Binary code is projected onto a woman wearing a t-shirt and sweater.

Convolution audiobook coverI’m not sure how long they’ve been doing this, but Audible also produces some of its own content in addition to selling the content produced by others. Convolution is an an “Audible Original” audio drama and as far as I can tell, it’s not based on an actual book. That’s a shame because the story is really interesting, and I would have loved to read more about the characters.

According to Wikipedia, “An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents,” and following that idea, we might consider this to be an epistolary audio drama. Most of the story takes the form of voice messages from Detective Sydney Birch of the LAPD Cybercrime Division to her assistant who is working in the office. There are some instances where there is dialogue, but are in the form of recorded phone calls or recorded interviews.

I’m not exactly sure where the title Convolution comes from, but my guess is that it’s because of all the twists and turns the story takes. What starts out as a case of identity theft quickly becomes a vast international conspiracy that takes the detective from Los Angeles to San Francisco, New York City, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Tibet. Moving things along the detective finds out about rogue AIs, organized crime, tech incubators, payday loan companies, billionaires, and technological reincarnation.

This 10-episode series was great to listen to during my commute. The story is set in roughly contemporary times, in an era of social media, gig workers, and machine learning, but it takes these to a new level. This series would appeal to anyone who likes the cyberpunk novels of William Gibson or Neal Stephenson, but it might also appeal to people who like detective novels from Michael Connelly or Raymond Chandler.

I can only think of a few criticisms of the series. First is that it isn’t based on a book, though I think it would be interesting if they turned it into a novel. The series was so suspenseful, and I relish when that happens while reading a book. The other criticism I have is that the series seems like a one-off. I don’t know if there will be more seasons, but I hope so. It would be great to hear more tales narrated by Detective Sydney Birch.


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