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The Incrementalists | [Steven Brust, Skyler White]

The Incrementalists

The Incrementalists - a secret society of 200 people with an unbroken lineage reaching back 40,000 years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories. Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste - and argued with her - for most of the last 400 years.
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Publisher's Summary

The Incrementalists - a secret society of 200 people with an unbroken lineage reaching back 40,000 years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories. Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste - and argued with her - for most of the last 400 years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules - not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

Editors Select, September 2013 - There are two reasons I’m excited about The Incrementalists. The first is that it’s about a secret, ancient organization that manipulates individuals in order to make the world just a little bit better. The second is that it’s co-narrated by Ray Porter, whose performance made Peter Cline’s 14 the insta-classic it turned out to be. Splitting the narration duties with Mary Robinette Kowal makes perfect sense, as the book’s perspective shifts between Phil, a member of the organization, and Renee, a new recruit. This is just the kind of quirky, contemporary sci-fi I look forward to. —Chris, Audible Editor

©2013 Steven Brust and Skyler White (P)2013 Audible Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Secret societies, immortality, murder mysteries, and Las Vegas all in one book? Shut up and take my money." (John Scalzi)

"Watch Steven Brust. He's good. He moves fast. He surprises you. Watching him untangle the diverse threads of intrigue, honor, character, and mayhem from amid the gears of a world as intricately constructed as a Swiss watch is a rare pleasure." (Roger Zelazny)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (186 )
5 star
 (40)
4 star
 (57)
3 star
 (48)
2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (10)
Overall
3.3 (173 )
5 star
 (38)
4 star
 (41)
3 star
 (48)
2 star
 (34)
1 star
 (12)
Story
3.9 (172 )
5 star
 (59)
4 star
 (52)
3 star
 (45)
2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
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  •  
    David 09-29-13
    David 09-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Just not my thing."
    Would you ever listen to anything by Steven Brust and Skyler White again?

    Probably not.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Ray Porter and Mary Robinette Kowal ?

    Sure. I don't think they saved the book, but they were better than the story.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I liked the female character's obsession with good design, but the author's kind of let it fall by the wayside once they had used it to establish her.


    Any additional comments?

    This book just kind of bored me. I didn't hate it, but I stopped listening with only an hour or so to go and I never missed it. I didn't really care what happened to anyone and don't have any interest in finding out.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Gaithersburg, Md, United States 10-07-13
    Barbara Gaithersburg, Md, United States 10-07-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    20
    1
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    0
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    Story
    "disappointing"
    What would have made The Incrementalists better?

    I don't know how this book got such a high rating. This story might have been better if it made any sense. I like a good sic-fi, but this story is way out in left field and, maybe I'm showing my ignorance, but I just didn't get it at all.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The narrators were both good and probably the only reason I kept listening.


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't have any desire to listen to the last 5 minutes.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boppie 10-14-13
    Boppie 10-14-13 Member Since 2014

    There's always something to read in my purse

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    47
    9
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    Story
    "WARNING: NOT SCi-Fi. Love Story In Disguise. Meh."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    This book is being sold as a secret society molding human history through the mists of time/sort-of time travel story, when in fact it's just another 'we were meant for each other' sappy love story with a thin veneer of 'we have this amazing way of transferring memories from one human consciousness to another over the last 40,000 years, but that's just a plot device.' SOOOO disappointing. I kept listening waiting for the good stuff to kick in, and it never does. I don't know who decided on this bait and switch marketing approach but it's really lame.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration isn't awful.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No way.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Daly Bayswater, Australia 01-14-14
    Sean Daly Bayswater, Australia 01-14-14

    I like books..usually the read-with-your-eyes type and this is all fascinating new to me. Keen to snatch up a freebie as they appear.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth hanging in there.."
    Would you listen to The Incrementalists again? Why?

    Probably wont listen again, by the end of the book i wanted more..but not more of the same again. There's a cool short story available on Tor if you want a touch more though.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Incrementalists?

