I live every day as if it will be my last. This is why my clothes are wrinkled. Let's face it. Who wants to spend their last day on earth ironing?
I think that I would like to revisit this book in the future, but my seemingly endless list of things to read may not permit it. This is a book that is short enough and entertaining enough to be listened to again.
My favorite character is the computer whose error sets the story in motion. His soliloquy on the metaphysics of making mistakes struck the right chord.
I liked John (and I'm a PC) Hodgman's perfomance of Tom Carmody. He could easily have slipped into a smirking portrayal of this character, but instead, he turned him into the everyman that I could relate to.
There were a few insights into the human condition and various philosophical and metaphysical discussions. However, if you are looking for enlightenment or an epiphany of some sort, you haven't read the synopsis if this book.
Neil Gaiman has done readers, science fiction fans, and those who appreciate absurdity a great service by bringing this story to the attention of readers and listeners everywhere.
The story is a laugh out loud romp through the physical and metaphysical universe, and the preface and post-reading interview with Neil Gaiman add to the experience.
Neil Gaiman has found another pearl. I laughed my way through this book. I'm making my way through NGP's selections.
Love Sci Fi and non-fiction, but willing to try anything.
I read this book in high school umpty three years ago. This reading is very well done and the book is a little left-leaning for my taste but smart and full of humor and action.
The obvious comparison is with Hitchhikers guide to the universe. I liked Douglas Adams' work much better but this actually preceded it.So who's copying who??
The first time he met is predator.
As with many others who came across this book thanks to the NGP label, I am now happily exposed to an author I had not previously known. This is an absurdist SF adventure of the best sort: smart, funny and just as timely now as it was when written.
I loved John Hodgman but the story itself was not my favorite. It is a book that I would recommend for Hitchhiker fans though.
With such high ratings and the endorsement from Neil Gaiman, how could I pass this one up.
I am not sure why, but this book just didn’t work for me. It started out with many small technical problems with the audio, small chirps and crackling, that really distracted me. But even after those issues went away later in the book I still just couldn’t get into it.
The lead character, Tom Carmody, never appealed to me... The book just feels pretentious to me with all the armchair philosophy, puns, and forced wordplay. I can see how this book would be viewed as a precursor to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series, but Mr. Adams was able to do it without pretension, he did it in a way that made it feel natural in a way I do not feel like this book does.
John Hodgman does a good job narrating the book, but it is hard for me to judge as I never could get really involved with the storyline.
I really respect Neil Gaiman and Audible for making audiobooks like this one of stories and authors that many of us have never heard of and look forward to many more of them.
Most audiobooks are listen once and never bother again. This one is a listen twice right away and consider a third time. It's that good. So far my favorite quote is "No sense in crying over unspilt blood".
Imagine The Hitchhiker's Guide with deeper vocabulary or MST3K written in the late 1960's and you get a sense of how much fun this book is.
John Hodgman is an excellent choice for narrator. Unfortunately, the sound editor left some extraneous noises and short repeats that are bothersome, resulting in the 4* performance rating. (it is a team effort)
This book was described as being recommended by Neil Gaiman, narrated by John Hodgman, and was kind of a precursor to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was upset at how dull this book was. The plot is pretty much Gulliver's Travels in space. It has MAJOR pacing issues and spends far too little time on certain things but then will spend entire chapters describing the most doldrum and mediocre issues. The main character fails to grab the reader. I didn't care about him at all because he didn't seem real. He doesn't spend anytime in any sort of awe at the situations around him. Not a good listen, will be asking for a refund. The only good thing I can say about it is that John Hodgman is a great narrator (as always).
However, if you were considering this book, I highly recommend Year Zero by Rob Reid (also narrarated by Hodgman).
Most modern-day critical commentary seems to concentrate on the notion that this work by Sheckley in some ways presages Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Trilogy -- though Adams, of course, was not aware of this work by Sheckley prior to the Trilogy's composition.
It is a verity of modern science-fiction that this genre in its recent form deals in its essence not with "outer space" or the future, but rather with the present -- an insight we've had at least since Orwell found a title by flipping the terminal numerals of the year he spent producing 1984, and asseverated by multiple science fiction writers since, including, most recently, William Gibson.
