In the near future, to escape the crush and clutter of a packed and polluted Earth, the world’s elite flock to Atopia, an enormous corporate-owned artificial island in the Pacific Ocean. It is there that Dr. Patricia Killiam rushes to perfect the ultimate in virtual reality: a program to save the ravaged Earth from mankind’s insatiable appetite for natural resources.
A strong narrative with several distinct voices propels the listener through this brave new world, painting a powerful and compelling vision of a society that promises everyone salvation with passage to an addictive, escapist alternative reality.
©2013 Matthew Mather (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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"I tried and I tried..."
But I just couldn't get into this book. I gave up after half. Some parts were just okay, others were completely forgettable. Which is a bad thing when all parts come together. I would reach parts where I knew I missed something, but didn't care. Just couldn't bare the thought of going back. I love Luke Daniels and Nick Podehl, but even they couldn't help this book out.
This started out really good. It sounded a lot like something Frederik Pohl would write if he was alive today. The book is basically made up of several novellas. The purpose of the novellas is to explain Atopia. Though very advanced, the whole thing seems very plausible. The first two novellas were great and we learned about Atopia through storytelling.
YOUR BEST ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH
I was pretty excited about this to begin with. The novellas are about two hours each. The third novella was boring and was more telling than showing. It got technical in places. I suffered through it and looked at it as a short story collection. In every collection there are usually some losers. Then I was bored by the Interlude and than I was bored by the next novella and the next novella I could not finish. Mather had a great concept and he started out great, but than I believe he was too worried about explaining everything so we understood the science. I might try another Mather book, but I will not continue this series.
GIGANTIC EXTENDED MAMMARY GLANDS
The narrators are top notch. Some of the best in the field, don't understand the problems some of the others had with them.
"What in the Atopia???? Gave up, moved on."
Some sort of coherence. Seemed to jump between so many different themes that I simply lost track. And the idea that someone is running around every day trying to make sure that hundreds of potential scenarios leading to his death are nipped in the bud just loses interest. That's where I gave up.
The narration started very poorly, with one of the earliest narrators possessing a really annoying New York nasal twang. Not a problem in person, but in a narrator just deadly. The main narrator later on was much better - I just could never figure out what the point of the story was.
I am not a huge Sci-Fi fan. While I have (thanks to some recommendations from my brothers) read a few Sci-Fi stories in the past, it's never been an area I was that comfortable in or drawn to.
When I received notification that my pre-order for Atopia was in my library and ready for download, I was a little stumped; when had I ordered this? Why would I have? I read the synopsis and could see why I may have been drawn to it; dystopian undercurrents, with multiple narrators and points of view... The current senile me thanked the previous, unremembered me for having pre-ordered the story, and I began the book immediately.
As mentioned above, the story is told by multiple points of view with jumping and/or overlapping timelines. You may at times find yourself in the same conversation you've read before, but now from the other character's point of view. Each new section begins with a clear announcement of which character you are about to hear from. In the firsts half of the book, these sections are larger chunks and it takes a while to catch on to the intricate cobweb of shared history that connects all of these people (or perhaps I should instead say sentient beings) together. Then, as you become more comfortable with the format and players, these sections become shorter and faster as the narrative speeds up to it's final conclusion; or at the very least, the conclusion for now.
One of my favorite authors, Michael J. Sullivan, was discussing recently that one of the accepted, identifying qualities of the Science Fiction genre is that it provides us with a forum in which to look at, consider, and discuss moral and ethical ramifications of different choices and ideologies as they are extended into the future. I'd never considered that before, but between his recent Sci-Fi book (Hollow World) and this novel Atopia, I really see what he's talking about. This book gave us a great deal to consider regarding what we call "progress" and "technology" today, asking how far these ideas can be taken before they become something that controls us, rather than something we control.
I believe that for the great majority of people, this is a book that will greatly benefit a second reading; and I am greatly looking forward to mine. Now that I'm more comfortable with the players and the landscape, I believe I'll pick up on a lot of great stuff in the second read that I missed in the first one.
I recommend this book, regardless of what "genres" you typically listen to.
"Annoying narrators ruins cleaver story.."
I will be on the look out for some of the narrators from this book to STAY AWAY from their work. The second story the female annoyed the crap out of me. Then there was the Surfer/drug guy that also made me cringe because he tried to hard. Finally, this is what made me stop listening to this book the Narrator who started section 44 she is beyond annoying but topped by the first narrator I mentioned.
