I love Jules Verne. A few weeks ago, I had just finished listening to 20,000 leagues under the see read by Harlan Ellison. Mr. Ellison made the experience of listening to this well known classic fresh and immediate. I was therefore anxious to listen to this other Verne classic, Journey to the center of the earth.
Though I was positively disposed to the material and the style of the author, I found the narration unbearable between the extremely well done dialog accents.
The narrator affects a pompous, arrogant English accent that puts me off. He did not sound at all excited about the material. Indeed, the reading was rather perfunctory. Try as I might to adapt to the accent, hoping that it would become 'invisible' with enough habituation, I am still in pain as I listen even after several hours.
My image of an excited young nephew going on an an adventure of a lifetime is not met in this work. Instead, the narrator sounds like a middle aged man giving an account of his latest polo match over afternoon tea.
Kurzweil tackles one of the biggest scientific mysteries our our ages: How to build a synthetic mind. Instead of descending into mumbo jumbo, touchy feely nonsense, he sets forth a vision that makes a lot of sense, even to sophisticated practitioners. Sure, I think he over simplified the solution, but he gives enough specific hypothesis that one could spend decades fleshing out, refuting, refining his ideas.
All of it
Excellent, extremely pleasant to listen to his voice. Slightly arrogant which suits the material in the book.
Well, the only downside is that Lane mispronounced a few words... especially "von Neumann" repeatedly (saying "von New--man" which is simply not correct. This really bugged me. Clearly Kurzweil did not review the entire performance before giving his ok.
Otherwise his performance was great.
If you love the English language and all of its great authors, you will love this book and this audio performance. I can only compare this to Moby Dick in its complexity or Charles Dickens in its story telling. The audio recording would have delighted Orson Wells. What is wonderful about this book is that it moves along at a nice clip, with stories that make you laugh out loud or gasp. Your mind is intoxicated. I am half way through the book and my greatest fear is that the book will end and I will have to rejoin the real world.
David Mitchell is a genius, the actors superb.
I loved this audiobook and here is why. First the content itself is remarkable. The themes chosen by Asimov are right on target and are more relevant today than at anytime since the publication of this novel.
As a roboticist myself, my impression of Asimov's 3 laws has radically changed over the last 2 decades. When I first studied robots, I thought anything like the 3 laws and the idea of positronic brains where a far fetched fantasy. Now, the study of robot ethics, emotions, and personality are very serious topics as we learn to build robots that interact closely with humans.
Asimo builds his book using the 3 laws as axioms or postulates and then explores the ramification of those postulates. This is exactly what mathematicians do. In essence Asimov has translated the mathematical thought process into a wonderful novel. But he also uses these postulates to probe the basic nature of human beings.
Now, after 20 years of working with robots, I can state that that Asimov's vision was breathtaking.
Second, I loved the narration. I admit that it took a couple of stories to have my ear tuned to the speakers voice, but by the end of this audiobook, I found myself craving for more.
This audiobook is a "must have" for anyone who loves humanity or robots.
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