This is, quite simply, one of the best-written science fiction novels I have ever read. Scifi can be interesting, quirky, creative, but novels in this genre usually don't read like they're written by people who have mastered the craft of prose. This novel does. It sings!
Interpersonal nuance, human foibles, narrative tension, and the poetry of the cosmos are all woven toegether expertly. Not only that, but the science is well-explained and is grounded in authentic quantum and relativity theories, though of course it's speculative, being about time travel paradoxes. Still, no hand-waving flux capacitors here! (As you'd expect, since the author is an academic astrophysicist.)
I found that although the dramatic performances of the readers were truly excellent, the reading was sloppy in producing some errors, kind of like finding a lot of typos in a written book. The narrators (and especially Audible's editors, who should have caught this) should have been careful about catching these mistakes. One of the protagonist's partners is variously called Penny or Peggy early in the novel, and the phrase "causal loop" is always mis-read as "casual loop", which is laughable. There were one or two other reading errors that I don't remember, but that brought me up short because they didn't make sense.
There's a reason this is an award-winning novel! If you can prepare yourself to mentally substitute "causal loop" every time the narrators say "casual loop", you'll really enjoy listening to this.
1) Someone besides the author should have read it.
2) The topic of how genes, neurons, and experiences all contribute to gender differences is an important and valuable topic in science, and one on which there is a lot of research on how these factors work together to create very real differences between men and women. This book does a true disservice to all of that scientific research. The author repeatedly used terms that are inappropriate for human brains: "hard-wired", "determined by genes," "driven by hormones." As a neuroscientist myself, I know that in the human brain, unlike in some animal brains, no neural connections are completely hard-wired.
The way development works in human (and many primate and mammalian) brains allows for an elegant interaction of neuron growth regulated by genes, neural wiring regulated by experience, and genetic activity in neurons regulated by both genes and experience. It's a disservice to readers to portray brain development so inaccurately, as if it were less flexible than it really is.
3) The scientist/author should have done what scientists are supposed to do: consider alternative hypotheses to her own, and how well various alternatives explain the data. did not even try to imagine how gender differences apparent in children aged 3 or 4 might be explained by experiences, but simply stated that if such differences were present at such a young age, they must be "genetically determined" or "controlled by hormones" or "hard-wired."
There is ample research on how people treat even new-born babies differently depending, not on the baby's actual gender, but on what they think the baby's gender is. Boys are handled more roughly, girls more gently; people talk to boys and girls differently; as babies grow into toddlers who interact with others, girls are given disapproval if they are rough or assertive, whereas boys receive approval and praise for such behavior.
None of this research is acknowledged, nor are the author's hypotheses ever truly considered in the scientific light of evidence that is inconsistent with the author's point of view. (We at least deserve to get her explanation of how to deal with such evidence.) Instead, an oversimplified narrative about gender is driven home, and many unsupported claims are made throughout the book, but written as though they constitute "scientific facts." This book gives science writing a bad name.
Dull, flat voice.
This book was a complete disappointment.
A different story, and a different writing style would have made Steamed better.
Nothing by Kate MacAllister!
Tired, bored disappointment. It read kind of like a teenager's inexperienced erotica, shallow characters, hackneyed plot, boring, boring, boring. There is good Steampunk literature out there. ZThere's even good erotica out there. This isn't part of either of those genres; it isn't even on the same map. Very sad.
No, it was enjoyable. Not a great work of literature, but a really good summer vacation read. Showed a little bit of history and pre-civil-rights racism, and how people in the South covered up so much. I guess if you're going to repress more than half the population, a little shame and self-repression goes right along with it. But the characters were interesting, a little complex and not cartoonish, like they are in some of Karen White's other books.
The narration detracted quite a lot. For novels set in the South, you have to get narrators who can truly do Southern accents. Ms. Devries' inconsistent accent for the main protagonist, kind of sloshing back and forth between a Yankee and a southern accent, was distracting. It constantly pulled me out of the story and made me aware I was listening to a recording.
Chinese computer viruses, Al-Qaeda, the Russian mafia. All they have in common is a Midwestern farm girl.
While exiting a building set on fire to escape the terrorists who are hot in pursuit, one of the characters feels vaguely guilty about using the emergency exit, since it's really only supposed to be used in emergencies. The book is full of such subtly drawn, amusing, and realistic psychological moments.
Neal Stephenson at his best. This could have used a little editing to tighten it up, but this was so much more fun and readable than the Baroque Cycle.
No, I would not read another book by Julia Glass unless I had some assurance that she had learned what a P-L-O-T is, or how to write a N-A-R-R-A-T-I-V-E. Some of the characters were kind of interesting, others, like the main protagonist, were just kind of, eh. The main problem is that there was absolutely no narrative arc. A novel is supposed to be more than: here are some people I invented in my head, and here are some things that they did, and that happened to them. What was the editor thinking? Why didn't this author get some guidance that she was only partway towards a novel? A really disappointing read/listen, and a waste of my money.
The genre of books without plots? Yes, definitely, don't want to read another one of those.
Individual sentences and paragraphs were well-crafted. Dialogue was believable. John Keating did a good performance - the problem was with the writing, not the performance.
I was just so disappointed in whoever makes decisions about the Natl Book Award. It's a sad statement about American literature if a pointless, overly long, meandering nothing can win an award. Was there really nothing better written that year?
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