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: Science Fiction
Narrated by Wil Wheaton
My Review (Stroll Down to Entry #5)
Narrated by Jefferson Mays
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Narrated by Wil Wheaton
Narrated by Simon Vance
Narrated by Todd McLaren
Narrated by Allesandro Juliani
While I probably shouldn’t have been shocked, I found the Science Fiction category a bit strange. First off, it’s the only category with six nominees, which I am assuming is because one author/narrator team received two nominations. Also, two of the nominees were mid series entries, and arguably actually Fantasies, although they did have some small science fiction elements to them. What stands out for me in those titles, The Tears of the Sun and The Cold Commands is that they are both rather mediocre entries in their respective series, yet both have excellent performances by their narrators. I think the battle in this category is between titles which content is mediocre, yet with excellent narration versus titles which are excellent science fiction yet the narration doesn’t particularly stand out.
My Favorite: Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
Agent to the Stars is a wonderfully little story, and so different from all the other titles. It is the only Earth based, modern set entry and has an almost pulpish quality that I feel is a whole lot of fun. It is also significant because it is the first pairing of Author John Scalzi with narrator Wil Wheaton, a match made in audio heaven. I think of all the titles, Agent to the Stars is the most accessible, easily enjoyed by listeners whether they are science fiction fans or not. It is also the most surprising entry of the list. If I had to compile a list of the most likely scifi audiobooks to get a nomination, I don’t think Agent to the Stars would have been anywhere near the top. Yet, I think its good natured skewing of celebrity culture makes it something that many people can enjoy.
My Vote: Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
While I love Agent to the Stars, I feel the second Scalzi/Wheaton nominated book Fuzzy Nation would be more deserved of a vote because Wil’s narration here is better, more nuanced and well paced. When compared to the rest of the entries in this category, it achieves the best balance between the content of the tale, and the performance of the narrator. Yet, Fuzzy Nation will not blow anyone away. It’s a solid, fun science fiction story, but isn’t as expansive and world bending as some of the other entries, and probably won’t achieve classic status like Solaris already has, and Leviathan Wakes is destined to. This is why, despite the fact I would vote for Fuzzy Nation, I don’t think it is really in contention to win the category.
Who Will Win: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A, Corey
So, I have to admit, I’m taking a bit of a risk on this pick, but I have my reasons. On paper, I think Solaris has the edge. It’s a science fiction classic which Audible actually commissioned a new translation of for this audiobook production. For this alone I feel it could easily take this award, and I feel that there will be a temptation by the judges to go in this direction. But, in my opinion, Leviathan Wakes is just a better novel. It has been nominated for both a Hugo and Locus award this year and I think that science fiction credibility will help it in the end. It is also an excellent story, and while I was under whelmed by Jefferson May’s performance when compared to some of the other narrators in this category, his reading is solid and enjoyable and does just enough to make me comfortable predicting its win.
Some Overlooked Titles: