REVIEW OF THE STORY
Kim Stanley Robinson has a pretty narrow audience. Are you in that audience? Did you like the Mars trilogy? Are you a hobbyist geologist/astronomer/physicist/chemist/engineer/biologist/ecologist/mathematician/programmer/etc? Or - better still - are you a professional in any of these fields? Yes? Then you'll be happy to know that 2312 is exactly what you expect: it's more of KSR doing what he does, and doing it well. So, grab your pocket protector and your graphing calculator, and run - don't walk - down to your local bookstore and buy a physical copy of the book and read it; you're going to love it. But, beware: do not buy the audiobook. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked...
REVIEW OF THE NARRATION
This audiobook represents the absolute worst narration of any story I've ever heard, in any genre, anywhere, anytime, ever. No, I'm not being hyperbolic; it really was *that bad*. Sarah Zimmerman does not have an unpleasant voice, but the way it is delivered in this book is absolutely..."unlistenable."
For starters, Ms. Zimmerman's delivery is remarkably monotone; no matter what she's reading, it all sounds the same. Interpersonal dialog? Omniscient narrator's perspective? Supplemental lists and excerpts academic information supplemental to the story? Yep; it all sounds identical. Similarly, there is almost no attempt at voice characterization. There is a brief moment towards the middle of the book where one of the characters (Inspector Jean Genette, a flesh-and-blood person) starts to speak in a monotone drone that is slightly reminiscent of the stereotypical 1950s sci-fi robot voice meme, but that's about it. But that's not the worst part. What truly ruins the whole production is the fact that the cadence of Ms. Zimmerman's narration (or, rather, lack thereof) appears to completely disregard punctuation. What do I mean? Well...
Imagine. A, book where the punctuation, is completely random without following. Any conventional. Rules of phrasing or -- voice or -- timing or meter or anything that gives. The language it musicality its, flow its inflection its, meter. Imagine. Trying to, understand, a, text that is narrated. In, a manner that seems to, be. Written the same, way, I have written. This paragraph.
....Yeah. Like that. Now, admittedly, the above paragraph was a bit of an exaggeration for the purpose illustrating the point. But here's the thing: sadly, it wasn't *that* hyperbolic.
Now, take that chaotic, unstructured narration, add a monotone voice, and a total lack of voice characterization, and what you get is a story that takes real, conscious effort to follow. I can imagine this would be particularly difficult for people who don't have at least a passing familiarity with the scientific/engineering topics presented therein. I will admit that I *eventually* got used to it, but it tool over 12 hours of narration before I could stop skipping back to hear passages again in order to comprehend them. In fact, it was so bad, for the first five or six hours of the book, I could only listen to 30 minutes at a stretch before I had to take a break. With most audiobooks, I can - and have! - listened for hours and hours on end.
I have one final complaint about the narration -- and this may be a nitpick, but... If a person is going to narrate a book written by someone who ranks among the "hardest" of the hard science fiction authors - a book where science *is* the main character - then one should probably know how to properly pronounce words like "coronal" (as in, coronal mass ejection), or "teleological." And Ms. Zimmerman doesn't.
While it's surprising that such a poor quality product (the audio rendering of KSR's book) would be available from a respected publisher, it's downright incomprehensible when one considers that Sarah Zimmerman is just one person in a group of people involved in its creation. In addition to the narrator, there's also a producer, a director, an editor (or two), engineers...and NONE of these people said, somewhere along the line, "Hey, you know, this doesn't sound so good...?" Really? Really?!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you like this author's other work, if you're a sci-fi fan with a truly nerdly bent, 2312 might be right up your alley. But get a *physical copy* to read the good 'ol fashioned way, because the audio rendering of this work is so amazingly bad, it detracts and distracts from the content of the story itself. Save your money; this audiobook isn't even worth the paper it's printed on.
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