- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 50 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 26 Nov. 2013
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00GX15OTM
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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A Calculated Life Audio Download – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
"A Calculated Life" is the story of Jayna, a genetically-engineered simulant with superhuman powers of analysis and deduction. Ostensibly physically human, simulants are hybrid blends of carefully-selected genes taken from mentally-outstanding human progenitors. However, simulants are "grown" rather than raised -- arriving fully-adult, with only rudimentary social skills and experiences. Though highly-valued, they are not self-determining beings: they are owned by The Constructor, who leases their skills out for exhorbitant fees.
The more wealthy and exceptional humans are able to obtain bionic implants, which make them more intelligent and capable, but not with the superhuman abilities of a simulant. The poor and unexceptional humans are just stuck with their mediocrity.
We follow Jayna as she gradually learns more about humans by observation of them and interaction with them. But there's a problem: Jayna's generation has been augmented with more sensory capability than previous generations. This seems to be causing glitches in Jayna's siblings: reports are starting to circulate of simulants who deviate from accepted norms and are taken back for reprogramming -- erasing their previous lives. And what is happening to Jayna?
I found the book's pace gradual but intensely absorbing. Rather than giving the background in a big infodump at the beginning, the author lets the reader gradually figure things out as the narrative progresses. I'm not a big fan of infodumps, so this style is always a winner for me.
My only real criticism is that the story ended all too soon. I would LOVE to read it in a more fleshed-out, fully-realised form.Read more ›
Some reviews comment that not a lot happens but actually great deal does; it’s just that apparently small things like a change in menu or a chance observation in a shop have terrific significance to Jayna. She feels something as a result of these events but does not have the emotional vocabulary to express it. Perhaps it is the rhythm of the writing, its precision if you like; but the ending is devastating because of this slow accumulation of carefully expressed, often sensual experience.
Jayna’s quizzical innocence threatens to make her unlikeable; certainly some of her co-workers think so and the office politics in the early part of the novel are very relatable. However, two elements of the story ensure we never lose empathy. One is humour; the dystopian paradigm requires the intervention of a chaotic element, usually a lover and that does happen here but the inciting incident is Jayna getting some calculations wrong. Like the wind/crime interface it’s a subtle joke, as is a predictive novel about someone who predicts things, gets some right, others wrong and acts on the latter.Read more ›
The nitpicker in me has to point out that the story is clearly set in England and uses UK English - so why the American spellings? It jarred a bit every time I came across an American spelling - but that's probably just cos I'm a pedant ;)
I particularly liked the gradual reveal that Jayna wasn't a high functioning savant but something quite different.
It's a slow burner but it suits the material - and it kicks up a gear in the second half of the book. The epilogue(s) give satisfying closure too.
Overall, it's a great example of a rare thing - finely written, thoughtful, modern British sci-fi.
Liked the that the world in which the main character lived was gradually revealed to the reader.
The future world she creates is not so dissimilar to ours, which makes a great backdrop for exploring more subtle things such as the characters attitudes, expectations etc.
Its an intimate style and story, but there is still a plot that moves along nicely and keeps your interest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Subtle, elegant, deeply thoughtful, constructed with the precision of a miniaturist. No cheap thrills here; this is moving, meaningful, beautifully composed literature.Published 14 days ago by Stephanie Saulter
Really enjoyed this thought provoking read a b c d e f g h I j k l m nPublished 1 month ago by Steve Rowe
Cracking good read well worth it. An interesting possibility of the future, funny as well in places. Does alienation very wel.lPublished 4 months ago by sci fi fan
What does it mean to be human? What is memory, how is it constructed and what is it for; how does it feed our imagination, our sympathies, our empathy? Read morePublished 4 months ago by N. M. Kleinman
I quite enjoyed this story but I think more could have been made of the location. It was set in a future Manchester but there wasn't a single reminder of it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jan
I thoroughly enjoyed this charmingly affecting (possibly) near future debut much more than I expected to. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Workaway