The Sounds of METAtropolis — Free For a Limited Time

The folks at are very excited that METAtropolis has been nominated for the Hugo Award for  Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form — it’s that whole “hey, we’re breaking ground by being the first audiobook nominated for a Hugo” thing. The Audible folks are also aware that when you’re an audiobook up against The Dark Knight, Wall*E, Hellboy II and Iron Man, which combined brought in a couple billion in worldwide box office, you’re sort of the underdog, aren’t you.

So Audible decided to help even the odds by offering up METAtropolis for free, for a limited time. Go to the page I just linked to, sign up for Audible if you haven’t already done so, and then get your personal copy of the world that Elizabeth Bear, Toby Buckell, Jay Lake, Karl Schroeder and I have imagined (and which Michael Hogan, Scott Brick, Kandyse McClure, Alessandro Juliani and Stefan Rudnicki perform for you as narrators). If you’re a member of Anticipation, this year’s Worldcon (or, alternately, plan to be one), this is a great way to get a listen at a groundbreaking Hugo nominee. We’re excited and proud to have gotten on the ballot, and hope you’ll consider us when you vote.

As the editor of METAtropolis, I want to take a moment to thank Audible, and particulary Steve Feldberg (who produced the project for Audible), for giving folks a chance to sample this work. Their support for the project has been awesome, as you can see. So if you like METAtropolis, please consider browsing the rest of Audible’s offerings for something else to pick up and enjoy. Thanks.

45 Comments on “The Sounds of METAtropolis — Free For a Limited Time”

  1. To get ahead of something that pops up whenever I mention Audible, yes, Audible uses DRM on their stuff. Take this as read; also take as read the whole discussion of DRM, pro and con and suchlike. At this point it absolutely bores me, and I’m likely to snip out kvetching about it. If you’re opposed to DRM, that’s great; please don’t go on about it in this thread. Thanks.

  2. Unrelated to drm, the “audible manager” isn’t available for linux and you can’t download their files without it, so I still can’t listen to this, even for free.

  3. I could care less about the DRM, but it doesn’t appear to even allow me to download the files without installing some Windows software, and I don’t run Windows. This would be why I pre-ordered the dead trees version. I know that will actually work.

  4. Thank you, and thanks to the guys at Audible. Between this and watching Dark Star in <– that browser, it’s a good day for free media!

  5. Cool! Downloaded easily onto my MacBook and I am ready to start listening. Thanks!

  6. I personally found METAtropolis on iTunes, which I believe is DRM free, though not monetarily free. Them’s the breaks.

  7. *cries into a cup of tea* Audible hates us Brits! I don’t have an Audible account, so I tried to sign up and it told me it didn’t want me. I feel so rejected! It sent me away to the UK site, so I signed up there, only to find that Metatropolis isn’t free. *sob*

    Maybe I should pony up the cash after all…

    Congrats on the nomination!

  8. Wow, the audible reviews are…..bad. I’ll have to grab it and check for myself.

  9. dsr:

    “We crazy Linux kids… are also Hugo voters. And not kids.”

    And apparently without much of a sense of humor, either.

    That said, when you rock an OS with a tiny market share, you accept that all the toys and goodies may not be available to you. Hopefully Audible will support Linux in the future; at the moment they appear not to.

  10. A book is not really free if you have to sign up for a pay-per-month service in order to receive it. It is a teaser offer, like any book club sends.

  11. Not your fault, Scalzi, I know, but I’m seconding Ellen’s wah about discrimination against us Brits…

  12. Is the download for the whole of METAtropolis or just a sample? The reviews seem to indicate it’s just one story – and not the Scalzi one.

  13. “Hopefully Audible will support Linux in the future; at the moment they appear not to.”

    Not likely until they drop DRM. Creating an Audible client would be fairly easy, but they’d need some form of audio DRM to be working on Linux first and there is no such solution. (And given my personal beliefs about DRM, I can’t really say I find this unfortunate.)

  14. Kimmer:

    Audible originally released a single story for free, which the reviews reflect. The whole package is available now.


    Audible isn’t a pay-per-month operation. I’ve been with it for over a year and have no such set up (there is a pay-per-month option, but it’s just that: an option).

  15. *looks blankly at Ellen and arkessian*

    I’m sure you could plan to live in the US at some point in the future. Why don’t you just hypothesize that for a moment? Yeah? Cool. Now set that dropdown in the Country of Residence field to “USA”. Good. Good. Now click “OK”.

    That was easy, wasn’t it?

  16. Audible supports iTunes very well, but even if you get its files through the iTunes store, it’s still DRMed. That said, it’s very light DRM that has essentially zero impact on you if you use iTunes.

    Linux doesn’t make DRM impossible by any means. IIRC, you can play both DRMed WMA and RM files with Linux players. The issue is Apple hasn’t created drivers for its DRM, and given marketing realities, isn’t likely to. Given how Microsoft regularly screws “partners” who use its DRM, I can see why Audible would stay safely in Apple’s camp.

    If you are waiting for the dead tree version, you are going to miss a lot. The stories are all extremely good, but the readers are absolutely outstanding, and deserving of a Hugo in their own right.

  17. My comment was meant as more a “cautionary tale”… I’m certainly not whining that something being given away for free is worth what I paid for it. I could probably even get the thing to going if I fiddled enough to manage to install iTunes in wine… but that sounds like work. It’s okay. Luddite that I am, I like dead trees.

    Though for the record, Sun has an open source DRM project. Of course, Sun has other issues right now.

  18. I saw this on Jay Lake’s twitter feed yesterday. I was surprised, and thought it was just a short version of the collection, since searching Audible’s site comes up with the paid version.

