Amy Goldschlager Reviews In the Empty Quarter Audiobook by G. Willow Wilson

In the Empty Quarter, G. Willow Wilson; Soneela Nankani, narrator (Brilliance Audio, $1.99, digital download, 1.5 hr., unabridged) January 2021.

In this short story, Great Neck NY housewife Jean accompanies her oil exec husband to a city in an unnamed Middle Eastern country in the 1950s, believing that her self-perceived openness to the culture and her association with a local prince makes her superior to the other ex-pat wives. ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Tower of Fools Audiobook by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Tower of Fools, Andrzej Sapkowski; Peter Kenny, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54910162-5, $24.98, digital download, 19 hr., unabridged). October 2020.

After the popularity of the Witcher novels, games, and Netflix series, it’s no wonder that US publishers would seek out Sapkowski’s other works. Originally published in Polish in 2002 and newly translated into English by David A. French, this is the first in the Hussite Trilogy, a historical fantasy ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Map of Tiny Perfect Things Audiobook by Lev Gross­man

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Lev Gross­man; Michael Crouch, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54910912-6, $5.00, digital download, 1.75 hr., unabridged) February 2021.

Of course, the individual publication of this story, the audio production of this story, and the Amazon Prime film based on this story all came out February 2, 2021. This trapped-in-a-time-loop YA fantasy and its author pay explicit homage to Groundhog Day and several similar works. In ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories Audiobook by C.S.E. Cooney

The Witch in the Almond Tree and other stories, C.S.E. Cooney; narrated by the author (Self-published, $4.99, digital download, 4.25 hr., unabridged) December 2020.

Many people have tried to embark on some kind of creative or crafty project during the pandemic; author/narrator Cooney chose to self-produce a recording of three charmingly erotic works. The result is a sweet and steamy distraction. The titular story concerns a brilliant, assertive, and ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Mask of Mirrors Audiobook by M.A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors, M.A. Carrick; Nikki Massoud, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54919091-9, $26.98, digital download, 23.25 hr., unabridged) January 2021.

Ren, a former child thief turned con artist, seeks the security that she believes can only be found in large sums of money. So she embarks on her greatest scheme yet, returning to her native city of Nadezra in the guise of Alta Renata Viraudax, a foreign daughter of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail by Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson

Within the Wires: Season 5: Voicemail, Jeffrey Cranor & Janina Matthewson; Amiera Darwish, narrator (Night Vale Presents, ten episodes, 3.5 hrs.) <www.nightvalepresents.com/within­thewires> August-December 2020.

The events of 2020 made it difficult for me to establish and hold the focus I needed to listen to audiobooks and write about them. (The super-long column in the January 2021 Locus sug­gests that I’ve maybe started to get my mojo back.) When I ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Hench Audiobook by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench, Natalie Zina Walschots; Alex McK­enna, narrator (HarperAudio 978-0-062-97860-8, $29.99, digital download, 14.25 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

In a world where superheroes and supervillains are part of everyday society, Anna scrapes by as a data-entry temp for low-level evildoers. In the course of one of these gigs, her smarmy boss, the Electric Eel, asks her to attend a press conference, which turns out to be a live-streamed demonstra­tion of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews His Dark Materials: Serpentine Audiobook by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials: Serpentine, Philip Pullman; Olivia Colman, narrator (Listening Library 978-0-59339842-5, $8.00, digital download, 25 min., unabridged) October 2020.

Waiting for the third Book of Dust novel is hard, especially after the gorgeous gut-punch that was 2019’s The Secret Commonwealth. To help tide us over, Pullman offers us this extremely brief prelude to that work, written several years ago to benefit a charity auction. In this story, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Original Audiobook by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

The Original, Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal; Julia Whelan, narrator (Recorded Books 978-1-98006289-9, $19.99, digital download, 4 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

This novella, currently available only in audio, is a tight, exciting thriller, blended with emotional nuance and plenty of food for thought.

In the near future, we have become a world of lotus eaters. The global government provides an income to everyone, so no one has to ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Left-Handed Booksellers of London Audiobook by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix; Marisa Calin, narrator (Listening Li­brary 978-0-59317187-5, $27.50, digital down­load, 11.25 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

Set in an alternate 1983, this standalone from Garth Nix blends aspects of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Susan’s mother has always been very vague on any information about Susan’s father, so when she turns 18, the young woman resolves to go to London ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It Audiobook by K.J. Parker

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It, K.J. Parker; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-54915786-8, $24.98, digital down­load, 12.75 hr., unabridged) August 2020.

In Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, Orhan, the head of a military corps of engineers and a skilled con artist, managed to defend his adopted city against a besieging army headed by a childhood friend, but when rescue appeared imminent, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home Audiobook by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor; Mara Wilson, narrator (HarperAudio 978-0-06295660-6, $26.99, digital download, 9.25 hr., unabridged) March 2020.

