Seeing Ear Theatre: The Moon Moth adapted from the novella by Jack Vance

SFFaudio Online Audio

Yesterday, a friend of mine was woefully mistaken. He said there was only one good audio drama and that it was The Hobbit (referring to the BBC radio dramatization). Well that is a pretty awesome audio drama but he is still totally and completely WRONG.

There are probably hundreds and hundreds of excellent audio dramas, but I was totally caught off guard – what’s that old french saying… ah yes…

“l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier”

Indeed, I only managed to throw out a couple of quick examples before my friend had retired for the evening.

I pointed out the BBC’s dramatization of The Lord Of The Rings and I a then suggested the CBS Radio Mystery Theater and it’s wonderful Alfred Bester story The Walking Dead).

My friend left unconvinced. And it is only now, today, that others spring readily to mind.

In l’esprit de l’escalier I will throw out one more – to him and to the world – and that will be George Zarr’s masterful adaptation of Jack Vance’s The Moon Moth.

It was one of the first audio dramas I reviewed for SFFaudio, back in 2003, and it is still one of the very finest audio dramas I’ve ever heard.

You could |READ OUR REVIEW|, but I think just hearing a few minutes of it will provide enough motivation to propel both you, and my friend, to both the end and a change of opinion.

SEEING EAR THEATRE - The Moon MothSFFaudio EssentialSeeing Ear Theatre – The Moon Moth
Based on the novella by Jack Vance; adapted by George Zarr; Performed by a Full Cast
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 73 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Seeing Ear Theater
Published: 2000?
On the planet Sirene everyone wears a mask according to his status — or strahk — in society. Communication is accomplished through singing accompanied by a plethora of instruments, each of which signifies a different emotional mood or is used to talk to a different social caste. The problem is, the assassin Angmark is a master of Sirenese customs and — like everyone else on Sirene — his face is hidden behind a mask. Our doddering ambassador-detective’s only hope: to learn to use his own mask — the lowly Moon Moth — before Angmark relieves him of a head to put it on. First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1961.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Produced and directed by George Zarr
Sound Design by John Colucci and David Shinn
Music Direction and Sirenese Musical Performance by Douglas Anderson

David Garrison as Edwer Thissell and Provisionist Greenward
Tuck Milligan as Haxo Angmark and Messenger Slave
Ian Reed as Esteban Rolver and Bright Sky Bird
Mort Banks as Cornelly Welibus and Maskmaker
Mark Victor Smith as Mathew Kershaul
Leah Applebaum as Computoid, Maiden, Female Slave, and Rex
George Zarr as Steward and Paul
Andrew Joffe as Forest Goblin, Benko, and Sand Tiger
Paul Amodeo as Hostler and Toby

Here are the illustrations, by Dick Francis, from the original publication in Galaxy SF:

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth by Jack Vance - illustration by Dick Francis

And finally, we talked to George Zarr about The Moon Moth, and many other plays, back in SFFaudio Podcast #071. Check it out if you’d like to hear more about how awesome audio drama is.

Posted by Jesse Willis

4 thoughts to “Seeing Ear Theatre: The Moon Moth adapted from the novella by Jack Vance”

  1. While I agree with everything you wrote i have to take special issue with your friend’s opinion re: the BBC LOTR. In my opinion, the Mind’s Eye version is far superior.

    The BBC version suffers from the same problem as the films — the presumption everyone is already so familiar with the story that the narrative flow can be tinkered with and dramatized out of order.

    For example, early on Gandalf’s absence from the Shire is dramatized for the listener. While the events portrayed are accurate, Gandalf’s disappearance was THE great mystery of the first part of Fellowship and added a good deal of tension to Frodo’s flight. Were the people he met really allies or agents of the Enemy.

    What was told in flashback in the book is instead dramatized sequentially. Suspense sacrificed for dry narrative. Overall there is actually little suspense in the entire serial to interest someone who has never the books (or by now seen the movies).

    On the other hand, the Mind’s Eye version is much better, sticks to the narrative flow that Tolkien had intended, and — if not as well cast — at least has comparable sound design. The only problem I have with the CDs is the amount of dialogue trimmed to fit their overall running time. The cassettes, on the other hand, boast the full version and is still best dramatization of the trilogy in any medium.

  2. Sorry. I meant YOUR suggestion of LOTR. However, I think the Mind’s Eye of The Hobbit is still better than the BBC version, too. :)

    But I do echo your assessment that there are so many good audio dramas to go around. Enough to suit fans of every genre and allow listeners to agree to disagree.

Leave a Reply