Review of The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood

SFFaudio Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Year Of The Flood by Margaret AtwoodThe Year Of The Flood
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall
11 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 22, 2009
ISBN: 9780739383971
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Disaster / Environmentalism / Environmental Disaster / Ecology / Planetary Ecology / Religion / Genetic Engineering / Sex / Activism / Genetics /

The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year Of The Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

Margaret Atwood’s book The Year Of The Flood spans several years, before, after and during the waterless flood which is a plague that affects only humans. There are three readers, Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall. Throughout the eleven discs (14 hours), I enjoyed listening to the women, and began to dread the onset of the male reader. He was certainly professional. Was it his character, Adam One, a religious cult leader of God’s Gardeners? Was it the inevitable sermon he would read in a church-appropriate voice? Or was it the hymns, written by Atwood and set to “original” music that would have me engaging in positive procrastination in order to avoid finishing this audiobook.

The loveliest parts of the book take place from the point of view of Ren, a child in God’s Garden. The religion is a logical outcome for a near future on Earth following environmental disasters not too difficult to imagine. Technologies we toy with today lead to some A Clockwork Orange style vocabulary. Words such as “garboil” (a kind of petroleum made from trash) lend a frighteningly vital immersion into this eco-nightmare. Other wonderful vocabulary delights come through the genetic alterations of food and creature such as soydines and bugs with little smiley faces engineered thereon so thoughts of squishing them would be repugnant. The Gardeners have a host of saints to celebrate, showing Atwood’s ability to relate some important environmentalists and peaceniks to her tale including Saint Rachel Carson, Saint David Suzuki and Saint Mahatma Gandhi.

The main female characters, Ren and Toby, both fully developed, are compelling. Throughout the story, one is interested in them as human beings, in their suffering, in their losses, in their desires. Despite the time shifts, the readers manage to keep the characters believable; one is lost in the story (as one should be!) until the final disc. Maybe Atwood can’t write optimistic endings. With all the violence, sadistic sex and death in the world of the Gardeners who are staunch vegetarians who don’t even kill the insects that invade their gardens; with spray guns, layabout body parts and a world of human-pig hybrids conducting funerals, the last disc felt wrong. Ren’s character becomes childish. Toby becomes a murderous cold-blooded killer and then suddenly has another personality shift. The only character to remain true is the one-dimensional ADAM ONE. I was strung along on the brilliant imagination, left flat on story line, and confused in the end by the characters I thought I liked.

Am I waiting for that third expected book in a TRILOGY featuring some of these characters? My interest in Atwood’s “exfernal” world is now lukewarm.

Posted by Elaine Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #037

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #037 – Jesse and Scott talk about the latest audiobook releases, audiobook narrators and plenty more. It’s a show full of “stage-actory goodness” in which we learn the ultimate truth:

“the monster frozen in the ice is definitely alive”

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott is living the sequel to High Plains Drifter, Hercules by Geraldine McCaughrean, Full Cast Audio, Who was the greatest Greek hero?, Perseus, Odysseus by Geraldine McCaughrean, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Achilles, Guest Law by John C. Wright, Infinivox, Aliens Rule edited by Allan Kaster, “How Music Begins” by James Van Pelt, Listening Library, the Becka Cooper series, Terrier by Tamora Peirce, Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce, Random House Audio, The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood, Audible addiction, Audible Frontiers, The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Jonathan Davis, Infinivox’s The Fluted Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Recorded Books, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, Wild Voices Audio, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, Blind Lake, Bridge Of Years, Darwinia, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson, Hachette Audio, Transition by Iain M. Banks (UNABRIDGED), also the podcast version, Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, Dune: House Atredies by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Blackstone Audio, Treason by Orson Scott Card, Audible.com’s latest sale includes: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, Ringworld by Larry Niven, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Stalking The Vampire by Mike Resnick, Waystation by Clifford Simak, Grover Gardner, Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, The Jerk, Macmillan Audio, The Box: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson, The Twilight Zone (1985), “Button Button” by Richard Matheson, (the collection also includes: Girl Of My Dreams, Dying Room Only, A Flourish Of Strumpets, No Such Thing As A Vampire, Pattern For Survival, Mute, Creeping Terror, Shock Wave, Clothes Make The Man, The Jazz Machine, ‘Tis The Season To Be Jelly, The Mystery Of Grace by Charles de Lint, Slings & Arrows – Series 1, Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein, Armor by John Steakley, John Carpenter’s Vampires
FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, Star Trek by Alan Dean Foster, FlashForward (the TV series), revealing or realizing the solution to a mystery in fiction, Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child, Zachary Quinto, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Shed Skin by Robert J. Sawyer, Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe, Sword Edged Blond, Blood Groove, Escape From Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, first contact, gender, feminism, The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, iPhone, audiobook functionality, CBC Radio and NPR apps.

