Spanning centuries past and present, on Earth as well as the moon, Sea of Tranquility (6 hours) by Emily St. John Mandel is as vast as an ocean and as ambitious as the determination to cross it. One awe-inspiring moment in a forest setting links its characters, which include a 19th-century British gentleman who is banished by his family to British Columbia, a 20th-century victim of a Ponzi scheme, a 22nd-century writer whose books about pandemics make her all too aware of another on the horizon and a 23rd-century investigator from the Time Institute who risks changing history with his findings.
Narrators John Lee, Dylan Moore, Arthur Moorey and Kirsten Potter bring out the eeriness of the novel’s central coincidence. Their well-paced voices—sometimes aloof, sometimes deadpan—foreshadow crises like the calm before the storm. As the narrators’ voices bleed into different sections, rather than remaining relegated to an individual character, the audiobook becomes something like a stage play in an interdimensional theater.
With dignified eloquence, Mandel’s literary sci-fi novel raises questions and offers hope about the future consequences of pandemics, colonization and technological advances.