Audie Award Finalist, Solo Narration - Male, 2014
Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
A few words from Neil on Dimension of Miracles: "Dimension of Miracles is probably not [Sheckley's] most famous book…. but I think it's probably his best-loved book. It's about the joys and tribulations (mostly the tribulations) of winning the lotterythe galactic lotteryaccidentally. And wrongly. Tom Carmody is awarded a remarkable prize, is taken half way across the universe to collect it, finds himself hopelessly lost, and needs to find his way home again to Earth…to this Earth, not an alternate, weirdo Earth. He's got to get back. And the price is high.
In its style of humorand even in some of the jokesDimension of Miracles is very obviously a precursor of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas actually hadn't read Dimension of Miracles until very shortly after Hitchhiker came out, when people pointed him to it, and he told me that he found the experience almost shockingit was like reading himself. He was a huge admirer of Bob Sheckley and a huge admirer of this book, and in later life, I had the privilege of introducing both of them.
Now the challenge for me with a book this funny, this strange, this perceptive was to try and find a narrator who was as iconic, somebody who could deliver the goods, somebody who could give you a book like this as it deserved to be given. And the first, and the last, and actually the only person to come to mind was John Hodgman. So I asked John, and he said yes! And he did it; he pulled it off. Listening to Johnnot just the suave, sensible, sane narrator of this book, but all the peculiar accents and incarnations that he is forced to adopt through herehe does it delightfully, he does it brilliantly, he's really, really funny. And so is this book. Enjoy your journey through a Dimension of Miracles."
Dimension of Miracles is a satirical science fiction novel first published by Dell in 1968. It's about Tom Carmody, a New Yorker who, thanks to a computer error, wins the main prize in the Intergalactic Sweepstakes. Tom claims his prize before the error is discovered and is allowed to keep it. However, since Tom is a human from Earth without galactic status and no space traveling experience, he has no homing instinct that can guide him back to Earth once his odyssey begins - and the galactic lottery organizers cannot transport him home. Meanwhile, his removal from Earth has caused a predatory entity to spring into existence - one that pursues and aims to destroy him. Carmody is on the run, and he ends up transporting from Earth to Earth - different phases and realities of the planet, which of course is not the time or condition he expects.
©1968 Robert Sheckley (P)2013 Robert Sheckley
"Hodgman, probably best known to geeks for his appearances on The Daily Show and his role as the PC in those Apple commercials a few years back, has a dryly intelligent deadpan that wonderfully counterpoints the absurd adventures of Thomas Carmody, a mid 20th-century New York everyman who’s invited to a galactic center to collect a sweepstakes prize." (Locus)
A wonderful journey that just makes you want to listen for hours. A must read/listen, actually a must listen by John Hodgman only, he is perfect for this. A very talented man.
All of it!
The narrator made it wonderful - how dare you say he detracted
No, not really
Listen to this book darn it!
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Everyman Tom Carmody is melancholically living his unsatisfying life in NYC in our present (more or less) when he unexpectedly wins the Galactic Sweepstakes and goes to Galactic Centre to receive his Prize, thinking that being a winner must bring with it privileges like wealth, prestige, women, or knowledge. It develops that Carmody won his Prize, a sentient shape-changing being with an attitude, due to a computer deciding to exercise its free will by committing a one in five billion error by incorrectly choosing him. The rest of Sheckley's 1968 novel Dimension of Miracles depicts Carmody's attempts to return to home and to avoid being eaten by his own unique and persistent predator.
As Carmody converses with his Prize, meets various beings (like an unfulfilled and jaded God, an engineer who creates worlds like earth, an agent of the Galactic Placement Bureau, and an overly solicitous city), and visits various alternate earths, Sheckley revels in philosophical, metaphysical play and sharp satire. He targets racism (via dinosaurs!), religion, gods, human pretension, science fiction, and especially consumer culture. On one earth people wear clothes with the designer labels visible and converse in advertising catchphrases as they try to increase their consumer ratings, while on another an artist-designer has just made the first Museum of Human Waste: "We consume, therefore we are."
The novel percolates with interesting and funny lines:
--"Comparative knowledge is one of the few deficiencies of godhead."