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4: Ursula K. Le Guin biographical documentary NOW an MP3

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4The now 80 year old Ursula K. Le Guin looks back on her life and career and the Ursula K. Le Guin’s website is hosting the MP3 file made from the March 17th 2009 BBC broadcast interview. Have a listen |MP3|.

Writer China Mieville talks to American science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin.

Le Guin was a trailblazer – writing in the 1960s, her series of books about the adventures of a boy wizard, Ged, included characters of every race and colour. Her fiction has been acutely concerned with politics, portraying worlds destroyed by environmental catastrophe that prefigured modern concerns about global warming, and societies without gender just as modern-day feminism began to take off.

Featuring contributions and tributes from Iain M. Banks and Margaret Atwood.

This documentary aired Tuesday March 17th 2009 @ 11:30-12:00 BBC R4: Ursula Le Guin At 80

[via SFsignal.com and our ORIGINAL POST]

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4: Ursula K. Le Guin biographical documentary

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 Coming up on BBC R4
Ursula K. Le Guin looks back on her life and career…

Writer China Mieville talks to American science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin.

Le Guin was a trailblazer – writing in the 1960s, her series of books about the adventures of a boy wizard, Ged, included characters of every race and colour. Her fiction has been acutely concerned with politics, portraying worlds destroyed by environmental catastrophe that prefigured modern concerns about global warming, and societies without gender just as modern-day feminism began to take off.

Featuring contributions and tributes from Iain M. Banks and Margaret Atwood.

Airs Tuesday March 17th 2009 @ 11:30-12:00 BBC R4: Ursula Le Guin At 80

[Thanks Roy!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #014

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #014 – Plenty of exciting jibber jabber for you today. It’s a good show, as long as you define good very narrowly.

Talked about on today’s show:
Wall-E, our infamous Wall-E is a criminal post, Bolt, Bill C-61, Brian Murphy‘s review of The Halloween Tree, Poe’s Children, StarShipSofa’s Richard K. Morgan interview, Hour 25, converting m3u into MP3, Coeur de Lion‘s podcast, the difference between “mainstream fiction”, “literary fiction” and “slipstream fiction”, Peter Straub, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Michael Crichton, James Wallace Harris’ post about Science Fiction as a religion, A Man In Full, Tom Wolfe, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, space opera, David Brin, Startide Rising, the impenetrable Kelly Link, evolution in art, William Gibson‘s literary journey, Charles Stross is for connoisseurs of SF, modern painting’s inaccessibility: Voice of Fire, on an child’s SF education: give them Heinlein, Bradbury and Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, The Call Of The Wild, Goosebumps, Gaiman’s signed poster deal, converting children to my religion: treating books with reverence, audio drama: Johnny Chase: Agent Of Space, review of Queen Of The Black Coast, amateur and professional audio drama, Colonial Radio Theatre vs. Broken Sea Audio Productions.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The finalists for this year’s Audie Awards were an…

The finalists for this year’s Audie Awards were announced on Feb. 23rd. Here are some genre-related nominees:

The finalists for the SCIENCE FICTION award are:

The Callahan Chronicles

Written by: Spider Robinson

Read by: Barrett Whitener

Blackstone Audiobooks

Darwin’s Children

Written by: Greg Bear

Read by: Scott Brick

Books on Tape, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Dune: The Machine Crusade

Written by: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Read by: Scott Brick

Audio Renaissance, A Division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Books on Tape, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Monstrous Regiment

Written by: Terry Pratchett

Read by: Stephen Briggs

Harper Audio

Still Life With Crows

Written by: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Read by: Rene Auberjonois

Time Warner AudioBooks

Among the nominees for CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8+ is:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Written by: J.K. Rowling

Read by: Jim Dale

Listening Library

Phoenix also shows up in the PACKAGE DESIGN category, and as a nomination for Jim Dale for SOLO NARRATION – MALE. George Guidall is up for the same award for Don Quixote from Recorded Books, and Campbell Scott for Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

And in the AUDIO DRAMA category:

The Chronicles of Narnia

Written by: C. S. Lewis

Performed by a Full Cast

Focus on the Family

which also appears in the PACKAGE DESIGN and ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION categories.

See all the nominees at the Audio Publisher’s Association website. The winners will be selected on June 4 at the Audie Awards, a black-tie event at the Harold Washington Public Library Center in Chicago.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson