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  • gilwilson 10:01 PM on December 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , Brent Spiner, Daryl Schultz, Gates McFadden, , Jerry Hardin, John de Lancie, , leonard nimoy, Megan Fay, orson welles, Tom Virtue, war of the worlds, Wil Wheaton   

    Audio Drama Review: “War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, Radio play adapted by Orson Welles 

    War-of-the-Worlds_349

    Audio Drama Review: “War of the Worlds”

    By H.G. Wells, Radio play adapted by Orson Welles

    A full cast audio performance

    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works

    Total Running Time 77 Minutes

     

    Okay are you ready for a full on nerdgasm?  This one is it.  L.A. Theatre works distributed free copies of this audio drama on Halloween this year.  I have always been a fan of the Orson Welles dramatization of the H.G. Wells classic space invasion story.  I also am a big fan of the audio dramas produced by L.A. Theatre Works, I have listened to many of their classic stage performances turned audio and every single one is the perfect production from stage to audio that when listening you feel as though you are in the center of the audience.

     

    But what got me the most, and this is where the nerdgasm comes in, was the cast of this production.  This production stars; John de Lancie,  Gates McFadden, Leonard Nimoy,  Armin Shimerman, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton , Tom Virtue,  Jerry Hardin,  Megan Fay and Daryl Schultz.  It is directed by John de Lancie and Recorded before a live audience at Guest Quarters Suites, Santa Monica, CA in October, 1994.  So yes all you Star Trek fans get a supreme dose of actors from the series and a great sci-fi production.

     

    The radio adaptation of this story has an intriguing history.  When Orson Wells first performed the adaptation on Halloween 1938, even after several announcements that it was a dramatization, many of the audience thought the Martian invasion was real and panic ensued.  I have listened to the original recordings several times and while I find it hard to figure out why the broadcast was taken as reality, I have to admit the adaptation is drama at its best.

     

    Any Star Trek fan knows how talented these actors are, and bringing them together in a sci-fi production is just perfect.  It’s amazing picking out the voices but what is more amazing is how they all meld together as a cast and bring this drama to life.  Each actor is definitely convincing in their role in this program and their camaraderie is apparent when the production absorbs you and you stop listening to them as characters from Star Trek, but rather characters that are involved in an invasion from Mars.

     

    The production is presented as a radio performance with news breaks reporting first explosions on the planet mars then strange objects landing in the U.S.A.  With a roving report on the scene at an observatory and then later being vaporized (spoilers) at the landing site of one of the vessels, the action and actors present the story in little breaks between musical radio broadcasts.

     

    Just over an hour of your time will be taken but that time is well spent listening to this classic performed by epic sci-fi actors.

     

     

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  • gilwilson 10:03 PM on December 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audio drama, , , audiocomics, battle for los angeles, black bat, , domino lady, g8, , moonstone entertainment, phantom detective, , , secret agent x, , ufo,   

    Audiobook Review: “Battle for LA; Return of the Originals” by C. J. Henderson 

    Battle for LA_art

    Audiobook Review:  “Battle for LA; Return of the Originals”

    By C. J. Henderson

    Multi-cast performance

    Produced and Published by  AudioComics & Moonstone Entertainment

    Total Length: 41:56

    I think I have just found the perfect combination of some of my favorite things; UFO conspiracies, pulp magazines, comic books and audiobooks.    This audio production combines all these into one great production that keeps you hanging on to every sound and leaves you wanting more.

    This audiobook is actually more of an audio drama, in that each character is voiced by a different actor.  Each actor is able to portray the characters that are in the super-hero realm and make them sound life-like.  The actors even add in that extra little bit of “oomph” that makes them seem larger than life like a real comic book or pulp fiction character should be.  The sound effects surround the listener with realistic 3d effects that feel as though they are in the middle of the action.  You may even find yourself dodging bullets.

