The Future

S. & S. Audio. Nov. 2023. ISBN 9781797163635. $24.99. SF
An ensemble of eight narrators, led by Guinevere Turner and Natalie Naudus, perform Alderman’s (The Power) propulsive story of a collapsing near-future world. The story begins as three über wealthy tech titans—social network exec Lenk Sketlish, mega-retailer Zimri Nommik, and software magnate Ellen Bywater—escape to a secret bunker. Moving through time, listeners learn about a disparate group of survivalists and activists determined to enact social and ecological change—survivalist influencer Lai Zhen; Martha Einkorn, Lenk’s assistant and the daughter of a survivalist cult leader; Badger Bywater, Ellen Bywater’s subversive, wickedly intelligent youngest child; ousted tech founder Albert Dabrowski; and Zimri’s wife, Selah, a brilliant coder. Grippingly narrated assassination attempts are mixed with transcripts from a survivalist forum featuring provocative discussions about social media, connectivity, social responsibility, and even the book of Genesis. While carefully placed sound effects like bells and bleeps enliven the discussion posts, listeners may struggle to keep the personas straight. Additionally, though not a deal-breaker, abrupt chronological time jumps may have some listeners rewinding and recalibrating.
VERDICT Alderman’s The Power, which was recently made into a popular television series, continues to attract attention; libraries should expect high demand for this twisty and emotionally resonant vision of the future.
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