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I confess I am biased, because I do like long and detailed books and I am happy to say that I think I have just found a new author to add to my list of favourites, this being my first Stephenson read. I found this book an absolutely ripper read, a good rollicking conspiracy yarn cleverly punctuated with wry humour, unpretentious but not inelegant use of vernacular in amusing asides to the reader. Some lovely quirky characters and even the baddies are amusing, the goodies not too sickly sweet! Now, which Stephenson to read next...? Oh, and an important addition, the narrator was excellent, none of the voices jarred, his timing,pacing and savouring of the language of the book perfect!
33 of 33 people found this review helpful
An excellent read. Incredibly detailed which would usually be boring for me. These authors are masters at painting pictures. All the details were relevant and added depth to characters or scenes. A great test for any read is the chapter change. If you don't want to move on to another chapter purely because you just want to know (right now!) whats going to happen next in the current scene, well: it's a really good sign that you've been drawn right in. Stephenson and George manage to make the bizarre and incredible, well - credible and feasible. Sure, I had a couple of moments where I thought 'Come on, guys - too far!' But then they'd just keep going and justify the entire premise. A very long piece of work that I didn't want to end. Great sense of comedic timing and irony. Unusual for a thriller/drama. Thanks guys. I'll be listening to Cobweb next.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful
First, the book itself:
I’m a big fan of Stephenson’s work; he might not have a clue how to tie up and conclude a story properly but the characters, love of obscure detail and continuing fascination with themes such as cryptography make him hugely pleasing for any reader or listener who takes to his idiosyncrasies. With a few notable exceptions, his plots are not hugely complex and that’s perfectly OK most of the time; his books are big old romps which are pleasingly bad influences when it comes to choosing between a new chapter and doing the laundry. Hence the pleasure of a well-read audiobook to keep you company while you get on with some tedious real-world task. The problem with Interface is that it’s neither particularly well-written nor narrated.
Sooner or later any book which hasn’t somehow achieved Timelessness will either come to be seen as of its time or just dated. Sadly, Interface is the latter, though not necessarily through any fault of its own. Published in 1994 in a pre-internet age, it is frozen by much of the tech it describes (though not, of course, The Interface itself) in a very particular era, which lends the story the same feeling one gets watching an old re-run on Netflix. Lines like, “the kind of thirty-nine-inch Trinitron that rich people would own” come across as almost quaint today. As to the plot, another reviewer here summarised it perfectly: “Meh.”
Now to the narration: For the first few paragraphs, I heard Oliver Wyman’s voice and thought, “this is going to be really great.” However, by the end of the chapter, it was more like, “this really grates.” More than once I found myself muttering, “just get on with it, would you?” I’m sure he might be ideal for some material but his cadence was almost always too slow for the material, even during action sequences, killing the pacing and reducing some parts to a bit of a chore to be got through before something better came along. I got the distinct impression that the narrator had not actually read the book or done any basic research before sitting down in front of the microphone; place names and proper nouns were inconsistently mispronounced and the occasional hint that he is capable of deviating from his medium-paced drawl only coming long after a sequence of the plot demanded it. I’m going to try to be generous and consider this a simple case of bad choice of narrator and hope I just caught him off-form. It will, though, be the only piece read by Wyman I’ll ever purchase.
For an example of how to do it brilliantly, I’d advise listeners to avoid Interface and choose Quicksilver - the first book of Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle”. The narration by Simon Prebble is a masterpiece. As an avid reader who had hugely enjoyed Quicksilver on paper, I honestly think it works better in audio form and, in grand contrast to Interface, it’s about as good as an audiobook can be.