Review of Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley

December 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

ChimpanzeeChimpanzee
Written and narrated by Darin Bradley
Publisher: Resurrection House via Audible
Publication Date: 9 October 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 5 hours, 46 minutes

Themes: / dystopia / unrest / cognitive theory / virtual reality / revolution /

Publisher summary:

Unemployment has ravaged the U.S. economy. Foreclosures are rampant. People struggle everywhere, exhausted by the collapse that destroyed their lives . . .

Benjamin Cade is an expert in cognition and abstract literature, and before the flatlined economy caught up to him, he earned his living as a university instructor. Now, without income, he joins the millions defaulting on their loans—in his case, the money he borrowed to finance his degrees. But there are consequences.

Using advances in cognitive science and chemical therapy, Ben’s debtors can reclaim their property—his education. The government calls the process “Repossession Therapy,” and it is administered by the Homeland Renewal Project, the desperate program designed to salvage what remains of the ravaged U.S. economy. The data Ben’s repossession will yield is invaluable to those improving the “indexing” technology—a remarkable medical advance that has enabled the effective cure of all mental disorders. By disassembling his mind, doctors will gain the expertise to assist untold millions.

But Ben has no intention of losing his mind without a fight, so he begins teaching in the central park, distributing his knowledge before it’s gone in a race against ignorance. And somewhere in Ben’s confusing takedown, Chimpanzee arrives. Its iconography appears spray-painted and wheat-pasted around town. Young people in rubber chimpanzee masks start massive protests. A new use of the indexing technology shows up in bars across the country. It’s called “chimping” . . . named after the mysterious protest movement, and it uses goggles and electrodes to reverse the curative indexing process, temporarily (recreationally) offering those inclined a mental illness of their own choosing.

As Ben slowly loses himself, the Chimpanzee movement seems to grow. And all fingers point to Ben . . . or maybe the voice that speaks to him every time he uses the chimping rig. As civil unrest grows, and Homeland Security takes an interest, Ben finds himself at the center of a storm that may not even be real. What is Chimpanzee? Who created it? What does it want?

And is there even enough of Ben left to find out?

What I prefer in my dystopia is realism and possibility, that it could happen here, in my lifetime. I read dystopia for the horror, for the thrill. That is the brilliance Darin Bradley brings to his novels, both in Noise and in Chimpanzee. It helps that Chimpanzee takes place in a town an hour from where I live, a place I visit often, particularly the arts district, where quite a bit of the action takes place. The events are very vivid to me, described in that place. They will be vivid to others for different reasons, but basically anyone watching the news in the last few years will feel they know the world of this novel.

The premise of Chimpanzee (see description above) may be even more chilling to those of us working in academia, who have seen the impact of the various economic downturns on expensive liberal arts educations. Now that there are no job guarantees, and no guarantee on the investment made (often by the students through hefty loans), people are starting to question the benefit of the system we have maintained for so long. I hate this conversation, because I work at one of those schools, and depend on it for my livelihood. So did the author, for a while. And that’s where reality and the terror of this possible future start to blur within the novel.

There is a lot in this novel that might feel over the reader’s head.  I would encourage people who don’t understand every word from the rhetoric of cognitive theory to press on –  treat it like a classic science fiction info dump.  Let it wash over you, grasp what you can. You will be in the same place as the students in the story, who also are put into a position of creating their own meaning, applied to their real situations.

There is a concept of virtual reality in this novel that I liked, called chimping, something you can do at a bar with your friends.  It becomes an important part of the story in ways I will not give away here.

The audiobook has a story to its making. In the insert, it talks about the initial difficulty Resurrection House had in distributing the audio version.  It includes a warning:

“Because some books aren’t meant for sedans on highways. They may have too many voices, or they may have jagged corners that snag plots, or they may have things with no business being in stories… like symbols or formulae or languages we don’t understand. You can listen to them, if you’re ready to pay attention.”

I did not heed the warning and listened to some of this audio production while driving around. The first time I encountered a repossessed memory, the sound used to represent the hole, the deletion, it almost sent me off the road.  When I played it at home, my husband jumped out of his skin. It would be remiss not to warn you.

