• Normal

  • A Novel
  • By: Warren Ellis
  • Narrated by: John Hodgman
  • Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (193 ratings)

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Normal

By: Warren Ellis
Narrated by: John Hodgman
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Publisher's Summary

A smart, tight, provocative techno-thriller straight out of the very near future - by an iconic visionary writer.

Some people call it "abyss gaze". Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.

There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: Foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geoengineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.

For both types, if you're good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it's something you can't do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the abyss gaze takes hold there's only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.

When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis's Normal, Adam uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future - and the past, and the now.

©2016 Warren Ellis (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Normal

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Meh

This was a struggle and I really wanted to like it more. Nothing engaged me about the story. A collection of good ideas that never cultivated into anything.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It's over?!

The story was good, I would have given it four, possibly even five stars, except that it felt like it was just getting started, and it was over! The book feels cut short, when it could have been carried on well beyond the last page. Hope it continues as a series, because this left me hanging.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Delightfully, wickedly fun

Loved it! Great story, great read, will listen again! You should listen. Go now! Go!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A hint of crazy, dark, foreboding, and funny

Excellent performance, interesting story, with the futurist themes Ellis is best known for. Great read.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thank you, Warren Ellis...time to disconnect...

As always, his vision of the future is thought provoking, wry, horrific & possible.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great performance, standard Ellis

Any additional comments?

It seems like Ellis wrote this with something gnawing at him. He had a bunch of interesting thoughts clanging around in his skull and had to get them out. What that amounts to is the book "Normal."

Warren Ellis's stories, in particular this book and Crooked Little Vein, feature protagonists encountering characters who expound on various topics of interest. Each of these characters then gives a little TED talk about "how the world works" from their perspective, or something of particular significance to mankind. If you're ready for that, this is entertaining.

However, if you're looking for a lot to happen, you'll most likely be disappointed. For a rather short listen, this book is good enough for me and John Hodgman performs the text admirably.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent and Disturbing

Normal is an outstanding new novel by Warren Ellis and a superb performance by John Hodgman. Wow. Listen to this now.

1 person found this helpful

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Great listen

love Ellis! Had me hooked from the opening chapter! great book! I highly recommend it!

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Fun and Interesting

The best thing about this book is the dialogue. Warren Ellis excels at this. The concept is wild, and the characters will take your mind for a spin. I generally have only good things to say, but I wish the book was a little longer. There were a lot of fun characters with different stories that caught my interest, and after the book ended, I felt a little shorted. This is definitely worth the read though (or listen, that is) because of the concept and dialogue alone. Also, if you're a fan of Warren Ellis in general, this book complements his style very well.

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Short Story

Because it is a short story (did I realize that when I bought it?) There are two many characters for them to be well developed. It really felt like this was an outline for a longer story. Interesting premise. The characters had promise and then, it ended.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph Elliott-Coleman
  • 05-10-21

Frightening visceral and shockingly close

An almost dystopian NOW future novella on the use of technology, fringe theories and what happens when tech and data agents break down but their employers demand return on their investment. Wonderfully narrated, this frightening story reminds us how technology frequently alienates.
Prescient in the extreme.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-16-17

interesting and convoluted

typical of a Warren Ellis book with great research and well thought out storyline. definitely one to listen to a few more times.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nick Gonzo the Gonzo
  • Nick Gonzo the Gonzo
  • 03-15-17

A peek inside something larger.

A wonderful book, but I found it strangely lacking. It was a glance into something fascinating that I wish I could have spent more time inside. The world needed us to stick around for a bit longer.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for rasmus
  • rasmus
  • 02-28-17

Good but a bit short and unsatisfactory

The narrator is a bit too soft in his voice; makes it hard to hear him when taking the train.
The story is classic Warren Ellis with the usual bunch of weird characters and philosophical monologues.