    Born out of pulp-fiction magazines from the early part of the 20th century, this story unites pulp heroes that influenced the creation of certain comic book heroes.  Historically speaking the pulp magazines were the forerunners of comic books.  The pulps were published weekly or monthly and featured stories that could be told in one issue or in some cases as serials that span several issues.   This story features the following pulp heroes:

    • The Black Bat came out about the same time as DC comics’ Batman, and each publisher said the other was a copy, eventually they were allowed to co-exist, but in the long run Batman became the more popular.   The Black Bat is former District Attorney Anthony Quinn.  He became the Black Bat after being blinded and having his face disfigured by having acid thrown in it.   That origin story reminds me of Two-face from the Batman comics, but Two-face is a villain and not hero.
    • The Phantom Detective was published from 1933 to 1953 and is in real life the wealthy Richard Curtis Van Loan.  He uses his amazing skills of deduction to solve crimes that have the police puzzled.
    • Domino Lady comes from the racier side of pulp comics.  Educated socialite Ellen Patrick puts on a domino mask and a backless white dress to avenge the death of her father, District Attorney Owen Patrick.   Armed with a .45 pistol and a syringe full of knockout serum she takes on the toughest of foes, but her beauty is her greatest asset.   Using her feminine charms usually put these pulp magazines into the soft-core porn side of the genre.

    Those are the main characters of this production but two other classic pulp heroes make a small cameo appearance in the final battle:

    • Secret Agent X is a master of disguise, known as “the man of a thousand faces”, who adopts several different identities in each story.  He is a dedicated crime-fighter working undercover for the U.S. government; this is unknown to the police who consider him an outlaw.
    •  Airboy, Davy Nelson II, the son of an expert pilot and, despite his youth, a crack flyer. His friend, inventor and Franciscan monk Brother Francis Martier, had created a highly maneuverable prototype aircraft that flew by flapping its wings, like a bird.

    So now we know the heroes let’s get where this story really gets to be interesting.  This audio drama brings to full 3d audio movie life the graphic novel by C. J. Henderson.    Just three months after the U.S. became involved in World War II by the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was on alert for further invasions from Japan.  Especially vigilant was the West Coast.  From late 24 February to early 25 February 1942 over Los Angeles, California an incident occurred that has had UFO conspiracists asking lots of questions.   The Air Force has claimed the incident was caused by a “false alarm” in which a weather balloon became the focus of several hours of shooting and air raid warnings.  Thousands of rounds were fired at an object that was tracked over Los Angeles.  UFOlogists think this was an alien craft and when viewing the photos find further proof it was not weather balloon.

    Henderson uses this event to bring together the original heroes and creates a villain with an occult background set to destroy the U.S.   The event in question was just the launching platform for a group of “Orientals” to send cylinders with a strange power over the human mind to Los Angeles.   Armed with knowledge of the mysterious cylinders, the Originals risk all to do what is right, no matter what the cost.

    This audio drama takes just over 40 minutes to devour, but if you are on a trip or doing housework or some other chore that consumes time, this will make it seem as though only a couple of seconds pass because of the intense action taking place.

     
  • gilwilson 4:11 PM on November 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audio drama, far flung andventure, , , , , oil drilling, venezuela   

    Audiobook Review: “Black Towers to Danger” By L. Ron Hubbard 

    blacktowers

    Audiobook Review: “Black Towers to Danger”

    By L. Ron Hubbard

    Multi-cast performance

    Produced by Galaxy Audio

    Approx. 2 hours.

     

    It never ceases to amaze me, the number of genres covered by L. Ron Hubbard during his writing heyday of the mid-20th century pulp fiction days.  During that time period the pulps were a regular source of entertainment since there was no internet and very little television, if any.  Escapism fiction was pretty much needed with the height of the Depression during the peak of the pulps’ popularity.

     

    Hubbard wrote in the typical genres;  Westerns, Sea Adventures, Air Adventures, and the genre that got me hooked on Hubbard, Science-Fiction.  Some of his stories nearly made up their own genre.   This story, “Black Towers to Danger,” is one that could have been its own genre, oil exploration.  Hubbard wrote a couple of stories that could fit into this genre and pretty much could have created his own pulp magazine book. 

     

    In the days of the pulps different magazines covered different genres and Hubbard wrote for many of them.  This story was originally published in the October, 1936 issue of “Five Novels Monthly.”  “Five Novels Monthly” magazine had its run from 1928 up until World War II and a paper shortage caused the magazine to publish quarterly until the last issue was published in 1948.  The main focus of this magazine was to tell a story as a whole.  Sometimes the pulps would run longer stories in parts so that the readers would be sure to buy the next issue.  “Five Novels” strove to make sure the readers got full stories every issue.

