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The Dispatcher

Narrated by: Zachary Quinto
Length: 2 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (60,116 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Original Work

Zachary Quinto - best known for his role as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot and the menacing, power-stealing serial killer, Sylar, in Heroes - brings his well-earned sci-fi credentials and simmering intensity to this audio-exclusive novella from master storyteller John Scalzi.

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone - 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don't know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.

Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher - a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death's crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.

It's a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it's too late...before not even a Dispatcher can save him.

©2016 John Scalzi (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The hero of this book is narrator Zachary Quinto, who makes a potentially confusing story simple and compelling. With a voice that sounds trained, he reaches right through the speakers and grabs listeners, making them want—no, need—to listen." (AudioFile)

"Quinto has a perfect hardboiled noir manner, which is exactly what you’d want for Valdez." (Locus Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 11-09-16

Good Grief This Was Good

Any additional comments?

A phenomenal book, such that I don't believe John Scalzi is the author. I quite like Scalzi's works, but I think of them as highly entertaining mediocrity. First with Lock In and now this, I think he has grown to a new level.

Scalzi's standard humor that he is known for is absent in this book, but do not let that scare you off. It may be short, but there is a solid and strong story here that kept me riveted to the end. Then after I had finished it, I kept thinking about it long after the last words were spoken.

And spoken they were! Zachary Quinto is phenomenal!

Truly this is an easy recommendation to anyone who wants a thriller or a mystery with a clever spin.

264 of 291 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Has a few flaws but still good

It's an interesting short story with an unusual premise and I would definitely recommend it, but it does have a few flaws. First, as much as a I like John Scalzi, not EVERY main character has to be a wise cracking super sarcastic hero whenever he's under the gun, and for this guy in particular it felt out of character. Second, I don't buy that someone who has spent years doing shady, probably illegal deals on the side decides to start hinting about it and late spilling his guts to a police officer he just met. Last, Zachary Quinto is a great actor and he does an awesome just with the voices, BUT there is nothing more irritating than a voice actor breathing into the microphone, which he does when he's doing the old woman voice.

48 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 02-17-18

Clever Premise Mostly Unexplored

Several years ago, on the strength of something I started and gave up on almost immediately, I pegged Scalzi as a genre hack. I can’t remember what I read, but I know it reminded me of what I think of as the worst in fantasy: something that took itself too seriously, felt bloated, and depended on trite elements of the form.

Lately, though, I’ve been hearing things that made me think I might have miscast him. Someone somewhere praised his more recent non-fantasy series, and then this book came up on sale and mercifully short. So, I gave it a shot.

In praise of this, I did finish it. What’s more, I admire the root premise: it’s a world where something has changed so that anyone murdered by another returns to life. I grant the intriguing possibilities of that potentially supernatural phenomenon. I further grant that it’s an interesting move to imagine specialists in killing in such a changed world. These dispatchers kill people – usually in hospitals – so they will avoid natural deaths and thereby return to life.

But that’s about where my admiration stops. There’s a mystery in place, but there’s little grace in its exposition or its solution. It’s set in Chicago so, of course, it involves the mob. It also involves hot dogs and the best toppings for them, however briefly. And there’s a cop with whom our protagonist reluctantly partners. None of that material is especially compelling or memorable.

Worse, Scalzi barely mines the implications of his premise. He has his character embrace a too-easy agnosticism. When someone asks if the phenomenon of such resurrections is proof of the divine, he suggests a better proof would be for people to stop wanting to kill each other. That’s a good line, but it suggests a disappointing lack of interest in something so profound.

Since anyone who murders someone provokes this response, it isn’t clear why we need specialists like Valdez. Wouldn’t it make sense for doctors just to kill patients whose operations they’ve botched? Why bring in an outsider when anyone could do it?

In an even more glaring oversight, there’s no real consideration about the change in the value of a life if it’s suddenly so much harder to get killed. Beyond the theological implications, there ought to be existential ones: what does it mean to be alive if, suddenly, we get more chances at life than just the one? I’m not asking for Sartre, but I am asking for something along the lines of the excellent insights of Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August.

