First, the narrator for the audiobook gets a huge thumbs up. This isn't an easy book to read because the book's narrator is a non-native English speakFirst, the narrator for the audiobook gets a huge thumbs up. This isn't an easy book to read because the book's narrator is a non-native English speaker and he speaks without articles and with occasionally peculiar phrasing. The narrator managed this brilliantly and it came across as being directly told. I've never heard of Lloyd James before, but it's a narrator name that I'll definitely watch for in the future.
Second, how have I managed not to read this book before now? Published in 1966, the book has aged extremely well despite featuring a self-aware computer as a main character. Heinlein manages the technology here so well that it didn't feel dated even 50 years later. So, what is it? A retelling of the American Revolution except set on the moon and a century into the future. Or a political commentary on colonialism, freedom, libertarianism, and war. Or a story about a computer.
Third, the ending. My gosh, the ending. No spoilers here - go read the book. But Heinlein really got me. He certainly knows how to get off stage. Other writers should learn from this.
I'm so glad this turned out to be available from my library as an audiobook....more
I had a lot of fun listening to this book. It's best read as a satirical dystopia, not to be taken fully seriously, but the dark side hits right in thI had a lot of fun listening to this book. It's best read as a satirical dystopia, not to be taken fully seriously, but the dark side hits right in the gut. I loved the images of life-sized sex dolls/robots, the communities of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe impersonators (playing all roles from stage performer to nursing home entertainer to escort service). The Positron premise made little sense: a town is created with the idea that for one month half the town will be incarcerated in an upscale prison, then the next month, they'll switch with their "alternates." The idea is that this would guarantee full employment and reduce the amount of housing stock needed. So, a little bit of commentary on the prison industrial complex, but not enough to really grab me. None of the follow up questions were really explored -- instead, it's just a cover story for a dark corporate enterprise. But the prison side seemed like a strange appendage rather than a meaningful part of the enterprise.
Quibbles aside, I really enjoyed the book. And the narrators were excellent on the audiobook....more
I read and enjoyed The Windup Girl, so was excited to see that this book was just published. I liked this one even more than the other. The Water KnifI read and enjoyed The Windup Girl, so was excited to see that this book was just published. I liked this one even more than the other. The Water Knife is a dystopia that's pretty believable as it relies on minor climate change to cause major drought in the American southwest. Texas and New Mexico are full of refugees, Phoenix is dying, and other states are vying for control of the Colorado River and other water supplies. Bacigalupi manages to include characters from different backgrounds and different parts of his society and make them all mesh into his world.
The audiobook is well done and keeps the pacing strong. I enjoyed this and will definitely read other work by this author....more
The author sent me an electronic copy of this book for review.
The book is an impressive first novel. The author maintains excellent pacing throughoutThe author sent me an electronic copy of this book for review.
The book is an impressive first novel. The author maintains excellent pacing throughout and has created deep and realistic characters. The premise is interesting, if fraught with some niggling problems. In short, the world is one in which individuals are allowed to make two "amendments" to their lives to send themselves a message and go back and redo their lives from a specific moment. Lurking in the background but not fully described is a Big Brotherish Administration that controls the amendment process as well as certain other aspects of the society. There are some rules to the way it works that are revealed during the course of the story.
Throughout, I couldn't quite get past the feeling that everyone would wait until late in life (or at least quite a bit longer than the characters seemed to do) to reflect back and amend the most crucial moments. The author addresses this somewhat by creating social expectations that individuals will use their amendments for certain purposes (e.g., to correct accidents that take lives). Still, I never quite got past the sense that it would still make sense to wait to see how things played out much longer before jumping into an amendment.
Nonetheless, this niggling complaint didn't stop me from wanting to get back to the story as soon as possible. I liked these characters even if I found myself frequently impatient with them. I wanted to know more about their world and their lives.
The author's vocabulary is strong, though occasionally felt a bit stilted: "internally cursing my drab pyjamas and chastising puerile reaction." This is really a small criticism though; overall, the author has good command of language to tell a compelling story and make the writing interesting to read.
I would definitely read another book set in this universe or a sequel to this one. I'll be interested to see what else this author writes....more
I read this immediately after reading a completely different type of dystopia (The Water Knife). In Station Eleven, we encounter a much softer, post-tI read this immediately after reading a completely different type of dystopia (The Water Knife). In Station Eleven, we encounter a much softer, post-technology world. Here, a pandemic has quickly killed 99% of the world's human population. The survivors are working to continue and this book traces an optimistic set of survivors who form a traveling orchestra and Shakespeare company.
This book is as much a homage to the wonders of modern technology as it is a story about the collapse. The structure of this book is deftly handled and makes for a more enjoyable story than an unrelenting tale of the post-collapse society would. Also, by focusing mostly on the period a few years after the collapse rather than the first year or two, the author avoids falling into too much discussion of complete chaos and instead can focus on the rebuilding of society and communities.
