Fool's War, leisurely narrated with warm engaging uplift by Parisa Johnston, is a futuristic science-fiction space story written by Sarah Zettel, whose first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the prestigious Philip K. Dick award.
Katmer Al-Shei owns a company that deals in a new form of communication. While on a business trip to Deep Space (hope she at least got business class for that commute) she is misidentified as a traitor and spy. As Al-Shei works to untangle the mess she's now in, she stumbles upon a series of conspiracies that are of galactic consequence.
In this New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a strange new life form threatens all of humanity, and only a fool would stand in its way. Katmer Al Shei has done well with the starship Pasadena, cutting corners where necessary to keep her crew paid and her journeys profitable. But there are two things she will never skimp on: her crew - and her fool. For a long space journey, a certified Fool's Guild clown is essential, to amuse, excite, and otherwise distract the crew from the drudgeries of interstellar flight.
Her newest fool, Evelyn Dobbs, is a talented jester. But does she have enough wit to save mankind? In the computers of the Pasadena, something is emerging. The highly sophisticated software that makes interstellar travel practical is playing host to a new form of artificial intelligence, one with its own mind, its own needs, and its own desperate fears. Combatting this terrifying new threat becomes the fool's secret fight. Evelyn Dobbs's personal war might just cost Katmer Al Shei everything, and everyone, she holds dear. But if they fail, humanity itself is lost for good.
©1997 Sarah Zettel (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Narration: throughout the book, the narrator kept pausing in odd places. Whether this was due to a lack of preparation, or idiosyncratic editing, it was distracting. Most audiobooks that I've listened to don't suffer from this problem, so there seems little excuse for it.
Conversely, there was a distinct lack of gaps between sections within chapters. This was especially evident later in the story, as the viewpoint frequently switched between characters.
Apart from that, the narrator was very clear, and it was generally easy to distinguish between characters.
Story: judging by the Amazon reviews, this is going to be highly subjective. I thought there were some good ideas, but it suffered from a very slow start, meaningless technobabble, and a number of shaky premises.
Interesting book. The universe the book was set in was interesting. Each planet, ship and other setting was well thought out and wonderfully described.
The complexities of the main character's family and religion were also interesting and lent a realistic dimension to the characters.
However, the plot grew well beyond the characters control. The turns in book lead the main character down a rapidly declining slope with all hope lost again and again. Although the characters were colorful, their roles morphed beyond reasonable expectations.
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