Colorado Springs, Colorado United States | Member Since 2011
I recently undertook the personal challenge to listen to five different versions of DRACULA because listening to Bram Stoker’s classic years ago made me a fan of audiobooks. I enjoyed that experience so much that I decided to try to determine if I had just gotten lucky or if there was an even better version available. Besides, I wanted to listen to it again. With most books I feel fortunate to have just one audio version available, but with DRACULA there are so many versions offered that listening to them all is not practical. I first figured that I could handle maybe three different versions but then discovered two more that I thought deserved attention. The Audible list had these five that I thought might be contenders:
Listed in my order of listening preference:
1) Susan Adams & Alexander Spencer (Recorded Books 1980)
2) Peter Sciarrio & Kris Faulkner & a FULL CAST, (Books in Motion 2008)
3) Greg Wise & Saskia Reeves (BBC Audiobooks 2008)
4) Robert Whitfield (aka Simon Vance), (Blackstone edition 1998)
5) Alan Cumming & Tim Curry & cast (Audible edition 2011)
Review for this version:
2) Peter Sciarrio (m) Kris Faulkner (f) & a FULL cast. Dramatized, Books in Motion 2008 [run time 18:11].
This is the only true Full Cast version. Every character, major or minor, is read by a different actor. This version is also unique in the insertion of sound effects in many key dramatic moments. When wolves are mentioned in the story we get to hear their howling. When Van Helsing rides away on the train we hear the locomotive chug. This version also eliminates most of the dialog identifiers, such as "Harker said" and "replied Dr. Seward" because the different actors reading each character make such designators superfluous. It is like listening to a stage play.
The actors are very good. Cameron Beierle’s portrayal of Count Dracula was the standout best Dracula of all the versions. Strangely the accent used for the Romanian Count sounds to my ear to be Spanish. His deep tones always brought to mind the voice of Zorro. But, somehow, this worked wonderfully. When Dracula listens to the wolves howling and delivers the famous line, “The Children of the Night, Ahh! What Music they Make,” the scene is painted in your mind. Of course, the sound of wolves baying at the moon in this version certainly adds to the effect.
The portrayal by Reed McColm as insane Mr. Renfield at the end of chapter 18 pleading to be released from the asylum is magnificent; an over the top emotional performance! I compared all five versions of this scene and this one is the most dramatic.
This is the most Americanized version. In chapter 1 when Jonathan Harker writes “memorandum” in his diary this version inserts the Yankee term “memo” instead.
The sound effects and the full cast of characters make this the most distinctive of the versions of DRACULA. There is incidental music to indicate the chapter changes. I always looked forward to the rendition of this Books in Motion edition.
Chapter stops match book chapter numbers.
There were not any duplicated passages.
The production values in this version are high.
Volume level is high.
12:20:20 Mispronunciation of “sentience.” (as SEN-t-ence)
Follows the text of THE ESSENTIAL DRACULA
1:34:20 “Occupied by the ladies in bygone days.” (TED p. 70.-1.-5)
2:14:25 “To-night is mine. To-morrow night is yours.” (TED p. 80.3)
This is a series of connected stories set in an alternate universe where the Protestant Reformation never happened. It is a biting critique of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), but has the ring of truth. The excesses and abuse of power , let alone ecclesiastical authority, are well known and this is an extrapolation of actual history. The surprise here is that the characters come alive in your ear. Their actions, motivated by unrequited love or honor, are authentic. This would benefit from multiple listenings. .This novel will help make the case that Science Fiction can deal with grand themes as well as any book I can think of.
Steven Crossley give a fine performance. His portrayal of the many female characters is well played and his tone for the males is always clear; every character getting his own voice, instantly recognizable. His skill is very much evident here.
Anyone can risk their life if they know they will be brought back to life. But what if that assurance was lost? This is a straight telling of a coming of age story in a military setting with a nice inclusion of galactic civilization thrown in to spice things up. The human race is here relegated to vassal status, fighting to prove themselves useful in a universe full of ancient races. We humans are on the bottom rung of the galactic ladder in this story with nothing to trade but our lives. And, of course, there is ample opportunity to display the spunk that we all intuitively recognize as our badge of superiority. Low self esteem has never been the problem for mankind. We may be behind in technology but our eventual rise to the top is inevitable. This type of fiction is always a lot of fun.
