The entire novel is changed by this one sentence or two being missing at the end. Was that an authorized change by Silverberg? Other than that, a good performance of an excellent novella of a very strange dystopia.
Good narration, interesting dystopia
This is a diary form of a tale, told in first person by Morwenna, who survived a car accident that cost her her twin sister. But the accident is no ordinary accident; magic is involved--and witches, and...Morwenna's mother, who is apparently trying black magic to become the Dark Queen and be empress of the world--or so we are led to believe. We follow Morwenna as she's reunited with her absent father, goes to a posh but dull boarding school mandated by her three rich (witch?) aunts and she matures as a teen, gets a boyfriend, and battles magic. All through the book there is a running thread of the books Morwenna reads and loves, most of them science fiction. It's fun to hear her (abbreviated) opinion of the classics of sci fi but ultimately, there is less here in this novel than meets the eye and and the ultimate showdown is a bit of a let-down. The rest of the novel maunders on in diary form--interesting enough but not really gripping. Katy Kellgren's Welsh accent gets a bit on my nerves after the first section, but it's well-done and she's a good narrator, though she sounds a bit mature for the role of teenager. I've read worse, but didn't think it deserved a Nebula in the least.
Le Carre is the master of espionage novels, but his writing is unusual in "Tinker, Tailor"--the story is told mainly in past tense via interrogations by Smiley, though there are occasional scenes of action. But what you are reading is basically a very complex spy-vs-spy double agent scheme, laid out with exquisite logic. The revelation, however, is not a surprise, though I think it's not meant to be a surprise. We are supposed to get inside Smiley's head and literally BE him as he unravels the intrigue. What's left UNSAID is marvelous--the author trusts the reader always to be one step ahead or at least along side and leaves out the obvious.
The narration is excellent; Smiley's voice is a sort of Alec Guinness-like suavity, and other accents and voices are subtly but definitely dramatized by the narrator. One other reviewer remarks that this is not suitable for a commute and I rather agree--I found that the noise of the road plus the dense text made this easier to listen to at home. I wish that Jayston would narrate the rest of the Smiley books rather than have them dramatized as his reading is spot-on. Can't recommend it enough.
Oh, you look at this and think "GOODY! A Heinlein novel I haven't read, and yay! written from material dating back to his Young Adult novel days, when he really turned out some great stuff such as Citizen of the Galaxy, Tunnel in the Sky and many others." But no, that's not what we have here. In this case, the estate of Virginia Heinlein left some material sketched by Heinlein and Spider Robinson was proposed as the author who could take this buried treasure and develop it into a bestselling sci fi novel. And that's what happened. The story revolves around a typical Heinleinian ingenu-- Joel Johnston young hero, who chucks it all including an alluring marriage proposal to a very rich and pretty girl, and takes off on a one-way, decades-sublight voyage to colonize a new planet. The life in the space vessel, the newly formed society of pioneers and the challenges they face as they traverse space are incredibly well developed and quite exciting. There are many turns of fate that will have you gasping. But...it is not Heinlein, it's definitely Spider Robinson, with his devilish plays on words and a much more modern tone. I couldn't put it down. Annd this is true Space Opera, no fantasy, unicorns or wizards need apply. Robinson does an admirable job reading his own work. As long as you realize what this is, you may enjoy it as much as I did. Just don't expect Robert Heinlein writing from beyond the grave, because as you already knew, that's impossible.
Isaac Asimov revisited his Foundation series with a prequel decades after he wrote, first the Foundation Trilogy in the 50s, then went on to write sequential novels in the 80s and 90s. Though this is the first of the Foundation books set in the Galactic Empire period, it appeared more or less in the middle of the publication timeline. So if you have read the Foundation books, you will enjoy the back story of psychohistorian Hari Selden. While this story in some ways lacks the youthful enthusiasm and drama of the earliest Foundation novels from the 50s, it's still a good story and there is lots of action (that is, Asimov action, which consists of pursuit scenes, mainly and not a lot of shoot-em-up or sex. Well, almost none, in fact.) The reading by Scott Brick is as always, absolutely the best there is. Subtle character voice changes, no weird pretending to yell in a half-loud voice, or other irritating quirks, and that resonant voice we've come to love, nay, be addicted to. I'm only annoyed that due to Brick going out on his own as a voice star, the last Foundation Novel is not read by him, doubtless a contract problem and a shame that the end of the series doesn't have the same reader.
I didn't appreciate The Foundation as much as Asimov's robot novels when I was a teen, but going back to this first novel of the series, I was impressed with Asimov once again and have to say, this book reads well out loud. And Scott Brick as always is the perfect narrator. His voice is always well modulated and his characterizations are subtle but distinct. I was sorry when it ended and had to listen all over again. GREAT classic sci-fi at its very best.
I thought this would be like the more historical Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, which is very good indeed. This book, however, is told as a story more than a history. The opening tale of Temujin and his brothers and the climb to the eagle's nest is astonishing and wonderful. Once you are into that scene, you are hopelessly captured by this book. Of course, Rudnicki is the perfect narrator.
This is a very poetical, allegorical tale of eternal life coupled with spiritual death of a society. Hoards of immortal citizens flock cities created for their sheer amusement, recreating the past. But are they equipped to handle an all-too-human problem? Strangely enough, it is one of their recreations of the past that shows them humanity. The performance is adequate.
This book, a long favorite of mine, is even better as an audiobook. Somehow, rigging and reefing the top'sls makes more sense when read outloud--you can realize what action is taking place aloft. The story--well, it's amazing. And it's American history in a capsule that is incomparable; from the time of Andrew Jackson to the start of the Civil War and the founding of California. It is amazing to realize that from the 1830's to the 1850's, California went from a frontier to a vigorous, urbanized society --in 20 years! Astonishing. Dana covers the changes in his afterward written 24 years after his sea voyage as a youth. The only problem with Mayes' recording is that there is a lot of technical sloppiness--one part has background over-recording of some other voices, and in one part, the recording markers, to be removed, are left in. Mayes has a kind of fruity, British voice, yet he gets excited during the worst tales of storms and conveys the words of the author with emotion.
I enjoyed the first "Nightingale Floor" book of the Tales of the Otori series. This prequel fills in the back story that is told in "Nightingale Floor" so it's not entirely a surprise, but it's a pleasure to find out the deeper history behind Lord Otori Shigeru and what happened at the Battle of Yaegahara. If you are looking for a good series of pleasure-listening novels and you liked "Shogun"--this is a fine series if a bit predictable. It is imaginative and the reading is done well, with none of the usual problems of pronouncing foreign words that can be jarring in the best of productions. Recommended.
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