Otherwise, the audio moves back and forth between a radio-play style performance from multiple readers with sound effects and music, and the author’s own narration.  I liked the music choices and the sound effects were generally effective.  Having sound effects in some parts magnifies the silence of the others. Benjamin Cade spends a lot of time inside his head, and losing what is in his head, so I think that silence is well warranted.  It takes some getting used to, but I ended up appreciating it.  The author also does a good job delivering his narration in a noirish tone, where short sentences shine.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

The SFFaudio Podcast #289 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

November 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #289 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Paul Weimer talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
A $10 bounty on The House by Fredric Brown, a $10 bounty on The Last Druid by Joseph E. Kelleam, Thomas Pynchon’s masterpiece Gravity’s Rainbow finally in audio, compare Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, William Gibson’s The Peripheral, we bet Fred Kiesche has read it, The Fire Seekers by Richard Farr, Time’s Edge by Rysa Walker, reminds Paul of Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes books, Tad Williams’s Otherland series (a favorite of Paul’s), compare to Vernor Vinge’s True Names, Second LifeOtherland has some disabled characters — Special Needs In Strange WorldsNnedi Okorafor’s Goodreads Otherland review, Jesse’s not a series guy, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, the spoiler horn, Willful Child by Steven Erikson, not Paul’s favorite, The Enemy of an Enemy by Vincent Trigili, the description is missing the “but”, Horatio Hornblower type series, The Night Terrace (Audio Drama) Nightterrace.comSpark by John Twelve Hawks, Cotard’s syndrome makes you a good assassin, origin of his pen name, Hawks’s nonfiction Against AuthorityChimpanzee by Darin Bradley, possible mashup?, China Miéville’s New Crobuzon series, The Slow Regard Of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, is his prose like dark chocolate like a fan said on The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast?, Heraclix and Pomp by Forrest Aguirre, combining two reviews, Dead But Not Forgotten by Charlaine Harris (Editor), the True Blood tv show, “small town fantasy”, Shadow of the Ancients by Pierre Grimbert (translated from French), genre books from other languages are cool, Tam likes French comics (Moebius), Visitors by Orson Scott Card, not a Pathfinder tie-in, Pathfinder vs. Dungeons and Dragons explained by Paul, Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans, Shaman, Healer, Heretic by M. Terry Green, Scalped comic was a bit grim, The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, Snowden’s politics, Collapse by Jared Diamond, societies ending, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H. P. Lovecraft, The Statement Of Randolph Carter Sffaudio readalongThe Vines by Christopher Rice, Rice’s photo gallery, Anne Rice’s son, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, Jesse’s not that into it, The Island Of Doctor Moreau audiodrama, Robert Sheckley audiobook releasesThe Story of English In 100 Words by David Crystal, G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel No Normal is in Jersey CityThe House by Fredric Brown

The Last Druid by Joseph E. Kelleam

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #284 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

September 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #284 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Seth talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
accent on the new releases, The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton, Liviu’s Goodreads review, four dark Jack Cady novels, Jenny‘s Star Wars tweetfest, less chattering and battles, Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds, Westerfeld’s Uglies inspired by Ted Chiang, Hardboiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami, A New Dawn: Star Wars by John Jackson Miller, “Is this Firefly?”, the new canon, Marvel can make a movie about anything, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Luke’s unstarred review of Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, Jenny liked Blackout/All ClearA Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett, Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl, mainstream or sf?, Puttering About in a Small Land by Philip K. Dick, it’s mainstream, Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman, Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding HoodBaba YagaMage’s Blood by David Hair, What is a starred review?, Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall, Tales Of Terror Collection, The Best Ghost StoriesThe Scarifyers 09: THE KING OF WINTER (audio drama), “winter is coming”, Devoured by Jason Brant, A Walk Among the Tombstones: A Matt Scudder Mystery and Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf by Lawrence Block, put out his own audiobooks, Man of Two Worlds by Frank Herbert and Brian Herbert, Echopraxia by Peter Watts, same world as Blindsight, it’s got a lot of references, books with “day” in the titleThis Perfect Day by Ira Levin (author of Rosemary’s Baby), Far Futures edited by Gregory Benford, they list the stories and describe them!, The Sound of His Horn by Sarban, Wild HuntThe Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein, Edge of Tomorrow (All You Need Is Kill) by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, where is the Full Metal Bitch?, Groundhog Day, Steven Gould’s new Jumper book Exo is inspired by Heinlein, Geek’s Guide interviewthe cool first page, Darin Bradley’s Chimpanzee audio drama?

The Scarifyers 9 The King Of Winter

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #177 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRVIALS

