In the near future, to escape the crush and clutter of a packed and polluted Earth, the world’s elite flock to Atopia, an enormous corporate-owned artificial island in the Pacific Ocean. It is there that Dr. Patricia Killiam rushes to perfect the ultimate in virtual reality: a program to save the ravaged Earth from mankind’s insatiable appetite for natural resources.
A strong narrative with several distinct voices propels the listener through this brave new world, painting a powerful and compelling vision of a society that promises everyone salvation with passage to an addictive, escapist alternative reality.
©2013 Matthew Mather (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan. While I have (thanks to some recommendations from my brothers) read a few Sci-Fi stories in the past, it's never been an area I was that comfortable in or drawn to.
When I received notification that my pre-order for Atopia was in my library and ready for download, I was a little stumped; when had I ordered this? Why would I have? I read the synopsis and could see why I may have been drawn to it; dystopian undercurrents, with multiple narrators and points of view... The current senile me thanked the previous, unremembered me for having pre-ordered the story, and I began the book immediately.
As mentioned above, the story is told by multiple points of view with jumping and/or overlapping timelines. You may at times find yourself in the same conversation you've read before, but now from the other character's point of view. Each new section begins with a clear announcement of which character you are about to hear from. In the firsts half of the book, these sections are larger chunks and it takes a while to catch on to the intricate cobweb of shared history that connects all of these people (or perhaps I should instead say sentient beings) together. Then, as you become more comfortable with the format and players, these sections become shorter and faster as the narrative speeds up to it's final conclusion; or at the very least, the conclusion for now.
One of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, was discussing recently that one of the accepted, identifying qualities of the Science Fiction genre is that it provides us with a forum in which to look at, consider, and discuss moral and ethical ramifications of different choices and ideologies as they are extended into the future. I'd never considered that before, but between his recent Sci-Fi book (Hollow World) and this novel Atopia, I really see what he's talking about. This book gave us a great deal to consider regarding what we call "progress" and "technology" today, asking how far these ideas can be taken before they become something that controls us, rather than something we control.
I believe that for the great majority of people, this is a book that will greatly benefit a second reading; and I am greatly looking forward to mine. Now that I'm more comfortable with the players and the landscape, I believe I'll pick up on a lot of great stuff in the second read that I missed in the first one.
I recommend this book, regardless of what "genres" you typically listen to.
I read, I write; I listen
From one of the leaders in the cyberspace community, Matthew Mather takes us into the world of the future; a world of nanotechnology and virtual reality.
The earth is overcrowded and those with the resources flock to a corporate owned floating island called Atopia. Anything is possible in Atopia taking multi-tasking to an extreme. Thanks to nanotechnology and virtual reality people can literally be in more than two places at once.
Using his expert knowledge of cyberspace the writer gives us a very possible glimpse into the not so distant future where people seamlessly link with computers and expand their cognitive abilities; but at what cost?
The story may be a little hard to follow at first; the writer uses different characters to give their perspective of the same scene and it seems that there are separate story lines, but everything comes together in the last chapter.
The narrators do a good job and help the listener know that another character is speaking although I usually prefer one gifted narrator to an assembled cast.
I can’t wait for the second book “Dystopian. “
I prefer the audio version due to separating male and female characters.
none at this time.
Bob. Stepped up when he had to and became a leader.
Finding out all the drama behind Jimmy (poor guy).
Looking forward to the next book and how things will move forward.
The horrific "New York" narrator.
I tried to listen to this book 3 times before I gave up - it is a fantastic premise, but whomever allowed this person to perform should be out of a job... along with the narrator.
Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL
wow! everybody remembers those scifi books that just blew you away. you thought about them for days after you finished them. atopia is one of those books that'll stay with me for a long time! why? b/c the technology and its applications AND implications will soon be at our doorsteps. where the tech from daemon may be 5-10 years away, the tech from atopia is at least 20 years away. so why am i so excited about? b/c the author does an amazing job of explaining what it is and how it'll work.
you may be asking, "well, isn't virtual reality (vr) dead? the last time i got excited about it was the lawnmower man, and that was over 20 years ago." well my friend, it's time to get excited again! matthew mather's vision of the future is both amazing and scary. mather combines the power of nanotechnology with the infinite possibilities of virtual reality to create a truly plausible symbiosis of our future.
when the lawnmower man came out in 1992, the possibilities of virtual reality were hinted at. but at that time, most people never heard of nanotechnology. jump 22 years in the future to today, and we have a better look at what the future holds. we've gone from mega to peta. yes, moore's law is still alive and kicking.
when virtual reality meets nanotechnology, the true potentials and pitfalls of the two really take shape. imagine ingesting smarticles, little nanotech machines that bond to you on the cellular and neurological level. you now have a direct neurological connection to virtual reality. add to that, the ability to distribute your consciousness and create proxies or copies of yourself.
what would you do? your physical body could exercise while you're off playing a realistic version of call of duty, where you actually feel getting shot or smashing up a car. you could go surfing while a proxy of you visits proxies of your family at a virtual reality house that looks, smells, and feels like it's in the south of france. whatever you can imagine, you can create. the only limit is your mind. how many proxies can you handle? don't worry, there's software for that too! LOL
amid this setting, mather tells the story of 8 different people in 6 parts. each part has 1 or 2 main characters. the main characters from each part interact with each other in each part. that may sound confusing so let me give you an example. don't worry, i won't give away any spoilers. rick strong is the main character in part 2. in part 2, you see his side of the story and conversation while in subsequent parts, you see the other side of that conversation from another character. this is so well done that you won't get confused or forget what a character was saying in a previous part. when you actually get the second part of the conversations, you'll actually get the chills! LOL
one reviewer said that he could not get past the first story. in my opinion, the first story is the weakest, and it is not as integrated into the story as the other parts are. the book starts to take off with part 2 and starts soaring with part 3. after that, you won't want to stop listening b/c you want to find out how all these puzzle pieces fit together.
for the most part, the narration is really good. i liked how they used different narrators for each main character. again, the narration from the first part was a little hard to get into b/c the character has a strong new york accent. but don't skip it! it's crazy how part 1 comes into play later in jimmy's story. eeewww! got the creeps!
yes, there's a lot of tech and ideas introduced in the book, but it's done in an easily understandable way- you won't have to rewind and re-listen to understand. the general concepts are introduced early on and the intricacies of the tech are explained in subsequent parts via the actions they perform. trust me, by the end, you'll understand splintering, neural plasticity, and the differences between inversing, reversing, and compositing. LOL
overall, this is an excellent story. listening to some of the parts, i thought of the twilight zone, with the stories ending with a macabre or unexpected twist.
Interesting, thought-provoking, disturbing
Bob. I just relate to his carefree attitude, but also to the fact that I, like him, have baggage. Still he was the one character that was probably the most likeable and the most personable.
I thought they all did a great job. The only complaint I have is that with multiple people, sometimes the interpretations of the different character's voices didn't match making it somewhat difficult to follow. This was just a result of the style of book, written in first person narrative but from different perspectives/characters between chapters.
For example, late in the book, Patricia Killiam and Jimmy have a dialogue. One chapter describes it from Patricia's point of view, and the other from Jimmy's. For some reason, the narrator of Jimmy gave Patricia Killiam a british accent...something that wasn't there from the actual narrator of Patricia Killiam. This sort of killed the vibe and the drama of the moment.
Otherwise, overall, the narrators were great!
No. Too long. But I was able to finish it in about 3 days.
Overall, Mather did a nice job of creating realistic future technologies and the potential troubles it would bring. The deep psychological aspect of the story makes this an interesting read. The "what would I do in that situation?" question lingered in my mind as I listened.
A couple of the twists were somewhat expected. But the hype itself was good and I thought the first section that follows Olympia was the strongest aspect of the book.
I had high hopes for Atopia and was eager to listen to the story. I knew right from the start that the book was not going to keep my interest. I thought (based on the descriptions) that this was going to be a hard science fiction story. The first 100 pages showed this was at best a very soft science fiction, the kind where the author introduces a new technology without any explanation or background. This is not always a fatal flaw, if the author then moves the story forward with strict rules about the limits and functionality of the new technologies. In Atopia we have a lazy author that never tries to understand the technology they are writing about. Mather uses the technology as a magic wand that behaves differently depending on the immediate needs of the story.
Sometimes when the story is lacking the science, it can make up for it with powerful characters that draw the reader into the world. Again Mather fails in a big way, there are many characters and I did not like any of them. I had no desire to see what would happen to any of the one dimensional characters.
So I did not enjoy this book at all and would not recommend it to anyone. I can only hope there will not be any more of them, but I fear there will be an entire horrible series.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
This book is not nearly as good as the reviews lead you to believe. It is a collection of short stories that are, apparently, connected. Story one is about a woman who wishes her reality away... probably a better concept if we cared about the character, or could accept her being stupid enough to do what she does in the story. She is supposed to be a professional, and yet... her choices are ones an 8 year old would know better than to make.