     

    “Black Towers to Danger” is an oil drilling adventure where Bill Murphy has 30 days to bring a claim of an oil strike in Venezuela.   But as with all Hubbard stories it is never that easy and there’s a dame involved.  The dame happens to be the daughter of a rival driller who is set to take over Murphy’s wells if he doesn’t turn in that claim.   The rival is found dead and the woman, who Murphy happens to be in love with, thinks Murphy killed her father.  The truth is darker and more sinister and revolves around greed. Murphy encounters murder, a vengeful woman, and the destruction of his rig before he uncovers the truth and leads the listener/reader on thrilling adventure.

     

    Once again the listener’s adventure is brought to life with the excellent full production from Galaxy Audio.  Excellent voice actors, sound effects and perfect original mood music make this story come to life and puts the listener in the middle of the action.  Two hours of your life will move by so fast that you may find yourself wanting to go out and start drilling for oil in your own backyard.

     
  • gilwilson 3:39 PM on May 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , audio drama, , , , , , , , ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Red Dragon” By L. Ron Hubbard 

    reddragon

    “The Red Dragon”

    By L. Ron Hubbard

    A multi-cast performance

    Produced by GalaxyAudio

    Approx 2 hours

     

    With the exception of a few stories here and there I have nearly listened to all of GalaxyAudio’s productions of stories from the master story-teller, L. Ron Hubbard, up to those released until the end of this year.  There are a couple I have missed but don’t worry I will be getting those soon, one way or another.  The have almost become an addiction.

     

    The reason I love hearing these audiobooks is the superb production quality that goes into these books.  The voice actors used in each book are all top caliber and are able to bring to life the over the top characters created by Hubbard, from the lowly sidekick to the larger than life hero.  Each actor creates a full characterization in his/her vocal performance that paints a mental picture of each character that brings back the cover pictures from the old pulp fiction magazines where these stories were originally published.

     

    Add to the perfect vocal performances the subtle yet effective sound effects.  In each story the sound effects are subtle enough to not distract from the story, yet so perfectly produced that, as the listener, you will be dodging bullets, flying in old-timey aircraft with wind whipping your scarf, or dusting off dirt from the trails.    Then the addition of an original musical score that keeps the listener in the mood of each adventure.  All these tie in together to create a two hour performance that can easily compete with any movie for some great entertainment.

     

    This time around GalaxyAudio releases, “The Red Dragon,” which was originally released in the February, 1935 issue of “Five Novels” magazine.  This time around Hubbard tells the story of Michael Stuart, a red haired officer in the Marines whose career came to a halt after a failed attempt to return the Chinese Imperial Dynasty to power in the ‘30s.  Stuart has been abandoned by his country and is unable to get out of China, so, he spends his time to help others.

     

    Stuart’s latest adventure brings him to help a young woman who is on the search for a mysterious black chest hidden by her father before his murder.  Drawing on his many life’s adventures, Hubbard brings the hero and the woman all across the scenic countryside of China, including The Great Wall, to caves in Manchuria where the black chest must be recovered before it falls into the wrong hands.

     

    Two hours of pure excitement and adventure make this audiobook one two hear while doing house work or working on a major project; as long as you don’t stop working to listen solely to the performance you will find yourself working faster trying to keep pace with the hero.

     
  • gilwilson 2:55 PM on May 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , christopher priest, , , , , justice league, , the spectre   

    Audiobook Review: “Green Lantern: Sleepers (Volume 3)” by Christopher J. Priest 

    dcgl03

    “Green Lantern: Sleepers (Volume 3)”
    by Christopher J. Priest
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by GraphicAudio
    Approx. 6 hours

    I just love it when I get my comic books and audiobooks mixed and can enjoy the comics during the same situations I can enjoy my comic books. GraphicAudio has provided the means for me to enjoy both with their outstanding productions of DC comics’ novelizations of their heroes. It took me a while to get through all 3 books in this “Sleepers” collection, but the reason for that is I was milking the experience. I have heard all of the productions from GraphicAudio’s comics genre and didn’t want the experience to end. Luckily they getting geared up to release a new DC Comics product, so I won’t have to wait long.

