“William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back”
by Ian Doescher
Read by Ian Doescher, Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, Jeff Gurney, January LaVoy, Marc Thompson
Published by Random House Audio
Listening Length: 3 hours and 25 minutes
Holy cow, how much nerdy fun can be had by reading Shakespeare? Well thanks to an acting teacher back in college, I can have lots of fun reading Shakespeare. That teacher taught me how to appreciate the quirks written into the characters. So imagine the fun this sci-fi nerd had when I discovered that someone was doing a Shakespeare/Star Wars Mashup. I love sci-fi but I was never a huge Star Wars Fan (I was on the Star Trek side of that fence) but I couldn’t resist this mashup.
There are many aspects of this audiobook to love from the vocal performances to the sound effects, the audio version of this book really brought it to life. Back to that old college acting teacher, he once said that Shakespeare is meant to be performed not merely read, that is proven even more so in this audiobook. While the author captures all aspects of Shakespeares plays in his writing, with iambic pentameter, choruses, asides, soliloquies, and the language of the Bard, once you hear the performance there is no turning back.
I forced my brother, who has got to be the biggest Star Wars fan on the planet, to listen and from the first ten syllables he was hooked and laughing out loud. Knowing the film, The Empire Strikes Back, inside and he knew exactly what line was happening next and, along with me, loving revisiting the story while at the same time feeling smarter for enjoying the rhythm of the speech.
This audiobook perfectly retells the story of the film, but adds in some extras in the mashup that create a story that could have been easily performed on the Old Globe stage. One of the interesting aspects of the writing is the speech of Yoda. In the movies all fans know Yoda has a unique reverse speech pattern. Doescher works with this in giving Yoda a unique style different from any character in the book. At first I was thinking, wait, he’s not speaking the backwards Yoda speak, but it stood out and was different. After looking up more info on the book, I discovered that Yoda was speaking in Haiku. Every time Yoda spoke it was in the form of a Haiku poem.
Another great aspect was that of the voice actors. There are several which makes for unique characterizations for each character in the story. The best part is the voice of Han Solo sounds exactly like that of a young Harrison Ford, which makes the story that much more fun and appealing to all fans.
All in all I highly recommend this audiobook to all nerds everywhere. You will laugh out loud while at the same time learn some techniques of classic literature. I think this book would make for a great teaching device, for example teaching Shakespeare to a group of high school students burnt out on Romeo & Juliet.