    The software is a pain, but since I’ve preordered the print edition, I decided to download it anyway.

  19. That was a lot of trouble.

    I still can’t get it to work on my Microsoft Zune.

    I don’t have time to listen to it otherwise.


  20. Got it downloaded to my PC and can listen to it on my PC, but the Audible software keeps giving me a “Device specific error” when I try to put it on my Sandisk mp3 player.

    No dead-tree book ever gave me a “Device specific error” nor did it require any software not already installed in my skull. ;)

  21. In case my comment @28 seems too ranty, I do just want to say that I very much appreciate your efforts to make this available to your Hugo voting public, and certainly do not hold you responsible for my problems with Audible and/or SanDisk’s software.

    Your job is to write stories, and you do a great job. Writing software is someone else’s job. Frankly I’m much more impressed with your writing efforts (and those of the other authors) than I am with those of the software engineers. :)

  22. Pure awesome, downloading now. Thank you Scalzi!
    It’ll be good to hear these voices again :)

    @hugh57: I feel your pain, my sony player also isn’t supported. However, burning the audiobook to a CD and then ripping it to mp3 should work

  23. Downloading now. Thanks for the heads up.

    If Audible supported Linux than it’d be downloading WAY faster on the UA wireless network than it is on my office network. But, oh well, I hope our IT guys don’t catch me.

  24. Winterstark @30: My SanDisk is supported; something just got hosed somehow during the transfer process. It’s fixed now. :)

    I’m not normally big on audio books — I prefer to read rather than be read to. I appreciate the opportunity to download this edition of since a) the dead-tree edition that I pre-ordered from Subterranean Press won’t be here until July, after the Hugo voting deadline, and b) I really should listen to the audio book anyway before voting, given the category that it’s nominated in.

  25. Figures. I just signed up at Audible a couple weeks ago and used my first credit to get this audiobook, WHICH IS TOTALLY AWESOME BTW, GUYS!

    I was actually wanting to mention that listening to your story today, I keep hearing your influence on Whil Wheaton’s whriting. Either that, or you partly based Benji on young Wil.

    It’s really great to get to hear the stories of a few different authors. It’s kind of a sci-fi sample platter. Thanks, John. :)

  26. I don’t normally do anthologies, and I never do audio books, but I decided to at least give this a try (seeing as how it was free and all). Imagine my great surprise to find it voiced by 3 of my favorite actors/actresses from BSG! Definitely going to give the entire thing a listen. Very much appreciate the link, Mr. Scalzi!

  27. RE: Linux – FWIW, I had to call Audible for a little hint, but even as we speak, I’m downloading METAtropolis just fine onto my Ubuntu desktop.

    The timing of this offer is perfect: We’re heading out of town this weekend, and with a 16-hour drive (which I’m not complaining about – I love road trips) ahead of me, I’m looking forward to hearing this.

    Which raises this question: I’ve got a 12-year-old daughter in the car (a sci-fi fan in her own right), and while she’s likely to be asleep and/or deeply lost in her own CDs/books/DVDs/window-gazing, I don’t want to get surprised by anything inappropriate while I’m listening – so, any particular warnings, or is this cool for her, too?

  28. Couldn’t download at first, and once I managed to download, I couldn’t get it to play on my Linux system… Even after installing Audible Manager with Wine.


    Obviously, Audible doesn’t care for Linux users. Well, I don’t care for Audible, now. Even for free, their product is too annoying to bother with.

    Sorry for the authors, but Audible is becoming as bad as Microsoft for corporate cluelessness.

  29. Re @37 – Thanks for the heads-up.

    Also, yeah, while I *did* managed to download it, the file itself is unplayable on this computer. Fortunately, I still keep a Windows machine around that’s got iTunes on it, so if I’m reading the Audible instructions right (which isn’t a given, I’ll admit) I should be able to put the book on that computer and burn CDs from it.

  30. Worked like a breeze with iTunes, so I’m already listening. Thanks tons for alerting us to this, John. I haven’t had something worthwhile on my iPod since I got rid of all 11 cd’s of The Shining.

  31. You can’t download it in the UK. Even if you lie and say that you live in the US, you still get IP detected and sent to the UK site. Even if you actually live in the US, but Audible think your IP address is somewhere else (or you are in fact somewhere else on holiday), you can’t download it.

  32. Booted a windows machine, installed the downloadware and used IE after several false starts (another Linux user here). Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but this is one of the reasons stealing stuff is so appealing: it’s easy.

  33. @Nick: I live in the UK but lied and I managed to buy it, maybe only certain IP blocks are known (or maybe it’s a cookie thing)?

  34. Thanks for the heads-up! It was very generous of Audible to offer it free. I happily downloaded it and just started the second story – great so far!

    BTW, I nearly walked straight into traffic when I finally realized that the very-familiar-sounding-narrator of the first story was “Colonel Tigh.”

    I clearly missed at least some of the earlier posts on this topic (a quick search revealed “made of awesome” etc.), but I don’t think you ever told how you managed to get three BSG actors to narrate these stories. There must be *something* interesting behind that – according to Audible, none of the three seem to make a regular living from audiobook narration – I’d love to hear how that came about.

  35. Thanks for making the story free although I would be glad to pay for it if it wasn’t DRM’d. Since it is, I guess most people will pick it up off the torrent sites after it is converted to MP3. It is a pity, since releasing it as a regular MP3 would increase readership and build the respect for paying for things. Sad that Audible is so misguided and is damaging the audiobook industry with its DRM. Hope to hear this book someday if it is ever on MP3. Best wishes, B. H. Giza

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