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Publisher's Summary

With nods to Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, the real science of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, a touch of Hugh Howey's Wool, and told through echoes of Octavia Butler's voice, this is a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery, and humanity that unfolds through a series of generational vignettes.

In 2088, humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system. But one uncertainty remains: Where do we go? Astrophysicist Reggie Straifer has an idea. He's discovered an anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics and proposes the creation of a deep-space mission to find out whether the star is a weird natural phenomenon or something manufactured. The journey will take eons. In order to maintain the genetic talent of the original crew, humankind's greatest ambition - to explore the furthest reaches of the galaxy - is undertaken by clones. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each new generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses. As the centuries fly by, the society living aboard the nine ships (designated "Convoy Seven") changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie's mysterious star and explore its origins - and implications.

A mosaic novel of discovery, Noumenon - in a series of vignettes - examines the dedication, adventure, growth, and fear of having your entire world consist of nine ships in the vacuum of space. The men and women, and even the AI, must learn to work and live together in harmony, as their original DNA is continuously replicated and they are born again and again into a thousand new lives. With the stars their home and the unknown their destination, they are on a voyage of many lifetimes - an odyssey to understand what lies beyond the limits of human knowledge and imagination.

©2017 Little Lost Stories, LLC (P)2017 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Noumenon

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

Interesting premise, pedestrian execution

This is a story that spans millennia and incorporates exploration, AI and cloning among other interesting, if not new concepts, but unfortunately is hampered by an immature writing style. When I say the writing is immature, what I mean is that there was potential in the ideas. Unfortunately the dialogue was clunky and lacked nuance. We learn about characters' feelings and motivations because they baldly state them rather than living them out. I stuck around to the end of the book because I was hoping all of the disjointed elements were going to come together a la' Neal Stephenson and was ultimately disappointed because the story didn't really go anywhere new or very interesting. I want to be fair in this review, so let me say there may be a few factors that effected my enjoyment of "Noumenon". The first is that I purchased the Audible version of this book because the description touted it as having elements of Neal Stephenson's "SevenEves" and Hugh Howie's "Wool". Having enjoyed these books very much I was expecting a certain level of inventiveness, sensible scientific elements, interesting descriptions of daily life in the world of the novel, and likable characters. I think "Noumenon" suffers greatly by this comparison. There is little inventiveness, how the "science" or "speculation" in this fiction is expressed comes no where near Stephenson or Howie, and most characters were shallow and annoying. There is little depth in what descriptions there were of life during the mission or back on Earth. The second factor that likely impacted my impression of this audiobook was the narrator. She made half the characters sound like they were on the old Speed Racer Cartoon (think Spritle). Too many characters sounded too similar while the narrator also didn't keep accents or voices consistent within characters. Voice inflections were awful and often did not even match the emotion written clearly in the text. So if you do give this book a go I suggest reading it yourself and avoiding the audio version.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The story is great, but the narration...

The story is great, but the narration drove me crazy. Lostetter's writing is superb and occasionally inspired. The quality is right up there with David Brin, and I definitely recommend this book as a traditional printed novel. But I have an issue with the narration in this audiobook. Ciulla is great with voices, the characterization comes through, she does the voicing of different genders well, and I never was confused who was the viewpoint character or who was speaking the dialogue. Everything would be just fine, but her cadence almost drove me to abandon the book. She has pauses in her phrasing mid-sentence that simply ruins the story. It gives so much of the narration an artificial sense to it, as if a computer were adding a fraction of a second to the space between some words in a sentence. Even when she is reading the perspective of an AI, it sounds off. It seems so obvious to me, that I think if Ciulla revisited her approach, she could correct this strange tic in her performance. It's almost as if she is having an issue with cue-pickup, but the lag occurs mid-sentence. I heard it also in a story she narrated, Ancillary Justice, which I did abandon specifically because the narration ruined the story.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

barely covers the event

Would you try another book from Marina J. Lostetter and/or Celeste Ciulla?

no, she barely went into the whole premise of the book. Noumenon was what they were going to discover, but she took the easy way out and made it all about the human experience. If all I wanted is that, I'd read a non sci fi book.