Larson makes this an interesting tale by putting the protagonist in dire settings, always on the brink of insubordination yet just so damn useful that his talents must be called upon time and again. As the title indicates the technology of rebirth is instrumental to the plot. A dead soldier can be brought back to life, but only if the galactic machines are in range, and if the bio-techs aren’t trying to do you in permanently.
Mark Boyett delivers a stellar performance; the various character personalities instantly recognizable by his fine accents. His voicing made this a better listening experience than I would have had just reading it on my own.
I decided to keep with the pattern of review titles I had adopted in the first two books; that of completing the quote used in the name of the book. But here are some great quotes from this novel that would have made great review titles:
Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
The good thing about every step being an ordeal: You learn to tread carefully.
Life is a series of things we would rather not do.
You’re never alone if you bring laughter with you
Life is the misery we endure between disappointments
In war the only crime is to lose
God smiles on results
You have to be realistic about these things
There are many small surprises in this last book in the trilogy. Some of the behind the scenes maneuvering is revealed and I like the long range planning involved. The strong suit of this series is characterization. I will long remember Logan, Jezel, Bayez and the twisted Glokta; all of whom undergo significant life changes, and all of whom are forced to do some serious soul searching. All the people are flawed, just like real life. All the people have something to contribute to one’s own introspection. This is an excellent series. I liked each book more than the last as the story grew in the telling it grew in my estimation as well. This is good enough to revisit again in the future.
And in the end Logan is…
Stephen Pacey gives a performance worth of an Audie award. He was great in the first two books and is even better here as the story builds toward the conclusion. He is adept at the variety of characters here. His voice for Superior Glokta is so very sarcastic. He does a fine job at portraying Jezel dan Luther, the selfish dandy that has greatness thrust upon him. He is even great in voicing the female characters. This is one of those books that I will be listening to again just to hear the one-man-show that is Stephen Pacey.
This is the middle book in Abercrombie’s Fist Law Trilogy and as such advances the various story lines but does not attempt a conclusion. The lives of four main characters are followed, Logan (The Bloody Nine), Inquisitor (now Superior) Glokta, the Dogman, and Jazel. All these characters show significant development. So now that the stage is set with all these great characters the conclusion is anticipated. The thing is, I really have no idea where the story is headed because there is no central quest to this series so far.
The characters are so good that Stephen Pacey has ample opportunity to display his considerable talents. Pacey is in fact fantastic making what could have been a plodding middle book into an engaging entertainment.
Continuing my foray into contemporary fantasy I found this book to have nearly the same feel as that of The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan. This is not the High Fantasy of Tolkein populated with noble races of Men and Elves, filled with grandiloquent speech or even, a quest to save the world, but a modern take on a low-tech world populated by mercenary soldiers, noble dolts and snappy dialog. To me that is the hallmark of contemporary fantasy. I must say that I most liked Inquisitor Glokta best of all the characters. The unspoken dialog that runs in his head just before he speaks is quite cynical and so well suited to his character that he becomes likeable despite his loathsome appearance as described I the novel. This book has other fine characters. Another is that of Logan, the Bloody Nine, a barbarian from the north: brutal in combat, but subtle in the art of leadership. As a first book, this one does everything right: Characters get introduced. We get to know the main political players. And it manages to do it all in an entertaining fashion. I don’t expect the series to plumb the depths of the human psyche, but even that potential is there.
Stephen Pacey is fantastic in this book. He is, perhaps, why I found THE BLADE ITSELF to be so entertaining. He takes the characters Abercrombie has given him and assigns them with voices so suitable that it makes you wonder if the characters were written with his range in mind.
Here is a detailed look inside the inner workings of Hitler’s Third Reich. As the accounts of the atrocities pile up Evans manages to break up the horror by documenting some popular jokes that were circulating at the time. I found this third volume less interesting that the first two that depict Germany’s power grabs and control methods. Their administration of the war is a study in incompetence. It does serve to bring the Nazis down to size, a necessary effort, since before the war they seemed to be unstoppable. This is a lesson in the end result of tyranny. If you don’t nip it in the bud, it will strangle everything you love like Kudzu on an a cherry tree. The Nazis at their height only garnered 34.7% of the popular vote. But they were fanatics easily to roll over the majority. Don’t let it happen here.
