This is the first audio book I have ever listened to, other than my own recent releases. It didn’t take me long to figure out there is a lot more to listening to a book than simply reading one. Unlike a book, the only voice you hear is that of the narrator, and that will almost certainly make or break your listening experience.
It’s also much harder for me to find time to listen. As I don’t have a commute, and I find the thought of lying about listening to someone read an abominable idea, The only time I can listen to an audio book is when I’m out walking or biking. As a writer, this presents its own challenges. When walking, my mind naturally tends to drift, most often to the books or scenes I have not yet written. Is this the story’s fault for not being entertaining enough? Is it the narrator’s fault for not drawing me in, bringing the book to life with his or her masterful use of the spoken word? Or is it my fault for being a self-absorbed space cadet who couldn’t pay attention during his own execution? Short answer: Yes.
To the topic at hand, Edge of the Future, by Andria Stone. As I mentioned, other than proofing my own first audio books, this was my first experience with the format. I found it to be a mixed bag. The story begins with an attack on a science station intending to steal data on biological research and human augmentation via neural implants.
The story starts out with the attack on the station, but it’s mostly glossed over. There’s no real detail in the combat, viewed entirely through the eyes of someone who knows something is happening but who doesn’t actually see most of it. It’s over almost as soon as it begins. The story is told not as a true sci-fi or space opera, but somewhere in between. Those who like the hard science and believable technology won’t find it here, and those who enjoy Star-Wars or Starship Troopers pew pew laser action won’t find much of that either.
The writing is pretty solid and the premise entertaining, and yet I found myself having a hard time following it. I never did truly grasp the overall plot and the antagonist’s end game. I’m sure it was there, but I drifted in and out of the story so much that I missed it. I accept a good deal of responsibility in that regard, but perhaps not total. Somewhat early in the book, the protagonists go to the moon for some kind of training or something, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why other than some secondary adventure to add to the storyline. This is where I really lost track of the book.
Farther into the story, it picks up quite a bit. I start to understand the characters, their personalities, and the overall plot. I found that I paid more attention when riding my bike than I did walking. This is good as I usually ride my bike, but my dog had a limp, so we had to slow down for a few days. By the last ¾ of the story, I was fairly immersed, but I felt like I had lost too much in the beginning to really come around to it. The writing itself was quite good, the dialogue convincing. I’m sure had I read the book instead of listened to I would have enjoyed it far more.
Now for the narrator. <Cracks knuckles> You’re next in the barrel, Nicholas Barta. I mentioned earlier about the two types of listeners. Technically, there are three, but the people who like music and sound effects in their audio books are savages whose mother’s are hamsters, and their fathers smell of elderberries.
Mr. Barta does a great job of delivering the story in a clear, articulate, and pleasing voice. His cadence and volume are consistent, and, as far as my non-audiophile ears can discern, records with good equipment. He does not however use much emotional or vocal range, particularly with varying voices. While some people prefer this, I do not. It makes it hard for me to follow who is speaking at times as well as endearing myself to any one character. There’s no real personality in them to me. But that’s me, and I begrudge Mr. Barta nothing as he did precisely as I assume he was hired to do with exceptional execution.
My overall rating for the audio book was four stars, rounding up due to my own shortcomings. If you read the book and enjoyed it, then I certainly recommend you giving the audio book a go. If you found the print version lackluster, I don’t think you will be any more pleased listening to it.
What’s next? Next in the chute is The Land: Founding by Aleron Kong. I need to ask him if that’s his real name because, if it is, his parents must have been cool as %&*$. That’s a sci-fi/fantasy super villain name worthy of Sauron or Darth Vader. I really hope I like it, because he’s been quite nice to me.
After that, I’ll be taking a listen to The Magic Shop by Justin Swapp, followed by Book of Names: Casters of Syndrial by Rain Oxford.
As for me, I’m working on releasing all my books on audio book. Look for me on Audible, Amazon, iTunes, or, if things don’t pick up, holding a cardboard sign reading “Will tickle your imagination (or anything else) for food” near the I-5 and Beltline overpass in Eugene, Oregon.