It is unusual for me to be at a loss to decide what to read next on Audible. I usually have a host of books I am itching to read, but when I recently finished Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, I had the odd experience of not being sure what I would go on to next.
Not straight onto the third book in the Hunger Games series, much as I enjoyed Catching Fire. I like to mix things up a bit, particularly after the time spent in the Wheel of Time universe in the run up to and reading of the final book, A Memory of Light. Of course, there is no new WoT book to go on to and it is far too soon for a re-read.
I looked through my Audible wish-list but nothing grabbed me, although I toyed with the idea of trying the Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. I looked back through my Evernote record of the books I read on Audible and Kindle, but that did not really go back far enough. Another option was the next Sword & Laser book-pick, Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, but that was, to my amazement, not available on Audible! Mind you, I am still struggling with the last S & L pick, Downbelow Station by Caroline Cherry, which I am reading on Kindle and battling to get up to half way through.
I then turned to my Audible library in search of inspiration from books I’ve read in the past. Then it was suddenly obvious. Another Culture novel. I am not 100% sold on Iain M Banks but his novels always have enough in them to justify the read. I had already read Matter (entirely out of order) then gone back to the beginning of the series with Consider Phlebas, then on to The Player of Games and Use of Weapons. Next in order, according to Wikipedia, was Excession so I spent an Audible credit on it, downloaded it and have made a start.
Now this is what’s odd. Since picking that book I have spent a bit of time on the Audible site, playing their Easter Egg game to pick up some free first chapters that looked interesting. As I navigated the site, I kept seeing Excession showing up all over the place. I thought it was due to some kind of personalisation of the webpage, because I had just bought the book. But I then realised it was TOP of the Editor’s Sci-fi picks. How so? Audible promoting a 17 year old book from the middle of an established sci-fi series? Then I spotted the Audible release date. Excession has only been available on Audible since 7 March 2013, i.e. less than 20 days before I randomly picked it as the book I wanted to read, in all ignorance of its newness on Audible and the fact they were doing their best to promote it on the site.
Anyhow, I am back in a familiar world. Incredible flights of graphic imagination on a gargantuan scale – no Culture book could be filmed without a bank-breaking CG budget. Comic conversations and absurd interactions with aliens that only make me wonder whether I am not reading a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book. An odd narrative structure that means it takes time to get a handle on where the book is going. And a slow, dark side that will probably turn quite savage, disturbing and thought-provoking. And probably lots of silly annoying bits, too.