The Dispatcher

Narrated by: Zachary Quinto
Length: 2 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (64,212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards - Original Work 

From master storyteller and Hugo Award-winner John Scalzi comes this Audible Original novella, winner of the 2017 Audie Award for Best Original Work. Emmy-nominated actor Zachary Quinto—best known for his roles as the Nimoy-approved Spock in the 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 genre-bending thriller.

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.

Enter Tony Valdez, professional Dispatcher. True to their name, these licensed assassins are tasked with humanely disposing of people in death’s crosshairs to offer them a second chance at avoiding the reaper. When a friend and fellow Dispatcher goes missing, Valdez is plunged into a web of intrigue both professional and personal.

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.

Go Behind the Scenes with Zachary Quinto

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With this being the first time I have experienced any story via audio, I was hesitant and a little uneasy, even though this would be a story by one of my very favorite authors conveyed by one of my very favorite actors. All of those worries are now gone and I am a New Believer in the power of the audiobook.

–Maddy, Audible listener
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About the Creator

New York Times best-selling author John Scalzi is celebrated for his sharp, whip-smart sci-fi. With novels such as Lock In, Head On, The Collapsing Empire, and Agent to the Stars, Scalzi’s uncanny ability to craft new worlds and technologies have earned him three Hugo Awards, the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and the Audie Award for Original Work. His works have been translated into over 20 languages. In addition to his long-form fiction triumphs, Scalzi acted as a creative consultant on the Stargate: Universe television series and as a writer for the video game Midnight Star. From 2010 to 2013, Scalzi served as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and in 2016, he received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He currently resides in Bradford, Ohio with his wife and (several) pets.

About the Performer

Zachary Quinto was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began performing as a teenager. He attended Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama and received a BFA in Acting. In 2007, Quinto was cast as the psychopathic super-powered serial killer Sylar on the hit NBC series Heroes, and in the same year was cast as Spock in the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Subsequently, he has reprised his role of Spock in both sequels to that film. He played Chad Warwick on the first season of American Horror Story and won a Critic’s Choice Award and Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Oliver Thredson on American Horror Story: Asylum. In 2008, Quinto began his production company Before the Door Pictures and produced and starred in the critically-acclaimed Margin Call. His company has gone on to produce such films as All Is Lost and A Most Violent Year. In 2018, Quinto hosted the unscripted series, In Search Of, which he also executive produced. The show is inspired by the iconic 1970s series of the same name and examines unexplained phenomena from all over the world. Season two will air this year (2019) on the History Channel. In theater, Quinto appeared as Louis Ironson in the 2010 Signature revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America. He made his Broadway debut in the 2013 Tony Award winning production of the Glass Menagerie and appeared in the 2017 MCC production of Noah Haidle's Smokefall. Last year, he starred in the Joe Mantello-directed revival of The Boys in the Band at The Booth Theater. Quinto’s other credits include Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird, Oliver Stone’s Snowden, 24 (Season 3), So NoTORIous, and Who We Are Now. Quinto will next be seen starring as Charlie Manx in AMC’s much-anticipated series, NOS4A2. Written by Jami O’Brien and based on the novel by the same name by Joe Hill, the show will premiere on June 2nd, 2019.

What listeners say about The Dispatcher

Average Customer Ratings
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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.

269 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

49 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

39 people found this helpful

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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

297 people found this helpful

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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

85 people found this helpful

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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.

140 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great premise to an engrossing story

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

57 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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 it wasn't constant. The biggest downfall of this audiobook was Zachary Quinto’s decision to use the same voice for both of the most prominent characters - one male, one female, (well, he uses a slightly different accent)the only. 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. Also, when there was a chunk of tagless dialogue, that one rudder - the slightly different accent - that you could use to navigate between the two main characters disappeared.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.

25 people found this helpful

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Not really my cup of tea.

Suspension of disbelief is important to enjoy fiction, but I was not able to suspend it enough to accept the premise of this book. I never understood why or how or what started the process that caused dispatchers to exist. Good performance, however.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-09-16

Great plot

Zachary Quinto has yet to let me down on any of his acting and that includes his narrative performance here, great character differentiation, brilliantly done female characters which can be really hard for some of the deeper voiced male narrators. I don't know if it just me but John Scalzi just seems to keep getting better. This is another of his main characters who while intelligent, charming and likable, often lives with and has learned from the grey areas in his life and is unapologetic about that. The detective plot really drags you in, Scalzi's mix of cynicism and hope on the human condition, while still producing completely entertaining stories draws me in every time. Buy it while it's free sci fi, isn't usually my favourite genre but scalzi might convert you too.

7 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Karolina P
  • 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.

5 people found this helpful

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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!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Julian Bowdidge
  • 12-21-16

Creepy

But excellent. Proper intelligent sci-fi story telling. the plot remains logical all the way through to the end.

The narration is top notch.

Imagine Philips Marlow played by bogart on the set of a doctor who story for adults.

3 people found this helpful

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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

3 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-14-19

waste of time

When I finished a book I like to mull it over before reviewing. Not This one. This book just left me exasperated and irritated. There was nothing to recommend. The narrator was adequate. The characters were cardboard. The plot was so poor that words fail me. Thankfully, mercifully, the redeeming feature is that it was short.

2 people found this 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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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  • Chris Burgess
  • 11-26-16

WOW!

I just loved the story and it was made so much better by a great narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this 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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful