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Mini Reviews: An Audiobook Edition

by Kim on September 7, 2010 · 19 comments

Title: Minority Report and Other Stories
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Short Stories/Audiobook
Year: 2002 (audio)
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Summary: Minority Report and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick. The first few were all stories that eventually were turned into movies – Minority Report and Total Recall. Each story tends to follow a format, focusing on one particular new technology with very specific outcomes. Each one has a twist at the end, which relies on exploring the logic of that technology.

In Minority Report, the technology is a connection of three humanoids that have the ability to predict crimes in the future. Before the crimes can be committed, the potential offenders are arrested. The twist comes when the head of the Pre-Crime Unit (I think that’s what it was called) discovers that he is predicted to commit a murder. What happens when you know the future? Is it possible to change it?

The rest of the stories have a pretty similar structure, although the particular technology and the question that it raises were always different.

Book Review: As a series of short stories, these were really fun. I’d seen Minority Report, so it was cool to compare the book and story as Boyfriend and I listened to them. I haven’t seen Total Recall, but Boyfriend had, so he gave me some of the comparisons too. It was also fun to try and figure out what was going to happen, guessing what the twist would be and how the story would be resolved. Dick has a sharp sense of humor that we both appreciated.

Audio Review: The challenge with this on audio was that it was almost impossible to back up if we missed something. The audio wasn’t divided into short sections – every short story was one long track. So if we got distracted, it was possible to miss the hints or questions the book was suggesting and impossible to go back.

Luckily, every one of the stories had a nice wrap-up in the end – one of the characters would give a summation of the “conclusion” to the question (sort of like how a detective will walk you through the solution in a mystery), which helped if we’d missed something. Reading this might have been annoying, but it was a huge help with an audio book that otherwise would have been quite confusing.

Other Reviews: Mental Foodie | Fyrefly’s Book Blog |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!


Title: The Necklace
Author: Cheryl Jarvis
Genre/Format: Literary Journalism/Audiobook
Year: 2008 (audio)
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary: The Necklace is the story of a social experiment – could 13 women, mostly strangers or acquaintances, buy and share a, extremely expensive necklace? But the book ends up being more about questions of consumption, friendship, sharing, and the things that have the potential to bring us together.

Book Review: I really found this story charming. The premise was unique, the structure was sound, and the “feel good-ness” of it made me smile.

One thing that I think could be annoying about the book is that, ultimately, these are all pretty well-to-do women. Certainly, they’re involved in philanthropy and part of a community, but the conflicts they have over the necklace can seem a little silly.

I wasn’t really bothered by this though, because I think the point of the book really is about more than that. To me it was about the idea of an experiment, of seeing what it might mean to try and share something important with other people and what sharing can show others.

Audio Review: The narrator for this book, Pam Ward, was just stellar. Each chapter was based on a different woman, and so that woman was quoted pretty extensively in the chapter. Ward did a great job capturing their unique voices, down to distinctive drawls and phrases. It really brought the story to life in a way I loved.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

bermudaonion (Kathy) September 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I didn’t like the Minority Report movie, so that collection of short stories is probably not for me. The Necklace does sound good though.

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Kathy: If you didn’t like the movie, then probably not. The Necklace was exactly the sort of charming memoirish book I think you’d like.

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Trisha September 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Dick’s science fiction stories fascinate me, but I have to admit I haven’t read Minority Report yet. I’ll have to check it out.

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Trisha: I like his science fiction too, but had only read Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep before this. I think I liked the short stories better – they don’t get as bogged down as I felt like that book did.

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Kailana September 8, 2010 at 4:29 am

I really must read something by Philip K. Dick at some point! I claim to be a sci-fi fan, but there are a lot of authors I haven’t read yet!

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Kailana: I think it’s that way in any genre – it’s hard to read everything (or even almost everything) and feel like an expert unless you can devote your profession to it. How great would that be?

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Amanda September 8, 2010 at 7:25 am

I’m just starting to get into audiobooks and it’s amazing how much difference a good performance can make!

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Amanda: Yeah, it really can. I don’t know if I’d have liked The Necklace as much if the narration hadn’t been as awesome as it was. It was really like a performance, not just a reading.

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Belle September 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

I will definitely be adding the Minority Report audio to my list – I’m always on the lookout for great audiobooks, and this short story collection sounds right up my alley. The Necklace sounds pretty interesting too.

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Belle: I liked that it was short stories – you got a break in between and got to regroup, which is good for when I’m driving and have a hard time focusing. I’ll be looking for more short story collections on audio.

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Jeanne September 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

Like all books made into movies–and even short stories made into movies–I think Philip K. Dick, in particular, suffers from the movie versions of his stuff. The kernel of an idea in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep deserved more than it got with Blade Runner, even though I kind of like that movie.

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Kim September 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Jeanne: You’re exactly right. The ideas in this book are little, not in their scope but in the way they’re executed. When you try to expand them too much, the logic and interest of them disappears into storytelling and character which just isn’t what the books are about.

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Fyrefly September 10, 2010 at 8:36 am

I listened to Minority Report about a year ago (review here) and liked it pretty well, although I thought it’s definitely showing its age. I still need to watch the movie version of Paycheck to see how it compares.

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Kim September 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Fyrefly: Yeah, the story is getting a little bit dated, but I sort of expected that and so it didn’t bother me that much. It’d be interesting to see some sci fi takes on current events and what Dick might make of them.

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christa @ mental foodie September 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I haven’t watched the Minority Report movie, but read the story (just this story) a few months back. I actually liked it more than I thought I would!

http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/06/book-review-minority-report-by-philip-k.html

The Necklace sounds like an interesting concept!

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Kim September 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Christa: I liked it too – I think I would have liked reading it as well, but on audio it was a fun mystery type story.

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Scott September 13, 2010 at 9:55 am

I enjoyed Minority Report when I listened to it years ago; not sure if you are familiar with Battlestar Galactica, but it always reminded me of “Second Variety”, though I don’t know for sure which came first.

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Kim September 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Scott: My roommate loves Battlestar Galactica, I’ll have to check with her and see what she thinks of the comparison.

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