Review of No Truce with Kings by Poul Anderson

February 3, 2004
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook - No Truce With Kings by Poul AndersonNo Truce With Kings
By Poul Anderson; Read by Tom Teti
4 Cassettes – 4 Hours 40 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dercum Press Audio [ActiveBooks #ABS02]
Published: September 1987 – OUT OF PRINT
ISBN: 1556562675
Themes: / Science Fiction / Exploration / Sea Voyage / Civil War / Military / Galactic Civilization / Telepathy /

DERCUM ACTIVE BOOKS
Dercum’s Active Books are a contemporary approach to classic literature. This collection, when complete, will number over sixteen volumes and will be one of the most comprehensive anthologies of science fiction and fantasy stories ever produced. Book Notes are and exclusive feature of all Dercum Fantasy Listening Cassettes. At key points in our stories, musical accents are added for your listening pleasure.

Though it doesn’t state it in the title, this audiobook actually contains two tales by Poul Anderson, the 1961 Hugo winning novelette “The Longest Voyage” and the 1964 Hugo winning novella “No Truce With Kings”. “The Longest Voyage” follows a junior officer on board the ship of a latter day Magellan. But this global circumnavigation is on a faraway planet, populated by humans who have lost their ancient technologies. As their society has rebuilt itself it builds new caravels that can take them farther and farther afield. But the new civilizations they discover on a distant shore hold a secret to both their past and their future.

“No Truce with Kings” is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, a feudal future made up of small nations constantly at war with each other. As the battles and intrigues unfold, hidden societies and shadowy organizations begin to show that their wars do not go unnoticed.

“The Longest Voyage” was enjoyable, it reminded me of Robert J. Sawyer’s Farseer, minus the talking dinosaurs. “No Truce With Kings” was well conceived, a cross between Mad Max and Jeremiah, but the execution was less than I had hoped for. Still and all, I enjoyed both stories and it was a very good listen.

This audiobook is a curious mix of excellence and shoddiness. The stories are certainly very worthy of adaptation, the reader Tom Teti is decent if not spectacular, providing only a minimal performance. But the packaging is just plain bad, missing digits in the ISBN, the reader’s name would be unknown except that the packaging has come unglued and revealed it beneath one of the two cassette holders (a place where no one would ever possibly see it!). They also ignored a title, no mention of the inclusion of “The Longest Voyage” appears except on the cassettes themselves and in small font on the back of the package. The jacket design is almost non-existent giving us only some generic clipart. In addition, the genre is labeled fantasy when both stories are actually science fiction. On the other hand the recording and the sound production is truly excellent! Including as always with Dercum Active Book titles the haunting Dercum Audio music, which starts to play before the story and which re-appears when a story ends or when a tape flip is coming up. It is a truly excellent theme music for science fiction or fantasy audio production and one which I am always pleased to hear. But the best part, the very best part of this audiobook is the added introduction which is so very appropriate and so well written, introducing the stories and the author, really enhancing the experience. Overall I’m very glad to have finally found a copy of this out of print and obscure audiobook, but I can’t say its perfect, I have to wonder if some of the reasons for the fall of Dercum Audio have anything to do with their lack of follow through? To get such a great property, to execute the recording so well, to produce it with such forethought and then to package it in an unattractive and poorly designed package… its a real tale of what might have been.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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