There are a few moments that I really enjoyed about the book. The book has a great concept. It's different well thought out but truely the narrators killed me.
You probably couldn't go wrong with a whole new cast. I would perhaps stick to one or two narrators who are good with character distinction.
I was confused with the individual stories. I rather the stories be of complete strangers dealing with different issues. It seemed like some characters linked together in storyline while others feel off the face of the earth. It was just confusing. I am going to try the second book perhaps there might actually be a story. Hopefully, I didn't miss to much with not finishing the first book but by the way it was going, I highly doubt I missed anything.
"worst voice acting ever"
I can make no comment on the story. The writing may be phenomenal, but I will never know. I made it perhaps 5 minutes in before giving up.
From one of the leaders in the cyberspace community, Matthew Mather takes us into the world of the future; a world of nanotechnology and virtual reality.
The earth is overcrowded and those with the resources flock to a corporate owned floating island called Atopia. Anything is possible in Atopia taking multi-tasking to an extreme. Thanks to nanotechnology and virtual reality people can literally be in more than two places at once.
Using his expert knowledge of cyberspace the writer gives us a very possible glimpse into the not so distant future where people seamlessly link with computers and expand their cognitive abilities; but at what cost?
The story may be a little hard to follow at first; the writer uses different characters to give their perspective of the same scene and it seems that there are separate story lines, but everything comes together in the last chapter.
The narrators do a good job and help the listener know that another character is speaking although I usually prefer one gifted narrator to an assembled cast.
I can’t wait for the second book “Dystopian. “
This book is scattered across a good half dozen characters. It also flashes across many different points in time. Mather is not a strong enough writer to pull this off.
This is a good idea here. I enjoyed thinking about it. But as a story, Atopia is so disjointed, I just couldn't get into it.
"triumph of imagination"
wow! everybody remembers those scifi books that just blew you away. you thought about them for days after you finished them. atopia is one of those books that'll stay with me for a long time! why? b/c the technology and its applications AND implications will soon be at our doorsteps. where the tech from daemon may be 5-10 years away, the tech from atopia is at least 20 years away. so why am i so excited about? b/c the author does an amazing job of explaining what it is and how it'll work.
you may be asking, "well, isn't virtual reality (vr) dead? the last time i got excited about it was the lawnmower man, and that was over 20 years ago." well my friend, it's time to get excited again! matthew mather's vision of the future is both amazing and scary. mather combines the power of nanotechnology with the infinite possibilities of virtual reality to create a truly plausible symbiosis of our future.
when the lawnmower man came out in 1992, the possibilities of virtual reality were hinted at. but at that time, most people never heard of nanotechnology. jump 22 years in the future to today, and we have a better look at what the future holds. we've gone from mega to peta. yes, moore's law is still alive and kicking.
when virtual reality meets nanotechnology, the true potentials and pitfalls of the two really take shape. imagine ingesting smarticles, little nanotech machines that bond to you on the cellular and neurological level. you now have a direct neurological connection to virtual reality. add to that, the ability to distribute your consciousness and create proxies or copies of yourself.
what would you do? your physical body could exercise while you're off playing a realistic version of call of duty, where you actually feel getting shot or smashing up a car. you could go surfing while a proxy of you visits proxies of your family at a virtual reality house that looks, smells, and feels like it's in the south of france. whatever you can imagine, you can create. the only limit is your mind. how many proxies can you handle? don't worry, there's software for that too! LOL
amid this setting, mather tells the story of 8 different people in 6 parts. each part has 1 or 2 main characters. the main characters from each part interact with each other in each part. that may sound confusing so let me give you an example. don't worry, i won't give away any spoilers. rick strong is the main character in part 2. in part 2, you see his side of the story and conversation while in subsequent parts, you see the other side of that conversation from another character. this is so well done that you won't get confused or forget what a character was saying in a previous part. when you actually get the second part of the conversations, you'll actually get the chills! LOL
one reviewer said that he could not get past the first story. in my opinion, the first story is the weakest, and it is not as integrated into the story as the other parts are. the book starts to take off with part 2 and starts soaring with part 3. after that, you won't want to stop listening b/c you want to find out how all these puzzle pieces fit together.
for the most part, the narration is really good. i liked how they used different narrators for each main character. again, the narration from the first part was a little hard to get into b/c the character has a strong new york accent. but don't skip it! it's crazy how part 1 comes into play later in jimmy's story. eeewww! got the creeps!
yes, there's a lot of tech and ideas introduced in the book, but it's done in an easily understandable way- you won't have to rewind and re-listen to understand. the general concepts are introduced early on and the intricacies of the tech are explained in subsequent parts via the actions they perform. trust me, by the end, you'll understand splintering, neural plasticity, and the differences between inversing, reversing, and compositing. LOL
overall, this is an excellent story. listening to some of the parts, i thought of the twilight zone, with the stories ending with a macabre or unexpected twist.