I appreciate Sean Pratt in giving a dispassionate rendering. A more emotional account would have undermined my efforts to keep the book on a purely intellectual level.
This is a very enjoyable audiobook and is a lot of fun. This is the closest thing to time travel that I am ever going to experience. No, this novel does not include the SF concept of time travel. But for someone like me, who lived through the decade of the 1980s, this book brought back so many memories that at times I felt as if I was transported back in time. The novel begins with a first person account of a teenager in the dystopian near future living in the slums and trying to discover a way out. Internet on-line gaming has enjoyed a quantum leap in technology that is not too far from our current experience, and as a result is quite believable. The main character, and most of the inhabitants of the depressed world economy, spend all their waking hours living in this virtual-reality world of the game. He is nurtured, educated and entertained by this virtual reality simulation. The game can be read as a cautionary tale. Real life is so bad that escape into the simulation seems more desirable to most people that they invest all their efforts on this imaginary world while the world around them continues to decline. The protagonist makes sure that we understand that the any view of religion is pure bunk, giving us the now obligatory brief affirmation of materialistic atheism so common in Science Fiction. After this, blessedly brief, diatribe against spirituality and anti-environmentalism is over Ernest Cline gets right to the story. And a great story it is. His virtual reality world will be familiar to anyone who has watched the Holodeck on Star Trek, and in print fiction is is reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH in the way it incorporates a virtual reality simulation into the story. Cline’s VR seems so plausible that one is forced to agree that such a minor leap in technology would almost certainly result in just such an on-line gaming environment as the one in READY PLAYER ONE. He has employed an almost mythical computer gaming programmer that has an obsession with all things of the 1980s. As a result the gamers, who are engaged in a treasure hunt that will make the winner the world’s richest and most powerful man, have to immerse themselves in the 1980s songs, movies and games that the game designer was also obsessed with. In a classic example of transference, the pursuit of wealth and fame has made his obsession their obsession. The carrot on a stick of so much money has altered these treasure hunters into raving Manga fans who listen to the music of 1980s hair bands like Def Leppard and watch old sitcoms in endless hours of marathon watching. It really makes you think about what attracts us to the forms of entertainment we choose to devote our time to. Layered on top of all this nostalgia is a great story; one that is fun and entertaining. With as much research Ernest Cline had to do to write this account so full of 1980s trivia, it is surprising that he did not include the Rock of Ages opening line that I have used to title this review. I kept expecting the line to appear so much that the song was like a soundtrack running in my head all through the novel. Listen to this book and you will understand the connection.
Will Wheaton (aka. Wesley Crusher for you non Trek fans) is the narrator for this book. His performance makes this even more enjoyable than it would have been in print. He is very good at relating all the various character voices, especially the protagonist. This is a great audiobook, in large part because of Wheaton’s voice. I will listen to this again.
What is going on here? I don’t know if there is something wrong with me or that Alastair Reynolds is just a very inconsistent writer. I have truly enjoyed some parts of every one of his books, but, except for CHASM CITY, none has kept up the magic all the way through. His other works all seem to get bogged down with convoluted far-future concepts that are so far removed from actual human experience so as to be incomprehensible. You can listen to them just for those gems but there is a lot mush to slog through to get to those precious stones. I began listening to Alastair Reynolds based on the recommendation of several fellow listeners who had touted him as the modern-day master of Space Opera Science Fiction. They recommended the novel CHASM CITY as the best introduction to his Revelation Space series. And they were right. CHASM CITY is fantastic. It is the most accessible of all the novels in the series. It is the best written, has the best characters and the most fantastic “sense of wonder” technology of them all. I have now listened to, REVELATION SPACE, REDEMPTION ARK, ABSOLUTION GAP, and now THE PREFECT.. This novel THE PREFECT does have some nice blending of detective fiction with SF but is misses on so many levels. One of the prime characteristics of the Detective Fiction genre are the gritty hard-edged characters. Listening to this book actually affected my mood. My expectations were so high going in that I really needed this one to be great. After the wonderful introduction to Alastair Reynolds that I had with CHASM CITY; I hung in there through the three central novels of the series, and THE PREFECT, thinking that surely there would be a big, big payoff after so much SF world building background. I mean I hung in there for over 100 hours of John Lee whispering in my ear about indoctrinal viruses, Inhibitor genocide machines, processing Cathedrals, inertial inhibitors, Alternate Universes, longevity treatments, baseline humans, Conjoiner Ultras, Time Travel, Cryo-arithmetic engines, and talking pigs, and I wanted some reward. I got bupkis. I believe I can safely say that the best way to enjoy the Revelation Space series is to start by listening to CHASM CITY and then…stop.
