A sci-fi political thriller set in a terrifyingly real future
When all of humanity is connected, the center of the web is the seat of true power.
The world's old political borders have dissolved. The NAU is civilization's carcass, a nation ruled by two political parties: Enterprise, the sink-or-swim party where each party member has no one else to blame for their starvation or astronomical wealth; and Directorate, whose members have a guaranteed safety net but can never rise above their station.
Every six years, an election determines the NAU's future. The process is called Shift, and the next one is approaching. With humanity intertwined by way of the Beam-a hyper-advanced version of the Internet that serves every whim and need-Shift is the be-all and the end-all. More than an electoral method, it is the future's political discourse.
In the midst of tumultuous politics, some players are making their own moves. Doc, a black-market nanoenhancement vendor, discovers a disturbing trend of upgrades among his clientele. Nicolai, political speechwriter for the head of Directorate, struggles to find his independence in a life that is supposed to be devoted to the Party, all the while unaware of his own terrifying connection to the Beam. And Kai, an escort and assassin as lethal as she is flexible, becomes embroiled in the machinations of her top clients-because after all, the political elite choose only the best to warm their sheets at night.
And through it all, a shadowy group is pulling strings behind the scenes, guiding Shift exactly where they want it to go. Their identities are unknown to all but a few, and anyone who stumbles upon them by accident-or, worse, learns their true goal-is swiftly disposed of. But if their power goes unchecked, they will shape the fate of millions for years to come ...
Plug your mind into The Beam. It's been waiting for you.
©2013 Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant (P)2014 Podium Publishing
It took a little while before I started to enjoy this book, but once I had my bearings I really enjoyed it. The story groups characters into four strands as we follow their lives and their relationship with The Beam. The overall story and the sub plots within are believable and well written, full of detail and inter connectivity. The narrators are all good. My only slight gripe is with the ending. I was left with the unsatisfactory situation where all of the characters stories just stop in mid stream. For this reason the book doesn't end well as a self contained novel. If I want to find out what has happened to the characters that I have invested 19 hours listening to, then I must buy part two. I intended to get it anyway as I enjoyed this volume so much, but it is a minus point.
The variety of characters/settings/sub-plots and the successful balance between plot and worldbuilding kept me hooked throughout the book. There was not a single chapter that I thought was dragging too long, even the philosophy interjections (an interesting blend of non-dualistic philosophy and fururism/information theory) were short and did not disrupt the story.
With such a diverse cast it is difficult to pick a single narrator as favourite. What I can definitely say, though, is that the narration was clearly enriched by having a big cast instead of a single narrator.
A perfectly crafted not-too-distant future world. A cast of fully developed characters. Intersecting story lines. And A+++++ narrators. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. Can't wait to download the second one.
I know I have found a great book when I have trouble taking my headphones out to sleep at night, then spend portions of my day thinking about the story and its characters. The Beam was fully immersive, full of detail and realistic actions in a sci-fi world. To me, this is a hallmark of great sci-fi; the ability to make me believe in the story and its characters actions/thoughts/responses.
On the surface, it seems like just a dystopian future story with a lot of 'gee, that's cool' tech and projections of future advancements in interconnectivity. When one digs a little deeper, however, a plethora of nuanced commentaries explode out of the earbuds. Really good sci-fi has classically been a vehicle for allegorical commentary on current socio-economic realities. The Beam delves into humanity's reliance on tech, as well as the near spiritual reverence we have with the newest and best, projecting this outward over 80+ years.
One reviewer mentioned that it seemed like the book was trying to hit us over the head with these commentaries, and I don't necessarily disagree at points. It does get a *little* heavy handed occasionally. The vast majority of the listen is really quite restrained in that department.
The performances were fantastic- I know for many of us who are used to single narrator works, seeing 8 or so names listed might be off-putting. In practice it is not.
This is not a YA work and is clearly directed at a mature audience. Lots of profanity, sex, violence, and a few scenes of pretty serious torture. If you're sensitive to such things, you may want to avoid this listen.
An excellent listen, well worth a credit and your time. Season 2 is already in my queue.
This was the first audio book that I have listened to and it took a bit for me to adjust, but once that happened, I was hooked.
I love this story and the questions it raises about our own addictions and technology use.
The storyline, though complicated at first, is intriguing and draws you in. The characters are full and well fleshed out and the world is a feat in and of itself, making it believable and almost a possibility for our own future.
If you like a Science Fiction/Fantasy than this is a must read/listen
"Landmark exploration of future nanotech & Internet"
The Beam's greatest quality is in showing us how nanotechnology and an Internet 2.0 could shape the future, eighty years from now. You can tell they put a lot of thought into new technologies, how they would be used, and how a political and economic system would develop.
As for the story, there are a lot of pieces being set up in Season 1, and while I enjoyed it throughout, I was able to put it down until about the last fifteen percent. I am eager for the next season and hopeful that enough foundation has been laid so they can spend less time explaining the history. That said, a revelation about the early history of this technological revolution is shown at the very end, which makes me want to know more about the past, and maybe see if we are on the verge of watching it all collapse.
