The Devil's Dictionary

The Devil's Dictionary Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 68 ratings

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Product details

Listening Length 10 hours and 32 minutes
Author Steven Kotler
Narrator Ryan Vincent Anderson
Whispersync for Voice Ready Release Date April 19, 2022
Publisher Macmillan Audio
Program Type Audiobook
Version Unabridged
Language English
Best Sellers Rank #137,205 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#446 in Cyberpunk Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#458 in Technothrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,807 in Technothrillers (Books)

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
68 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 19, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars If the Musks, Zucks, and Bezos types read this book… billionaires just might save the planet.
By Joshua on April 19, 2022
I rarely leave reviews, but this time, it strikes me as important. Why?

Because this book helps light a way forward to a future that I didn’t know could exist.

In a fun, thought-provoking, and utterly novel way, it addresses the pressing question: Just what is to be done about the pickle we’re in regarding the planet? And is there a solution that isn’t dystopian (cynical) or utopian (naive)?

This book illuminates a possibility that isn’t far-fetched. Kotler’s got a track record for writing about exponential tech and where we seem to be heading as a species (Tomorrowland, Abundance, Bold, The Future is Faster Than You Think, etc.)… So the possibilities presented in The Devil’s Dictionary strike less as speculative and more as “Holy smokes… maybe this the glorious intersection between what we need and what can undergo the formality of actually occurring.”

In particular, there’s a fantasy that humans might be able to “wake up” and sort out the mess we’re in, and Kotler doesn’t entertain it here. Rather, he demonstrates how, should such a “waking up” somehow happen, it casts a shadow side that might only make matters worse.

It was also just a damn good read. Like its prequel, Last Tango in Cyberspace, I devoured it in a day, earmarking the pages and highlighting the phrases that popped out as profound, hilarious, or practical.

Some quotes that contrast the fun and the philosophy that’s peppered throughout the book (no spoilers):

“In the early twenty-first century, at the dawn of the social media age, being a self-help guru was like owning the ATM. No one had the necessary defense mechanisms.”

“If we forget the trees, no one will last very long. We humans breathe second. The trees breathe first. We inhale their exhales.”

And this zinger, from the antagonist (who, at times, speaks the most sense of all the characters):

“I ask you this: Homo sapiens has been around for 500,000 years, modern humans for 200,000, civilized humans for 15,000. In that time, we have colonized every continent, created language, poetry, art, science, technology, and Lady Gaga. 

“We are the most dominant species in history of the planet and yet, we permit a man like me to exist. How is that even possible? Why do we tolerate violence here in the twenty-first century? Why do we accept our own insane brutality as if it were an inescapable conclusion? You think I’m a monster, Lion Zorn, so why are you willing to live in a society that is willing to tolerate the likes of me?”

TL;DR: If you dig Cyberpunk, Science Fiction, or Cli-Fi… or care at all about the future of this planet – give it a read. If nothing else, it’s a solid way to spend a Saturday.
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 24, 2022
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced, funny, cyberpunk adventure with an undeveloped ecological empathy theme
By Autonomeus on April 24, 2022
This is an example of latter-day cyberpunk, featuring near future technology and rebel subcultures. It's fast-paced and an easy read, heavy on plot and humor and light on everything else. The main character is Lion Zorn (nephew of John Zorn?), who is an "em-tracker" (em for empath):

"Em-trackers feel for all people, of course, but they also feel for plants, animals, and ecosystems. Their empathy is more than invididual, it's cultural. They can feel how cultures collide and blend, the mash-up of minds and memes, the winners and losers and whatever truth remains. In Lion's case, he's like a cultural prediction engine -- a lie detector for potential possible futures. It's a useful skill in today's competitive business market" (8).

So sadly Kotler treats the "wildly expanded sense of empathy" mainly as a marketable skill. The best, funniest character is Jenka, the Moldavian computer hacker. It's Jenka that calls the book's super-villain "Dr. Neo Cortex" (from a 1996 video game).

Fewer plot layers and twists (EVO and killer snakes, for instance) could have made room for better developed characters and expansion of the ecological empathy theme.

Credit to Kotler for making reference to biologist Michael Soulé (1936–2020), considered the founder of conservation biology. In the novel, Congress passes the Michael Soulé Restoration Act, raising grazing fees, driving many Western ranchers to sell their ranches, which the government buys to create migration corridors for wildlife (78). In the context of the Sixth Great Extinction now underway on Earth, Soulé proposed creating mega-linkages between protected areas like national parks so endangered species have "room to roam." This concept is part of the novel in the form of the PRML -- the Pacific Rim Mega-Linkage -- which is created primarily by a billionaire (31).

Philosopher Thomas Nagel (b. 1937) and poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) also make appearances (57, 122-23), inspiring the Anti-Nagels and Rilkeans, both movements promoting human empathy for other species and ecosystems. Lion Zorn is known for a controversial publication called "Empathy For All," which has become the rallying cry of these movements.

There is a lot of potential here that goes unrealized as the characters zoom around in a frantic cyberpunk detective chase. I'm sure that for many readers in search of an entertaining cyberpunk adventure, hold the ecological empathy, this will be no problem.

*Hilarious moment -- the name of the NYT reporter following the denouement.

*Moment when the reader is smarter than the main character -- figuring out how to decipher Penelope's coded message.

*Unfortunate moment (lengthy section actually) toward the end when the concept of mega-linkage is misused in cringe-worthy fashion.

*Unfortunate cover graphic of a wolf which should be a hyena.
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 3, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 19, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 28, 2022
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 10, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 20, 2022
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