The Mongoliad Book Two
By Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Mark Teppo, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo, and Nicole Galland; Narrated by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 12.5 hours
Themes: / mongoliad / martial arts / fantasy / monks / conquests / Mongols /
In the aftermath of the Mongolian invasion of 1241, beleaguered Christians struggle with the presence of a violent horde and a world turned upside down. Apocalyptic fever sweeps through Europe, infecting even the most rational individuals, leaving all to wonder if they are seeing the end times — or an hour when new heroes will emerge from the ruins of cataclysmic defeat. An order of warrior monks, the Shield-Brethren, refuses to yield, plotting to overthrow the invaders despite insurmountable odds. Father Rodrigo Bendrito receives a prophecy from God and believes it’s his mission to deliver the message to Rome. Along with the hunter Ferenc, orphan Ocyrhoe, healer Raphael, and alchemist Yasper, Rodrigo sets out to reclaim Europe. But to save Christendom, someone must slay the fierce Khan of Khans. Brimming with intrigue and colorful characters, The Mongoliad: Book Two is a riveting, expertly rendered tale about the will to survive.
Much like The Mongoliad: Book One, The Mongoliad: Book Two tells a myriad of parallel stories, all centered around the Mongol conquests in medieval Europe. There isn’t much that I can say about this book, Book Two, that I didn’t say in my review of Book One.
This book continues most of the plot lines opened in Book One, and adds a couple more. I suppose/suspect that each different author wrote a different parallel story. I’m not sure that a book that is the overall length of the trilogy (the first two books are about 13 hours long each, the third is about 22 hours long) really needs as many parallel stories as the books seem to have–and that’s before I’ve started Book Three, which may add more stories. It’s like reading a story with as many parallel plot lines as The Wheel of Time series or the A Song of Ice and Fire series but with a fraction of the total page count. This makes it confusing to keep track of story progress (overall) and each of the characters. This is also made more confusing by the odd names used. As I wrote in my review of Book One, I suspect that this would be easier to read in print, or at least with a wiki of a cast of characters. I’m amazed that I can’t seem to find one online.
As with Book One, the book didn’t come to any conclusion, it just ended. At least this one didn’t end in the middle of a heated battle. Oddly, Book Two didn’t pick up exactly where Book One left off. This book started with a new plot line, one with a warrior traveling with a severely injured priest to Rome. I spent a good amount of time when I started Book Two listening and re-listening to the first part; I was trying to jog my memory to remember the plot line from Book One. It took me awhile to realize that the story was brand new for Book Two. The story lines so far seem to be:
- The brother knights on their quest to defeat Ogedai (spelling?) Kahn; they have sustained some losses but also have picked up a few extra travelers in their party, including a warrior woman. They also have a brother with them who has visions; he had one in Book One which we saw the outcome of in Book Two. He had another vision in Book Two, which I expect we’ll see the resolution of in Book One.
- The remaining brother knights trying to distract the Kahn’s brother and his traveling circus of fighters; these guys seem to be trying to form a rebellion from within the circus. Andreas is helping to lead this rebellion with the two most prevalent Mongol fighters in the circus.
- Ogedai Kahn’s point of view, where he is now under attack by the Chinese.
- GonSuk, an adviser/guard to Ogedai Kahn (as well as some of his fellow advisers/guards who are with and without him).
- The Levonian (spelling?) knights, who seem to be out to try to re-gain status in the world. They seem to be in conflict with the Rose Knights (the brother knights on the quest). Their role is not exactly clear yet, but it seems that they have ties to the church. This was a new story line for Book Two.
- The cardinals in Rome who are split into two factions for the election of the next Pope. This was a new story line for Book Two and it’s not exactly clear the differences between the factions.
- A wandering warrior and a young warrior girl (one similar to the warrior woman with the Rose Knights, though this young girl is still in training), who have been sent on a quest by one of the cardinals; the cardinal who gave them the quest to pass a message was killed. This was also a new story line for Book Two.