The plot is essentially a bad guy wants to monopolize a new technology and the large cast that we meet is all related to that pursuit. Who is the bad guy and who will survive to fight another day? Some don't even realize they are in such a battle, and those who are unaware become more interesting as they are forced to fight. I liked all of the characters and enjoyed how diverse the cast was (though not necessarily Diverse with a capital D that we see being called for of late--at least one person is Black, there are three female POVs, some of the names suggest non-USA natives, but no LGBT that I can remember.) I don't really care what people's races are, so I was more interested in their personalities and the passion in their hearts. When I say that they were diverse, I was referring to their different goals, qualities, and problems. Platt and Truant did a great job linking them together and making their desires conflict with each other.
I listened to the audiobook. Overall a great production, though sometimes I felt one of the narrators emphasized the wrong words. Not a big quip, and really, outstanding job to only have that one critique.
In short, I am excited to see where the story goes and continue to experience life eighty years in the future.
I'm a big fan of Platt and Truant, and this is the first audiobook I've listened to.
It's very well written and incredibly engaging. As well, it's masterfully performed by a huge cast. To be sure, I think this has spoiled me for audiobooks.
A must-listen for science fiction fans.
"An Immersive World - Great Read & Listen"
I would definitely listen to this book again. It was the first time that I listened to an audiobook with multiple narrators in the production, and I think that it worked really well with the multiple points of view that this book is told from.
I especially enjoyed the scenes with Crumb, and none more than the ones from his point of view while he is still crazy.
I'm really looking forward to listening to The Beam: Season 2, which I've already read but can't wait to hear. Hopefully it coincides with the third book coming out so I can refresh my memory about what has been happening before starting the third one.
"Dystopian SF with a very heavy hand..."
This is not a bad story, but it is constantly undermined because the authors make it very clear that they believe their work to be Gritty and Relevant and Political (yes, the capitals are implied), by hitting you over the head with these points repeatedly. At times, the lack of subtlety is distracting to the point where I caught myself actually rolling my eyes while listening.
It is as if the authors took the typical Young Adult dystopian SF tropes and turned them up to 11, sprinkling liberally with random sex and strings of profanity that sound like they are drawn from South Park (seriously: there is a minute long sequence where a character describes everything around him as excrement, using the word dozens of times).
As a result, there is never a chance for the story to breathe. Not only do you get the simplified political divisions of Hunger Games-style SF, but, in case you missed it, there are repeated monologues about the nature of said political system. Ominous new technologies are described, and, in case you missed them, characters repeatedly tell you how ominous they are. Cliches also abound in the characterization, especially the women: the two main female characters are a moody diva and a sex-crazed hooker. These issues may be less apparent in the book, but in the audio, they are obvious and repeated.
Some of the readers (mostly the women) are good, a couple are horrible (oh man, the guy who reads the role of "Doc" is painful!). The story is never bad, and there is some fun world building, but I expected a lot more given the glowing reviews.
"Great audio to a very good story"
I had already read the book, but I thought it would be interesting to listen to the audiobook as well. The story is quite complicated, and I figured it would be nice to get a refresher.
I don't know what I expected, but what I got was amazing. This audiobook has an amazing cast of voice actors, one for each point of view character in the book. This really helps keep the characters straight, and keeps me from driving off the road in boredom from listening to the same voice over and over.
Not only are there many voices, but the voices are *good*. Each one captures the spirit of the character and makes listening to this book a dynamic, pleasurable experience. I am confident that if I hadn't read the book first, I would still be able to follow along with no problem.
Overall, some great audio to an intriguing, complex, satisfying sf story.
"Gritty Dystopian SF at its BEST!!!"
The first thing you need to know is that this book should be rated M for mature. From the first chapter there is a lot of adult language related to sex and drugs, so don't listen to this book around your kids.
I'm a huge fan of Johnny and Sean's so I was bound to like this story.
That said this book is their best effort so far. My favorite living authors include Spider Robinson, Jim Butcher, and now Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt.
This book is Atlas Shrugged meets The Matrix meets Yesterday's Gone. Yet that comparison doesn't do justice to the scope of the world these guys have imagined. The world of The Beam is as big as the Star Wars universe, or Robert Heinlein's future history stories, or Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.
I started this book 2 days ago and I couldn't stop listening. This audiobook is a fully immersive experience. I usually don't like full cast readings where each narrator narrates from a particular point of view. But all of these narrators worked very well together.
What I particularly liked was that each character had their own voice. And the narrators really made an effort to make each character's voice performance uniform throughout. Each character's particular accent was maintained as much as possible by every narrator reading the book. Each narrator shift was seamless and felt like a point of view shift in the movie or television show. This performance sets the standard of excellence for books that have multiple narrators.
If you enjoy dystopian futures, richly developed characters and landscapes, fully developed worlds with their own stories to tell and gritty SF you will LOVE this book!
As amazing as the print version! When you start with a great story, and then go above and beyond on the audio production, you are going to create magic. That's what this audiobook does, and the quality and thoughtfulness truly shines through. Even traditional publishing isn't doing stuff like this—but that's the beauty of owning your properties.
The Beam is easily my favorite of the Realm and Sands franchises. I love sci-fi and write sci-fi, and this cast doesn't disappoint with a diverse cast of characters who all have different, opposing goals. The larger themes this writing duo explores are also fascinating.
I loved that this book was truly "cast" and there were multiple actors reading. It mixed it up and gave it a cinematic audio experience. Really loved everyone's performance!
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