It's no secret that I'm a huge geek when it comes to reading sci-fi. Yet, up until now, I've never listened to any of the books on audio. So METAtropolis comes as the perfect junction, then. It's got cool, exclusive novellas written by some of the best up and coming SF names in the field: Tobias Buckell, Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear, Karl Schroeder, and John Scalzi. It was edited by Scalzi himself, and it makes perfect sense that he would tap the shoulders of his own personal friends in the biz to help put this project together. Lucky for us, it just so happens that these people are excellent writers to begin with!
But that's not all this audio anthology has going for it. If you are into sci-fi at all, then these writers are likely already recognizable to you. But if you're a big fan of the tv show Battlestar Gallactica, and of audio books in general, then you have even more reason to scream like a little girl at her best friend's slumber party. For three actors from the show lend their voices to the dramatic presentation of some of these tales: Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh), Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Felix Gaeta), and my personal favorite (yum!) -- Kandyse McClure (Lt. Anastasia Dualla). These three are awesome at their jobs, giving me quite the pleasant surprise. Since this is my first audio book, I was highly impressed by the quality of their narration. Just goes to show that a good actor can utilize his/her skills to full effect regardless of the medium.
Equally impressive are the recordings from the actual professional audio book narrators well-known in the industry. Scott Brick and Stephan Rudnicki go above and beyond the call of duty here. Because of them, I may have to check out some of their more notable audio book works, like Dune and Ender's Game.
But to me, Michael Hogan stole the show. His versatile reading of Jay Lake's novella to start off the anthology was simply too amazing for words. It sent goosebumps down my arms hearing his distinctive voice switch between male and female characters, as well as gender-neutral narrative quick-speak, with fluid ease. What a true professional!
So, if you're into seriously good sci-fi with a tinge of the apocalyptic and the gritty human side of societal change, then you might do yourself good to check this out. The entire "book" runs slightly over 9 hours long, making it an excellent companion to take along with you on long drives. METAtropolis is available through Audible.com and, I think, Apple's iTunes store. The price is comparable to that of a new hardcover, but for me it was well worth the money. If it weren't illegal to do so, I'd burn this puppy to CDs and pass it around to all my friends. Foregoing this option, though, I'll settle for just spreading the word around to ya'll instead!
If you're not sure about paying the full price, Audible gives you the option to download and listen to the first of the novellas -- Jay Lake's "In the Forests of the Night" -- absolutely free. As this just happens to be the story Michael Hogan narrates, I highly recommend this course of action for those unsure of making the full commitment.