©2007 Elizabeth Bear; (P)2008 Recorded Books, LLC
"Extraordinary ... [a] brilliantly detailed, tightly plotted, roller-coaster ... replete with a fantastic cast of characters." (Booklist, starred review)
This book took one of the old standards of Science Fiction; The generation ship, evolved it into a
modern thoughtful story. Adventure, Hi-Science Fiction and some love thrown in. Narration was good, although I rarely have a problem with the
narrators on audio books. I am astounded at the number of reviewers who rip on the narrators.
But I digress... This was a good story well told.
I almost wish for a sequel even though it is refreshing to read/listen to a sci fi book that
is not multi book.
This was my first audio book, as well as my first Elizabeth Bear book. The writing was exquisitely well crafted; her prose was simply wonderful to listen to and, because of this, I plan to read it as well. The story was compelling, leading the reader on to understand the complexities of "the world" that was the stranded generation ship, with its ship mind/AI fragmented into pieces, the "angels". Very ingenious and well done. Without burdening the reader with endless technical descriptions, she illuminates the characters and brings them into vivid focus. The narrator was perfect.
Whether one feels the work is good or bad, there are a lot of the same and similar things out there to read in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Can you tell the difference in Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon? I like them both, but I can't. That was why I was attracted to Elizabeth Bear's "Dust." It was so very different from much of the work out there and it was quite interesting in its differences. As someone who reads and listens (in combination), to approximately 50 to 60 books a year, I loved that I didn't guess correctly where the story in "Dust" was going. I will definitely look out for more from this author. I was also pleasantly surprised that it didn't seem to be set up as a muti-novel story either. It was refreshing to be able to finish a complete story without having to wait a year between each novel.
Dust is a mildly interesting variation on the generation ship theme. A lost and damaged interstellar space ship circling an unstable star sets the backdrop for a band of space travelers that have "evolved" well beyond human. The timeframe is far future with sophisticated AIs, nanotech, and genetic engineering capable of growing human wings. We begin some time after the accident that has precipitated current events. The ship's crew has bifurcated into two competing groups (former officers and engineers) with an almost Medieval orientation. The original AI has been forced to divide into multiple entities responsible for maintaining unique elements of the ship while at the same time assisting different groups in an attempt to reintegrate and take back total control of the vessel. We follow the journey of two women as they traverse the ship in an attempt to prevent an all out war.
The characters are not well developed and largely unremarkable, except for perhaps the AIs. The whole story has the feel of a shotgun wedding between a sci-fi setting and a vampire romance tale with a hint of homo-erotic innuendos along the way. One gets the feeling that effort was required to prevent choosing a fantasy fork as the story progresses. The ending is less climatic and moreso satisfaction that everything works out, sort of.
The narration is passable, but the flat affect for most of the story does not lend itself for much opportunity to display much in the way of range.
I am a trucker, and I keep myself occupied behind the wheel by consuming audiobooks. I lean towards series and sci-fi and fantasy, with an occasional dip into thrillers.
What got me to read this is the generation ship/ big ship angle. I am a total sucker for novels in this vein, and that's the only reason I got through this and the second book in the series, Chill.
As strange and otherworldly as the characters are none of them are really likable or well developed. They hang on the strength of their unusualness, aided by a fairly well developed set of technological enhancements that provide enough interesting aspects to keep you going to a point. To the author's credit the setting and various technologies are interesting and mysterious, yet they aren't enough to hide the sheer strangeness of the interactions between characters. There is a sheen of ill-defined sexuality that is hinted at but never well developed enough. The two main characters have a depth and connection that is unwarranted and inexplicable given the background provided.
If, like me, generation ships and arks are your thing, then the draw of this setting and the mysteries the ship holds will be enough to gloss over the unconventional aspects of the rest of the novel.
She presents theauthors prose with delightful skill.
Far superior prose to most in this genre.
Sorry folks. I find this book extremely hard to listen to. The author takes a lot of time developing characters to the detriment of the story.
This could have been reduced in length to about 100 pages. Perhaps an abridged version would be better.
This is definitely a "chick flick" and a review of the sample audio should be in order before buying.
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