I have had this book in print format since 1990 and have probably read it at least 15 times. It has always made me feel better when I was a little depressed and I have been waiting for it to come to Audible US even since I saw it on the British Audible website (www.audible.co.uk). It is a wonderfully funny book with much to say about what we call "the human condition" and I love it, but I feel I should warn potential readers that the humor is decidedly British. When my sister read this book her comment was that she thought it was trying to be funny, but she kept missing the point of the jokes. So while I strongly recommend this book, that recommendation is mostly aimed at those who understand and appreciate British humor.
I have only one complaint about the way this book was read. Martin Jarvis should have paid more attention to those places in the book where line spacing was used to separate different threads of the story. Normally readers, when coming across those kind of breaks, supply their own silence to let listeners know that a different story thread is picking up, but Mr. Jarvis often runs directly from one thread to another without supplying any audio indication that the story line was changing. This is a minor point, but I found it annoying at times.
With the above caveats I heartily recommend this book to any Neal Gaiman or Terry Pratchett readers!
I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.
Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.
The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.
But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.
All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.
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