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My recollection from first reading the print version of DEMON is that it makes the first two volumes of the Gaea Trilogy pale in comparison. I read TITAN and WIZARD shortly after they were first released and was awe-struck. The immensity of the world-building that author John Varley engaged in had me completely immersed in the story. I wanted to visit Gaea. I could see Gaea’s panoramas in my head and wanted to hike all around the place, to witness the vistas for myself. Then it was a long four years wait before Varley released DEMON. At that time I re-read the first two and loved them even more than I did the first time; then I read DEMON and realized that the first two were just setting the stage for the main event. This trilogy starts out great and keeps getting better. After setting the stage in books one and two, DEMON delivers a spectacular climax.
The setting is one in which anything can happen because Gaea is so technologically advanced that her talents seem like magic, and what is more, Gaea is absolutely insane. Awesome power combined with capricious unpredictability is a recipe for a wild ride. This is high adventure on a grand scale. It is what classic Science Fiction is all about. Gosh, Wow! Sense of wonder! Grab the popcorn.
This novel has numerous cinematic and movie-making references. This is because John Varley is a movie buff. In the years in between WIZARD and DEMON Varley spent time working in Hollywood and became sorely disillusioned with the movie industry. His dissatisfaction manifests itself sarcastically all through this novel and it makes things very funny.
Allyson Johnson gives a superb performance. If you have read my reviews for TITAN and WIZARD you will know that I found much to be desired in Johnson’s vocalizations in those volumes. In the first novel I found Ms. Johnson’s reading to be an obstacle to be overcome before I could enjoy the book. In the second book I found her narration to be much improved and one that added to the experience. Now in John Varley’s third Gaea book I can honestly label Allyson Johnson’s effort as a true performance; more than a mere reading or competent narration. One of the qualities we look for in a novel is good character development. Well, over the course of this three-volume series we get to witness another dimension: narrator development. Allyson Johnson gets better and better. She made me laugh out loud with her characterization of the slurred speech of Luther. Her portrayal of the 50 foot tall Gaea with the Marilyn Monroe voice evokes images of the screen goddess Norma Jean herself. All the characters have their own distinct voices, and they are all really good. She manages the difficult task of rendering the male characters’ voices with her female instrument quite nicely. She brings a new dimension to this novel, which is already one of my favorites. Nicely done! Highly recommended.
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Where does Demon rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Very high. I loved Dune, The Foundation Series and this rivaled those recordings. Very well done, a pleasure to listen to.
What did you like best about this story?
It is a fantastic story in the definitional sense. Portions of it were comedic, over the top and at the same time deadly serious ruminations on religion, power and self absorbed insanity.
What about Allyson Johnson’s performance did you like?
When I first started the series I realized that I had not listened to a female reader, not saying that in a good or bad way, just a fact. But Allyson was great. She did various characters very well and I would rank her with Scott Brick and Victor Bevine as my favorite audible narrators. Just great.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I don't react like that but let me tell you parts of this book are very dramatic, comedic and everything in between. It is very entertaining, which ultimately what I want from this genre. i want to be taken out of the every day and lose myself in the story. This series delivers on that and more!
Any additional comments?
Not sure why Varley is not more well known. He is a great writer on par with Asimov and others from the annals of Sci Fi. I would listen to anything by him on Audible. Very inventive, original and clever in his plots and characterizations.Props to Michael (Audible reviewer I follow) for giving me this recommendation. Great story!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful