I've read much written by Steve Martin, but this was the first time I bought an audio book of his, so I was excited that he was also narrating. However, it didn't take long for disappointment to set in. After having listened to George Carlin, Woody Allen, Neil Gaiman and others narrate their own works, I had high hopes for Martin to narrate his own story. His tone was flat and matter-of-fact; didn't stir up empathy for him. I would have gotten more out of it having read it than listening to it. So whereas I would buy another book by Martin, I wouldn't buy an audio book with his narration. His narration made what would have been an interesting memoir rather boring.
I would have hired a professional narrator. The story is his own - can't improve on that.
I was looking to engage with an actor whom I've enjoyed since growing up in the 70s, but couldn't get past the feeling that he wasn't too interested in his own text. I wasn't expecting a "wild and crazy guy" with a voice out of The Jerk, but at least the voice that made such movies as Roxanne and LA Story entertaining and moving.
I am all in favor of farce and absurdity. I will admit that I have been wanting to read a book by Martinez for a while now and just haven't gotten around to it. Taking this audio version of one of his books was a good way to fit him into my schedule and be introduced to his books. I will also freely admit that it was the absurdity of the title which brought me along with my love of old time radio sic fi, which took concepts like Martinez's seriously - oh the 40's and 50's, when life was so much simpler.
So can Martinez compare to people like Pratchett, Adams, Holt? I will need more books to know, but I think this was a fun start. Aiello's narration and characterizations were good. I had read one review that wasn't kind to Mr. Aiello for another book, but I believe he did a good job of showing the pomposity of the main character, the barely contained fury of our heroes companion, and the fanaticism of the pulp antagonist. The secondary characters all had distinct voices and personalities that I felt were spot on.
Was the ending predictable? Yes, saw the big reveal from a mile away.
Was the book with it's "reformed" anti-hero still fun? You bet!
I'm looking forward to another trip into the odd mind of A. Lee Martinez and sharing his works with my daughter. 11 year olds and 40 year olds can both be delighted by this quick read (listen).
Many of the stories in this radio drama are staples of the Sci Fi canon, and it was fun to hear them acted out with the serious tones of the times. I'm a sucker for radio dramas in many ways, and wish audible would get more of these old shows in their collection.
While many of the concepts might be dated and pulpy, there is a sincerity in the voices of the actors. I was immediately transported back to the days of my childhood (in the 70's - not THAT far back), when I would curl up under my blanket at night to listen to scary and fantastical stories in my room, while my parents watched Gun Smoke, Bonanza, The Waltons or whatever was on that night - we had different tastes.
The special effects come off surprisingly well, and there's plenty of room to flesh out the images in your head.
Ray Bradbury has always been one of my favorites, so I enjoyed the dramatizations of the stories included. Nightfall by Asimoz was also a standout. But if I had to pinpoint what makes this a memorable collection, it's that we get to hear stories that haven't been published, i.e. the stories written by Lefferts and Kinoy specifically for the program. Whereas nowadays we can see reruns of classic shows on TV and see the skill that many script writers had, sadly we are not able to get so many of the stories from radio easily.
Hard to choose a favorite scene or story. There were many "corny" scenes, which when filtered through the lens of "that was the 50's" are still more enjoyable than cringe worthy.
As for being moved, it was more about being taken back to the "tell me a bedtime story" era of my youth, the nostalgia that keeps me optimistic and wanting to go to bed with just the slight sense of unease that the universe is huge and there just might be a monster under the bed.
If there is something to complain about, it's that the collection is not complete as it states. It ends after about the first third of episodes. I knew this coming in to the purchase. Though there are many repeats on the original broadcast run, there's no way 20 hours can fit 120+ episodes. I'm hoping with get the rest out soon and correctly call this Volume 1 of 3.
I would in fact recommend this audio book, but would also recommend that the listener have the ebook version or print version, as well. The main reason is that I can see some people having difficulty with the jumping around between story lines. I understand it gets more complicated with the next book, The Twelve.That said, overall the narration works well.As for the story itself (which is most important, yes?), beyond the obvious comparison's to The Stand, the book stands well on its own and does a good job of linking the myths behind vampirism with the "vampirism as virus" storyline. Cronin is a good writer and world builder. It's good that he doesn't let himself get caught up so much in world building that he tries to create a "new speak" for the world a century from now - which would have made an audible book hard to follow when trying to decode "future slang" from only listening.
Being honest, I found the book more entertaining than moving. So for me the memorable moments are any time we get to hear the thoughts of The Twelve. Even though we only get "I am Babcock, I am The Many" etc, it's the eerie cadence of the writing and the narration that works to keep these background antagonists intriguing enough to want to see them more in the next book.
I have not heard other works by these narrators, but I do have to say that while I enjoyed two of the narrators, the narrator for Sara's diary at the end (and at other moments) kinda destroyed the book for me and left out the possibility of any emotional punch at the end.Even though Sara is giddy about her near future and apprehensive about her longterm future, the narration takes this woman who has gone through many trials, has risked death or becoming a vampire many times, has seen people she loves killed, has traveled through a post-apocalytic landscape, is a medical professional - the narration takes this woman and makes her sound like a college coed without much life experience who still wants to sound like a teenager. What could have been an ending that built in its tension to a strong emotional punch in the gut (though the tone of the writing lent itself to much foreshadowing), ended up sounding silly.Since she only narrated a few times, I didn't knock off more than one star, still giving the book 4 stars overall.
It wasn't a book that lent itself to laughter, which I found entirely in keeping with the book's theme, so it's probably good that I never laughed. However,I wasn't moved to tears, either.
While the author did explore many issues, I did find it odd that Cronin didn't address whether any religious/superstitious/cultish cultures evolved in the wake of such a strange apocalypse. I can't imagine a world overrun by the "living dead" not creating a few new traditions or building on old. Even when cult-like groups were created, e.g., Haven, it was more the mind control of one of The Twelve which seemed to be guiding things rather than a belief system. The only thing that didn't completely ring true for me. Granted, we only really saw three communities: The Colony, Haven, and a military unit, so maybe we'll learn more about the mythology of this new world in book two. All in all, a good listen (read) if you are looking for a novel about people put in extraordinary situations and trying to find the heroism in themselves. It doesn't matter in my mind that some will label it "genre" fiction and dismiss it - there's much to satisfy any reader.
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