“Red Death Over China”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

I have recently started and stopped listening to several audiobooks lately. I’m always looking for a good book and am open to most genres. I love audiobooks because they can be heard no matter what I’m doing and with a one hour round trip commute to and from work, there’s some good book time right there. Lately, though, I’ve been starting books that seem like they’ll be really good but later turn out to be not worth my time, but I only discover this after wasting some of my time listening. Whenever I hit a run of several books that don’t meet my standards, I go back to a publisher/author that I know will always be perfect.

Those books are the re-issues of the old Pulp-Fiction era stories from L. Ron Hubbard, published by Galaxy Audio. Each time I start one of these books it’s like visiting an old friend. These collections of short stories from the master story-teller are like a comfortable sofa, as soon as you sit in that sofa you just sink in and relax and let the world wash over you. As soon as these audiobooks start you can just sit back, relax and let the story wash over you. They are always entertaining, whether it is the simple words and story-telling or the superb production along with a full cast acting out the stories, the excellent narrator pushing the stories along, or the sound effects and music that surround you with the story so that you feel as though you are a part of it. When the opening music starts, original scores written to fit with all the genres I just feel like the story and myself are all that matters. This is just what a good book is supposed to do, allow you to escape reality so you can give your mind a rest.

This time around, for some reason I really took note of the Narrator of the story, R.F. Daley. Daley narrates nearly all the “Stories from the Golden Age” releases from Galaxy Audio, and I’ve always been impressed. Like the actors in the story Daley as the narrator is a character within the stories. He delivers the story emphasizing the action, emotions and events throughout keeping the listener involved. One of the things that makes these L. Ron Hubbard stories worth hearing is that they always have some sort of twist in the plot and when Daley gets to that part of the story he sounds as if he were surprised at the ending as well, but he does it so subtly that as the listener I felt as though I discovered the twist first. Great stories in this collection and I think this also shows off Daley’s talents the best.

There are three short stories in this collection starting with the title story, “Red Death over China,” which was originally published in the, October, 1937 issue of “War Birds” magazine. American Pilot, John Hampton is an in-betweener. He stands for no cause owes his allegiance to no one. He can find no cause worth dying for and does what he does pretty much just for the paycheck. When he is hired to deliver a plane to the army of Mao Tse-tung he finds himself hired as a pilot in China’s civil war. When the side he is flying for (because the pay is good) becomes threatened by the enemy, Hampton is asked to fly a mission that he could die doing. Nothing is worth dying for, at least not yet, when what looks to be the final battle, Hampton observes the tenacity of the army to defend an undefendable location. Can he change? Will he change?

The next story in this collection is “The Crate Killer,” originally published in the June, 1937 issue of “War Birds” magazine and is a slightly humorous story but more to the point a story of a man who finds his heart. After parachuting nine times from airplanes coming apart around him, “Jumper” Bailey becomes somewhat of a jinx. When faces his tenth and most challenging test flight he has a bit more of a purpose to prove himself.

Finally, there is the story “Wings over Ethiopia” which was originally published in the February, 1939 issue of “Air Action” magazine. This is another one of the heroes for hire stories but this time pilot Larry Colter is hired to fly a photographer around war torn Ethiopia to get footage of the war between Italy and Ethiopia. When captured by both sides, each consider him a spy. Armed with only his expertise in the air and his wits Colter must get the photographer and film back to the States.

Great escapism, and great adventures in two hours of great storytelling.

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