What could Marina J. Lostetter have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

actually delve into the science or title of her book. she barely touched on the whole premise of the book at all.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Celeste Ciulla?

yes, good narration.

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

too mad to compliment this book. read this whole book waiting for anything to come of the main premise. nothing!

Any additional comments?

horribly placed in the wrong genre.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wrong Narrator for Genre

I gave up on the Audible version and just read the book. The narrator’s tone and inflections would be better suited to a fairytale than sci-fi.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

If you like robot voices.....

This story was an interesting combination of interstellar travel and sociology. I would have bought the hard copy had I seen it in a book store first. The narrator however made such odd choices in her inflection that I really had to fight through it to follow along. I had to give this just three stars overall for good story and poor narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought-provoking Science Fiction

Noumenon is ambitious in scope, the kind of science fiction that favors big ideas over action (although there's some of that too). It's an engaging "generation ship" tale that explores questions about humanity, morality and artificial intelligence. I really enjoyed it.

The story is told in a series of connected vignettes and, consequently, the point of view shifts from character to character. I thought Celese Ciulla fared better reading some characters than others but overall, she does a solid job with the narration.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Juvenile story, poor performance

The concept was different, but not very well executed either by the author or the reader. It was painfully slow and completely unbelievable. The physics were appalling and some of the premises were absurd. The scale of the target star and the Dyson construction around it was never properly explained and there was a huge discrepancy between what the AI was able to do or not do at different places in the trip. I gave up with total boredom before the end!

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Objectively terrible. Do not waste your money.

I bought this book because I had read about it in an article recommending several sci-fi and fantasy books and authors. Other books mentioned in the article were really good, so I looked forward to it. But no. It is extremely poorly written, awful dialogue, ridiculous characters, just the worst. Seriously. Even if this was supposed to be a YA book (is it?) it is hardly better than a typical eighth grade creative writing assignment. And the narrator makes it seems even worse, sounding like a mom reading out loud to a five year old. An excruciating, bad book. Do not buy unless you enjoy insipidness taken to its extreme.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

More character study than science fiction

I found this book to be more of a character study of people placed in unusual and extremely stressful situations than a typical sci-fi novel. Granted, the characters were placed in these stressful situations by a science fiction plot line, but the science fiction is only 15% or so of the story and the character study is the rest. Not really my cup of tea.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love Noumenon, I really did ...

After listening to Noumenon for only a couple of chapters, I returned it to Audible for a refund. It just wasn't working for me. But a number of books later and after re-reading the many positive reviews, I decided to give it another try. 15 hours later, I can't say it was worth it. Not because the writing is bad (it's not) or the narrator is crappy (she's pretty good), but because of the missed potential ... the lie. I thought Noumenon was science fiction; a story about space travel and alien discovery. A multi-generational exploration into the unknown and how that journey might affect a crew or evolve its culture. But despite its cool cover art and alluring concept, Noumenon is none of those things. Instead, it's a collection of remarkably contemporary and almost entirely independent social dramas, like listening to the Lifetime channel on TV roll out one socially relevant family drama after another (in this case, most all focused on prejudice). Sure, it's credibly done and at times even interesting, but the whole "space journey" thing is mostly a plot device to jump us into and out of the lives of different generations of clones, so that new dramas about prejudice can be told. Again that's fine, it's just not what I was expecting. What quickly became frustrating was the author's complete avoidance to even explore the sci-fi back story with any real depth. Hundreds of years into the future, multiple generations of space travel, but no evolution in thinking, culture, science, technology (what, no drones?), or any apparent growth within this self-contained and interdependent society. There's no sense of exploration, no tactical strategy, no intellectual analysis ... it's all just window dressing. And a lot of missed potential.