The third in the companion novel series to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale is a memoir of sorts from one of the most iconic characters in the show, the titular strange being who si­multaneously occupies everyone’s house in a mysterious ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Beowulf Audiobook by Maria Dahvana Headley

Beowulf, Maria Dahvana Headley (translator); JD Jackson, narrator (Macmillan Audio 978-1-25023217-5, $12.64, digital download, 4 hr., unabridged) August 2020.

For several months now, the literary world has been abuzz about Headley’s modern translation of this ancient saga concerning a mighty war­rior who saves a kingdom by slaying a monster and his vengeful mother, rules his own land in peace for years, and then dies as an old man in ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Piranesi Audiobook by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi, Susanna Clarke; Chiwetel Ojiofor, narrator (Bloomsbury, $16.35, digital download, 7 hr., unabridged) September 2020.

The protagonist of this short work lives in the House, a building so big it has clouds in the up­per floors and an ocean in the lower ones. He believes that this is the entire world, and appar­ently, the only world he’s ever known – except that his journal entries make constant references to ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Empire of Gold Audiobook by S.A. Chakraborty

The Empire of Gold, S.A. Chakraborty; Soneela Nankani, narrator (HarperAu­dio 978-0-06295660-6, $48.99, digital download, 28.5 hr., unabridged) June 2020.

The Daevabad trilogy comes to a thrilling and emotionally satisfying end. Nahri, a former Cai­ro con artist turned magical healer and displaced heir to a kingdom of djinn and daeva, unexpect­edly finds herself in Egypt again, along with her friend and brother-in-law, Prince Ali, who now bears the Seal of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Knox, Complete Season 1: Episodes 1–11 by K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias & Sunny Moraine

Knox, Complete Season 1: Episodes 1–11, K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias & Sunny Moraine; Pilar Uribe, narra­tor (Serial Box, digital download, $9.99, 6 hr., unabridged) May 2020.

Morgan Knox came back from her service as an army nurse in the Great War with disturb­ing memories of a frightening magic ritual and morbid visions that haunt her sight and once got her locked up in a mental ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Last Smile in Sunder City Audiobook by Luke Arnold

Last Smile in Sunder City, Luke Arnold; narrated by the author (Hachette Audio 978-1-54915049-4, $25.98, digital download, 8 hr., unabridged) February 2020.

There has always been a lively debate, in this column and among the audiobook lis­tening community at large, as to whether a book should be narrated by the author or by a professional narrator. Authors have an intimacy with their material that’s difficult to duplicate, while professional ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Gods & Lies: Season 1 by Elizabeth Vail

Gods & Lies: Season 1, Elizabeth Vail; Cary Hite & Sarah Mollo-Christensen, narrators (Serial Box, $9.99, 7 episodes, digital download, 5.5 hr., un­abridged) November-December 2019.

Serial Box continues to fuel my love for SF/F buddy-cop dramas with this slightly predictable yet incredibly adorable romantic mystery mini-series.

Set in a modern city in an alternate world where the gods take an active role among mortals, Justix Iris Tharro, priestess and ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats Audiobook by James Patrick Kelly

King of the Dogs, Queen of the Cats, James Patrick Kelly; Stefan Rudnicki, narrator (Skyboat Media 978-1-09413898-5, $12.22, digital download, 2.25 hr., unabridged) January 2020.

Veteran narrator Stefan Rudnicki’s deep, nasal, al­most lugubrious, voice (last appearing in this column in connection with Adam-Troy Castro’s short-story collection My Wife Hates Time Travel, and Other Stories) anchors the more absurd aspects of this no­vella, in which a circus serves as ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Audiobooks: An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt and Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by K.J. Parker

An Orc on the Wild Side, Tom Holt; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Hachette Audio 978-1-47898841-0, $24.98, digital download, 14 hr., unabridged) Sep­tember 2019.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K.J. Parker; Ray Sawyer, narrator (Ha­chette Audio 978-1-54915698-4, $24.98, digital download, 13.25 hr., unabridged) Decem­ber 2019.

In the late 1980s, I fell in love with Tom Holt’s first novel, Expecting Someone Taller, an amusing work that took the ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Border Keeper Audiobook by Kerstin Hall

The Border Keeper, Kerstin Hall; Mi­chael Braun, narrator (Recorded Books, $15.99, digital download, 5.25 hr., un­abridged) October 2019.

The mortal man Vasethe is an unwelcome guest to the reclusive Border Keeper, the many-lived, dual-souled powerful woman who guards the boundaries that separate the human lands of Ahri from realms of gods, demons, the incarnated dead, and other strange beings. He begs her to help him find his dead lover, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Meat Cute Audiobook by Gail Carriger

Meat Cute, Gail Carriger; Emma Newman, narra­tor (self-published, $4.99, digital download, 1.25 hr., unabridged) January 2020.