    The “Movie in your Mind” concept from GraphicAudio is always more than delivered, especially in these audio “movies” created from the graphic novel industry. GraphicAudio creates an entire ambiance that could only exist in the worlds where a ring created in mysticism could create a force for either good or evil.

    With creatively orchestrated sound effects this book’s entertainment factor shot through the roof. The Green Lantern who is the focus of this audiobook is the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, and it occurs in the continuity where Hal Jordan has taken on the role of “The Spectre.” With the powers of The Spectre, Hal Jordan is able to exist in all points of all of time and space at once. Just put into your mind the ambient sounds that all of time and space would create. No matter how expansive your imagination I’m pretty sure it in no way it comes close to the artistically created special effects this audiobook contains.

    From beginning to end the creativity is not limited to sound effects. The musical score envelops the story and weaves in and out to create even more comic book superhero ambiance. Then to top it all off the voice actors performing the various parts in the book are stellar. Each character is portrayed with a vocal artist who is able to bring to life every aspect by completely capturing their entire psyches.

    This story is one that surprised me. The surprise came in the form of a way to tie in all 3 volumes of this series. As I listened to the first two books in the series I saw how they were a little tied in with the common theme of some renegade yellow power rings created by Sinestro, but this book not only concludes the trilogy, it also ties it all together making one big package. While each of the books could be read/heard as separate stories, the concept works best when all are consumed together and in order.
    The final volume of this epic trilogy, Sleepers, Book 3 features Hal Jordan, the most famous of Earth’s modern-day Green Lanterns and now the Spectre. The Spectre has all the abilities a god would have including, but not limited to, manipulation of time and space, control over all matter, invulnerability, and limitless strength. But just after the beginning of this story, Hal has been stripped of his powers, and it is now up to him to fight the clones of the villain Sinestro, set loose by actions in the trilogy’s first volume. In order to save the Earth, he may have to sacrifice himself by taking the Sinestro power rings on a one-way trip to the anti-matter universe. The rings take over some members of the Justice League and the battles ensue. Some great action in this book and brought to full 3-D life by Graphic Audio.

     
  • gilwilson 10:40 PM on April 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audio drama, , , , , , , , soldiers, , war stories   

    Audiobook Review: “Trick Soldier” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    tricksoldier

    “Trick Soldier”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx. 2 hours

    Once again I find myself looking for a good audiobook to keep me company. I don’t want anything too heavy. I want something fun and only looking for two hours worth of entertainment. Where do I turn? To Galaxy Audio and their out of this world audio productions of L. Ron Hubbard’s “Stories from the Golden Age.”

    The “Golden Age” of stories in America I’m referring to is a time when the pulp magazines were printed in order to bring entertainment to the masses in the form of short stories. These stories covered everything from war stories, Westerns, mysteries and science-fiction. L. Ron Hubbard wrote prolifically during this time period and had many stories printed in many magazines, covering all the genres.

    Hubbard could write all these dozens of stories and still make each and everyone different. Hubbard’s stories all contained twists and turns in the plot and action that the ending was not always what you’d expect. There were some formulaic points in the stories one could expect; the hero always won, the male lead always got the dame, and crime doesn’t pay. These are pretty much to be expected norms in all of Hubbard’s writings during this time. While these could be expected as the end, Hubbard always made the journey so full of twists and turns that the adventure was always in the storytelling and not the end.

    Galaxy Press has been re-releasing these stories in their own pulp magazine type of books since 2008, and it seems they never run out of stories. The physical books are very reminiscent of the original pulp magazines and even use the original artwork from the covers of the magazines from that era. The paper stock in the books is thicker, and the artwork within the covers of the book all reflects the pulp fiction classics.

    To make things even more fun, the audiobook versions of these releases are produced by Galaxy Audio and are beyond entertaining. The audiobooks all feature multi-cast performances from a slew of actors whose talent is immeasurable and are able to bring to life all the over-the-top characters created by Hubbard. The audio performances also feature great music that pushes the story along in the chapter breaks and the sound effects are so real that you will be ducking bullets in the western stories, strapping in for launch in the science-fiction tales, and donning your life vest in the sea adventures.

    Some of the productions are single stories, but some are a special treat and contain multiple stories. This audiobook is one of those special treats and contains three thrilling far-flung adventures featuring soldiers with hidden talents and courage.

