Once again, Patricia McKillip breathes fresh air into a genre drowning in Lord of the Rings clones and D&D adventures gone bad, and while this isn't her strongest work, it's still a great listen.
Few if any fantasy authors capture the sense of wonder and fairy like she does, even the ones who are excellent for other reasons. Her style is evocative of the time pre-Tolkien: closer to the King of Elfland's Daughter than to Dragonlance.
Gabrielle de Cuir's narration is as excellent as ever: I am always happy to see her name crop up.
First off, I have to state that Gabrielle de Cuir is one of my favorite narrators, and she does a great job here as always.
For those who don't know her, Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most important Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors of her generation, making significant contributions to both genres, including some true classics, such as the Lathe of Heaven, the Left Hand of Darkness, and (on the fantasy side) the Earthsea cycle. She is more akin to Margaret Atwood than Lois McMaster Bujold, with no offense meant -- I love my periodic Vorkosigan fix.
Her Sci-Fi is also somewhat reminiscent of Bradbury, which means that this is true cerebral science fiction, where the stories and fantastical settings are employed as tools to enable us think about ourselves, our culture and mores. As a collection of short stories, some of the "Planes" visited are more compelling and intriguing than others, and I would not place Changing Planes on quite the same level as the novels mentioned above, but it is still head and shoulders above much of what goes for Sci-Fi or speculative fiction these days.
Adventures is one of those books that tries to interweave it's story with metaphysical quirkiness, and mostly succeeds (I enjoyed the listen). I certainly give Pat Murphy kudos for trying something different. Some reviews have compared it to Gaiman, but it is less urban fantasy and more of a playful postmodern romp a la Coleman & Perrin's The Jamais Vu Papers. If that's your sort of thing, then definitely give it a try. If you read the description and the premiss sounds intriguing to you, then it's worth a listen -- this will not be everyone's cup of tea, but Pat Murphy is a capable writer, and I definitely got a few smiles out of it.
In this day and age, anyone looking to download Dickens (other than, perhaps, A Christmas Carol) knows what they are getting.
I would, however, like to add my voice to the other reviewers in stating that the narration in this version is truly a cut above. I was particularly struck by the accents -- Jarvis doesn't just effectively create distinct voices for the characters, but takes the extra step of assigning a wide variety of appropriate and effective accents. Really a pleasure to listen to.
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