The website TV Tropes has coined the lovely term “noodle incident” to refer to a peculiar-sounding event that characters mention in a story but never fully explain. A classic example is Watson’s brief reference to the Giant Rat of Sumatra in the Sher­lock Holmes mysteries.

Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series has the “hedgehog ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Regrets Audiobook by Amy Bonnaffons

The Regrets, Amy Bonnaffons; Jay Ben Markson, Christie Moreau & Gary Tiedemann, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-47899966-9, $25.98, digital download, 6.75 hr., unabridged) February 2020.

When Thomas was a boy, a mistaken encounter with an angel of death turned him into a thrill-seeker, flirt­ing with death out of a longing to see the angel again. When he finally gets his wish in a car accident, the afterlife bureaucracy determines that ...Read More

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Carolyn Cushman and Amy Goldschlager Review Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Garth Nix, Angel Mage (Katherine Tegen Books 978-0-06-268322-9, $19.99, 534pp, hc) October 2019. Cover by Victo Ngai.

Nix pays homage to Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers in this young-adult fantasy novel, set in a world where magic is worked using icons that draw on the power of angels. A young woman named Liliath wakes 137 years after the Doom of Ystara, having spent the time entombed, yet is somehow still ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Book of Dust: The Secret Com­monwealth Audiobook by Philip Pullman

The Book of Dust: The Secret Com­monwealth, Philip Pullman; Michael Sheen, narrator (Listening Library 978-0-59310518-4, $60.00, CD, 19.75 hr., unabridged [also available as a digital download]) October 2019.

Margaret Atwood could take lessons from Pullman; this is how you write a sequel that builds on and raises the stakes of an already well-established story. His Dark Materials actually ended fairly definitively; a multi-world saga that explored the nature of ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews The Starless Sea Audiobook by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern; Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner, and Jorjeana Marie, narrators (Random House Audio, $50.00, CD, 18.5 hr., unabridged) November 2019.

When Zachary Ezra Rollins (you get to know his full name really well, since those three words open most of the sections from his perspective, which seems either mythic or repetitive when it’s continually spoken) was a boy, he came ...Read More

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2019 in Listening by Amy Goldschlager

Happy 2020!

I often take this opportunity to discuss great podcasts of the past year. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the chance to pick up too many new SF-related podcasts in 2019, but continue to enjoy new episodes of the familiar ones. Welcome to Night Vale is proceeding delightfully, with wars in time, space, and alternate realities, including a frightening conflict involving Night Vale citizen brains placed in future ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Emergency Skin Audiobook by N.K. Jemisin

Emergency Skin, N.K. Jemisin; Jason Isaacs, narrator (Brilliance Audio, $1.99, digital download, 1 hr., unabridged) September 2019.

SF thriller author Blake Crouch solicited and edited six stories about possible futures for his Forward anthology, all of which are available separately, both as ebooks and audio productions narrated by an array of actors.

My favorite story in the bunch, as well as the greatest text/audio matchup in the series, was ...Read More

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Gary K. Wolfe and Amy Goldschlager Review The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (Doubleday 978-0-385-54378-1, $28.95, 422pp, hc) Septem­ber 2019.

When Margaret Atwood published The Hand­maid’s Tale in 1985, the year after the real-life 1984 and at the height of the Thatcher/Reagan era, figures like Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Fal­well were still ascendant, and the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment in the US was still a raw memory. It made sense to ask, as Atwood did, just ...Read More

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Stefan Dziemianowicz and Amy Goldschlager Review The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute, Stephen King (Scribner 978-1-9821-1056-7, $30.00, 576pp, hc) September 2019.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Stephen King’s new novel, The Institute, is a blueprint for his career as a novelist, but in it King re­prises themes that he has explored regularly over the past 45 years, notably: children endowed with wild paranormal talents (think Carrie, The Shin­ing, and even End of Watch, ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Fall; or, Dodge in Hell Audiobook by Neal Stephenson

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson; Malcolm Hillgartner, narrator (Brilliance Audio 978-1-5113-2841-8, $44.99, 25 CDs, 31.75 hr., unabridged [also available on MP3-CD and as a digital download]) June 2019.

After about an hour’s worth of really heavy fore­shadowing about how hard it is to make convinc­ing virtual replicas of real-world phenomena and the potential danger of accidentally eating before a minor medical procedure that requires fasting, tech guru ...Read More

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Amy Goldschlager Reviews Teeth in the Mist Audiobook by Dawn Kurtagich

Teeth in the Mist, Dawn Kurtagich; Al­lan Corduner, Gemma Dawson, Marisa Calin, Polly Lee & Steve West, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-54917591-6, $24.98, digi­tal download, 12.75 hr., unabridged) June 2019.

A medieval Welsh monk bargains with demonic forces to extend his life, a deal which taints the lives of three young women in different historical periods at Mill House, a sinister manor on a Welsh mountain. In the late 16th ...Read More

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