    The first story is the title story, “Trick Soldier,” which was originally published in the January, 1936 issue of “Top Notch.” The story is an odd pairing of a boot camp bully and his victim. The “Trick Soldier” is in charge of a local native army squad in Haiti. A “trick soldier” is a term used to refer to a boot camp soldier who seems to be able to excel on drill and routine yet be short on courage. The recruit who has physically bullied the “trick soldier” trudges through the jungle to serve under the “trick soldier,” 10 years later. The “trick solder” soon finds a mutiny among his troops and his bully (the second in command now) fears for his life. The tables are turned in this battle adventure with a surprising finish to a thrilling story.

    The second story, “He Walked to War,” was originally published in the October, 1935 issue of “Adventure.” This story was a nice comedic story that hit near and dear to my heart. I was once commended by a boss saying that at first he thought I was lazy, but soon realized I was a genius in that I am always trying to find ways to make my job easier to perform with as little exertion as possible. Basically, I just want to make life as easy as possible. This is exactly the case for Marin Signalman, E.Z. Go. In fact, he doesn’t want to sign his entire name and just shortens it to E.Z. Go. E.Z. is tired of walking, so he requests a transfer from Marine signalman to airplane gunner. His thinking is that instead of walking into war he can fly into war and get there faster. The problem is the first aircraft he is assigned to crashes, and he finds himself walking, once again, through the Nicaraguan underbrush.

    Finally, the last story in this collection is “Machine Gun 21,000,” which was originally published in the December, 1935 issue of “Dynamic Adventures.” This one also has a story that turns the tables, but I don’t want to say too much because the twists revealed at the end make this story very unique. Blake is in charge of a foreign platoon, and while being a great military leader, he has a habit of losing things. Blake loses machine gun number 21,000, then, facing court martial, finds the man who stole it and quells a mutiny. All the time with a general breathing down his neck telling Blake how much of a loser he is. I will say this, by the end of the story Blake is one of the most strategic planners in military history.

    Three great stories from the golden age that are fun to hear whether you are a military story fan or not. If you are, the details of the stories will keep you listening, and if you are not or have never heard a military fiction you will be having fun throughout the listening of this audiobook.

     

     
  • gilwilson 11:06 PM on March 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Civil War” (Marvel Comics) by Stuart Moore 

    marvelcw

    “Civil War” (Marvel Comics)
    by Stuart Moore
    Multi-cast production
    Produced by Graphic Audio
    Approx 6 hours

    Okay I have to start this review out with a confession. That confession is that I just experienced a six hour nerdgasm. Holy freakin’ cow, this audiobook just rocked my world.

    Now that that is out of the way let explain a few things. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan and have been for years. What makes me a fan is that all of Marvel’s heroes are realistic. Yes I know super powers aren’t real, but Marvel makes it so that the heroes have everyday problems and how they cope with those problems and fight for what is right is what gives them the everyman experience to which the average reader can relate. Iron Man/Tony Stark struggles with his own alcoholism, Spider-man/Peter Parker has to contend with high school (in the early years) and bullies, the Fantastic Four have family problems and Ben Grimm has to contend with being made of rock, never able to be normal. Being able to relate to the average comic book reader makes Marvel, in my opinion, the most enjoyable comic book publisher around.

    Over a decade ago It was announced that a live-action Spider-man movie was going to be released and when this theatrical magic that was thrust upon us by Sam Raimi hit the theatres I was one of the first in line. Spider-man is my all time favorite, by the way. When the opening movie credits started I wept tears of excitement. Finally, my hero is on the big screen. By the end of the movie I was emotionally drained and pumped up at the same time. Not long after the release of the Spider-man movie I was forced to stop my weekly visits to the comic book store due to an economic downfall on my part and later moving to an area that had no comic book stores. I wasn’t able to go back to reading comics until just about a year ago.

    During my comics hiatus I missed some exciting events in the Marvel universe. One of which was the mega-crossover event that is covered by this novel. The “Civil War” created a major schism between the heroes in the Marvel Universe. This schism is a lot like the events that happened after 9/11 and the following P.A.T.R.I.O.T. A.C.T. in the United States. Where people (heroes in this case) were forced to give up freedom for the nation’s security. After a major accident that occurs with some heroes and leaves a town in New England decimated and over 900 dead, the government decides that superheroes must become registered and screened before they can use their powers. Captain America does not believe that freedom should be surrendered, and Iron Man (who stands to make lots of money selling weapons to Homeland Security in the deal) thinks that this is what must be done to protect innocents. the superheroes are split on this and thus begins the “Civil War.” Those that do not register are hunted down and imprisoned.