I had high hopes for Atopia and was eager to listen to the story. I knew right from the start that the book was not going to keep my interest. I thought (based on the descriptions) that this was going to be a hard science fiction story. The first 100 pages showed this was at best a very soft science fiction, the kind where the author introduces a new technology without any explanation or background. This is not always a fatal flaw, if the author then moves the story forward with strict rules about the limits and functionality of the new technologies. In Atopia we have a lazy author that never tries to understand the technology they are writing about. Mather uses the technology as a magic wand that behaves differently depending on the immediate needs of the story.
Sometimes when the story is lacking the science, it can make up for it with powerful characters that draw the reader into the world. Again Mather fails in a big way, there are many characters and I did not like any of them. I had no desire to see what would happen to any of the one dimensional characters.
So I did not enjoy this book at all and would not recommend it to anyone. I can only hope there will not be any more of them, but I fear there will be an entire horrible series.
"Interesting take on a possible future"
I really enjoyed this book, future based stories are one of my favourite genres. The mini stories are strong and tie in well together to make sense at the end of the collection. To avoid spoilers I won't go into detail but the stories centre around a new technology which can be used in many different ways, this collection of stories is about many characters that take advantage of this technology and the consequences surrounding it.
The audio book is narrated very well and flows from reader to reader, it is easy to listen too and keep track of who is reading which character.
All in all a good book, I look forward to listening to other books by Matthew Mather.
"An Intriguing Science Fiction Story!"
I was recommended this book/series by Amazon,since I love science fiction. It sounded interesting, so I downloaded this on audio book. I must admit it was an intriguing story!
There are several characters in this book, and because it would take too long to do a character breakdown for every single one, I have decided to just jump right in to my review.
There are several narrators that bring each of the six chronicles to life. They are: Luke Daniels, Angela Dawe, Tanya Eby, Amy McFadden, Mikael Naramore and Nick Podehl. I am not sure who narrated the first chronicle, but I nearly stopped listening to the story within the first 15 minutes. The lady had a thick New York or Brooklyn accent that, I am sorry to say, really put me off; no offence meant to New Yorkers or Brooklynites. The nasal tone of the narrator made me cringe, as her voice sounded whiny and it gave me a headache. However, I persevered and I am glad I did; the rest of the narrators were a pleasure to listen to.
The story was a wonderful mix of science fiction, fantasy and reality. The first chronicle was set in New York, but the rest of the series was set on the island of Atopia, a large man-made floating island in the Pacific. Dr. Patricia Killiam is launching a new virtual reality platform. However, everything is not as it seems.
This story takes the reader on a fast paced roller coaster ride! Every character involved in this story is affected by certain events that culminate in an amazing showdown with a desperate and slightly crazy individual.
The story did feel a bit disjointed at times, but I suppose it's because it was originally written in sections. I really liked Bob (Robert Baxter), who was a bit of a drunkard and drug addict, but he has reason to be. I don't believe that drink and drugs are a solution to a problem or situation, but in his defense, it was understandable. This book actually terrified me, in a way. With the way we are advancing with our computers, and the virtual reality in movies getting better and better, this technology could, in the not too distant future, become more readily available. The line between what is real and what is virtual is growing thinner and blurrier all the time. This could, in the wrong hands, be used as a kind of mind control one day, and this absolutely terrifies me. If the life we now live is an illusion, what would be the point in living it? Are we actually already living in a virtual world? This kind of story makes a person think very deep and philosophical thoughts. That being said, I really enjoyed the story. The ending finished on a slight cliffhanger, and now I am looking forward to continuing the Chronicles by reading/listening to The Dystopia Chronicles, which will be released in August this year.
Matthew Mather has written a intriguing science fiction series. His characters were very lifelike. I loved his fast paced writing style and, even though the flow was a bit disjointed in places, I would definitely read more of his books in the future.
Due to the mention of alcohol and drug abuse, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. I do, however, recommend this book to lovers of science fiction or dystopian fiction genres. - Lynn Worton
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