Audiobook: Illuminae

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Narrated by  Olivia Taylor DudleyLincoln Hoppe & Johnathan McClain, and a full cast.
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Or listen at
Content: There is swearing, but at least on the audio it’s all bleeped out. And there is violence. It’s in the Teen section (grades9+) at the bookstore, but I’d give it to someone younger if they were interested.

So, people have been telling me to read this for YEARS. I’ve brushed them off, partially because it’s a thick book, and partially because, well, I thought it was hack science fiction. (I’m super snobby. I shouldn’t be!) But, I’ve recently read other books by both Kristoff and Kaufman, and my on-line book club picked this, so it was Time. Someone in the book club mentioned that it was a stellar audio book, and so I went that route.

And Holy Amazeballs! THIS was what I was missing?! (I know: I should listen to the buzz!) Set in the future — 2575 to be exact — and written entirely in hacked documents (reports, emails, texts, images, security footage transcriptions — it tells the story of a planet (which was colonized for illegal mining by one company) that was attacked by another corporation. Our main character, a hacker named Kady, along with a number of other citizens are rescued by a fleet of ships: the military vessel Alexander; the medical ship Copernicus; and the science vessel Hypatia. The ability to jump to safety was damaged in the fight with the other corporation, so the fleet has to make it to the nearest jump station, which is six months away.

And then things get interesting. I don’t want to say too much, because the less you know going in, the better. But let’s say it’s FANTASTIC science fiction. There’s a smidge of horror, and the AI, AIDAN is an amazingly written character (think HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Kaufman and Kristoff take you through twists and turns and reveals, and will keep you guessing at every turn.

And the audio? It really was fantastic. It was full cast, which is usually not a great thing, but this one pulls it off amazingly. I was literally just driving around so I could listen to the book (I got it on CD, so I could only listen to it in the car), and I didn’t want to stop. I was riveted by the whole production, from plot through the performances.

And yes, of course I’m going to go read the other two. I think I’ll try them in print this time. Just to see.

Audiobook: Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson
Read by Dylan Baker
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: Steve Jobs had a foul mouth. You are forewarned. Also, it’s a bit on the business-y side. It’s in the biography section at the bookstore.

I don’t know why, really, I picked this up. I’m not a computer person, or even an Apple fan (though I do own an iPhone). I needed something short to listen to while I drove around delivering things one day, and this kind of jumped out at me.

It’s a basic biography of Steve Jobs, the founder and eventual CEO of Apple computers and CEO of Pixar. Isaacson, a reporter, was picked by Jobs before his death in 2011 to write this book, and given access to all sorts of information that Jobs, who was someone who valued complete control, usually didn’t divulge.

I did learn a lot of things about Jobs, computers, the 1970s, business and the intersection between all of them. First and foremost: Jobs wasn’t a nice person. Which got me to wondering: are all people at a high level of business — either CEOs or just high up in the business — generally work-obsessed jerks? If so, what does that say about us as a country, that in order to be “successful” and proclaimed “innovative” and “a genius” we have to treat other people like crap?

The other thing I learned about Jobs was that he was just an Idea Man. He worked, sure, but it was managing and thinking outside the box and demanding things of others, but he never really created anything himself. I don’t know if I had any respect for him to lose, but knowing that he just thought up the ideas rather than actually implementing them changed my perception of him.

Did I like the book? Not really. It was kind of long and a little boring. Part of that may have been the narrator, who wasn’t the most engaging. But part of that was Isaacson’s writing: it was meandering and a bit pandering. Not something (or someone) I would want to read again.