    In a curious note, this story can also be related to today’s issue of gun control. Where some events that have taken American lives lead to gun legislation arguments.

    During my comics hiatus I had heard about this crossover and was extremely curious. I can’t say I was too excited because I hate those stories that pit hero vs. hero. But with the political aspect involved I was intrigued to see how each hero would react. I then decided when the chance came up I would find the trade paperbacks of this crossover and read them, this turned out not to be so easy for me. Then I heard a novelization of the event was coming out and I knew I’d be reading that, but just when I heard about the release of the novel I heard that GraphicAudio was going to do an audiobook version of the novel. I was psyched at this point and knew right away I was going to wait for that release. After nearly a year of constantly checking the GraphicAudio website, it was released and to make it even more exciting was offered a review copy. Pure excitement ran through me. Finally, I will hear some of the world’s greatest heroes as portrayed by the excellent productions of GraphicAudio.

    I was first introduced to GraphicAudio about five years ago through a DC comics audiobook. That production blew me away. The fights were all realistic, and the otherworldly sounds that can only happen in sci-fi or comics were so original that It seemed as though they had actually gone to a rift in space and recorded a superhero battle. I then started listening to every comic book audiobook created by GraphicAudio. At the time all they did were DC comics and even though I was a marvel fan I took them all in and just let the “Movie in your Mind” aspect of GraphicAudio wash over me. In fact because of GraphicAudio, when I did start purchasing comics again I picked up some DC comics and gave them a chance where I would have not done before.

    GraphicAudio’s tagline is, “A Movie in your Mind,” and with every single audiobook they produce they deliver. With surreal sound effects and exciting music the illustrated artistry that is the main punch of comic books comes to life with sound. Once you experience this from GraphicAudio you will not be able to listen to an audiobook the same again.

    On top of the excellent ambient sound, GraphicAudio has some of the best voice actors I’ve ever heard. Each actor portraying the heroes in “Civil War” captured every essence of the characters and the plethora of emotions, which really pulled out the basis which makes Marvel my favorite. The actors all related to the characters and made them sound like heroes with the nuance of everyday problems. I was ready to nit pick this aspect, being the big Marvel fan, but there was nothing done wrong. Every hero sounded exactly like I imagined, no wait, strike that, they sounded better than I imagined.

    Once again I was so psyched about this marriage of Marvel and GraphicAudio that, again, I wept with excitement at the opening credits of this audiobook, and even doubly so when Spider-man fought his battles. I’m sure the other drivers in traffic would have thought me crazy if they happened to look over while I was cheering Spidey on in his battle.

    All I can say is, no matter what your preference in comics, audiobooks or escapism, you must go out and get this audiobook and be ready to be blown away.  When this book was over I was physically and emotionally drained, yet pumped up.  Pumped and ready for more.

    I selected this post to be featured on Book Review Blogs. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!
     
  • gilwilson 8:44 PM on February 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , bafflegab, , britsh humor, , cosmic hobo productions, , , , scarifyers,   

    “The Scarifyers: The Thirteen Hallows” by Simon Barnard & Paul Morris 

    scarifyers 13 hallows

    “The Scarifyers: The Thirteen Hallows”
    by Simon Barnard & Paul Morris
    Multicast performance starring: David Warner, Terry Molloy, Gareth David-Lloyd, David Benson, Margaret Cabourn-Smith, Ewan Bailey, David Bickerstaff & Nick Scovell
    Produced by Cosmic Hobo Productions
    1 Hour 53 Minutes

    Before beginning the review of this book, I should explain a bit about how I determine which book will be read or heard next. I get many books sent to me to be reviewed either the physical book (either hardcover or paperback) an electronic version to read on my Kindle or audiobooks (which I get through faster due to the ease of listening and my long commutes). These books are sent by the publishers or the authors themselves. However, there is one website I go to when I want to pick out a good book just for myself. That site is the audiobookjukebox.com website. They have reviews of audiobooks from a variety of people (including myself) which I can browse through and find a book. What is even better for audiobook bloggers they have the “Solid Gold Reviewer” program in which bloggers can sign up and request specific books from a variety of publishers.