As much of a downer as this review seems, I’m still intrigued. I don’t get it, as this defies most of my typical “rules” for books. This time, I’m going to move right into Book Three, instead of reading a few books in between. Book Three is almost twice as long as Book One or Book Two. I enjoy this world, even though it seems like there are too many story lines and too much going on…with confusing characters. I do think that this world is better-suited to the prequels and the “Side Quest” books. I’ve already read two of the prequels (and have the other one, Seer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, ready to read), and have three of the Side Quests ready to read once I’m done with the main story. Stay tuned for my review of Book Three, which will include an overall review of the main story line of the “series.”
Posted by terpkristin.
The Mongoliad: Book One (Foreworld Saga #1)
By Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Erik Bear, Mark Teppo, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo, Nicole Galland; Narrated by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 13.25 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Note: I received this audiobook as a complete package with a prequel, Sinner, included. This review only covers The Mongoliad: Book One, as I reviewed Sinner: A Prequel to the Mongoliad separately.
Themes: / mongoliad / martial arts / fantasy /
Fusing historical events with a gripping fictional narrative, this first book in the Mongoliad trilogy reveals a secret history of Europe in the thirteenth century. As the Mongols swept across Asia and were poised to invade Europe in 1241, a small band of warriors, inheritors of an ancient secret tradition, conceived a desperate plan to stop the attack. They must kill the Khan of Khans; if they fail, all of Christendom will be destroyed. In the late nineteenth century a mysterious group of English martial arts aficionados provided Sir Richard F. Burton, well-known expert on exotic languages and historical swordsmanship, a collection of long-lost manuscripts to translate — the lost chronicles of this desperate fight to save Europe. Burton’s translations were lost, until a team of amateur archaeologists discovered them in the ruins of a mansion in Trieste. From the translations and from the original source material, the epic tale of The Mongoliad was recreated.
The Mongoliad: Book One is a different sort of book. It pretty much violated all of my typical “rules” for a book, and I still find myself wanting to read on, to find out what happens in The Mongoliad: Book Two. I’m not sure the book is really a 3-star book, but I think it’s unfair to rate a book 2 stars but say that I want to know what happens next.
For those who don’t know, “The Mongoliad” was a bit of a “multimedia experiment” started by Neal Stephenson and some of his science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction friends. The end product, the volumes in the main story as well as the side stories, was a collaborative effort by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, and others. Originally published on the web (though the site seems to be more or less inactive now, with the authors stating that the published works are the preferred versions), it was originally intended to be a joining of authors and various media types for different forms of story-telling. Though it seems to often be sold/pitched as a fantasy novel, the story is much more historical fiction with some fantastical elements than pure fantasy. While that may frustrate some, it was just fine for me; I loved The Baroque Cycle, after all. The story weaves fictional tales using actual events from the Mongol invasion of Europe.
The Mongoliad: Book One is comprised with a few parallel story lines. Set in the Middle Ages, the two primary story lines are that of a group of knights on a quest (including Raphael, who we met in Sinner: A Prequel to the Mongoliad) and that of an adviser/guard to a Mongol Kahn. Through these “main” story lines, there are some side-stories in the novel, including some flashbacks as well as a plotline surrounding some of the brother-knights who are not on the quest but are left to keep the Mongol invaders “occupied” (including Andreas, who we also met in Sinner: A Prequel to the Mongoliad. The fact that I’m describing this so poorly is a testament to the first major issue I had with the book, an issue that is probably only an issue with the audio version: there are a lot of names, and a lot of names that sound the same…so it can be extremely confusing to keep them all straight when listening. The second major issue I have with the book is related, that because the stories go back and forth, it can be easy to get confused as to who is who when switching between stories, especially if it’s been a day (or more) since last listening. Luke Daniels, the narrator, did a good job with using different voices for each of the characters. But if you couldn’t remember which one was the adviser and which was the slave, then the voices didn’t help much. One other note on the narration: Luke Daniels is a good narrator, one who adds to the story without adding so much that it’s distracting. That said, in addition to the confusing names, there are also flashbacks and stuff in the story, and it was hard to figure out when the story was a flashback and when it was just moving on. I suspect a print edition may have been more obvious.
