The plot revolves like a mobile around balances of characters, events, settings, and relationships. No matter how many times you go back to this book you always discover some new balance point, or counterpoint.
Turgenev's masterpiece is particularly good for audio since it develops through scenes of dialogue between characters, like the good dramatist he was, and often lyrical descriptions of the setting.
Guidall's narration is admirable. He captures the characters' attitudes and the narrator's tones without overacting, or oversimplifying for the reader. This is the best audio version of the book I've found.
No joke. The top level sci-fi story of the shrike and all that is so badly written I can't believe anyone liked it. It has every sci-fi cliche, weak creation of "future" terms, a plot so obvious you'll know where it's going before it gets there, a mishmash of 19th and 20th century references (sometimes acknowledged as "really ancient" and other times just thrown in as though everyone in the future should know these cultural tidbits). It reads like a Simmons wrote a bunch of stories in a variety of styles, some of which he masters and some of which he gets too cute with (Sam Spade type mystery with a woman PI, wow what a twist) and then in great haste under deadline linked them together. Another reviewer mentioned the terrible female character (whose lines appear so infrequently you often forget she even there until her tale). Tough for an actress to find motivation in the delivery , when there simply isn't any in the book: the lines in the novel are almost an afterthought--as in "oh, I should have the female say something occasionally."
Some of the individual tales are quite interesting and well written, but the overall structure is so dreadful, it's not worth suffering through to get to the occasional interesting tale. I'm skipping the second book entirely. I just don't care what happens to these characters, and I can't face another long novel of wooden style/dialogue and cliched plotting/action.
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