This is a strange book. The writing is very competent. The aim seems to be to give a hyper-realistic account of what the colonization of Mars might be like, and some of the descriptive passages are startlingly evocative despite the audio narrator's relentless efforts to conceal the meaning of the sentences. The passages about science and technology are interesting even though most of them fail to advance the plot an inch. The plot is for all practical purposes nonexistent. There is a determined effort to shape realistic characters, but overall they are little different from soap opera people. There are long summary passages that sound like back story from notebooks. The characters argue and fight about things that might be important, but in their mouths sound trivial. Most action scenes come off as eighth-grade bullies' scuffles. Despite the intent to realism, I found it hard to believe that the first shipload of Martian colonists would be debating whether to completely throw out the colonization plans made on Earth (which by that time would have been decades in preparation) and with no replacement plans of their own, just naive political and social abstractions. Anyone with a disposition to disrupt the plans would have been screened out by NASA years before. The audio narrator is barely listenable; he is one of those readers with no ear for the rhythms and stresses of English, and who seems to believe words have no inherent meaning or feeling and he has to inject it, mostly resulting in relentlessly mis-stressed words and phrases to the disruption of the feeling that does reside there. The story being slow, the characters adolescent, and the reading poor, what allowed me to listen to this for the full 24 hours were that Robinson's workmanlike feel for English is usually strong enough to override the reader's misrepresentation of the sentences, and that occasionally a passage describing Mars arises vividly, worth waiting for over long, long stretches.
The narrator is completely numb to the emotional content and the humor of the stories.
This book is vintage, if lengthy, Lovecraft of course. But the narration is a true masterpiece of the craft. Edward Hermann's sense of diction, stress and the sheer literal meaning of the sentences enhances Lovecraft's heavy prose. Excellent.
The Scooby Do cartoon voices really drain the life out of this groundbreaking but already sort of wooden story.
This is a prototypical Stephen King novel, with page-turning plot craftily told, well-realized characters, few slow patches. One of his better books. The audio narrator, however, is just barely tolerable. He gives a cheery kind of adolescent emphasis randomly to meaningless words and imagery, though he does seem to understand the flow of English diction. I don't know how much these narrators get paid, but for a best-seller like this it must be a fairly decent fee -- you'd think that for the money he could spend some time learning what regional accents that he has to imitate sound like. But in the case of the Maine accent, he has no idea, didn't bother to find out, & beyond the common knowledge that Mainers drop certain r sounds, he just completely, utterly made it up. I've never heard the word "knows" rhyme with "gnaws" in Maine or anywhere else, or heard the name Turcotte pronounced as Turkit; & while a Maine accent can sometimes show a similarity to a Bronx accent, this guy has it trickle off into a sort of vague Irish brogue sometimes. What a mess. Later in the book he gets completely confused between Russian, German and Schwarzenegger-like Austrian accents. I don't know Southern accents well enough to tell if he's pulling off Texan or pulling our legs on that too. It's hard to believe Stephen King himself would have signed off on this.
This is a great story. But the narration, by the same narrator for Stephenson's Anathem, is largely out to lunch, with sort of bearable goofiness through the narrative parts of the book, but painful in the dialogue. It is really hard to understand what motivates narrators to lay Scooby Doo cartoon voices on perfectly well-realized human characters. You could make a case that Stephenson's Snow Crash is sort of a cartoon-character like book. But Cryptonomicon has much more fully developed and fascinating intellectual and emotional layers and real people in it, and it's too bad the narrator was incapable of recognizing them, or unwilling to. I don't know if I'll listen to it again. I'll want to. But the echo of some the voices will make me hesitate.
The dynamics of the sound in this recording are dismal. The performance of Lady MacBeth is superb! The performance of MacBeth himself is extremely uneven, to say it as politely as possible.
This has an excruciatingly bad ten or twelve minute critical introduction. After that comes one of the creepiest well-known works of modern American fiction, read in a way that clouds but does not obliterate the tone and madness of the story. It's hard to understand why so many audiobook narrators read in cartoon-character voices. Oh well. The gist of Miss Lonelyhearts is here.
One of the great works of modern fiction in English, narrated by a reader who does not appear to understand the story. Seems to miss every irony.
This is another good book really poorly narrated. The half-enervated singsong of the narrator's voice seems intended to reflect the music of Faulkner's prose, but the effect is like singing Emily Dickinson's poems to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas - it just doesn't match the emotional tenor of the content. How do you square singsong with a text filled with words like "vicious" in the first half-hour? The effect is stilted and so distant from the actual content of the text that listening is a process of battling to filter out the narrator's voice. I gave up. This is the second $14.95 I've wasted on unlistenable narration in the last few months.
The narrative parts of this reading are more or less listenable, if too hip-whispery for my taste. But this also contains some of the worst guessing in the history of performance arts at what a Maine accent sounds like. Some characters sound like they're from New Orleans, others from Georgia, others from some dead zone between Brooklyn and the Bronx, others from San Fernando Valley. I had to give it up after about three hours. I'll buy the print book.
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