The Moon and the Other, John Kessel; Firdous Bamji, narrator (Recorded Books 978-150194830-5, $34.99, digital download, 18.5 hr., unabridged) August 2017.
The matriarchal Society of Cousins is experiencing unrest. Some men are pushing for the right to vote, a secret agitator who calls herself Looker is posting provocative videos, a famous martial artist and son of one of the lunar colony’s most prominent citizens is suing for custody of his own son, and the other colonies on the Moon are marshaling both political and military force against the Cousins, believing them to possess a secret and dangerous technology.
I adore social SF, and I’m happy to see this work join Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country, Slonczewski’s Sharer novels, Walton’s Just City novels, and Palmer’s Terra Ignota series (which has its own Cousins).
The audiobook production is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag. In many ways, Firdous Bamji is a fine narrator; the book is split among third-person male and female points of view, and Bamji manages to voice women convincingly enough that I almost forgot I was listening to a male narrator. However, it’s more than a little egregious that he mispronounced one of the protagonist’s names. I was convinced that Mira was actually named Myra until she introduced herself with her full name, Miranda; the correct pronunciation should’ve been obvious. I wanted to be sure about this point, so I actually confirmed the correct pronunciation (“Meera”) with the author. Kessel also noted that Bamji skipped the delineated pauses in the novel, which is something I would not have been aware of. As always, I am convinced that audiobook publishers should make more of an effort to consult the author on the finer points of the production.
This is an important work from an important author, and I’m definitely glad to have engaged with it, but the text version is clearly truer to the author’s intent.
This review and more like it in the January 2018 issue of Locus.