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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning performers Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory, and Ready Player One audiobook) and Katherine McNamara (Shadowhunters, The Stand, CW’s Arrow) bring this mind-bending, deeply imagined sci-fi tale to life.

The real world is only where you breathe....

In High Earth, digital entertainment is everything. Shows. Virtual worlds. Simulations - there’s something for everybody in a city where working for a living has been rendered obsolete by technological advancements. Even a short walk outside to visit with others is no longer necessary. Just load into the network and you can be with anyone, anywhere.

For Asher Reinhart, nothing compares to Ignis; a live reality show that pushes human beings to their very extremes. As a volunteer director, Asher closely monitors the lives of those living on an interstellar ark, believing they're the last of humanity.

But when it's determined that the life of the show’s brightest star, Mission, must be put in danger to boost declining ratings, Asher is forced to choose: the show he loves or the woman whose existence has been the focus of his attention since the day he was born.

From number-one Audible best-selling author and Nebula Award nominee Rhett C. Bruno comes a story about the power of human connection. The Truman Show meets Ready Player One in a novel perfect for fans of Hugh Howey, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Michael Crichton.

©2021 Rhett C. Bruno (P)2021 Podium Audio

Critic Reviews

"This perceptive take on the reality-TV-in-the-future premise deserves boffo ratings" (Kirkus Reviews)

"A truly unique sci-fi experience...Mission's story is both heartbreaking and triumphant, and the growth Asher shows from start to finish blew me away." (Nicholas Sansbury Smith, NYT best-selling author of Hell Divers

Vicarious is 2001: A Space Odyssey meets The Truman Show. A riveting take on man’s inhumanity to man". (Scott Sigler, number one New York Times best-selling Author of Earthcore)

What listeners say about Vicarious

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fastest read ever!

I can’t begin to express my love for this book. I listened through in one sitting, mesmerized by Wil and Katherine’s performance. As always, Bruno weaves a dark but hopeful world filled with unique people and ideas.
Different from his others (Children of Titan, Buried Goddess Saga) Vicarious stands alone as a work of art. No need for sequels, no massive arcing story, just the glorious, beautiful prose and dialogue he is known for bringing to fiction.
Asher and Mission are adorable and lovable and tragic.
Vicarious both made me long to live in High Earth and fear the possibility it might some day exist.

Bravo! Ten stars.

27 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This isn't the first glowing review of a Rhett C. Bruno book that I've written, he has a way of captivating me in every story he tells. Vicarious was no different. From the first few minutes of it I was intrigued. I needed to know more and know who these characters where and what made them tick.

The description calls it The Truman Show meets Ready Player One, and I definitely see that, but I would throw in a bit of The Island as well. A lot of the pretense around their lives reminded me a lot of what the characters in The Island were going through. Especially because the characters in Vicarious were meant to be almost perfect human specimens because of the specific breeding and procreation they were doing.

One of the hardest things to do about a book that has twists and turns like this one does is write a review and talk about it. I can't really mention anything about the book because it will likely give away a twist or a turn that someone didn't see coming. I think The Truman show is definitely the "best" comparison, but in the future and in a really unique setting.

Normally, I can take or leave a Wil Wheaton narration. I've never hated them, but I haven't loved them either. I loved him in this. I thought he was perfect for Asher even to the point where I could sort of see Wil playing him in a movie/tv version of this. And the same goes for Katherine McNamara, I thought she absolutely nailed becoming Mission. There were a few times where I had to remind myself that this was a book and not a retelling of their life story. The narration was that good.

Overall, I really really enjoyed Vicarious. I think that Bruno knocked this one out of the park and this might be his most ambitious book along with being the best one I've read so far.

23 people found this helpful

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5 stars across the board

I'm new to author Rhett C. Bruno but after finishing this masterpiece that will certainly change.

This book has some twist and turns so I can't speak to much about it. With that being said, it's April 2021 and this my 16th listen of the year. Without a doubt, it sits alone at the top.

Well written characters, a hint of mystery, a future world that could one day exist, love, consequences, and moral decisions all tightly packaged to the point where I literally could not stop.

I had to work at 5am and instead of stopping every hour like I told myself I would, I ended up listening until I literally had to get ready for work. Later on the same day after work, instead of going to bed early, I opted to finish it. I was a junkie and this was my fix.