Story 2... was just dumb. Sexist and flat characters who don't do anything other than discuss how unhappy one of them is. I think this is supposed to contain a moral, but I don't know what it is. Unless it is that having children won't save a relationship.
Book 3 was okay in that it was kind of interesting at the start, but, by the end of it (and remember it is short so I shouldn't have had enough time to be annoyed), you have heard about 20 different possibilities which are just more variations on a theme. The story is too short to add extra scenes just to show how "smart" the author is in thinking up another possible time line.
Story 4 is by far the worst. Very lecturey on the nature of virtual reality and the main character is just a stereotypical 20-something entitled boy. Who is described using drugs in a manner that someone who has never used drugs might describe.
All in all: waste of time and money. The concept could have been interesting, but the presentation by this selection of 4 stories certainly didn't express the concept very well. There is a very strong sense that the author is fairly new at the craft: maybe with more seasoning he could write characters we care about, or scenes that express new technology without lecturing, or events that sound realistic, even within the high/new tech field.
The narration is acceptable. There are different narrators for the story and it seems that none of them are professional narrators, though they are understandable and clear. They just don't add much to the story. There is no sex or gore, and if there was swearing it was minimal.
Interestingly The Atopia Chronicles would have been the number 2 contender within my audiobooks library if it wasn't for that really, really bad performance of Olympia Onassis. I would have skipped over the whole section and if her annoying voice wasn't connected to a piece of the story. If you can hold on and endure sections with her voice, it will be worth the time.
Although there are a couple movies I could compare Atopia to, here isn't any book that I have read (or listened to) that can be compared to it. I guess that is why I kept listening. The story toys with the imagination and the human desire to "do more" with our bodies using technology. I wanted to know how far would the author would go to show the issues that came with integrating the seemly perfect synthetic reality systems with imperfect humans.
Don't have a comparison for any of the narrators.
You have a "oh" with a side of "yeah, it makes sense" moments when you discover one of the characters start to show a whole new side of themselves.
"An Intriguing Science Fiction Story!"
I was recommended this book/series by Amazon,since I love science fiction. It sounded interesting, so I downloaded this on audio book. I must admit it was an intriguing story!
There are several characters in this book, and because it would take too long to do a character breakdown for every single one, I have decided to just jump right in to my review.
There are several narrators that bring each of the six chronicles to life. They are: Luke Daniels, Angela Dawe, Tanya Eby, Amy McFadden, Mikael Naramore and Nick Podehl. I am not sure who narrated the first chronicle, but I nearly stopped listening to the story within the first 15 minutes. The lady had a thick New York or Brooklyn accent that, I am sorry to say, really put me off; no offence meant to New Yorkers or Brooklynites. The nasal tone of the narrator made me cringe, as her voice sounded whiny and it gave me a headache. However, I persevered and I am glad I did; the rest of the narrators were a pleasure to listen to.
The story was a wonderful mix of science fiction, fantasy and reality. The first chronicle was set in New York, but the rest of the series was set on the island of Atopia, a large man-made floating island in the Pacific. Dr. Patricia Killiam is launching a new virtual reality platform. However, everything is not as it seems.
This story takes the reader on a fast paced roller coaster ride! Every character involved in this story is affected by certain events that culminate in an amazing showdown with a desperate and slightly crazy individual.
The story did feel a bit disjointed at times, but I suppose it's because it was originally written in sections. I really liked Bob (Robert Baxter), who was a bit of a drunkard and drug addict, but he has reason to be. I don't believe that drink and drugs are a solution to a problem or situation, but in his defense, it was understandable. This book actually terrified me, in a way. With the way we are advancing with our computers, and the virtual reality in movies getting better and better, this technology could, in the not too distant future, become more readily available. The line between what is real and what is virtual is growing thinner and blurrier all the time. This could, in the wrong hands, be used as a kind of mind control one day, and this absolutely terrifies me. If the life we now live is an illusion, what would be the point in living it? Are we actually already living in a virtual world? This kind of story makes a person think very deep and philosophical thoughts. That being said, I really enjoyed the story. The ending finished on a slight cliffhanger, and now I am looking forward to continuing the Chronicles by reading/listening to The Dystopia Chronicles, which will be released in August this year.
Matthew Mather has written a intriguing science fiction series. His characters were very lifelike. I loved his fast paced writing style and, even though the flow was a bit disjointed in places, I would definitely read more of his books in the future.
Due to the mention of alcohol and drug abuse, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. I do, however, recommend this book to lovers of science fiction or dystopian fiction genres. - Lynn Worton
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