Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal, Will Damron
Published by Brilliance Audio on 19 May 2015
Length: 31 hrs and 55 mins
Genres: Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anatham, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic - a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.
What would happen if the world were ending?
A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.
But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain....
Five thousand years later, their progeny - seven distinct races now three billion strong - embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown...to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.
A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.
©2015 Neal Stephenson (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
Notes: this is my first Neal Stephenson story…..and maybe it was a bit much to start with but the blurb sounded interesting and it was available for review so I thought I would dive in……I would like to start out by saying that while I am in awe of his imagination to create such a story to be honest I think you could have cut out about 20(ish) hours of the descriptive narrative, the how and why’s and the incredibly detailed explanations (I don’t think I want to hear the word trajectory again) most of it was greek to me and for me made no difference to the story at all other then wanting to make me scream when it interrupted that actual character interaction of the story. So now to the actual review…..
Review Part 1
If I don’t do this review in parts I’m never going to remember enough to properly review by the end.
I would like to start off by saying I do find this story very interesting, but OMG……is it wordy…and technical….and over descriptive…did I mention wordy? I felt like the Charlie Brown cartoon where when the teacher is speaking it’s just “wawwaaa…. wawwaaa ….. wawwaaa” (is there really a way to spell that??) through a lot of it, talk about information overload. I get that there needs to be world building but it’s a bit overboard for me. I would actually love to see an abridged version as it might make it more interesting for me. The narration by Mary Robinette Kowal is what is really making this easier to get through. She is doing a fabulous job on all the voices, male and female and very good on the different accents. Each character has their own distinct voice.
So the first part is the build up to show what the world is doing to ensure some of humanity survives the coming “hard rain” 2 years +/- from the explosion of the moon. The hard rain will destroy everyone and everything on the earths surface and mankind’s only hope is space. Lots will be cast and drawn for a certain number of young people (a girl and a boy) from every country in the world to start training to survive on the Space Station Issy and to ensure mankind has a future. So far I am really enjoying the main characters in particular Dinah and Ivy, while I do like the others as well for some reason these two stand out to me. Where I left off for this part was at the two year mark and the hard rain could hit at any time…..and there is another 20ish hours to go….
Part 2 (some partial spoilers)
So the hard rain has come, the arkers are in orbit around Issy and now it is time for survival and there is even more loss as characters we have known start to die off, there are more politics’ and disagreements amongst the general population on Issy and the arkers…..at one point there is separation and then there is the “big ride” to settle the space station on one of the moon’s rocks, there is a war fought via social media….some years into the “big ride” the number of humans have dwindled and once they land and secure themselves to the surface of one of the moon’s rocks we have the final survivors who are the Seven Eves.
Fast forward some 5000 years and there are several space stations and colonies with seven distinct races of humans descended from the Seveneves…..earth is being terraformed……in addition to the descendants of the seveneves there are some other surprising survivors of the hard rain and thousands of years of the planet burning
So we have a whole new cast of characters, a new narrator (who did a great job) but I have to say story wise….while the concept was interesting the telling of this was incredibly boring and just seemed to plod along. It got to the point that I just did not care what happened I just wanted the book to be done…..and then it just ends and unless I missed it being overloaded with other details we never do find out what caused the moon to explode.
While Will Damron did excellent job on the narration for the second part of the book, between the two narrators I did enjoy Mary Robinette Kowal much more, she seemed to give more life to the characters. I would love to listen to more from both narrators.
So my final thoughts – I don’t know if I will be trying another Neal Stephenson book anytime soon, this one kind of burned me out….it took a month to listen to because for once I had to set an audio aside to “take a break” or go crazy. Awesome narration….and lastly I would bet that if there were an abridged version of this, a lot of what I had issue with would be cut out and would make it an excellent listen.
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