I've seen it called The Truman Show meets Ready Player One and I agree; however, I think it has a little splash of Lost mixed into it as well. The part where you love the chapter / episode so much that you tell yourself just one more but at the end, you repeat the same phrase because it was so good. Before you know it, it's light outside.

The cover art is also brilliant and spot on. Whoever designed it should get a raise. It fits everything important about high earth into a single image. Well done.

If you are at all on the fence, let me be the first to tell you that this purchase was one of the best credits I have ever spent. I recommend you do the same. You won't regret it in the slightest.

11 people found this helpful

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Why Leave Your Apartment When You Can Go Virtually

Rhett as always tells a great story and in this case, he tells a very unique story and juxtaposes the stories within.
Asher Reinhart comes out of a hatching vat after space opens up in High Earth. As he awakens, he meets his VORA or Virtual Occupant Residency Aid. Certain information was part of the hatching which takes up to 10 years.

The first part of the story takes place as Asher gets used to his environment of High Earth and how he becomes a volunteer at one of the most watched shows called Ignis Live. You learn that he has helped make on the people on the show into its most watched star. Later you learn that the people on ‘spaceship’ were people who were delisted or kicked out of High Earth. Instead of living with the drags of humanity, they agree to have their minds wiped and believe they are in space and the last of humanity heading towards a new home. In reality, they are orbiting earth and being filmed at every moment.

We also learn about life on the Ignis, the main characters on the ship and the culture. If the culture is not followed, the people will be spaced or sent out an airlock. An example of this would be having a child by disabling the chip that stops reproduction. You see with limited resources only those with the best DNA qualities are allowed to reproduce.

For the 50th anniversary of the show, the creator, Craig Helix decides to create an emergency. By causing a whole block to have an issue, which would lead to a large loss of life. The main character of Ignis Live, Mission, is based out of that block. Asher is torn between saving Mission and possibly being delisted or letting it happen and killing the most watched character. Asher starts to realize that he actually cares for Mission. He thought High Earth was above such things when barely anyone leaves their apartments and most interactions are virtual.

Without giving anything away, Rhett really does a flip on things and goes into unexpected territory. I can see how some people would want a ‘happier’ ending but in truth this is a more realistic one.

Will and Katherine did a great job in this unique story.

8 people found this helpful

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ehhh.. it was ok.

Good enough story to listen to the end. Definitely not a book that you'll be raving about to your friends.

Best part of the book is the narration.

6 people found this helpful

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It was an ok drama. Maybe not the best sci fi.

This work isn't bad and definitely shows yet another dystopian future based on watching videos. It makes for formulaic drama with a mild twist and an end that didn't make me sad.

For sci fi, there is a lot of science that's ignored. Future space suits don't seem process air very long. There is a monetary system based on literally nothing. Credits seem to "pay" for things but ultimately there's no appearant real cost for goods. Things are manufactured by machine, food is free. if you are smart enough to come up with an idea, society "pays" (with nothing but their tv watching time) to make the idea a reality. This seems to be good for status and possibly wealth, but I don't believe that jump is mentioned. The main character is a volunteer to his job which he excels at and possibly gains "something". like watching the show for free or something.
Transmission time between a satellite and earth seems too instantaneous for a director to manage remotely.
Eh.

The performance was ok but seemed like the performers should have shared notes on portrayal of certain people. Flipping between the actors separated the story well. Some confusion occurres between characters in a scene, which in my opinion, is due to not enough of a pause between people in a conversation.

5 people found this helpful

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From Riches to Rags, for a good reason.

The story really wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting more of a grittier cyberpunk action type deal. It was an interesting start of a person born into everything and broken down to nothing to save it all. I liked all the setting, and enjoyed the story it told, even if it wasn't what I was expecting for my usual.

The beginning of the book is slow and clunky. What the description doesn't say and you don't figure out for a while is that Asher the MC (and all the people "chosen") is genetically born from a vat and have information uploaded to their mind. When their mind is at an age that comprehends enough of the high society data, they are "born" into the high society. The tech there is so advanced the people want for nothing, have all their needs met, and all the advanced tech they could ever want. There are VR games and shows aplenty. No one really ever needs to leave their apartments, but some do a bit. The story takes place as Asher is born into high society and takes extreme interest in a show called Ignis Live and a character in it named Mission. There it all begins.

The narration was pretty good. It definitely wasn't the best I've ever heard, but I didn't have a problem with it. I think mostly I relate Wil's main voice to a younger character type, so it somewhat didn't fit. He was able to voice multiple characters separately enough to distinguish each well. Katherine did a fine job as well.

5 people found this helpful

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Thrilling and intriguing

This was a book that was very had to stop listening to. I felt this story.

4 people found this helpful

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Ensign Crusher Narrates Books now? Yup!

So, I picked up this audiobook because well, Will Wheaton was one of the narrators. As a lifelong Trek fan, that was too interesting to pass up.

I'm really glad I did. This isn't a cut and dry, shoot 'em up sci-fi novel. Its got multiple layers of nuance, deep themes, and it makes you think.

Did I mention it makes you think? I'm still pondering stuff from this book. That's impressive.

Hats off to both narrators, and Rhett C. Bruno. I'll be listening to his other novels now, because this is one fine author.

4 people found this helpful

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Another hit from Bruno!

I love Bruno’s work. This didn’t disappoint. I’m in for 400 audiobooks almost entirely sci-fi. Many of them aren’t much different but this one is. The dual perspective and dual narration worked extremely well. I like Will Wheaton but wasn’t impressed with his narration before but he and Katherine McNamara hit it out of the park. I’d prefer a different ending but not at all disappointed in the book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-21-21

Tedious story. Grating narration. Lazy production.

It feels as though this book has taken plot elements from other greater works in a "cut-and-paste" fashion and strung them together in order to save time and effort in actually creating something original and outstanding.
This is book is poor, tedious and lazy.
The narration by "Katherine McNamara" is awful. She attempts to project a world-weary persona for her character by "croak talking" through much of the story. Irritating.
After subjecting ones ears to less than 10 minutes of her performance the listener will find themselves reaching for cough syrup in sympathy.
As for "Wil Wheaton", whose previous work I've greatly enjoyed, this effort is a let down (I image he just paid the rent with this one..)
Don't waste your time ploughing on hoping it will get better. It wont.
No redeeming features to this book at all.
Returning book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stu
  • 05-16-21

Not so Brave New World

This book needs to be an extra 10 hours long for some serious world building and the filling of plot holes. None of it makes any sense. Really poor use of VR. The end of the book is just absolutely terrible, feels like 5 hrs were wiped from the book, i was annoyed by the laziness of it. I was surprised the author has written many books, feels like the first book of a kid outa high school knowing nothing about sci-fi.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dustyfox
  • 12-14-21

Just couldn’t get into it

Just couldn’t get into it…gave it 6 hours and found I couldn’t remember a thing about the book.

Nothing bad to say about the book, it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

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  • Ed B
  • 09-15-21

A great story or loving someone you can never see

MINOR SPOILERS

The story is excellent, the characters are amazing.
The fate of the two main Asher and Mission, of The Ignis and High Earth, all are left up in the air, nevertheless I still loved the story.
The Narrator's did a phenomenal job of conveying the POV's of both the main characters.

Maybe one day, we will get closure on what happened to them, but in a way, despite my uncertainty regarding the ending, it would be cool to not know aswell.

recommended for you Sci-Fi fans out there

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  • S Taylor
  • 08-13-21

Our strive for perfection will be our downfall.

I very much enjoyed the plot of this book. Always scary that this could become a reality especially with the world's fascination of reality TV.
Wonder if there is another book (not looked yet) 😊

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  • Flutterbi
  • 07-07-21

Not bad at all

An enjoyable Sci-fi with great narration. The story, told by Will Wheaton and Katherine McNamara are from two different peoples perspectives. Without giving anything away I can say that the characters are well written with good background. Although the ending was not to my liking it does fit well with the storyline and would have been hard to end any other way. A very enjoyable book, and as always the excellent Will Wheaton's narration was as full of enthusiasm. I won't be returning this book.

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  • Tinder
  • 06-10-21

I loved this story.

I loved this story. But narrators did an amazing job. I thought I found a few glitches in the recording but I don't know if it was just me. I felt like the ending was rushed compared to the rest of the story which was a shame. But still totally engrossed in it. Was sad to see it end.

