Commentary: SFFaudio needs more Audio Drama

SFFaudio Commentary

SFFaudio MetaPetri Salin of the Tricrepicephalus blog seems to think we’re doing good work – and I have to agree. There’s never been a better time to be an audio fan. But his comments aren’t all praise. For instance, he thinks we’re a little short in the audio drama department (he keeps mentioning it). And, I guess I have to give him credit for spotting that too. We do lean a little more towards audiobooks than AD. Part of that is because personally I tend to listen in high noise environments – while shopping, in the car with the roof out, while riding a lawnmower – places where the subtleties of the art might be injured. Audio drama just doesn’t work as well under those conditions. I also tend to listen to audio drama and radio drama when I’m at home, especially in the evening or at bedtime. I treat audio drama, especially the downloaded stuff, as a treat, something I need not make notes about. Hence the less reviewage of it here.

So, given those limitations, I’ll try to add a bit more AD to the mix over the coming months. For now I’ll drop a few names of productions and podcasts I’ve been listening to lately…

BBC Audio - Venus In Copper - based on the novel by Lindsey DavisFALCO, or more specifically, Falco – Poseidon’s Gold – BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Drama (2009)
I’m about half way through this, the latest adaptation of Lindsey Davis’ series of novels centering on the life of “private informer” Marcus Didius Falco (private investigator) Circa 72 A.D.. It’s a terrific show, as are they all, with stunning production values, top notch acting and a real different narrative voice (lots of voice over giving us what Falco is thinking). I’m a big fan of anything to do with history, and this period of the Roman Empire is full of plenty of intrigue. Anton Lesser, the star of the production is someone I’d like to follow the career of. He’s that good.

Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter – Broken Sea Audio Productions (2007 – 2009)
I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed this show properly, and I doubt I ever will. That is a shame because I really do enjoy it. It’s exactly what you would think given the title. Basically it’s a bastardized cross between Indiana Jones and The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game. It won’t make you think any deep thoughts, but it certainly hits the sweet spot between adventurous fun and historical drama. They’ve done four complete serials so far. I wouldn’t cry too hard if they never do another, but I’d certainly be up for another just the same.

Vanishing Point CBC Radio (1980s)
I’ve been listening to a lot of these lately, many of them are absolutely not to my taste. They do however feature stellar production, and make use of many excellent actors. This means that when they do hit a solid story, it usually turns out pretty damn well. I’ll post a bigger story on this series at some point as I’ve made a ton of notes on most of the episodes I’ve listened to.

And, I also did do a big post, just the other day, on the BBC World Service adaptation of Pontypool.

One series that I plan to start listening to sometime soon is…

Cold Blood – BBC Radio 7 (January 2005)
This was done by Simon Bovey, the same guy who wrote Slipstream, which I thought was absolutely smashing. BBC Radio 7 describes Cold Blood as “[a] Chilling drama set in 2015 at an Antarctic research station” and apparently listeners have loved it too saying:

‘The writing and acting is marvellous….a sumptuous production!’

Sounds good hey?

My friend Julie Davis, of Forgotten Classics, recently suggested I try out a couple new mystery series…

The Teahouse Detective BBC Radio 4 (1998 – 2000)
Based on the stories of Baroness Orczy, dramatised by Michael Butt.

Colvil and Soames BBC Radio 4 (1996 – 1998)
Mysteries investigated by intelligence officers Henry Colvil and Alex Soames.

I’ve now gotten both of these via Radio Downloader. Now I just have to make time to listen to them.

Another BBC series that’s piqued my interest is Saturday Night Theatre. Someone over on RadioArchive.cc has been posting a few of these up as torrents and everything I’ve heard from it has been excellent. Bill Hollweg’s raves about The Tale Of The Knight, The Witch And The Dragon, for instance, prompted a post on it, and I know a lot of folks loved that one.

I also mentioned the BBC radio adaptation of Tiger Tiger, based on the novel Alfred Bester on a recent podcast. Similar-wise, I’ve recently got my mitts on Saturday Night Theatre’s version of Arthur C. Clarke’s 1961 novel A Fall Of Moondust (it’s available in a 2 CD set from BBC Audio) and I’m really looking forward to hearing that.

Blake's 7 - Point Of No Return and Eye Of The MachineOn the commercial front there’s been a couple reviews that I’ve done of the new Blake’s 7 series |HERE| and |HERE|. Those come with our highest recommendation, the “SFFaudio Essential” designation.

Similarily, I’ve got another highly recommended series for you:

Audible.com - Bradbury 13 - A Sound Of Thunder Audible.com is now offering the ever elusive and highly sought after so called “BRADBURY 13” produced in the early 1980s by Brigham Young University.

Who cares about Mormon Audio Drama?

Well my friends, even if you’re no latter day saint, you really should!

See the Mormon church loves AUDIO DRAMA. Just ask Orson Scott Card.

As a consequence of doing so much of it Mormons do it very well. And thus the BRADBURY 13 is arguably the best audio drama ever produced in the United States Of America.

The series is based on 13 unconnected short stories by Ray Bradbury. They are full 3-D sound productions, with quality acting, and ultra-rich soundscapes. 12 of the 13 had been made available in the 1990s on cassettes (email me if you want to buy these – I’ve still got some left) but now, finally, all 13 are available in a modern digital format. This, combined with the fact that Audible.com’s new “Audible Enhanced Audio” format is in STEREO! This means that many audio drama fans are going to be extremely happy.

There are a couple of other things I can recommend for fans of Audio Drama who still find us wanting.

1. Listen to our podcast. Scott and I listen to more than we review. A lot of that is audio drama – we talk about it, and many other things, on the podcast.

2. Make some recommendations yourself. I don’t mean just drop the names of these shows, I mean really tell us what you’re listening to and why you like it, or don’t like it. Post it up as a comment, write it up on your own blog, or send me an email.

So, that’s what on my audio drama plate. What audio dramas are you folks listening to?

Posted by Jesse Willis

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2 thoughts to “Commentary: SFFaudio needs more Audio Drama”

  1. I listened to Cold Blood a couple of years ago and can highly recommend it.

    I must say I can’t really remember the plot (it was a couple of years ago), I do remember it had something of a the feel of (John Carpenter’s) The Thing.

    Also the new B7 productions Blake’s 7 CD, Cally, is just out and probably the best so far. It would also probably qualify as the the easiest for new listeners to get into (the previous ones being squarely aimed at old time Blake’s 7 fans)!

    On a side note the new The Scarifyer CD arrived a couple of weeks back, The Curse of the Black Comet is probably the most ambitious story yet and also to my mind the most successful. Brian Blessed is superb!
    Check it out at:- http://www.cosmichobo.com/news.shtml

  2. Cool.

    David we should get you to do a review of The Scarifyers.

    The B7 people inform me that Cally is wining it’s way to our mailbox right now. :)

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