t an instant favorite for me by any means, but it had its points of interest. 3.5 to 4 stars (out of 5)
  • Mr g: A Novel about the Creation By Alan Lightman Narrated by Ray Porter for Blackstone Audio — I am glad I didn’t give up on this short audiobook, as it started a bit slow for me with some missteps on humor and the family dynamics of “Mr g” amidst the Void; however, once Mr g starts into creating physics, things get a bit more interesting, but it isn’t until Belhor shows up (a menacing, obviously Luciferian character) that things start to get more interesting. It’s through their discussions, and the examination of metaphysics and (though not fully to satisfaction) consciousness that the book comes more to life. Overall, though, it was fairly flat and not largely original for too much to come with the highest recommendation. Lightman’s Belhor (and Baphomet, Belhor’s “assistant”) is excellent, though, perfectly reasonable in a softly elegant, sinster way. 3 stars.
  • 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 — really interesting novel mixing fae, music, and the fictional Tufa people (inspired by the real world Melungeons), set in Appalachia and centering around Bronwyn, an injured Iraq War veteran and daughter of the Tufa, returned to recuperate. 4 stars.
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon By Saladin Ahmed Narrated by Phil Gigante for Brilliance Audio — I reviewed this here and at Audible.com, very welcome new voice in heroic fantasy — 4 to 4.5 stars
  • Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1 by Kevin Hearne, read by Luke Daniels for Brilliance Audio — short and fun, but not earth-shattering, beginning a series already at 3 books with number 4 and 5 on the way this year — 3 to 3.5 stars
  • Storm Front: The Dresden Files, Book 1 by Jim Butcher, read by James Marsters for Buzzy Multimedia — Book 1 in The Dresden Files — I wanted to get a primer on Marsters’s narration before his reading of The Greyfriar is released, and have heard quite a lot about Butcher’s Harry Dresden, wizard. I’m not well or widely enough read in urban fantasy to place this book into its context of 2000, but while it was good enough for what it did (introduce Dresden in about eight hours of audio) I was a little underwhelmed. Dresden as a character was OK, but the principal memorable (and it was quite good) scene was his encounter with a vampire, and the characterization and description of Butcher’s vampire here was quite interesting. (Sadly the overall confrontation in the scene felt a little off, as did most of the confrontations in the novel.) I’m not sure if I’ll jump into more of this series, but I’m glad to have a slightly better idea of why the series (and genre) is so popular and enjoyed. 3 to 3.5 stars.
  • Little, Big: or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley, read by the author for Blackstone Audio (2011) — Crowley’s 1981 novel, brought to just a wonderful, beautiful life by the author; nearly every sentence is a delight of language, a tone poem of construction, and essential; while the narration is not 110% perfect from a completely technical perspective (a very, very few bits off the 100% mark), it captures perfectly the essence of the novel; just a joy of an audiobook, even though I still am very confused about the ending after listening to it three times. (Throughout, I re-listened to passages and whole chapters, the language was so wonderful.) 4.5 to 5 stars.
  • Exogene: The Subterrene Trilogy, Book 2 by T.C. McCarthy, read by Bahni Turpin for Blackstone Audio — reviewed here and at Audible, a more traditional military sf novel than was Germline, but with more depth of character, with a wider, deeper scope. 4 stars.

Currently listening to: To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon, read by Stefan Rudnicki for Blackstone Audio.

