"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
Twenty years reviewing books, audiobooks, graphic novels, movies and music! More than 1,600 reviews.

Visit DWD's Reviews of Books, Audiobooks, Music and Video new sister blog: DWD's Reviews of Tech, Gadgets and Gizmos!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A World Out of Time (audiobook) by Larry Niven

To the center of the galaxy and back

Re-published by Blackstone Audio in 2012.
Read by Tom Weiner
Duration: 7 hours, 59 minutes

First published in 1976, A World Out of Time is a grand adventure that literally follows its hero, Corbell,  across the galaxy and across three million years of time as he reacts to one twist after another that eventually finds him carrying the fate of the entire world on his shoulders.

The story begins with Corbell being revived from being frozen in a cryogenic chamber almost 200 years after he had been frozen in the 1970s because he had in incurable form of cancer. He is not in his own body, however. The patterns of his mind have been recovered and scanned into the "mindwiped" empty brain of a criminal by a totalitarian government called "The State." The State controls the entire world and is interested in interplanetary travel. The great distances and times involved have compelled The State to revive some of the "corpsicles" in order to train them to fly seeder ships that will introduce oxygen-creating simple life to likely planets in order to begin the prep work that will make them habitable. They are sending revived people because it will have to be a solo trip and these people have no friends or loved ones that they would miss (and are given no time to make new friends).

Larry Niven (Photo by David Corby)
So, Corbell passes all of the tests and is launched into space. But, his independent nature is not anticipated by The State and he steals the spaceship and heads to the center of the galaxy with nothing but a sarcastic and difficult computer named Peerssa for company. Their travels last for three million years on Earth, but are less than that on the ship due to the effects of Relativity and a stasis bed.

When Corbell and Peerssa make it back to Earth, but almost nothing about the solar system is recognizable - the sun is too big, the Earth's climate is radically changed, Jupiter is acting like a small sun, planets and moons are missing and orbits are not the same. But, this is Earth and Corbell is determined to return home, even a home that is super-heated, dry and mostly de-populated.

The second part of the story is where the heart of the story lies. Corbell is now an old man exploring a world he barely recognizes. Plants, animals and people have evolved since he last was on earth three million years earlier. Corbell's eventually learns what happened to The State, the solar system and Earth. He also learns that man has found a way to be immortal (actually two ways) and that there was also a literal war between the sexes and the ramifications of that war threaten all of humanity in multiple ways. In fact, the title accurately describes the situation that Corbell finds - a world that is out of time to do anything but find a way to save itself from its own foolish actions.

This book was originally two separate short stories, which goes a long way towards explaining the two distinct parts of A World Out of Time. The overall flow of the book is herky-jerky at best. Sometimes it hums along, other times there are slow sections such as the long, detailed tale of how Corbell made a fire and hunting tools and then stalked, killed, plucked, gutted and cooked a turkey and then had more of it the next day.

The feel of the book reminded me of a lite version of Robert A. Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold. Part of that comes from the fact that both were read by Tom Weiner and he used the same gruff voice characterization for the lead characters in both books. But, they also both feature time travel, loosened sexual mores that would make Larry Flynt blush, a world order turned upside down, and hard men who strive for what they want above all else.

Tom Weiner's voice characterization was solid throughout. He created distinctive voices that matched the personalities of the characters. The story itself is up and down, but Weiner's reading helps it through the worst patches and makes the better parts work a little better.

This is the first of three books about The State.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found here: A World Out of Time.

Reviewed on September 1, 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment