Sunday, January 03, 2010

Audiobook Review: Metatropolis

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

A few weeks ago, I finished the audiobook Metatropolis, and here is my review.

The Setup

Metatropolis is an anthology of novellas written by Jay Lake, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, and Karl Schroeder. Scalzi also edited the book. One feature that sets this anthology apart is that all the stories take place in the same universe, one that was collaboratively built by all the authors. Another unusual feature is that the compilation was conceived as an audiobook. The stories are read by two famous audiobook narrators and three Battlestar Galactica veterans.

The title gives some clue to the shared universe of these stories. The novellas take place sometime in the middle of the Twenty-First Century, when the nature of cities is changing, evolving into something new. The final story, in particular, shows how even the words we use to describe cities may have to change to keep up.

What I Liked
  • The plots of the five stories are all very engaging. They are all distinct, but, since they take place in a single imagined universe, they feel like components of a single whole. The last story was easily my favorite; listening to it was a mind-expanding experience.
  • The future envisioned in this book is realized thoroughly. The details really bring the world of the book to life for the listener.
  • The voice acting is top-notch. All of the narrators do excellent jobs of not simply reading but acting the stories. For example, each narrator gives each character his or her own voice.

What I disliked
  • The first story contains a character with a poorly justified, almost supernatural ability to charm the other characters. I just didn't buy it.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I give Metatroplis 8.5 out of 10. I really enjoyed this audiobook, and I recommend you download it or buy in on CD. You can even read it, if you want to be old-fashioned. If my recommendation is not enough for you, you might be interested in reading Scalzi's reasons you should buy it.

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