Armchair Audie Roundup: Paranormal

30 05 2012

Introduction:

This Week, along with my normal reviews, I will be presenting my roundup posts for The Armchair Audies. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the Armchair Audies, the process is pretty simple. Myself, and a bunch of other bloggers have decided to listen to audiobooks nominated for the Audio Publishers Association prestigious Audie Award. The categories I have listened to and reviewed were Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal.

For each category, I will post the list of nominees, with a link to my review. Then I will offer evaluation of category overall. I will be picking which title was my favorite, which title I would vote for if I was a judge, and which title I feel will win. Also, I will include titles for each category that I feel were overlooked. Make sure you check out The Armchair Audies home page at The Literate Housewife.

Today’s Category: Paranormal

Nominees:

Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Narrated by Bronson Pinchot

Audible, Inc.

My Review

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Narrated by Oliver Wyman

Audible, Inc.

My Review

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Narrated by Sophia Westlake

Tantor Audio

My Review

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio

My Review

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Narrated by Lorelei King

Macmillan Audio

My Review

Overview:

For me, Paranormal is a strange category that I have trouble defining. By the strictest of definitions it should be about topics beyond normalcy, for this I imagine Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Thrillers, and Urban Fantasy. In some ways, I figure it’s the catch all category for speculative fiction that doesn’t easily fit into the Fantasy and Science Fiction Categories. There is an interesting assortment of titles that received nominations in this category. We have two Paranormal Romances, one with sexy dragons and the other with sexy ghosts. We also have a moody, dark character driven Supernatural thriller, an ultraviolent Monster mayhem novel just this side of gun porn, and an alternate history Steampunk superpowers tale. As I have admitted in my reviews, I am not a Paranormal Romance fan, and while the two examples achieve their purposes and offer entertaining stories, they really aren’t something I typically enjoy. Yet, I absolutely love the other three audiobooks in this category. To make matters worse, four of the five narrators in this category I consider some of the tops in the industry. I often credit Oliver Wyman for transforming me from an audiobook listener to an audiobook enthusiast. Bronson Pinchot is constantly amazing me with what he brings to an audiobook. Robert Petkoff seems to capture the essence of every book he performs, and while I haven’t listen to many Lorelei King narrations, she is highly respected among many people I trust. Yet, with all these facts in play, one title simply dominated, and was easily my choice for this category.

My Favorite: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

My Vote: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Who Will Win: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

I have both practical and fanboyish reasons why I feel Hard Magic will dominate this category. First, the fanboyish. Hard Magic is frakkin’ brilliant. Larry Correia has created one of the more fascinating world’s I encountered, bringing together some of the most overused current tropes of the Fantasy genre in a way that makes it all fresh. It is an alternate history, Steampunk novel about people with supernatural powers. Nothing about this novel is pat. Its characters are well drawn, the magical powers unique and the alternate history setting compelling. To make things even better, Bronson Pinchot’s reading was superb. He managed to take an already excellent tale, and make it even better. Pinchot is also nominated for Best Solo Narration for this performance. Hard Magic is the right blend of content and narration which these Awards should recognize.

Some Overlooked Titles:

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey

Zoo City from Lauren Buekes

King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

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8 responses

30 05 2012
russell1200

paranormal is alongside of, seperate from normal reality, but reality none-the-less. Without looking, you suspect that the catagory was invented to find a place for those “tweener” books (Stephen Kings “Cary” comes to mind) that are not supernatural, and are not in a seperate fantasy universe, but don’t follow the commonly accepted natural laws.

But it does seem like a rather fuzzy catagory. A lof of the urban fantasy of the 90s seems like it would come close to fitting within the catagory.

30 05 2012
theguildedearlobe

I really haven’t come up with a decent definition for Paranormal as a genre, as opposed to Paranormal as a word. How exactly does Paranormal and Supernatural differ? In this category, we have ghosts, mythical monsters, superpowers, shapeshifters, fairies and psychic powers. That’s why I have deemed it a catch all, as a genre.

This is why it was hard for me to come up with overlooked titles. For instance, The Dragon Factory by Maberry is considered a Supernatural thriller, despite the fact everything is explained by science. So, is it science fiction or Paranormal, because whether explainable or not it’s ain’t normal.

30 05 2012
Literate Housewife

What? You mean #sexydragon didn’t win? LOL! :) I love this write up, especially your enthusiasm for the books you loved and your willingness to listen to books you otherwise wouldn’t have. You’ve made the first year of the Armchair Audies so much fun.

30 05 2012
30 05 2012
Dave Thompson

On the one hand, I find it hilarious that “paranormal” stuff is separated from fantasy or horror. (Actually, I can understand separating it from horror, as none of the above titles seem intended to horrify. Emphasis on “intended.”)

OTOH, it’s great, because it means twice as many Fantasy books get recognized.

Hard Magic I keep hearing strong things about…I kind of think fantasy set circa Prohibition is going to be the new Steampunk. Will have to give that one a shot. Thanks for all this, Bob!

30 05 2012
theguildedearlobe

It’s such a weird category. I mean, you really can’t get further ends of the Spectrum than Dragonbound and The Cypress House. I love Koryta’s Supernatural Thrillers, so in a way I’m glad they made this category, because I can’t see it fitting into a traditional SF/F category. I guess, in the futire, I would love to see the genre distinctions better defined. I’m still not sure how a novel about a robot fighting alien invaders is a Fantasy.

30 05 2012
Hunter

Without having looked at past nominees, does Pratchett get lumped into Paranormal, or does he have his own, distinct category?

3 06 2012
Armchair BEA 2012: Introductions « The Guilded Earlobe

[...] Awards, and then made their predictions. My contributions were in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal Categories, and this event was one of my most rewarding blogging [...]

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