It is clear in reading Sheckley that he is writing largely about the his own times, the 1960s (the work was published in 1968). Somewhat oddly (perhaps) I found myself flashing to Saul Bellow's early novella, The Victim, which was written in 1947. Like the hero of DoM, the hero of The Victim seems to slip through some kind of cosmic crack while his wife is away. The break with routine leads him on a curious journey that causes him to question not only his identity, but what identity itself really is.
Sheckley belongs, I believe, to a stratum of US novelists that found it very difficult to "write against". Updike, Roth and Bellow (to name a few) were placed in a position where they found it almost impossible to protest against a society that had become so amazingly prosperous. Which contrasted sharply with the experience of, say Steinbeck, and even Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Yet these writers still felt this their duty as writers, and each found some way to say something meaningful about the problem of US society, expressing it, however, in the individual and personal lives of their created protagonists.
Sheckley's work has echoes of Voltaire to it, but it is a Voltaire in which belief, or the issue of belief, seems to be absent -- not destroyed, lost, but for the nonce gone, leaving the kitchen door open and a vague promise to be back before dinner with the needed bottle of milk. There is something a little wearisome about the succession of not-quite-Earths that are visited -- the too-benevolent city, the ultra-commercial city, the crazed small town of movie-stars. It seems neither satire nor parody, but something parodic and satirical in search of a set of "real" objects that would be worthy of these comically distorted representations. Like the prize that eats itself (yes, yes, perhaps a parodic description of modern market-economy capitalism) the work subsists on something of its own substance, and while every novel must borrow a bit of its present from the ascribed future to come, in this instance the giving back one expects never arrives.
Adams, by contrast, was writing a decade later (though he was several decades younger than Sheckley) in what was soon to become Thatcher's Britain. One can think of the "book" -- the Guide itself -- as something like a kind of Britannica gone slightly mad. It combines a simple acceptance of things as they are with a kind of streetwise smarts. It produces a response that the hero, Arthur Dent, is incapable of producing himself.
Arthur Dent was neither some grind in the government or business bureaucracy, nor was he a "flower child" of the sixties. He was really a young man raised in the decencies of 1950s Britain, utterly lost in a world where the cultural basis of Britain was changing. (It's worth noting in passing that, born in 1952, Adams would have been two when postwar food rationing in Britain finally ended.) The destruction of the Earth, which sent Dent wandering forlornly for years without so much as a decent cup of tea, accompanied by no less than a man named for the popular 1950s motor the Ford Prefect, paralleled the destruction of the established world the public school/Oxbridge educated Adams had expected to enter. In that modern world, writers either made a lot of money or had to move back in with their mothers (as Adams did). In the previous British cultural tradition, most writers were slowly starved to death over a series of decades, but they worked and were published.
What Adams really captured beautifully was the sense of double-parody that makes up the modern world. Dent is an object of fun, but he also makes fun successfully of absurdities that surround him. He doesn't "buy in", which is both his triumph and his ruin.
Not that Shekley's work is poor -- it isn't. It's polished and poised. But Shekley wrote better things than this, and the chance associations between this work and a later, better effort in the same area, should not elevate what is worthy, but not so well-developed.
As for Mr Hodgman's reading of the work, I feel quite divided. His skill is, indeed, extraordinary. There is a great deal of work that has gone into this production. But it does seem to me that there is something to the reading of a book that should go beyond performance. I'm not sure that that is present in this production. It might have been better had it been a little less extraordinary, and paid more attention to the insolvable difficulties than the areas where it was possible to excel.
Sheckley has often been compared to Douglas Adams, so, I won't hesitate to compare them here. Where Adams knew just how long to linger on a subject before it got old or preachy, Sheckly did not. One example is how long after he had made a point he kept conversations with the main character and the city dragging on.
It was dated and rather preachy.
Hodgman's other work, particularly in Year Zero has been much better. His characterization of 'the prize' was interesting, but, other characters were less distinct. I wonder if this had more to do with who was directing the production than Hodgman himself.
It's been a couple weeks since I listened to this and the characters were so forgettable that I can't recall one.
After listening to this book and a few of his short stories, it's obvious why people are not eagerly reading his works today - they just didn't age well.