    This audiobook came from that program. I saw the listing and thought it looked interesting plus it was about two hours in length. I thought this would be a short fun book. All this was determined by the title and the cover picture. I had absolutely no idea what the book was going to be about or the quality, I was simply intrigued. So I get the audiobook, load it up on my iPod and I’m good to go. I had to wait a while before I got to it and one day I’m looking to start a short book and remembered this one. Within the first few minutes, I wondered why I didn’t start listening earlier, then remembered how I came across the book and that I didn’t know much about it. Immediately this book struck me as a cross between a Douglas Adams story and a Doctor Who adventure. The combination of humorous events and characters made for a great way to spend two hours listening to an audiobook.

    Once I started the book I didn’t want to stop, but as you know real life steps in and other things demand attention. During one of the as-few-as-possible breaks I decided to look more into this book and became more and more excited about what I had launched myself into. The Scarifyers series is an audio series on BBC radio and this title is the 8th in a continuing series. The voices were all great but what stood out for me in this audio were the voices of David Warner and Gareth David-Lloyd. While all the performers in this production were awesome and fun to hear, these two stuck out because I’ve been a fan of their work for a while, especially David Warner since his appearance in the movie “Tron.” Gareth David-Lloyd sticks out because I’m also a fan of the “Torchwood” television series and enjoyed his character in that series, Ianto Jones.

    Another thing I found fascinating is that “The Scarifyers,” is also a comic book series, along with the audio adventures. The stories are set in 1936 and 1937, they originally followed the exploits of DI Lionheart and ghost-story writer Professor Dunning, as played by Nicholas Courtney and Terry Molloy. David Warner replaced Nicholas Courtney after Courtney’s death in 2011.

    This production of “Thirteen Hallows” begins when a haunted chess set causes consternation at the British Chess Championships, and a horse magically materializes in Kettering Agricultural Museum, MI:13 are called to investigate.

    Harry Crow (David Warner) and Professor Dunning (Terry Molloy) follow the trail of inexplicable happenings to an unremarkable terraced house in South Wales, home to the mysterious Mr Merriman (David Benson). He’s very old, and very mad; that is soon learned to be an act and that Mr. Merriman is better known as, oh wait, no, I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to listen for yourself.

    Meanwhile, in the South West of England, famed archaeologist Ralegh Radford (Ewan Bailey) is on the verge of the greatest discovery of the age. Britain’s Tutankhamen, the press are calling it. But what he certainly isn’t expecting to unearth is boisterous 1400-year-old knight Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr (Gareth David-Lloyd) who is alive and confused at how much time has passed.

    As Crow and Dunning unravel an unlikely plot to resurrect Britain’s greatest-ever hero, King Arthur, the race is on to stop sinister forces, the Nazis from finding “The Thirteen Hallows of Britain.”

    Great acting, sound effects and humorous adventures make this audio performance one to add to your list of fun listening.

     
    • Jeff 12:04 AM on February 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you Gil, for the great comments about our site. We (Susan and me, it’s just the two of us) love to index blogger reviews of audiobooks and push them out to a large audience. The reviewer program (which we have phenomenal support from all sizes of publishers) has allowed us to make available hundreds of review copies of audiobooks of all genres to bloggers in a one-stop smorgasbord. I’m glad you liked this title. We sure thought it would be a great listening experience. –JEFF

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  • gilwilson 10:05 PM on January 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , bertold brecht, church doctrine, , galileo, galileo galilei, , , , , ,   

    “The Life of Galileo” by Bertold Brecht (produced by L.A. Theatre Works) 

    Brecht_TheLifeofGalileo

    “The Life of Galileo”
    by Bertold Brecht
    translated by David Hare
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours

    I was getting ready to start a couple of audiobooks that were time consumers (any audiobook over 10 hours falls under that label for me). Not only were they long but they were both going to be espionage/government cover-up type stories and those require a huge commitment, especially since I was going to start them both at the same time. Before I tackled those two books, I wanted to listen to something that swallows you into the story, so I reached for one of my favorite go to publishers of audio, L.A. Theatre Works. I have a list of several go to(s) that I know will entertain me. What I like most about LATW is that they are plays that have been performed on stage and the producers take special care to record all the audio so that nothing is missed.

