Audiobook Review Bites
In the future world of 1992 (give him a break; this book was written in 1969), Joe Chip is working for an anti-telepath organization. What are anti-telepaths? Simple. They’re people who can neutralize a telepath’s abilities. Many people employ these anti-telepaths to help protect their businesses. Glen Runciter and half-lifer (a half-lifer is someone who is deceased, but kept in a cryo state that allows their consciousness to continue to be accessible for communication for a certain period of time depending on how strong they are) wife, Ella, run the organization.
When a businessman by the name of Stanton Mick hires Glen’s team, including a woman who has the unique ability to change the past, to secure a base he’s built on the moon, they find themselves caught in a trap where Glen appears to be the only who’s died. The team rushes him to a half-life facility. However, reality starts to shift and warp for the team, leading them to the question of who’s really alive and who’s really dead. Maybe none of them are. Maybe all of them are, and how does this mysterious chemical Ubik factor into all this?
I really wasn’t feeling this book at first, and that’s abnormal for me because I love PKD. It was interesting reading about the half-lifers and the anti-telepaths, but I was just a little bored by the story at first. However, once it got to the heart of things I couldn’t stop listening. The narrator was okay, but I really, really hated the voice he did for Glen. It grated on my nerves for some reason. The ending of this book is probably why I rated it so high, though. I want to say it “disturbed” me, but that doesn’t feel like the right word for how I feel about it. Unsettling feels like the better word, even if it’s not that much different from “disturbed.”
Mr. Sun is an international body disposal professional/hitman who uses a form of Snapchat to communicate with his clients and set up jobs. While in Los Angeles, he gets a fairly routine job to complete, but things go to the wayside when Mr. Sun arrives at his destination and finds that things have already gone awry thanks to an overenthusiastic client. However, Mr. Sun is a professional. His job isn’t always necessarily about the hit, but the disposal of the body. And he has a dead pig to collect.
Some readers may find the story a little too dry, but I found the tone to be calm and composed in contrast to the grisly scene going on during the characters’ interactions, which is part of what makes the story so interesting. I think some people think the ending is a “twist,” there’s really no other way it could’ve plausibly ended, even with the little bit of humanity Mr. Sun gives the readers.
This is my first time listening to Wil Wheaton narrate anything, and while I enjoyed his narration for the most part, I didn’t like the accent he used for Mr. Sun. I have never read anything Warren Ellis has done outside of the comic world, and even there, I’ve only really read his mainstream comics he’s worked on. This may prompt me to seek out his novel and look into some of his other less mainstream comics.
The Walk of Nameless Ridge by Hugh Howey
Genre: Science Fiction
Narrator: Jonathan Davis
Length: 39 mins
Whispersync Ready: Yes
A group of climbers travel to a distant planet to conquer a mountain twice the size of Everest. Mountains of Everest’s size and taller have long been conquered, and conquering taller, more dangerous mountains have become an obsession for some. One climber in particular aspires to glory, aspires to being the first man to summit the largest known mountain and having this summit named after him.This story is told from his point-of-view.
This was such a lonely, cautionary, chilling (no pun intended) tale of men’s arrogance and the price some people pay for such a feat while trying to convince themselves it was all worthwhile. For a moment, I was a little perplexed that the story was continuing beyond the moment that I would’ve considered a fitting end, but as I continued, I realized that this was intentional. It was meant to take away from the character’s moment of glory. Even the character himself lamented his story should’ve ended at the point I felt it should’ve ended. He couldn’t bear what this journey made him as a person. What glory was in this moment? None. No matter how history remembered him. There was no personal glory beyond that point for him.
Jonathan Davis narrated this short story and he does such an excellent job as usual, even with all his sibilant “s” sounds. I actually find that endearing. He’s one of my favorite narrators, and I’m glad that I decided to listen to this instead of just read it. This marks the third Hugh Howey story that I’ve read (the first being Glitch and the second being Second Suicide fittingly), and I continue to be amazed at how much emotional impact he can fit into a short story.