While I’m on the topic of “confusing characters,” another major issue I had with the book was that it felt like it was in desperate need of an editor. This may be a factor of “too many cooks in the kitchen” or maybe it was just the contribution from each author wanting to ensure the setup for the other authors was clear…or maybe it just needed more editing. It’s not the first of Neal Stephenson’s books I’ve said this about (*cough* Anathem *cough* Reamde *cough*). Interesting plot-relevant sections would be bogged down with–or worse, broken up by–seemingly interminable character- and world-building sections. I don’t mind world- and character-building, but I felt like it could have been done much more organically than it was done in this book. Here, it was either story or it was non-story world/character setup. It would have been much more fulfilling to learn about a feature in a town by seeing a character interact with it instead of a half chapter describing the looks of the buildings. Also, this was a book heavy on battle descriptions…descriptions that didn’t really matter to the overall plot/story arc except to say “the good guys won” or “the bad guys were defeated, but not without good guy casualties.”
This leads me to the final major issue I had with the book: it didn’t end so much as stop. Not only does it end in the middle of a fairly interesting scene, but none of the story lines are wrapped up; they are all left hanging. I hope that before I go onto The Mongoliad: Book Two, I can find a good synopsis online or a cheat-sheet to remind me of who was who and what happened, since I’m going to be listening to a (very different) book before I move onto the next book…and that’s the funny thing. I’m definitely going to listen to the next book (and probably the third book). I like the characters. I want to see if the knights will be able to complete their quest (if true history is any guide, I suspect they will), and how some of the side-quests turn out. I care about the adviser to the Kahn; he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, even if the guy he’s serving isn’t a great leader. I would like to see how some of the mystical/spiritual elements play out in the actual story. So, despite my significant frustrations, possibly because I do really like historical fiction, I’m going to continue with the series. I’m not sure this book is for everyone. I’m not sure that audiobook is the best way to consume the books. But despite its flaws, I actually want to know what happens next, so onward I go…
Posted by terpkristin.
The SFFaudio Podcast #213 – Scott, Jesse, and Tamahome talk about the Audible.com audiobook The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age by Stanisław Lem
Talked about on today’s show:
reality shows, Duck Dynasty, about words, puns, rhyming, nothing, negative, was Lem a robot?, modern or timeless?, H.G. Wells, full of great ideas, fables, fairy tales, The Brothers Grimm, royalty,
“Have it compose a poem- a poem about a haircut! But lofty, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter S!!” …
Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Some savage, spectacular suicide.”
shooting an arrow at a barn, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Robert Sheckley, robots, the Google Doodle tribute to Stanisław Lem, a metaphor for our reality, the Wikipedia entry on Fables, Aesop’s Fables, Eric S. Rabkin, Scott is interested in Lem, Karol Wojtyła (aka Pope John Paul II), Poland, a small interesting country, Memoirs Found In A Bathtub, Audible’s audiobook, why did Jenny “Lem” this Lem?, Fox is not necessarily always the same fox, distant past? distant future?, “mostly harmless” palefaces, Princess Crystal, everybody’s a robot, a suitable suitor,
“Your Highness, my name is Myamlak and I crave nought else but to couple with you
in a manner that is liquid, pulpy, doughy and spongy, in accordance with the customs of
my people. I purposely permitted myself to be captured by the pirate, and requested him
to sell me to this portly trader, as I knew the latter was headed for your kingdom. And I
am exceeding grateful to his laminated person for conveying me hither, for I am as full of
love for you as a swamp is full of scum.”
The princess was amazed, for truly, he spoke in paleface fashion, and she said:
“Tell me, you who call yourself Myamlak the paleface, what do your brothers do
during the day?”
