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Don't tell the science fiction purists but I have a special place in my heart, my bookshelves, and now my Audio Library for the rare "sweet" science fiction stories. Hopscotch is right in there with Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy", Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit Will Travel", Piper's "Little Fuzzy", and more recent addition, Scalzi's "Fuzzy Nation". (Totally loved that Scalzi really kept the "sweetness" of that story.) Most of the time, the sweet sci-fi isn't a writer's best example of science fiction, but I am just a sucker for an emotionally perceptive story with a techie plot/setting. It seems easier to me to do a sweet story in fantasy or some other genres so the truly touching story with a science/technology backdrop just gets me every time.
Kevin Anderson might have made this story more commercially successful if he rewrote it with more emphasis on the sexual exploration afforded by body swapping - there are some sex scenes, but this isn't erotic sci-fi. Or he could have made it a YA dystopian - make the characters younger and dumber, set up a quadrangle romance instead of a friendship, and amp up the Big Brother oppressive aspect of the BTL. Or he could have easily done it as a fantasy with body swapping being a magical quality that needs no scientific explanation and make COM a more mystical realm of gods and goddesses. But Kevin Anderson ultimately wrote a story that is really about deep and abiding friendship and let technology set the scene and drive the plot. Hopscotch is a sweet sci-fi - heavy on poignant/a little light on science.
The science and technology in Hopscotch is interesting, but it doesn't quite hang together. How many millenia would it take for people to evolve the ability to exchange minds and how would that happen anyway? And by the time that did happen we would surely be way past mere hover cars as transport. Both the technology and the politics/culture of the society in Hopscotch are painted with broad strokes - sketched out more than explained. However, the plotting is fast paced, never a boring moment, and the characters are some of my favorites. All the body swapping and misadventures of that ability aside, at its core, Hopscotch is about true friendship. Three boys and a girl who grow up together in what is essentially a futuristic orphanage and become "family". The challenges to their deep commitment to one another begin immediately upon leaving the orphanage and culminate in the climax of the book to provide a really great touching and satisfying ending to this story.
Although I've read the book several times, I picked up the audio version when it was on sale and found it got to me just the same hearing it as reading it. Jim Meskimen is not bad as the narrator - just doesn't rank up there with my favorite narrators.
If you want hard science sci-fi, skip Hopscotch. If you'd like a good adventure with characters you can really love and root for or if, like me, you can appreciate the occasional "sweet sci-fi", you'll probably enjoy Hopscotch.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Absolutely. It is one of the books that you listen to over & over again.
What did you like best about this story?
Imagination. The plot was winding and not predictable at all.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I made it in two.