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  • Jamie
  • 05-30-21

one of the best audiobooks to date

always been a fantasy fan but not one for sci-fi. This tipped the scales with both Will Wheaton and Kat McNamara as voiceovers with such a compelling storyline that is gripping and exciting throughout you will not be disappointed with this novel! Rhett C. Bruno has another bestseller on his hands with this iconic novel. A must buy for the fans of Ready player one, otherworld: last reality and Awaken online: catharsis.

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  • fred dredd
  • 05-07-21

Fantastic Audiobook!

This a fantastic book with plenty of new ideas and an engaging plot line that would make a great movie. Well crafted plot and excellent audio, I would recommend it to any scifi fans.

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  • MR
  • 05-03-21

Great Sci Fi stand alone

After spending 6 years listening to Audible I had been somewhat struggling with recent purchases. I generally go with epic Fantasy catergory and read your Lotr or Way of Kings type stories that can be 40-50 hrs in length and wanted a pallet cleanser.

I stumbled across this almost by accident and noticed that it was narrated by Wil Wheaton whos narration I love on Ready Player One and decided to purchase on that point alone. The story has aspects of Ready Player One, The Truman Show, The Hunger Games whilst also feeling completely original. The 2 main charactors Asher and Mission read by Wil and Katherine McNamara depending on their POV is excellent. The story never dulls and for the first time in a while I found myself avoiding the real world to jump into the world that Rhett C Bruno has created here. With the the book being reletively short for the Sci Fi genre I can definately say its worth the purchase and I will certainly be listening over again in a few months time whilst also looking out for more of Bruno's work.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-21-21

Performances are pheromonal

I've seen both Katherine and Wil on screen, but I wasn't sure if they could pull of an audiobook. I listen to this while I work and I find their performances to be juxtaposing each other. Wil packed a firm, controlled performance while Kat brought a more human element to Mission. Would love to see these two collab again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steve P
  • 02-10-22

A Bottle Rocket!!

This is a cracker of a book. Perfect for fans of sci-fi, VR, dystopian fiction. It took a little while to get in to but when then an event 1/3 way through lights the fuse, and the tension builds to the point where the last third of the book is un-put-down-able. Hold on tight.

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  • cameron brennan
  • 07-19-21

story was great

still not a fan of the changing between narrator . especially when a voice for a character has been set buy one voice and then the narrator changes and the same character is now another voice . other then that. I did enjoy both voices on there own . and the story was enjoyable.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-08-21

next part please

i struggled to get into it to start but somewhere about a third of the way through I really started to enjoy the story. I hope there will be another book in this series.

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  • Nat Venosi
  • 05-02-21

Thoroughly enjoyable!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the premise sounded like something I have enjoyed before. It could have been too young adult but thankfully reached above that for me.

It was quickly engaging with the two worlds of Asher and Mission, characters were well developed and presented by the narrators. The Igneous world reminded me of the Silo series by Hugh Howey which I loved, and there’s a familiar voyeur structured society where one is entertainment for another. The haves and the have nots built around virtual reality, all of which is very effective sci fi with heart, I found it creative and a very enjoyable listen that moved at a good pace and kept me wanting to delve deeper.

I think Mr Bruno should write more like this and “The Circuit” and use similar narrators, Will Wheaton and Katherine McNamara were perfect in this and Jefferson Mays in The Circuit made the experience so real, personal and engaging. He is so under utilised and one of the very best for space opera and sci fi in my opinion.

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  • Chris
  • 05-01-21

TGIF

Thank God It's Finished! This was a real struggle to get through. Maybe I'm the wrong demographic but I just didn't find the concept of future Big Brother very interesting at all. I really enjoyed the narration though.

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  • B. Rawlings
  • 04-30-21

Not perfect, but definitely enjoyable!

I have to hand it to the author, the ending was anything but predictable. I wish there had been more resolution to the story though. Felt a bit ripped off there. Also, one other annoyance was that the math seemed to be off in the timeliness, unless I missed something. Mission is the 14,000th or so person on board the Ignus, which has a population cap set at 1,000 people, yet they're celebrating the 50th anniversary, but it also feels like a well established society. Couldn't make sense of it.