“O Princess,” said Ferrix, “in the morning they wet themselves in clear water, pouring
it upon their limbs as well as into their interiors, for this affords them pleasure.
they walk to and fro in a fluid and undulating way, and they slush, and they
slurp, and when anything grieves them, they palpitate, and salty water streams from
their eyes, and when anything cheers them, they palpitate and hiccup, but their eyes
remain relatively dry. And we call the wet palpitating weeping, and the dry—laughter.”
“If it is as you say,” said the princess, “and you share your brothers’ enthusiasm for
water, I will have you thrown into my lake, that you may enjoy it to your fill, and also I
will have them weigh your legs with lead, to keep you from bobbing up …”
“Your Majesty,” replied Ferrix as the sage had taught him, “if you do this, I must
perish, for though there is water within us, it cannot be immediately outside us for longer
than a minute or two, otherwise we recite the words ‘blub, blub, blub,’ which signifies our
last farewell to life.”
“But tell me, Myamlak,” asked the princess, “how do you furnish yourself with the
energy to walk to and fro, to squish and to slurp, to shake and to sway?”
“Princess,” replied Ferrix, “there, where I dwell, are other palefaces besides the
hairless variety, palefaces that travel predominantly on all fours. These we perforate until
they expire, and we steam and bake their remains, and chop and slice, after which we
incorporate their corporeality into our own. We know three hundred and seventy-six
of murdering, twenty-eight thousand five hundred and ninety-seven
distinct methods of preparing the corpses, and the stuffing of those bodies into our bodies
(through an aperture, called the mouth) provides us with no end of enjoyment.
the art of the preparation of corpses is more esteemed among us than astronautics and is
termed gastronautics, or gastronomy—which, however, has nothing to do with
“Does this then mean that you play at being cemeteries, making of yourselves the
very coffins that hold your four-legged brethren?”
the poet robot,
Trurl adjusted, modulated, expostulated,
disconnected, ran checks, reconnected, reset, did everything he could think of, and the
machine presented him with a poem that made him thank heaven Klapaucius wasn’t
there to laugh—imagine, simulating the whole Universe
from scratch, not to mention
Civilization in every particular, and to end up with such dreadful doggerel! Trurl put in six
cliche filters, but they snapped like matches; he had to make them out of pure corundum
steel. This seemed to work, so he jacked the semanticity up all the way, plugged in an
alternating rhyme generator—which nearly ruined everything, since the machine
resolved to become a missionary among destitute tribes on far-flung planets. But at the
very last minute, just as he was ready to give up and take a hammer to it, Trurl was
struck by an inspiration; tossing out all the logic circuits, he replaced them with
self-regulating egocentripetal narcissistors. The machine simpered a little, whimpered a
little, laughed bitterly, complained of an awful pain on its third floor, said that in general it
was fed up, though, life was beautiful but men were such beasts and how sorry they’d all
be when it was dead and gone. Then it asked for pen and paper. Trurl sighed with relief,
switched it off and went to bed.
Men are such beasts but we’ll be sad when they’re gone, the paperbook, kudos to narrator Scott Aiello, satire of something, Mandrillion the Greatest, ruler of the Multitudians, the perfect advisor, fantasy with Science Fiction language, lawyer soup, Escape Pod, Peter Swirski, A Stanislaw Lem Reader, reviews, people who review Lem, Lem = genius, sitting in awe, “Imagine a mixture of Borges, Calvino, Saint-Exupéry, Pynchon, Douglas Adams, Samuel Beckett, L. Frank Baum, Dr. Seuss, Lewis Caroll, and perhaps a little Philip K. Dick. That’s what this is like, sort of.”, complete impatience with reading “another one of these or another one of those”, A Perfect Vacuum, a big show-off, the ideas per story quotient, Gene Wolfe, Jorge Luis Borges, meta, overwhelming wordplay, digressions aplenty, format and rules, classic Hard SF, the hyperdrive handwaviumed away, all of language is handwavium, Sodium stars with an N, we think when we’ve named something we’ve understood it, make sense out of nonsense, stardust into toilet seats:
Feeling dismay rather
than disappointment at this neglect, I immediately sat down and wrote The Scourge of
Reason, two volumes, in which I showed that each civilization may choose one of two
roads to travel, that is, either fret itself to death, or pet itself to death. And in the course
of doing one or the other, it eats its way into the Universe, turning cinders and flinders of
stars into toilet seats, pegs, gears, cigarette holders and pillowcases, and it does this
because, unable to fathom the Universe, it seeks to change that Fathomlessness into
Something Fathomable, and will not stop until the nebulae and planets have been
processed to cradles, chamber pots and bombs, all in the name of Sublime
Order, for only a Universe with pavement, plumbing, labels and catalogues is, in its sight, acceptable
and wholly respectable.
