Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Had I known this was a book about vampires, I probably would not have purchased it. That would have been unfortunate. Had I predicated my decision to spend a credit upon my listen to the sample narration, that too would have been a mistake. The narration is brilliant.
The characters come alive with this incredibly captivating story, a unique and engaging story that I could not put down. Recommendation: Get this book while it's still only one credit. Oh, it's two credits now? It's still a bargain. This book is destined to be a classic.
I don't write separate reviews for books in a series. Especially here, where Hyperion has been called the prologue to the Fall of Hyperion (FoH), it's been intimated that the former cannot stand on its own and I agree. Some have compared and contrasted the two connoting that there is perhaps a lack of cohesion and that they are very dissimilar. To that end, I disagree. The "prologue" smoothly transitions into the main body of the work and feels completely natural. Taken together, the two seem very much a part of a cohesive whole.
I was skeptical that the stellar cast of narrators of Hyperion could be equaled by a single actor, albeit Victor Bevine in FoH. Mr. Bevine was phenomenal and I never, at any point in the listening, felt like the work was diminished.
It is good that I have listened to this author later in life. Having been brought up reading the classics of all genre of literature, it is often difficult to appreciate lesser works after having experienced the masters. Dan Simmons is a master when compared to authors of any genre. I have heard Simmons compared to Dickens. Truly in his development of characters, the comparison seems a fair one. It would be hard to compare the plot of this work to that of any other.
Often fraught with and characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions, the work is almost too much to be believed. But somehow Simmons makes it all believable for some time in the future. Unlike some classic, older SciFi which seemed futuristic when it was written but then later became seemingly dated, this piece is fresh, modern or hopefully even timeless. There's religion, technology, philosophy, excitement, a great deal of love and caring among seven pilgrim strangers and funny, now that I think about it, only one real villain in a world that is more vast than I can even imagine. This is truly a magnum opus in every sense of the word.
Wow, did I ever have a time with this one. It was a love-hate-love relationship. At first the book drew me in with the language. I am almost always about writing over plot so I was immediately drawn in by the words and their construction long before the plot even began to quicken. Some has been written about how Miéville repeats certain words and, while I noticed that (for me it was pugnacious and detritus), it was not too distracting. Actually, given that the landscape was usually strewn with detritus and and its inhabitants pugnacious, these were probably the best choices of words. That being said, the words were wonderful. I spent some time with my dictionary.
For me, the physical, steampunk world and the environment of Perdido Street Station were vividly drawn and easily recognizable, its technological content not so much. Atmospherically, it is vaguely 19th century, Victorian but that only a trope; this is a world definitely not that of our own. This is a world of many sorts of alien life that sometimes includes the humans themselves, humans who copulate with sentient, insect-like creatures. While we may not be at all sure about the time, the place is very well constructed.
Actually, let’s just cut to the chase; at the core, this is a story about the love and mating habits of a human (at least I think he’s human) and a vegetarian insect (my imagination had her looking kind of like a cross between a praying mantis and Angelina Jolie) who is an artist and spits a lot. Oh, and also it’s about giant, psychedelic, mesmerizing moths that literally have s#it for brains and that suck the dreams out of everyone in sight and turn them into zombies. I am not making this up. This is what this wildly acclaimed book is about. The sex and the insect wasn’t too bad but when we got to the moths and zombies, I started to wonder WTF was I reading.
Okay, Robert, calm down... Remember Angelina? The artist? I mean, the insect? Well her real name is Lin and she [sic] really isn’t an insect, she’s khepri, uhhh, she only looks like an insect. I guess that makes it better. And the s#it for brains stuff? It really isn’t s#it. It’s only called that. It’s really the moths’ milk. I guess that makes it all better now. Are you confused yet? I would not be surprised. And we haven’t even gotten to The Weaver, the multi-dimensional spider who speaks in torrents of free-verse poetry. The Orkin Man would’a had a field-day here.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on in this book and there is. There just might be too much going on, especially toward the end. While there was no lack of narrative stamina this reader weakened, weakened to the point of nearly giving up. Weakened not out of fatigue but out of a loss of interest. The narrative toward the end seemed to drone on and on. I actually had to get a fix from my fellow reviewers. I plugged into Goodreads, read some of my friends’ positive critiques of PSS, regained my strength and resolve to continue and continue I did to finish the book. I am not sorry that I did. But even in the ending, I was a bit disappointed.
