Thursday, January 15, 2009

A vague twitch of life

Testing, testing... Is this thing still on? Anyone out there?

So. I rather unceremoniously abandoned this project, didn't I? I realized, the other day, that I felt somewhat guilty about that and decided to try to take it up again. I've been listening to some very good audio drama of late and, well, that sort of thing should be shared. 8)

If all goes well, I should be able to get a new review up reasonably soon. Hopefully, someone out there might read it. In the mean time, allow me to link you to the BBC Radio's Listen Again page and point you toward last Friday's afternoon play: an excellent episode of the Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Clive Merrison and Andrew Sachs. I can personally attest that it is very well written and that the cast is marvelous. Also, you can stream it on their website for free and on Friday (which is tomorrow) there will be a new one. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Enjoy! Look for new content soon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm just hoping they keep the scorpion and the grasshopper...

No new review yet - audiobooks take a good deal of time to get through - but I do have a brief audio drama heads up. Big Finish Productions (my favorite purveyor of geeky audio drama of various kinds) has released a downloadable dramatization of The Phantom of the Opera, which was exciting enough to me that I felt I should let other people know.

I love The Phantom of the Opera to a vaguely frightening degree and, sadly, have never managed to find an audio production - either audiobook or audiodrama - that I felt did the book justice. I haven't heard any of this one yet other than the trailer, but I trust Big Finish (when they aren't trying to put on American accents). They do good work. I feel confident that it will be at least worth checking out and I'm looking forward to downloading and listening to it.

Hey, it's got the Persian featured prominently in the cast list. That's promising just by itself. 8)

Obligatory Big Finish plug - if you're reading this, you're a Doctor Who fan (or a fan of other vaguely obscure British sci-fi), and you don't know about Big Finish, you should definitely check them out. Like I say above, they do good work. I've listened to a lot of their audioplays and have come across only one that I wouldn't listen to again. And even that one was fairly entertaining while I was listening to it.

So. Avoid Minuet in Hell but get yourself a copy of Jubilee, Spare Parts, or Night Thoughts and go from there. You won't regret it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett

All right – inaugural review! We'll start with the audiobook I'm currently listening to.

Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs

Synopsis: There's a freak time-storm in the always tempestuous city of Ankh-Morpork and Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, is thrown thirty years back in time. In fact, he's just in time to see his younger self join the Watch and teach himself everything he knows. He's also just in time to relive the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road and make sure that time stays in the right track. But all Vimes wants is to go back to his own time, where Lady Sybil is giving birth to their first child. Unfortunately, there's something Vimes has to do before he can go home.

Review: Let me state right out front that is my favorite book in one of my favorite series. So perhaps I'm a little biased. But, even taking that into account, this is an excellent audiobook. Stephen Briggs has recorded several of Terry Pratchett's books (taking over from Nigel Planer, who did the earlier books) and is at the top of his game here. His narration is in turns hilarious and heartbreaking, but always gripping.

Night Watch is, of course, a book that rewards the familiar reader more than the reader who is new to the series and the audiobook is no different. Just as it is a joy to recognize younger versions of well-known characters while reading (many of Ankh-Morpork's familiar faces show up here, though somewhat different than they will be in their older incarnations), it's also wonderful to recognize the characters through Mr Brigg's marvelously consistent voice work. Sgt Colon is immediately recognizable from other recordings of the Watch novels and even though Nobby is much too young to join the Watch at this point, his essential Nobby-ness shines through the slightly higher-pitched voice that he's sporting here. CMOT Dibbler, Rosie Palm, Mr Slant, and Vetinari are all present and accounted for, and sound just as you'd expect them to from Mr Brigg's prior work.

New characters are also well handled. Each is given a distinctive and recognizable voice. Of particular note is Captain Swing of the Unmentionables, who has some bizarre vocal tics in the text. These come across wonderfully in the recording and grant the character exactly the right sense of the bizarre.

The footnotes – a hallmark of Mr Pratchett's novels – are worked seamlessly into the text. Fortunately, the readers of Discworld novels have always managed this admirably.

Night Watch is a nearly perfect recording. There are, of course, a few moments that don't ring quite true – cut-off words that aren't pronounced quite right, moments where the tone doesn't quite fit the text – but these are few and far between. Even with those few moments, this is a wonderful audiobook and fully does justice to what is probably Mr Pratchett's finest work. I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of the Discworld novels.*

*If you've never read any of the Discworld novels before, this is, unfortunately, not the one to start with. It relies too heavily on the reader's knowledge of already established characters. However, if you like really good comic fantasy and haven't yet read the Discworld novels, you should totally get on that immediately. You're in for a treat.

(Though, if you take my advice, you'll skip the first 5 or so – they aren't really terribly good. Okay, the fourth one – Mort – is all right but you don't really need to read it. Start with Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! and go from there.)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Introductory Wittering

Hello, everybody, and welcome to my audiobook review blog! This post is for introductions and things you should probably know before reading further.

First of all, a little bit about me. My name's Sara (as you may have guessed from the title of the blog). I'm a geek and I work in a library. I read voraciously and I love audiobooks and audio drama. However, really good audiobooks are occasionally difficult to find. I'm starting this blog because, as yet, I haven't found a reliable site that reviews audiobooks as audiobooks. I don't know about you, but I don't tend to pick up an audiobook unless I've already read the book version. When I read a review of an audiobook, I don't want to know how good the book is. I want to know how good the reading of the book is.

My taste is a little eclectic but tends towards genre fiction, particularly sci-fi and fantasy. I'm also very fond of children's literature. That doesn't mean that I won't read or listen to mainstream fiction but I do read and listen to less of it. Just so you know what you're in for.

Secondly - how the reviews will work. I'm going to assume, for the most part, that anyone who reads these reviews is looking, like me, for an audiobook review, not a book review. I'll begin with a short overview of the plot - enough to familiarize someone who doesn't know the book - but the meat of the review will deal with the reader and his or her performance. I'll try not to post immense spoilers in these reviews, for those people who may not have read the books, but I can't promise to leave readers unspoiled on everything.

Thirdly - audience participation. (Assuming that I will ever have an audience.) Feedback is more than welcome so please feel free to comment. Tell me what you want to see more of in the reviews - is there an aspect of audio performance that's important to you that I'm not mentioning? Let me know. Do you have audiobook recommendations or requests for reviews? Send them along.

I'll try to get the first review up later today. I can't promise regularity on reviews but I'll try to keep them coming. Enjoy!