Review of The Giver by Lois Lowry

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Giver by Lois LowryThe Giver
by Lois Lowry; Read by Ron Rifkin
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell
Published: April 1995
ISBN: 055347359X
Themes: / Science Fiction / Children / Dystopia / Utopia /

In the future, society has eliminated pain and there is peace on earth, at least as far as we can tell. For Jonas, his twelfth birthday marks new responsibilities and new challenges. He hopes to be assigned to training as a “Nurturer,” like his father, with duties of caring for newborn babies until they are assigned to mothers and fathers. His mother works in the “Department of Justice”; but he doubts that will be chosen to be his life’s work. He has little natural aptitude for either function. But he is unexpectedly assigned to the position of “Receiver,” an important job with the unique function of learning and holding the community’s memories. The present position is held by a community elder, who is called “The Giver”. Together they must make the transition easy for the community because strong memories of hate, anger, and love aren’t acceptable except for guiding political decisions.

This is a well written children’s novel that adults can enjoy. But it is a children’s novel and one way to tell is by the controversy surrounding it was so strong. Though it is set in a science fiction setting, it is more of a parable than most modern children’s science fiction. The story of a young boy confronting a hidden truth about his society isn’t entirely original (though it does predate Harry Potter by a few years). It is also of course a story of a utopia/dystopia and the transformation of society that happened to make it. Again something not unfamiliar, but what is original though is the method used to transform the society. Think of it as a children’s version of Brave New World, This Perfect Day or G-rated Equilibrium and you’ll get the idea.

Ron Rifkin’s narration is effective, and it is an enjoyable novel to listen to. The controversy surrounding “The Giver” is entirely a product of it being deemed a children’s book, and having a child rebelling against his parents and society. It won’t turn your pre-teen into Che Guevera.

Review of Time Bride by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann

SFFaudio Review

Time Bride
by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann; Read by Barbara Rosenblat
One cassette – 67 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Durkin Hayes Publishing Ltd.
Date Published: October 1992 – Out of Print
ISBN: 0886466202
Themes: / Science Fiction / Time Travel / Children /

The man who wasn’t there first spoke to Marcie when she was eight years old. Sitting in a mud puddle outside her house a disembodied voice spoke to Marcie. It said “My name is Arnold Waxman and someday I’m going to marry you”. The voice knew all about Marcie, and was constantly trying to control her behavior, it would scold her for being naughty and tell her what she should think and do. “With my guidance,” It said. “You’ll grow up to be a perfect young lady, the perfect bride.” Marcie didn’t like the voice and she was determined that she would not marry Arnold Waxman when she grew up. She will get her revenge… in time.

Gardner Dozois a Nebula Award winning author, as well as a Hugo Award winning editor has teamed up with Jack Dann himself an honoured editor to construct this neat little SF fable. Originally published in “Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine” December 1983 issue, Time Bride is read by Barbara Rosenblat who has been named a “Golden Voice” by Audiofile magazine and as such she’d been recognized as one of the audiobooks industry’s top narrators. While this tale won’t blow your mind with its originality it will surely entertain you. Barbara Rosenblat reads Dann and Dozois’ dialogue with obvious relish and the dénouement when it comes is very well done indeed. Unfortunately due to Durkin Hayes being out of business you may have great difficulty finding a copy of this audiobook. A search of eBay may turn up a copy.