This is book three in the main arc of the Revelation Space series which has some very high points. This is the low water mark. I found the frequent shift in focus from Galactic civilization genocide to a Procession of Cathedrals to be distracting and just not interesting. Yes I listened to the whole book but, no, I cannot begin to tell you what the significance of the cathedrals marching off a cliff has to do with anything. That whole story arc seemed to be there just to pad the time out to a respectable duration. Some scenes are interesting, although right now I cannot call them to mind, the overall distaste for the book has obscured my memory. Some characters, like Clavaine, carry over from the previous book and provide some continuity to the familiar. One new character, Scorpio is the most engaging and the easiest to identify with and he is not even human! The rest of the cast and crews of the various spaceships and cathedrals are interchangeable, and completely disposable. I just can’t be made to care about any of them. Their motives are so foreign, so alien, that their major and minor crises have no emotional impact. The climax of this novel seems so trivial compared to the galatic level crisis of the rest of the series that I kept wondering when the big thing would start to happen. It never did. This capstone of the Revelation Space series is a big disappointment. Gone is the ingenious interplay between human factions that was so prevalent in REDEMPTION ARK. Lost is the rush of grand ideas that fuel CHASM CITY. I hope that Alastair Reynolds can redeem himself in the next book THE PREFECT. If not, we’ll always have CHASM CITY.
Living up to the standards set by the novel itself John Lees phones in this performance. His voice seems to have no excitement, no emotion. The first few lines delivered by some characters are given in the accent of one of the other characters, as if he had lost track of the story. I can hardly blame him, since the book lost me long before the end. I am not sure that even John Lee at his best could have elevated this novel from the doldrums.
This is book two in the main sequence of the Revelation Space series. I found that I was much more engaged with the story and characters in this novel compared to my level of interest in REVELATION SPACE. Many of the story elements that were introduced in the first book are given meaning here. This is grand scale Space Opera, on a level with Olaf Stapledon and Stephen Baxter. Humanity is starting to branch into political factions that resemble different species. In many ways Reynolds reminds me of Larry Niven, especially in the way he throws out big ideas. It is a book full of ideas and that is its strong suit. This was a fun book to listen to, and even though the situations had nothing to do with reality, I found myself reveling along with the author; rooting him on to see what he would come up with next.
I have heard it said that Reynolds was trying to tell a meaningful story without resorting to the usual worn out Science Fiction trappings such as Faster than Light travel, and tractor beams. In this he is not entirely successful. His slower than light ships do require certain plot constraints that FTL stories neatly avoid. The time-scales for the story are necessarily lifetimes long. To do this he must, of course, include longevity and hibernation technology to insure his characters live long enough to see the end. There is a nice use of Time Travel that becomes a critical plot element. Of course steller evolution plays a big part in Revelation Space, as indeed the very idea of evolution of intelligent life. This is so central to the story that if you are not already familiar with the Fermi Paradox you will be by the end of this book. So it seems that Reynolds has traded one SF trope for another. All just tools in the story teller’s kit.
John Lee is again the narrator for Reynolds. To my ear Lee is much more in sync with the text in this book than in the previous novel. I do think that here he had better characters to work with, and his voice is as soothing as ever. His voice is so sonorous that at times I found myself tuning the story out and listening to John Lee almost as I would listen to music. And that is a danger for this book, for, like all the Alastair Reynolds books I have encountered so far, it does require an attentive listener. This book is much better than REVELATION SPACE but does ot reach the level of excellence of CHASM CITY.
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