Anyway, I’m willing to bump Scalzi up one notch from the pay-no-mind-at-all level I first assigned him to, but I’m not persuaded to try any more of his work.

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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IT'S HARD TO GET MYSTICAL ABOUT YOUR JOB

IT'S JUST TAX MONEY
1. Those who love Scalzi's sense of humor, need to know that this has none of that.
2. This is dark and serious
3.This has none of the he said, she said, that seems to upset some people.
4. There is not an iota of science in this.
5. This is more of a paranormal, and seems to be a set up for a series similar to Harry Dresden.
5. Nothing is ever explained as far as the phenomenon that leads to dispatchers. Dispatchers kill people just before they die of other causes. This makes them come back alive 999 times out of 1000.
6. It is entertaining and worth your time.
7. narrator is top notch

295 of 335 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

3.69 stars...not bad for a short story

I got this as a Daily Deal for $1, so it was definitely worth that. It was a nice short story, but nothing that would cause me to immediately download more John Scalzi books. The story is a bit above average, and the same goes for the narrator.There's nothing exceptional or terrible here. It's an easy, short listen, and it is somewhat entertaining. If you're not looking to get into anything long or complicated and just want a good performance of a decent story that will hold your attention, then The Dispatcher is for you.

Overall rating: 3.69 stars

83 of 94 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sounds Like Television.

I am not a snob about clothes (you’d agree if you could see me). I’m not a snob about food. Or wine. Or bourbon. Or cars. But I am…um…particular about the books I read and listen to. The current popular fiction I glimpse on tablets or in paperback editions on the train seems, mostly, like nothing that would do much to elevate my mind or illuminate my inner being.

Does that sound horrible? I don’t mean for it to. It’s just that I’ve got more life behind me than ahead of me, and I want every book to count. Not trying to be dramatic. It’s just the truth.

So, when Audible offered The Dispatcher for free last October, I only snapped it up because I thought I might be wrong. I might be dismissing great stories just because they weren’t time-tested classics. I might be a victim of my own, perhaps too-precious discernment.

Turns out I was wrong. True, the Dispatcher sounds just like those books I sometimes read over peoples’ shoulders on the way to and from work: like television. Not in any way demanding. No need to rewind and savor a sentence or pause to mull over a fresh insight into the human dilemma. But I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This is a great little piece of science fiction. An odd thing is happening to people who get murdered: they come back. Scalzi’s accomplishment here is to make that completely believable, and then to play out some of the possibilities that scenario offers. Granted, there was far more profanity than I’m used to. Some of the social attitudes annoyed me. And I’m not sure I could have stood an entire novel in the same style. But I enjoyed this short, crisp, well-wrought story very much.

I admit to being out of the loop about what our narrator, Zachary Quinto, has done on stage and screen. But his performance, while excellent overall, got a little shaky in the distinguishing-the-voices department, probably the toughest part of audiobook narration.

138 of 158 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

ehh

It starts like it's going to have a deep and interesting ending. then it ends without answering anything. very disappointing and the first original I haven't liked

38 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great premise to an engrossing story

Quick book to finish; great narration and entertaining story with an intriguing premise. Highly recommended.

57 of 67 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Story is a bit Bradbury. Narrator is a bit Bueller.

I enjoyed this “what if” premise. It had a strong Bradbury flavor. The sophomoric use of bad language gave the story a slightly juvenile edge but at least not constant. The biggest downfall of this audiobook was Zachary Quinto’s decision to, with the only difference being a very slight accent, use the same voice for both of the most prominent characters - one male, one female. While I appreciate the fact that he didn’t do the idiotic falsetto that so many male narrators unwisely choose for their female dialogue, he needed something more, because Scalzi writes a lot of conversation without dialogue tags. The result was me not knowing who was talking at all from time to time.

Also, Quinto sounds like he has a perpetually stuffed up nose. I wanted him to blow it. Badly. I’m not sure I could do a full length audiobook with him as narrator.

The story is a bit anticlimactic but has interesting (mostly theological with a spattering of scientific) musings along the way. I enjoyed it. On par with Koontz’s Odd Thomas or Ray Bradbury, but a little less sophisticated.

