Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
The first moonwalk was July 21, 1969. Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong David Brinkley reporting on NBC on our family's black and white television. What adventure! I was a kindergartener, wondering what the world would hold next. Inter stellar travel at warp speed on the USS Enterprise NC-1701 (Star Trek television series 1967 - 1969)?
Much to my disappointment, the dream of space destination travel was shelved with the last Apollo moonwalk in 1972, But Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick's 1968 book and movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" - which I didn't discover for another 10 years - made casual space travel seem, well, like a not-too-distant probability.
Liking Clarke took me to "hard science fiction", a SciFi genre with "an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both." I read Robert C. Heinlein, Poul Anderson. Fredrick Pohl - and of course, Isaac Asimov. I purchased them used at Uncle Hugo's Bookstore in Minneapolis. Or sometimes, depending on the author - new, right after the paperback release. I was making minimum wage and couldn't afford hardback at the time. I never turned them back in for store credit - somehow I thought I'd want them later. 30 years later, my son read them when he was about the same age.
Asimov is one if my favorites, but he was such a prolific writer, I don't think I've read even half of what he wrote. It sure didn't help that I loved the entire Foundation series so much I read it twice. .
"The Currents of Space" (1952), part of the Gallactic Empire Series, was new to me. Although Asimov's not known for it now, he was also a well regarded mystery writer - and Currents seamlessly combines the two genres. Rik, a complete stranger whose memory has been wiped, is dumped in a small farming village on the planet Florina. Vilona - Lona for short - a plaintiff, sturdy farmer longing for someone to love, agrees to care for the infantile Rik. As Rik gets better, his memory returns in part and then mostly - and what he knows is both dangerous and life saving. And there's the mystery, with plenty of suspects, plausible motives, and apparent opportunities.
Kevin T. Collins' 2009 Audible narration adds a complexity to the novel that couldn't have existed in Asimov's writings: the accents of the characters which ranged from American (Rik); rural American South (Lona); Polish, Russian, Scottish, educated English, Cockney, Spanish . . . And all recognizably so. There was a good reason. That was a Faberge Easter Egg for the spoken version. BBC Books holds the copyright and I couldn't find a director or producer. If it was Collins' idea, it was inspired - and the 2009 Audible award was well deserved.
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