REGRETS: I couldn’t find time for…

MOST MISSING: Not that I had extra time, but…
  • Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell — coming March 20 from Audible Frontiers
  • Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper — debut fantasy novel out to quite a fanfare of praise in the UK last year, and in audio at Audible UK earlier this year, this novel was published in print and e-book in the US by Tor on Feb 28, but no US audiobook… yet?
  • The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit, Feb 21, 2012) — “ Vaudeville: mad, mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferocious showmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions” — rumour has it that this is coming in audio soon
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace — it had been listed as “coming soon” but it disappeared without a trace
  • The Fourth Wall by Walter Jon Williams (Orbit, Feb 13, 2012) — third in a series, but looks very interesting
  • When We Were Executioners by J. M. McDermott (Night Shade Books,Feb 14, 2012) — sequel to 2011’s Never Knew Another which is near the top of my most wanted list
  • The Mirage: A Novel by Matt Ruff (Harper, Feb 7, 2012) — “11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers. The United Arab States declares a War on Terror.”
  • The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett (Feb 4, 2012) — no audio news
  • Anthology: Robots: The Recent A.I. edited by Rich Horton and Sean Wallace, with stories by Rachel Swirsky, Elizabeth Bear, Aliette De Bodard, Catherynne M. Valente, and Cory Doctorow (Prime, Feb 7, 2012) — table of contents — no audio news
  • Anthology: Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom edited by John Joseph Adams, with stories by Peter S. Beagle, Jonathan Maberry, Catherynne M. Valente and Tobias S. Buckell (Feb 7, 2012) — no audio news
  • Non-Fiction: Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier (Feb 21, Wiley, John & Sons) — no audio news for this rumination on trust and security which was a recent Big Idea piece on Scalzi’s Whatever blog
MARCH PLANS:
  • A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, read by Rosalyn Landor for Blackstone Audio (2008) — review copy, already have it loaded up for next
  • The Rook: A Novel by Daniel O’Malley, read by Susan Duerden for Hachette Audio (Dreamscape) — January 2012 print release, March 1 audiobook release
  • The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko (new in February)
  • Codex by Lev Grossman (new in February)
  • Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell (coming in March)
  • Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron, read by the author for Candlemark & Gleam — waiting… waiting… quite patiently…
  • RealmShift by Alan Baxter — coming soon (for a bit now) from ACX
  • YR/Short: The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure, read by Nicola Barber for Brilliance Audio — I’m looking forward to listening to this one with my kids, to whom I’ve told this story of fooling the world with paper fairies (new in March)

And if there’s time for more:

  • Any Day Now: A Novel by Terry Bisson (Overlook, Mar 1, 2012) — alternate history going from Kerouac and The Beats forward… I just learned about this book and am very excited to read it — no audio news
  • The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc, Mar 6, 2012) — no audio news
  • Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (DAW, Mar 6) — no audio news
  • The Steel Seraglio by Mike Carey, Linda Carey, Louise Carey and Nimit Malavia (Chizine, Mar 13, 2012) — no audio news
  • Hide Me Among the Graves: A Novel by Tim Powers (Mar 13, 2012) — along with 2011 audiobook The Stress of Her Regard which I just picked up in Audible’s 2-for-1 sale
  • Chrysanthe by Yves Meynard (Tor, Mar 13, 2012) — no audio news
  • YA/YR: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina, read by Cristina Panfilio for Candlewick on Brilliance Audio (Candlewick, March 13)
  • Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (Knopf, Mar 20, 2012) — no audio news for this new novel from the author of The Gone-Away World
  • The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matías Guili by Natsuki Ikezawa (Haikasoru, Mar 20, 2012) — more info at Words Without Borders
  • Time and Robbery, a novel by Rebecca Ore (Aqueduct, 31 March 2012) — no audio news
  • Children No More by Mark L. Van Name — this novel was published in print in 2010 by Baen, along with the previous novels in Van Name’s Jon & Lobo series, are coming from Audible in March in the run-up to the new book in May
  • The Neverending Story By Michael Ende Read By Gerard Doyle for Tantor Audio (March 2012, originally published many years ago)
  • Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., read by Tom Weiner for Blackstone Audio (2011)
  • Into the Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, read by Benjamin L. Darcie — self-published in 2011, picked up by Amazon.com’s 47North (new in March)
  • The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Greg Bear, and Joseph Brassey, read by Luke Daniels for Brilliance Audio — another Amazon.com 47North title coming to Amazon-owned Brilliance Audio (new in April)
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