The remnants of humanity that survived relocated to the moon and other planets. But they are not alone in their struggle - someone or something, somewhere deep in space, is sending them advanced scientific data via the Ophiuchi Hotline. And by the 25th century, the technological gifts from the hotline - especially its biological and medical solutions - have created a world unlike any ever known or imagined.
©1977 John Varley; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"Varley's tight, clean writing, full of wit and good humor, evokes despair, joy, anger, and delight. His Luna is packed with wild inventions, intriguing characters, and stunning scenery." (Publishers Weekly)
"It is fast and complex, and it glitters most impressively." (Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels)
"This is a novel rich in societies, settings, and technological wizardry. It's a tough-minded, yet a playful book." (Ian Watson)
I have read a number of John Varley's books and have really enjoyed all of them. This was the first audio version of one of his books that I have listened to and it is as fascinating as his other books. The Ophiuchi Hotline is extraordinarily imaginative and mind expanding - gender is not a constant, you may not be the only version of yourself and aliens are really interesting. The story has wonderful and surpizing things happening at every turn and John Varley gets you inside the skin and intimate with the characters, most of whom are highly likeable, all of whom kindle your interest. This also seems to be an Audible production - well done Audible and please give us more John Varley.
This book flowed really well and was easy to follow for something with such a complex plot that follows a single character in multiple settings and times. It isn't about the invasion of Earth by aliens, but what happens long after that invasion from the perspective of a woman who has several possible roles in the salvation of various parts of humanity. Most of the book takes place on various planets in our solar system and outer space, and it is very imaginatively described without too much detail or invention of unneeded new words that some authors have a tendency towards in this genre. It was fun to listen to, though the narrator is not my favorite. She often speaks statements with an inflection that makes them sound like questions and tries too hard on male voices, but I got used to it after a while and was glad I'd chosen to listen.
I have read this book over and over for about the last 20 years, and have enjoyed it each and every time. So imagine my delight when I discovered that Audible had it in an unabridged version. And what a version! I found the narrator's version of the story as delightful as my own silent reading of it. As to the story itself, I loved the believability of the characters and the descriptions of the various planetary environments. I felt myself living in each of these environments as the story about it was told. I really hated to have the story end. This book is for those who don't mind reading a novel in which all sorts of "improbable" things such as memory recordings, living on airless asteroids, searching for small black holes to sell, etc. seem quite achievable and believable. In other words, for those who are not literal-minded and want to stretch their minds and imaginations by reading something that is just plain FUN.
John Varley and Theodore Sturgeon are my two favorite science fiction writers. It's probably been 20 years since I first read The Ophiuchi Hotline. All of the great Varley elements are here. It was a delight to re-experience this novel and the narrator was fantastic. (I am easily annoyed by narrators.) Gabra Zackman's reading actually enhanced the experience.
There world of this novel is rich and plausible; I wish there were more stories set in this place. The mysteries of the hotline, the invaders, interesting exploration of culture, cloning (a wonderful twist on this theme), gender, biomechanics, ethics and more, made this a fun read. I'd definitely recommend this one.
Check out my reviews of five versions of DRACULA. Next: Michael Behe's THE EDGE OF EVOLUTION.
An SF classic where Varley deftly combines cloning and memory recording to give a sort of pseudo-immortality to its practitioners. It is a shame that this is the only story from John Varley's 8-Worlds series presently available on Audible. This should be read last. In the earlier stories Varley explores the societal impact of cloning, changing and memory recording through engaging characters and memorable events.
If this sparks your interest but you find yourself at a loss on some of the issues dealt with in THE OPHIUCHI HOTLINE, go back and read (yes like pick up a book with paper and ink) some of his earlier short stories. For starters try these stories that include Varley's suite of technologies that change human society:
"Picnic on Nearside"
"The Phantom of Kansas"
"Lollipop and the Tar Baby"
Gabra Zackman reads THE OPHIUCHI HOTLINE well. She gets the sarcastic tone of Lilo's voice in her own head just right.
I don't know what book the publisher's summary was written for, but I don't think it's this one. My husband & I listened for as long as we could stand the boredom of it during a long drive, and never even got close to anything in the plot that the publisher describes. Can't imagine ever being bored enough with real life to want to try to listen to this long enough to finish it.
Ok story in Varley's eight worlds universe. The ending left me less than impressed, but the narration seemed really lifeless. Reminded me more of the robonarration I get on my kindle. Steel Beach is a better story set in this universe, but sadly not produced yet.
...and couldn't take any more. The narrator seems to being taking inspiration from the rhythms and intonations of Laurie Anderson's performance-art spoken songs --- pitch rising in abnormal places for no linguistic reason. Great when it's performance art: irritating and overbearing when imposed on a novel. Any other book by this narrator is an automatic "No" for me.
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