Sam's Listening Report: November 2012

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Sam's Listening Report: November 2012

Posted on 2013-02-21 at 20:2 by Sam

After seven audiobooks and excellent listening in October, it was again seven audiobooks in November, with three audiobooks which ended up making it into my year-end further mentions for new audiobooks of new books (The Long Earth, Red Country, and Clockwork Angels), one of my favorite sf novels of the 2000s coming to audio (Building Harlequin’s Moon), some humor (Mogworld), some fictional history (The Mongoliad Book 2), and some mystery (Gone Girl).

The Long Earth: A Novel | [Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter] Red Country | [Joe Abercrombie] The Mongoliad: The Foreworld Saga, Book 2 | [Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo] Mogworld | [Yahtzee Croshaw] Clockwork Angels: The Novel | [Kevin J. Anderson]


Building Harlequin’s Moon by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, read by Tom Weiner for Blackstone Audio (review copy) — This is a book I was very interested in when it was originally published back in 2005, but it was another year before I finally picked it up. It quickly became one of my favorite science fiction novels, and remains one of my favorites of  the 2000s. Combine Larry Niven’s geo-engineering and orbital mechanics with Cooper’s humanism and futurism, add a few thousand years and you get a book with interesting technical and social issues with well-rendered and voice characters — and particularly strong female characters. When I saw that it was coming out in audio, I knew it was time for a re-read. [Full review link.]

The Long Earth: A Novel by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, read by Michael Fenton-Stevens for Harper Audio (review copy) — I’m completely of two minds on this audiobook. First, and this is not one of those minds but rather a comment, there isn’t quite the humor and wit as in Pratchett’s Discworld books, but then again this isn’t at all that kind of story. It’s a story that’s more earnest than that, not a send-up or pastiche of the kind of novel it pretends to be on the surface. [Full review link.]

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, read by Steven Pacey for Hachette Audio (review copy) — The third standalone novel in the world of Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy brings Pacey back as the voice of the series in the US. I’m pleased as punch that Pacey’s back, as much affection as I do have for Michael Page, it’s hard to detach a great narration from the story, and for me Pacey is simply the voice of Abercrombie’s epic fantasy world. [Full review was posted in the Release Week coverage of the US release.]

The Mongoliad: The Foreworld Saga, Book 2 by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo, read by Luke Daniels for Brilliance audio (review copy) — When I reviewed The Mongoliad, Book 1 back in my April 2012 listening report, I wrote highly of the multiple accents which Daniels deployed to voice this international band — well, bands — of characters. The same repertoire returns for book 2, but the sword and shield clashing excitement of book one takes a bit of a back seat to a more deliberate “middle” of political intrigue, both in terms of the Khan of Khans drinking problems, and the main new focus being the election of a new pope; also tensions build between the Shield Brethren and the Leventine order. We get our signature well-choreographed duel, and a hunt in Mongolia, but… overall it was a step back from the just-above-middle-ground of the first book.

Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw, read by Croshaw for Open Book Audio (review copy) — I narrowly missed meeting Croshaw at The Escapist Expo late last summer, but I did not miss hearing from multiple people how much I might enjoy Mogworld. For the most part, they were dead-on: a darkly funny sense of humor focused around one man’s search for permanent oblivion after being so rudely raised from the dead by a powerful necromancer; send-ups of various stock MMORPG elements like zones, respawning, economies, NPCs; and voiced enthusiastically by the sarcastic-even-if-he-tried-to-be-otherwise Croshaw, best known perhaps as the harsh, harsh, brutally harsh videogames critic behind Zero Punctuation. [Full review coming soon.]

Clockwork Angels: The Novel by Kevin J. Anderson, read by Neil Peart for Brilliance Audio (review copy) —I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. I had expected a competently and professionally written, perhaps gimmicky “tie in” novel based on Neil Peart’s lyrics for the Rush album for which the book is named, and from which it gains both its cover art and several of its characters and scenery (“The Anarchist”, etc.). What I got instead was an at times beautifully written book, though not quite to that level throughout, narrated with such a delightful aplomb by Peart that I really fell in love with this one. [Full review coming soon.]

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, read by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne for Random House Audio (library copy) — A lot of people really liked this one. By a lot of people I mean enough to make it a nearly permanent fixture near the top of the bestseller lists. For me I found it frustrating and irritating, for which I can only applaud the author for somehow making me care just enough to keep reading despite wanting to scream “Stop being so stupid! Gah!! I hate all these people!!!” most of the time. The first half spends a lot of time doing something which so very much frustrates me as a reader: I can tell the author/narrator is pulling on the marionette strings of author craft, deliberately hiding information, but with just enough mis/disinformation to keep you second guessing yourself just enough — but it builds to a pretty badass kick in the ass pivot at the midpoint of the novel. However from here I just couldn’t strain my credulity far enough for the dots to connect and the falling action to unfold as it did. Still, somehow a satisfying unsatisfying ending. Even a few months later I’m not 100% sure whether I’m glad I listened to the book or not.

In print I read Pizzula by David Foland and Jason Strutz — a truly bizarre little book of vampire pizza, lumberjack wolves, and full-page illustrations — and the new edition of Mark Danielewski’s The Fifty Year Sword which was really an interesting read. I’m sure there are layers (and layers beyond that) which went way over my head, for example reading very closely the use of different colored text for the jumbled deck-shuffle of “narrators” in concert with the unique artwork opposite each page, but when I finally got my eyes and brain to be able to just read the story (rather than keep … jutting … up … against … walls … of … formatting) I was pulled in and found myself very strangely affected by the book.

Whew! On to writing up some of those full reviews, and getting mini recaps in for December and January…

Posted in Sam's Monthly Listening Report | Tagged monthly listening report