    Oh by far fav moment were the early talks between Phil and Renee..when he unpacks the basic pitch of the incrementalists.. that was fun!


    What does Ray Porter and Mary Robinette Kowal bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It was my first audiobook, so the experience of having a woman narrating when it was from Renee's perspective was just really fitting. Ive never heard either narrator before though.. so i have nothing to compare them to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Probably the part of the story where Phil realises he's been 'meddled' with and as the scope and size of that realisation hit him.. I couldnt help but feel gutted for this guy!


    Any additional comments?

    At first..i didnt like how disoriented i felt at the begining of the story. Reading time/date stamps on emails, the disjointed switches between narrators..it all seemed like a bit of a dud. The lingo of the incrementalists takes some getting used to as well..since it's all in use right from the begining. SO persevere up until Phil and Renee meet. If by then you hav'nt picked up on whats going on..then bail. If you're like me.. and you are curious..get ready!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andreas Henriksson Sweden 01-08-14
    Andreas Henriksson Sweden 01-08-14 Member Since 2013

    Lover of sci-fi and the occasional horror story. Philosophical inclinations. English is my second language.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    79
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Empty novel that forgot its own plot"
    What disappointed you about The Incrementalists?

    This is a book I really wanted to enjoy. It has a really interesting sci-fi/fantasy premise and tries to be philosophically and politically informed - that should chime with me, and initially it does. Renee is recruited into an ancient society of people with the ability to change people's minds, an ability they have decided to use to only incrementally change the world for the better. Debates about good or bad ensues, promising the kind of cerebral adventure I admit to being fond of. But this promising beginning is evaporated as the authors suddenly tries to make this a book about facing change, as they create a villain who instead - horror! - want stability. This quickly devolves into a strange storyline where the protagonists have to defend the possibility of change (changing other people?) against the threat of neurotic stagnation (although I never get what should change and what threatens to stagnate) ... But wasn't the story about the difficulties establishing what is good and bad, and the curse of having the power to change people around you? Then the authors just keeps introducing unrelated ideas. There is something about virtual worlds, and then about the power of thought, also something about justice and then power to the people! ... and I am sorry, but this doesn't hold together, not on any level. The story is not exactly empty, just overloaded with unrelated ideas, none of which is explored to any depth. And nothing grips me, sadly. Though I had loved if it had...


    What about Ray Porter and Mary Robinette Kowal ’s performance did you like?

    I like the performance, Porter and Kowal do a splendid job with a difficult material. They kept me listening even after the point at which I had realized the narrative would not get any more exciting.


    What character would you cut from The Incrementalists?

    The characters, I am sorry to say, are vividly described, but not believable. Let's see... We have an almost two thousand years old person who after all that time writes a letter which turns out to be the first in which he risks making a fool of himself before a woman? And a several hundred years old guy who mind travels to other bodies, has his own inner mind garden, changes other people's minds at will ... and who is a Marxist materialist?

    And I am sorry, but I don't get the antagonist. At one point it just turns out she is evil - because...? Oh, right, she is not EVIL evil, but merely wrong, as the protagonists say. But why does she have to be killed, suppressed... ? A lot of other characters are obviously wrong and harm to others, but they are described as nice guys...

    And evidently, the protagonists are deeply engaged in exchanging and debating ideas, but suddenly prefer sex and romantic love before putting them into practice? (I really couldn't see them as protagonists after that.)


    Any additional comments?

    So the novel uses complicated words and refers to big thinkers? Well, a lot of people can do that trick, but precious few are great novelists. The Incrementalists is not a good novel, rather a novel that incrementally forgets the interesting plot at its centre and just goes bananas with random themes, till nothing remains.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 01-06-14
    Richard 01-06-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    18
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    "Confusing, boring, horrible ending"

    This book was a huge disappointment. The premise sounded pretty good - secret society, crazy member, potential disaster - it could have been good. Instead, it's a book where one guy works through his girlfriend issues in a batcrap-crazy memory palace.

    This book is hard to follow. I say that as someone who has read A LOT of fantasy. I'm used to sorting out the details of an alternate world where things just work differently. In this book, the "garden" where, apparently, all of mankind's memories get stored is dropped on the reader and they're left to figure out what's going on. Worse, characters will often say to the newbie "That's just how it works in the garden," and there's no rhyme or reason to it. The newbie and the reader are both just expected to say "sure, that makes sense," when it doesn't. The newbie seemed to figure it out over the course of the book. This particular reader never did.

    Also, there are three characters in this book - the guy, the newbie, and everyone else. It's like everyone is the exact same person, hanging out in a different body. Worse, one of the characters is actually possessed, and there's absolutely no way to tell. That character is LITERALLY another character in a different body.

    This book is seriously a mess. I was glad when it started winding down, because I wanted to be done with the story. Of course, in the final few minutes, they reveal that despite the fact that it seems like they've wrapped everything up, they've actually solved nothing, and there will need to be a sequel. Keep in mind that the authors don't build this up or show it in any way, they just have the characters say it, straight out of the blue, with no support or reason.

    This is a miserable book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Thomas Rockville, MD 11-07-13
    Kenneth Thomas Rockville, MD 11-07-13 Member Since 2009

    I am moving to Rockville, Maryland, in the coming week.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    95
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Good performance of a complicated tale"
    Where does The Incrementalists rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The book is in the middle of the pack of all the books that I have heard. Despite that, the story, although complicated, intrigued me. The performers portrayed the story and the characters very well.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Incrementalists?

    Getting staked, shot, and the conclusion.


    What about Ray Porter and Mary Robinette Kowal ’s performance did you like?

    I thought their portraits of the characters were very well done. They did the normal rendering of different characters by inflection, accents and tonal quality. They had a good range of styles to perform from two different actors.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    At times I was lost. The story is complicated, using logic to create tension between the plot and listener. I didn't cry or laugh, but was frustrated at times that I had to go back and think about what the performers said and consider the logic.


    Any additional comments?

    The story isn't a beach read, nor a dark and miserable tale. It can be brooding and incomprehensible with references to mathematics, logic and poker strategies. I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. It is more than cerebral and requires much thought and consideration to get through with some understanding.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gage SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 10-22-13
    Gage SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 10-22-13 Member Since 2011

    I love a good book

    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    23
    FOLLOWERS
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    1
    14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't Get into This. Too Cerebral."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I don't think I'd recommend this one. I couldn't get into the story line. I fast forwarded ahead thinking it would get better. No.


    Would you recommend The Incrementalists to your friends? Why or why not?

    No. Too cerebral. Seems to move 2 spaces back and 1 step ahead at every turn.


    Did The Incrementalists inspire you to do anything?

    Get a Clive Cussler book for a really good read.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timo 10-18-13
    Timo 10-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    128
    30
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    FOLLOWING
    4
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    "Too metaphysical for my taste"

    Sadly, I was really struggling with this book. While I like a dose of surrealism in my books, this one was too much for me. I liked the overall universe the story is set it but did not care for the fates of the people or their endless meanderings. I didn't find it "quirky" as the Audible review suggested, nor exciting or even mildly amusing but rather lengthy and very difficult to get through. Clearly this book was not my cup of tea.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Aurora, CO, United States 10-10-13
    Vicki Aurora, CO, United States 10-10-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "I could not finish this book"
    What disappointed you about The Incrementalists?

    The story was all over the place; it couldn't keep my interest and I had no desire to finish it.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Steven Brust and Skyler White again?

    I don't know


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 27 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Jibrail
    7/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Several attempts thwarted by the readers"
    What disappointed you about The Incrementalists?

    The female reader really spoiled - the intonation in her voice was unconvincing and irritating in the extreme.


    What was most disappointing about Steven Brust and Skyler White ’s story?

    The female reader was the most exasperating. The story line was very poor.


    How could the performance have been better?

    A better reader


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Incrementalists?

    pretty much all


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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