23 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Great short story

This was a great story. I was left wanting more and would definitely go for a sequel if there was one.

42 of 52 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr T C Court
  • 10-23-16

Great listen

Great story well read by Zachary, looking forward to listening to the work of more stories by John.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • M O.
  • 10-24-16

grabs you instantly

interesting idea for a story, love the way the author takes an odd concept and then builds an interesting story around it. excellent narration to

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jen B
  • 10-23-16

really good story, unique perspective.

I picked this up as it was a free book but it totally delivered. great plot, concept & characters. I hope this will be pulled out in to other books

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karolina Patrickson
  • 10-22-16

Good story but Great narration

Zachary Quinto's performance made this short story amazing, he's a great actor and it shows. I will definitely listen to another story by John Scalzi as he's a good author and hope I can find something else read by Quinto.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee
  • 10-20-16

Very good, interesting story, well presented.

I got this as a freebie on Audible and thoroughly enjoyed it, would seek the author for further books!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham
  • 11-08-16

What a cracking story!

Terrific narration, super story. I laughed out loud at the lift shaft part. Read and you'll know the bit. Well worth a read

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Vidmantas
  • 11-08-16

Dark world even without murders

This was an interesting way to look at the world on it's kind. Short but long enough to fulfill the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • boni
  • 11-04-16

Great book....one can't get enough of.

Excellent stuff, an absolute unchartered minefield of overlapping ethics, science and spirituality. Outstanding narration by the voice artists, my only niche of a criticism is that the story could have been longer and more complex addressing the theology of life rather than just a speedy thrill fill. Much appreciated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 04-25-17

different

it is a very short story. I was hoping for more. I did find the narrator a little mono tone

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ALP
  • 01-27-17

A lovely surprise!

I only grabbed this because it was free (why wouldn't you?), was highly sceptical and then had my expectations blown away! I loved the short story and immediately looked at the authors other works, I could quite happily listen to another book set in this world - it's very rare to come across an original idea handled so interestingly!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy
  • 03-06-17

Need More

Any additional comments?

Perfect, perfect pairing. The short was a little different from the Scalzi books I've read, and I loved it. Quinto is a perfect narrator. Loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SlateyTV
  • 02-19-17

Interesting read.

I started this book with no information on what it was about and quickly became interested in the phenomena that had occurred and the philosophical debate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel Stockwell
  • 02-08-17

Great sci fi thriller

The concept is great and it is explored in a variety of ways which I appreciated. Quinto is delightful to listen to. My only negative would be the book tends to be dialogue heavy but this is hardly affects the enjoyment. I wouldn't be surprised to see this adapted to film one day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Keegan
  • 11-08-16

A very original crime story

The story worked so well, it was perfectly cinematic. Download this, buy it, and indulge in all the wonders of this gritty, imaginative and thrilling crime drama.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephanie Kiem
  • 11-05-16

very interesting idea for a story

this was a very enjoyable story it wasn't predictable and looks like a great prelude to more stories about the same character

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ros H.
  • 11-05-16

Interesting Story

This was very much out of my comfort zone. But, I really enjoyed(not quite the right word) this book.
Such an interesting premise and then with a mystery thrown in. Made for a book that I really had to listen to till the end.
I think it would also make a good start for anotger book. I'd really love to know some more about the main characters Valdez (The Dispatcher) and the police lady .
If you want to listen to something different I would highly recommend this book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • maf1974
  • 11-03-16

Great short story, brilliant narration!

Zachary Quinto has done an AMAZING job narrating this very good story. His ability to craft individual voices for each character is phenomenal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 11-03-16

Very surprised by this one.

I downloaded this book because it was free. one of the best I've listened to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Reece
  • 11-02-16

Interesting ideas in a quick read

A good listen and quite an original thought.
Have to love Zachary Quinto impersonations and emotions as he reads.

Felt like the story could have used a bit more meat, but as a short story it flows great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip
  • 10-22-16

Intriguing

This short novella is well worth the listen. Shades of 'The Time Traveller's Wife, it is an intriguing premise and makes the reader think.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful