The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.
The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.
©2012 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2012 Hachette Audio
REVIEW OF THE STORY
Kim Stanley Robinson has a pretty narrow audience. Are you in that audience? Did you like the Mars trilogy? Are you a hobbyist geologist/astronomer/physicist/chemist/engineer/biologist/ecologist/mathematician/programmer/etc? Or - better still - are you a professional in any of these fields? Yes? Then you'll be happy to know that 2312 is exactly what you expect: it's more of KSR doing what he does, and doing it well. So, grab your pocket protector and your graphing calculator, and run - don't walk - down to your local bookstore and buy a physical copy of the book and read it; you're going to love it. But, beware: do not buy the audiobook. Why? Well, I'm glad you asked...
REVIEW OF THE NARRATION
This audiobook represents the absolute worst narration of any story I've ever heard, in any genre, anywhere, anytime, ever. No, I'm not being hyperbolic; it really was *that bad*. Sarah Zimmerman does not have an unpleasant voice, but the way it is delivered in this book is absolutely..."unlistenable."
For starters, Ms. Zimmerman's delivery is remarkably monotone; no matter what she's reading, it all sounds the same. Interpersonal dialog? Omniscient narrator's perspective? Supplemental lists and excerpts academic information supplemental to the story? Yep; it all sounds identical. Similarly, there is almost no attempt at voice characterization. There is a brief moment towards the middle of the book where one of the characters (Inspector Jean Genette, a flesh-and-blood person) starts to speak in a monotone drone that is slightly reminiscent of the stereotypical 1950s sci-fi robot voice meme, but that's about it. But that's not the worst part. What truly ruins the whole production is the fact that the cadence of Ms. Zimmerman's narration (or, rather, lack thereof) appears to completely disregard punctuation. What do I mean? Well...
Imagine. A, book where the punctuation, is completely random without following. Any conventional. Rules of phrasing or -- voice or -- timing or meter or anything that gives. The language it musicality its, flow its inflection its, meter. Imagine. Trying to, understand, a, text that is narrated. In, a manner that seems to, be. Written the same, way, I have written. This paragraph.
....Yeah. Like that. Now, admittedly, the above paragraph was a bit of an exaggeration for the purpose illustrating the point. But here's the thing: sadly, it wasn't *that* hyperbolic.
Now, take that chaotic, unstructured narration, add a monotone voice, and a total lack of voice characterization, and what you get is a story that takes real, conscious effort to follow. I can imagine this would be particularly difficult for people who don't have at least a passing familiarity with the scientific/engineering topics presented therein. I will admit that I *eventually* got used to it, but it tool over 12 hours of narration before I could stop skipping back to hear passages again in order to comprehend them. In fact, it was so bad, for the first five or six hours of the book, I could only listen to 30 minutes at a stretch before I had to take a break. With most audiobooks, I can - and have! - listened for hours and hours on end.
I have one final complaint about the narration -- and this may be a nitpick, but... If a person is going to narrate a book written by someone who ranks among the "hardest" of the hard science fiction authors - a book where science *is* the main character - then one should probably know how to properly pronounce words like "coronal" (as in, coronal mass ejection), or "teleological." And Ms. Zimmerman doesn't.
While it's surprising that such a poor quality product (the audio rendering of KSR's book) would be available from a respected publisher, it's downright incomprehensible when one considers that Sarah Zimmerman is just one person in a group of people involved in its creation. In addition to the narrator, there's also a producer, a director, an editor (or two), engineers...and NONE of these people said, somewhere along the line, "Hey, you know, this doesn't sound so good...?" Really? Really?!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you like this author's other work, if you're a sci-fi fan with a truly nerdly bent, 2312 might be right up your alley. But get a *physical copy* to read the good 'ol fashioned way, because the audio rendering of this work is so amazingly bad, it detracts and distracts from the content of the story itself. Save your money; this audiobook isn't even worth the paper it's printed on.
The story intrigued me. I love far future, hard science stories. In fact, I will be buying this book for my ereader. However, I couldn't make it past 30 min of this audiobook.
Yes, I love far future and hard science, scifi.
I'm sure Sarah Zimmerman is a wonderful person but I can't listen to her narrate. Her delivery is monotone and there is something about the cadence of her speech that makes it difficult to tell when one person stops speaking and another starts. I couldn't get into the story because I was too distracted by her narration. Sorry but that's my opinion.
Disappointment with the narration. I couldn't listen to more than 30 mins.
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
2312 is a tale of two books. On one hand KSR does what he always does on these types of things, he paints a vivid picture of what the future could be like so wonderful that you can almost feel the cold of space on the back of your neck. The world he has created draws from the Mars trilogy but stands alone with new and interesting places.
On the other hand this book is boring to the point where if I was actually reading it rather than listening to the audio book I might not finish it. This might also have something to do with it as the narrator’s voice was so calm even the parts which are supposed to be edgy didn’t feel like it. For about half the book I don’t know what the issue is. Should I like swan or not? Was Alex murdered? Is that even the crux of the story? It takes a while for the plot to pan out.
If I could rate this 2.5 stars (right down the middle) I would but since I can’t it gets 3. The world created does enough to make this a worthwhile read as long as you know what you’re getting into.
No on both. Robinson must have been paid by the word, and I found myself skipping (2x speed) over most of them.
Ms Zimmerman's narration was barely tolerable. I listened to the book at 1.5x speed (with bursts of 2x and 3x).
Robert Charles Wilson
Not before listening to a sampling.
Robinson seemed to have researched his material (terraforming and climate change). But he wrapped those topics in a long story with a small plot.
I have read science fiction for over 40 years (Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, Neal Stephenson, Jim McDevitt, Robert Charles Wilson) . This is one of the 3 or 4 books during that time that I could not complete. I had had Mr Robinson on my reading list for some time. He is no longer on it. This is just my view and personal preference, and I wish Mr Robinson every success with his audience.
robinson does a great job of weaving a human story through a solar system trotting explanation of humanity's possible future. however, the narrator speech pattern expresses about as much emotion as stephan hawking's.
As a huge fan of The Mars Trilogy, I was very excited to find out this book takes place in the same universe, so to speak. The sample first chapter really caught my interest, as it takes place on Terminator, Mercury--the city where one of the most memorable scenes in Blue Mars takes place. But in the end, the book did not captivate me even remotely as much as those previous books.
Partly it may be because of erroneous expectation on my part--I expected another epic story with complex multiple characters. 2312, instead of being a multiple protagonist story, is focused mainly on one character, Swan Er Hong. And therein lies the first problem: she's just not very interesting. In the Mars Trilogy, Robinson created some smashing female characters, very complex, very flawed. Swan is no comparison to Nadia, Maya, Hiroko, Anne, Jackie and Zo. Instead of being complex and flawed, she comes off as a bit of a pill.
The other characters are also not very interesting. Supposedly, there's a love story here, but it didn't resonate with me.
The tone of 2312 is far more pessimistic than the Mars Trilogy, perhaps because we're living in a more pessimistic time than when the Mars Trilogy was written. The story is not entirely hopeless, but it's still kind of a drag to think that even 300 years into the future, Terrans will be just as short-sighted as many are now. Especially since Blue Mars left us with a more hopeful vision of the future.
As usual, Robinson includes a ton of science that is very interesting, but without amazing characters and story, it comes off as very dry. There are some amazing moments, such as the description of Manhattan post-flood, and the reintroduction on Earth of extinct animals that have been bred in space. However, for the most part, it is a bit of a slog.
The performance is adequate (she's at least a better reader than the fellow who narrates the Mars Trilogy) but nothing special.
gee & unlay
Readers who love super hard core science fiction.
Something science fiction.
Yes. It was interesting but dragged on and on about subtle things about the main character that I just did not find interesting.
If you like hard core sci-fi that's ponderous and has a lot of techno babble this is your book.
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
I had some expectations for this book, but .....
I think that all possible factors agreed to combine and create the worst book I read this year.
I never thought I would ever say a book is too descriptive. The story just gets lost in the ongoing descriptions of the planets, the characters weird life, and biology. In the middle the story diverts to Earth and it lends nothing to the main story line. The ending was so dull I practically fell asleep during it.
2312 is the latest entry in the Kim Stanley Robinson universe spawned in "Red Mars" and continued through "The Martians." Being beyond even the super extended lives of the cross-book protagonists of previous volumes, we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters. These center primarily on Swan Er Hong, granddaughter and heir to the latest and recently deceased Lion of Mercury. Primarily an artist and carefree spirit who previously worked on the many terrariums which now orbit the sun, Swan is reluctantly drawn into the intrigues of her late grandmother. This small group of individuals, carefully avoiding the normal communications net, has begun to amass evidence of a conspiracy against the Mondragon (the very loose trading alignment of ex-colonies beyond Earth). Details are sketchy, but it appears to be connected to a highly unauthorized and highly dangerous number of agents who appear to be human, but are actually creations of and repositories for intelligent AI's -- the same kind of AI's that run so much of the day to day existence of humans across the solar system. Linked unexplained attacks on a terrarium and on Swan's home city of Terminator bring home the humanity's vulnerability and hone the group's desperation to unmask the conspiracy before larger havoc is wrought.
The many characters both major and minor slowly piece together this three dimensional puzzle, taking us literally from asteroids inside the orbit of Mercury to the frozen fields of Titan where even here, humanity is working epically to terraform a home. And, of course, much of the problem is connected to Earth. It's an Earth where the promise of reform and openness hinted at a century ago (@end of Blue Mars) has yet to be realized; an ecologically devastated home world groaning under its teeming billions and 10 meter sea level rise.
There are flaws with this book - the economics of the solar system are still quite fuzzy, as are some of the particulars of the technologies and terraforming. Worse still, I don't actually *like* many of the characters featured - least of all the main protagonist - but she merely super-exemplifies the petulant, bohemian, self-absorbed, trans-gendered, labor-phobic extra-terrestrial humans that largely populate Stanley's 24th century. Lastly, the plot meanders often, taking more than a few detours and dead ends through duller spots.
Having said all that, the book is still marvelously engaging. Robinson shows us the "accelerando" from the end of the last trilogy here in full bloom: asteroid terrariums, hollowed out and spinning for gravity, each one a self-contained biosphere and society ranging from the mundane to the exotic. Many of these terrariums are doing dual duty as travelling conduits between the various ex-colony worlds scattered from Mercury to the moons of Neptune, which are themselves exceedingly diverse and fascinating in their detail. Even Venus at last is being changed to habitable under dueling and simultaneous terraforming strategies (fast and friendly enough to get more people off the Earth quicker, or slower and more drastically/thoroughly to make a more Earth-like planet). It is perhaps only because the settings become so vivid that I find myself wanting to know more of the hows and whys and thus finding a few loose ends.
All in all, anyone who either enjoyed Robinson's 'Mars' trilogy, or appreciates SF where an author creates a vivid and different universe for their characters to inhabit should enjoy the book.
I didn't find the narration as bad as some of the other reviews - but I enjoyed Richard Ferrone's narration of the Mars Trilogy more.
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