the are no rules in The Cyberiad, owookiee’s 1 star review of The Cyberiad, a Droopy cartoon as directed by Tex Avery, The Perfect Imitation adapted, saggy biologicals, Daniel Mróz’ illustrations, Tobias Buckell’s blog post about The Fate Of Today’s Book Bloggers, the way Luke Burrage reviews books, a constructed object vs. a piece of art, conversations between writers, how books should be talked about, the SFSignal new releases posts, zombie novels, you’re reading the books wrong, you should read by author, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, Fred Himebaugh (@Fredosphere), Twitter fight!, looking for reasons not to read books, Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert, if a book sucks you usually stop reading that author entirely, Neal Stephenson, positive that tell you nothing about why it’s good, wandering through the woods eating rocks and bark, moods, Star Wars fans, get meta, reviewing novels vs. short stories, in the context, negative reviews tell you a lot more about a book than positive reviews, this book has too much science, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, panspermia and ancient astronauts, the finite and the infinite, iTunes U, characters on Battlestar Galactica are always confronted the question “what is human?”, synthesis, the enemy is the ally, the enemy is indistinguishable from one’s self, a space fable, Caprica,
Sumerian Aramaic Sanskrit and Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Firefly, a gift of kindness, Porco Rosso, Hayao Miyazaki, what is IT Tam?
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny’s list of recent arrivals,
Into The Void: Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi by Tim Lebbon, Seak (Bryce L.) has reviewed Star Wars, Invincible (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) by Jack Campbell, Steve Gibson likes it, Swarm (Star Force Series #1) and Extinction (Star Force Series #2) by B.V. Larson, maybe Terpkristin will do it, Nosferatu (Area 51) by Bob Mayer (or Robert Doherty?), World War Z: The Complete Edition, An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, more diverse narrators, SFF Audio review of original edition in 2007, “We Are The World”, Titanium Rain: Episode One by Josh Finney (graphic novel) and Kat Rocha (adaptation) – starring full cast (motion comic trailer), Fast Times at Fairmont High by Vernor Vinge, hey that’s where Rainbows End came from, |OUR READALONG OF RAINBOWS END|, Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson, Jeremy’s interview on Sfsignal, it’s like Michael Crichton, The Far Time Incident by Neve Masklakovic, Mary Kowal blogs about it, we think it’s first written in English, Finch (Ambergris #3) by Jeff Vandermeer, (I read a summary from Dan Schwent’s review on Goodreads), ambergris is a solid waxy substance from sperm whales, (this video is why I said ambergris came from a whale’s butt), Widow’s Web (Elemental Assassin #7) by Jennifer Estep, spider-woman, Through the Door (The Thin Veil #1) by Jodi McIsaac, “this one’s in the woods”, a Freakonomics podcast about names, The Exiled Blade (The Assassini #3) by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Da Vinci’s Demons gets the animals wrong, What’s a macaw?, Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #3) by Steven Erikson, it’s a big one at 44 hours, The God Patent by Ransom Stephens is science fiction programmers, Neal Stephenson gets more fiction with science like he asked for, A Maze Of Death, gelatinous cube-shaped beings, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, “get me a young Jack Nicholson”, Deus Irae (with Roger Zelazny), a play on “Dies Irae“, Dr. Futurity, Galactic Pot-Healer |OUR READALONG|, and Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick, giant aliens, outside sff, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (narrator too), Pollan on Colbert, kimchi is Korean fermented vegetables, Safe Journey: Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls by Julia Cameron, books are Jesse’s drug, she-crab soup, male vs female crab, Jenny’s accent talent, Consequences (Stone Barrington #26!) by Stuart Woods, a male Jacqueline Suzanne, Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick is historical non-fiction, new Barry Malzberg audio, most known for Enemy Mine, hermaphrodite, Robert Aspirin, comic fantasies, The Drought (The Burning World) by J.G. Ballard, “what the hell?”, readalong?, Crash book and movie, Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell on Downpour, is YA usually first person?, Why We Read Fiction by Lisa Zunshine, Jenny has already read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, I’m waiting for Joe Hill’s Nos4a2, “do you know who I am??”
