Chimpanzee by Darin Bradley

Posted December 17, 2015 by Jay Magidson in Reviews / 0 Comments

Chimpanzee by Darin BradleyChimpanzee by Darin Bradley
Narrator: Darin Bradley
Published by Self Published / Indie on 09 September 2014
Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Rating Report
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Production Quality
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Attention Holding
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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Unemployment has ravaged the U.S. economy. People struggle everywhere, exhausted by the collapse that destroyed their lives. Benjamin Cade is an expert in cognition, and before the flatlined economy caught up to him, he earned his living as a university instructor. Now, without income, he joins the millions defaulting on their loans - in his case, the money he borrowed to finance his degrees. But there are consequences. Using advances in cognitive science and chemical therapy, Ben’s debtors can reclaim their property - his education. The government calls the process "Repossession Therapy". The data Ben’s repossession will yield is invaluable to those improving the "indexing" technology - a remarkable medical advance that has enabled the effective cure of all mental disorders. By disassembling his mind, doctors will gain the expertise to assist untold millions. But Ben has no intention of losing his mind without a fight, so he begins teaching in the park, distributing his knowledge before it’s gone in a race against ignorance. And somewhere in Ben’s confusing takedown, Chimpanzee arrives. Its iconography appears spray-painted around town. Young people in rubber chimpanzee masks start massive protests. As Ben slowly loses himself, the Chimpanzee movement seems to grow. And all fingers point to Ben.

©2014 Darin Bradley (P)2014 Darin Bradley

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The economy has collapsed. The government is overwhelmed, crushed by national and personal debt and the corresponding lack of revenue. Benjamin Cade has lost his teaching job, and like so many others, has defaulted on his student loans. Technology and economics have come up with a solution. If you don’t pay for your education you lose it. Cade must now go through the grueling brain therapy that repossesses his PhD while simultaneously working in a government work detail – translation: chain gang. When they’re done, he won’t be able to remember the things he learned or discovered during his doctoral program.

This innovative novel is not for everyone, but for the right audience is an exceptional work of fiction and performance. Part pedagogy and part Sci-Fi dystopia, the listener is constantly challenged both intellectually and philosophically. Is the American Dream really this banal?

This is not simply a narrated novel; it is a performance piece with multiple voices, music and sound effects. It is generally well done and effective, giving us ambiance when Cade goes to a party, or static when Cade’s education is being blocked. The production is odd at times however, giving unnecessarily long pauses between character dialogue or scene changes. This is sometimes confusing (intentionally?), but not enough to detract from an otherwise excellent and unique performance audio-book. The author is the main narrator and does an excellent job reading his own novel. No one knows the story better than its author.  The music is great and you will want to find out who the bands are (listed at the end of the novel).

Pick up Chimpanzee because you want to be challenged, want to think about the future, about real possibilities and important ideas. If you are a lover of Philip K. Dick’s last novels, paranoid and identity confusing, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Cory Doctorow’s many near-future dystopian novels, you will likely enjoy this book. At six hours, it is a relatively short listen, but packed with a lot of information. Yes, it is good enough to listen to several times, and you will want to, to catch the nuance and philosophical density. It is not a light listen, you have to pay attention, stop what you are doing, really listen and think about the author’s ideas. You may not agree, but you will appreciate the chance to use your mind for a change.

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About Darin Bradley

Darin is the author of three novels–Noise (2010), Chimpanzee (2014), and Totem (2015)–and co-editor of the literary fringe journal Bahamut. With a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Literature and Theory, he works as an acquisitions and production editor at Resurrection House, having previously spent a number of years teaching writing and literature at several universities. He has also worked as the principal video game writer at id Software and has served in various editorial and design capacities for a number of independent presses and journals. He lives in Texas with his wife, where he dreams of empty places.

About Jay Magidson

Lover of books, Sci-Fi, 19th Century literature, young adult, and more, as long as it's good, I'll read or listen. I'm a writer as well, my weekly art column was published for years in the Aspen Daily News, Roaring Fork Sunday and Aspen Sojourner Magazine. I have 5 books in print, all pretty entertaining if you'd like to check them out. And my Sci-Fi novel, "Threshold of the Mind" was recently produced into an audiobook, read by award winning actor: Jeff Clarke (Chicago, Mad Men).

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