    As a proud owner of a degree in theatre, I have always been aware that theatre is a visual medium, especially if you ask all my theatrical designer friends, but also being a proud owner of a Radio / TV broadcasting degree I know that the theatre of the mind power of radio is a strong power. L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to make sure their performances that are transferred over to an audiobook format take the visual artistry and make it work in an audio format. This is achieved with excellent sound effects, music and of course the great acting. When an actor is describing a prop that is seen by the audience, the production and performance create the image in the listener’s mind that ensures nothing is missed.

    This production features a full-cast performance featuring: Neil Dickson, Roy Dotrice, Jeannie Elias, Jill Gascoine, Stacy Keach, Peter Lavin, Robert Machray, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman, Joanne Whalley, Matthew Wolf

    What attracted me to this particular production from the vaults of L.A. Theatre Works is that the part of Galileo is played by Stacy Keach. Every performance I’ve ever seen or heard with Mr. Keach, whether comedy or tragedy, he has owned that role. Not so long ago I listened to an LATW performance of “Death of a Salesmen” in which Keach played Willie Loman and that became my favorite performance of that play. I will always be a fan of his.

    This play portrays Galileo Galilei as he shatters the world’s beliefs which have been dictated by the church for two millennia, in that we are not the center of the universe. When Galileo first lays his hands on a telescope and observes that the Earth is one of a few planets in the solar system that revolve around the sun and that the planets and stars are not held in suspension through crystal spheres, as believed by the church, he becomes a target for the Holy Inquisition. Committing such heresy Galileo is made to suffer torture, mentally and physically under the inquisitor. Galileo provides proof that only needs to be observed but the church stands firm.

    In a play that shows how advancements in science are hindered by long held beliefs this production from L.A. Theatre Works, is one that should be heard by anyone seeking truth.

     
  • gilwilson 8:24 PM on January 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , audio drama, , , , conservation, , galapagos, , , ,   

    “Tooth and Claw” by Michael Hollinger 

    toothclaw“Tooth and Claw”
    by Michael Hollinger
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 hours

    When it comes to audio entertainment I have four sources that I can go to to make sure I can find a good story. Countless times I’ve started an audiobook and just couldn’t stay interested and each time that happens I get frustrated and have to go to one of those sources so that I can be reminded that there are good audiobooks available. L.A. Theatre Works is one of those sources.

    L.A. Theatre Works produces live performances of plays that range from the classic to the modern and every time they feature a cast that is superb. With these live performances LATW also takes the time and effort to produce audio versions of these plays. The recordings are so expertly produced that while listening to the performance, as a reader, you are transported into the middle of the audience. All musical cues, sound effects and every dialogue are produced so that the attention to detail shows in that every single thing is heard clearly.

    This time around I picked out the play “Tooth and Claw,” not because I was interested in the subject matter, but simply because I knew, no matter what, I would get a great story from L.A. Theatre Works and yes I was right. This production was yet another performance where the acting and production kept me interested and entertained.
    “Tooth and Claw” is a contemporary drama based on actual events, biologist Schuyler Baines (portrayed by Cynthia Watros of “Lost”) arrives in the Galapagos Islands to run the Darwin Research Center. When she becomes aware of an exploding black market in sea cucumbers threatening to destroy the islands’ fragile ecosystem, Schuyler shuts the industry down, sparking a deadly, survival-of-the-fittest conflict with native fishermen.

    “Tooth and Claw” becomes a compelling exploration of evolution, extinction and the ever-present nature of Darwin’s “struggle for life.” In the 1990s, the indigenous fisherman (pepineros) of the Galapagos Islands were pitted against environmentalists over the issue of harvesting sea cucumbers, both the primary source of income for the pepineros and an essential part of the food chain for sea tortoises. The fisherman subsequently revolted and slaughtered the endangered tortoises in protest. Even now, the conflict continues with the fisherman in search of shark fins and sea cucumbers for Asian markets, unmindful of conservation efforts. “Tooth and Claw” looks not just at the survival of the fittest, whether human, animal or flora, but at the less obvious clash between science and conservation.

    A very intriguing story and an excellent performance both combine to make this a great way to spend two hours.

     
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