The narrative of the book is all over the map. We have all kinds of contrivances, some biological, some technological. They come and they go almost as suddenly. However, there was one particular subplot that seemed to be somewhat central but for me, very poorly developed. A garuda, a winged creature by the name of Yagharek comes to our main protagonist, Isaac, for help in restoring his (its?) wings, wings which were lost as a result of a sentence passed on to him (it?) for having committed a particular crime. We do not find out what the crime was till the end of the book but it is how our hero, Isaac, responds to finding out what the crime is that seemed so unsatisfying. Something so central to the book here did not seem to me to be sufficiently fleshed out. It was at that point that I realized there were so many other instances of just that incompleteness in the book. Miéville throws everything but the kitchen sink into this novel but never fully or even moderately develops any of it.
While I found the author’s use of the English language often quite wonderful and beautiful, I found nothing terribly unique in construction nor could I identify any particular stylistic invention with perhaps one exception. The way the spider character, The Weaver, spoke was brilliant. The other characters: Meh. The author’s command of the language, the construction of sentences, how they were phrased were competent. I just expected more about that which he wrote. This was not a short book and to have spent so much time on drivel seemed a waste.
If I had to characterize the depth of scope for PSS, it would have to be superficial. Perhaps these characters just had no great depths to plumb, but damn it, I wanted to know more about Isaac and the garuda. How could the author be so incredibly detailed about the landscapes of this world but tell us so little about the psyches of its inhabitants? While I realize this work has received many awards, for me, in constructing it, I do not feel this author worked on it as hard as he could have. I certainly see the tremendous talent of Miéville but I do not believe for a moment he spent that much time particularly on the ending of this book.
In spite of all of the criticism I have wreaked on the book, I’m still giving it 4 stars. If I could, I’d give it 3.5 and give John Lee’s reading of the book 5 stars. As always, Mr. Lee’s narration was absolutely brilliant.
I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.
The story sets up in a quite classic mode: fuzzy creatures are discovered on a planet being strip-mined for its resources. Are they sentient? If so, the corporations (and independent contractor surveyors) are out of jobs and minerals. In (now classic?) Scalzi mode, the characters are warm, deep, sarcastic, funny, and give great quips on cue, and the plot flies along at an easy pace, never slow, not too fast to leave the listener behind. Wheaton's narration here is nicely paced as well, not a long, drawn-out affair, nor one with heavy characterizations on the voices (when it comes, it's very nice -- but that's in spoiler territory). The fuzzies are cute -- but not unbearably, and there are a few laugh out loud moments here, and (our main character, the independent contractor) Jack's interactions with his dog, Carl, are wonderful.
It is, however, over a bit too easily -- and unexpectedly quickly. Fuzzy Nation comes in at a little over 7 hours, with download "Part 2" being a Peter Ganim narration of the original H. Beam Piper novel Little Fuzzy which runs about 6 and a half hours. So don't be fooled into thinking you're approaching halfway through the story as part one comes to a close, or you'll be regretting (as I did) that we have to leave Zara XXIII so soon. On the other hand, that's certainly a packaging and marketing artifact, and the 7 "Fuzzy Nation" hours of this audiobook were a good, enjoyable story, showing off what Scalzi can do with good characters: take us on a fun trip through another place, make us laugh, make us cry, and give us a little bit of what it means to be human -- even if we see it reflected in the eyes of someone much smaller and furrier.
On Ganim's narration of "Little Fuzzy", it was definitely interesting to compare the setup, characters, and storyline of the original novel to the reboot's, and Ganim is as-always quite competent. His reading is a bit slower-paced, which adds a bit more to the era contrast between the books.