Posted by Tamahome
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Oz Reimagined, Orson Scott Card, John Joseph Adams, Marissa Vu, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination, Daniel H. Wilson, Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Scott loves lists!!, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, the cruel god, about Science Fiction, mad scientists, steampunk, urban fantasy, superheroes, supervillians, Lex Luthor, Infinivox, Steampunk Specs, Cherie Preist, Cat Rambo, Margaret Ronald, Sean McMullen, do stage actors make the best narrators?, themed anthologies, Extinction Point (Book 1) by Paul Anthony Jones, Emily Beresford, Chuck Wendig, Mockingbird, Blackbird, post-apocalyptic novels, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Six Heirs (The Secret of Ji) by Pierre Grimbert, “Les editions Mnemos”, Bolinda Audio, the distorting effect of podcasts, are audiobooks taking over reading?, Luke Burrage, busy lifestyles, Gone Girl, Beautiful Ruins, archaeologist werewolf vampire oracles, “being a librarian is awesome”, is being a paramedic fun? Or is it full of paperwork?, Bones, forensic anthropology, Kathy Reichs, sorry no time traveling, high fantasy (aka epic fantasy), The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, The Worm Ouroboros, Neil Gaiman, the Neverwhere BBC audio drama, the TV show, the audiobook, Neverwhere as an allegory of homelessness, urban fantasy, Neil Gaiman can do no wrong, “I accept that”, Harry Potter is not high fantasy, Tolkienesque, George R.R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Deadhouse Gates (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson, Malazan is hot on GoodReads, Terpkristin, Mongoliad Book 3, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Copper Moo, comic crossovers, The Beast of Calatrava (A Foreworld SideQuest, Mongoliad) by Mark Teppo, Area 51: The Truth by Bob Mayer, Casey, Zero Dark Thirty, torturefest, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Among Others by Jo Walton, Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman, Cornish accents please, Jumper by Steven Gould, Jumper vs. Looper, Reflex by Steven Gould, The Stars My Destination, teleportation, Impulse by Steven Gould, snowboarding, Sarah vs. Bryce, Angelopolis (Angelology #2) by Danielle Trussoni, Penguin Audio, Fabergé eggs, The Da Vinci Code, nightmare car trips, nightmare cruises, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, stolkholm syndrome, Seth Grahame-Smith, zombies, Redemption Alley (Jill Kismet Series) by Lilith Saintcrow, The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson, Spider Robinson is the humane hippie Heinleinian, theme park fantasy, the Callahan’s series, fascistic junky pro-war movies are ameliorated by reading Robinson, Heinlein and the sexual revolution, Michael Flynn, Falling Stars (Firestar Saga #4) by Michael Flynn, Footfall, the Russian meteor, what would have happened if it had happened over Ohio, instead of Siberia, Dan Carlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, suspension of habeas corpus, an external vs an autoimmune threat, Farside by Ben Bova, Stefan Rudnicki, soap opera or space opera?, archaic characters, vintage SF, Jack Williamson, Omni magazine, Aftermath (Supernova Alpha Series #1) by Charles Sheffield, Black Feathers (The Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D’Lacey, Simon Vance, futuristic fantasy?, apocalyptic fantasy?, History Vikings, Jenny is 1/4 viking, Steen Hansen, the quasi historical saga dude, The Tudors, The Borgias, The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh, Ireland, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer, “real science fiction”, technothriller, Red Mars Blues, Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter, Connie Willis, steampunk, Tim Powers, The Age Atomic (sequel to Empire State) by Adam Christopher, Phil Gigante, Seven Wonders, superhero noir, intricately beautiful, The Stainless Steel Rat, Phil Gigante is the new narrator of Galactic Pot-Healer, Julie Davis, Robert Sheckley, suicidal characters, a comedic