This book is the Columbia, Missouri "One Read" for the library as well as a selection for my book club, so I'm looking forward to several opportunities to discuss this with others....more
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The reader did an excellent job and the world created by this book was wonderful. I'd already read the rI really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The reader did an excellent job and the world created by this book was wonderful. I'd already read the related short stories, so I had less confusion as I was dropped into the Kingdom of Thailand post-environmental collapse and control by calorie companies. I'd love to read another book set in this universe. Bacigalupi seems to truly like his characters even while none of them is wholly laudable. Highly recommended to dystopia or sci-fi readers. May be too techy to cross over to literary fiction audiences....more
Started reading this, then started listening to the audiobook of Lock In, then came back to this ebook and finished it. I'm very much enjoying the booStarted reading this, then started listening to the audiobook of Lock In, then came back to this ebook and finished it. I'm very much enjoying the book and found the extra information from this "novella" helpful for world-building. It gives short, first-person narratives from characters about the history of the (fictional) disease that is at the heart of the premise for the world created in Lock In. I stumbled upon Scalzi's writing earlier this year when I read and enjoyed Old Man's War. When I saw that he had a new book coming out, I preordered it on audible, which gave me the book with two different narrators - one male and one female. The choice to record it both ways is very interesting.
In any event, this is an interesting collection of information that should help whet appetites for the novel. I wouldn't read this as a standalone story, but it's not a bad way to get a taste for the world to decide whether to read the novel....more
I really enjoyed the world building in this book. The premise is a good one: a disease that causes a certain percentage of its victims to experience "I really enjoyed the world building in this book. The premise is a good one: a disease that causes a certain percentage of its victims to experience "lock in" where they have full consciousness but no ability to control their bodies. Because of the high profile nature of the disease, lots of money is dumped into R&D and technology is created to allow the sufferers to participate in a virtual reality and to interact with the physical world through "threeps" or robotic bodies. Scalzi does a great job exploring the social, political, and emotional ramifications of this premise. The actual plot of the book is a little thin, involving an FBI investigation and political intrigue. But the writing is so enjoyable and the world so interesting that I fully enjoyed the story.
I listened to the Wil Wheaton narration, but I also got a copy of the book narrated by Amber Benson and I think I'll listen to that one for the contrast of hearing the narrator as a female instead of as a male....more
I'm glad to have finished this trilogy, but I was hoping for much more from this book. The series ends neatly enough, and, for a series that had the pI'm glad to have finished this trilogy, but I was hoping for much more from this book. The series ends neatly enough, and, for a series that had the possibility to be quite pessimistic, with a good dose of optimism. But the ending also felt like a coward's choice by the author. Rather than choose something complex or ambiguous, the author went for the emotionally satisfying but ultimately simple answer. Nonetheless, overall the series was worth reading, most of the characters were interesting enough for me to care what happened to them, and the detailed description of the apocalypse was quite intriguing. I'll be interested to see what this author does with his new fame and readership....more
Diverting, but I couldn't get beyond the stupidness of the plot. Nothing about the society made any sense at all, which ultimately ruined the otherwisDiverting, but I couldn't get beyond the stupidness of the plot. Nothing about the society made any sense at all, which ultimately ruined the otherwise entertaining action and reasonably likeable characters. I could have done without the romance and with tremendously more thoughtful world-building. The book is often compared with The Hunger Games. That book suffered from a similar problem--why would the world be organized in this idiotic way--but at least there the paper-thin explanation is oppressive military might and power forced the districts into servitude/poverty. Here, we're supposed to believe these idiotic factions came about through some sort of democratic vote-like process designed to end previous wars/strife.
All that said, I may listen to the next book in the series if I have a long drive or travel day where I can't focus much attention on the book. This served that purpose yesterday when I had a sick child at home and a lot of household chores to do....more
An impressive follow up to Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1). It's nice to read a dystopia/post-apocalypse book that doesn't shy away from answering the how/whyAn impressive follow up to Wool Omnibus (Silo, #1). It's nice to read a dystopia/post-apocalypse book that doesn't shy away from answering the how/why questions about the created world. So often, authors cop out on these important questions and leave the history shrouded in darkness, which often feels like laziness on the world-building rather than appropriate literary technique. So, kudos to Howey for tackling this. The book nicely follows up on some of the unanswered questions and story arcs from the first book and has left me excited to complete the trilogy.
All that said, I didn't ever feel much for the main character (Donald) of Shift. His lasting love for his wife was referenced repeatedly, but no basis for it was ever really shown: she wasn't much of a character, didn't shine in his memories, and his feelings never rang true. In fact, Donald remained a mostly flat character for the whole book, which is too bad because so much more could have been done with him. The secondary storyline of Mission Jones was fantastic and worth reading even as a short story.
Loved this book. What an incredibly creative story. The author did a great job with pacing and tension to keep the plot moving while allowing characteLoved this book. What an incredibly creative story. The author did a great job with pacing and tension to keep the plot moving while allowing character development and slow reveal of the world he'd imagined. This is a post-apocalyptic dystopia, but one that is not without hope and optimism. His characters are flawed but complicated and he is able to account for some of their innocence through the underlying story of the society in which they live. Thanks to everyone for pointing me to this self-publishing breakout. Note: I saw paperback copies of this for sale in bookshops in Belfast, so this has truly become an international book!...more