--"How do you expect us to run it [the galaxy]? We're only sentient."
--"Intelligence counts for nothing more than claws and hooves."
--"Any creature that doesn't know its own location should never leave home."
--"How do you tell a god what his function should be if you're an atheist?"
--"The most fundamental fact in the universe. . . is that species eat other species."
--"Men remain inexorably true to themselves and their interests. They stay in character, even if that character is suddenly transported to Timbuktu or Alpha Centauri."
--"The secrets of the universe are overrated."
John Hodgman reads the novel with amusing aplomb, changing his voice for the various characters (and for the various voices of the Prize), including monotonously intoning (almost in a religious chant) as a computer and singing as the Prize when it's flute-shaped and doing a fine proud T-rex. Just several times rather early on a disconcerting quick scratching noise in the audio occurs, a bit like on an old vinyl record. The audiobook ends with an interview between Neil Gaiman (the book is an entry in the Neil Gaiman Presents line) and reader John Hodgman, humorously offering insights into the novel and into Hodgman's mindset and approach to the novel as its audiobook reader.
Because Sheckley's novel is a picaresque, galactic travelogue, one gets the feeling that it could run longer or shorter. A conversation between the Prize and Carmody regarding the former's being a "self-eater" goes on a bit too long, given the short length of the novel. A few times Sheckley may try a bit too hard to be funny, as when he has the Prize "talking away like a senate sub-committee," or has Carmody say, "'Sounds good to me' in exactly the same tones that Napoleon used when he was shown Ney's dispositions for the Battle of Waterloo." (Hey, maybe that one is pretty funny. . .)
Finally, although Dimension of Miracles may not be quite as funny as it's reputed to be, its small space is packed with interesting and innovative ideas, riffs, and features, and I like its satisfyingly anti-Wizard of Oz ending. People who like Kurt Vonnegut Jr. would probably like it (as would people who like Douglas Adams, though I haven't yet read his work).
This book made me laugh uncontrolably while among strangers in a crowded room. That means it's good.
While it was written many years ago, it's still very well suited to the modern reader. It is funny and pretends to take itself too seriously while doing totally the opposite. The main character is actually quite likable, unlike Arthur Dent, whose suffering you actually enjoy.
Hodgeman knows humor. Something in the way he combines serious and flippant nails it.
I laughed out loud several times, causing people to stare. I'm normally pretty reserved.
this is very much a pre-Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel. it has much in the way of the odd ball events and satiric jabs at society etc. that pop up in Adam's work. while i found it very much like HGG and enjoyed it, i did find myself wishing for a little more of the manic Adams movement and wordplay etc. Hodgman is passable as a narrator but could have read with a little more gusto. still all in all good and i do like the ending but a couple scenarios perhaps go on a bit too long. can't give it more stars simply because it is done better by Adams.
The subject matter, style and no-holds-barred whimsey of this book reminds me so much of Adams, I have a hard time thinking that the two were not drinking buddies or something. Hodgman's performance is stellar.
Not enough time for listening: tiny commute, little travel, and less leisure. And the dog must be walked. Wah!
I was not familiar with this story or with Robert Sheckley, and I am SO glad I snagged this story. Fantastic reader matched to a great story.
This story is hilarious and Hodgman is great. I really enjoyed it. Recommended of you enjoyed Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
I bought it based on Neil's recommendation and glad I did - excellent work, positive in the end, interesting twists along the way. The reader used lots of different voices which I thought worked well and didn't sound forced like some others I've heard.
I loved this book, laughed out loud until my face hurt. Intelligent, witty, and very well narrated. I was not in the mood to laugh when I started this book, but decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised, and my mood was instantly altered. Highly recommend
Yes, I would. It was very close to perfect.
The feeling I had when I finished the book was the feeling you have after a perfect meal - every taste bud satisfied. The resolution of the story was perfect.
It was pitch perfect, so 1950s in just the right way.
I laughed out loud more than once.
Thanks Neil for sharing your love for this book. By now everyone knows how close this book is to the hitchhiker's guide. Think Arthur Dent with a lot more spunk. But if that makes you hesitate at all, believe me, enjoying this book is not going to take anything away from the guide. I'll listen to or read everything Sheckley has written!
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