version of Neuromancer with the Wintermute role being played by Cthulhu, Tor, Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., A Natural History Of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, Naomi Novik, Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper, The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, Finland, Tam books vs. Jenny books, The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide by Gina McKinnon, 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss, Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, Dreamscape Media, Toronto, conjoined twins, Brown Girl In The Ring, Midnight Robber, mojo vs. voodoo, Karen Lord, Cat Valente style fantasy, The White Woman On The Green Bicycle, Inherit The Stars by James P. Hogan, “a shimmering arpeggio”, Downpour’s new pricing is $12.99 per month, DRM FREE audiobooks are awesome, Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer, LibriVox, Gutenberg.org, Robert E. Howard’s Conan, The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard, The Hour Of The Dragon by Robert E. Howard, Mark Nelson, Bill Hollweg, what would a Robert J. Sawyer Conan story look like?
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer
By Neal Stephenson; read by Jennifer Wiltsie
16 compact discs; Approx. 19 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Nanotechnology / Computer Programming / Victorian Culture / Cyberpunk /
Editor’s Note: This edition is the same recording that was released in 2001, but it has been repackaged and re-released. Back in 2003, Scott reviewed The Diamond Age after listening to it on cassette tape.
Publisher Summary: Set in twenty-first-century Shanghai, The Diamond Age is the story of what happens when a state-of-the-art interactive device falls into the hands of a street urchin named Nell. Her life — and the entire future of humanity — is about to be decoded and reprogrammed.…
Review: This was my second listen of the audio version narrated by Jennifer Wiltsie, which I enjoyed more thoroughly than the first time. Perhaps the main reason for this was that I happened to listen to Oliver Twist in between and discovered that Neal Stephenson had written a wonderful homage to Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, unbeknownst to me. That is not to say that reading Oliver Twist is a requirement for liking this book, but that it is a great way to fully appreciate the author’s style in this story, which was somewhat foreign to me at first. The Diamond Age is the sort of book that has the amusing ability to make me feel both more and less intelligent than I really am. Stephenson has a style of genre bending all his own that I like to think of as Neal-punk. At times he’ll mix it with some Dickensian dialogue that makes perfect sense to me. Other times his writing flies right over my head and convinces me that I’d need a significant amount of time and effort doing research in order to get his meaning, which is okay with me. It all lends itself to the sort of layered writing that bears up well to multiple readings, getting more and more understanding and appreciation each time. That is not so say that it requires a re-read in order to enjoy, it just helped me out quite a bit. I also happen to be an avid re-reader.
The characters in this book are diverse, interesting, often funny, and easy to sympathize with, especially Nell. I would mostly recommend this to people who enjoy an esoteric story that gives you a lot of food for thought. Neal Stephenson has a bit of a reputation for writing not-so-great endings. I don’t think The Diamond Age has a cut and dried conclusion, leaving room for the listener’s own imagination to wonder about and fill in some details. I can see how this may be dissatisfying to some, but I rather like a story that leaves me thinking about it afterwards. Jennifer Wiltsie did an excellent job with the narration, smoothly going from one character’s voice to another and delivering some lovely Victorian dialogue flawlessly to my American ears. All in all, I found it to be unique, imaginative, and quite fun.
Posted by Philip