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No substitute for the book, but not bad.

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-27-03

Martin Cruz Smith has been one of my favorite authors since I discovered his work in the early 90's. His novels are filled with memorable characters, sharp dialogue, and particularly good narrative--Cruz Smith has a real gift for "describing the moment".

I rushed to buy December 6 in hardback the first week it hit stores, and I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I decided to purchase the audiobook because I wanted to revisit the story, and also because I was curious as to how well the novel would translate. Unfortunately, the audiobook has several flaws.

It dispenses with chapter indicators, opting instead for long pauses. This is unnecessarily confusing, given the frequent changes in location / flashbacks that are integral to the plot.

The narrator, John Slattery, does a good job with the "foreign" characters--Harry Niles, Willie Staub, Al DeGeorge--but he inexplicably gives the Japanese characters pseudo-Japanese accents. As just one example, Cruz Smith's "Long Beach Oil" becomes "Rong Beach Oil". Often what was rapier wit on the page becomes caricature to the ear.

This abridged version also makes some puzzling edits. Great chunks of text are cut, only to be referred to later. Towards the end of the audiobook, a character asks: "Remember that song 'Amazing Grace?'" Well, you wouldn't--that part was cut from the audio. Too bad, since a song would seem a perfect opportunity for an audiobook to _improve_ on the original.

I would strongly recommend that people new to Cruz Smith start by reading one of his books, but in the end, enough of the original text shines through. I liked this production, despite its faults, and I suspect other Cruz Smith fans will like it as well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

A familiar tale, but well-told.

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-26-03

Silverberg seems to enjoy using letters as a narrative device (both here and in "Hero of the Empire") and it translates well to audio. The plot is interesting--but the climax occurs a little too early, and the last third of the story is predictable.

Tom Parker has crisp delivery and a pleasant reading voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Thoroughly enjoyable.

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-26-03

Mike Daisey adapted 21 Dog Years from his play, and it shows in his easy reading style and flair for comic timing. There's a segment I particularly like after a long day--other listeners will certainly remember the "I understand, I empathize" spiel from a customer service rep.

While the focus is indeed his job(s) at, much of the story is purely about the life and times of Mike Daisey; fortunately, it's almost all funny.

Delicate ears should be warned that there is occasional profanity.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

A mixed bag

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-26-03

Most short-fiction anthologies contain stories you love and stories you hate, but this audiobook puts a slight twist into that formula. By and large, the stories are mediocre, but the performances are good enough (and occasionally over-the-top enough) to draw you in.

"Master of the Crabs" and "Taurus Horn" are highlights, while "Venus Cursed" had excellent potential but was spoiled by a slightly rushed ending. On the other hand, "Black God's Kiss" doesn't adapt well to audio, and "Frozen in Time" is a particularly dull version of an old sci-fi cliche.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

10 to the 16th to 1 audiobook cover art


5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-16-03

This is the audio adaptation of a Hugo-award winning short story, so you know the content is solid. But Brian Corrigan, the narrator, simply cannot be commended enough for his reading. The characters more than come to life--they stay with you, and you'll want to revisit the story over and over again.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful