Podcast Review #126: Self Made

Title: Self Made
Author: M. Darusha Wehm
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 11 January 2010 – 3 April 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast, ebook and dead tree

Rating: R for language, violence and adult content

Once again my trolling through podiobooks brings me to a title and author I’ve yet to read/listen.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Ever wish things were different?

Ivy Velasquez did, so she became someone else. In the 3D virtual world Marionette City, you can be anything you want — but everyone still knows who you are. Driven by her desire for a new life, Ivy takes her future in her hands when she makes another identity for herself. A brilliant designer, Ivy works for one of the huge firms which control the online system the world relies upon for both business and pleasure. But one day, Ivy discovers that her alternate self, Reuben Cobalt, had been murdered.

Since alternate identities are forbidden by the firms which control access to the nets and to M City, Ivy has nowhere to turn — until she finds Andersson Dexter. Part private eye, part vigilante and part cop, Dex sets out to uncover Reuben’s killer. Since the firms control almost every aspect of life, including law and order, justice for average people comes only at the hands of the outlaw organization to which Dex belongs.

Self Made is a murder mystery set in a vision of a future that seems to lurk just over the horizon. But above all, it is a story of how people strive to control their own destinies, and how that desire affects them and the people around them in ways they could never imagine.

Production: The production of Self Made isn’t stellar. Neither is it horrid. It falls firmly in the category of “okay” and there is nothing here that would make it hard to listen to. At least nothing that I remember.

Grade: B/B-

Cast: Ms. Wehm does Self Made as a self read. Her reading voice is up to the task and none of the characters are remarkable due to the poor reading or voice usage. This book has long narrative passages and Ms. Wehm’s voice is up to the task.

Grade: A-

Story: Self Made is a story set in the undetermined future. Truthfully, I don’t remember if a year was mentioned or not, but it has that sense, like a William Gibson or Philip K Dick story, of indeterminate future age about it. Meatworld contact is now severely limited and most interaction occurs in cyberspace. The synopsis reminded me enough of the previously mentioned author that I was eager to give it a try. Throw in a murder mystery and I was confident this would be an enjoyable ride.

Grade: D+\C-

Verdict: I remember as a young lad, sitting in church and hearing the pastor preach on Revelation 3:16 – “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” At the time I really didn’t understand that. Now I do. This is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. Why? Because I am so ambivalent about the work in general and the characters in specific. Ms. Wehm seems to have worked exhaustively to create a world with little emotion and succeeded only in creating a world that held no interest for this listener. Dex and the other characters felt lifeless and almost like watercolor portraits without any definition. I think the ending was supposed to have been happy. The best I can say is it didn’t have the opposite effect on me.

I also found the underlying meat world vs cyberspace issues to be almost nonsensical with the reasoning provided. (Possible spoiler alert) For example, people rarely talk to one another to the extent that a real bar is unusual and talking to someone in the meat world is extremely rare. However, people still commute to the day job in that same meat world even when everything they do is online. The explanation given was something like “so the system can keep track of your time”. I remember laughing about that at the time.

However, my biggest problem with this story is how little I remember about it after only one week. Most of this review was pulled from notes I took at the time. The poorly contrived story obviously made no impression on my long term memory. Perhaps that will be to Ms. Wehm’s advantage and I’ll completely forget about Self Made and try one of her several other books in the future.

Before ending this review, I will state that according to Ms. Wehm’s site, she has been nominated for more than one Parsec, so I quite likely am a minority in my opinion. Have you listened? Do you disagree? Let me know! (Well, you can do that even if you do agree.) Now, I need to go find my listerene.

Shameless plug: Don’t forget, if you send an audio comment to me at Odin1eye at viewfromvalhalla dot com, I’ll include it in the podcast version of this episode next weekend (or when I receive it). You can also leave voicemail, for this or any other story, at the Valhalla Hotline simply by calling 956-307-ODIN (6346)

Disclosure: I’ve never read or listened to anything by Ms. Wehm before. I was offered nothing in return for this review.

Comment Pages

There are 4 Comments to "Podcast Review #126: Self Made"

  • Thomas says:

    Ok, I started reading the review and thought “Have i read this?” and yes i have. I loved the premise. I enjoyed the world Wehm had created. I enjoyed most of elements of the story. I think it would have played better as a straight murder mystery. It has been a few months since i heard it, but i remember being dissatisfied with the romantic side of things. “Get over it” kept coming to mind. I had some similars issues as you did, Odin. some of the story/plot/world elements just didn’t make sense or fit or seem logical other than the author wanted it that way. I did enjoy it (it was sci/fi after-all) but i wouldn’t necessarily recommend it without reservations.

    • odin1eye says:

      That whole “get over it” did indeed get to me too. I also agree that if ms. Wehm would have left out the romance gender blending propaganda I would have enjoyed it more. It just felt too much like being preached at. Hence: get over it.

      • Thomas says:

        The issues raised by the romance were interesting and could have been done in a different story, It just seemed too, and i hesitate to use the word, “whiny” in how it was handled in this story. I understand the use of self examination and how it relates to story telling, but you are telling a atory, it doesn’t have to be upbeat, but you do want your readers to care for your main characters and not want to slap them on the back of the head and shout “STOP”. ok, enough with the tear down. the story did keep my interest, i do want to hear more about these characters, just not the whining.

        • odin1eye says:

          You’re a better, or at least a more patient man, than I am. I am quite content not finding out the rest of these characters stories. Thanks for the input Thomas, and hope you’re feeling much better soon!

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