Narrated in a pretty deadpan style by Elliott Gould. I would have preferred a narration that did a better job of distinguishing the characters' voices...moreNarrated in a pretty deadpan style by Elliott Gould. I would have preferred a narration that did a better job of distinguishing the characters' voices, but it worked OK.
It's racist (which I found especially off-putting at the beginning of the book) and sexist (which I expect from early hard-boiled-PI novels).
And the language is so, so beautiful. And most of the characters are smart, and clearly drawn, and their motivations make sense. And Chandler requires you to draw inferences and work at figuring out what's going on. I sometimes listen to audio books while doing other things, but I wasn't able to do that with this book because it's so information-dense.(less)
Kindred is f*ing brilliant, and really disturbing because it is about slavery and abusive relationships. It is also depressing because it's about unpl...moreKindred is f*ing brilliant, and really disturbing because it is about slavery and abusive relationships. It is also depressing because it's about unpleasant parts of US history. But that's not the whole story.
One might make the case that the complicated abusive relationship between Dana and Rufus represents for the long, complicated, abusive relationship between white and black people in the US. If so then Octavia Butler may be saying that there are deep inequalities that mean we can't understand each other, and that we are mutually interdependent for survival—but not forever.
One might also argue that the relationship stands for the relationship African-Americans have with their own past and history. Sometimes white people say "Slavery was over 150 years ago. Why can't you just let it go?" But perhaps Butler is saying that the history and ancestry of African-Americans are necessary to their survival and can’t be forgotten.
The relationship also has plenty to say about power dynamics between men and women.
The relationship isn't just metaphorical though, it's scarily realistic. Rufus isn’t just a symbol for white privilege. He is a carefully drawn person with a personality. Other characters are complex and react to their circumstances in a variety of specific ways. Butler is good at writing books with multiple complex, believable characters.
I found it interesting that Dana's relationship with her modern-day husband, Kevin, who is white and older than her, has very little in the way of problematic power or race dynamics. (Although they do have conversations about privilege, and in some cases it's clear that Kevin doesn't get things Dana wants him to understand, it doesn't cause a lot of resentment between them.) I can think of a number of reasons Butler might have chosen to write the book this way. Perhaps Butler wanted to focus in part on the improvement in race relations between then (pre-abolition) and her "now" (1970s). Perhaps she believed interracial relationships would come no longer to have difficult power dynamics due to racism in society.
There are also notes of hope. Several of the characters who have cross-racial interactions gradually move toward seeing at least some people of the other race as human—that is, similar enough to themselves to attempt communication. I imagine that Butler is saying there is a human urge to see other people as equal humans, and that if there’s enough interaction between people who start out as Other to each other, eventually Similar will start to infiltrate. But there are cultural and historical and personal reasons why, in a slave-owning society, no one on either side can fully replace Other with Similar.
There's a certain emotional detachment in both books, at the same time that Butler describes some horrific behavior and screwed up relationships. I'm not sure if the detachment I sense is due to the way the audiobook narrators chose to approach the works, or if I would have felt the same way if I read the books on paper. Butler's characters for the most part are survivors, whose response to suffering is to get up and go back to the work of surviving and at the same time following their dreams. So it feels as if some of the emotional hard stuff is diluted or buried in hard work. On the other hand, what this also means is that Butler anchors her stories very strongly in the work the characters do and therefore in day to day living.(less)
25 short stories originally written between 1950 and 1968. The collection was published in 1968.
Narrators are Bill Irwin, Maria Tucci, Dylan Baker, D...more25 short stories originally written between 1950 and 1968. The collection was published in 1968.
Narrators are Bill Irwin, Maria Tucci, Dylan Baker, David Strathairn, and Tony Roberts - one narrator per story. Some of the narrators are better than others. All are adequate.
The stories range from slice-of-life to science fiction, and the tone ranges from gentle compassion to savage satire. Unlike a lot of Vonnegut's later work, most of the stories have what might be considered "happy endings."
Some are sweetly romantic ("Who Am I This Time?"), some are haunting ("The Manned Missiles").
Some are trivial ("Harrison Bergeron") or don't seem to quite work ("All the King's Horses"). Some are annoyingly sexist ("Miss Temptation").
Some seem silly and fluffy at first but really give you a lot to chew on ("Unready to Wear"). Some make me ache wishing they were true ("Report on the Barnhouse Effect").
"The Lie" has some of the best descriptions of the culture of old money vs. new money that I've ever read.
Vonnegut's themes and concerns are evident throughout -- technology, class, war, overpopulation, communication and lack thereof, soul-destroying corporate culture, ordinary people's lives.
I like reading old science fiction to compare what was predicted to what has happened, and this collection offered plenty of material for that as well.(less)
AudioFile Earphones Award, Exceptional Audio Performance by Renee Joshua-Porter. Includes six short stories: "Drenched in Light," "The Conscience of t...moreAudioFile Earphones Award, Exceptional Audio Performance by Renee Joshua-Porter. Includes six short stories: "Drenched in Light," "The Conscience of the Court," "Muttsy," "The Gilded Six-Bits," John Redding Goes to Sea," and "Sweat." (less)
Narrated by Simon Vance. I found this book kind of depressing, and it was only after watching the BBC series that I understood why most people find it...moreNarrated by Simon Vance. I found this book kind of depressing, and it was only after watching the BBC series that I understood why most people find it funny. I don't know if that was a fault of the narrator or just my mood at the time.(less)
This is a well done audio production, narrated by Stephen Thorne, who does some of the voices in a way reminiscent of the BBC TV series of the same st...moreThis is a well done audio production, narrated by Stephen Thorne, who does some of the voices in a way reminiscent of the BBC TV series of the same story (which I saw before reading this, and I highly recommend).
However, when he is taking the part of the omniscient narrator, his voice is slightly mocking in a way that I find irritating. (The omniscient-narrator *is* taking a mocking attitude, I just didn't like the voice the reader chose.)(less)
This is currently the only complete, in-order collection of the Sherlock Holmes stories on audio that has a narrator I can stand. It consists of 9 vol...moreThis is currently the only complete, in-order collection of the Sherlock Holmes stories on audio that has a narrator I can stand. It consists of 9 volumes, 6-8 stories per volume. Note that the volume numbers do not correspond with the published collections (for example, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes appears half in Vol 3 and half in Vol 4, and Vol 4 also includes two stories from The Return of Sherlock Holmes).
Narrated by David Ian Davies. There are some quirks to the recording. The rhythm of the narration is oddly choppy, often without sufficient natural pauses. (I think this version was produced from another version with sound effects - the last story of volume 9 has the sound effects. Chopping out the sound effects could have chopped out the speech pauses.) Also, in some cases female-range voices are produced by speeding up the narration, but this was done inconsistently, so there are occasional sections where a female voice sounds like something out of Alvin & The Chipmunks. Finally, one can hear modern traffic noises in the background occasionally.
If you don't mind these oddities, it's a serviceable narration; Davies does a good job with multiple character voices. (less)
Mainly narrated by Simon Vance; some sections with full cast and ambient sound. I've read Dune several times but hearing it brings it alive in a new w...moreMainly narrated by Simon Vance; some sections with full cast and ambient sound. I've read Dune several times but hearing it brings it alive in a new way for me. Recommended if you don't mind the switching back and forth between Vance and the cast, and the ambient sound.(less)