I'm a big fan of Ender's Game and of radio plays, so I was excited to listen to this. But the voice acting kept drawing me out of the scenes.
Radio drama is all about sound - we use it to build the scene in our minds and watch it play out in real time, in a way that's even more direct and immediate than listening to an audiobook. Every sound effect, every voice, helps build the picture of what's happening. And in my picture of what's happening, I had to STRAIN to see Ender as a child of any age, let alone a 6 year old. That's just not good radio drama.
Kirby Heyborne did a very good job with what he was given. His take on Ender is admirable. But the man is THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD. The listener should be picturing a child, and Heyborne sounds, inescapably, like an adult.
The director has explained elsewhere that he made his choice based on acting talent, needing someone with the maturity to tackle a very complex and unique character. Fair enough. But surely it's more than that. Surely with a bigger budget for casting and a little more patience and care taken with the Ender character in the studio, they could have had a child or teenage actor to play the role. Or a female, who could get closer to the voice of a child.
If I spoke German, I'd check out the German recording - apparently they did use child actors, though I don't know how the tradeoff worked for them.
As for the rest of the cast, Stefan Rudnicki delivers the wonderful voice-like-a-silk-sack-of-bricks performance for which we know and love him from the audiobooks. Ditto Scott Brick (voice-like-a-silk-sack-of-rudnickis?). And the voices of Valentine and Peter (Susan Hanfield and Paul Boehmer) can be reasonably fit to Ender's older siblings, and they do a good job.
I admit, I listened to all the free chapters (fully expecting to purchase the full audio play), but was so disappointed with the casting of the main character, and so consistently thrown off by imagining an adult in Ender's scenes, that I'm not likely to go any further. The full radio play has been getting excellent reviews. So perhaps there's gold beyond these initial chapters?
Ender's Game - unabridged audiobook
The same casting hits, without the jarring casting misses.
Find a precocious child actor to play Ender. Or an adult female. Not Nancy Cartwright per se, but a similar concept.
It was free, and it took me into that wonderful world, even though it did keep spitting me back out again. So yes.
I'm looking forward to seeing how young Asa Butterfield (age 16) does with Ender Wiggin in the upcoming (as of right now) film.
Fun, geeky, surprising
I laughed and I cried, both in good measure. I'm a Star Trek geek, and hearing Wil Wheaton deliver the self-deprecating sci-fi references and everyday-tone reactions to absurd situations was especially hilarious. I was smiling and laughing out loud throughout.
But like any good sci-fi, this book has depth and drama beyond its goofy premise. Scalzi understands the importance of the audience genuinely caring about his characters, becoming invested in their lives... the whole thing is pretty meta that way.
If you're a fan of sci-fi TV, get this. It's right up your alley.
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