September 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #177 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, talk about the latest NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS in audiobooks and paperbooks.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny’s beagle Bailey loves audiobooks, breed vs. brand, “Space Drama”, The Prankster by James Polster (from Brilliance Audio), stranded on Earth, novellas, Luke Daniels is everywhere, Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein, Between Planets by Robert A. Heinlein (Full Cast Audio), Ace Tachyon (aka Abner Senries), Methuselah’s Children by Robert A. Heinlein, immortality, Universe by Robert A. Heinlein, “Future History”, 1941, “the guy with the two heads”, Lazarus Long, The Notebooks Of Lazurus Long, kilted spacemen, Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (Blackstone Audio), Ringworld, “big dumb object” (and the blog of the same name), space elevator, Energized by Edward M. Lerner, a NASA engineer is the main character!, Grover Gardner, terpkristin, geopolitical intrigue, hard SF, Larry Niven and Gregory Benford “bowl-world?”, Dyson’s sphere, library of congress subject headings, Dewey Decimal Classification, Grover Cleveland, a librarian’s license, are librarians born or trained?, “on the square and on the level”, Trucker Ghost Stories edited by Annie Wilder (Macmillan Audio), Tavia Gilbert, Peter Ganim, 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology edited by Christopher Golden (Blackstone Audio), Simon R. Green, Ken Bruen, Daniel H. Wilson, Brian Keene, zombies are taking over, The Walking Dead (comic), Locke & Key, Joe Hill, Stephen King, “gears and robots” or “steamy robots”, Clockwork Angels: The Novel by Kevin J. Anderson, Neil Peart (of Rush), steampunk, steampunk music?, The Steampunk Bible edited by Jeff Vandermeer, Mr Jupitus In The Age Of Steampunk, maker stuff with tophats, is there a good steampunk book to wow Tam?, Murdoch Mysteries, Tesla vs Edison, steampunky, 1950s kitchen appliances, golden age SF, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Sword & Laser, VN by Madeline Ashby, Von Neumann machine, “she stopped being able to not harm humans”, gynoid vs. android, a girlnoid, guynoid vs. gynoid, Angry Robot, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross |READ OUR REVIEW|, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, non-human main characters, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, post-apocalyptic Hawaii, “a hard entry point”, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, fantastical, “fantasy noir”, “a noir cannot be series”, “investigative fantasy” or “hardboiled fantasy?”, darker than you think by Jack Williamson (Blackstone Audio), Jim Meskimen, embroiled in hardboiled?, The Humanoids, With Folded Hands, setee vs. seetee, Technomancer (Unspeakable Things: Book 1) by B.V. Larson (Brilliance Audio), space-kilt!, Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein, naked on a frozen planet, Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow, Tanya Eby, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, Morning Glories (comic), Midnight (Nightingale Trilogy: #2) by Stephen Leather, Ralph Lister, “supernatural noir”, hardboiled vs. noir, Philip Marlowe is hardboiled (perhaps with noir elements), Kiss Me Deadly by Mickey Spillane, noir as a visual vs. noir as a story, Hamlet, noir stories don’t need detectives (and usually don’t have them), femme fatale, James M. Cain, Body Heat, Chinatown, “it’s chinatown Jake” = things are so fucked up you should walk away, “kitty kat”, “fantasy adventure”, Wake of the Bloody Angel: An Eddie LaCrosse Novel by Alex Bledsoe, pirates!, Stefan Rudnicki, The Hammer And the Blade by Paul S. Kemp, Nick Podehl, Functional Nerds, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the trouble with fish-gods, a buddy movie (book), dragons, Sky Dragons (Dragonriders of Pern) by Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, Emily Durante, Brilliance Audio, Blood of the Emperor (The Annals of Drakis: Book Three) by Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis, PKD!, Counter Clock World by Philip K. Dick, Gather Yourselves Together by Philip K. Dick (mainstream PKD) <-published posthumously, Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick, Dan John Miller (Brilliance Audio), The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick (Brilliance Audio) <-an expansion of The Gun Project Plowshare, Mel Foster, Anthony Boucher liked it, The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick (Brilliance Audio), Repent Harlequin Said The Ticktock-man by Harlan Ellison, Dick was a crazy autodidact, didacticism, A World Of Talent and Other Stories (Eloquent Voice), Total Recall (aka We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), public domain Philip K. Dick stories, a strange dedication, Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, John Joseph Adams, The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg, Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, the Total Recall remake is terrible and stupid, Inception, are “sci-fi” movies are opera for Americans?, Air Raid by John Varley, Loopers, time travel, many new Stanisław Lem audiobooks are up on Audible.com!, Lem READALONG!, Tam is always “Lemming”, Lemistry: A Celebration of the Work of Stanisław Lem, Eric S. Rabkin, Cyberiad, Luke Burrage’s review of Solaris, Noise: A Novel by Darin Bradley, Chris Patton, dystopias are refreshing, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Spider Robinson, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Jesse is completely wrong, does a lack of engagement with the society in The Hunger Games make it not really SF?, science fictiony vs. Science Fiction, 1984, an ever evolving book of rules about idea fiction, Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman, The New York Review Of Books, arguing with books, Jenny’s favourite part of the NYRoB, the New York Review Of Books blog, academic writing vs. literary writing, Vanity Fair and Vanity Fair online, Simon Prebble has captured Chrisopher Hitchen’s voice, Jo Walton, the Booker Prize longlist, Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (historical fiction), history, I, Claudius by Robert Graves, fictionalized history vs. historical fiction, Luke Burrage’s review of Wool by Hugh Howey, Jenny makes friends with all the authors.

Ace Double - The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis